Category Archives: Spurr

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: 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!