Tag Archives: Witham

Henry Witham & Sarah Somes, Gloucester, MA, 1600s

Today’s family sketch, the last concerning the Witham family discusses Henry Witham and his wife, Sarah Somes.

Henry Witham was born maybe c1643, probably in England.

There are many websites and online trees that not only give an exact date of birth for Henry in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts, but also name his father and mother, complete with a maiden name.

There are also online trees that provide Witham grandparents for Henry, both grandfather and grandmother, complete with a maiden name.

However, there is a huge stumbling block with this information. I can find no evidence whatsoever that there was an Witham in Massachusetts prior to Henry Witham.

Part of the problem is that someone found a probate mention for Thomas Wathen in 1652/53 and decided that surname was really Witham. Well, I happen to know it’s not because I have actual Wathens in my own family tree.

In addition to undocumented parents and grandparents for Henry, these online trees come filled with three siblings for him, too. I dare not repeat their names, as I don’t want to contribute to populating family trees with non-existent people, but I have found no evidence to support siblings for Henry. That includes a brother, given an exact date of birth in Gloucester, but which is not found in Gloucester town records.

Some try to assign Peter Witham of York, Maine in the 1600s as Henry’s father. The issue there is that Peter Witham married Redigon Clark in Boston in 1652. There is no evidence of a prior marriage and Peter isn’t old enough to be Henry’s father.

Witham is a surname that appears in multiple English counties so there is no reason to assume any familial relationship between Peter and Henry, but it is not impossible. The given name Peter does not appear in the descendants of Henry Witham.

The only “sources” I find for these parents and grandparents of Henry Witham are links that go in circles to other online trees. There is not a single primary source, nay, not even a secondary source, for any ancestors of Henry Witham.

Therefore, I will start again.

Henry Witham was born no later than 1643 and likely several years earlier in the 1630s, probably in England, and married Sarah Somes on 15 June 1665 in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts.

Sarah was born 15 June 1643, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts, the daughter of Morris Somes and Marjorie Johnson, who emigrated from the Buckinghamshire/Bedfordshire border towns of Hardmead and Cranfield in England and settled in Massachusetts.

Henry Witham died before 4 April 1695, probably in Gloucester. His son Thomas sold land on that date that is identified as having belonged to his father, Henry, deceased.

Sarah predeceased her husband, passing away on 11 May 1689, also in Gloucester.

Henry and Sarah were the parents of five children, all sons, but only three lived to adulthood. Their family was quite small given the number of children most other couples had in this time period.

Children: (All events in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts)

1. Thomas, born 29 September 1666; died 1 August 1736; married Abigail Babson, 8 July 1691.

2. Henry, born 27 October 1668; died 27 April 1702; married Lydia Younglove, widow of Samuel Griffin, 23 October 1691

3. John, born 19 February 1670/71; died 18 June 1671

4. Samuel, born 26 January 1671/72; died after 1713, when his son, John, died 5 January 1713/14. John is called son of Samuel, not of Samuel deceased; married Rebecca ____dner, who has been called Rebecca Gardner, 5 December 1705. Nothing further is found, as there are no land deeds or probate records for any Samuel Witham.

5. Joseph, born 21 December 1676; no further record

It is evident that Henry and Sarah had but three sons who lived to adulthood and it is possible that Samuel might not have had any surviving children as no further record of Rebecca can be found.

If you are descended from Henry Witham and Sarah Somes and have made any further progress documenting this family, I would love to hear from you.



Thomas Witham & Abigail Babson, Gloucester, MA, Late 1600s

As I’ve worked my way back in time with the Witham families, I’ve been able to clean up incomplete and/or inaccurate details in each generation, using only Gloucester vital records plus Essex County, Massachusetts land deeds and probate records in a handful of cases.

Today’s family sketch covers Thomas Witham, born 29 September 1666, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts, the eldest child of Henry Witham and Sarah Somes.

Thomas Witham married Abigail Babson, born 13 May 1670, also in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts, the daughter of James Babson and Eleanor Hill, on 8 July 1691.

