Category Archives: Blackmer

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

It’s make it or break it time, but I found a new resource! Alven Martyn Smith, wrote Three Blackmore Genealogies: William Blackmore of Scituate, Mass., James Blackmore of Providence, R.I., Rev. Adam Blackman (Blackmore) of Stratford, Conn. in 1930. The original manuscript is housed at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, which is not exactly commuting distance from Tucson. HOWEVER, the Family History Library has a copy of it. I am most grateful to Luana Wentz Darby for doing this look up for me.

Before delving into Smith’s work, I’d like to comment on several methods I often use to crack brick walls, but which didn’t help here.

  1. Family naming patterns can sometimes be a clue as to who fits into which family. The Blackmers, and even John and Rebecca Spurr, did have a pattern – but the pattern was to use more original, less common given names for their children. John and Rebecca named most of their children with names often found in the Spurr family, with the exceptions of Benjamin, Elisha and Eliphalet. Among the Blackmer clan, Joseph named children Willard, Betty, Peter and Hannah. William born in 1699 went with Mary, John, Lemuel, Sarah, Holland, Timothy and Huldah. William born in 1708 had Mary, Lydia, Sarah, William, Ralph, Experience and John. Naming patterns definitely weren’t of any help with this problem.
  2. Often, at least in southern state probates and land sales, the widow/wife has a member of her family representing her interests during estate administrations and/or land transactions. I spent quite a few hours looking for family ties to males involved in John Spurr’s 1784 probate – Badlam, Capen, Trough and others, but found no links to the Blackmer family. I did the same with John and Rebecca’s sparse land deeds – Peirce, Preston, Glover, but again came up empty handed. After speaking with a reference person at NEHGS, I learned that in Massachusetts probates, it was more common that the court chose people who they knew could be trusted to carry out their duties.
  3. A search was also done into the family of William King and Isaac Davenport. No ties were obvious with any members of the Blackmer family.

Therefore, I have three possible fathers on the docket – William, born 1699, Stephen, born 1704, and William born 1708 – and the Three Blackmores manuscript as my final option.

Does the information in Alven Martyn Smith’s manuscript shed any light on the idea that my Rebecca was a Blackmer?

Well, this was my last hope for tracking down the source of that hint. Unfortunately, that hope was dashed when no mention of Rebecca was made in it.

There are a few missing pieces of this puzzle that might allow Rebecca to fit into the Blackmer family, but I haven’t found a shred of evidence to support the idea. At this point, I will leave Rebecca (MNU) and turn my research efforts towards other branches of the family tree.

I wish this five-part series ended with proof of Rebecca’s maiden name, but sometimes proof just can’t be found.

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

Will the missing piece of this puzzle be found?

Today, in Part 4, we will take more in-depth looks at Peter’s sons – Joseph (b. 1697), William (b. 1699) and Stephen (b. 1704), along with John’s son, William (b. 1708), as they remain on the list of potential fathers for Rebecca (MNU) Spurr King Davenport. 

Much to my chagrin, most all of this research has been of the negative sort, crossing names off a list.

On the positive side, the Blackmer family definitely had some ties by marriage to Dorchester, so it isn’t inconceivable that Rebecca is a Blackmer.

On the negative side, most of the gaps in births in the Blackmer families are probably due to losing a child, not to a single child being accidentally omitted from the birth records.

Let’s press on. Not all information is online and no single website has all available records for one location, so checking multiple websites and googling for information is a necessity.

When I began seeing mentions, for example, that Peter Blackmer who married Hannah Sears had children born in Hardwick, which is in Worcester County, not Plymouth County, a search was done for town vital records. I discovered that American Ancestors does NOT have all the available Massachusetts town records on its website, which actually surprised me since the series up to 1850 is not copyrighted.

By expanding my horizons, I was able to flesh out more facts on William the Immigrant’s grandchildren and the prospective father list has been whittled way down to four candidates – Joseph (born 1697) who married Marcy Sears, William (born 1699) who married Sarah Holland, Stephen (born 1704) who is almost a complete mystery, and, finally, William (born 1708) who married Sarah Norcott.

My plan to wrap this up included revisiting probate records and checking land deeds, where a few more crumbs were found along the trail.

Joseph Blackmer (born 1697) last appears in the Plymouth County land records on 24 April 1740 when he presented deeds to the clerk to be recorded. No wife released dower rights.

Given that his brother, Peter, was in Worcester County by 1742, it seemed reasonable to look in western Massachusetts. What I found was a gravestone for Joseph Blackmer who died 14 March 1771 in New Marlborough, Berkshire, Massachusetts, followed by an estate inventory in New Marlborough for Mrs. Mercy Blackmer on 18 September 1780.

Estate Inventory of Mercy Blackmer, 18 September 1780
New Marlborough, Berkshire, Massachusetts
Source: FamilySearch

Unfortunately, no heirs were named. However, the 1790 census included Hannah, Joseph and Paul Blackmer, all in New Marlborough.

