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Stephen and
Tryphosa (Lee) Tracy
Early Plymouth Colony Settlers
Circa 1623

Stephen Tracy arrived in the Plymouth Colony just three years after the Mayflower, in 1623, aboard the "Anne". He is likely the Stephen Trace baptized 28 December 1596 at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, son of Stephen and Agnes/Anne (Erdley) Tracy. 

He was one of the Separatists who had migrated to Holland to escape the persecution of the Puritans. It was there that he married his wife, Tryphosa Lee, on January 2, 1621. This is how their marriage record reads: 

Leiden, Netherlands, January 2, 1621: "Steven Treas, sayworker, bachelor from England, accompanied by Anthony Clements his acquaintance, to Tryfoce Le, spinster, also from England, accompanied by Rose Jennings, her acquaintance."
They had their first child, Sarah, who was to become the next in my direct line, in Leiden, Holland in probably late 1621 or in 1622. Tryphosa then became pregnant again. At this juncture, the young couple makes a decision that must have been very difficult to make. Stephen is to come to Plymouth by himself (although he may have brought Sarah with him) leaving the pregnant Tryphosa to have her baby without him and come later.  

Stephen arrived in the Plymouth Colony on July 10, 1623 and was given three acres of land when the land first was first available for private ownership. This means that two other people should have been with him, as the deal was an acre per person. The identity of those two people is unknown, but one might have been Sarah. 

At any rate, Tryphosa, Jane (the second child), and possibly Sarah, if she didn't arrive with her dad, followed in 1625 on the "Jacob." 

He settled in Duxbury, a settlement near Plymouth. Later, Ralph Partridge and George Partridge, other ancestors of mine, were to become his neighbors. 

He is included in the records of the Plymouth colony as: Freeman: In "1633" Plymouth list of freemen, before those admitted on 1 January 1632/33; in list of freemen of 7 March 1636/7. In Duxbury section of 1639 Plymouth Colony list of freemen (with his name lined through). 

Offices he held were: 

  • Duxbury representative on committee to lay out highways, 1 Oct 1634
  • Plymouth colony committee to assess taxes, 3 March 1634/5, 1 March 1635/6
  • Coroner's jury, 2 March 1635/6
  • Duxbury representative to committee on the "nearer uniting of Plymouth & those on Duxburrough side," 14 March 1635/6
  • grand jury, 7 March 1636/7, 2 June 1640
  • committee to apportion hay grounds, 20 March 1636/7
  • Duxbury constable, 5 March 1638/9, 4 June 1639
  • Arbiter, 7 September 1642. 
In respect to his name in connection with property records: 
  • In 1623 Plymouth land division, granted three acres as passenger on Anne
  • In 1627 Plymouth cattle division, "Stephen Tracie, Triphosa Tracie, Sarah Tracie, Rebecka Tracie" were the fifth through eighth names in the tenth company.
  • Assessed 18 s in Plymouth tax lists of 25 march 1633 and 27 march 1634.
  • He appears to on the list of purchasers. Permitted to mow "within his own ground", 1 July 1633;
  • Assigned mowing ground, 14 March 1635/6, 20 March 1636/7, granted eighty acres with some meadow additional, at the North River. 
Stephen Tracy returned to England, as early as 1643, but at least by 1654. Stephen Tracy is not included in the 1643 list of men able to bear arms, and is not seen in any later Plymouth Colony record. It should be noted that during this period of time Cromwell was rising to power and King Charles was beheaded. Perhaps this change in climate towards a pro-Puritan government beckoned him. Whatever reason beckoned his return to England, his kids were old enough to fend on their own, and decided to stay in the Colony. 

On 20 March 1654/5, while in London, Stephen Tracy "at present of Great Yarmouth in old England" made his will, in the form of a power of attorney to John Winslow, disposing to: 

  • son John "what land and houses I have there in Duxburrow" (along with some cattle)
  • to "my daughter Ruth Tracy one cow an done two year old mare,"
  • and "what cattle I have more (Marye's two cows being cast in amongst them) to be equally divided among my five children living in New England," noting that some of his children are married with children, and others are unmarried. 
He died after 20 March 1654/5, the date of his will. We don't know for sure if his wife, Tryphosa, died in America or England, but speculate she died before Stephen, as she was not mentioned in his will. 

His children, according to the Great Migration Begins, were: 

    1. Sarah, b Leiden about January, 1623; m Plymouth, November 1638, George Partridge 
    2. Rebecca, b Plymouth say 1625; m 1645 William Merrick 
    3. Ruth, b say 1628; living unmarried 1655 
    4. Mary, b say 1630, living perhaps unmarried 1655 
    5. John, b say 1632, married about 1661 Mary Prence, daughter of Thomas Prence
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