go to Comfort King's page
After about ten years after his father's death, Ebenezer was given a share of his real estate:1
Ebenezer to have halfe the upper end of the fifty eighth lott & ye upper end of the fifty ninth lott from the sd cross line to the heads of sd lotts and allso to have two little lotts number 60 & 41 he paying out seven pounds to the sisters.
This land was originally a part of the South Purchase in the town of Taunton, Massachusetts, now in the town of Dighton. Where the "cross line" was isn't clear. His brother Amos was given the lower (eastern) parts of these lots, which extended to the Segregansett River. By the time Ebenezer died, he appears to have owned these lots as well. A quick succession of transactions ended with brother Thomas buying them in 1719.2 He must have sold them to Ebenezer, perhaps in an unrecorded deed, within the next seven years.
A deed says Comfort got permission from the General Court to sell some of her husband's land to support her mother 3.Mary (Sprague) King.3 This court record, dated 23 November 1726, wasn't found in any of the logical categories of records of this court. The piece of land was sold to Nathaniel Fisher, Comfort's neighbor and minister for the parish of Taunton that became the town of Dighton. Description wise, it doesn't fit into the parcel Ebenezer was given from his father's estate, but was probably adjacent to it to the east. The First Congregational Church in Dighton was just south of Ebenezer's land, and Rev. Fisher acquired various lots nearby. It was a much disputed spot for the church and eventually fell out of favor. It was still standing as late as 1852 and used as a public meeting house.
Ebenezer's real estate inherited from his father was divided on 8 April 1729.4 Widow Comfort was given the homestead farm of 27 1/2 acres. The other improved land, bordered on the east by the Segregansett River, was divided north to south in four pieces for the children, Ebenezer, Jr.'s, being the largest and having what was likely the family house on it. South of the farm was woodland, also divided into four pieces for each of the children. Ebenezer, Jr., ended up with all this land after deed grants from his siblings and presumably after the death of his mother. She had remarried and moved to Berkley, but there isn't a recorded deed or probate record that documents Ebenezer's title to her dower rights.
Based on subsequent and numerous deeds, many with very poor descriptions of metes and bounds, it appears Ebenezer, Sr.'s, land at the time of his death extended east from what is now Williams Street across what is now Pine Street to the river, crossing Pine Street in the vicinity of Rowland Drive. His homestead farm lot as it was set off to Comfort ended before the river, bounded east by the improved lots given to his children. Comfort was given the homestead farm as part of her dower, but not rights to a part of the family house, as was the norm. This may have been due to her having remarried by the time of the estate division. It was also normal for the homestead to include the farm and house of the owner. There are two instances in the South Purchase of real estate divisions in probate that separate the family home from the family farm. Whether or not it was so divided during the lifetime of the deceased isn't said. In the other instance, that of Matthew Gooding when his estate was settled in 1757,5 his widow was given the homestead farm and rights to part of the house that was on a separate lot given to their eldest son. They lived adjacent to the Briggses to the north. This seemingly odd division of real estate may have been due to the oddly long and narrow shape of the South Purchase lots.
Since the house wasn't near "Upper" (Williams) Street, access to it had to come from somwhere else. The Segregansett River was navigable, but it's very unlike it was used as the sole access for people living on the eastern or lower parts of the South Purchase. It's possible the line that divided the lots (the "cross line") was also a right of way, but when Matthew Gooding's estate was settled, the only apparent road access to the lots given to the heirs was from Upper Street and a "townway" that is now Center Street. Otherwise, they were permitted to cross each other's lots in whatever way suited all parties. After Matthew's widow died, there was a division of her dower in 1784.6 In that document the road that is now Pine Street is mentioned, but it crossed through one of the lots and wasn't a boundary line. The street was also there when Ebenezer, Jr., sold land to his son Samuel in 1783.7 His and his father's house faced each other across the street for many years after.
When Pasco Chub died hasn't been found, but Comfort probably moved back to Dighton as a widow by 1758. Ebenezer and Comfort's single daughter Mary died in that year and willed her clothes to her mother and her bedstead to Ebenezer, Jr. This suggests they were all living in the same house. They all likely died there as well. When Ebenezer, Jr., died in 1809, his house was described as "old."8
Ebenezer, Sr., is said to have lived on what is now Wellington Street, the original source of which claim hasn't been found. There were Briggses living on that street after it was laid out many years later. Confusion may lie in that the part of Dighton that Ebenezer lived in was briefly set off as its own town, called Wellington, in the early 1800s.
