Category Archives: Torrey

Jonathan Torrey & Ruth Fry, Weymouth, MA, Early 1700s

As mentioned yesterday, factual information, at least in terms of vital records, is lacking for the Torrey family because the towns in which they lived have incomplete records.

Jonathan Torrey removed from Scituate to Weymouth, where births of four of his five children were recorded. If not for the will that he left, even less would be known about the family.

Jonathan Torrey was born 20 September 1654 in Scituate, the fifth child and fourth son of James and Anne (Hatch) Torrey. As he was only ten years old when his father died in the gunpowder explosion accident and his mother didn’t remarry until 1677, he and his siblings likely had male guardians appointed to care for them, possibly one of his paternal uncles. However, I have not been able to uncover probate records for his father, except for the notice of his estate inventory:

The Mayflower Descendant, Volume 16

Jonathan married Ruth Smith, widow of Joshua Smith. She was the daughter of George Fry. Jonathan and Ruth (Fry) Torrey were the parents of six children who survived their father. Given a couple of gaps in the birth years, they may have lost a child or two.

Children, all born in Weymouth:

1. Mary, born 25 September 1676; married John Norton
2. Ruth, born 17 August 1679; married Mr. Allen, c1699
3. Anne, born 3 March 1682; married Thomas Butler Jr., 18 September 1702, Edgartown, Dukes, Massachusetts.
4. Jonathan, born 25 May 1684; died 27 April 1781, Weymouth, Suffolk, Massachusetts; married (1) Margaret Poole, 17 January 1706, Hingham, Plymouth, Massachusetts (2) Lydia Green, intentions filed 9 August 1712, Weymouth, Suffolk, Massachusetts
5. Sarah, born c1686; married (1) Samuel King, c1705 (2) Ebenezer Hovey, 13 November 1735
6. Joshua, born 11 November 1690; married Jane Lovell, 18 March 1716/17, Weymouth, Suffolk, Massachusetts

Jonathan Torrey died on 7 June 1718 in Weymouth, leaving a will in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, File #4143, volume 3:257.

File #4143, 3:257
Suffolk County, Massachusetts Probate Files
Source: American Ancestors

In the Name of God Amen the twenty second Day of february in the year of Our Lord God 1717/1718 I Jonathan Torrey of Weymouth in the County of Suffolk in the Province of the massachusetts Bay in Newengland Husbandman, though weak of Body, yet of Perfect mind & memory, Thanks be Given to God therefore Calling to mind the mortality of my Body & Knowing that it is Appointed for all men once to Dy, Do make & ordain this my Last Will & Testament, that is to Say Prinicipally & first of all, I Give & recommend my Soul into the hands of God that Gave it Hoping & trsuting in my Dear Redeemer Jesus Christ for Pardon & Eternal Life , and for my Body I recommend it to the Earth to be Buried in a Christianlike and Decent manner at the Discretion of my Executors: Nothing Doubting but at The General Resurrection I Shall receive the Same again by the mighty power of God: And as touching Such worldly Estate wherewith it hath Pleased god to Bless me in this Life, I Give Devise & Dispose of the same in the following manner and form (my Just Debts & funerall Expenses being first Paid)

Imprimis I Give to my well beloved wife Ruth: all my money together with my household Goods and moveable Estate (Exempting five Pounds as is hereafter Disposed of) to be wholely at her Disposing & Improvement & to be by her Distributed amongst my Children also the Improvement of all my real Estate During her natural life If she continues my widow & if She be married again then to have only the Income of one third part of my Real Estate.

Item I give to my Son Jonathan Torrey hier heirs & assigns for ever Eight acres of land Lying on the Eastern neck in Weymouth namely that Land that I Bought of William (Pittey?)) also one half of all my Salt meadown on Sd neck he paying ten pounds out of the same as hereafter is expressed & Disposed of.

