Category Archives: Burnham

Whittling Down Susannahs Born c1670-1682 in Massachusetts: Could One Be the Wife of Thomas Burnham (1673-1749)?

The Susannah (MNU) Burnham research project is winding down. Assuming that her birth was recorded in Massachusetts, which is not 100% certain, but is definitely a possibility, the potential Susannahs have been narrowed down to just seven:

Essex County Births:
Susannah Marsh, of Samuel & Priscilla, Salem, 12 May 1680
Susannah Lee, of Richard, Ipswich, 20 February 1675

Current thinking places Susannah Lee, daughter of Richard Lee, as the wife of Thomas Knowlton from Ipswich but who moved to Connecticut in the early 1700s. I begrudgingly have to admit that I think that theory is likely correct and scratch her off the list.

Susannah Marsh disappears from the records after her birth. Her father reportedly died in 1693, but I haven’t found a death record or probate for him. As her mother didn’t remarry for many years (Priscilla married (2) William Hayward on 6 May 1708 in Mendon, Worcester, MA), I have to wonder if 1693 is correct.

Aside from Susannah’s father disappearing, I have found further information about her siblings. Her brother, John, born 1 September 1681, died in 1727 in Bellingham, Norfolk, Massachusetts. Her sister, Hannah, married Samuel rich in 1705 in Salem ad died in 1716 in Mendon, Worcester, Massachusetts. Another sister, Sarah, married Joseph Gold on 25 January 1710/11 and her youngest sister, Elizabeth, might be the Elizabeth Marsh who married William Rich on 7 January 1718/19 in Newbury.

Because of this, I am afraid that Susannah and her other sister, Margaret (born 18 April 1688) might both have died young. I’ve also found no ties whatsoever between the Burnhams and the Marsh family.

Therefore, I think I am going to have to strike Susannah Marsh, the last Susannah on the list who was born in Essex County, Massachusetts, off the list.

Now for Middlesex and Suffolk counties! There was quite a lengthy list of Susannahs born in the right time frame in Suffolk and Middlesex Counties, but those names have also been narrowed significantly to just three:

Suffolk and Middlesex County Births:
Susannah Brisco
, of Benjamin & Sarah, Boston, born 1674/75
Susannah Pelton, of John, Dorchester, born August 1680
Susannah Cross, of John, Boston, 1673

Of the three reaming Susannahs, listed above, the Brisco family at first seems quite straightforward. Benjamin Brisco married Sarah Long c1655, Sadly, they had and lost their first three children, who lived but a few days. (Philip, Hannah and Sarah). Those children were followed by the births of Anna in 1664, Mary in 1665, John in 1666, Rebecca in 1669, Benjamin in 1671 and Susannah in 1675.

However, this family then disappears from the records, with two exceptions. Benjamin Brisco died in Boston in 1689, and I assume it was the father because the record doesn’t indicate Benjamin, the son of Benjamin. Second, Benjamin and Sarah Brisco sold land in Boston in February 1670, yet the deed wasn’t recorded until 12 June 1693.

There is no commentary made by the clerk as to whether Benjamin or Sarah was still living in 1693.

No marriage or death records have been found for Anna, Mary, John, Rebecca, Benjamin or Susannah, although there are other Briscos still living in Boston.

What became of Benjamin and Sarah Brisco and their family? I have no idea. Therefore, Susannah Brisco remains as a possible wife to Thomas Burnham, although I think it is probably very unlikely.

Next we have the equally mysterious family of John Pelton of Dorchester. John Pelton Sr. died on 23 January 1680 and left a will, which is missing. However, he can’t be the father of the Pelton children since three of them were born after his death and they weren’t triplets!

John Pelton had Robert, born 1 January 1675, Samuel, born 26 January 1675 (There is obviously an error in this book of Boston births unless there were two John Peltons having children in the same time period, which is very possible given that John Sr. died in 1680.), Christian, born 5 June 1678, Susannah, born August 1680, Charity, born 25 January 1682 and John, born 25th day of the 2nd month 1685 and died 26 November 1686.

