Category Archives: Stover

Sylvester Stover & Elizabeth (MNU) York County, ME 1600s

Sylvester Stover is my 8X great grandparent and, as I wrote the other day, he married Elizabeth (MNU), daughter of Margaret (MNU) and stepdaughter of Henry Norton of York, York, Maine c1650-1652, most likely in York County, Maine where they lived.

Sylvester’s parentage and family origins are unknown. Henry Norton was form Stepney, Middlesex, England, but as he was in New England by 1634 and didn’t marry Margaret until c1640, his birthplace might have no ties at all to Sylvester and Elizabeth.

Although Sylvester and Elizabeth were the parents of nine children, they had a rocky relationship, at least in the first few years of their marriage, as they made several appearances in the York County, Maine court records.

Source: American Ancestors

Given that each was accusing others of unbecoming behavior – and it was recorded for posterity in court records – DNA test results given back in the day might have brought surprising results. However, there is no indication in the minutes that anyone but Sylvester and his wife Elizabeth were the parents of the nine children living in their household.

Sylvester was a farmer and ferryman by occupation and lived at Cape Neddick, York, Maine. He was born c1630 and died before 14 February 1689/90 in York County when his will was filed.

Source: American Ancestors

Elizabeth, born probably 1632-1637, outlived Sylvester by many years. Her will was filed on 4 September 1722 in Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

Elizabeth was most likely living with her daughter Hannah, her husband David Bryant, and their family when she wrote her will in 1714. She was already around 80 or a bit older by that time and the will wasn’t recorded for another ten years.

Elizabeth was a slave owner – how, where or when she became one, the records don’t say – but she was ahead of her time with her bequests to Phebie, Jonathan and Jerusha in her will. I’ve read a fair number of wills where the testator gives a slave his or her freedom and maybe even gives them one suit of clothes.

Elizabeth went far beyond that with her bequests. Her own children each received £23 and were to share equally in the rest of her estate. However, Phebe, Jonathan and Jerusha each received their freedom, all the clothing, the beds in which they slept along with the bedding AND £10 each. Jonathan was even to inherit Elizabeth’s gun.

I don’t know whether there was any significance to the naming of her executors – one of her children plus two non-family members – and any two of them were to handle her estate. Did she want to be sure that her wishes were followed exactly?

Keep in mind that Massachusetts didn’t abolish slavery until 1783 – 69 years after Elizabeth wrote her will:

In the name of God Amen. The Seventh day of December In the first year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord, George, by the grace of god of Great Britain France and Ireland. King, Defender of the faith Annoq Domini one thousand seven hundred and fourteen. I Elizabeth Stover of Scittuate in the County of Plymouth in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, Spinster, Being weak of Body but of Sound memory, Calling to mind my mortality, & the uncertainty of my Life, I do make & ordain this my Last Will and testament, In manner & form following, hereby revoking & making Null & void all former Will or Wills, by me made Either by word or writing, ratifying & confirming no other to (both?) my Last will & testament.

First & principally I give & recommend my Soul in to the hands of god ye gave it and my body to the Earth to be buried after a decent & Christian manner at the Discretion of my Executors hereafter named. — And as touching such worldly Estate as the Lord has Blessed me with, I do give & bequeath& dispose of the same in manner following.

Imprimis I Give & bequeath unto my son John Stover the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my son Dependence Stover the summer of twenty & three pounds silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my son Josiah Stover the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my son George Stover the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my Daughter Elizabeth Walford the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my Daughter Sarah Lanchaster the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my Daughter Deborah Sawyer the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my Daughter Mary Wanton the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give & bequeath unto my Daughter Hannah Bryant the Summ of twenty & three pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce.

Item I Give unto Phebie, my Negro woman Slave, her freedom at my death and ten pounds in silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce to be paid by my Executors at the End of one month after my decease. Item I Give unto my said negro woman all her wareing cloths, together with the bed Shee lyeth on, and the bead stead, & clothing (?) that belongs to it.

Item I give unto Jonathan my Negro lad, the son of Phebie my negro woman, his freedome at my Decease; Item I give unto the Sd Jonathan all his wareing cloths, the bed whereon he Lyeth and the clothing belonging to it, my Gun, and ten pounds in Silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce to be paid him by my Executors when he Shall arrive to the age of twenty and one years.

Item I Give unto Jerusha my Negro Girl the Daughter of Phebie my negro woman her freedom at my Decease; Item I give unto the sd Jerusha her wareing Cloths, & ten pounds in Silver money at Eight Shillings p ounce, to be paid unto her by my Executor whenShe Shall arrive att the age of Eighteen years;

Item My will is that after the payment of my funerall Charges & just debts the remainder of my Estate both Real & personal be Equally Divided among my nine Children viz: John, Dependence, George, Josiah, Elizabeth, Sarah, Deborah, Mary & Hannah And I do hereby Ordain, Constitute & appoint my trusty & faithful Friend MicaelWanton & Nathanael (Ellis?) and my beloved son Josiah Stover or Either two of them —- to be the Executors of this my Last will & Testament In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal the day & year above written.

Elizabeth (her E mark) Stover

Signed sealed & declared in presence of us witnesses
Stephen Clay?
Timothy Symmes
Tho mark of V Thomas Vere

Children, all likely born Cape Neddick, York, Maine and all were living in December 1714 when their mother wrote her will:

  1. Elizabeth, born c1653; married (1) Richard Hunnewell, 31 March 1674, Scarborough, . He died in 1703. (2) Jeremiah Walford (3) John Downing, after December 1714, when Elizabeth’s mother wrote her will.
  2. Mary, born c1655; married Mr. (Michael?) Wanton. The Wanton family seems to have been living in the Scituate, Massachusetts area.
  3. John, born c1660;
  4. Hannah, born c1662; married (1) Richard Church, 2 February 1696/97, Scituate, Plymouth, Massachusetts. He died in 1703. (2) David Bryant
  5. Sarah, born c1665; married Mr. (William?) Lancaster
  6. George, born c1668; married Abigail Elwell, 25 January 1992/93, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
  7. Deborah, born c1670; died 13 July 1734, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts; married James Sayward, c1691, probably in York County, Maine
  8. Dependence, born c1675; died 25 September 1723, York York, Maine; married Mary Young, c1701, probably York county, Maine
  9. Josiah, born c1677; died 9 April 1743, Tiverton, Newport, Rhode Island; married Sarah (MNU), c1698, Tiverton, Newport, Rhode Island.

Here ends the Stover surname in my family tree.


Elizabeth (Norton?), Wife of Sylvester Stover and Henry Norton of York, ME

I’ve said it before and I have to repeat myself. It is ALWAYS good to go back and look at old research through new eyes. I also have to promote AmericanAncestors as a “must” resource for everyone who has early colonial American ancestry.

I have been focusing my new eyes on my 8X great grandparents, Sylvester Stover and his wife, Elizabeth, who has been called Elizabeth Norton at least since the mid 1800s in the genealogy world. Because I only carry the Stover surname in my tree for a generation – their daughter, Deborah, married James Sayward and the Stover name leaves my family tree with that generation, I have not looked at this family for a very long time.

Since the time I actually worked on it, The Great Migration Study Project, led by Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, and sponsored by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, got up and running and published its initial multi-volume set about the earliest settlers in New England.

One of those men, Henry Norton, features in the project because he can be documented living in Boston by 1634/35 and in York, York, Maine by 1642.

Henry Norton was a respected man in his community and details of his residence and community offices held are included in his life sketch. He was baptized on 2 December 1618 in St. Dunstan, Stepney, Middlesex, England and administration on his estate began on 14 August 1659. Henry married Margaret (MNU), c1639, given the birth of George, noted next.

The two most interesting items, though, to me are (1) that he is only attributed with ONE child, his son George, born c1640. Given that Henry was baptized (and born, from other commentary in his sketch) in 1618, he would have been 22 when his son was born in 1640.

HOWEVER, and this is a big however, Elizabeth “Norton” was married to Sylvester Stover by 1653. If Henry was 22 when George was born, and Elizabeth married Sylvester by 1653 and maybe a bit earlier, there is a timeline problem here.

If Elizabeth was just 16 years old when she married, which would be extremely unusual in New England in the mid 17th century, she would have been born no later than 1637 if married in 1653. If she was 21 at the time of marriage, she would have been born c1632.

Instead, it is suggested and maybe probable that Henry’s wife, Margaret, was a widow when she married him.

That conclusion makes perfect sense to me! I suspect that other Stover descendants, like me, might not have looked at more recent research done on this family.

That means that Henry Norton needs to take a new place on my family tree, as the second husband of Margaret (MNU) and Elizabeth will drop the Norton surname. Instead, I will add this information into my notes to explain her relationship to Henry.

