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Several years after Ebenezer Briggs died, his children under the age of 14 were put under the gaurdianship of Thomas Briggs, very likely their uncle, and Elkanah Babbit. Their mother was still alive and remarried. No reason has been found to think that they weren't raised in the household of their stepfather Pasco Chubb, but Ebenezer had real estate when he died, and it was divided among his heirs. Guardians were appointed to oversee their interests for probate purposes. John, "second son" of Ebenezer, was given about 7 1/4 acres of his father's improved and wood land and the eastern room of the family's house. His mother was given the western room. This suggests a very modest house. Of his father's personal belongings he was given one cow valued at 5 lbs, and 4 lbs 3 shillings worth of items not described. His older brother Ebenezer got his grandfather's silver buttons with his monogram, his gun and his best clothes.
     John and Charity moved to nearby Berkley, Massachusetts, probably by the time daughter Lydia was born. When a town record was made of the births of the children, only Prudence has a notation that she was born in Dighton. Lydia was born in March 1740. The first recorded deed of land bought by John in Berkley was on 15 April 1754, but he is described as being of Berkley (and a cordwainer). The property was 15 acres, with no house or other buildings mentioned.
      John and Charity's son John's Revolutionary War pension file says that his father served for two months in the Revolutionary cause engaged in "taking down barracks at Winter Hill & moving them to Dorchester Heights."1 He had signed up for four months but John, Jr., served the remaining two as his father's substitute. John wrote his will in 1792, dividing his real and personal estate between sons Hathaway and John, the whole of the house going to Hathaway. In 1796 he put this in deed form "for good considerations of us moving." Likely no money was exchanged, and the term "moving" probably refers to a mental rather than a physical act. Other deeds say something similar, expressing that they were moved to such considerations. Evidence places Charity in this house in 1800, and it's very likely she and John died there. Deeds tell us that John was a cordwainer, meaning a rope maker, which suggests there was a rope walk on their property.
     The following is John's will. An inventory was ordered, but none was found among his original probate papers:

In the name of God, amen, the first day of July in the year of our Lord seventeen hundred and ninety two, John Briggs of Berkley, yoeman, being of a sound mind and memory, thanks be given unto God: therefore calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last will and testement, that is to say, principally and if not of all, I give and recommend my soul into the hands of God that gave it, and my body I recommend to the earth , to be buried in decent Christian burial at the discretion of my executors, nothing doubting but at the general resserrection I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of God, and as touching on the worldly estate where with it hath pleased God to bless me in this life, I give, demise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form

Imprimis, I give and bequeath to Charity my dearly beloved wife, the one half of the improvement of my dwelling house & the one half of the improvement of all my lands during her natural life as also all my houshold goods for the same term

Item, I give to my two sons John and Hathaway their heirs and assigns forever all my lands in Berkley or els where together with all my buildings, except my dwelling house, which I give wholly to my son Hathaway, the remainder to be equally divided between the afore said two sons John & Hathaway as also all my farming tools & wearing appearal to be divided between the said John & Hathaway in the same manner as my lands

Item, I give to my three sons Ebenezer, Richard & Joel six shillings each, to be paid them by my executor here after named in one year after my decease

Item, I give to my daughters Lydia, Prudence, Margaret, Rachel, Hannah & Jerusha all my indoor moveables & household furniture to be divided equally between my afore said daughters after the death of my wife

Item, I further give to my son John all my debts due by book notes or bond & all my stock of what name or nature whatsoever, and do likewise constitute him the said John my sole executor of this my last will and testement, he to pay all my just debts, legacies before named & funeral charges, and I do hereby utterly disavow, revoke and disanul all other wills & executors by me named, willed and bequeathed, ratified and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testement. In witness where of I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year above written

John Briggs

signed, sealed, published, pronounced and declared by the said John Briggs as his last will & testement in presents of the witnesses

Ebenr Paull
Samuel Tobey
Apollos Tobey


Augt 6 1799 approved


children of John Briggs and Charity Hathaway:2

i. Lydia b. 19 March 1739/1740
ii. Prudence b. 29 May 1742 (in Dighton)
iii. Ebenezer b. 6 December 1744
iv. Richard b. 21 May 1746/1747
v. Margaret b. 2 March 1748/1749
vi. Rachel b. 5 May 1751
vii. John b. 31 August 1753
viii. Hannah b. 29 March 1756
ix. Joel b. 6 July 1758
x. Jerusha b. 23 February 1761
xi. Hathaway b. 12 December 1766



sources for vital records: John and his siblings' gaurdianship paper very likely lists them in order of age, which is general practice in probate records, placing John's birth probably between 1716/1718. He was the oldest John Briggs of Berkley after 1764, necessitating a birth before John the 2nd, who was born in 1719. John's death is estimated from his will being probated 6 August 1799, Bristol County Probate (transcribed in vol. 36, p. 313 & 315, but records for this biography are taken from original probate papers, no file number assigned. An inventory was ordered, but none was found, original or transcribed, nor are there any administrator accounts). His marriage record is from the published Berkley vital records?

1. file #R1208.
2. Berkley vital records, The Mayflower Descendant. Prudence's birth appears in both the Berkley and Dighton records, but the Berkley record says she was born in Dighton, while her siblings presumably were all born in Berkley. Prudence may have been born at the house of her grandmother Comfort (Kings) Briggs Chubb, who, if still alive, was likely living in Dighton.

all text and photographs © 1998-2019 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted