|WILLIAM BRENTON |
FIRST RESIDENCE: Boston
REMOVES: Portsmouth 1638, Newport 1639, Portsmouth by 1643, Boston 1648, Newport by 1659, Taunton by 1670
CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: "Willyam Brenton" was admitted to Boston church in October 1633 .
FREEMAN: 14 May 1634 (as "Mr. William Brenton") . On 20 August 1638 "Mr. William Brenton" admitted freeman of Portsmouth . He appeared on the Portsmouth portion of the 1655 list of freemen .
EDUCATION: On 12 August 1636 William Brenton is on a list of donors to the upkeep of the free school master, but his donation is not specified .
OFFICES: Deputy for Boston to General Court, 2 September 1635, 3 March 1635/6, 25 May 1636, 8 September 1636, 7 December 1636, 18 April 1637 .
Boston selectman, 1 September 1634, 14 March 1635/6, 16 September 1636, 20 March 1636/7, 8 March 1651/2, 14 March 1652/3, 12 March 1653/4, 12 March 1654/5, 10 March 1655/6, 9 March 1656/7 . Rater, 6 October 1634 . Committee to allot public lands to the inhabitants, 9 February 1634 . Overseer of fences, 4 December 1635 . Committee on fortifications, 19 February 1635 .
Admitted inhabitant of Portsmouth, 20 August 1638 . Present at General Meeting at Portsmouth, 23 August 1638, 5 November 1638, 16 November 1638, 2 January 1638/9 . Committee to seize estate of John Lutner, absconder, 16 November 1638 . Elected one of three Elders to assist Judge, 2 January 1638/9 .
Present as Elder at Pocasset meeting on the decision to settle Newport, 28 April 1639 . Present as Elder at general meeting at Newport, 12 March 1639/40 .
Scheduler for training days at Portsmouth, 10 April 1643 . Scheduler of Town Meetings, 14 November 1644 . One of two Newport members of the Committee to deal with the United Colonies, 23 August 1659 . Committee to deal with Narragansett purchasers, 22 May 1660 . Commission for Portsmouth, 18 October 1660 . Moderator, 18 October 1660, 21 May 1661 . Newport portion of Committee to raise funds for Mr. Clarke, 17 June 1662 .
President, 22 May 1660, 21 May 1661 . Governor, 2 May 1666, 4 September 1666, 31 October 1666, 1 May 1667, 2 July 1667 (and moderator), 30 October 1667 (and moderator), 6 May 1668, 29 October 1668 . Sat as Governor, but not moderator and not re-elected, 4 May 1669 . Elected Governor, but refused, 1 May 1672 . Deputy Governor, 12 March 1639/40, 16 March 1640/1, 16 March 1641/2, 25 November 1663, 8 July 1663, 1 March 1663/4, 7 May 1664, October 1664, 23 February 1664/5, 3 May 1665, 25 October 1665 (and moderator), 27 March 1666 (and moderator) . Commissioner for Newport, 21 May 1661, 27 August 1661, 17 June 1662, 22 May 1663, 24 November 1663 . Co-signed the letter to Governor Endicott, 18 November 1663 . Commissioner to run the line with Plymouth, 26 October 1664 . Magistrate for Narragansett Country, 20 March 1664/5 . He contributed a horse, furniture and a rider to the troop of horse, 10 August 1667 .
ESTATE: On 9 January 1636 "our brother Mr. William Brenton" was granted twenty acres more to his allottment at "Pullen Point neck" in lieu of his land at "Hogg Iland" . On 12 June 1637 "Mr. William Brenton" had sixty-four acres of upland and marsh laid out to him and one hundred acres on the other side of Mr. "Aspenalls" . By 1638 James Hawkings purchased a dwelling house in Boston from Mr. Brenton .
On 23 August 1638 he was permitted to cut grass at Hog Island . Mr. Brenton and two others were to "have parcel of land butting upon Mr. Porter's round meadow" 29 August 1643 . He was granted land at Newport, 10 March 1649/50 . On 25 October 1649 Mr. William Brenton sold to Thomas Cook half an acre and another, very irregularly shaped parcel in Portsmouth .
