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Sitton (Sutton), Joseph
Stapleton, Robert
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Sutton, John
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Ancestor of the Month

June 2009 

 

John Sutton

b. 1593   d. 1672

 

Our ancestor John Sutton was born about 1593 in Attleborough, Norfolk, England.  He was the son of Henry Sutton and the grandson of Theron Sutton.  Other than their names, little is known about the two elder Suttons.  John is considered “The Immigrant” for our Sutton branch of the family tree.

 

Marriage

 

Most researchers believe that John married Julian Little (c1595-1678), daughter of Francis Little in Attleborough, England about 1616.  While in England the couple had five children:  a boy, John, Jr., (1617-1691) and four girls: Esther (1625-?), Anna (c1629-1673), Mary (1626-1704), and Margaret (1635-1700).   (Daughter Hannah was probably born in the colonies.)  Some think that John may have had another wife before Julian, for the time period between the birth of John, Jr., (1617) and the next child, Esther (1625) is eight years.  (For what it’s worth, there are also 6 years between Anna and Margaret)   In addition, Hannah (1637-1642) is sometimes omitted from the list of children.  This omission could possibly mean that her birth date was really 1638, after the family’s arrival in Massachusetts.

 

Journey to the Colonies

In 1638 while Hannah was still a baby (or perhaps not yet born) and John, Jr., was already a man of 21 years, the Suttons decided to move to America.  They were part of a group of 133 passengers who traveled to Ipswich, the capital of Suffolk County in SE England, and booked passage on the ship Diligent, captained by John Martin of Ipswich.  (The ship’s passenger list is one reason for confusion about the children.  The ship lists John, wife, and four children.  Hoping to provide specifics, early biographers went to other sources for the children’s names.  At least one or more listed John, Jr.’s, children as John, Sr.’s, offspring.  John, Jr., at age 21 would probably not have been listed as a child on the ship. In addition, his marriage took place in America; he did not bring children or a wife with him on the Diligent.  [If a way could be found to make things confusing to future generations, our ancestors or their well-meaning biographers usually managed to pursue that course.])

(It is interesting that the Suttons left the Hingham area of Norfolk County, in SE England to come to Hingham, Suffolk County, in SE Massachusetts, New England.  Perhaps the place names made the settlers feel more “at home.”  Many towns and counties in Massachusetts [and VA] were named after towns and counties in England.)  .

 

In all probability, John and Julian left England because of religious reasons.  I was unable to find for certain what their religious beliefs were, and, in fact, their beliefs may have evolved over time.  We might assume that originally they were members of the Anglican Church.  They apparently became part of the Separatist movement (from which the Puritans also evolved), for they chose to sail to Boston in 1638 with their destination:  “bound for Hingham, Massachusetts.”

 

Hingham, MA

 

Geographically Hingham was a little less than half way between the two older settlements of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay, and wisely it tried to maintain that separation in other ways, too.  Settlers from around the town of Hingham, in Norfolk Co, England where the Sutton family had lived, had been coming to New England and settling near each other since 1633.  No doubt these people had written to their friends and relatives in their former home.  Their new settlement in Massachusetts was originally called Bare Cove [not Bear Cove] because that was how the area looked; almost its entire harbor was exposed at low tide.  (Early court documents back up this spelling of the name).  By 1635 enough colonists had come to the Bare Cove settlement for the place to need some supervision.  Hence, the May court of that year swore in Joseph Andrews as constable of the place, and the town passed a resolution officially changing the name from Bare Cove to Hingham.

 

Unreliable Records

 

The town kept some records of the people arriving, receiving lands, and settling in the area, but the records could have been more complete.   In 1638 John Sutton and his family were included in the list of yearly arrivals.  The third clerk of the town of Hingham wrote:

 

The number of persons who came over in the ship 'Diligent,' of Ipswich, in the year 1638, and settled in Hingham, was one hundred and thirty-three. All that came before were forty-two, making in all one hundred and seventy-five. The whole number that came out of Norfolk (chiefly from Hingham, and its vicinity) from 1633 to 1639, and settled in this Hingham, was two hundred and six.

 

 Modern historians say that

 

there was a much larger number of settlers here [in Hingham] in 1639 than would appear from [the clerk’s] estimate….Many of the first settlers removed to other places during the militia difficulties which occurred within a few years after the settlement of the town; and a considerable number had previously obtained lands at Rehoboth.

 

In addition, a possible (and major) reason for the discrepancies might be that Mr. Cushing, the clerk who made the ship’s list for the town records, was 19 years old when the ship Diligent arrived; however, he was in his 60’s when he attempted to make a complete list of those on board.

