Sylvester Stover & Elizabeth (MNU) York County, ME 1600s

Sylvester Stover is my 8X great grandparent and, as I wrote the other day, he married Elizabeth (MNU), daughter of Margaret (MNU) and stepdaughter of Henry Norton of York, York, Maine c1650-1652, most likely in York County, Maine where they lived.

Sylvester’s parentage and family origins are unknown. Henry Norton was form Stepney, Middlesex, England, but as he was in New England by 1634 and didn’t marry Margaret until c1640, his birthplace might have no ties at all to Sylvester and Elizabeth.

Although Sylvester and Elizabeth were the parents of nine children, they had a rocky relationship, at least in the first few years of their marriage, as they made several appearances in the York County, Maine court records.


Source: American Ancestors

Given that each was accusing others of unbecoming behavior – and it was recorded for posterity in court records – DNA test results given back in the day might have brought surprising results. However, there is no indication in the minutes that anyone but Sylvester and his wife Elizabeth were the parents of the nine children living in their household.

Sylvester was a farmer and ferryman by occupation and lived at Cape Neddick, York, Maine. He was born c1630 and died before 14 February 1689/90 in York County when his will was filed.


Source: American Ancestors

Elizabeth, born probably 1632-1637, outlived Sylvester by many years. Her will was filed on 4 September 1722 in Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

Elizabeth was most likely living with her daughter Hannah, her husband David Bryant, and their family when she wrote her will in 1714. She was already around 80 or a bit older by that time and the will wasn’t recorded for another ten years.

Elizabeth was a slave owner – how, where or when she became one, the records don’t say – but she was ahead of her time with her bequests to Phebie, Jonathan and Jerusha in her will. I’ve read a fair number of wills where the testator gives a slave his or her freedom and maybe even gives them one suit of clothes.

Elizabeth went far beyond that with her bequests. Her own children each received £23 and were to share equally in the rest of her estate. However, Phebe, Jonathan and Jerusha each received their freedom, all the clothing, the beds in which they slept along with the bedding AND £10 each. Jonathan was even to inherit Elizabeth’s gun.

I don’t know whether there was any significance to the naming of her executors – one of her children plus two non-family members – and any two of them were to handle her estate. Did she want to be sure that her wishes were followed exactly?

Keep in mind that Massachusetts didn’t abolish slavery until 1783 – 69 years after Elizabeth wrote her will:

In the name of God Amen. The Seventh day of December In the first year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord, George, by the grace of god of Great Britain France and Ireland. King, Defender of the faith Annoq Domini one thousand seven hundred and fourteen. I Elizabeth Stover of Scittuate in the County of Plymouth in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, Spinster, Being weak of Body but of Sound memory, Calling to mind my mortality, & the uncertainty of my Life, I do make & ordain this my Last Will and testament, In manner & form following, hereby revoking & making Null & void all former Will or Wills, by me made Either by word or writing, ratifying & confirming no other to (both?) my Last will & testament.

First & principally I give & recommend my Soul in to the hands of god ye gave it and my body to the Earth to be buried after a decent & Christian manner at the Discretion of my Executors hereafter named. — And as touching such worldly Estate as the Lord has Blessed me with, I do give & bequeath& dispose of the same in manner following.

Imprimis I Give & bequeath unto my son John Stover the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my son Dependence Stover the summer of twenty & three pounds silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my son Josiah Stover the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my son George Stover the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my Daughter Elizabeth Walford the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my Daughter Sarah Lanchaster the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my Daughter Deborah Sawyer the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my Daughter Mary Wanton the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my Daughter Hannah Bryant the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give unto Phebie, my Negro woman Slave, her freedom at my death and ten pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce to be paid by my Executors at the End of one month after my decease. Item I Give unto my said negro woman all her wareing cloths, together with the bed Shee lyeth on, and the bead stead, & clothing (?) that belongs to it.

Item I give unto Jonathan my Negro lad, the son of Phebie my negro woman, his freedome at my Decease; Item I give unto the Sd Jonathan all his wareing cloths, the bed whereon he Lyeth and the clothing belonging to it, my Gun, and ten pounds in Silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce to be paid him by my Executors when he Shall arrive to the age of twenty and one years.

Item I Give unto Jerusha my Negro Girl the Daughter of Phebie my negro woman her freedom at my Decease; Item I give unto the sd Jerusha her wareing Cloths, & ten pounds in Silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce, to be paid unto her by my Executor whenShe Shall arrive att the age of Eighteen years;

Item My will is that after the payment of my funerall Charges & just debts the remainder of my Estate both Real & personal be Equally Divided among my nine Children viz: John, Dependence, George, Josiah, Elizabeth, Sarah, Deborah, Mary & Hannah And I do hereby Ordain, Constitute & appoint my trusty & faithful Friend MicaelWanton & Nathanael (Ellis?) and my beloved son Josiah Stover or Either two of them —- to be the Executors of this my Last will & Testament In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal the day & year above written.

Elizabeth (her E mark) Stover

Signed sealed & declared in presence of us witnesses
Stephen Clay?
Timothy Symmes
Tho mark of V Thomas Vere

Children, all likely born Cape Neddick, York, Maine and all were living in December 1714 when their mother wrote her will:

  1. Elizabeth, born c1653; married (1) Richard Hunnewell, 31 March 1674, Scarborough, . He died in 1703. (2) Jeremiah Walford (3) John Downing, after December 1714, when Elizabeth’s mother wrote her will.
  2. Mary, born c1655; married Mr. (Michael?) Wanton. The Wanton family seems to have been living in the Scituate, Massachusetts area.
  3. John, born c1660;
  4. Hannah, born c1662; married (1) Richard Church, 2 February 1696/97, Scituate, Plymouth, Massachusetts. He died in 1703. (2) David Bryant
  5. Sarah, born c1665; married Mr. (William?) Lancaster
  6. George, born c1668; married Abigail Elwell, 25 January 1992/93, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
  7. Deborah, born c1670; died 13 July 1734, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts; married James Sayward, c1691, probably in York County, Maine
  8. Dependence, born c1675; died 25 September 1723, York York, Maine; married Mary Young, c1701, probably York county, Maine
  9. Josiah, born c1677; died 9 April 1743, Tiverton, Newport, Rhode Island; married Sarah (MNU), c1698, Tiverton, Newport, Rhode Island.

Here ends the Stover surname in my family tree.

 

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