Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Home of Sarah and Lt. William CLARK Burned the Night of July 14, 1681

Original Lt. William Clarke gravestone from 1690,
still preserved in Northampton, MA graveyard.
Was replaced by a larger monument by relatives in 1884. [see below]

Lt. William CLARKE (1609-1690) m Sarah STRONG (1611-1675)

Lt.William Clark was born in 1606 or 1609 in Dorsetshire? England and died on 19 July 1690 in Northampton, Hampshire Co., MA. He is buried in Bridge St. Cemetery in the same aforementioned location. William married Sarah STRONG around 1636 in Dorchester, Suffolk Co., MA and she was born in England around 1611 and died on 6 September 1675 in Northampton, Hampshire Co., MA. She also is buried at Bridge St. Cemetery, Northampton, MA. William's second wife was Sarah Slye Cooper and they were married on 15 November 1676 in Northampton, Hampshire, MA. Sarah was born in England around 1620 and died on 8 May 1688. She was the daughter of George SLYE. (http://www.familytreesite.org/clarke.htm)

There are at least three versions on the arrival of William Clarke in the New World:

Version 1 - He departed Plymouth, England on March 30, 1630 aboard the ship 'Mary and John' arriving in Nautucket (now called Hull) on May 30, 1630. He would have been 21 at that time. This is the version that appears in most family records.

Version 2 - William Clarke emigrated in 1630 aboard the ship 'William and Mary' in the company of Rev. Mister Warham of Plymouth, Dorsetshire, England. He settled first in Dorchester, Suffolk, Ma. prior to 1635, where he officiated as Townsman or Selectman from 1646 to 1653, removing to Northampton in 1659.

Version 3 - William Clarke left England on the ship 'Mary and John', which sailed from London on March 24, 1633, arriving in New England in June of that year.

This last version seems the most likely, even though it does not agree with 'old family tradition'. The port of embarkation also differs.

"He was the first citizen of Northampton to be elected deputy to the General Court, and 14 times between 1663 and 1682 was elected to that office, although not consecutively. He was Associate Justice of county court for 26 years; In 1662, he was authorized by the General Court to solemnize marriages, being the first person in that town to hold that responsible position. Frequently appointed by the Court to deal with Indians. He was chosen Lieutenant of the first military company ever organized here, when that was the office of highest rank to which the company, on account of its small number of men was entitled, and was in active service during King Philip's War and was at the same time a member of the military committee of the county. He supplied the commissary department to some extent during King Philip's Indian War and the Legislature ordered the Treasurer to pay him in 1676 'thirty-eight pounds, eighteen shillings for "Porke and bisket" delivered to the country's use'. He helped to build the first grist mill and the first saw mill in the town. He was greatly interested in promoting the new settlement of Squakheag (Northfield) and is named as having served as town clerk at the second settlement of that place, although there is no evidence that he ever lived there. Several times he was chosen commissioner, with others, to determine disputed boundaries between Northampton and neighboring towns. His home lot, one of the largest, covered the north half of the Smith College property. Tradition states that here he built a block house upon this lot which was used for refuge during the Indian troubles. His dwelling house was burned in 1681, having been set on fire by a Negro, as he averred in search of food. * In 1671, he was licensed to sell "wine, cider or liquor for a year". He had large grants of land in the meadows and elsewhere and purchased many acres in different parts of the town. All his lands, embracing nearly two hundred acres, with the exception of 7 3/4 acres, he disposed of before his death to his sons, reserving to himself an annuity of 24 pounds.

"The house of Lieut. William Clarke, situated very nearly on the ground now occupied by the main Smith College building, was burned on the night of July 14, 1681. It was built of logs, and Clarke and his wife were living in it at the time. A Negro, named Jack, set the house on fire. He confessed the deed and pretended that it was done accidentally, while he was searching for food, swinging a burning brand to light his way. Jack did not belong in town; he was a servant to Samuel Wolcott of Wethersfield; was a vicious character, a forerunner of the great army of tramps now everywhere wearying the patience of the public, and had already been before the courts for other misdemeanors. His object undoubtedly, was robbery, and it is not probable that he went about the house searching for food even, with a lighted pine torch in his hands. Very likely after stealing whatever he could lay his hands upon, he set the house on fire to conceal the robbery, or from spite against William Clarke, who was at this time 72 years of age.

