Tag Archives: Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson & Dolly Holmes of Campobello Island

Before delving into the Woodward ancestors, which is Robert Wilson Jr.’s maternal line, I want to share his family sketch. I thought I had previously posted about him, but apparently I haven’t.

Robert Wilson is the son of Robert Wilson and Mary Woodward, two of the first settlers on Campobello Island and holders of the earliest land deed on the island.

While births are recorded for Robert’s two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, in Lincoln, Essex, Massachusetts in the 1760s, no such record is found for Robert. It is believed that he was born c1768 on Campobello Island.

Robert married Dolly Holmes in May 1790. This marriage record is found in the register of David Owen, the Campobello Island land baron of his day, and justice of the peace at the time.

It is thought that Dolly was born c1769, probably also on Campobello Island, the daughter of Joseph Holmes and Silence Brown, who married  in Scarborough, Cumberland, Maine and 27 March 1760 and continued to reside there at least until 1763.

Robert and Dolly were the parents of at least six children. All events took place on Campobello Island unless stated otherwise:

1. John Woodward Wilson, born c1792; died shortly before 11 November 1826, when he is called “Captain”, aged 34 years; married Rachel Parker (1800-?), 3 September 1818. No further information found about Rachel. However, the Eastport Sentinel reported the death of a child of John in the 5 October 1822 edition.

2. Maria, born c1794; died before 25 October 1828 when her death was announced in the Eastport Sentinel. Note below that Benjamin remarried in July 1828, so Maria may have died in early 1828; married Benjamin Parker (1788-1870), 12 April 1812. Maria is not mentioned in her father’s will. However, he left a bequest to his grandson, Robert Wilson Parker. Maria is the only female who married a Parker. Benjamin married (2) Olive Mitchell, 28 July 1828 (3) Susan Herson, 19 December 1848.

3. Thankful, born c1797; died 24 March 1887, Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada; married James Brown (1796-1 February 1891), c1820, probably on Campobello Island.

4. Daniel/David, born c1799; died about 14 November 1829 when his death was announced in the Eastport Sentinel. He was about 30 years old.

5. Silence Holmes, born c1801; died after the 1871 census of Campobello Island; married Thomas Nash, about 18 January 1823, Eastport, Washington, Maine. He was born 1795/98, Maine; died 15 June 1872 on Campobello Island. His death was reported in the Eastport Sentinel, but no announcement has been found for Silence. She is not found in the 1880 or 1881 censuses of the U.S. or Canada.

6. Jeremiah, born c1803/06; died 7 February 1871; married Susan Willard, by 1842. Susan was born c1818; died 17 July 1887. This couple hasn’t been found in 1851, but in 1861, they were living on Campobello Island and had one daughter, Dorothy, aged 18, at home with them.

Robert Wilson left a will, dated 7 October 1826, which was apparently never updated, but was probated on 22 April 1845. It is found in Charlotte County, New Brunswick, Canada Will Book T: 535-536.

Will of Robert Wilson

Registered May 14, 1845

In the name of God Amen I Robert Wilson of the Parish of Campobello in the County of Charlotte, Province of New Brunswick, Farmer being weak in body but perfect in mind and memory blessed be to God calling to mind the uncertainty of this life and knowing that it is appropriate for all mens needs to die. Do make this my last will and testament.

First, I carried my soul to God and body in the dust to be buried in a decent Christian like manner at the discretion of my executors here after to be named and as touching——worldly goods and as I have pleased Almighty God to bless me with. I do hereby bequeath and dispose of the same in manner and form following.

I give and bequeath unto my niece Mary Clark wife of Daniel Clark and to her heirs and assign the one half of one acre of land in an exact square laying and being in this Parish aforesaid west of the brook emptying into the Bay of Funday at the north east part of Pollock Cove, so called, exclusive of the road or highway which runs through the same. Also the one half of twenty acres of land running from the mouth of the brook there empties into the head of Head Harbour and extending by the shore of said harbour is the land owned by David Owen and Company on the eastern side of a ridge as far north easterly as to make the correct measurement of twenty four acres and making the half of twenty five acres which my brother James Wilson and myself promised to give her.

Secondly I give and bequeath unto my grandson Robert Wilson Parker and his heirs my house which William Wilson now resides in known as the house formerly belonging to my mother Mary Wilson together with a piece of ground on which it stands one hundred feet in length and fifty feet in width to be kept by my executors here after to be named until the said Robert Wilson Parker shall arrive to the age of twenty one years at which time the said premises shall be delivered up to him by my executor.

Thirdly I give and bequeath unto my son John Woodward Wilson and to his heirs the house he now lives in.

Fourthly I give and bequeath unto my son Jeremiah Wilson and to his heirs my barn together with all my cattle, sheep and ovine.

Fifthly I give and bequeath unto my daughters Thankful Brown and Silence Nash and their heirs the dwelling house in which I now reside.

Sixthly I give and bequeath unto my children John Woodward Wilson, Robert Wilson, David Wilson, Jeremiah Wilson, Thankful Brown, and Silence Nash and to their heirs an equal share of all the remainder of my real estate. That I may die in possession of except what I have already given to Mary Clark and Robert Wilson Parker.

Seventhly I do hereby ordain, constitute, and appoint Mr. Jeremiah Wilson and my son in law, James Brown. Int. Executers of this my last will and testament and do order and demand that they sell and dispose of my vessel called Maurig and to pay the amount of the sales of the said vessel excepting the sum of thirty pounds to my son John Woodward Wilson and to his heirs.

Eighthly I do hereby give and bequeath unto my said executor Jeremiah Wilson and James Brown Jr. the sum of thirty pounds current money of New Brunswick out of the sale of the said vessel Mausty and also sum or sums of money as shall be due and payable to me at the time of my decease. And I do direct and it is my wish and request that my said executors do pay all my debts and demands which may be owed at my decease, and lastly —my further will and pleasure and I do hereby——— my children John Woodward Wilson, Robert Wilson, David Wilson, Jeremiah Wilson, Thankful Brown and Silence Nash to pay out of my estate one half of the expence of maintaining and supporting my sister Elizabeth Wilson during her life and at her decease to give her a decent christian burial. And I do revoke and disannul all former wills and testaments satisfying and allowing no other but this to be my last will and testament. In Testimony where of t———-my name and affix my seal at Campobello aforesaid this seventh day of October in the year of out Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-six

Signed sealed and declared by the aforesaid Robert Wilson to be his last will and testament in the presence of us.

James Wilson, James Pineo, C.R. Hatheway,

Robert Wilson

Province of New Brunswick, County of Charlotte. Be it remembered that on this twenty second day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty five before me, Harris Hatch Magistrate Judge of the said County personally came and appeared James Wilson Jr. and Charles R. Hatheway and one James Pineo whose names as also subscribed to the said will as a witness attesting this execution were all present and that the said Robert Wilson appeared to them the said James Wilson Jr. and Charles R. Hatheway respectively to be of sound and disposing mind and understanding and that the named James Wilson Jr., James Pineo and Charles R. Hatheway were——- to the said will by them the said James Wilson Jr., James Pineo and Charles R. Hatheway respectively in the presence of each other and of the said Robert Wilson.

Mary Woodward (1739-1806), Wife of Robert Wilson of Campobello Island

A few days ago, I wrote about the possible American colonial origins of Robert Wilson and his wife, Mary Woodward. I have to admit I am quite convinced that Robert Wilson and Mary Woodward of Essex County, Massachusetts appear to be the same couple who settled on Campobello Island a few years after their marriage.

While my research hasn’t turned up new information about Robert Wilson, who is said to have come from County Antrim, Ireland (possibly Ballymoney or Ballymena) to Boston, Massachusetts c1751, Mary’s family settled in the colonies in the 1600s, so there is a bonanza of new information about her ancestral lines.

I’ll begin with a look at the Woodward direct line.

Today’s post is a family sketch about Mary’s parents, John Woodward and Saphira Moore of Sudbury, Middlesex, Massachusetts.

John Woodward was born on 17 April 1692, in Sudbury, the son of John Woodward and his wife, Susanna Grout.

Saphira Moore was also born in Sudbury on 4 August 1701, the daughter of Joseph Moore and Elizabeth Cleveland.

John Woodward and Saphira Moore married on 1 August 1721 in Sudbury, Middlesex, Massachusetts.