This family resided in Gloucester their whole lives.

Thomas Witham died 1 August 1736. Abigail survived him by almost a decade, passing away 25 February 1745.

The Withams were comfortably well off and their son Daniel graduated from Harvard in 1717.

They were the parents of eleven children. All events noted were in Gloucester.


1. John, born 17 May 1692; died 14 November 1709

2. James, born 21 December 1693; died before 12 July 1773, when Hepzibah and James’s brother Zebulon sold land; married Hepzibah Standwood, 17 February 1722/23

3. Henry, born 12 June 1695; died 18 March 1777; married Rachel Baker, 18 June 1733

4. Joseph, born 16 December 1697; died before 5 November 1744, when widow Jane administered his estate and guardians were chosen for his children; married Jane Harraden, 2 December 1728

5. Daniel, born 30 August 1700; died after 6 September 1774, when he was last mentioned in town records; married Lydia Sanders, 7 January 1734/35

6. Ebenezer, born and died 8 May 1702

7. Abigail, born 4 April 1704; no further record. She is NOT the one who married Thomas Hutchins in October 1749 and gave birth to children born 1767-1771!

8. Sarah, born 8 June 1706; died between 18 August 1789-20 August 1799, when she and daughter Abigail Hadley appeared in a land deed and then Abigail next appeared alone; married John Hadley, 1 December 1737

9. Zebulon, born 8 January 1707/08; died 22 January 1794; married Elizabeth Sanders, sister of Lydia, who married Zebulon’s brother, Daniel, 17 December 1736

10. Patience, born 15 February 1709/10; died after 1798; married (1) Edmund Grover, 6 January 1730/31 (2) John Pool, 3 June 1752. Patience Pool was enumerated, living alone, in the 1790 census of Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts. She is also on the 1798 Massachusetts Direct Tax list for Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts in 1798. She was 1/3 owner of a dwelling with Esther Leighton and Dorcas Leighton. Patience and Edmund Grover’s daughter, Patience, married Samuel Leighton, 9 January 1749/50.

11. Thankful, born 2 January 1712; died 18 May 1786; married Eleazer Grover, brother of Edmund Grover who married Patience, 15 July 1736

Tomorrow’s sketch will cover the earliest DOCUMENTED Witham – Henry. I have quite a bit to say about that.


Daniel Witham & Lydia Sanders, Gloucester, MA, 1700s

Many times, as I piece together lives of ancestors in my family tree, they unfortunately become little more than a family grouping of births, marriages and deaths.

Today’s family is much different even though they lived in the 18th century. Although there was a life of community service, there was also much sadness at home.

Daniel Witham and Lydia Sanders, the subjects of today’s sketch, seemed to have much going for them as they began married life.

Daniel Witham was born 30 August 1700, the son of Thomas Witham and Abigail Babson of Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts.

Daniel must have shown great intellectual promise as a child because he graduated from Harvard in 1718. He spent his first post-academic years teaching school first in Dorchester and then in Gloucester.

After his teaching career, Daniel took up the occupation of doctor. He was active in town affairs, serving as Gloucester Justice of the Peace and town clerk for 32 years.

Perhaps because of his interest in community service, Daniel was a bit older than the typical male age for marriage when he wedded Lydia Sanders on 7 January 1734/35 in Gloucester.

Lydia Sanders was 14 years younger than Daniel, having been born 20 March 1713/14, also in Gloucester, the daughter of Thomas Sanders and Abigail Curney.

Before we delve into the many children born to Daniel and Lydia, a comment is necessary. Gloucester, Massachusetts vital records are known to be incomplete. I never realized that one of my own ancestors is partly to blame, given that Daniel was town clerk for about 32 years.

Even the records of his own family are in disarray, with missing years  and a lack of even death dates.

I found a digitized version of the original Gloucester town books on Internet Archive. The entries are a mess!

Therefore, you will see a number of places where assumptions have to be made regarding vital dates of this family.

