Category Archives: Blackman

Who Was Rebecca, Wife of John Spurr of Dorchester, MA? I Think I Know!

Today, I’ll share all the pieces that I believe fit into the puzzle of the family origins of Rebecca, second wife of John Spurr of Dorchester, Massachusetts in the 1700s.

Here is the latest tidbit that I believe is the key to unlocking this mystery:

Witnesses: Elizabeth Spur and Mary Glover
Suffolk County, MA Deed Book 122:257

This 1772 deed has the names of two witnesses embedded within the text. I had to go searching for the names, as I have gotten very used to southern land deeds where the witnesses are often listed at the bottom of the deed. In this case, the land sale itself isn’t important. It’s the names of the witnesses that I wanted – Elizabeth Spur and Mary Glover.

I was a bit surprised to find two women as the witnesses, as that is unusual for the time period. I also didn’t know if I’d be able to identify exactly which Elizabeth Spur this was because there are a lot of Spurs in Dorchester near the time of the American Revolution and Elizabeth isn’t exactly an uncommon name. Besides, I was hoping for a witness clue that might point to Rebecca’s family.

Mary Glover isn’t exactly rare, either, around there, but it’s much less common than Elizabeth Spur. A quick bit of digging found one Josiah Glover, born 2 December 1726 in Dorchester, who married on 24 August 1758 in Dorchester. This was promising because Rebecca was likely born in the 1730s and married about 1755. This would make the Glovers contemporaries of John and Rebecca Spur.

So, who did Josiah marry? Mary BLACKMAN!

Could the author of the Google book with the Blackmer clue have been slightly mistaken about Rebecca’s maiden name? Blackman is definitely close to Blackmer as a surname, although these are two different families.

A new look at John Spur’s estate administration was warranted. No connections to Blackmans were found, but I did notice one item for which the administrator, Ezra Badlam, was reimbursed.

Suffolk County, MA Probate File #18153
Source: AmericanAncestors

The ink on this page is faded, but there is one line item that seems to be another clue:

27 June [1784] One day travel to Stoughton

The Spurs lived in Dorchester and the probate office was in Boston. Why was Ezra Badlam, the estate administrator making a trip to Stoughton?

A bit of Stoughton history – Stoughton was originally the southern district of Dorchester and didn’t become a separate town until 1793. Therefore, it wasn’t far from Dorchester, but still leaves the question of why he had to make a visit there.

Next, I wanted to get a look at the Stoughton vital records and wondered if Mary Glover might be a sister or cousin of Rebecca Spur. Stoughton’s records are not in that nicely put-together series of Massachusetts Vital Records Before 1850.

Instead, a different copy of the original records was compiled by Frederick Endicott, published and later digitized:

Source: FamilySearch

Guess what! There were Blackmans running amuk around Stoughton in the 1700s and there were two Mary Blackmans not terribly far apart in age.

First, we have Mary, born 29 July 1721 in Stoughton, to Thomas Blackman and Mary Houghton. Most online trees have this Mary as the wife of Josiah Glover, but I think that is wrong for two reasons. First, she would have been quite old (for the time period) marrying in 1758 for the first time – 37 years old. Not impossible, but less likely. She can’t be completely ruled out, except for the next fact. Second, Thomas Blackman, Mary’s father, died in 1751. There is a list of heirs in his estate paper and there is NO Mary among the heirs, although all his other surviving children are listed. That seems to indicate that this Mary predeceased her father.

There is a second Mary Blackman, born on 12 January 1738/39 in Stoughton to Thomas Blackman (son of the first Thomas who married Mary Houghton) and Mary Pitcher.

Thomas and Mary (Houghton) Blackman had a daughter Rebecca, but she married Ebenezer Bacon, who handled her father’s estate. This Rebecca was born in 1725 and a little too old to be Rebecca Spur, who gave birth to her last child in 1779.

Thomas Jr. and Mary Pitcher had no daughter named Rebecca BUT was there another Rebecca born in Stoughton who could be Rebecca Spur? YEP, THERE SURE IS!!!

There is a Rebecca Blackman, born 8 February 1737/38 in Stoughton. Before I reveal the parents’ names, this is a great time to look at John Spur’s children.

By first wife, Ruth Blake, John had (1) Lemuel, born 4 October 1747; died 8 October 1808 and married Abigail Lewis, 6 December 1769, all in Dorchester (2) John, born 5 October 1749 in Dorchester; died 28 October 1822, Providence, Rhode Island and married Sally West, 18 May 1777, in Dorchester. A third child, Robert, was stillborn on 15 December 1715. Ruth (Blake) Spur died on 12 February 1753 in Dorchester and, given the timing, it’s possible she died giving birth to a fourth child who didn’t survive.