John and Saphira Woodward were the parents of seven children, all born in Sudbury:

1. Josiah, born 20 November 1721; served as a private in the French and Indian Wars for 17 weeks and 2 days in 1754. He may have died before 1764, as his brother, Isaac named a son born in 1764 Josiah. No further record.
2. Elizabeth, born 27 December 1726; married Edmund Allen, 10 March 1748, Sudbury, Massachusetts. This family removed to Kennebec County, Maine.
3. Mary, born 24 February 1728/29; died by 8 February 1806 when probate began, Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada; married Robert Wilson, 22 February 1759, Sudbury, Massachusetts.
4. Isaac, born 13 April 1732; died 9 March 1814, Swanzey, Cheshire, New Hampshire; married Susannah Parmenter, c1756
5. Joseph, died 28 July 1734; no birth record found.
6. Susannah, born 21 August 1736; died after her husband, who drowned at Cobscook Falls with Robert Wilson in 1782; married William Clark/e, c1767, probably Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada. No further record.
7. Abigail, born 8 February 1738/39; died 9 February 1738/9




A 2021 Look at Robert Wilson of Campobello Island, Canada

Last month, I presented my Most Wanted Ancestors of 2021. Instead of being brick walls, I chose 3 ancestors in my family tree and three in my husband’s who appear to have clues pointing to new information about each family.

Today, Robert Wilson, my 6X great grandfather is the subject of my first investigation.

Here are the facts about Robert Wilson who settled early on Campobello Island with his wife Mary and two other families:

1. In 1767, David Owen was given a land grant that included Campobello Island, then in Nova Scotia, but today part of New Brunswick, Canada. When he arrived on the island with 38 colonists (actually indentured servants from Liverpool) in 1770, he found three families already living there, that of Robert Wilson, William Clarke and Mr. Ricker.

2. Robert Wilson took part in Eddy’s Rebellion and the attack on Fort Cumberland  in 1776, which was an effort to bring the American Revolution to Nova Scotia by men supportive of the cause for independence. He was charged with treason, but apparently was not punished.

3. In addition to being his brother-in-law, William Clarke was Robert Wilson’s long time friend and after Clarke moved his family across the water to Cobscook Falls, Maine, Wilson would often visit and they would go fishing. In 1782, the men were both drowned. It is said they served in the French and Indian War together.

4. Robert Wilson’s wife was Mary Woodward and the Woodward surname was given as a middle name to descendants.

5. William Clarke married Susannah Woodward, sister of Mary, on Campobello Island. A son was baptized in July 1770, so they married no later than 1769.

6. Robert Wilson and Mary Woodward had three children named in Canadian documents: James Wilson, Robert Wilson and Elizabeth Wilson.

7. Mary Wilson’s estate administration was opened in 1806.

With a lack of vital records, the description life on Campobello is sketchy at best. However, it is evident that in 1770, Robert Wilson and the others had already been living on the island for “several” years. A court judgement was in the Wilsons’ favor (against David Owen) and allowed their claim of property ownership.

8. Robert Wilson Jr.’s year of birth has been estimated to be c1768 and that of his brother James as c1771.

9. Robert Wilson Jr. didn’t die until 1845, but wrote his will in 1826. In it, he allowed for the care of and eventual burial of “my sister Elizabeth Wilson,” implying that she never married.

10. Robert Wilson Sr.’s year of birth has been estimated within a wide range of years and they are all just guesses. However, if Robert Jr. was born c1768, we would expect Robert Sr. to have been born no later than c1743 and perhaps much earlier.

Lastly, this isn’t a “fact,” but write ups about Robert Wilson state that he was probably born in Ireland (Ballymena, County Antrim) and arrived in Boston, Massachusetts c1751.

What documents were found in Massachusetts about Robert Wilsons?

Google Maps

The first record that drew people to connect Robert Wilson of Campobello to Massachusetts was a marriage record:

Robert Wilson of Lincoln to Mary Woodward of Sudbury
Intentions filed on 30 January 1759, married 22 February 1759

Mary was the daughter of John Woodward and Saphira Moore of Sudbury and both families had been living in the town for several generations.

The entries for marriage intentions and the actually marriage are recorded in the Lincoln, Middlesex, Massachusetts town vital records.

Further, there were two birth entries, the only two for anyone with the Wilson surname:

Mary, daughter of Robert, born 14 May 1761
Elizabeth, daughter of Robert, born 4 September 1764

No other marriages were recorded in Lincoln for Wilsons, nor were any Wilson deaths recorded.