Children: (All events in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts)

1. Lydia, born 3 June 1735; died 15 March 1736/37

2. Daniel, born 27 September 1736; no further record

3. Thomas, born 1 June 1738; died July 1757 at Bayonne (France?) while on a voyage with Joshua Haskell, commander of the schooner, on the way to “Bilboa” (Bilbao?)

4. Daughter, born 11 October [1739?]; died 12 October [1739 or 1740?]

5. John, born 10 September 1740; died 26 January 1740/41

6. Lydia, born 3 March 1741; married James Porter, 25 November 1762

7. Mary, born 15 January 1743; married Jacob Hodgkins, 12 November 1767. Four children (Jacob, Mary, Judith and William) were born to this couple of Gloucester. They may be the Jacob Hodgkins family found in Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts in 1790. Otherwise, no further record.

8. Judith, born 24 August 1746; died 17 December 1749

9. Martha, born 10 May 1748; married Enoch Grover, 14 November 1771. This couple had two daughters, both named Martha, born in 1773 and 1777 in Gloucester. No further record.

10. Daniel, born 27 June 1750; died 12 July 175_

11. Judith, born 28 June 1751; died 29 January 1846, New Gloucester, Cumberland, Maine; married Nathan Haskell, 27 October 1771. This couple removed to New Gloucester, Cumberland, Maine and had three children born in Gloucester, followed by eleven more in New Gloucester. UPDATE: This is wrong! This Judith is likely the one who married James Porter on 9 September 1776, also in Gloucester.

12. Daniel, born 8 August 175[3?]; married (1) Susanna Rowe, 11 April 1780 (2) Mrs. Mary Humphreys, 31 December 1793. They had two sons, Daniel and Joseph, born 1781 and 1783. There is a Daniel Witham in Gloucester in the 1790 census with two males under 16, no females at home. Susannah had apparently died by then, but her death isn’t in the Gloucester vital records.

The heartache must have been terrible for Daniel and Lydia. Four of their first five children didn’t survive childhood and the fifth, son Thomas, died as an unmarried young mariner.

Only one living child after 7 years of marriage was an unusual pattern even for the colonial era when infant mortality was expected.

Of the seven youngest children, two more died soon after birth, leaving only daughters Lydia, Mary, Judith, Martha and son Daniel, who reached adulthood and married.

Daniel and Lydia must have believed that God was watching over them from 1741 onward and their lives had much less sorrow.

In spite of burying so many children, Daniel kept a strong presence in the town of Gloucester. He was first appointed town clerk in 1733 and he is often addressed either as “Doctor” or “Esquire” through the years.

Daniel and Lydia sold but one piece of property in Gloucester on 9 July 1761. Without reading land deeds and town meeting minutes, one would be tempted to say that Daniel died not long after. However, that assumption would be incorrect.

On 28 October 1762, Robert Gardner, mariner, married Lydia Witham, widow. At first, I thought this was Lydia (Sanders) Witham, but now I believe she was Lydia Hidden (yes, that’s her recorded maiden name), the widow of William Witham, although as with so many Gloucester residents, there is no death record. They married on 17 February 1757.

The reason I know it’s not my Lydia is a deed filed on 22 December 1772, whereby Robert Gardner, mariner, and Lydia his wife sold land. It was witnessed by Daniel Witham, Justice of the Peace, Lydia Witham and Sarah Smith.

In addition to the deed, on Christmas 1772, there was a town meeting held at the 4th parish meetinghouse, which was attended by Daniel Witham.

Daniel Witham reportedly died in 1776 although I find no evidence of that. His last appearance in town records is found on 6 and 7 September 1774 when the Essex County Convention was held in Ipswich to discuss the worsening relations with England. Gloucester chose five men to serve on the Committee of Correspondence  – Daniel Witham, Peter Coffin, John Low, Samuel Parsons and Samuel Whittemore. Peter Coffin and Daniel Witham were the two men who attended the Provincial Congress, as it was called, representing the town of Gloucester.

Thus, Daniel’s final service to his home was to support the patriot cause in the upcoming American Revolution.

Lydia’s last mention in records in the 1772 deed and it’s likely that both died during the war years.