Wednesday, January 12, 2011

(Major) John MASON 9th & 11th Gr. Grandfather - The Great Migration Begins


ORIGIN: Unknown
REMOVES: Windsor 1635, Saybrook 1647, Norwich 1659
OCCUPATION: Soldier, magistrate.
CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: Admission to Dorchester church prior to 4 March 1634/5 implied by freemanship.
FREEMAN: 4 March 1634/5 (as "Captain John Mason") [MBCR 1:370]. "Major John Mason" is in the 9 October 1669 list of Connecticut freemen in Norwich [CCCR 2:523].
EDUCATION: His prose is vigorous and direct in his regular correspondence with the Winthrops [WP 4:419-20; 5:249-51, 253, 263, 317-18; 6:257-58, 384-85, 388, 395-96] and in his history of the Pequot War [A Brief History of the Pequot War (Boston 1736)]. His activities from the earliest days in New England give evidence of training as a military engineer.
OFFICES: Deputy for Dorchester to Massachusetts Bay General Court, 4 March 1634/5, 2 September 1635 [MBCR 1:135, 156].
Connecticut Deputy Governor, May 1660, May 1661, May 1662, October 1662, May 1663, May 1664, May 1665, May 1666, May 1667, May 1668 [CT Civil List 36]. Deputy for Windsor to Connecticut Court, November 1637, March 1638, April 1638, September 1639, February 1641, April 1641, September 1641 [CT Civil List 35]. Assistant, 1642-1659, 1669-71 [CT Civil List 35]. War committee for Saybrook, May 1653, October 1654 [CT Civil List 35]. Patentee, Royal Charter, 1662 [CT Civil List 36]. Commissioner for United Colonies, June 1654, May 1655, May 1656, May 1657, May 1660, May 1661 [CT Civil List 36].
A rate was gathered for the support of Captain Mason 29 December 1634 [DTR 1:9]. Militia Committee, May 1667 - June 1672 [CT Civil List 36]. Captain by 1637 [CT Civil List 35]. Major, June 1654 [CT Civil List 35] (but he was called Major at the General Court of 18 May 1654 [CCCR 1:256]).
ESTATE: On 10 February 1634/5 "Captayne Mason" received a grant of two acres in Dorchester [DTR 1:9]. He drew six acres of meadow beyond Naponset in lot #73 [DTR 1:322].
In the Windsor land inventory on 28 February 1640[/1] John Mason held seven parcels, six of which were granted to him: "a homelot with some additions to it, ten acres"; "in the palisado where his house stands and mead adjoining twenty acres and half"; "in the first mead on the northside of the rivulet, for mead and addition in swamp eight acres"; "in the northwest field for upland eight acres with some addition on the bank side"; "over the Great River in breadth by the river twenty-six rods more or less, and continues that breadth to the east side of the west marsh, and there it is but sixteen rods in breadth and so continues to the end of the three miles"; "twelve acres of land by Rocky Hill"; and "by a deed of exchange with Thomas Duy [Dewey] ... on the east side of the Great River in breadth eighteen rods more or less, in length three miles" [WiLR 1:91].
On 5 January 1641/2 Connecticut court ordered "that Captain Mason shall have 500 acres of ground, for him and his heirs, about Pequoyt Country, and the dispose of 500 more to such soldiers as joined with him in the service when they conquered the Indians there" [CCCR 1:70].
On 12 July 1644 John Mason of Windsor sold to William Hosford of Windsor eight acres in a little meadow with addition of swamp [WiLR 48]. On 11 September 1651 "the island commonly called Chippachauge in Mistick Bay is given to Capt. John Mason, as also one hundred acres of upland and ten acres of meadow near Mistick, where he shall make choice" [CCCR 1:24-25].
On 14 March 1660/1 the "jurisdiction power over that land that Uncus and Wawequa have made over to Major Mason is by him surrendered to this Colony. Nevertheless for the laying out of those lands to farms or plantations the Court doth leave it in the hands of Major Mason. It is also ordered and provided with the consent of Major Mason, that Uncus & Wawequa and their Indians and successors shall be supplied with sufficient planting ground at all times as the Court sees cause out of that land. And the Major doth reserve for himself a competence of land sufficient to make a farm" [CCCR 1:359].
On 14 May 1663 the court granted "unto the Major, our worshipful Deputy Governor, 500 acres of land for a farm, where he shall choose it, if it may not be prejudicial to a plantation already set up or to set up, so there be not above 50 acres of meadow in it" [CCCR 1:406]. On 13 October 1664, the "Major propounding to the Court to take up his former grant of a farm, at a place by the Indians called Pomakuck, near Norwich, the Court grants liberty to him to take up his former grant in that place, upon the same terms as it was granted to him by the Court" [CCCR 1:432].
On 20 May 1668 the "Major desiring this Court to grant him a farm of about three hundred acres, for one of his sons, his desire is hereby granted (provided there be not above thirty acres of meadow) and Lt. Griswold & Ensign Tracy are hereby desired to lay it out to him in some convenient place near that tract of land granted Jer[emiah] Adams, it being the place the Major hath pitched upon, the name of the place is Uncupsitt, provided it prejudice no plantation or former grant" [CCCR 2:86-87]
On 9 May 1672 "Ensign Tracy is appointed to join with Sergeant Tho[mas] Leffingwell in laying out to the Major and Mr. Howkins their grants of land according to their grants" [CCCR 2:171].
BIRTH: By about 1605 based on military service in the Low Countries in the 1620s [DAB]. (Some secondary sources give his age at death as seventy-two, which would place his birth about 1600, but the source for this age is not known.)
DEATH: Norwich between 9 May 1672 and 6 June 1672 [CCCR 2:171, 182].
MARRIAGE: (1) By about 1638 _____ _____. She died at Windsor before 10 March 1638[/9] [Grant 77].
(2) Hingham [blank] July 1639 Ann Peck [NEHGR 121:11], daughter of Rev. Robert Peck [TAG 26:85]; she died shortly before her husband. (Her son-in-law, Reverend James Fitch, preached the sermon at her funeral, which was published under the title Peace The End of the Perfect and Upright Demonstrated and Usefully Improved in a Sermon Preached upon the Occasion of the Death and Decease of the Piously Affected and Truely Religious Woman, Mrs. Anne Mason, Sometime Wife to Major John Mason, Who Not Long After Finished His Course and Is Now at Rest [Cambridge 1672].)
CHILDREN (births of iii-ix recorded at Norwich [NoVR 1:20]):

With first wife

i ISRAEL, b. say 1638; m. Windsor 17 June 1658 John Bissell [Grant 23; TAG 26:84-94, 27:100-01].

With second wife

ii ANN, d. Windsor 7 October 1640 [Grant 78].

iii PRISCILLA, b. Windsor October 1641; m. Norwich [8] October 1664 Rev. James Fitch [NoVR 39].

iv SAMUEL, b. Windsor July 1644; m. (1) Rehoboth 26 June 1670 Judith Smith [NEHGR 121:124-25]; m. (2) Rehoboth 4 July 1694 Elizabeth Peck (at Rehoboth but recorded Stonington [StonVR Barbour 158]).

v JOHN, b. Windsor August 1646; m. about 1670 as her first husband Abigail Fitch [TAG 40:50-54, 58:135-37].

vi RACHEL, b. Saybrook October 1648; m. New London 12 June 1678 Charles Hill [NLVR Barbour 204].

vii ANN, b. Saybrook June 1650; m. Swansea 8 November 1672 John Brown [SwVR 23]. (On 7 October 1672 Thomas Minor reported that "An Mason was married," but he did not seem to be interested in the identity of the groom [Minor Diary 112]).

viii DANIEL, b. Saybrook April 1652; m. (1) by 8 February 1673/4 Margaret Denison, daughter of Edward Denison (she was buried 15 May 1679 [Minor Diary 148]); m. (2) Hingham 10 October 1679 Rebecca Hobart [NEHGR 121:205].

ix ELIZABETH, b. Saybrook August 1654; m. Norwich January 1676/7 James Fitch [TAG 46:44].

COMMENTS: In his list of "some omitted in former records being gone yet had children born here," Matthew Grant included "Captain Masen" and credited him with four children born in Windsor [Grant 93], which are best accounted for as the daughter Ann who died in 1640, and Priscilla, Samuel and John [TAG 26:86-87].
The record of births of John Mason's children by his second wife was entered in Norwich vital records, even though none of the births had occurred there, with only the month and year of the birth given [TAG 26:86, citing NoVR 1:20]. The division of births between Windsor and Saybrook is based on the knowledge that Mason was in Saybrook by 1647, and on the accounting of Matthew Grant, discussed in the last paragraph.
In his few years in Massachusetts John Mason was found very useful by town and colony. On 2 July 1633 order is "given to the Treasurer to deliver to Lieutenant Mason £10 for his voyage to the eastward, when he went about the taking of Bull" [MBCR 1:106; MHSC 2:8:232]. On 5 November 1633 "Sergeant Stoughton is chosen ensign to Captain Mason" [MBCR 1:110]. On 3 September 1634 "Captain Mason" was appointed to a committee to "find out the convenient places for situation, as also to lay out the several works for fortification at Castle Island, Charelton, & Dorchester" [MBCR 1:124]. On 3 September 1635 "Captain Mason is authorized by the Court to press men & carts to help towards the finishing of the fort at Castle Island, & to return the same into the Court" [MBCR 1:158].
John Mason was one of the most trusted men in Connecticut during his three and a half decades of residence there, in both civil and military matters. In his latter years the formal colony records referred to him simply as "the Major," without forename or surname. Only a sampling of his activities can be presented here.
On 1 May 1637 the Connecticut General Court ordered that "there shall be an offensive war against the Pequoitt" and levied ninety men from the three towns of Hartford, Windsor and Wethersfield, to be "under the command of Captain Jo[hn] Mason" [CCCR 1:9]. His comings and goings during the Pequot War are occasionally noted by Winthrop [WP 3:419, 421, 435, 456; WJ 1:233, 267]. He took a company of Englishmen up the river and rescued two English maids during this war [WJ 1:223]. (On 22 May 1639, even though he had been living in Connecticut for three years, "Captain Mason had granted him" by Massachusetts Bay General Court "ten pounds, for his good service against the Pecoits & otherwise" [MBCR 1:259].)
On 8 March 1637/8, in the aftermath of the Pequot War, the Connecticut General Court "ordered that Captain Mason shall be a public military officer of the plantations of Conecticot, and shall train the military men thereof in each plantation" [CCCR 1:15].
On 2 June 1647 the court ordered "that Captain Mason should for the peace, safety and good assurance of the Commonwealth, have the command of all soldiers and inhabitants of Seabrooke, and in case of alarum or danger by approach of an enemy, to draw forth or put the said soldiers & inhabitants in such posture for the defense of the place as to him shall seem best," and "whereas Captain Mason, at the special instance & request of the inhabitants of Seabrooke, together with the good liking of the Commonwealth, did leave his habitation in the River and repair thither, to exercise a place of trust. It is this day ordered, that his former salary of £40 per annum be continued" [CCCR 1:155-56].
During the winter of 1647/8 Winthrop records that "in the depth of winter, in a very tempestuous night, the fort at Saybrook was set on fire, and all the buildings within the palisado, with all the goods, etc., were burnt down, Captain Mason, his wife, and children, hardly saved. The loss was estimated at one thousand pounds, and not known how the fire came" [WJ 2:311].
Prior to the sitting of the court on 6 October 1651, Captain Mason had sent a letter to the court, "wherein he desires, among other things, the advice of this Court touching a motion propounded by some of New Haven interested in Dillaware design, for his assistance of them in that business, with some encouragements for his settling there." The Court did not like the idea, but admitted they could not prevent him, and gave their reluctant permission to "attend the service for 3 months, provided he will engage himself to return within that time and continue his abode amongst them as formerly" [CCCR 1:227]. (New Haven was at this time attempting to establish a daughter colony on the Delaware River [Isabel MacBeath Calder, The New Haven Colony (New Haven 1934), p. 192].)
By the sitting of the Court on 18 May 1654 he had been advanced from Captain to Major [CCCR 1:256], the rank that he would hold for the remainder of his life. On 13 June 1654 he and Captain John Cullick were sent to Boston as agents of Connecticut, to discuss Cromwell's plans for fighting the Dutch at New Amsterdam [CCCR 1:260]. In April 1657 he received from the General Court an extensive commission, requiring him to go to Southampton and investigate the complaints of the inhabitants of that town (then under Connecticut jurisdiction) regarding depradations made by the Montauk Indians [CCCR 1:295-97].
On 15 June 1659 Mr. Willis was "requested to go down to Sea Brook, to assist the Major in examining the suspicions about witchery, and to act therein as may be requisite" [CCCR 1:338].
In the summer of 1669 residents of Easthampton, Southampton and Stonington addressed letters to Mason, warning him of an impending attack by several groups of Indians. Mason passed these letters on to the colony authorities in Hartford, and added his own strongly worded advice [CCCR 2:548-50].
In the summer of 1670 John Mason acted as an intermediary between Roger Williams and the Connecticut government regarding a boundary dispute between Rhode Island and Connecticut [RWCorr 609-20; CCCR 2:536].
BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE: In 1935 Louis B. Mason published a book-length biography of John Mason [The Life and Times of Major John Mason of Connecticut: 1600-1672 (New York 1935)]. There is also an account in the Dictionary of American Biography.
The Great Migration Begins

Ancestry Chain 1: Major John MASON Immigrant b.1600, Captain John MASON b.1657, Lydia MASON, Lucretia SEYMOUR b.1730, Isaac ENSIGN Rev.WarVet. b.1756, Horace Datus ENSIGN b.1797, Martin Luther ENSIGN b.1831, Harriett Camilla ENSIGN b.1859, George Ensign SMITH b.1898, Camilla SMITH b.1926, Lark, JR.

Ancestry Chain 2: Major John MASON Immigrant b.1600, Anne MASON b.1650,John BROWN Capt. b.1675, Martha BROWN b.1729, John JEFFORDS b.1746, Lucretia JEFFORDS b.1766, Amariah RAWSON b.1787, Adaline RAWSON b.1811, Mary DUNN b.1833, Harriett Camilla ENSIGN b.1859, George Ensign SMITH b.1898, Camilla SMITH b.1926, Lark, JR.

Of Interest: 3rd great grandparents Martin Luther ENSIGN and his wife Mary DUNN are 5th cousins, their common ancestor is (Major) John MASON.

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