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vital records sources


Richard was living in Middle Chinnock, Somerset, England, when he married Edith in 1628. They had moved to East Coker, about five and a half miles from Middle Chinnock, by 1630, when they're first child of record was baptized there. The last record of them in England was when their daughter Mary was baptized in East Coker in 1635.
     Joseph T. Dodge, in his Genealogy of the Dodge family,1 includes some documentation of the family in England done by others, but when left to his own devices filling in the blanks, he becomes nonsensical. Some of it is historical fiction, combining vague heresay and his own musing. Some of it is just odd, and like many published family histories from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, interesting reading superceded scholarship.
     An example of odd is that he refers to a son Richard baptized at East Coker in 1628, "bapt. date missing." I see no reason think this child existed.The entire year of baptisms for 1628 is missing, and there's no subsequent burial for him. I can only guess that Dodge confused this with Richard's marriage in 1628. He also mentions that the East Coker registers have Margery, John and Mary's baptisms, but leaves the supposed first-born Richard and Margery off genealogical summary list of children and doesn't include Mary's baptism. He also says Mary's birth was in 1632. It seems he found, or someone told him about, the baptisms after he wrote the summary and never amended it with the new information. Based on this, many have copied the 1632 date and include the 1635 baptism, but there is no reason to think she wasn't born within several months of her baptism, say Winter 1635.
      J. T. Dodge also says "the fact that William Dodge came to Salem nine years earlier than Richard...implies a greater degree of enterprise, if not ability, than was shown by the act of following where another had led the way. Hence, William has sometimes been called the father of all the Dodges."2 However well intended, this is an example of his historical fiction. There's no evidence that William emigrated from England before Richard. He is said, with no explanation, to have come over with John Woodbery in 1628 on the ship Abigail. There's no passenger list for Abigail, or mention of William in New England before 1636. Even if the brothers didn't come over at the same time, it isn't known what particular circumstances may have led them to come to New England, and we can ignore Dodge's offhanded slight of Richard. Dodge also says that the king (Charles I) tried to obstruct the emigrants from leaving and that they needed permission to leave England. This is more historical fiction.
     Richard was accepted as an inhabitant of Salem on 29 October 1638.3 At the same time he requested "accomodation," in response to which he was given a ten acre lot on 12 November.4 On 26 November 1638 he and his brother William were given half shares of "four score" (80) acres at the eastern end of the Conant, Balch and Woodbury farms, as well as twelve acres of meadowland.5 Richard was given another 40 acres on 1 December 1641.6 J. T. Dodge says that he lived with his brother William before settling in Wenham. This must be heresay, since there isn't anything in the historical record that says or implies this. The second problem in that sentence is that he moved to Wenham. This looks like another example of his confusion. The Dodge grants were in what is now North Beverly, and in Richard's case, he lived practically on the border between Beverly and Wenham. It was his son Richard who moved to Wenham. However, J. T. Dodge is correct in saying Richard was a member of the Wenham church.
     Richard became a member of the Salem church on 5 March 1643/1644,7 where his children Sarah and Richard were baptized four months later. I discuss their places in the sibling chronology below. He was sworn a freeman at Salem on 30 April 1646.8 Rev. John Fiske's records of his pastorate at Wenham say this:

5 of 11t. 44. [5 of the 11th month 1644, Julian calendar; 15 January 1645 on our current (Gregorian) calendar]

This Lord's day we had the seal of the Supper. And Richard Dodge and Joseph Maston of the church at Salem, being present and desiring to communicate, were admitted by vote.
9

