John Scarborough of Roxbury, MA 1640

John Scarborough and his wife, Mary Smith, of Roxbury, Massachusetts c1640 are my 9X great grandparents. The Scarborough surname is lost in my ancestral line in just one generation, with their daughter Hannah.

John Scarborough’s age was not mentioned when he died on 9 June 1646, as recorded in the vital records of Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts. One can assume that he was a fairly young man as he and Mary married about 1641.

(An aside: I didn’t include John Scarborough on my list of shortest lived direct line ancestors because his year of birth isn’t documented. He well could be on my list.)

Very little is known about John Scarborough. He is said to have arrived in Massachusetts about 1640, as he was made a freeman on 28 February 1642. In order to attain that status, he had to be a Puritan and a member of the church in Boston.

Although his marriage record to Mary Smith has not been found, her maiden name was given in a court record whereby she was named as one of two sisters of Robert Smith, wine cooper of London, who had come to the colonies. The other sister was Anne.

John was “slain by a gun,” but the only further detail about his death was given by Peter Gardiner of Roxbury when he testified that Mary Torrey’s first husband, John Scarborough, was “killed at Boston shooting off one of the great guns.” Why he was shooting a great gun is not explained. Probate on his estate was opened in 1647:


Source: New England Historic Genealogical Society

This is old script that I have a really hard time reading. I can make out that John owned wearing apparel, 2 pillows and one old Bible. It looks like some tools are listed and maybe animals. His £91 estate would be worth about $18,000 in today’s money, per a currency and time converter, but that seems like a lot to me for a man with such a young family.

Mary Smith Scarborough married Philip Torrey on 1 October 1647 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. They had a son, Jonathan, baptized on 22 June 1651.

John Scarborough and Mary Smith were the parents of three children, although only two of them survived their father:

  1. John, born 10 July 1642, Roxbury; died of convulsions and was buried on 12 August 1642.
  2. Hannah, born 3 December 1643, Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts; died 21 January 1721, Brookline, Norfolk, Massachusetts; married Joseph White, by 1670.
  3. Samuel, born 20 January 1646, Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts; died 18 March 1714, Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts; married (1) Deborah or Rebecca, ?Parke, c1674 who died in 1679 (2) Bethiah Wise, c1680. Bethiah was born 1657; died 1728.

Thus ends my Scarborough line. I’ve seen all kinds of wild info online about John Scarborough’s parents and ancestral home and actually have seen the same kind of misinformation about the parentage of Mary Smith. However, I haven’t found any reliable source of data (e.g. The New England Historic Genealogical Society) to feel comfortable adding those suppositions to this post.

My line of descent:

John Scarborough & Mary Smith
Hannah Scarborough & Joseph White
Rev. John White & Lucy Wise
Hannah White & Nathaniel Haskell
John Haskell & Hannah Parsons
Judith Haskell & William Tarbox
George Rogers Tarbox & Mary Elizabeth Scripture
Nellie F. Tarbox & Calvin Segee Adams
Charles Edwin Adams & Annie Maude Stewart
Vernon Tarbox Adams & Hazel Ethel Coleman
Doris Priscilla Adams & George Michael Sabo
Linda Anne Sabo Stufflebean – ME!

2 thoughts on “John Scarborough of Roxbury, MA 1640”

  1. Dear Linda Stufflebean,
    I honestly never thought I’d ever hear of a John Scarborough descendent! So, reading your post was quite exciting.
    My recently departed father, Joel Scarborough, was fascinated with Scarborough ancestry, and went to great lengths to ascertain just where John came from, commissioning Debrett’s around 1980–the results were inconclusive (I would be happy to share, but I doubt you would find them all that interesting).
    Aside from the basic family tree, handed down over the generations, we have, within the past ten years, searched online, and discovered most of what you’ve uncovered, though the text, above, is new and exciting. A few questions:
    * Could the final entry (50 pounds) be for “equip(ment) and land, abought:”?
    * Could the initial entry (14 pounds) be for “Indian corn”, with the second word in question? If not “corn”, what? The first does look like “Indian”. If corn, I wonder how it was stored? Or perhaps it had been sold upon harvest, and not stored.
    * Could the third entry be “bedding” with the ‘d’s slanting hard to the left?
    * Other possible words: “paraffin lamps”, “napkins” and so on.
    Our own research was frustratingly fruitless, for the most part, though there was quite a bit when looking at Mary Smith’s brother. A tantalizing clue that we have yet to follow up on: in the book Coming To America, A History of Immigration and Ethnicity In American Life, we found an excerpt from a letter RE: the Scarborough/Torrey children, in which Mary’s brother, who had returned to London, from Boston, asks whether the Torreys have a son who could work in the Smith shop in London. Could there be other family letters in the archive? If you live anywhere near Boston (I think it was the state library? I will try to find our copy and look it up), you might check this out.
    A few other bits you probably know: John’s occupation is listed as “shoemaker” in at least one source. This would have been his specialty, aside from farming, though I think it was a broader term than we imagine. We viewed a will signed by John, suggesting he was highly enough regarded to do that. As for the “great gun”, I believe early cannons were notoriously liable to explode, so that a ceremonial firing could have produced tragedy.
    BTW, I have the honor of representing the Samuel line (so, Uncle Sam, to you–wink). Interestingly, that branch tried to establish a settlement in the Connecticut wilderness, and my branch ended up in West Hartford, then moved to Illinois in the 1830s, along with about a half dozen other related New England families.

  2. My search for an ancestor to my Elizabeth Smith has led me to this post which is of interest as some of my ancestors hailed from Scarborough, Maine which I assume was settled by a Scarborough from Roxbury. My Whitten line appears to have come from Mass. through Maine to NH, but remains very “sketchy”.

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