On 26 February 1648/9 Boston selectmen ordered that "Mr. William Brenton hath liberty to set up a porch afore his house to range even in the street with Mr. Hill's and Mr. Harding's" . On 12 October 1658 he purchased eight thousand acres on the Merrimack river from the inhabitants of "Billirrkey" .
On 2 November 1670, William Brenton of "Tanton" Esqr. and Martha his wife gave power of attorney to "our trusty friend and servant John Winchcombe" to give possession of land in Boston to John Man of Boston, baker, who purchased it 22 July 1670 . On 10 April 1671, William Brenton of Taunton in New Plymouth, Esquire, and Martha his wife, sold to Elisha Hutchinson of Boston a parcel of land in Boston in consideration of a farm on Rhode Island purchased by Brenton of Hutchinson on 20 September 1668 . On 12 April 1671 William Brenton of Taunton, Esqr., and Martha his wife, sold to Joshua Atwater of Boston, merchant, a parcel of land in Boston with "a kitchin or outhouse thereupon" . On 30 September 1672, William Brenton of "Tanton" Esqr. and Martha his wife, "in consideration of a marriage already consummated between John Poole of Boston ..., merchant, & Elizabeth daughter of the said William and Martha" grant to John Poole & Elizabeth his wife a certain parcel of land, orchard and flats in Boston ; only William acknowledged this deed on 4 April 1673.
In his will, dated 9 February 1673 and probated 13 November 1674, William Brenton of Newport appointed "my eldest son Jahleel Brenton" executor, and bequeathed to "my said son Jahleel ... all my two farms at Hammersmith and marsh and upland at Newport Neck," and "one eighth part of all my land" at Natticott on Merrymack River being about ten thousand acres, also livestock; to "my son Wm Brenton ... my farm ... in possession of William Case," also land in the adjacent swamp, and "one eighth part of my said land at Natticott" and livestock; to "my son Ebenr Brenton ... all my neck of land called Mattapoisett, now in possession of Jared Browne Senir" and £150, and livestock; to "my daughter Sarah Brenton ... my farm at Quononogut now in possession of Michael Kaley" and "one tenth part of my said land at Natticott" and livestock; to "my daughter Mehetable Brenton ... my farm formerly in possession of Mr. John Gaurd deceased ... called ... Middleford" and "one sixteenth part of my said land at Natticott" and livestock; to "my daughter Abigail Brenton ... my farm which I bought of Elisha Hutchinson of Boston and my land known by the name of Bakers farm ... and one sixteenth part of my said land at Natticott" and livestock"; "my said Daughters" to receive their shares at age twenty-one or the day of marriage; to "my son-in-law Mr. Peleg Sanford ... one eighth part of my land at Natticott ... and all my right ... in Elizabeth's Island ... and all the debts due to me in the Island of Barbados"; to "my son-in-law Mr. John Poole ... one eighth part of my said land at Natticott"; to "my much honored friend Maj. Generall John Leverett, Esqr. ... one sixteenth part of my said land at Natticott"; to "my much respected friend Capt. John Cranston ... one sixteenth part of my said land at Natticott"; to "my respected friend Mr. George Shore, Pastor of the Church at Taunton ... one sixteenth part of my said land at Natticott"; to "my cousin Phillip Sandy ... one hundred acres of my said land at Natticott"; to "John Winchcomb ... two hundred acres of my said land at Natticott"; "my son-in-law Mr. Peleg Sandford to be guardian over my said sons Jahleel, William & Ebenezer & my said daughter Abigail to manage their portions"; to "my son-in-law Mr. Peleg Sandford two third parts ... & to Capt. John Cranston ... one third part of the whole debt & damages due to me from the estate of George Bliss ... of Newport"; to "my sister Katherine Cooks children" £20 in stock; to "my sister Christian Sandys' children" £10; to Mr. George Shore £5; to "my grandchild John Pool" £10; to Seth Shore 20s.; to Elizabeth Shore 20s.; to James Bell of Tiverton 40s.; to John Winchcomb £5; to "Mich. Kaley two thirds & to his wife one third of £15 due from him to me for land granted"; to Rachel Wilkinson, livestock and £5; to "my negro Abraham" £4; to "my negro Anthony" 40s.; to "the negro Ziporah" 20s.; to "my negro Rose" 30s.; to "my negro Samson" 20s.; to "my Indian Edom" 20s.; "in case my said negroes Abraham & Anthony shall demean themselves dutifully & obediently to whom I shall give them ... five years after my decease be set free" and paid £5 each; to prevent differences of opinion over the valuation of the estate "I have drawn up an inventory"; to "Mr. Roger Williams of Providence" livestock; "my trusty well beloved & esteemed friends my said son-in-law Mr. Peleg Sandford, Capt. John Cranstone & Mr. George Shore" overseers to be paid £5 each; "my aforenamed guardian Mr. Peleg Sandford" .
