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.