John Spur married (2) Rebecca sometime between 12 February 1753 and 8 June 1756, when she gave birth to her first child. Given that her last child was born in 1779, being very generous with her age at that time, she would have been born no earlier than, say, 1732 and possibly closer to 1737, which would make her 42 when that child was born in 1779.

Children of John and Rebecca Unless noted, all events in Dorchester:

  1. Ann, born 8 June 1756
  2. Thomas, born 26 April 1758
  3. William, born 5 May 1760
  4. Ruth, born 2 September 1762; died before 1810, probably Bowdoinham, Lincoln, Maine; married Joseph Coleman, 24 August 1793, Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts
  5. James, born 27 January 1765; died 10 September 1820; married Susannah Leeds, 9 September 1792
  6. Elisha, born 15 February 1766; died 11 January 1828, Utica, Oneida, New York; married Catherine Heartt, probably Troy, Albany, New York
  7. Benjamin, born 14 September 1768
  8. Eliphalet, born 6 October 1771
  9. Rebecca, born 1 August 1774; died 11 February 1827; married Robert Randall, 8 September 1793, Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts
  10. Mary, born 8 August 1777; died 7 June 1815, Pembroke, Plymouth, Massachusetts; married Thaddeus Stetson, 24 March 1796
  11. Sarah, born 3 September 1779; died 18 March 1840; married Daniel Davenport, 24 March 1796

It’s important to note two very important details here. Neither BENJAMIN nor ELIPHALET appear as given names in any earlier generations of the Spur family, so it appears that they might be names from Rebecca’s side of the family.

Now, back to the Blackmans of Stoughton and Rebecca who was born there on 8 February 1737/38. She was the daughter of BENJAMIN Blackman and Abigail SPUR!!!!

Benjamin was born 13 February 1711 in Dorchester, the son of Benjamin Blackman and Jemima Breck. He married Abigail Spur sometime after the intentions were published on 3 September 1737 in Stoughton. Abigail was very young to be a Massachusetts bride, as she was born on 8 April 1720, making her but 17 years old when she married. It also was a necessity, as Rebecca was one of those first babies that could arrive any time! Abigail died on 8 December 1745 and her death record notes she “was in the 26th year of her age,” leaving no doubt that her birth year was correct. Abigail was the daughter of Thomas Spur and Elizabeth Kingsley and Thomas was a cousin to John Spur who married Rebecca.

Benjamin and Abigail had but three children:

1. Rebecca, born 8 February 1737/8, who I believe is the wife of John Spur
2. Hepzibah, born 19 July 1741
3. ELIPHALET, born 25 April 1744; died 1820, Woolwich, Maine; married Margaret Sewall, c1772, Maine

Benjamin married (2) Jane Pitcher, 22 April 1756 in Stoughton, but they apparently had no children together.

Benjamin Blackman died in 1761, but intestate. There is a settlement paper in his estate files that mentions wife Jane as the administrator and three surviving children, Rebecca, Hepzibah and Eliphalet as having received their cash legacies. Unfortunately, his daughters are only mentioned by given names. How I wish that Rebecca had been called Rebecca Spur, but that does not change my opinion that she was John Spur’s wife.

To summarize, let’s look at the puzzle pieces.

1. John Spur’s administrator charged a trip to Stoughton in 1784. It is reasonable to assume that there was some kind of family business related to that trip. The estate papers said Rebecca received some money for her support and the care of three young children. She might well have returned to Stoughton to be near family members who could take them in since John’s estate was insolvent.

2. Rebecca Blackman, born 8 February 1737/38, would have been 17 or 18 when she married John Spur. Less common for that time period in New England than waiting until she was 21, but her own mother was only 17 when she married.

3. Mary Blackman, if the daughter of Thomas and Mary (Pitcher) Blackman born and born 12 January 1738/39, would have been 19 when she married Josiah Glover on 24 August 1758, so females marrying before the legal age of 21 wasn’t unusual in this family.

4. This same Mary Blackman was very close in age to Rebecca, just 11 months young than Rebecca Blackman born to Benjamin and Abigail Blackman. They likely grew up together and remained close after Mary married Josiah Glover and Rebecca married John Spur.

5. John Spur and Rebecca gave two names to their children that don’t appear in earlier Spur families – Benjamin and Eliphalet. It seems plausible that one son was named for Rebecca’s deceased father and another for her only brother.

6. No marriage records have been found for Benjamin’s and Abigail’s daughters, Rebecca and Hepzibah, but both were alive on 24 April 1761 to receive their legacies from their father’s estate.

