Scituate : Litchfields, Vinals, and Lincolns

While the early Foster arrivals are linked to Ipswitch and the Swift and Morey families to Sandwich, it is the Litchfields that will be connected to Scituate. What distinguishes the early settlers in the Scituate is their connection to the English shire of Kent in southeast England. By the late 1620’s, Plymouth settlers were looking for more fertile and well situated lands. By 1628 settlers from Plymouth and new arrivals from Kent founded a settlement near the Indian Satuit or”Cold Creek” in English. The main street along the stream was called Kent Street and the name has stuck. The settlement was under the jurisdiction of the Plymouth colony until 1636 when it achieved a degree of self-governance. It is about this time that first Litchfield’s appear in the public record.

A fascinating character connected to the family Anna Vinal precedes our story of the Litchfield’s. Anna is born in England and is in preparation to come to the colonies when her husband Stephen dies. She boards a ship with her three children anyway and proceeds to the uncertainties of the new world as a widow. Upon arrival she starts purchasing land at Stockbridge Pond as one of the Conihasset Partners. As merchant adventurers, or land speculators, the Partners will purchase large tracts of land and dominate the early history of the town. It is recorded that amongst the partners that the Widow Ann was the best businessman of them all. Her most famous market niche was to be the importer of woolen yarns to sell to women knowing that they were the ones who controlled the household budget. Obviously, in cold New England woolen clothing was a product in high demand. She must have been pregnant with Stephen during her trans-Atlantic voyage as he is born in Scituate in 1636. Anne is my 10th great grandmother on my Dad’s side. 

Son Stephen will marry Elizabeth Baker, the daughter of the Reverend Nicholas Baker in 1664. His mother , the Widow Vinal will die shortly after but not before accumulating a sizable portfolio. Ann Vinal Street in Scituate is named after her. The marriage to the daughter of the town pastor is another indication of the Vinal prestige in this rapidly growing town. The daughter of the Reverend Nicholas Baker and wife Elizabeth, Sarah will marry our Josiah Litchfield in 1671. The Bakers will continue to produce pastors including Nicholas Jr. who will move to nearby Hingham in service to this church.

We need to briefly back up to the origin of the American Litchfields. Lawrence Litchfield was born in Egerton, Kent in 1616. He crosses the ocean in the Griffin in the company of 200 passengers and 100 cattle.The ship lands in Scituate in the company of men of property.  He settles near the estate of Governor Hinckley on Coggin’s Pond in Barnstable and near Sandwich by 1640. He marries Judith Dennis the daughter of William Dennis and interestingly named Jane Scarlet Dennis. It is there that daughters Experience, Dependence and Remember are born. By 1646 Lawrence and Judith relocate to Scituate where son Joseph is born in 1647. Perhaps notable was Lawrence’s membership in the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston. Lawrence joined the Barnstable unit of this organization in 1643 and later in Scituate. He was sent to learn the art of war in Boston for future command. Not much is known about Lawrence in Scituate other than he was probably a surveyor and that he never managed to enter the public record for being in trouble. His widow Judith will remarry and outlive him by thirty years after his death at 33 in 1649.

Josiah Litchfield was two years old at the time of his father’s death. He was adopted by the family of John and Ann Allen. In John Allen’s will he wants to provide for teenage Josiah most of his estate consisting of land and house. In 1663 (Josiah is 17) was placed under the guardianship of Lieutenant Torrey and Cornet Studson until he reached 21 at which time he would receive full control of his inherited farm and appurtenances. In the mean time Anna Allen had remarried Michael Pierce and they too will take a strong liking to young Josiah. Evidently Josiah was quite the businessman. By the 1690’s he is involved and managing a substantial portion of the Conihasset lands inherited from his father and adoptive father John Allen. In 1671 he marries Sarah Baker daughter of Reverend Nicholas Baker and they will proceed with creating eight more Litchfields. Josiah will pass in 1707 but the family and widow Sarah were still going strong. The inventory of his estate indicates a total value of 441 pounds including some 200 acres within Scituate. When Sarah dies in in 1713, the estate is valued at over 800 pounds ($160,000). The 200 acres of Scituate land might be worth quite a bit more today. She leaves son Josiah, Jr. the 50 acres with the homestead and divided up the rest of the estate with the other kids. Josiah Jr.’s occupation is listed as a cordwainer but also was involved a sawmill and an iron smelter. He was a wealthy man for the time and is buried First Parish Burying grounds.