Because Joseph left Plymouth County about 1740, I think it is very unlikely that he is the father of Rebecca, so one more name can be crossed off the list.

As for William (born 1699), no new information has been uncovered that might indicate whether or not he had a child born in that 1733-1736 gap in his children’s births. That means that William, born 1699, is still in the running to be the father of Rebecca.

Stephen (born 1704) remains somewhat of a mystery. No marriage records have been found, nor have his children been proved.

Stephen sold several parcels of land in Plymouth County, but the latest was in 1747 at which time he was residing in Freeport, Bristol, Massachusetts. Bristol County land deeds have a huge gap in years for transactions for Stephen, from 1732 until the 1770s. In 1732, Stephen Blackmer signed his name on a Bristold County deed. By 1775, Stephen Blackmer signed with his mark “B.” We may be looking at two men, probably a father and son.

Abigail who filed a petition with the Bristol County Clerk on 4 May 1779 to allow son Joseph Blackmer to administer the estate of her late husband may well be the wife of Stephen’s possible son, also named Stephen.

A 1783 land deed identifies Deborah Gifford and Jemima Griffith and Joseph Blackmer as children of Stephen, deceased. Jemima married Richard Griffith in 1774; Deborah married Daniel Gifford in 1767, both in Dartmouth. Those seem like very late marriages for children of a man born in 1704, unless he married more than once, which is certainly possible.

However, I think the 1732 and 1779 Stephens are two different men, which still leaves a big question mark as to who his children were. Stephen (born 1704) can’t be eliminated as a possible father for Rebecca.

Next, I’d like to jump to John’s son, William, born 1708, who married Sarah Norcott in 1738. There is a gravestone for William – he died 12 May 1791, Wareham, Plymouth, Massachusetts. Sarah passed away on 1 April 1802, also in Wareham, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Although William and Sarah had eight children, five died long before they had a first birthday, one, Lydia, died at the age of 21 ,unmarried and Mary died at the age of 31, unmarried, leaving Sarah the only child who married (Samuel Briggs) and left descendants.

While I can find no reference to William having married someone before Sarah Norcott, the fact that he was 30 years old when he married her leaves the door open to that possibility.

After much research, I am left with three possible fathers for Rebecca (MNU) Spurr King Davenport – William (b. 1699), Stephen (b. 1704) and William (b.1708).

Part 5, the conclusion to this case study, will pull together loose ends, reviewing what is known about Rebecca from records created in her lifetime.

I also have one last hope. If you’ve stayed with me this long, you’ve almost made it to the end!

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

Part 3 of this case study brings us to the male grandchildren of immigrant William Blackmer to determine whether or not one of them could be or is the father of Rebecca (MNU) Spurr King Davenport (c1734-1802) of Dorchester, Suffolk, Massachusetts.

Dorchester Vital Records
Source: American Ancestors

William’s son, Peter, who married Elizabeth (MNU) and Sarah Edwards, 24 October 1711, provides six possibilities – John, Joseph, William, Peter, Stephen and Samuel.

William’s son, John, provides two more possibilities – William and John.

At face value, none of these grandsons stands out as a more likely candidate than the other since their birth years (1690-1710) make them all reasonable prospects for having a child born in the early-to-mid-1730s. Therefore, I need to pick them apart the slow way, person by person.

Let’s look at the children of John Blackmer first, since there are only two possibilities here.

First, William Blackmer was born 20 December 1708. He married Sarah Norcott of Marshfield, Plymouth, Massachusetts after intentions were filed on 23 July 1738. Some have confused him with Peter’s son, born in 1699 because their adult lives overlapped and both had wives named Sarah.

Rochester, Massachusetts Vital Records
Source: American Ancestors

Children, born in Wareham:

  1. Mary, born 4 October 1739
  2. Lydia, born 26 April 1741
  3. Sarah, born 12 February 1743; died 26 February 1743
  4. William, born 31 March 1744; died 30 April 1744
  5. Sarah, born 16 September 1745
  6. Ralph, born 30 July 1747; died 16 August 1747
  7. Experience, born 27 July 1748; died 11 September 1748
  8. John, born 17 March 1752; died 1 April 1752

Because William was almost 30 years old when he married Sarah Norcott, there is a possibility that he had an earlier marriage to a wife who died young, so I can’t rule him out entirely. If William married first about age 25, and a first wife died giving birth to a child, that child could have been born c1733-1737, which matches Rebecca’s estimated birth year range. This William will stay on the potential list for now.

John Blackmer’s other son, John, born 22 April 1710, married Sarah Holmes, 15 March 1731/32 in Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts. This is a well documented line, as it ties into a Mayflower ancestor through one of their children. John died on 28 September 1794.