     He contributed 2 shillings, 6 pence toward paying the Wenham minister, present or future, from what was probably a kind of trust fund. The church record of this, dating to 25 June 1646,10 isn't clear. Two days later the church minutes say "Brother Richard Dodge of the church at Salem had a child baptized here."11 This confirms a dual church membership, which was very unusual. This baptism was most likely for his son Samuel. Samuel's gravestone says he was "in ye 61st year of his age" when he died on 4 December 1705. This means he was 60, and likely turned 60 some time in 1705. Baptisms in early Massachusetts Bay Colony didn't necessarily happen soon after a child's birth, so if he was born, say, late in 1645, it wasn't odd that his baptism was in the following June. The alternative would be his brother Edward, whose place in the sibling chronology I discuss at his page.
     On 11 October 1647, "at a church meeting the wife of Richard Dodge was propounded,"12 meaning she presented herself for membership. A year later, "About this time Joseph, the son of Richard Dodge and his wife, was baptized."13 With the exception Edward's, this completes the record of Richard and Edith's children's baptisms, assuming Samuel's was in 1646. The baptisms in East Coker, Salem and maybe a little less so in Wenham, seem complete, making it odd that Edward's is missing.
     On 4 August 1649, we finally find that the Wenham church "received letters of recommendation from the church of Salem in hehalf of Richard Dodge..."14 The last mention of Richard in Rev. Fiske's notebook is on 14 May 1654, on a list of what appear to be tythes.15 Fiske and most of the congregation moved to Chelmsford, Massachusetts Bay Colony, several years later, and I find no records for the Wenham church between then and when Richard joined, as co-founder, the church in Beverly. When the community of Bass River wanted to become it's own town, Richard was among those who petitioned for it. This was the founding of the town of Beverly, and a church was created there on 21 July 1667.
     Richard's original will document is lost, but there is a transcription of it, which has been published along with others.16 I've modified it to be in sections and added some puncuation for easier reading.

The last will and testament of Richard Dodge sener of Beverle made the fourteene of the nine moneth 1670, being weake in body but well and sound in mind and memorie, doe thus dispose of the estate the Lord hath given mee

Impr. I give unto my wife Edeth one mare two milke cowes two ewe sheepe and halfe my houshold goods as it shall be equally divided by indifferent men between her and my executors, also These to be her owne absolutely. also I give her the sole and proper use of the parlour and chamber over it in my now dwelling house to gether with the free use of the garden, out houses, kitchings, over
[oven?], well, seller and yeards as shee hath occasion. also my will that imediately uppon the proveing of this my will my executors shall provide for the summering and wintering of the above sayd Mare cowes and sheepe uppon my farme during the time of her widdowhood together with her firewood at the doore fitted for the fire.

I give unto my sone Richard dodge all that upland and meadow he is now poseoar
[possessor] of lyeing at longham bridge to him and his heires for ever he payeing to my wife forty shillings p annum during her life in consideration of her thirds.

It
[em,] I give unto my son Samuell that land he now liveth on that was bought of William Goodhew to him and his heires for ever he paying to my wife in consideration of her thirds fortie shillings p annum during her life.

It
[em,] I give unto my son John Dodge all that upland and meadow of which he is now posessed being divided by a line agreed on begininge at a stump in the corne feeld and so running unto an heape of stones at the upper end of the same land, he paying unto my wife in consideration of her thirds forti shilling p annum during her life.

also I give unto my son John twentie pounds to be payd by my executors.

And whereas I have land in England let to my brother Michael dodge for foure pounds p anum I do hereby acquitt my brother from all dues and demands concerninge the saide rent during my life but after my disease I give and bequeathe to my wife and my son John the said rent to be annually paid them during the said lifes according to the tenure of the lease

I give unto my daughter Mary Herrick one ewe havinge given her portion all ready also give unto my daughter Mary Herricks five daughters fifty shillings a piece to be paid to each of them at there day of marriage or one and twentie yeares of age. in case any of them die the portion to divided equally amongst them that shall survive that is to say if they die before they come to yeares or married.

I give my daughter Sarah five pound having had her portion allready which five pound is to be paid in two yeare after my disease. also I give unto my daughter Sarahs daughter five pound to be paid at her marriage or one and twentie yeares of age. in case the child die before that time to returne to be payd to her mother.

I give unto my sons Edward and Joseph all the rest of my estate not above disposed of to be equally divided between them and doe appoint these my two sons joynt exectors of this my last will and testament and doe appoint my Broth. William Dodge senr and Mr Henry Bartholmew senr of Salem overseers of of this my last will and for there paynes herein I give unto each of them twenty shillings a piece. In witnesse hereof I have hereunto set my hand and seale the day and yeare above written.