Samuel Litchfield is born in 1690 the eldest son of Josiah and Sarah. Samuel will carry on the family trade as cordwainer. He will serve the town a surveyor and constable at different times. He will continue the family involvement in the local church and will pass at the age of 77 in 1767. His wife Abigail Buck will bear 10 children before dying in 1734 at the age of 49. Abigail descended from a number of early immigrants to Scituate including Issac Buck who had originally been “transported” to Boston in 1635 for refusing to take the Oath of Conformity to the Church of England. He moved to Scituate and was elected town clerk and by 1658 entitled to be called a Freeman. His occupation was that of a blacksmith. In 1676 he received an appointment as a lieutenant of the colonial militia. Issac could be a pest when riled. He refused to shoe the horses of a Massachusetts Commissioner traveling on public business. He was fined 20 pounds by Governor Bradford but his neighbors got behind him and the fine was reversed. He endures until 1696 aged 96. His youngest son Issac is born in 1660 (Samuel is 60 at the time). This Issac Buck will marry Eunice Turner the grand daughter of Humphrey Turner an early Scituate settler and 10th great grandfather to me and Pete Seeger, Chevy Chase and Ellen DeGeneres. 

Samuel Litchfield Jr. born in 1715 will marry Priscilla Vinal, descendant of Ann Vinal, in 1742. Their son, another Lawrence Litchfield will serve in the Revolutionary War as a lieutenant and we shall return to him later. It is this Lawrence Litchfield that will marry another descendant of early arrivals in Scituate, the Clapp family. 

Following the death of both Thomas Clapp’s mother and father in 1631, he leaves for the colonies . One motivating factor was the fact that his elder brother received control of the main family assets as the eldest. However, his father Nicholas had left him an estate that would pay Thomas nineteen pounds a year from his lands and estate. With this legacy, Thomas is well placed to take advantage of a move across the ocean. Thomas Clapp  is in Weymouth in 1639 when his son Thomas is born. He held land grants in Hingham but never lived there. From his farm in Weymouth, he moved to Scituate in 1740. His farm in Scituate was on the southwest  side of Stockbridge’s mill pond. He was a Deacon of the first church in 1647. His marriage to Jane Martin in 1639 resulted in nine children including ancestor Samuel in 1642. “He was an active, useful and venerable man”.

Samuel Clapp will live his life in Scituate marrying Hannah Gill in 1666. Following the merger of the Massachusetts and Plymouth colonies, Samuel will be a Representative to the General Court almost continuously from 1692 until 1715. Previously he had been a Deputy to the Government of the Plymouth Colony. His prosperity originated with the acquisition of the family farm as well as ownership a grist and saw mill where the Stockbridge Mills have since stood (the Clapp and Stockbridge families will continue to own and operate the mill until 1922. It was restored in 1970. He held the probably honorific title of Major despite no recorded evidence of a military role. Wife Hannah Gill was born to an early Hingham Thomas Gill in 1645. Among their numerous children is Joseph born in Scituate in 1668. Joseph lived on Black Pond Hill where he had land. Unlike most of his family, Joseph will look outside of Scituate finding Abigail Allen of Braintree in 1695 at the age of 27. The marriage will still produce 12 children despite the late start. Ancestor Benjamin Clapp is born in 1710 in Scituate and will live until 1773 with wife Grace Turner. The Turner family had resided in Scituate since 1633 with the arrival of Humphrey Turner. Humphrey had been dismissed from membership in the church in Plymouth on the condition that they ‘join in a body in Scituate”. Humphrey was a tanner by trade and builds the sixth house in Scituate on the fourth lot allowed on the Satuit (Scituate) brook. He also had a farm on the Driftway near Coleman Hills.  He was also one of the seventeen organizers of the first Scituate Church in 1634/5. We know little of Benjamin’s life other than he probably was involved in some of the family tanning business. Their son, Benjamin Jr. will be born in 1737 and marries Deborah Nash in 1758 and produce ancestor Rachel Clapp in 1755. Rachel will marry Lawrence Litchfield in 1777 just as the Revolutionary War is upon the colony.