There is a marriage record found for Robert Pelton to Rebecca Crehore in 1697 in Dorchester. Just as with the Brisco family, though, there is no further mention of any members of this family in the marriage or death records. Where did they go? Again, I have no clue.

Susannah Pelton therefore remains on the possible list as a wife of Thomas Burnham, but seems as unlikely a candidate as Susannah Brisco.

Chebacco Parish (Today Essex) to Boston, about 35 miles
Google Maps

We are down to the last name on the list – Susannah Cross, born in 1673. Surprisingly, this Susannah shows a bit of promise. First, her parents, John and Susannah (MNU) Cross lived in Boston and had the births of ten children recorded there:

1. John, born 1665; died young
2. Abigail, born 1 February 1666
3. Samuel, born 18 March 1668
4. Hannah, born 1 May 1671
5. Susannah, born 27 November 1673
6. Sarah, born 21 May 1677; married Benjamin Dutch, 7 January 1702, Boston
7. Mercy, born 28 December 1679; married Joseph Shaw, 22 February 1699, Boston
8. John, born 3 March 1682; died soon
9. John, born 28 August 1683; died 15 October 1684, Charlestown
10. John, born 28 September 1685

Interestingly, there was a Stephen Cross and a Robert Cross who lived in Ipswich, having settled there by the 1630s. Whether or not Stephen and Robert Cross were related in any way to John and Susannah, there were not many families with the Cross surname living in Massachusetts at that time.

Further, when delving into Stephen and Robert Cross, I came across a really interesting paragraph about a long-term (30 years) lawsuit over a piece of land, not just in Ipswich, but in the Chebacco section of Ipswich, in which Robert Cross was involved. Chebacco is where the Burnham family lived and today is the town of Essex, Massachusetts.

Next, take a look at who else is named in various court iterations through the years:

Source: American Ancestors

Robert Cross Sr. appealed a verdict which had gone in favor of JOHN BURNHAM JR. in 1693 and the disputed land had been owned at one time by THOMAS BURNHAM.

In spite of the Cross surname connection, there were at least two Cross families in Ipswich, who are thought to be related, but the relationship is not known and, further, there is no known familial tie between John and Susannah Cross and the Ipswich people, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any, just that there are no proven connections.

I have to admit that this has been a long and somewhat painful slog, through many twists and turns, as I eliminated almost every one of the Susannahs to learn that the very last Susannah on my list is possibly the lady who married Thomas Burnham.

At least, the Cross surname has documented business ties to the Burnhams of Chebacco Parish.

No further clues have emerged from this research to give any indication of the maiden name of Susannah, wife of Thomas Burnham, unless she is Susannah Cross.

Perhaps some other evidence will surface to support or disprove this idea.




Members of Thomas & Susannah (MNU) Burnham’s FAN Club: Digging for Clues

Many roads leading to lots of open ended questions pretty much sums up possible clues to uncovering the maiden name of Susannah, wife of Thomas Burnham (1673-1749) of Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts.

I previously identified three Susannahs, born in Essex County, Massachusetts in the right time frame and for whom I can’t account in terms of marriages or deaths. We’ll return to those ladies in a later summary.

Today, it’s time to examine the very few clues to be found in the Thomas and Susannah Burnham FAN club. There is but one land deed that I can say with certainty pertains to this couple. When Thomas’s sons were past legal age (1738), he and Susannah signed off on their real estate and gave portions of it to sons Thomas, Caleb and Jeremiah found in Deed Book 84:106 of Essex County, Massachusetts records.  Unfortunately, the witnesses to the transactions, one for each son, were the other two siblings. (:

Thomas died in 1749, but died intestate. Thomas owed some money to son-in-law Isaac Parsons, Caleb Burnham (his son), Joseph Lee (possibly the brother of Susannah Lee, who apparently married Thomas Knowlton, but not proven) and Benjamin Jewett. So far, I’ve found no familial ties between the Burnhams and the Jewett family.

However, on 11 July 1749, Thomas’s heirs signed off on his estate and the document was witnesses by William Giddings and Thomas Low.

