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The Adams Family of Newbury, Massachusetts, Part II

December 1, 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.

Copied from mimeograph, no name, no date

I am indebted to the late Sidney Perley of the Essex Institute for facts in regard to this which are not now available. Possibly, there was some confusion when the Registry passed to Salem, and there is a curious and quite Adams like account in the clerk’s office, of his trial before the bench of Judges which condemned the witches for contempt of court. Briefly stated, Robert had been greatly annoyed by a thief whom he captured stealing one of his boats. He was convicted but the court advised him (Robert) not to continue the prosecution as the fellow was in poor circumstances, where upon Richard remarked “then let us have things in common” and was sentenced to be “laid by the heels in the stocks” As the sentence was not executed he probably felt in his pocket.

In 1642 he came to Newbury still retaining his lands and began investing. The first purchase being about a square mile between Kants Island and the Dr. Clark property.

About this time, possibly a year or two earlier, came [Henry] Adams to Braintree whose descendents have formed the most distinguished and most honored American family. Just what relation he was to Robert we do not know, but there was certainly a connection and members of the family in the time of my grandfather and father addressed us as cousins and I remember visiting there when a boy. It is a fact that at least some members of the Quincy family like my own were believers in the ancient genealogy and cherished the early coat of arms, although I am told that a few years ago when the Adams house at Harvard was built and the architects proposed putting this over the entrance, the family did not approve.

Something remains of the cellar of Robert’s house on a pleasant knoll on the estate of Mrs. Dominique Mussels on Middle Street, Newbury, and the two springs which furnished water are now nearly dry, for the ponds and brooks are not what they were 300 years ago. Many, which the writer remembers as substantial streams 85 years ago, are now only a succession of marshy spots.

It is a distinct testimony to Robert’s importance that he was allowed to build so far from the settlement at Oldtown, for while the local Indians were a mild and peaceful people, there was great danger from the incursions by the “Dawn Men” from the East and French and Indians of Canada.

In studying this location one can observe that for a narrow space, the open level and treeless salt marsh would allow the sentinel always stationed on Oldtown Hill, an unobstructed view of Robert’s home – which by the way, probably had but two rooms and was certainly not the log house featured by imaginative novelists, for those were unknown until Swedish immigrants introduced them about 1700. If constructed of logs at all, they were vertical with mud packed between or “Wattle and Daub” as the famous Fairbanks house now standing in Dedham.

We state that Robert was a rich man, and he was, for wealth is entirely relative, and a savage with a property of less than a dollar may be richer than the occupant of a palace he cannot keep the rain out of. Judge the man by his time and environment.

Our Robert had no desire to “own all that joined him” to use a very old expression, but bought very shrewdly, selecting tracts of a few hundred acres and always fertile or heavily forested in what is now Georgetown, Boxford, Andover and on into Londonderry, NH. For some reason, he avoided Maine, which was notorious for its uncertain titles to land. Later, but largely through the daughters, the Adams blood was strong in Connecticut where I have found much family history.

Sergeant Abraham seems to have helped his father in the care of his widespread estate. Robert gave him a large farm in Newbury and had the pleasant habit of providing farms for sons and grandsons. I have the map and records of 32 Adams farms and homesteads withing a radius of 14 miles of “the Highfields” where I was born and which Sergeant Abraham gave his son, Captain (both naval and military) Abraham, in as he wrote in the deed to be a “settlement”, and here, as early as 1703 he was building coasting vessels, loading them with the products of his farm and forest, sailing as far as New Orleans, then a foreign country.

[to be continued, in Part III]

Do you have information about this mimeograph? I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment.


The Adams Family of Newbury, Massachusetts, Part I

November 30, 2009

The following is an 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.

Copied from mimeograph, no name, no date

The writer has been asked to jot down certain facts about this old family from his investigations which have continued with renewed interest for over 70 years.

It is said that God sifted three kingdoms to procure the material for this country and among the First Settlers this was a typical family, “let us now praise famous men and our fathers who were before us.”

There lies before me the genealogy of this family of John Ap Adam, or as we should say, John, son of Adam, surnames then being uncommon, which gives in detail 50 generations beginning with Effa, King of Essex and Kent, direct descendant of Cedric who invaded Boston in 495. Cedric was born 445, died 534. As there has been controversy about this list and as this is to be a statement of proven facts of official registration only, we will leave it with merely the statement that somewhere in the remote past, “John Ap Adam, a Baron of the Realm, bore the blazonry of ‘Argent, on a cross altaire gules, 4 mullets Or’” and today this is to be seen on his tomb in a church on his estates of Tidenham near the Welsh border and also what remains of a conde window. I have also seen a plaster impression of the inscription which was obtained by the late George F. Adams who spent much time in Adams research. The inscription is dated A.D. 1314 and the position of his statue, which extends along the top of the tomb, indicates he served in the Crusades. I find he [Sir John ap Adams] married Lady Elizabeth de Gournai.

In the 15th century, the government in an attempt to reorganize the Heralds College and impose a heavy tax or fee for the registration of Coats of Arms, aroused great resentment among the more distinguished families who refused to comply and the angry protest of the Douglas is a matter of familiar history. Lack of registry, however, does not annul the fact of John’s tomb and window more than a century earlier, and that fact stands.

To us, heraldic blazons mean little and only 84 among the hundreds we cherish have recorded proof and are true ancient landmarks. Guided and helped by Mr. Charles Stockman, whose knowledge of the subject is of international repute, clues have been obtained which have led to facts of official record. To skip a few centuries and get down to facts (and to Robert):

On March 14, 1639, the British King at Arams registered to William Adams Knight, Councilor at Law of the Middle Temple, the following bearings: “Gules, on a bend Or between bysants three Martlets Sable”, and this was brought to America by a member of his family, the said Robert.

I have seen a beautiful embroidery by Robert’s daughter or granddaughter and have its history. A very curious fact is that this bore the unique “Mantling” never seen in any other “coat”, of “broom corn”, the Plantagenet or crest of the Plantagenet who is #6 in the ancient genealogy referred to previously and the investigator can get a headache trying to guess how this ignorant girl, my grandmother of five (5) generations back, who never saw a corn broom or broom corn (for that article was introduced by Benjamin Franklin) could have had any knowledge of Plantagenet unless the ancient genealogy was common knowledge in the family.

Now let us, as a matter of curiosity merely, attempt to dissect William’s blazonry. It seems to have a direct bearing on Robert’s wealth, for by the standards of his time (1602-1682) he was a rich man investing wisely and largely in land in the new world. The ridiculous story that he was a tailor will be referred to later.

The writer concludes from the blazonry (but it is only an opinion, not a matter of record), that he received his knighthood and bearings on account of monetary and legal service. First, the martlets always represented with no feet may imply that he had no land, while, but with no certainty, the golden bysants in this case may mean money. Take this for what it may be worth; Robert when he landed in Ipswitch in 1635 had plenty. His first purchases were in Ipswich where he bought largely and retained after coming to Newbury.

From there he removed to Salem which then promised to be the leading city in Massachusetts. Here he acquired a large farm on which the County buildings now are.

[to be continued, in Part II]

Do you have information about this mimeograph? I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment.


November 28, 2009

Adams or Admes (meaning, re Adamas, meaning earth) can claim the distinction of having the oldest individual name on record. Among the most conspicuous of the Adams family who emigrated to America, were Henry of Braintree, MA and Robert of Ipswich, MA; both of whom it is said were descendants of Lord John Ap Adams who came out of the marshes of Wales.[1]

Robert Adams of Ipswich, Salem and Newbury, MA was the son of Robert and Elizabeth (Shirland); son of Richard and Margaret (Armagu); son of Nicholas or John and Margaret. This Robert claimed to be the 16th in line from John Ap Adams who came out of the marshes of Wales and married Elizabeth, daughter of John, Lord Gournai of Sedenham and Boylston in Glouster and was called to Parliament as Lord of the Realm from 1296 to 1307 and had arms granted to him.[2]

[1] Boston Transcript, 18 Sept. 1905

[2] Boston Transcript, 20 Jan 1909

Gareldine ‘Garry’ Adams

November 27, 2009


Photo by her father, Gerald Anderson

B. 6 Nov. 1921; D. 26 Oct 2007

Gravestone of Robert Adams

November 27, 2009

During an attempt to track down the unnamed author of a key mimeograph on the life of Robert Adams, last night I came across a website documenting the gravestones and genealogy of New England settlers (an impressive undertaking, to say the least!).

Listed at the Byfield Parish Church Burial Ground, I was very excited to see the headstone of Robert Adams and a number of other Adams. However, due to the age of the headstone and distance of the photograph, the view is not close enough to read any details – in fact the photo is so far away as to include Robert’s neighbor, Josiah, d. Jan 4, 1852.

Without the ability to see the stone for myself, I can only rely on the information listed by the photographer who was there, cross-referenced with Garry Adams’ extensive genealogical research.

Comparisons of note:

  • Both sources state his origin as Devonshire, England
  • Dates of death are within four days of each other
    • Photographer cites Oct. 16, 1682
    • G. Adams cites Oct. 12, 1682
  • There is no date of birth listed by the photographer (I assume, therefore, it is not listed on the gravestone)
  • Dates of Emigration are off by six years
    • Photographer cites 1629
    • G. Adams cites 1635

I am inclined to believe G. Adams’ date as it was derived directly from Bank’s Topographical Dictionary of 2885 English Emigrants to New England 1620-1650 by Chas. Ed. Banks 1957, p. 24. However, why this date would be different on his gravestone, I have no explanation.

The photograph of Robert’s gravestone is copyrighted, so in order to view it, click here.

‘Bobby’, John A. Adams

November 23, 2009

paliza campground picnic area

@ Paliza Campground Picnic Area

Santa Fe National Forest Historical Photographs
Link courtesy of Amie Adams Green