Rochester, Massachusetts Vital Records
Source: American Ancestors


  1. Branch, born 27 January 1732/33
  2. John, born 17 September 1734; died 13 December 1734
  3. Sarah, born 20 January 1735/36
  4. John, born 1 March 1737/38
  5. Susannah, born 13 March 1739/40
  6. Mercy, born 24 October 1742
  7. Jerusha, born 20 January 1744/45
  8. Betty, born 4 November 1746
  9. Experience, born 18 May 1750

As you can see, there is no room for Rebecca to fit in this family, so John and Sarah (Holmes) Blackmer definitely are NOT her parents.

Of John’s two sons, then, only William born c1708 remains a candidate.

Now for Peter’s six sons. Here things get a bit messier as families began to move around.

What is known about Peter’s six sons is this:

First – John, born 1690 – He apparently married twice. John Blackmer Jr. married (1) Mary Brickett, 5 March 1711/12 and (2) Sarah Norcott of Marshfield, after intentions were filed on 10 March 1725.

Rochester, Massachusetts Vital Records
Source: American Ancestors

Children of John and Mary, born in Rochester:

  1. Nathaniel, born 3 July 1712; married Rebekah Sampson, 22 May 1740, Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts
  2. Elizabeth, born 12 March 1713/14
  3. Susannah, born 8 July 1716
  4. John, born 21 March 1718 – no further record found.
  5. Mary, born 8 March 1719

I found no children born to Sarah (Norcott) Blackmer, so John is not likely to be the father of Rebecca.

Second – Joseph, born 1687, married Marcy Sears of Yarmouth, 7 January 1724/25.

Rochester, Massachusetts Vital Records
Source: American Ancestors


  1. Willard, born 6 January 1725/26
  2. Betty, born 29 September 1732
  3. Peter, born 7 August 1735
  4. Hannah, born 7 August 1737

Although tight, Rebecca could fit as a child in this family. Joseph and Marcy are possible parents of Rebecca. It will take more searching to learn more about Joseph and Marcy Blackmer’s family.

Third – William, born 1699, married Sarah Holland, 14 March 1722/23 in Dorchester, Suffolk, Massachusetts.

Dorchester, Massachusetts Vital Records
Source: American Ancestors

Children, born in Rochester:

  1. Marcy/Mary, born 20 March 1724
  2. John, born 11 April 1725
  3. Lemuel, born 11 September 1726
  4. Sarah, born 10 February 1727
  5. Holland, born 5 August 1730
  6. Timothy, born 20 October 1732
  7. Huldah, born 6 January 1735/36

William and Sarah (Holland) Blackmer lived in the section of Rochester which was set off to create the town of Wareham. Sarah predeceased William, dying on 26 February 1743. William died just 14 months later on 30 April 1744.

In spite of the fact that William and Sarah had minor children, no probate or guardianship records have been found for this family. Note, too, that there is a birth gap from October 1732 to January 1736. While they might have lost a child, this fits the estimated birth year range for Rebecca. William and Sarah remain on the list as possible parents for Rebecca.

Fourth – Peter, born 1702; died after 28 August 1764 when he sold a 1/16 interest in a forge in Western (Warren), Massachusetts and probably before 1769 when his son, Peter, sold land to his brother Solomon, but was not called “Junior”; married Hannah Sears, 3 November 1725, Yarmouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Children, first four born in Rochester and last two in Hardwick, :

  1. Roland, born 11 August 1726
  2. Peter, born 1 May 1728
  3. Solomon, born 4 May 1730
  4. Stephen, born February 1734/34
  5. Barnabas, born  21 September 1741
  6. Hannah, born 4 April 1744

With a birth gap from February 1734 to September 1741, it is possible that Peter Blackmer is the father of Rebecca. However, knowing that Peter removed to Worcester County, Massachusetts no later than 1740, it seems unlikely that he was the father of Rebecca.

Fifth – Stephen, born 1704 – Stephen sold several parcels of land in Plymouth County, but no deed mentions a wife. The last deed in which he appears is dated 1747 at which time he was residing in Freeport, Bristol, Massachusetts. Stephen married Abigail (MNU), who filed a petition with the Bristol County Clerk on 4 May 1779 to allow son Joseph Blackmer to administer the estate of her late husband. Some say Salisbury Blackmer is his son. This may be our Stephen, but more research is needed.

Stephen is a possible father of Rebecca, given that so little is known about his children.

Sixth – Samuel, born 1705 – had a deed dated 18 May 1736, but not filed until 28 February 1780, indicating that he had removed to Norwich, New London, Connecticut.

Samuel is a ? as a potential father for Rebecca. However, because he removed to Connecticut by 1746, I am going to assume that he is not her father.

However, I did discover that Samuel married Sarah Giddings, thanks to this Norwich, New London, Connecticut land deed:

Norwich, Connecticut Land Deed, 29 June 1750

There are now four prospective Blackmers remaining who could be Rebecca’s father.

As we move along, it’s become necessary to take closer, more in-depth looks at Peter’s sons – Joseph (b. 1697), William (b. 1699) and Stephen (b. 1704), along with John’s son, William (b. 1708).