In his own inventory, dated 20 August 1674, William Brenton claimed a total of £10,768 13s. 4d., of which £9690 was real estate: "my farms and houses at Hammersmith in possession of John Rathbone and lands thereunto belonging," £2600; "my farm in possession of William Case," £1100; "my farm and houses at Mattapoisett in possession of Jared Bourne senior," £1150; "my farm and houses in possession of Michall Kaly," £650; "my farm formerely in possession of Mr. John Gaurd deceased and my piece of land at Quononoyutt," £650; "my farm and houses bought of Mr. Elisha Hutchinson and the farm called Barker's farm," £600; "my houses, lands and wharf in Newport Town," £1200; "all my land at Nattacutt on Merrimcake River," £800; "my 260 acres of land in the north part of Quonomoqutt," £300; "my houses & lands in the township of Tanton," £300; "my interest in the lands at Narragansett & Patacomscott," £300; and "my part of Elizabeth Island" £40 .
BIRTH: By about 1610 based on approximated date of first marriage.
DEATH: Taunton between 25 September 1674 and 13 November 1674 (date of probate).
MARRIAGE: (1) By 1634 Dorothy _____; "Dorothie Brenton the wife of our brother Willyam Brenton" admitted to Boston church 22 March 1634/5 ; no further record.
(2) By about 1644 Martha Burton, daughter of Thomas Burton . She is not mentioned in William Brenton's will and presumably died between 30 September 1672 and 4 April 1673 when she did not acknowledge their joint deed .
With first wife
i BARNABAS, bp. Boston 24 January 1634/5 ; no further record.
With second wife
ii MARTHA, b. say 1644; m. by about 1664 John Garde, son of Roger Garde ; she d. by 1667.
iii MARY, b. say 1646; m. by about 1665 Peleg Sanford, son of JOHN SANFORD .
iv ELIZABETH, b. say 1648; m. Taunton 28 March 1672 John Poole ; on 19 January 1691/2 Samuel Sewall visited Elizabeth and reported that "Mrs. Elisa. Pool has buried five sisters, Eliot, Gard, Sanford, Brown, Burton. Sanford, Gard, have left no children" ; she d. Boston 17 October 1694 .
v SARAH, b. say 1650; m. by 1676 Joseph Eliot, son of Rev. JOHN ELIOT , as his first wife .
vi MEHITABLE, b. Boston 28 November 1652 ; m. between 9 February 1673/4 (date of father's will) and 3 October 1675 (admission to Charlestown church ) Joseph Brown; she d. Charlestown 14 September 1676 .
vii JAHLEEL, b. Boston 15 November 1655 (as "Jaleham") ; did not marry .
viii WILLIAM, b. say 1657; m. by about 1680 Hannah Davis, daughter of Nicholas and Sarah (_____) Davis from Hannah, formerly Davis, to her stepfather John Clarke, who had married the widow of Nicholas Davis].
ix ABIGAIL, b. say 1659; m. by 1677 as his first wife Stephen Burton .
x EBENEZER, b. say 1662; m. Bristol November 1687 Priscilla (Byfield) Waldron, sister of Nathaniel Byfield and widow of Isaac Waldron .