There was a marriage tie between the Burnhams and the Giddings, but it was through the Lawrence family and all of these people were early settlers in Ipswich. George Giddings, born 1607) married Jane Lawrence and Thomas Burnham (born 1619) married Mary Lawrence. This is a distant tie and there is no apparent close connection between William Giddings and Thomas and Susannah.

On the other hand, Thomas Low might be a more promising lead because not only did one Thomas Low witness this document, but when Susannah (MNU) Burnham wrote her will, it was witnessed by Thomas Low, Solomon Andrews and Isaac Andrews, followed by a codicil witnessed by Joseph Marshall, Daniel Low and Jeremiah Andrews.

The first Thomas Low, immigrant, was born c1600 and died on 8 September 1677. He married (1) Margaret Todd and (2) Susannah Stone Cutting Kimball, both in England. Margaret was the mother of his four children.


1. Thomas, born 1632; died 12 April 1712; married (1) Martha Borman, 4 July 1660 (2) Mary [Brown?], after 1676
2. John, born c1634; married Sarah Thorndike, 10 December 1661
3. Margaret, born c1636; married Daniel Davison, 8 April 1657
4. Sarah, born c1637; married John Safford, c1661

Just one of these children has continued close associations with the Burnham family. Thomas Low, born in 1632, was appointed deacon of the Second Church in Ipswich in 1679. Also named deacon with him was John Burnham, father of Thomas (1673-1749). The minister was the Rev. John Wise, who happens to also be one of my direct line ancestors.

Before looking at Thomas Low Jr.’s family, we need to take a look at Thomas Sr.’s wives. The Todd name doesn’t turn up in any Burnham records that pertain to the mysterious Susannah (MNU).

What about Susannah Stone? She was a native of Essex County, England, like Thomas Low Sr. She married (1) Mr. Cutting, said to be Richard and had one son, Richard Cutting. Richard was born c1621 and died in 1696, having apparently spent his adult life living in Watertown, Massachusetts. He married Sarah (MNU) by 1648 and left a will naming children Zachariah, James, Susan (married Peter Newcomb, 1672) and Lydia (married Henry Spring). Richard Cutting also named grandchild Elizabeth Barnard. Watertown records show two other daughters born to Richard and Sarah Cutting – Sarah in 1661 and Lydia in 1666. One of these likely died in childhood and the other married a Barnard and died soon or else both died young and there is another daughter whose birth is not recorded. In any case, the Cutting clan doesn’t seem to have had many ties to Ipswich other than Richard’s mother marrying Thomas Low after 1648.

Susannah Stone Cutting, a young widow, married Henry Kemball, also in England and three more children.

Children (Kemball):

1. Elizabeth, born c1630; died 1719, Waltham, Middlesex, Massachusetts; married Thomas Straight by 1657
2. Susan, born c1632; died 1673; married John Randall, by 1651, probably in Watertown. The Randalls had a daughter Susan, but born c1659 and married to Enoch Sawtelle. She is too old to be Susannah who married Thomas Burnham.
3. John, born c1637; married Hannah Bartlett, 1667, Watertown, Massachusetts

None of the Kemball children seem to have had many ties to anyone in Ipswich, either, and definitely not to the Burnhams.

I was really hopeful that Susan Kemball Randall might have been the mother of Susannah (MNU), but was definitely not.

Now, we’ll take a closer look at the family of Deacon Thomas Low, who definitely shared a social circle with John Burnham’s family and might have been fairly close friends, given that they were both named church deacons at the same time.

Thomas Low Jr. married (1) Martha Borman, 4 July 1660, in Ipswich (2) Mary [Brown?], c1676. Thomas had a large family by his two wives.