 

Four Acres for the Suttons

 

The town of Hingham gave John Sutton four acres of land for his family.  (Had they gone to VA, PA, or SC, the Suttons would probably have received 50 acres per family member.)  We may assume that after receiving their land, the family built a house and began farming, for years later, after John, Sr.’s, death, John, Jr., sold the house the family had built on the four-acre lot.  Public records for Suffolk Co in 1653 state:

 

John Sutton junior of Cittuate in New England Carpinter. . . conveys to Mathew Cushen Senior of Hingham. . . my house & all my house lott Containeing fower accres of land . . . wch was giuen by the Town of Hingham to John Sutton my father.  [original spelling retained.]

 

 

The fact that John Sutton, Jr., is identified as “carpinter” is significant in that carpentry was a skill often used by colonists who did not have a lot of money to buy land.  Perhaps both he and his father supplemented the family income through carpentry, though I was unable to find John, Sr., identified as a carpenter.  One reason that John, Jr., may have chosen to take his family to Scituate, MA after his father died was that that town had a blossoming ship building trade.  As a carpenter, John, Jr.’s, skills would have been valuable there. (Later John, Jr.’s, sister Margaret married Joseph Carpenter, who, fittingly, was a carpenter/joiner by trade.)

 

Hardships and Intolerance

Times were very hard in early Massachusetts.  In addition to the difficult tasks of surviving and fighting the wilderness, the weather, the Indians, illness, and the like, colonists found that religious intolerance was again rearing its ugly head to make life even harder.  Both Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies had made it known that they would brook no deviation from their stated beliefs.  They had, after all, endured persecution, a long hard ocean journey, unbelievably difficult winters, and other hardships to be able to believe “freely” in what they wanted to believe.  One might suspect that such experiences would make them more tolerant of others, but the opposite was true.  In the old world they had been the minority; here they were the majority.  After suffering all their persecutions and miseries, the Puritans and Pilgrims were determined that those living inside their boundaries would abide by Puritan “rules” or suffer the consequences.

This intolerance took several forms.  Rev. John Cotton (1585-1652), grandfather of Rev. Cotton Mather (1663-1728), both noted Puritan clergymen, brought about a law that prohibited a man from voting unless he was both a member of the Puritan church and a property owner.   (Non-Puritans had their private property taken from them).  This law was actually to be expected, for in England citizens were required by law to become members of the Church of England.  In addition, all colonists—members of the church or not—were required by law to attend Puritan church services. “If the Church Warden caught any person truant from church services without illness or permissible excuse, the truant was pilloried and the truant's ear was nailed to the wood.”

Strict punishments for non-compliance with Puritan “rules” were enforced—including public whippings, the cutting off of body parts (such as a finger), arrest, imprisonment, banishment, hanging, and/or other deterrents (such as the above mentioned nailing an ear to the stocks). 

Because of these punishments, Hingham’s location outside Plymouth and outside Boston (Massachusetts Bay Colony) made it even more attractive, especially for those Separatists, Brownists, Baptists, and, dare we say it—Quakers—who might find themselves in jeopardy. (Brownists were followers of Robert Browne, founder of the Congregational church.)

 

Establishing a New Town

 

When Roger Williams was thrown out of Plymouth in 1635, he searched for land where he and his followers could be free to worship as they chose.  They wanted land outside the boundaries of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay.  He went first to today’s Rehoboth/Seekonk area, on the east shore of Narragansett Bay and the Pawtucket River.   He purchased land there from the Indians, but Plymouth claimed the land he had purchased and threw Williams and his followers out.  All the people who came after Williams suffered the same fate.  They would buy Indian land and then would be thrown off the land by either Plymouth or Massachusetts Bay.  Finally, Williams was forced to move across the river to Providence where he established Providence Plantations, and there in 1639 he established what is generally recognized as the first Baptist church in America.

 

John Sutton and his family arrived in Hingham in 1638, one year before Providence was founded.  They remained in Hingham until 1642.  Their move coincided with the recent founding of Rehoboth in 1641.  In that year both Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay raised concern “about ‘wickedness’ and ‘offenses against churches.’” That concern is probably what prompted the Rev. Samuel Newman to ask Plymouth Colony for permission to settle and to purchase the right to settle north of the area Roger Williams had originally chosen.  Some modern historians believe the Plymouth government did not really understand just which land was involved.  Newman was not as controversial as Roger Williams.  He was, however, “a thorn in the side of the Plymouth Colony,” and they were probably glad to get rid of him.  He was “strong minded and intelligent” and had a group of followers who agreed with his views which were “somewhat different than the established church.”

 

Rehoboth

 

When Newman acquired the land near the Pawtucket River, he named it Rehoboth.  This name is mentioned three times in the Bible—the most fitting being in Genesis 27:22 which speaks of disputed land.  “And he [Isaac] moved away from there, and he dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he named it Rehoboth, for he said ‘ At last the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.’”  Newman and his followers purchased the land (approximately a square mile) together as a proprietary body.  Each congregation member had a definite land allotment as part of that proprietary body.  After laying out the property lines, the church members drew lots to decide fairly who would receive which parts of the land the group had bought. 

 

When John and his family moved to Rehoboth in 1642, it is believed that he was probably a follower of Rev. Newman, but there might have been other reasons for the family’s move.  In 1643 after the move, John, Sr., deeded his house in Hingham to his son John, Jr.   John, Jr., had remained in Hingham where he married and had a family of his own.  He and his family lived on his father’s former property.   Esther, Anna, and Margaret remained with their parents until they married.  Hannah was 5 years old when the family moved.  She died that year and was buried in Rehoboth.  Many researchers note that ”John, his wife, and one daughter were buried in Rehoboth.”

 

The Sutton Family

 

Other than the writing and probate of his will, virtually nothing else is known about John Sutton.  It is said that “he spent the rest of his life in Rehoboth and was buried there.”  We do, however, know some facts about the rest of the family, but, as usual, there is a catch.   Apparently another Sutton family or two lived in the area, and research has been hindered by the mingling of information about some of the members of these alternate families.  (If you find that I have made errors, please let me know through the guest book.  Thanks.)

 

John Sutton, Jr. (1620-1691) married Elizabeth House (Howse) (1636-1679) daughter of Samuel and Alice Lloyd House (Howse) on 1 Jan 1660/61 in Scituate, MA.  (Some say Elizabeth’s mother was Elizabeth Hammond.)  The couple had eight children:  John, Mary, Sarah, Hannah, Hester, Benjamin, Nathaniel, and Nathan.    Elizabeth and all eight children are named in John, Jr.’s, will.  After selling his father’s house, John and Elizabeth moved to Scituate, Plymouth Co., MA where they remained until John, Jr’s., death 12 Nov 1691.  Elizabeth, it is said, moved to Rye, NY where she died.  She may have remarried.  Son Benjamin would change the family name to Sitton.

Margaret Sutton (1635-1700) married Joseph Carpenter (1633-1675) son of William and Abigail Bennett Carpenter on 25 May 1655 in Rehoboth, MA.  They moved to Swansea, MA about 1661 after the death of Joseph’s father, William.  In 1666 Joseph Carpenter became one of the seven founders of the first Baptist Church in Swansea, Massachusetts.  The church at Swansea was the fourth Baptist church in America.   It was originally formed in the fall of 1666 at Rehoboth and was relocated to Swansea about a year later. Joseph  may have actually helped build the church physically since he was by occupation a carpenter/joiner and yeoman  (yeoman = farmer).  In addition to his church work, Joseph was active in civic affairs.  He served on a coroner’s jury in Rehoboth in 1662. In Swansea in 1671 he was a way warden (or overseer of highways).  In Plymouth Colony he served as a grand juror in 1673 and was appointed to preserve the town’s timber and wood. Joseph was probably fairly well educated for the time because he signed his will rather than using a mark, and several books are mentioned in his estate inventory.  Joseph and Margaret had nine children:  Joseph, Jr., Abigail, Benjamin, Esther, Martha, John, Hannah, Solomon, and Margaret.  Some sources say that after Joseph’s death in 1675, Margaret Sutton Carpenter moved to East Providence, RI.  However, she herself died shortly after Joseph because she presented her husband’s inventory for probate on 21 March 1675, and her own inventory was presented on 4 Oct 1676, so she, too is probably buried in Rehoboth.  (Info about the widowhood of Margaret in Providence and her sister-in-law Elizabeth in Rye, NY, may actually be about one of the other Sutton families.)

 

Esther Sutton (c1625-?) married Richard Bowen (1624-1675) son of Richard and Ann Born Bowen of Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales [or of Llwyngwair, Pembrokeshire, Wales] on 4 Mar 1646 in Rehoboth, Bristol Co., MA.  Richard and Esther had nine children:  Richard, Hester, Sarah (1), Sarah (2), Obadiah (1), William, Thomas, Mary, John, Obadiah (2).  Sarah (2) and Obadiah (2) were named after siblings who died at an early age.  Richard died and was buried in Rehoboth.  Esther’s date of death and place of burial are unknown.

 

Mary Sutton (1626-1703) married Captain John Fitch (?-21Jan 1697/98) son of Thomas and Anna Reeve Fitch.  (Thomas Fitch was a cloth manufacturer in Bocking, Essex, England) (Some say John’s parents were Zacharie and Mary Fitch of St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England.  Captain Fitch may have received his rank as a soldier in the English Civil Wars [1642-1646 and 1648] or in the colonial militia.  I was unable to determine where or how he received his rank.  One of his brothers was also a Captain and another was a minister.  John and Mary had five children:  Mary, Sarah, Rebecca, Hannah, and Jeremiah.  After Mary’s death on 4 Nov 1703 in Rehoboth, John married twice more, first to Ann Hillier, then to Ann Unknown. 

Anna Sutton (c1629-1673) married John Daggett/Doggitt (1626-1707) son of John and Bethsheba Pratt Daggett  on 23 Sep 1651. (Some sources give John and Hepzibah Brotherton Doggitt as John’s parents.  The elder Daggett was married twice.) Anna and John had at least one son named Nathaniel who was born (Aug 1661), married (24 Jun 1686), died (14 Dec 1708), and was buried (1708) in Rehoboth.  Nathaniel’s wife was Rebecca Miller (1661-1711), daughter of John and Elizabeth Millard.  (No info on why Rebecca changed her name from Millard to Miller.)

Hannah Sutton (1637-1642) died as a five-year-old in Rehoboth.

John Sutton and his family are to be admired for the bravery and stamina they found to endure the rigors of life in the New World.  Almost certainly they put aside their fears in order to come to a place where they could practice their religious beliefs.  Ancestors such as John Sutton show the importance religion and determination have played in our family heritage.

 

John Sutton was Mamaw’s 7-great grandfather.  If you are Mary Elizabeth Hatcher’s great great grandchild, John Sutton is your 11-great grandfather.

 

Line of Descent from John Sutton to Mary Elizabeth (Betsy) Hatcher

 

John Sutton (1593-1672) + Julian Little (c1595-1678)

John Sutton, Jr. (1617-1691) + Elizabeth House  (1636-1679)

Benjamin Sitton (1673-1742) + Lydia Unknown (1665-1730)

John Sitton (1700-?) + Elizabeth Pindell (1729-?)

Joseph Sitton (1745-?) + Diannah Beck (1749-1832)

Joseph Sutton (1782-aft 1860)  + Elizabeth Fox (1783-aft 1860)

Joseph Sutton (1812 -?) + Christina "Ticy" Fox (c1810-?)

Russell Merritt Sutton (1834-1874) + Elizabeth Ann "Betsy" Headrick (c1836-?)

Susan Sutton (1867-1903) +  Elder Israel Alexander Hatcher (1860-1950)

Mary Elizabeth Hatcher 1889-1969 + Rev. Eli McCarter (1886-1955

 

Sources

 

“600 Acres, The.”  Joseph Bucklin Society   http://www.bucklinsociety.net/600­ _acres.htm.

 

Ancestors of Frances Jean Jones  http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/j/o/n/Frances-J-Joneslory/GENE4-0025.html

Banks, Charles E.  The Planters of the Commonwealth.  New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1930. pp191-94 

http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ski/scott/diligent.html

 

Bliss, Leonard.  The History of Rehoboth, Bristol County, Massachusetts: Comprising a History of the Present Towns of Rehoboth, Seekonk, and Pawtucket, from Their Settlement to the Present Time; Together with Sketches of Attleborough, Cumberland, and a Part of Swansey and Barrington, to the Time that They Were ...  n.p:  Otis, Broaders, & Co., 1836.

Original from Harvard University Digitized Sep 1, 2006.  294 pages  http://books.google.com/books?id=i6hrP5Hdbu4C

“Descendants of John Jr. [Sitton] Sutton.”  www.txgenweb2.org/txward/descendants_of_john_jr_sitton.htm 

“Descendants of John Sutton.”  http://home.bellsouth.net/p/s/community.dll?ep=87&subpageid=143784&ck=

“Descendants of Phillip Sitton.”  http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/s/i/t/Bert-J-Sitton/GENE8-0001.html

“Family Hart Database”:  http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=SHOW&db=familyhart&surname=Cramer%2C+Daniel

“Howard C. Griffin Relatives”

http://worldconnect.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=AHN&db=hcgriff&id=I364

 

“Joseph Carpenter.” In  Ancestors of Eastmill . http://fam.eastmill.com/f2063.htm

 

“JOSEPH CARPENTER (WILLIAM2–1) OF REHOBOTH AND SWANSEA, MASSACHUSETTS.”  http://members.cox.net/jrcrin001/Joseph3-Rehoboth&Swansea.pdf. 

 

Long, John D.  “EARLY SETTLERS of Hingham, Massachusettsfrom History of Hingham published 1893, pages 201-209
OCRed and editing by David Blackwell and Lisa Whiting 1998

 

“Mass. Bay Colony”  http://www.quaqua.org/pilgrim.htm

 

“Millard/Miller of Rehoboth”

http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=AHN&db=njpatrn&id=I062557

 

“Rehoboth Area”  Joseph Bucklin Society   http://www.bucklinsociety.net/rehoboth_area.htm

 

 “Rehoboth.”  Just Define.com http://www.just-define.com/rehoboth-definition.htm

 

“They Left England”  gailstapestry.com/id42.htmgailstapestry.com/id42.

 

 

 

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