Joseph Moore & Lydia Maynard, Sudbury, MA

Joseph Moore was born 21 October1647, in Sudbury, Middlesex, Massachusetts, the son of John Moore and Elizabeth Rice, who had emigrated from Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, England to Sudbury about 1642.

Lydia Maynard was born c1651, the daughter of John Maynard and Mary (MNU), the widow of Thomas Axtell. She was likely born in Sudbury.

No marriage record has been found for Joseph and Lydia and I found it very curious that their eldest child was named Benoni, which means “son of my sorrows.” Often in the colonial era when that name is given to a child, it is because the mother died in childbirth.

However, both the name Benoni and the lack of a marriage record might be explained by a court case found in the loose papers of Middlesex County Superior Court (cited in an article by Neil D. Thompson, FASG, Lydia Maynard, Wife of Joseph Moore of Sudbury, MA in published in The American Genealogist, January 1984, Volume 60:53-56).

Details: On 20 January 1668/69, John Maynard gave bond of 20 pounds for the appearance of his daughter “Lidiah” to answer to a charge of fornication with Joseph Moore.

Six days later, Joseph Moore confessed to fornication with Lydia.

Lastly, on 5 October 1669, there was a court petition by Elizabeth Moore, mother of Joseph, and Mary Maynard, mother of “Lydia Maynard, now Moore” requesting that the court impose a monetary fine on the young couple instead of corporal punishment. Could one or both of them have been whipped?

Both mothers signed the petition with their names, rather than by a mark, so each had some education and level of literacy. In turn, that would bring some social status to the family.

Court minutes for that time period are missing, so which punishment the court chose for Joseph and Lydia is unknown. However, it is obvious that 1669 had to have been a stressful year for the Moores and the Maynards.

From the bits of the surviving papers, it can be proven that Joseph Moore and Lydia Maynard married sometime between 20 January 1668/69 and 5 October 1669. In between those dates, their first child, Benoni, was born and his birth was recorded in Sudbury town records on 14 April 1669.

Socially, the court case for their confessed fornication would have shined an unwanted light on the family.

Perhaps because of this difficult beginning to their life together, Joseph and Lydia chose to name their first child Benoni.

Joseph Moore died on 2 January 1725/26 in Sudbury. Lydia predeceased her husband, passing away on 23 November 1717, also in Sudbury.

Joseph Moore married (2) Ruth (MNU), after he wrote his 1717 will and when he died.

Children (All events in Sudbury, unless otherwise noted):

1. Benoni, born 14 April 1669; died 18 November 1733, Northfield, Franklin, Massachusetts; married Mehitable Allice, 13 December 1698, Deerfield, Franklin, Massachusetts
2. Joseph, born 1 August 1671; died between 28 August 1749-31 May 1756; married Elizabeth Cleveland, c1697.
3. John, born 8 March 1673; died 17 December 1729, Rutland, Worcester, Massachusetts; married Abigail Wright, c1702
4. Thomas, born 9 December 1676; died 13 January 1727; unmarried.
5. Benjamin, born 5 May 1679; died 21 April 1734;unmarried.
6. Mary, born 7 May 1681; died after 27 July 1737; unmarried.
7. Hannah, born c1683; died 28 October 1730; married Joseph Gleason, 17 February 1705.
8. Lydia, born 5 January 1688; died before 27 April 1757, when her will was probated; unmarried.
9. Obadiah, born c1690; died 15 January 1721/22; unmarried.
10. Elizabeth, born 28 September 1685; died after 2 January 1725/26; married Henry Rice, 27 December 1716.

Finally, I have to wonder whether the fornication charge cast a shadow over the life of this family for many years.

Benoni is the only child of Joseph and Lydia who married in a town other than Sudbury and he moved over 100 miles away from his family. Was this opportunity and coincidence or a plan to being a new life as an adult.

In a time period where marriage was the custom and expectation, five of Joseph and Lydia’s ten children died unmarried although they lived long after the expected marriage ages of 25 and 21 years.

It is difficult to draw conclusions about family life over 350 years ago, but my impression is that the Moore family felt the impact of Joseph’s and Lydia’s court charges for many years.


Will of Joseph Moore
Middlesex County, MA File 15376
Source: American Ancestors

In the Name of God a men the furst Day of January one thousand Seven hundred and Eight teen Nine teen I Joseph Moore of Sudbury in the County of Middlesex in New England Gentelman being Sick and week in Boddye but of perfect mind and memory thanks be Given to god therefore Calling unto mind the mortallity of my boddy and Knwoing that it is appointed for all men once to Dye Do make and orDain this my Last will and testement that is to Say Princepelly and first of all I Give and Recommend my soul into the hand of god that Gave it and my body I Recommend to the Earth to be buried in Decent Christian burial at the Discression of mye Executors Nothing Dought ing but at the Generall Resurrection I Shall Receive the Same a gain by the Mighty Power of God and touching Such worly Estate where with it Hath pleased god to bless me with in thie Life I Give devise & Dispose of the Same in the following maner and forme —

Imprimis I Give and Bequeath to mye son Benoney Moore five Shillings which shall be his full portion out of my Estate —

Item I Give and be Queath to my son Joseph Moore five Shillings which shall be his full Portion out of my Estate —

Item I Give and bequeath to mye son Thomas Moore Ten shillings which shall be his full portion out of mye Estate —

Item I Give and bequeath to mye three yongest sons Beniamin Moore and John Moore and Obadiah Moore all my Housing and Barns and upland orchard and Meddow and town Rights that are Not yet Disposed of and all mye Books, and movebel Estate with in Doore and all mye husbndry tools and moove bell Estate without Doore that is Not Disposed of – – They paying these legisies Named in this will —-

Item I Give and bequeath to my Daughter Hannah Gleason Twenty shillings which shall be her full portion out of mye Estate – – – \

Item I Give and be Queth to mye son in Law henry Rice and my Daughter Elizabeth Rice forty shillings which shall be their full portion out of my Estate – – –

Item I Give and be Queth to my Daughter Mary Moore forty pounds which shall be her full portion out of mye Estate – – –

Item I Give and be Queth to mye Daughter Liddia Moore forty pounds which shall be her full portion out of mye Estate and my Daughter Mary Moore & my Dauughter Liddia Moore is to have a (fire?) Room in my house so long as they Live on married and mye three yongest sons Beniamin Moore & John Moore & Obadiah Moore all whome I Like wise Constitute make and orDain Mye sole Executors of this mye Last will; and I Doe hear bye uterly Disallow Revoke and Disannul all and Every other former Testements wills Legidies Bequests and Esecutors. Bye me made or in aney waies Named willed and Bequethed Ratifing and Confirming this and No other to be Mye Last will and Testiment in witness where of I have hear unto set my hand and Seal the Day and year a bove Rittan

Signed Sealed published pronounced and Declared by the Said Joseph Moore as his last will and testiment in the presence of us the Subscribers – – –
James brown
Samuel Abbott
Ephraim Curtis

Joseph (his mark) Moore

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