Capture and Punishment of the Incendiary. Jack was arrested in Brookfield or Springfield, and was brought before the court in Boston, where he plead not guilty. When his confession was read to him, however, he acknowledged it, and the jury brought in a verdict of guilty. The court believed his confession as to setting the house on fire, but did not credit his statement that it was done carelessly. He was sentenced to be "hanged by the neck till he be dead and then taken down and burnt to ashes in the fire with Maria, the Negro". Maria was under sentence of death for burning the houses of Thomas Swan, and of her master, Joshua Lamb, in Roxbury. She was burned alive. Both of these Negroes were slaves. Why the body of Jack was burned is not known.

note 1: Many slaves were burned alive in New York and New Jersey, and in the southern colonies, but few in Massachusetts. note 2: Tradition has handed down the following items concerning the burning of Clarke's house: The Negro fastened the door on the outside so that no one could escape, and set the fire on the outside. William Clarke injured his hands considerably (pounded them, it is said) in his endeavor to escape, and his wife was somewhat burned. John Clarke, grandson of William, a little more than a year old, was brought out of the house and laid beside the fence. There was powder in one of the chambers, and when it exploded the ridge pole was blown across the road, and one end forced into the ground. The Negro had taken offense at something William Clarke had done in his official capacity, and set the fire in a spirit of revenge. He was discovered either at Brookfield, Springfield, or near New Haven, and identified by means of a jack-knife in his possession that belonged to the Clarke's." History of Northampton Massachusetts From Its Settlement in 1654 (James Russell Trumbull - Printed in Northampton in 1898)

Lt. William Clarke and Sarah Strong had the following children:

(1) Sarah Clark was born on 21 April 1638 at Dorchester, Suffolk County, MA and died on 21 June 1638 in the same locatiion..

(2) Jonathan Clark was born on 1 August 1639 at Dorchester, Suffolk County, MA and died on 1 Oct 1639 in the same location.

(3) Nathaniel Clark was born on 27 January 1642 at Dorchester, Suffolk County, MA and died on 30 March 1669 in Northampton, Hampshire County, MA. On 8 May 1663 he married Mary Meekins in Hadley, Hampshire County, MA.

(4) Experience Clark was born on 30 March 1643 at Dorchester, Suffolk County, MA and died in 1662 at Northampton, Hampshire County, MA.

(5) Increase Clark was born on 1 March 1646 at Dorchester, Suffolk County, MA and died on 24 April 1662 at Northampton, Hampshire County, MA.

(6) Rebecca Clark was born 1 March 1648/9 at Dorchester, Suffolk County, MA and died on 8 February 1733 at Northampton, MA. She married Israel Rust on 9 December 1669.

(7) John Clark (Deacon) was born on 1 May 1651 at Dorchester, Suffolk County, MA and died on 3 September 1704 at Windsor, Hartford County, CT. His first wife was Rebecca Cooper and she died during childbirth. His second wife was Mary Strong and they were married on 20 March 1679.

(8) Samuel Clark was born on 16 October 1653 at Dorchester, Suffolk County, MA and died on 5 August 1729 at Northampton, MA. He married Elizabeth Edwards on 1 March 1682 at Northampton, MA.

(9) Captain William Clark was born on 3 July 1656 at Dorchester, Suffolk County, MA and died on 9 May 1725 at Lebanon, New London County, CT. His first wife was Hannah Strong and they were married on 15 July 1680. William's second wife was Mary Smith and they were married on 31 January 1694/5.

(10) Sarah Clark was born on 19 March 1659 at Dorchester, Suffolk County, MA and died on 15 April 1728 at Northampton, MA. She married Capt. John Parsons on 23 December 1675 in Northampton, MA.

Ancestry Chain: Lt. William CLARK Immigrant b.1609, Nathaniel CLARK b.1641, Mary PARSONS b.1688, Jerusha GRAVES b.1717, Jerusha COOLEY b.1738, Sylvanus BRONSON b.1769, Mary BRONSON b.1806, Martin Luther ENSIGN b.1831, Harriett Camilla ENSIGN b.1859, George Ensign SMITH b.1898, Camilla SMITH b.1926, Lark, JR.

1 comment:

Myrle Dalton said...

You are really finding good stuff! Move this one over too. I guess cold weather and being snowed in leaves lots of time for finding ancestors (Plus a definite 'knack' for doing it.Love you Myrle