I widened the search area for births involving a Robert Wilson and one sets of records came up on American Ancestors. One Robert Wilson lived in Boston for an extended time, but not a single entry came up in land records for any Robert Wilson in Suffolk County. I don’t know this man’s occupation – perhaps he was a tradesman and didn’t own land – but seven children were born to this Robert and an unnamed wife and baptized at Arlington Street Church: Mary, 24 January 1731, Robert, 4 April 1734, Robert (again), 24 April 1737, Ann, 20 June 1738, James, 26 March 1739, Mary, 20 February 1740 and Jean, 10 September 1742.  No Wilson deaths were recorded there during this time period, even though a child Mary and a child Robert probably both died young, given that the names were repeated.

Whether or not this Wilson family is related to Robert of Campobello is unknown. There is a marriage record at the Arlington Street Church for a Robert Wilson and Mary Hodge (from ye country, whatever that means!) on 12 April 1763. This is probably the Robert born in 1737 and he married just before his 26th birthday. New England men of the 18th century were often about 25 years old when they married.

There is also a Boston marriage record, not at that church, for Robert Wilson to Mary Miller on 3 May 1755. No other records relating to this couple have been found. Could this be a first marriage for my Robert Wilson? It’s possible, if Mary died giving birth to her first child and Robert waited a year or so to remarry. This marriage is a loose end that might never be connected.

Next, Middlesex County land records were searched. The name Robert Wilson appears but a handful of times.

Middlesex County Deed Books: Robert Wilson

The first two entries are clearly a different man or men:
3:144, J. Brown to Robert Wilson, 27 October 1665
10:90, Robert Wilson to E. Angier, 19 March 1688

Remember, no one has any evidence of the year of birth for Robert of Campobello. What do you think of these next two entries?

43:547, J. Richardson to Robert Wilson, 2 February 1743
45:462, 464 Robert Wilson, tanner of Hopkinton to R. Price, 11 acres of land in Sudbury, 22 July 1746

There are only those two entries for the 1740s, but the fact that Robert is selling land in Sudbury gives me pause. If this is my Robert Wilson, then he is a fair amount older than most people have estimated. He would have been born no later than 1725 to be selling land in 1746 and even older to have previously purchased it.

He is identified as a tanner, whereas Robert of Campobello was a farmer and fisherman. I tend to think this is some other Robert in spite of the link to Sudbury.

The last set of entries I think definitely pertain to Robert who married Mary Woodward:

64:5 Robert & Mary to D. Wyman, share of Eliab Moore’s estate, 17 August 1765
66:555, J. Maynard vs Robert Wilson, judgement, 24 May 1767
67:238, 630, Benjamin Parker giving up/returning rights to deed given to him by Robert Wilson, 3 October 1767
67:634, Robert Wilson to D. Jones, 25 April 1768

After 25 April 1768, Robert Wilson completely disappears from Middlesex County deed books. Remember, by 1770, the Wilson family had already been living on Campobello Island for some time.

There are no death or probate records recorded for Robert, wife Mary Woodward or any children.


I have to say that circumstantial evidence does point to Robert and Mary Woodward who married on 22 February 1759 being the same couple who removed to Campobello Island.

Unfortunately, no single record has been found for Robert Wilson with wording such as “I Robert Wilson formerly of. . . .and now a resident of  . . . ”

However, we have:

1. A Robert Wilson of the right age.

2. A marriage record for a Robert Wilson and a Mary Woodward in exactly the right time frame.

3. Don’t forget that Robert Wilson Jr., in a will written in 1826, left instructions for the care and eventual burial of his sister, Elizabeth Wilson. If his sister is the Elizabeth born in 1764 in Lincoln, then she was only a few years older than Robert and represents another piece of evidence suggesting that Robert and Mary of Sudbury are the same Robert and Mary of Campobello.

4. It is also significant that Robert Wilson of Lincoln/Sudbury completely disappears from town records at precisely the time that Robert Wilson and family appear living on Campobello Island.

5. Lastly, remember, too, that Robert of Campobello took part in Eddy’s Rebellion, supporting the American cause for independence. If he is the same man as Robert of Middlesex County, he would have still been living in Massachusetts as the time of the hated Stamp Act of 1765 and may have even taken part in heated discussions about the King’s actions and that of Parliament, feeling them to be unfair.

What do you think? Please comment. 🙂