COMMENTS: Most sources give William Brenton only one wife, Martha Burton, with some noting that this name may have been given mistakenly as Dorothy. But there must have been two wives. The Boston church records clearly admit Dorothy, the wife of William, and the child Barnabas born about this same time would seem to belong to William Brenton, as there is no other Brenton family in Boston at that time. In this baptismal record the father's name is given as "our brother Richard Brenton," and so we have to conclude either that the Boston church records omitted that admission record for a Richard Brenton (who is otherwise not seen in the records), or that an error was made in the given name of the father; the latter conclusion is the more economical.
No further record of Dorothy or Barnabas is found, and when we study the records of the known surviving children of William Brenton, assumed to be the children also of Martha Burton, we see that they were all born after 1644. Thus, there is a gap of nearly ten years between Dorothy and Martha, and Martha would seem to be born about 1624. Stephen Burton, presumed to be Martha's brother, was baptized in London on 11 November 1623 , and so this would be about the right age.
Our first anchor for attempting to determine the sequence of births among the nine known children of William and Martha (Burton) Brenton comes from the Boston vital records, the births of Mehitable in 1652 and Jahleel in 1655. We move next to the will of William Brenton, executed on 9 February 1673, in which he appears to be quite consistent in the sequences in which he lists his children. The sons are always given in the same order (Jahleel, William and Ebenezer), the married, surviving daughters are always given in the same order (Mary, wife of Peleg Sanford, and Elizabeth, wife of John Pool), and the unmarried daughters are always given in the same order (Sarah, Mehitable, Abigail). Furthermore, Jahleel, William, Ebenezer and Abigail are all said to be under twenty-one.
A number of conclusions may be drawn at this point. William, Ebenezer and Abigail are the only children younger than Jahleel, and Ebenezer, by his date of marriage, would appear to be the youngest. If William was born about 1657 and Abigail about 1659, then he would have been about twenty-three at marriage, and she about eighteen; this sequence is more probable than that in which Abigail would have been born about 1657 and William about 1659. Sarah, as the only unmarried daughter older than Mehitable, could have been born about 1650. This then leaves the three daughters who had married, and Mary is apparently older than Elizabeth. We have only to place Martha, and since she had already married and died by 1667, she would seem to be the oldest. Thus the approximated years of birth are 1644 for Martha, 1646 for Mary and 1648 for Elizabeth.
There may be arguments about the order of birth of the first three children, and perhaps of the first four, but no matter which se quence one chose, it would be consistent with the conclusion that William and Martha had their first child about 1644, and then had succeeding children at approximately two-year intervals down to about 1662, when Martha would have been about forty years old.
William Brenton was not one of those who supported Anne Hutchinson and John Wheelwright (at least not openly) and he was not disarmed or banished. He did not first appear in Portsmouth until late in 1638, some months after the likes of Coggeshall and Coddington, and in little more than a decade he was back in Boston and holding public office there.
On 22 May 1656 through 20 May 1657, "Mr. William Brenton, merchant, of Boston" was engaged in a dispute with Mr. William Coddington, regarding horses to be shipped to Barbados .
After nearly four decades of public service, William Brenton apparently decided late in 1669 to spend the rest of his life as a private man. The Charter and other important documents, which had been entrusted to him on 4 September 1666, were recovered from "Mr. William Brenton, the late Governor of this Colony" on 6 May 1669 , and he may already have removed to Taunton by this time. In spite of this he was elected governor (in absentia) on 1 May 1672 . On 14 May 1672 whereas "this Assembly have twice by two messengers sent to Taunton, to Mr. Willaim Brenton, to accept and give his engagement to the place of Governor, to which he was elected; and by the several messengers the said Mr. Brenton having denied his acceptance thereof, and also by a letter under his hand, dated the 11th instant, directed to this Assembly, wherein he is pleased to hint many reasons for his not accepting the said place of Governor, he was elected unto. This Assembly do thereupon conclude that he doth absolutely refuse to accept the place and office of Governor in this Colony" .
|Last Modified 12 Feb 2008||Created 3 Jun 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh|