Friday, April 18, 2008

Edward Rawson - First Secretary of the Massachusetts Bay Colony

10th great-grandfather Edward Rawson
Served as the first Secretary of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

...Edward Rawson, was born at Gillingham, Dorsetshire, England, in 1615. His grandfather was a silk and woolen merchant who held “considerable property.”(11) Edward’s father, David Rawson, followed his dad’s footsteps to become a merchant-tailor in London. Edward Rawson’s mother, Margaret Wilson, on the other hand, came from a prominent family of religious reformers and Protestant clerics. She was the daughter of the “Rev. William Wilson, D.D., of Merton College, Oxford, [who also] was prebendary(12) of St. Paul’s and Rochester Cathedrals, was rector of Cliffe, County of Kent, and in 1584 became Canon of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.”(13) Furthermore, Margaret’s great-uncle was “Edmond Grindall, D.D., the Archbishop of Canterbury, [who was] a vigorous and noted opponent of the Roman [Catholic] Church.”(14) Named after this same uncle, Margaret’s brother Edmond became a physician in London. Dedicated to the goals of the emigrants to New England, he donated the sizeable sum of £1,000 to the Colony of Massachusetts Bay in 1633.(15) Another one of Margaret’s brothers, the Rev. John Wilson, went to the American colony to become a minister of the First Church in Boston.(16) Thus Edward Rawson’s lineage combined the Protestant religion with commerce, both attributes which, if retained (and indeed they were in the person of young Edward), made for a very successful man in the Bay Colony.

With such a background, it is fitting that Edward Rawson’s wife should also come from similar social origins. He married Rachel Perne, the niece of the Puritan clergyman, Thomas Hooker. Rev. Hooker “has been called The Light of the Western Churches,”(17) and a “pioneer [American] democrat.”(18) He was originally tried in England for his “nonconformist preaching,” whereby he fled to Holland in 1630, finally ending up in “Newtown (now Cambridge)” Massachusetts in 1633. There, he again did not comply with the dominant way of things, and came into conflict with John Cotton over issues of ideology and ministerial practice. Evidently, the strong-willed Thomas Hooker “was discontented with the strict theological rule” in the colony of Massachusetts Bay, which rejected his sense of independence.(19) Thus, he moved on again, this time to found Hartford, Connecticut in 1636. In an effort to secure the new settlement’s dominance over the region, Hooker “exhorted” a small army of settlers into battle against the Pequot Indians later in the year. The Pequots were virtually exterminated in that war.(20) With antecedents such as those outlined above, it should be of no surprise that Edward Rawson rose quickly into positions of authority, attaining considerable property in New England. Arriving at Massachusetts in 1632, at the age of seventeen, he was appointed to positions of leadership in the town of Newbury within six years. Maintaining and amplifying such status within his community for another twelve years, he was elected secretary of the entire colony in 1650, successively being re-elected for thirty-six years. This role finally ended when the Massachusetts Bay Colony Charter was revoked by Sir Edmund Andros in 1686.(21) During that stretch of time, however, as reward for his public service, Secretary Rawson was granted hundreds of acres of land in New Hampshire and south of the Merrimack River in Massachusetts. With these properties, he was able to trade for and purchase others elsewhere in Massachusetts and Connecticut;(22) “the large tracts of land granted to him indicate that he was a man of considerable wealth and contributed to the financial support of the new settlement.”(23) Like most other men of stature in colonial Massachusetts society, Edward Rawson moved with his family to Boston, where he owned acreage bordering the Common, and elsewhere within the city. Reflecting his affluence and property, Rawson’s Lane (now Bromfield Street) in Boston was named after him.(24)...
Notes: References can be found at

Edward Rawson (politician)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Edward Rawson (April 16, 1615 - August 27, 1693) served as the first Secretary of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Edward Rawson was born in Dorset, England in 1615. Around 1636 he married his young wife, Rachel Perne, and soon left England for the Americas. He settled in Newbury in 1637. On April 19, 1638, at the age of 23, he was chosen to be Public Notary and Register for that town, and was annually reelected until 1647. Many other public trusts and responsible duties were laid upon him by the people of Newbury. As early as the year 1638, he was one of the deputies to represent the town at the General Court, and was reelected for nearly all the successive years to May 22, 1650, at which time he was chosen Secretary of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which office he continued to hold for thirty-six years, until 1686.
By the time of her death in the year 1677, Rachel Perne had borne twelve children to Edward Rawson. Of the twelve, at least nine have been known to survive until adulthood. Rachel Perne's family was related to the Hooker and Hawley families of New England.
Edward Rawson died in 1693 at the age of 78.
13. Edward RAWSON Immigrant-b.1615
12. William RAWSON-b.1651
, third son of Edward and, Rachel (Perne) Rawson, was born May 21, 1651, died September 20, 1726. He was a prominent merchant and importer of Boston. He kept a dry goods store in Rawson's Lane, now Bromfield street. In 1689 he sold his estate in Boston and removed to Dorchester, and later purchased a tract of land in Braintree near Neponset Village. Here he lived for forty years. He married, 1673, Anne, only daughter of Nathaniel and Mary (Smith) Glover, of Dorchester, Massachusetts. She died about 1730, aged seventy-four years. They were the parents of twenty children during a period of twenty-five years. Only five of the sons lived to maturity and to have families of their own.

11. Nathaniel RAWSON-b.1689
10. Nathaniel RAWSON- b.1716
9. Abner RAWSON- b.1764
8. Amariah RAWSON- b.1787
7. Adaline RAWSON- b.1811
6. Mary DUNN- b.1833
5. Harriett Camilla ENSIGN- b.1859
4. George Ensign SMITH- b.1898
3. Camilla SMITH- b.1926
2. Lark- b.1949
1. J R-1 b.1981


Jeanie said...

Hi - I just posted a comment on your other post about Edward Rawson, then found this post. Looks like we are BOTH 9th-great granddaughters of his! I'm very new to this, but as far as I understand, you and I are therefore 10th cousins! :) Did you know about the connection with William Howard Taft?

Lark said...

Comment from Hart_Frances

Married but not born in Gillingham: Edward Rawson was born in London. The wills of his father and stepfather clearly state that both were merchants of London and died there.

Edward came as a young adult to Gillingham to marry his (if New England histories are correct) second cousin, Rachel Perne. Her family had lived for several generations in the Gillingham area. The young couple stayed on for 2 years, and then emigrated to Massachusetts Bay Colony. They left their infant daughter in the care of family back in Gillingham.