Item I Give to my Son Joshua torrey his heirs & assigns for ever my Dwelling house Barn orchard and all my Lands & meadown not before Disposed of he paying forty Pounds out of the same as hereafter it is Disposed of and if it Happen that my son Joshua Shall be Evicted or Ejected out of the Possession of that Part or Parcel of my Land, which I bought of Joseph Green Then my will is that all my Lands & real Estate Shall be Equaly Devided Betwixt my (?) aforementioned They Paying Equaly & alike of The Legacies hereafter given.

Item I Give to my Daughter Mary Norton ten Pounds to her & her heirs to be Paid by my Son Joshua within three eyars after mine & my wife’s Decease

Item I Give to my Daughter Ruth Allen ten Pounds to her & her heirs To be Paid by my Son Joshua within three years after mine & my wife’s Decease

Item I Give to my Daughter Anne Butler fifteen pounds To her & her heirs give pounds whereof to be Paid (by – sic) my Son Jonathan within Two years, and ten pounds to be Paid by my Son Joshua within three years after mine & my wife’s Decease

Item I Give to my Daughter Sarah King, her heirs & assigns fifteen Pounds five pounds to be Paid by my Son Jonathan within two years & ten pounds by my Son Joshua within three years after mine & my wife’s Decease.

And I give to be Grand Children (viz) Samuel King & Ruth torrey five pounds Equaly to be Divided Betwixt them to be paid out of my monies & moveable as abouve is exempted & (Reserved?) all the aforesd legacies to be paid in bills of Credit or in Such moneey as Passeth Currant amongst traders in this Province at the time of payment and I Do constitute make & ordain my Two Sons aforementioned my Executors of this my Last will & Testament and I Do hereby utterly Disallow revoke and make voice all & Every former Testaments wills & Legacies Bequests and Executors by me in any ways before this time named, willed & bequested Ratifying & Confirming this & no other to be my Last will & Testament, In Witness whereof I have hereunto Set my jand & Seal the Day & year above written

Jonathan Torrey

Signed Seal’d Publish’d & Declar’d by the Testator,
as his Last will & Testament
In the Presence of us the Subscribers, viz
James Humphrey
John Whitmarsh
Silence Humphrey


James Torrey & Anne Hatch, Scituate, MA 1600s

As I share family sketches of my immigrant ancestors, I’ve noticed how many of them adapted a seafaring way of life. Even if they were not fishermen by trade, they often traveled from the mainland to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Some even sailed further to the southwest all the way to Long Island, New York.

James Torrey, one of the immigrant Torrey ancestors, hailed from Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset, England. The old adage about three brothers coming to America is sort of true about James Torrey, as he was one of FOUR brothers (sons of Philip Torrey of Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset, England, who died in 1621) to settle in Massachusetts. James was but seven or eight years old when his father died and barely 21 when his mother, Alice, died in 1634. Both parents left wills in Somerset, England.

Brothers William, Joseph, James and Philip may or may not have arrived together. It is said they were in Massachusetts by 1635. However, James Torrey appears in no record until his marriage in 1643.

Piecing together facts for his family is somewhat difficult, as the Torreys had ties to Boston, Weymouth, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, in addition to Scituate, and vital records, in particular, for those places are not always complete.

Lt. James Torrey, as he was styled, married Anne Hatch, daughter of William Hatch, in Scituate, Plymouth, Massachusetts on 2 November 1643.

Anne (Hatch) Torrey was left widowed with a houseful of little children due to the horrific manner in which James died on 6 July 1665.

Lt. James was apparently drying gunpowder, in preparation for possible skirmishes with the Dutch when some of the gunpowder exploded, blowing up the building. James was badly injured with burns to his head, arms and chest and, amazingly, was not instantly killed. However, he must have suffered painfully before his death the following day.

James and Anne were the parents of ten children, the oldest of whom was only 21 years old when James died, the youngest born 13 days after the death of her father.

Anne (Hatch) Torrey married (2) John Phillips, about 1677, but no further record has been found. John Phillips died in Marshfield, Plymouth, Massachusetts between 20 October 1691 and 9 May 1692, when his will was proved in court.  I have been unable to find an image, or even a full transcription of his will. Each database has an index card indicating case #15871. However, when the case file is located, another card says “see records” and nothing more.