 

Rachel and Lawrence’s son Luther will marry Anna Fanny Lincoln in Scituate in the fall of 1812. As the reader will probably guess, this is the same Lincoln family that yielded our greatest President. Anna Fanny was the great great grand daughter of our shared ancestor with Abe in the person of Mordecai Lincoln who was a prominent blacksmith of Hingham. The linkage with our famous relative is tenuous but it exists, thus comments are in order. Additionally, because of Abe’s stature many physical artifacts like homes remain. 

The first member of the Lincolns to arrive was Samuel who may have been 15 but probably younger to qualify for the voyage in 1637. The young Samuel accompanied a the Lawes family to  Hingham where his older brother Thomas known as “Thomas Lincoln the Weaver” had settled. Thomas will pass away with no children and leave his substantial estate to brother Samuel.  Samuel helps with the construction of the Old Ship Church in Hingham and marries Martha Lyford in 1649. They will have seven children of whom three will die in infancy. His fourth son was Mordecai Lincoln, ours and Abe’s common ancestor. 

Mordicai was the second to be born to Samuel and Martha. His brother died in infancy. He  marries Sarah Jones or Hull in 1684 and they have son Mordecai Jr. in 1686. Mordecai Sr. was a blacksmith and served as a colonial foot soldier in 1679. He owned a gristmill in Hingham that today is called the Lincoln Antique Mill. His eldest son will also be a Mordicai. It is this Mordicai that begins the family journey to the west where Abraham will be born. During the President’s lifetime he probably knew little of his New England roots. Mordecai Sr. the blacksmith and mill owner dies in 1727 at 71 years of age, but not before giving birth to ancestor Issac in 1691. Issac was an infant when the Lincoln Mill was built in 1690. He marries Sarah Cummings of Scituate in 1716. Our ancestor Issac Lincoln Jr. is born in Hingham in 1717. Issac Jr. will continue to reside in Hingham where son Lazarus Adca Lincoln is born in 1756.

 In 1768 Lazarus marries Fanny Kilby daughter of Cushing and Huldah Kilby of Hingham.  Private Lincoln will serve in a number of Massachusetts detachments including that of relative Peter Cushing in December, 1776. He is with Colonel Benjamin Gill’s regiment during the Burgoyne campaign in upstate New York. Lincoln was at the surrender of General Burgoyne at Sarasota, NY in October 1777. His last known service was with the garrison at Fort Hill in Boston during 1778. Lazarus was lost at sea near  Sulawesi Tengah in modern Indonesia in 1796 at age 40. He and Fanny will have five children including Anna Fanny in 1791. Fanny will remarry in 1801 to the Widower Israel Litchfield.

Anna Fanny will begin the westward movement of the family. She and husband Luther Litchfield will move from Scituate to Springfield Vermont by 1817. This is shortly after hostilities related to the War of 1812 are ended. It is useful to know that Vermont was still a western and Indian region at the time. Without the support of the British, the Indian tribes became less of a threat to Vermonters. By the mid-1820s, the family had moved to Duane, New York in the far northern part of the state. Iron ore and its processing were the main reasons for the town which today numbers less than 200. It is during this time brother John Lincoln suffers the same fate as his father in central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Daughter Fanny Kilby Litchfield is born in 1815 and was involved in all of these family moves that finally ended for her mother in Albion, New York where the Erie Canal had been constructed. 

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