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John How's signature taken from his will


     John was in Sudbury, MA, by 1640, when his son John's birth was recorded. He is said to be on the Massachusetts Bay Colony freeman list dated 13 May 1640.(1) In 1655 he was appointed to a committee to "see to the restraining of youth on the Lord's Day." (2) When the family moved to Marlborough, MA, they are said to have been the first Europeans to live in the area. If so, their son Thomas and perhaps others were born there. In May of 1656, 5 men petitioned the General Court for 8 square miles to create a plantation. Four of them, Thomas King, Edmund Rice, William Ward and John How, are ancestors of Doug Sinclair. They were given 6 square miles, the rest having already been given to the Indians, who called the area "Whipsuppenicke." Their plantation was "Ockoocangansett." The first town meeting was held the following September, at which King, Rice, Ward and How were chosen to organize the towns affairs. By the next fall, brothers Thomas and Samuel Rice, sons of Edmund, had moved there, Samuel being our ancestor. In May of 1660 the group petitioned to incorporate the town of "Marlborow."
     John How had a cabin built near the "Indian Planting Field," and the later site of the Spring Hill Meeting House. In the first division of land in November of 1660, he was granted 30 acres. He is called an arbitrator of sorts among the "Indians." As a story goes, a pumpkin of one Indian ripened on the property of another. "Inspired with the wisdom of a second Solomon, he called for a knife, and served the fruit, giving a moiety to each."
     In 1662, John, with Goodman Rice,(3) was chosen to select land worth 10 lbs. to be given to Gov. Thomas Danforth to supplement his fee for services. John opened the first "public house," or inn, for which his license was renewed in 1670.(4) John provided services to the colony during King Philip's War, for which he was due money when he died (see inventory below). In the 17th and 18th centuries, the family name was spelled How, with Howe appearing more commonly after about 1800.


Will of John How (capitalization modernized and paragraphs created for ease of reading):(5)

I John How of Marlborough in the Countie of Middlesex in New England being under bodily distemper but of intire understanding, expecting my departure out of this life, do make and ordain my last will and testamt in manner and form follow

ffirst I yeeld up my soal into the hand of God ye mercifull father who hath in his long suffering and goodness lengthened out my days hitherto.

Nextly, for the disposall of my worldly goods - I will and bequeath unto my son Samuel How five and twenty acres of upland which part of my third division of upland lying on the south side of Stony brook to be the possession of my said son Samuel and his heirs for ever.

I give to my son Isaac How and his heirs forever sixteen acres of upland upon part of which his house now standeth on Patch plain and I also give my said son Isaac all that part of Patch meadow which lyeth next unto his said upland, as the said meadow lies already divided betwixt my said son Isaac and his brother Josiah How.

To my son Josiah How and his heirs for ever I give seven acres half of upland granted as an addition to my hous lot, and lying next thereto, in that which I call Crane field, also I give unto my said son Josiah two acres more of upland in which his orchard is now planted and unto my said son Josiah I bequeath all that part of meadow on Patch plain which lyeth to the westward and is already divided betwixt his brother Isaac and himself. Also I bequeath unto my said son Josiah ffiveteen acres more of upland, being part of my third division of upland granted unto my houslot , and lyeth on the south side of Stony brook. Furthermore, I will that my son Isaac abovesaid shall pay or cause to be paid unto my said son Josiah or his assigns the sum of ten pounds in what he can best share, within four years next after my decease viz fifty shillings a year dureing the said term of four years.

To my son Thomas How and his heirs forever, I give after my decease my now dwelling house, and all my out houses with all the land lying about the same now in my possession, as well that which is without fence as that which lyeth within fence, together with all Town rights and priviledges belonging to my houslot, and I give unto my said son Thomas all my right in fort meadow, also the hors he troops on, with all his furniture, and my two best oxen, and my cart and plow, with all tackling pertaining thereto, he allowing his mother my loving wife sufficient maintenance both for food and raymt according to her want, and he shall pay or cause to be paid unto his said mother fifty shillings in many from year to hear during her widdowhood, or dureing her natural life, if she marry not again; also my wife shall have free use of any part of my hous which she desireth to have, and she shall have pasture for an hors or two dureing her widdowhood, and if dureing the said time, she shall see need to move from my hous to dwell elswhere, my said son Thomas shall defray the whole charg of her maintenance where she shall choose to reside.

To my son Eleazar How and his heirs forever I give twenty acres of upland which are part of my third division of upland, lying on the south side of Stony brook, also I give my said son Eleazar my four acres of meadow lying in Chauncy meadow and four acres more lying in Middle Meadow, and an hors colt and two hoors of two years old.

