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The Adams Family of Newbury, Massachusetts, Part IV

December 6, 2009

The following is a continued account  by an as yet unidentified historian associated with both the Adams family and the Byfield Parish church. This account was acquired by Gareldine Adams, although it is unknown whether she copied this herself, or if it was sent to her by a contact at the church.

Further investigation as to the identity of the author is being conducted by Jules Maas.

Part I discussed the name of Adams, the emigration of Robert Adams, and a few historical details about the family’s Coat of Arms.

Part II gave an account of a trial between Robert Adams’ and a thief, his arrival in Newbury, establishment of his estate and investment activities.

Part III touched on the occupational preferences of Robert’s descendants, discussed the genealogical work, “Robert Adams of Newbury” by Andrew N. Adams (who erroneously documented Robert as a tailor), and included some history of Byfield Parish.

Dedicated to Mrs. Anne C. Moody

The story of the Farms District has to do with the tract of land lying between the Highfield Road and Cart Creek. This was originally contained in four large grants; the first and largest was given to Dr. John Clark. It ran one mile west from the river and two hundred rods easterly from Cart Creek. Edmund Greenleaf was given 100 acres, John Cutting two hundred acres and the rest to Mr. Thomas Colman.

None of these names are now found in this section and it is not probable that any of these grants were ever occupied by the original owners. The Clark grant was given the Doctor with the understanding that he practice his profession in the Town, but was held by him for only a short time. In 1651 he traded for a house in Boston with one Mathew Chaffrey who on the same day sold the whole lot to Richard Thorlay. We believe that this remains to this day the largest single transfer of land ever to have taken place in the Town.

Richard Thorlay built the first bridge over the river Parker, and was later given the privilege of collecting toll for all horses, cattle, sheep and swine using the bridge but not the people that crossed the privately owned edifice. Richard Thorlay – later the name was changed to Thurlow – and his descendants owned and occupied this property for more than one hundred and fifty years.

Probably the first person to really settle and make a home in this district was Robert Adams, who, finding himself somewhat crowded in the older part of the Town, decided to find elbow room elsewhere. He first decided to settle near Trotter’s Bridge, but finding that the Rolfe family owned all the land between the bridge and what is now known as the Highfield Road, he finally settled near where the home of Mr. Justin Brown is now situated. His cellar is plainly seen after all these years and many of his fertile acres are still held by his descendants.

Another family whose name is no longer found in this section is that of Edmond Moore whose homestead stood near the home of Mr. Frank Adams.

Among the many interesting tales we have listened to is the story of Dudley Adams, a direct descendant of the original Robert Dudley, who was born and lived all of his long life on a farm which was located about one-half mile from the present road, in a westerly direction. This farm is now used as a pasture, but the cellar still remains. Dudley was a large man standing more than six feet in height and strongly built. He had only one fault: he was much addicted to the use of the strong waters of that day and while never found in a state of intoxication, drank his rum much as he ate his meals, regularly. He also claimed to hold communion [word torn out] with the spirit of darkness and many and weird are the tales we have been told of this intimacy. His home must have been a pleasant spot, standing as it did on a knoll overlooking fields and meadows which made up his large holding. It was a pleasant spot and many times we have stood near the site of the old house and tried to visualize the life of these people who passed so long ago.

Dudley Adams was born late in the eighteenth century and died around 1859. This is told us by an old friend who remembered him. When we said that the Dudley Adams home was a half mile from the present highway we wished to bring out the fact that the road now called Orchard Street was not the one in use in the early days. The firs road left the old Bay road near the home of Richard Thorlay, passed to the eastward of the home of the Rev. Wilford Hoopes, crossed Cart Creek on a rock ford, then what is now salt marsh, but was covered with a heavy growth of pine timber, then by the summer home of Bishop McKistry, close by the home of George W. Adams, over the small stream which lies southerly from his former home on a ford which is paved with large flat stones and joined what is now known as Central Street near where Larkin Street leaves Central.

~F.D.P.

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