Most of the houses built in the 18th century and earlier in this neighborhood are long gone, but in the wooded area between Pine and Williams Streets, old stone walls still reflect much of the original layout of the South Purchase. The last of Jonathan Briggs's descendants to live on his South Purchase property was Olive Briggs, who lived in the same spot as her grandfather Ebenezer, Jr. Her ownership descended through her aunt Freelove Briggs, Freelove's mother Sally (Briggs) Briggs, her husband James Briggs, his father Ebenezer, Jr., Ebenezer, Sr. and finally Jonathan. Although it would have been roughly 250 years old, her house may have been the one built for Ebenezer, Sr. It may have lasted much longer, since maps show a house there through the 20th Century. The house there in 2023 was probably built within the last 20 years.
Olive sold her small bit of family land, only an acre, on 11 July 1867.9 Permission for the South Purchase from the Massachusetts General Court was given two hundred years earlier, almost to the day, on 2 July 1667.
An inventory of Ebenezer's estate was taken in March of 1725:10
A true inventory of all and singular ye goods chattls & reall and parsnol estate of Mr. Ebenezer Briggs leat of Dieghton decesed apprised by us the subcribers at Dieghton march ye 30th one thousand seven hundred and twenty and five
imprimis his waring aparil 3[pounds]-12[shillings]-0[pence]
to his gun 2-5-0
to one yoke of oxen 15-0-0
to one chain 0-11-0
to three cows at five pounds a pece 15-0-0
to one bull 1-10-0
to eight calves at one poind and five shilings a pece 10-0-0
to one mare 6-0-0
to one swine 1-10-0
to one hide 0-14-0
to one grinding stone 0-3-0
to twenty seven sheepe 13-10-0
to two plows 1-10-0
to twenty pounds of flax 1-0-0
to twelve bushil of corn at 6/ pr bushill 3-12-0
to befe and pork 1-17-[torn](11)
to old iorn 0-[torn]
to iorn boer? [borer?] and a maull?(12) [value obliterated and torn]
to leather 1-3-[torn]
to beds and beding and bedsteds and firnitur 7-0-0
to two meat bariels 0-18-0
to two spining wheels 0-10-0
to tin trays 0-6-0
to old cask 0-13-0
to one tramill and tongs and fier clice [slice: a type of shovel] 0-8-0
to two pots and pot huckes 1-11-0
to skilit and old brass 6/ & flesh fork 1/ 0-7-0
to two platters 0-7-0
to six ?(13) and a tin cup and sixteen spones 1-6-0
to three pare of silver buttons 0-9-0
to one sive 0-2-0
to one bag 0-1-0
to one fring pan and box iorn 0-4-0
to old wooden ware 0-5-0
to eight pound of feathers 1-4-0
to two chests old ones 0-10-0
to one ladel 1-0-0
to 3/4 of a pound of cotton 0-1-0
to one pare of sisers 0-1-6
to one pare of wheels and old boxes and bands 3-8-0
to 16 yards cloth at 5/ pr yard 4-0-0
to the whome sted and housing 400-0-0
children of Ebenezer Briggs and Comfort King:(14)
Mary, b. abt 1714
Ebenezer, b. abt 1716
John, b. abt 1718
Samuel, b. abt 1720
sources for vital records: His death date is estimated from an inventory of his estate taken on 30 March 1725 and that Comfort's account of the estate in April 1727 says that she had paid taxes in the two years since he died (a transcription of this account is on
Comfort King's page). His marriage record comes from the published Dighton vital records.
1. Bristol Co., MA, Probate Records (hereafter BCPR), 2:242, 30 Mar 1709. This document isn't in the case file of original papers.
2. Bristol Co., MA, Deed Records (Taunton Division, hereafter BCDR), Amos Briggs to Thomas King, Sr. (father of Comfort), 6:381; Thomas King to John Algar, 8:116; John Algar to Nathaniel Fisher, 13:537.
3. Ibid, 21:143.
4. Bristol Co., MA, Probate Court (hereafter BCPC), case file #3326 (indexed under the mistranslation "Ebeneser").
5. BCPR, 18:169-70.
6. Ibid, 28:217-19.
7. BCDR, 74:4.
8.Ebenezer, Jr.'s, probate
10. see note 4.
11. the transcription of this inventory in BCPR, 5:269, doesn't account for the damage to the document and leaves out things that are missing without saying so.
12. Ibid, the transcription says this line item is an "iron box and maul," but in this context, borer may make more sense, as both are tools. Also, the word in question doesn't look like "box" as written elsewhere in the inventory ("box iron") and is more like "boer," the "r" at the end typical of how it is written elsewhere in the document.
13. Ibid, the transcription says basons, but it would be unusual to have 6 basons in a modest household. It appears to say "bacones," so it may not be intended as a hard "c." but given the poor spelling in the document, it's hard to be sure.
14. BCPC, case file #3418 (indexed under the mistranslation "Ebeneser"), concerns guardianships for his children. When naming groups of children regarless of gender, probate records from this period normally do so chronologically by age. The children in this case are listed as Mary, Ebenezer, John and Samuel. This is partly confirmed by Ebenezer's estate distribution (see note #4), which places the boys in this order as oldest, second and youngest.