James Sayward & Deborah Stover of Gloucester, MA

James and Deborah (Stover) Sayward have a special place in my heart. The Sayward family was a line I found very early in my trek to learn about my ancestors. I have already been reading the New England Historic & Genealogical Society’s publication, The Register, and I had found an article about gravestone transcriptions in the old Gloucester First Parish Burial Ground. In the summer of 1981, Dave and I took a trip back east to visit family and visit a few cemeteries along the way.

High on my list was the old Gloucester cemetery because I knew that James and Deborah were buried there AND they had died in 1737 and 1734, respectively. I wanted to visit their graves and see those stones for myself.

We found the cemetery after asking for directions from the locals and had to drive through someone’s backyard past the laundry on the clothesline to reach it!

The cemetery was very overgrown with weeds and was fairly large, meandering up a hill under some trees. Dave was not keen to spend much of his very first New England visit tromping around an old cemetery looking for gravestones that might not exist anymore or be legible after two centuries. I, however, was determined to find them and just knew that they would still be there. It took about 45 minutes, but after we made our way up the hillside, we found James and Deborah laying side by side.

Dave took photos, but back then, he only had slides made, so I don’t have the images to share, but the cemetery has been cleaned up and the gravestones of both Elder James Sayward and Deborah, his wife, are in great condition and posted on Find-A-Grave.

James Sayward was the youngest child of Henry Sayward and Mary Peasley, born c1667 in York, Maine. Deborah Stover was the daughter of Sylvester Stover and Elizabeth Norton, also born c1667, based on the age on her gravestone, probably also in York, Maine. They married about 1693, again, probably in Maine. Deborah predeceased James by several years, passing away on 13 July 1734. James married (2) Mary Wharf Davis, widow of Ebenezer Davis, 30 January 1735, in Gloucester. Elder James Sayward died on 13 February 1736/37.

Although James and Deborah were both natives of York County, Maine, they removed to Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts before the birth of their first child.

Children, all born in Gloucester:

1. Deborah, baptized before 1703, per Gloucester Vital Records; died after her father’s will was written; married James Stevens, 13 July 1717, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
2. James, born 15 November 1697; died 26 November 1697, both at Gloucester.
3. James, born 18 August 1699; died 30 November 1734, York, York, Maine; unmarried.
4. Samuel, born 21 April 1701; died before 29 March 1762 when probate of his estate began in Essex County, Massachusetts; married Lucy Norwood, 7 April 1729, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
5. Elizabeth, baptized before 1703, per Gloucester Vital Records; married Elias Weare, 22 December 1722, York, York, Maine
6. Henry, born 19 February 1704; died after his father’s will was written; married Abigail Sargent, 20 January 1730, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
7. Mary, born 14 January 1705/06; married Moses Bradstreet, 16 January 1731, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
8. Joseph, born 1 March 1707/08; died after 3 April 1779, probably Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts; married Sarah Giddings, 20 January 1730, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
9. Hannah, born 31 July 1713; married Captain John Sanders, 23 January 1734/35, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts. John Sanders died 17 January 1742/43 “in his 30th year” in Gloucester. Hannah served as administratrix of his estate and was appointed guardian to their three children, John, Abigail and Mary Sanders. Hannah was still living on 4 June 1750, but no death record has been found for her:

Essex County, MA Probate File #24739

James Sayward left a will:

The Sayward Family
Source: FamilySearch

Elder James Sayward left a healthy estate valued at almost £1700. Although he named his children in his will, he did not include married surnames of his daughters. Son Henry received land in Yarmouth, Maine and it appears he left Gloucester to live there. No death date has been found for him.

This ends my Sayward series of posts, as James’s son, Joseph, is my line. Joseph married Sarah Giddings and I covered this family back when I wrote about my Giddings line.

My line of descent from Henry Sayward:

  1. Henry Sayward & Mary Peasley
  2. James Sayward & Deborah Stover
  3. Joseph Sayward & Sarah Giddings
  4. Samuel Tarbox & Deborah Sayward
  5. William Tarbox & Judith Haskell
  6. George Rogers Tarbox & Mary Elizabeth Scripture
  7. Calvin Segee Adams & Nellie F. Tarbox
  8. Charles Edwin Adams & Annie Maude Stuart
  9. Vernon Tarbox Adams & Hazel Ethel Coleman
  10. George Michael Sabo & Doris Priscilla Adams
  11. Linda Anne Sabo Stufflebean – me!