Children (Low):

1. Thomas, born 14 April 1661; died 8 February 1697; married Sarah Symonds, 2 December 1687. Thomas and Sarah had a son, also Thomas, who married Abigail Fellows and died in 1761. Witnesses to the 1761 will of Thomas were Jonathan Low, James Andrews and one Nathan Burnham (Thomas’s son died in 1758 at Ticonderoga.) This is a further association between these three families.
2. Jonathan, born 7 July 1665; died February 1750; married Mary Thomson, 8 March 1692/93
3. David, born 14 August 1667; married Mary Lamb, 28 December 1699
4. Martha, born 10 March 1669; married Richard Dodge, 16 November 1694
5. Nathaniel, born 7 June 1672; died 1695, unmarried
6. Joanna, born c1677; married (1) Antipas Dodge, 24 January 1699 (2) Joseph Hale, intentions 19 September 1708
7. Abigail, born c1686; married Joseph Goodhue, intentions 31 January 1707/08
8. Sarah, born c1688; married Nathan Webster, intentions 6 November 1708

In spite of all these children, there is nothing found that points to further possibilities about the maiden name of my mysterious Susannah (MNU) Burnham.

I feel like not much progress has been made, at least positive progress, in finding Susannah’s maiden name.

Next, I will post my findings about the Susannahs born in the right time frame, but in Suffolk and Middlesex Counties, Massachusetts. That post will be coming soon.


A Plethora of Susannahs To Research, Born 1674-1680 in MA

Last week, I threw out the theory that Thomas Burnham might have married Susannah Lee, daughter of Richard and Sarah Lee, who left Ipswich for Hartford County, Connecticut in the early 1700s. I tend to believe that this Susannah married Thomas Knowlton, but have not yet found definitive proof of that marriage, so Susannah Lee remains on the “possible” list.

Today, I will share the list of Susannahs born in Massachusetts between 1673 and 1680, found on American Ancestors in the vital records databases.

To begin the search, I’ve limited the focus to Essex County, where Ipswich is located, and Suffolk/Middlesex Counties, which include Boston, Watertown, Dorchester and Cambridge. Geographically, these towns are the closest to Ipswich, home of Thomas and Susannah (MNU) Burnham.

Essex County Births:
Susannah Marsh, of Samuel & Priscilla, Salem, 12 May 1680
Susannah Davis, of James & Elizabeth, Gloucester, 20 Nov 1676
Susannah Dutch, of John, Ipswich, 13 July 1675
Susannah Lee, of Richard, Ipswich, 20 February 1675
Susannah Collins, of Benjamin, Lynn, 1674
Susannah Tarbox, of John & Mary, 16 October 1681
Susannah Elwell, of John & Jane, Gloucester, 24 April 1678

Of this list, Susannah Marsh disappears from the records after 1693, when her father reportedly died, but I haven’t found a death record or probate for him. Her mother, Priscilla, married (2) William Hayward on 6 May 1708 in Mendon, Worcester, MA. She remains a possibility.

Susannah Elwell did not marry Thomas Burnham. John elwell’s family is pretty much a hot mess online so the Elwells will have a post of their own.  Although she isn’t my ancestor, perhaps my research will help some Elwell descendants.

Susannah Davis is off the list, as she reportedly married Robert Andrews c1702 and lived in York, Maine.

Susannah Dutch is off the list, as she married Joseph Kinsman, c1698, and lived in Ipswich.

Susannah Collins is off the list, as she married Samuel Lord, c1695, and removed to Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

Susannah Tarbox is off the list, as she was a triplet and died at 2 weeks of age.

Therefore, there remains one Susannah born in Essex County who could possibly be the one who married Thomas Burnham, c1699.

Now, let’s look at Suffolk and Middlesex Counties, which provides a much messier list.

Suffolk and Middlesex County Births:
Susannah Brisco
, of Benjamin & Sarah, Boston, born 1674/75
Susannah Blague, of Philip and Susannah, Boston, born 1677
Susannah Pelton, of John, Dorchester, born August 1680
Susannah Butler, of John, Boston, born 1681
Susannah Cross, of John, Boston, 1673
Susannah Clap, of Hopestill, Boston, 23d 10m 1673
Susannah Dinsdall, of John, Boston, 1673
Susannah Evans, of Matthias, Dorchester, 1673
Susannah Ellis, of James, Boston, 1673
Susannah Spencer, of Michael, Cambridge, 6 April 1680
Susannah Shattuck, of Philip & Deborah, Watertown, 6 Aug 1675
Susannah Stone, of Simon & Mary, Watertown, 4 November 1675
Susannah Grout, of Joseph, Watertown, March 1681
Susannah Parlyn, of Nicholas & Sarah, Cambridge, 16 April 1677
Susannah Vergoose, of Isaac, Boston, 1674
Susannah Gridley, of Joseph, Boston, 1676
Susannah Caley, of Peter, Dorchester, 18 December 1682
Susannah Cheever, of Richard, Boston, 1682
Susannah Clarke, of Andrew, Boston, 1674
Susannah Clough, of John, Boston, 1675
Susannah Wiet, of Nathaniel, Boston, 7 Mar 1674/5
Susannah Wyat, of Nathaniel, Boston, 27 May 1677
Susannah Dawes, of Ambrose, Boston, 1674