Richard his
["I"] mark Dodge

The will was brought to court and proved on 28 June 1671, with oaths by witnesses Isack Hull and William Dodge, Jr. The following agreement was also approved:

These are further to decklare That wheras the Executors in the will of their Father Richard dodge deceased have all the lands and Estate by theire late father left Bequeathed unto them as Executors after what is given and bequeathed expresley in the sd will yet we the Executores and Subscribers upon good and serious considerationes and for the continuence of love and peace to and in Family and among so neare relationes have freely and willingly agreed and doe p [per] these presentes agree that our eldest Brother John dodge shall enjoy to himselfe his heires and Assigness for ever all that land the which lieth about the Sawmill built by our sd Brother being about four score acres be it more or less also five acres of medow on that syde of Long Hamn brooke on which our sd Brothers house standeth: also four acres of medow at the uper end of the medow called Flagye medow: and one acre of salt marsh part of three acres lyeing on a Iland within mr Cogswells Farme and bought by our late Father in his lifetyme of mr. John Cogswell in witnes of all which as above written we have hereunto sett our handes ths 29th day of June 1671.

Edward
[his "X" mark] Dodge
Joseph Dodge

This is the inventory of his estate,"taken by CaptaineThomas Lawthropp and John Rayment":

Money, 12 li [12 pounds]
wearing apparrell, 10 li
Two hatts, 11 li
Two musketts, two swords and Bandeleres, 41 li
A bed and bedsteed, bolster, coverled and foure pare of sheetes, 13 li, 10 s
[shillings]
Twelve yeards of dowles, shoees and stockins, 3 li
Linnen Clothe some small Pillobyes, 10 li, 10 s
Woolen cloth, 4 li
Seaven Blanketts, one rugg, 5 li, 5 s
more in bedding, 9 li
peuter, 3 li
Brasse, 3 li, 10 s
Two Iron potts, an Iron Kettle and skillet, hakes and hangers, 3 li
Earthen dishes and foure glasse bottles, 1 li
A Cubbard, one table, six joyne
[joint] stooles, Chaires and chests with a little box, 5 li
tubs and other lumber, 1 li, 10 s
Grinding stone, 10 s
A pare of Stillards
[stilyards], 1 li, 5 s
Iron tooles, 2 li
bibles and other bookes, 2 li, 10 s
one horse, 5 li, 10 s
one mare, 6 li
one horse, 4 li
three horses, 9 li
a Colt a yeare old, 1 li, 10 s
Three oxen, 18 li
two Stears, 9 li
one Bull, 2 li, 10 s
Twelve Cowes, one heifer, 10 li
Six yearelings, 7 li
Thirty sheepe and twenty lambs, 20 li
Sixteene swine, 20 li
foure Chains and a timber Chaine, 2 li
Yokes, sheares, and Culters, wheighnes and wheeles, 4 li
his Dwelling house, barne and other out houses, orchards with the land and meadow belonging to it, 1000 li
the land that his son John lives uppon, 120 acres, 180 li
Richard Dodge his son, 50 acres, 160 li
Samuell Dodg his son, six score acres, 160 li
total, 1,764 li, 2 d
[pence]

     Richard's will didn't follow the norm of giving his homestead to the oldest son or sons. Also, the wife and/or oldest son, if they existed, were usually named executors of estates. Richard, Samuel and John, in that order, were given title to land they already occupied and John an additional £20. Richard, Jr., had settled in Wenham and Samuel in Ipswich. Samuel's land had been bought from William Goodhue of Ipswich, but I can't find a deed for it, nor some other purchases Richard is known to have made. Mary and Sarah were given bequests, but had already been given most of their portions, not described. Edith was given her thirds, with rights to certain parts of the homestead. Edward and Joseph were named his executors and were given the remainder of the estate, including the family homestead and the responsibility of maintaining their mother there.
     John was the oldest, and in an agreement made by Edward and Joseph, the will was overrided and John given a larger share, but Edward and Joseph remained executors and kept their right to the family homestead.17 Joseph was a young, single man and was probably still living at home. An agreement made 15 February 1708/09 shows that the two brothers stayed on the homestead and had previously made a verbal agreement as to how they would divide it between them.18 I haven't found any evidence that Edward lived anywhere else. It's possiblehe was also living at home when his father died, since he wasn't married until almost two years later. With John, Richard and Samuel already established and with families started, it made sense for Edward and Joseph to stay on the family farm, where their mother continued to live (and need to be maintained) for another six years. The latter could also explain why these brothers were named the executors and not any of the others. There's nothing in the record showing John disputing the will, but the agreement giving John more of the estate implies that he wasn't completely satisfied. It was made after "good and serious considerations," "for the continuance of love and peace to and in the family and among so near relations," and done "freely and willingly." Most of the land given to John was by or near his sawmill and house, so there may not have been much of a dispute, if any. Given Richard's estate inventory, the homestead farm, with Edward, Joseph and mother Edith on it, appears to have been sufficient to maintain them all without the possible income from the land they gave to John.
     Despite the family's apparent means to have them made, there are no references to Richard and Edith having gravestones. They undoubtedly are buried in the North Beverly Cemetery along with their extended relatives.

