As a large number desired to avoid this enforced allegiance, and to enter the land of their adoption free to follow their own political and religious inclinations, they took no legal departure, but sailed away with more or less secrecy, and were therefore not enrolled in the official records of the government. As no record of Knowlton appear in the Customs Department at London, it must be inferred that Willaim was independent in political action, and a non-conformist in religion.
As every resident within the geographical boundaries of an English parish was enrolled in its records, no matter what his father might be, Capt. Knowlton and family were undoubtedly so enrolled at Chiswick. Unfortunately, the old parish church (** in England **) was seized by Cromwell and his troopers in 1645, and used as a garrison. His horses were stalled in its chancel, the men were quartered in the nave, and all the early parochial records were burned, except a small account book of the church wardens. In this book the name of George Nolleton appears as one of a number obligated to pay for repairs on the Church from 1619-1622. Of the children of Capt. William already mentioned, John, William, Deacon Thomas, and, probably, Samuel, accompanied him in his voyage to America, for one of this name (** Samuel **) was found in Hingham soon after the others appeared in Ipswich, and he died in 1655, leaving a will, probated September 1655, in which his "brother John" is named as executor. As John, son of Capt. William, is the only one answering to this relation and date, Samuel must have been the son of Capt. William, following the family to this country at a later date, perhaps.
Capt. William died on the westward voyage, and his widow and children
proceeded to Nova Scotia, where they remained but a short time. The next
we hear of them is in Ipswich, Mass, where John became a resident in 1639,
William and Thomas followed him in 1642.
The English tradition is that her name was Ann Elizabeth Smith. (** To my knowledge, this has not been documented. nmt **) On June 9, 1668, one Anne, widow of William Knowllton, petitioned for an appraisal of land in Hingham, and she has been thought by some to have been the widow of Captain William, an opinion which is strengthened by a will of Deacon Thomas, her son, dated "12th month, 14th day, 1653," in which he makes certain bequests to his brother, John, to Marjery Wilson, and to his nephew Abraham and his niece Elizabeth, and "the rest for my mother's use during her life." Although this makes it certain that his mother was then living, the petitioner Anne may have the widow of William, 1615, (son of Captain William) also named Ann Elizabeth.
To each freeman was allotted from the town lands a farm of fifty acres, besides a house lot, and no householder could build his dwelling more than half a mile distant from the meeting house. This provision had in view a surer mile distant from the meeting house. This provision had in view a surer defence against the savages, and a compulsory attendance on divine service, and when a householder excused himself from such attendance on the ground of living too far to attend in stormy weather, the town promptly sold him out, and transferred him to a nearer location. Bachelors were required to place themselves under the domestic protection and moral influence of their married neighbors. Every inhabitant must have some industrial occupation, and because the chief dependence for daily bread was the farm, mechanics were required to leave their work and assist the farmer whenever the safe housing of the crops was threatened. The Indians gave these early settlers such trouble by their thievish habits that every man was required to choose an ear mark for his cattle and swine, while the Indians were forbidden to mark theirs, and when beef and pork were offered for sale by them, they were required to produce the ears as proof of their rightful ownership. For money they used bullets and wampum, each of the former being equivalent to a farthing, and of the latter, six, four white and two blue, for a penny. This paternal government extended to the private affairs of the household, regulating diet, parental discipline, and personal manners. no buns or cakes could be eaten except at weddings and funerals. Not until 1753 (** a hundred years after settlement in the late 1630's. **) was a carriage owned or used by these hardy people. They were mostly farmers, and in order to keep their farms intact the law of entail from the father to the son was enforced. If one died childless, the law required the devise of his estate to his nearest male kinsman. Not until 1792 did the General Court permit the free disposal of property (** presumably on death **). Every freeman who was a military or sea captain, minister, doctor, lawyer, teacher, merchant, or graduate from some college, was called Mr. and his wife Mistress, while all others were called by the inferior titles of goodman or goodwife. The thrift of these Ipswich settlers attracted so many prospecting inhabitants that in 1650 no further grant of farms was possible, there being at this date one hundred and forty-six families in residence.
The first church in Ipswich, 1646, was the "Church of Christ," and it embraced one hundred and sixty souls.
"The Church of Christ, here, consists of 160 souls, being pure in their conversation, and free from epidemical views of all Reforming Churches, which under Christ is secured by their pious and orthodox ministry."
(** This quote throws me a bit. The Puritans were, by definition, part of the Reform movement, the Church of England normally thought of as the "orthodox" church. So, I'm a little confused by the use of terms above. **)
Amid such surroundings and influences the Knowltons began their career in America.
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The above article has passed into the public domain. Please quote your sources. Otherwise, Copyright 1998 Norris Taylor