Building a Case Study: William Blackmer, MA 1600s – Part 1

Today, I have a tantalizing mystery. Projects that have caught my interest for the past few months have included hunting down clues for maiden names of ancestresses, mostly in colonial New England, which appear to be unknown.

My latest venture involves one of the wives of John Spurr (1724-1781) of Dorchester, Massachusetts. John is a proven patriot of the American Revolution, being one of the men who answered the Lexington Alarm on 19 April 1775. John married twice. His first wife was Ruth Blake (1721-12 February 1753), who was the mother of his first three children, Lemuel, John and infant Robert, who died the day of his birth, 2 December 1751.

John married (2) Rebecca, mother of his next eleven children – Ann, Thomas, William, Ruth, James, Elisha, Benjamin, Eliphalet, Rebecca, Mary and Sarah. Rebecca had no more children by later husbands.

Ruth, possibly named in honor of John’s deceased first wife,  is my ancestor, born 2 September 1762 and died before 1810. She married Joseph Coleman and they settled in Bowdoinham, Sagadahoc, Maine.

Honestly, I don’t know whether my hypothesis will be supported and proved, disproved or left dangling for a future attempt:

I have looked various times through the years for clues to Rebecca (MNU) Spurr’s maiden name and have come up with zip! However, as I began to dig a bit deeper, one tiny crumb appeared.

Since John died in 1781, leaving quite a few children, I hoped that probate records might provide a crumb trail and they did. John left no will, but there was a clue. In 1784, Rebecca, widow of John Spurr and by then married to WILLIAM KING, was named in the paperwork. I found this marriage record in Dorchester, where the Spurrs lived:

Dorchester Vital Records on American Ancestors

Normally, the “Miss” would concern me, but in this case, the probate record clearly identifies her as the wife of William King and this marriage took place after John Spurr’s death.

Next, I looked for a death record for Rebecca King. None turned up, but I did locate the death record of William King, who died 4 October 1791, again in Dorchester, in the 64th year of his age, meaning he was likely 63 years old, placing his birth c1728. Only one record for a William King born c1728 came up:

Source: AmericanAncestors

William King, the child of John and Sarah of Hampshire County, Massachusetts was baptized on 18 May 1729. This baptism was recorded in ROCHESTER, PLYMOUTH COUNTY, Massachusetts. This might be an important clue as the project unfolds, so keep Rochester in mind.

Dorchester records are quite good, so I looked for a third marriage record for Rebecca.

Source: AmericanAncestors

Isaac Davenport married Mrs. Rebecca King, both of Dorchester, on 29 July 1793.

I checked for death records for both Isaac and Rebecca. Both died in Dorchester.

Rebecca Davenport, died 15 June 1802
Source: AmericanAncestors

Isaac Davenport, died 29 March 1799
Source: AmericanAncestors

Neither William King nor Isaac or Rebecca Davenport have probate files. John Spurr’s estate was somewhat insolvent. Therefore, the only useful crumb in the probate records was the fact that Rebecca married William King.

Google is everyone’s friend, so I decided to look for the trail of Isaac Davenport (since his name was far less common than William King’s) and this is where the very tantalizing clue appeared:

Source: Google Books

Isaac Davenport married (1) Mary Pray, who died in 1792 and (2) Rebecca (BLACKMER) King on 29 July 1793!

This is the one and only clue I have ever seen as to what Rebecca’s maiden name might be. This book, Genealogies & Personal Memoirs Relating to Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, Volume 3, was edited by William Richard Cutter and William Frederick Adams. Mr. Cutter (1847-1918) was a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and prolific at publishing genealogical tomes. However, sources were not cited.

That doesn’t mean the statement regarding Rebecca’s name is wrong, it just means there is work to be done. Thus begins my project. We will see where the research trail leads.

To summarize the few known facts:

First, John Spurr married (2) Rebecca, maiden name unrecorded, between 12 February 1753, when first wife Ruth Blake died, and 8 June 1756, when John’s and Rebecca’s first child was born. Given the appropriate mourning period and typical ages at marriage for colonial women, John and Rebecca likely married in 1754 or 1755.

If Rebecca was, say, twenty-one years old at marriage, she would have been born c1733-1734. Her last child was born on 3 September 1779, putting her age at about 45, which is within reason. It is very unlikely that she would have married before the age of 18 in that time period, so she was probably not born any later than 1736.

Second, Rebecca (MNU) Spurr married (2) William King of Dorchester on 5 February 1783 in Dorchester. He was born c1728 and the only candidate appearing in Massachusetts vital records that might be him is a William King, baptized on 18 May 1729 in Rochester, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

Third, Rebecca (MNU) Spurr King married Isaac Davenport on 29 July 1793, again in Dorchester.

Fourth, Rebecca had no children with William King or Isaac Davenport.

Fifth, aside from Rebecca’s mention in the probate administration of John Spurr, no further probates have been found for William King, Isaac Davenport or Rebecca Davenport.

Last, we have William Richard Cutter’s book, which treats the Davenport family and names Isaac Davenport’s second wife as REBECCA BLACKMER.

That brings me to my research hypothesis:

Was the maiden name of Rebecca, wife of John Spurr, William King and Isaac Davenport, BLACKMER?

I am very thankful that her purported surname isn’t a terribly common one and the Blackmer/Blackmores early in Massachusetts trace back to progenitor William Blackmer of Scituate, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

Let’s see where this case study takes us.
If you have suggestions along the way, please comment.



One thought on “Building a Case Study: William Blackmer, MA 1600s – Part 1”

  1. Wow! This is tantalizing and I do hope further research helps you determine whether Rebecca was actually a Blackmer. Good luck. I always appreciate your spelling out your process, step by step, so I can get ideas from your research techniques.

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