Tag Archives: Robert Mason

Robert Mason and the Bolton Massacre of 1644

Yesterday, I shared data on the family of Sampson Mason and his wife, Mary Butterworth, who lived in Rehoboth, Massachusetts in the 1600s.

It seems that the Mason and Butterworth ancestral origins weren’t far apart back in Old England as Bolton to Halifax is only about 40 miles distance.

It is unusual, at least in my family, to find ancestors who hailed from the north of England. Many of mine came from Devon, Cornwall, and some of the other southern, or at least more southern shires, of England.

However, the Masons and the Butterworths were from northern England towns about 40 miles apart – the Mason family from Bolton, Lancashire and the Butterworth clan from Halifax, West Riding, Yorkshire. Both are close to Manchester.

Back in the 1600s, forty miles’ distance made it very unlikely that the families knew each other, but they may have felt some kinship with each other on arrival in Massachusetts with so many other families from the south.

Today’s story is about Robert Mason. The name of his wife isn’t known and he is credited with a houseful of children, but the only records I am able to locate name:

Mary – possibly this child, baptized 28 August 1621, Wigan, Lancashire, England, daughter of one Robert Mason, was a sister to Sampson. Wigan is only ten miles from Bolton and it is certainly possible that the family moved from one village to another.

Sampson, baptized 6 December 1624, St. Peter Bolton, Lancashire

Thomas, baptized 29 January 1638, St. Peter Bolton, Lancashire

None of these records names a mother and no likely marriage record has been found for this Robert.

However, Robert’s death has been well documented, as he was one of 78 people (76 men and 2 women) who were killed in the Storming of Bolton, or the Bolton Massacre on 28 May 1644.

This event was a brutal episode during the English Civil War. Bolton had two strikes against it – it was supportive of Parliament and Oliver Cromwell AND it was strongly non-conformist in terms of religious leanings.

On that fateful day, Prince Rupert mounted an attack on Bolton. The Parliamentarians fortified the town by setting up a defensive line of men, ready to defend their homes and families.

Fighting continued until the Parliamentarians were overcome by the Royalists. A true count of men lost doesn’t exist. Some sources claim thousands were killed, but town records only name 78 souls lost in the battle.

There are a number of undocumented lores about Sampson’s involvement in the Civil War, but I hestitate to repeat them since they are just that – lore.

Thus, the story of Robert Mason and his family is quite short. Perhaps future research will shed light on his wife and other possible children.

Next week, I will outline Mary Butterworth’s ancestors, which have already been proven.