James Lakin: Trifecta of Disappearing Ancestors!

After having written about William Hay and Abiel Brown, both of whom disappeared from the records of their home towns, I realized I have a third – unrelated to the other two – ancestor who also disappears from town records as a relatively young man with a family.

Today we will look at James Lakin, born c1690, possibly in Groton, Middlesex, Massachusetts. No birth record has been found for him, but his family lived in Groton before and after his birth. In 1694, the town suffered an attack by the Abenaki tribe and many inhabitants fled to Chelmsford and other safer towns for several years. Groton was definitely on the frontier at that time and it is certainly possible that a volume of records from that era have been lost.

James Lakin was the son of William Lakin and Elizabeth Robertson. James married Elizabeth Williams on 12 February 1717/18 in Groton. Elizabeth was born 21 February 1693/94, the daughter of Thomas Williams and Elizabeth Blood, who also were residents of Groton.

James and Elizabeth were parents of a large family.

Children (All events in Groton unless noted otherwise.):

1. James, born 21 August 1718; no further record.
2. Robinson/Robertson, born 17 February 1719/20; died 16 August 1796, Pepperell, Middlesex, Massachusetts;  married Hannah Dodge, 15 April 1746.
3. Ambrose, born 30 April 1722; died March 1809 (obituary 11 March 1809, Columbian Centinel, published in Massachusetts), Lyndeborough, Hillsborough, New Hampshire; married Dorothy Gilson, 16 January 1751. She died after 10 April 1786, when she and Ambrose sold land to Ambrose Jr. in Mason, Hillsborough, New Hampshire (Deed Book 19:20-21)
4. Elizabeth, born 12 August 1724; married (1) Josiah Lawrence, 3 December 1746. Josiah was born 11 October 1723; died 29 August 1758 of fever, as did many others in Pepperell, Middlesex, Massachusetts that summer. Elizabeth married (2) Whitcomb Powers, 18 October 1759, Pepperell, Middlesex, Massachusetts. He was from Hollis, Hillsborough, New Hampshire.
5. Hannah, born 15 September 1726; died 24 December 1809, Pepperell, Middlesex, Massachusetts; unmarried.
6. Nathaniel, born 13 December 1728; died 1 March 1809, Pepperell, Middlesex, Massachusetts; married Sybil Parker, 23 January or 20 February 1755. He was of Pepperell and she was from Groton.
7. Susannah, born 24 September 1731; no further record
8. Mary, born 26 April 1734; died 6 August 1757, Pepperell, Middlesex, Massachusetts; married Oliver Shepley, c1754.
9. Sibell, born 2 January 1736/37; died 2 July 1813, Pepperell, Middlesex, Massachusett; married (1) Eleazer Gleason, 30 October 1758, Pepperell, Middlesex, Massachusetts. He died by 15 July 1777, when his will was filed. (2) John Crawford, 10 September 1779, Pepperell, Middlesex, Massachusetts. He predeceased Sibell.

First, notice that while all these children were born in Groton, and some married there, no one died in Groton, except possibly for James, Susannah and Sibell, for whom no further records can be found.

Not only does James Lakin not have his date of death recorded in Groton, but wife Elizabeth’s death is not recorded either. No probates are found for James or Elizabeth either.

The answer to this mystery may be son Ambrose. Notice that he died in Lyndeborough, New Hampshire. That is in Hillsborough County and only 25 miles due north of Groton, but not in Massachusetts!

James Lakin might not have a probate record, but he did record one very important land conveyance. On 5 April 1765, he gave his land and buildings to his son Ambrose in return for Ambrose’s care of his parents in their senior years.

This conveyance might account for no probate for James, but not for missing death records for both James and Elizabeth.

It appears that Ambrose Lakin moved back and forth between Massachusetts and New Hampshire. On 13 January 1787, Ambrose sold land in Mason, Hillsborough, new Hampshire to his son Ambrose Jr. I have not been able to determine how or when Ambrose Sr. acquired the land or if he ever lived in Mason. However, it is certainly possible since he owned land there.

Next, Ambrose and his wife, Dorothy Gilson, were the parents of five known children – Susannah, born 1753, Ambrose Jr., born 1756, Abel, born 1759, Molly, born 1767 and Thomas born in 1770.  Notice that there is an eight year gap between Abel’s birth and Molly’s. These known children were born in Groton, but an 8 year gap is quite long between births. It is possible that the couple lost several children, but it is also possible that the family moved to New Hampshire during this time period.

In any case, I believe, for the moment, that the Lakins went off to New Hampshire for a time and both James and Elizabeth died there and their deaths were not recorded. Whether there is proof for my theory, I have no idea. There isn’t any that I’ve yet found, but the puzzle pieces all fit so it is a viable idea.

However, my theory warrants an in-depth look at Ambrose Lakin and his family.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.