It is said that Anne Torrey Phillips predeceased her husband, although no date of death has been found. We can only assume it was before 21 October 1691, when John wrote his will. Anne had no children with John, as she was likely about 50 when they married.

Children of James and Anne (Hatch) Torrey, all events in Scituate unless noted otherwise:

1. James, born 3 September 1644; married (1) Lydia Wells, I June 1666 (2) Elizabeth Rawlins, 29 September 1679
2. William, born 15 March 1646; not in brother Joseph’s 1714 will
3. Joseph, born 18 March 1646; died 8 May 1714; unmarried
4. Damaris, born 26 October 1651; died after 8 May 1714; married Richard Prouty, cDecember 1676.
5. Jonathan, born 20 September 1654; died 7 June 1718; married Ruth Fry, c1675
6. Mary, born 14 February 1656; died after 8 May 1714; married Samuel Humphrey, by 1679
7. Josiah, born 28 January 1658; married (1) Isabel (MNU) (Hylane) (Wetherell), 6 October 1684 (2) Sarah Mendall, 12 January 1692
8. Sarah, born 9 February 1660; died 20 May 1717, Barnstable, Barnstable, Massachusetts; married (1) Richard Warren, by 1679 (2) Thomas Ewer, 18 September 1712, Barnstable, Barnstable, Massachusetts
9. Joanna, born 4 May 1663; no further record
10. Bethiah, born 19 July 1665; died after 8 May 1714; married Robert Woodard, by 1685

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at my last Torrey generation before the surname is lost in my family tree.


John Norton & Mary Torrey, Edgartown, Massachusetts

John Norton was born about 1674, probably in Edgartwon, Dukes, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph Norton and Mary Bayes. John married Mary Torrey, believed to be the daughter of Jonathan and Ruth (Fry) Torrey of Weymouth, Massachusetts.

Edgartown is on the eastern edge of Martha’s Vineyard just northwest of Nantucket Island. Early families here mostly made their living at sea and often traveled the short distance between the two islands. It isn’t surprising that my Coleman and Coffin lines in Nantucket intersect with the Norton family in Martha’s Vineyard.

John and Mary were the parents of five known children:

  1. Mary, born c1700; died 15 January 1746, Edgartown, Dukes, Massachusetts in her 46th year; married Christopher Beetle, 25 October 1718, Edgartown, Dukes, Massachusetts. No death record has been found for Christopher, but he survived Mary.
  2. Jemima, born c1702; died 3 April 1794, Tisbury, Dukes, Massachusetts in her 92nd year; married Cornelius Dunham. He may be the Cornelius Dunahm whose death is recorded in Boston in 1766, no month or day noted.
  3. John, born c1704; reportedly removed to Connecticut
  4. Rachel, born c1706; died 16 October 1767, Nantucket, Massachusetts; married Joseph Coleman, c1729
  5. Jerusha, born c1708; buried 4 February 1769, Edgartown, Dukes, Massachusetts; married Ichabod Wiswall, 9 December 1735, Edgartown, Dukes, Massachusetts. He resided in Dorchester at the time of his marriage. Ichabod was buried in Edgartwon on 17 June 1784, aged 78 years.

John Norton died on 6 December 1730 in Edgartown, leaving a will, written a week before his death on 30 November 1730. Mary survived him by many years, dying on 29 July 1814, also in Edgartown.

