Whittling Down Susannahs Born c1670-1682 in Massachusetts: Could One Be the Wife of Thomas Burnham (1673-1749)?

The Susannah (MNU) Burnham research project is winding down. Assuming that her birth was recorded in Massachusetts, which is not 100% certain, but is definitely a possibility, the potential Susannahs have been narrowed down to just seven:

Essex County Births:
Susannah Marsh, of Samuel & Priscilla, Salem, 12 May 1680
Susannah Lee, of Richard, Ipswich, 20 February 1675

Current thinking places Susannah Lee, daughter of Richard Lee, as the wife of Thomas Knowlton from Ipswich but who moved to Connecticut in the early 1700s. I begrudgingly have to admit that I think that theory is likely correct and scratch her off the list.

Susannah Marsh disappears from the records after her birth. Her father reportedly died in 1693, but I haven’t found a death record or probate for him. As her mother didn’t remarry for many years (Priscilla married (2) William Hayward on 6 May 1708 in Mendon, Worcester, MA), I have to wonder if 1693 is correct.

Aside from Susannah’s father disappearing, I have found further information about her siblings. Her brother, John, born 1 September 1681, died in 1727 in Bellingham, Norfolk, Massachusetts. Her sister, Hannah, married Samuel rich in 1705 in Salem ad died in 1716 in Mendon, Worcester, Massachusetts. Another sister, Sarah, married Joseph Gold on 25 January 1710/11 and her youngest sister, Elizabeth, might be the Elizabeth Marsh who married William Rich on 7 January 1718/19 in Newbury.

Because of this, I am afraid that Susannah and her other sister, Margaret (born 18 April 1688) might both have died young. I’ve also found no ties whatsoever between the Burnhams and the Marsh family.

Therefore, I think I am going to have to strike Susannah Marsh, the last Susannah on the list who was born in Essex County, Massachusetts, off the list.

Now for Middlesex and Suffolk counties! There was quite a lengthy list of Susannahs born in the right time frame in Suffolk and Middlesex Counties, but those names have also been narrowed significantly to just three:

Suffolk and Middlesex County Births:
Susannah Brisco
, of Benjamin & Sarah, Boston, born 1674/75
Susannah Pelton, of John, Dorchester, born August 1680
Susannah Cross, of John, Boston, 1673

Of the three reaming Susannahs, listed above, the Brisco family at first seems quite straightforward. Benjamin Brisco married Sarah Long c1655, Sadly, they had and lost their first three children, who lived but a few days. (Philip, Hannah and Sarah). Those children were followed by the births of Anna in 1664, Mary in 1665, John in 1666, Rebecca in 1669, Benjamin in 1671 and Susannah in 1675.

However, this family then disappears from the records, with two exceptions. Benjamin Brisco died in Boston in 1689, and I assume it was the father because the record doesn’t indicate Benjamin, the son of Benjamin. Second, Benjamin and Sarah Brisco sold land in Boston in February 1670, yet the deed wasn’t recorded until 12 June 1693.

There is no commentary made by the clerk as to whether Benjamin or Sarah was still living in 1693.

No marriage or death records have been found for Anna, Mary, John, Rebecca, Benjamin or Susannah, although there are other Briscos still living in Boston.

What became of Benjamin and Sarah Brisco and their family? I have no idea. Therefore, Susannah Brisco remains as a possible wife to Thomas Burnham, although I think it is probably very unlikely.

Next we have the equally mysterious family of John Pelton of Dorchester. John Pelton Sr. died on 23 January 1680 and left a will, which is missing. However, he can’t be the father of the Pelton children since three of them were born after his death and they weren’t triplets!

John Pelton had Robert, born 1 January 1675, Samuel, born 26 January 1675 (There is obviously an error in this book of Boston births unless there were two John Peltons having children in the same time period, which is very possible given that John Sr. died in 1680.), Christian, born 5 June 1678, Susannah, born August 1680, Charity, born 25 January 1682 and John, born 25th day of the 2nd month 1685 and died 26 November 1686.

There is a marriage record found for Robert Pelton to Rebecca Crehore in 1697 in Dorchester. Just as with the Brisco family, though, there is no further mention of any members of this family in the marriage or death records. Where did they go? Again, I have no clue.

Susannah Pelton therefore remains on the possible list as a wife of Thomas Burnham, but seems as unlikely a candidate as Susannah Brisco.

Chebacco Parish (Today Essex) to Boston, about 35 miles
Google Maps

We are down to the last name on the list – Susannah Cross, born in 1673. Surprisingly, this Susannah shows a bit of promise. First, her parents, John and Susannah (MNU) Cross lived in Boston and had the births of ten children recorded there:

1. John, born 1665; died young
2. Abigail, born 1 February 1666
3. Samuel, born 18 March 1668
4. Hannah, born 1 May 1671
5. Susannah, born 27 November 1673
6. Sarah, born 21 May 1677; married Benjamin Dutch, 7 January 1702, Boston
7. Mercy, born 28 December 1679; married Joseph Shaw, 22 February 1699, Boston
8. John, born 3 March 1682; died soon
9. John, born 28 August 1683; died 15 October 1684, Charlestown
10. John, born 28 September 1685

Interestingly, there was a Stephen Cross and a Robert Cross who lived in Ipswich, having settled there by the 1630s. Whether or not Stephen and Robert Cross were related in any way to John and Susannah, there were not many families with the Cross surname living in Massachusetts at that time.

Further, when delving into Stephen and Robert Cross, I came across a really interesting paragraph about a long-term (30 years) lawsuit over a piece of land, not just in Ipswich, but in the Chebacco section of Ipswich, in which Robert Cross was involved. Chebacco is where the Burnham family lived and today is the town of Essex, Massachusetts.

Next, take a look at who else is named in various court iterations through the years:

Source: American Ancestors

Robert Cross Sr. appealed a verdict which had gone in favor of JOHN BURNHAM JR. in 1693 and the disputed land had been owned at one time by THOMAS BURNHAM.

In spite of the Cross surname connection, there were at least two Cross families in Ipswich, who are thought to be related, but the relationship is not known and, further, there is no known familial tie between John and Susannah Cross and the Ipswich people, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any, just that there are no proven connections.

I have to admit that this has been a long and somewhat painful slog, through many twists and turns, as I eliminated almost every one of the Susannahs to learn that the very last Susannah on my list is possibly the lady who married Thomas Burnham.

At least, the Cross surname has documented business ties to the Burnhams of Chebacco Parish.

No further clues have emerged from this research to give any indication of the maiden name of Susannah, wife of Thomas Burnham, unless she is Susannah Cross.

Perhaps some other evidence will surface to support or disprove this idea.




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