James Sayward & Deborah Stover of Gloucester, MA

James and Deborah (Stover) Sayward have a special place in my heart. The Sayward family was a line I found very early in my trek to learn about my ancestors. I have already been reading the New England Historic & Genealogical Society’s publication, The Register, and I had found an article about gravestone transcriptions in the old Gloucester First Parish Burial Ground. In the summer of 1981, Dave and I took a trip back east to visit family and visit a few cemeteries along the way.

High on my list was the old Gloucester cemetery because I knew that James and Deborah were buried there AND they had died in 1737 and 1734, respectively. I wanted to visit their graves and see those stones for myself.

We found the cemetery after asking for directions from the locals and had to drive through someone’s backyard past the laundry on the clothesline to reach it!

The cemetery was very overgrown with weeds and was fairly large, meandering up a hill under some trees. Dave was not keen to spend much of his very first New England visit tromping around an old cemetery looking for gravestones that might not exist anymore or be legible after two centuries. I, however, was determined to find them and just knew that they would still be there. It took about 45 minutes, but after we made our way up the hillside, we found James and Deborah laying side by side.

Dave took photos, but back then, he only had slides made, so I don’t have the images to share, but the cemetery has been cleaned up and the gravestones of both Elder James Sayward and Deborah, his wife, are in great condition and posted on Find-A-Grave.

James Sayward was the youngest child of Henry Sayward and Mary Peasley, born c1667 in York, Maine. Deborah Stover was the daughter of Sylvester Stover and Elizabeth Norton, also born c1667, based on the age on her gravestone, probably also in York, Maine. They married about 1693, again, probably in Maine. Deborah predeceased James by several years, passing away on 13 July 1734. James married (2) Mary Wharf Davis, widow of Ebenezer Davis, 30 January 1735, in Gloucester. Elder James Sayward died on 13 February 1736/37.

Although James and Deborah were both natives of York County, Maine, they removed to Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts before the birth of their first child.

Children, all born in Gloucester:

1. Deborah, baptized before 1703, per Gloucester Vital Records; died after her father’s will was written; married James Stevens, 13 July 1717, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
2. James, born 15 November 1697; died 26 November 1697, both at Gloucester.
3. James, born 18 August 1699; died 30 November 1734, York, York, Maine; unmarried.
4. Samuel, born 21 April 1701; died before 29 March 1762 when probate of his estate began in Essex County, Massachusetts; married Lucy Norwood, 7 April 1729, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
5. Elizabeth, baptized before 1703, per Gloucester Vital Records; married Elias Weare, 22 December 1722, York, York, Maine
6. Henry, born 19 February 1704; died after his father’s will was written; married Abigail Sargent, 20 January 1730, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
7. Mary, born 14 January 1705/06; married Moses Bradstreet, 16 January 1731, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
8. Joseph, born 1 March 1707/08; died after 3 April 1779, probably Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts; married Sarah Giddings, 20 January 1730, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
9. Hannah, born 31 July 1713; married Captain John Sanders, 23 January 1734/35, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts. John Sanders died 17 January 1742/43 “in his 30th year” in Gloucester. Hannah served as administratrix of his estate and was appointed guardian to their three children, John, Abigail and Mary Sanders. Hannah was still living on 4 June 1750, but no death record has been found for her:


Essex County, MA Probate File #24739

James Sayward left a will:


The Sayward Family
Source: FamilySearch

Elder James Sayward left a healthy estate valued at almost £1700. Although he named his children in his will, he did not include married surnames of his daughters. Son Henry received land in Yarmouth, Maine and it appears he left Gloucester to live there. No death date has been found for him.

This ends my Sayward series of posts, as James’s son, Joseph, is my line. Joseph married Sarah Giddings and I covered this family back when I wrote about my Giddings line.

My line of descent from Henry Sayward:

  1. Henry Sayward & Mary Peasley
  2. James Sayward & Deborah Stover
  3. Joseph Sayward & Sarah Giddings
  4. Samuel Tarbox & Deborah Sayward
  5. William Tarbox & Judith Haskell
  6. George Rogers Tarbox & Mary Elizabeth Scripture
  7. Calvin Segee Adams & Nellie F. Tarbox
  8. Charles Edwin Adams & Annie Maude Stuart
  9. Vernon Tarbox Adams & Hazel Ethel Coleman
  10. George Michael Sabo & Doris Priscilla Adams
  11. Linda Anne Sabo Stufflebean – me!

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