In the name of God amen. I, John Norton of Edgartown in ye County of Dukes County in ye Province of ye Massachusetts Bay in New England Gentleman Being very sick & weak of Body but of perfect sence & memory Praised be almighty God for the same and calling to mind that is is Appointed for all men once to Dye & knowing ye Uncertainty thereof Do there fore make & ordain this to be my Last Will & Testament in manner & form following. That is to say

Imprimis I Give & Recommend my soul Into the hands of Almighty God who gave it hoping through ye intersession & mediation of our Blessed Lord & only Redeemer Jesus Christ to receive a full perfect & absolute forgiveness of all my sins & transgressions by his Meritorious Death & Passion —-

Item my Body I Recommend to ye Earth to be Decently Interred after my Decease in a Christian Like manner att ye Discression of my Executor hereafter named nothing doubting but to find a Joy full Resurrection at ye Last Day: – And as for what worldly Estate it hath pleased Almighty God to bestow upon me & Bless me with all I give will devise and bequeath ye same in manner & form following viz. First it is my will & desire yt my Just Debts to be truly paid & Discharged by my Executor hereafter named & out of his Proportion of my Estate –

Item. I give will & bequeath unto my loving wife Mary Norton the one Third part of all my whole Estate both Real & Personal in Possession & Reversion for & During ye sd Mary Nortons Natural Life & it is my will yt after her Decease the same shall desend unto my Son John Norton Junr his heirs Execs Adms and assigns for ever.
Item. I give will & Bequeath unto my Daughter Jemima the wife of Cornelius Dunham one acre of land: that is one acre of the North Westerly part of my now dwelling house lott in sd Edgartown beginning from the outermost part thereof & so running in full breadth Downwards so as to contain one acre & including the Dwelling houses wherein sd Jemima now lives. To her the sd Jemima Dunahm her heirs Execrs Adms and assigns forever.

Item. I give will devise & bequeath unto my aforsd Son John Noton Jur all the Residue & whole remaining part of my Estate both Real & Personall in Possession or Revision & all and Eney the Debts & dues that shall be found Due & owing to me to him ye sd John Norton Junr his heirs Execs Adms & assignes for ever. Provided Nevertheless that iit is my will & Pleasure that he pay & discharge all such just Debts as are due from me. (Turn over) and do also pay the several Legacys unto the persons hereafter named.

Item. I give will Devise unto my Daughter Mary ye wife of Christopher Beete ye sum of fifty Pounds money Currency of New England to be paid unto her the sd Mary by my aofresd son John Norton Jur according to ye time hereafter Expressed to her sd Mary Beetle her heirs Exers Adms & assignes for ever: –

Item. I give will Devise & bequeath unto my Daughter Jemima the wife of Cornelius Dunham ye Sum of Sixty Pounds money Currency of New England to be paid unto her in same manner as the aforesd Marys is to be paid to her sd Jemima Dunham her heirs Execrs adms and assigns for ever.

Item. I give will Devise & bequeath unto my Daughter Rachel the wife of Joseph Coleman the sum of fiftey Pounds Money currency of New England to be paid unto her sd Rachel in ye same manner as the aforesd Mary Beetle & Jemima Dunhams is to be paid. To her sd Rachel Coleman her heirs Execrs Admrs and assigns for Ever.

Item. It is my will & Pleasure that ye legacys to be paid unto my aforsd daughters Mary Beetle & Jemima Dunham & Rachel Coleman be paid unto them by my aforsd son John Norton Junr his heirs Execrs or Adms within he space or at ye expriation of two nears next after my Decease That is to Say ye one halfe of sd severall Legacys to be paid to each one Respectively according to their proportion or to their respective heirs Execrs Adms or Assigns at ye expiration of one year next after my Decease & ye remaining halfe part of Each ones proportion to be paid in like manner at ye expiration of ye above term of two years next after my decease. but if yt my sd son John Norton Jur shall see cause for to sett of any part of real or personall Estate or of both for to pay sd Legacys or any part thereof That then sd Mary Beetle Jemima Dunham and Rachel Coleman shall receive their proportion of ye sd estate as he shall Nominate & Appoint according as ye same shall or may be lawfully Apperized & such part as they shall receive shall be deemed & taken to be paid in part proportionally of their aforsd Severall Legacys & ye Reason that I have allowed unto sd Mary Beetle Jemima Dunham Rachel Coleman no Larger Legacys is yt on their Marriages & Since I have paid & given them Considerable Sums of Money.