children of Richard Dodge and Edith Brayne:


(a son Richard bap. in 1628 is evidently a mistake by John Thompson Dodge in his Dodge genealogy. There is no supporting evidence for such a child or baptism)
i. Margery, bap. 7 September 1630, East Coker, bur. 20 February 1630/1631 (J. T. Dodge incorrectly says 2 Feb.)
ii. John bap. 29 December 1631, East Coker
iii. Mary bap. 19 April 1635, East Coker
iv. or v. Sarah bap. 3 July 1644 (First Church record, "3:5m:1644," meaning 3rd of the 5th month, which, on the contemporary Julian calendar, was July. Published in the MA vital records series, Salem, vol. 1, 255. The original record can be seen at congregtionallibrary.org )
iv. or v. Richard, b. abt. 1642/43, bap. 3 July 1644
vi. Samuel b. prob. 1645, prob. bap. 27 June 1646.
vii. Edward abt. Winter 1647
viii. Joseph bap. late October 1648





vital records sources: Richard's death is recorded in Vital Records of Beverly, Massachusetts to the end of the year 1849, vol. 2 (Topsfield, MA:1907), 242, "Richard, Sr.." 15 June 1671. His inventory says he died on the 27th. The marriage of Richard of Middle Chinnock and Edith of Stoke sub Hamdon is in the Stoke sub Hamdon parish register. The edge of the page is damaged, obscuring Edith's surname, which begins with "Bra." This surely was Brayne, given that there was an Edith Brayne baptized in that parish on 17 May 1608, daughter of Edward and Elizabeth. Further circumstantial evidence leaves little doubt that this couple is the same Richard and Edith who lived in Massachusetts.

Sarah and Richard: Sarah and Richard, Jr., were baptized on the same day, four months after Richard joined the church. It's possible they were twins. Sarah's last child was born in 1687. She had seven others before this and died many years later, so it's plausible that after 1687 she came to the end of her fertility at about 45, which was the norm. If so, she was born about 1642. Richard's gravestone says he died in April 1705 in his 63rd year, meaning he was 62. If accurate, this puts his birth between April 1642 and April 1643. This suggests Richard and Sarah were twins, but not necessarily since there is gray area involved here. The gravestone could be wrong, for instance, or they could have had separate but close births, say 1641/42 and 1642/43. In any case, it's impossible to know who came first in the chronology.

1. Genealogy of the Dodge Family, of Essex county, Massachusetts, 1629-1898 (Madison, WI:1894)
2. Ibid, 19.
3. Town records of Salem, Massachusetts 9:74-76.
4. Ibid, 73-4.
5. Ibid, 76.
6. Ibid, 112.
7. Records of the First Church of Salem, 12.
8. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, vol. 1 (The Essex Institute:Salem, MA, 1911), 96.
9. The Notebook of the Reverend John Fiske, 1644–1675, 19.
10. Ibid, 47.
11. Ibid, 48.
12. Ibid, 51.
13. Ibid, 84.
14. Ibid, 89.
15. Ibid, 103.
16. The Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts, vol. 2 (Salem:1917), 230-231.
17. Ibid.
18. Essex Co., MA, deed 20:80.


all text and photographs © 1998-2023 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted