John Gardner & Priscilla Grafton, Salem, MA 1600s

As I continue my trek through the early New England branches of my family tree, I find myself reviewing my short Gardner line, given that the immigrant’s granddaughter, Ruth, my line, married a Coffin and ended the Gardner surname for me.

What is most fascinating to me about John Gardner and his wife, Priscilla Grafton, is that they lived in Salem (albeit long before the witchcraft trials) for years and likely knew many of the families associated with the accusations and trials. I would really love to know what they thought about it all, but I digress.

John Gardner was born c1624, either in England or Cape Ann, Massachusetts. He was the son of Thomas Gardner, documented in Cape Ann by 1624, and an unknown mother. More about that later on.

John Gardner married Priscilla Grafton by 1654. She was the daughter of Joseph and Mary Grafton, born c1626 and died in Nantucket in (no month or day recorded) 1717.

However, their first child’s birth (John) is recorded in Salem as 20th day 12th month 165(3) (in this format), followed by siblings born in 1655, 1656, 1658, and so on.

Salem Vital Records

Yes, the child could have been one of those super early babies, but there is no mention of fornication charges made against the couple. Therefore, it seems most probable that John and Priscilla married in 1652 or early in 1653 and spent most of the early years of their marriage living in Salem.

Children: (All born in Salem except Mehitable and Ruth, born in Nantucket)

1. John, born 20d 12m 165(3); married Susannah Green, by 1681, likely in Boston or Salem, Massachusetts; no further record.
2. Joseph, born 8d 5m 1655; no further record. He is NOT the Joseph Gardner who married Bethiah Macy in 1670! That Joseph was the son of Richard and Sarah Gardner.
3. Priscilla, born 6 September 1656; married John Arthur, 20 February 1676, Nantucket, Massachusetts; no further record. However, there is a Priscilla Arthur who married Thomas Bunker. Thomas Bunker was born in 1680 and died 14d 3m 1721 in Nantucket. His death record says he was the husband of Priscilla Arthur. Priscilla Bunker died 14d 1m 1721, also in Nantucket. I find no birth records for children of John and Priscilla Arthur. If Priscilla Gardner Arthur married Thomas Bunker, he was significantly younger (24 years) than his wife. No death record has been found for Priscilla Arthur.
4. Benjamin, born 3 December 1658; died 23d 6m 1662, Salem, Essex, Massachusetts
5. Rachel, born 3 August 1661; married (1) John Brown, 8m. 1686, Nantucket, Massachusetts (2) James Gardner, between 1701-1704, probably Nantucket, Massachusetts as his second wife.
6. Benjamin, born 17 May 1664; no further record
7. Ann, born 30 December 1667; died 1d. 4m. 1745, Nantucket, Massachusetts; married Edward Coffin by 1701. They had no children.
8. Nathaniel, born 24 July 1668; no further record. Nathaniel who died in 1713 was the son of Richard and Sarah Gardner.
9. Mary, born 27 May 1670; died 28d 10m 1767, Nantucket, Massachusetts; married Jethro Coffin, by 1686, Nantucket, Massachusetts
10. Mehitable, born 24 November 1674; married Ambrose Dawes, 14 August 1704, Salem, Massachusetts; no further record
11. Ruth, born 26 January 1676; died 4 October 1748, Nantucket, Massachusetts; married James Coffin, 19 March 1692, Nantucket

Captain John Gardner sailed the seas, first out of Salem and then from c1673 onwards from Nantucket, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Being a highly regarded community member, John Gardner served as chief magistrate of the Nantucket Court from 1680 to 1682 and again in 1684.

He died on 6 May (or 6 July) 1706 [6th day 5th month] in Nantucket, Massachusetts. His wife, Priscilla, survived him by 11 years. Her death is recorded in Nantucket in 1717, but the month and day are omitted from the record.

My line of descent:

John Gardner & Priscilla Grafton
Ruth Gardner & James Coffin
Ruth Coffin & Cromwell Coffin
Eunice Coffin & Joseph Coleman
Joseph Coleman & Ruth Spur
Thomas Coleman & Mary Elizabeth Astle
William Coleman & Sarah Moriah Crouse
Hartwell Thomas Coleman & Anna Elisabeth Jensen
Hazel Ethel Coleman & Vernon Tarbox Adams
Doris Priscilla Adams & George Michael Sabo
Linda Anne Sabo Stufflebean – me!

Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at Thomas Gardner, father of Captain John, who arrived in Cape Ann by 1624


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