7. Stoughton was originally the southern district of Dorchester and their were multiple ties by marriage between families who lived in the two towns.

8. Rebecca, born to Benjamin and Abigail (Spur) Blackman, was a distant enough cousin to John Spur for no impediment to marriage to exist. I have multiple early New England lines where cousins married cousins.

9. It is easy to understand how someone mistook the surname BLACKMER for BLACKMAN and suggested that John Spur’s wife was a Blackmer.

10. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I have found not one shred of conflicting evidence that would indicate that Rebecca Blackman, daughter of Benjamin and Abigail (Spur) Blackman, is not the Rebecca who married John Spur.

Rebecca, who I believe is Rebecca (Blackman) (Spur) (King) Davenport died on 25 June 1802 in Dorchester, Suffolk, Massachusetts.

Readers, please leave a comment. Have I convinced you that Rebecca, second wife of John Spur, is indeed Rebecca Blackman, born 8 February 1737/38 to Benjamin Blackman and Abigail Spur? I’ve definitely convinced myself.






Case Study Followup: Rebecca, Wife of John Spur/r of Dorchester, MA

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might remember a five part case study I did back in August 2018. I was hurtled into frenzied activity because of one clue found in a book published long ago, digitized and in Google’s book collection.

Before I share that clue once again, I have to comment that when women’s maiden names are missing in my husband’s family tree, I accept it as part of the landscape challenge. All those Southern branches lived in many places were records either weren’t kept (like on the frontier with Daniel Boone) or lived in one of those many pesky burned counties.

On the other hand, I take great offense to unknown maiden name sin my own tree because my branches go way deep in colonial New England and then across the pond.

Each of those missing maiden names is a red flag being waved in front of the bull (me!)

Now that you understand my obsession, here is the clue that sparked my my part case study where I tried to prove or disprove that Rebecca, second wife of John Spur (1724-1781), was a Blackmer by birth:

Source: Google Books

No source was cited, but Rebecca’s maiden name was said to be Blackmer, not a common name, which is much better than Smith or Jones.

If you want to read all about my progress, or lack thereof, in that study, there were five parts:

Building a Case Study – William Blackmer, MA, 1600s – Part 1

Case Study: Was the Maiden Name of Rebecca, Wife of John Spurr, William King and Isaac Davenport, Blackmer? – Part 2

Case Study: Was the Maiden Name of Rebecca, Wife of John Spurr, William King and Isaac Davenport, Blackmer? – Part 3

Case Study: Was the Maiden Name of Rebecca, Wife of John Spurr, William King and Isaac Davenport, Blackmer? – Part 4

Case Study: Was the Maiden Name of Rebecca, Wife of John Spurr, William King and Isaac Davenport, Blackmer? – Part 5

The conclusion drawn from all that work was that there was no real evidence to support a case for Rebecca being a Blackmer. Yet, it bugged me that someone found something that pointed in that direction.

Not one to give up easily, I recently began thinking once again about Rebecca. She was somebody’s child. With most of my other brick walls, I’ve generally found one commonality – a life event or family situation, like early deaths of parents leaving orphans, a child born out of wedlock or a family that had few surviving children so was unusually small for the time period.

I didn’t know if that was the case with Rebecca or if I was just very unlucky and her marriage record was either never returned to the town clerk or was the one in a thousand that was lost somewhere.

In any case, I learned long ago that clues occasionally are sitting right under our researching noses, but we aren’t picking up on them. With that in mind, I decided it was time to taken another look at the Spur/r family.

First, we need to take a look at John Spur and his family. The Spurs were early settlers in Dorchester, Massachusetts, arriving in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early 1600s.

John himself was a supporter of the American Revolution, although he died before seeing the establishment of the newly created United States of America. He did serve, though, at the very start of the war. He was a corporal in Col. Lemuel Robinson’s regiment in the company of Capt. William Holden, commanded by Lt. Preserved Baker, which mustered on the 19th of April 1775 – the Lexington Alarm.

John was also called gentleman in his estate administration, but his estate was insolvent. Probate records are often quite helpful in ferreting out family relationships and members of the FAN club. Not so much in John’s case.

Although I had looked at land records for John and Rebecca Spur in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, there wasn’t much of interest in them the first time around. Actually, there were only two pieces of land that they sold, in 1772 and 1773 and one of those sales was to John’s brother, William.

I decided to review the deeds once more, just in case I missed anything, and am I glad I did! I think I found the clue that broke down the brick wall surrounding Rebecca’s maiden name.

I hope you will leave a comment and give your opinion about my new theory.

Tomorrow, I will set out all the puzzle pieces that I believe will reveal Rebecca’s maiden name.