Nineteen of these Susannahs can be struck off the list of possibilities:

Susannah Blague – Her father died in 1678 and her grandfather administered the estate in the right of Newcomb Blague, the only surviving child.
Susannah Butler married Nathaniel Loring.
Susannah Calley – This is probably the most unusual family circumstances I’ve found. The Calleys will have a post of their own, but Susannah most likely didn’t marry Thomas Burnham.
Susannah Clapp married John Hodgeden.
Susannah Dawes – Her father, Ambrose Dawes left a will dated 17 October 1705 in which he named wife Mary and four children – Ambrose, Thomas, Mary Webster and Rebecca Moulton. Therefore, Susannah Dawes died young and possibly unmarried.
Susannah Dinsdall‘s father left a will dated 31 December 1689. While he named wife Ann, he only mentioned “my children.” However, in 1728, widow Anne, plus John (and Celah) Dinsdale, widow Hannah Linfield and single woman Mary Dinsdale, sold joint property. John, Hannah and Mary were three of the seven children of John whose births were recorded in Boston. Since Susannah (MNU) Burnham was still living in 1728 and no Susannah is mentioned in this land deed (42:170), it is assumed that John’s Susannah died before 1728.
Susannah Evans‘s father, Matthias, died in 1684. Given that his widow, Susannah (Ellis) died in Medfield, Massachusetts on 24 August 1724 and her stepson, Matthias, died also in Medfield on 2 February 1724, it seems that the family removed to the south of Boston. No further record is found for Susannah and, as Medfield is about 60 miles from Ipswich, I will assume that she either died young or removed to Medfield and was lost to time there.
Susannah Grout – Her father, Joseph, was still living in Watertown as late as 1698 and his son was called Joseph Jr. until 1717, but only Joseph in 1719. It appears this Susannah Grout married Zachariah Smith in 1710.
Susannah Parlyn – Nicholas Parlin’s family is well covered in The Parlin Genealogy with all of Susannah’s siblings’ lives detailed. However, only Susannah’s birth is noted in Cambridge and I believe she probably died soon after birth as many early Cambridge deaths seem not to have been entered in the records.
Susannah Shattuck married Nathaniel Norcross.
Susannah Spencer – It appears that Michael Spencer and family removed to East Greenwich, Kent, Rhode Island by 1700 and Susannah married (1) Richard Briggs, 23 September 1700 and possibly (2) John Olin, 4 October 1708, both in East Greenwich.
Susannah Stone married Edward Goddard.
Susannah Vergoose died in 1687.
Susannah Wyatt married Nathaniel Ethridge in 1700, Boston.
Susannah Gridley died young, as she is not in her father’s 1687 will.
Susannah Cheever married Robert Rand.
Susannah Clarke married Ebenezer Hancock.
Susannah Clough married Benjamin Swain.
Susannah Wiet, born 1674/5, died in infancy.

That leaves four Susannahs from Suffolk and Middlesex Counties who could possibly be the wife of Thomas Burnham.

We now have a total of  five Susannahs who can’t be accounted for after their births, except for Susannah Lee who may have married Thomas Knowlton.

If Susannah (MNU) Burnham’s birth was recorded in Massachusetts, then she is one of these remaining Susannahs. Now the real work begins! Can any more information be found to support or reject each of these Susannahs as the wife of Thomas Burnham? Time will tell and I need to get busy!