To my daughter Sarah Ward I give a featherbed, with all appurtenances thereto, namely sheets, blankets, tug, or coverlid with pillows and pillow drawers, curtains and vallins.

To my daughter Mary Witherby I give a feather bed also with all appurtenances thereto as before is specifyed unto her sister Sarah Ward, but neither my daughter Sarah nore Mary aforesaid shall have either of the said beds or their said furniture or appurtenances, untill my wife can spare the same.

To Mary my loving wife I give twenty acres of upland, being the third division of upland
[?] to the ten acre lot which I purchased of Abraham Williams which said twenty acres ly in Saddle plain, about half a mile north westward of John Brighams saw mill, and I give my said wife ten acres of meadow lying about a mile northward of the said saw mill also I give her four acres of meadow more which ly in Cold Harbor meadow, also I bequeath unto her ten acres of swamp lying in two pieces, both of them beyond Assabat river, about a mile apart. Also I bequeath unto my living wife all my movable goods and estate which I have not as yet otherwise disposed of, and if Joseph Graves which now lives with me as a servant, should well and truly serve out his time viz untill he shall be nineteen years of age, unto the advantag of my wife she shall cloth him well at his departure, and she shall give him either a good cow, or an hors which of them he shall then choose. Also I give unto my wife all debts due to mee from any persons wheresoever they dwell.

Also I will that John How my grandchild, son unto my son John How, deceased shall have an ew lamb, I having already done well for his fathr and my will is that when my wife shall part with any of the legacies now bequeathed unto her by any gift of hers she shall dispose thereof among my then surviving children.

And of this my last will and testament I make and appoint Mary my beloved wife executrix and my son Samuel How executor, and I desire and appoint my beloved friend Edward Rice and Abraham Williams to be the overseers of this my will, in witness hereof I hereunto put my hand and seal this twenty fourth day of May in ye year of Christ one thousand six hundred & Eight.

John How

Signed sealed in presence of us

William Brinsmead
Solomon Johnson Sen
Abraham How
John Haynes


John How's inventory (capitalization modernized):

An inventory of the estate of John How of Marlborough Senior disceased taken June the 5th 1680 is as followeth viz
The homstad or hous lot being 33 acres most of it improved 70-00-00
Item sixtene acres more in his som Isaacks possesion 50-00-00
Item nine acres more and half an acre 15-00-00
Item other out lands more remote being nintie acres 40-00-00
Item all meadows in both devisions being 37 acres more or less 40-00-00
Item ffive oxen aprized at 20-00-00
Item five cows four two year olds and on yearling aprized at 20-00-00
Item two horses and on yearling colt aprized at 08-00-00
Item six calvs aprized at 03-00-00
Item swine
[lesse?] and [quatter?] aprized at 05-10-00
Item all his houssing upon the land 120-00-00
Item cart, ploughs and all tackling belonging to
[him?] 07-00-00
Item all arms amunition with bridles and sadels 08-00-00
Item two ffeather beds with the bolsters pillows sheets
blankets coverlids curtains &c 20-00-00
Item on feather bed more with bolster pillows sheets blankit coverlids &c 06-00-00
Item thre fflock beds with bolsters pillows sheetes blankits coverlids &c 08-00-00
Item twelve payr of sheetes twelve pillow
[drawers?] 12-00-00
Item all his aparel viz wollen lining hats shoes shirts &c 06-00-00
Item all utansels of wood viz chests boxes tabels and others
that ar for dry or liqid use 07-00-00
Item on cubbard with cubbard cloath to it and a cushin 02-10-00
Item all vessels of iron and brass 06-00-00
Item all peuter and earthen vessels 03-00-00
Item cloath and yarn, hemp and flaxs and books 10-00-00
Item corn and all provisions 06-00-00
Item debts due upon books 13-00-00
Item due from the contrie for expens in the warr 05-00-00


the totall of this is 511-00-00

Aprized by us Solomon Johnson Edward Rice and Abraham How acording to our best understanding wittnes our hands

Edward Rice
Abraham How
Soloman Johnson Senr

15 - 4 - 1680 sworn in court by ye executors J:R:C



children of John How and Mary:(6)

1. John b. 24 August 1640
2. Samuel b. 20 October 1642
3. Sarah b. 25 September 1644
4. Mary b. 18 January 1646 (18 January 1646/1647?)
5. Isaac b. 8 September 1648
6. Josiah
7. Mary b. 18 January 1654 (18 January 1654/1655?)
8. Thomas b. 12 June 1656
9. Daniel b. 3 January 1658 (3 January 1658/1659?)
10. Alexander b. 29 December 1661
11. Daniel b. prob. 18 January 1662/1663
12. Eleazar b. prob. 18 January 1662/1663






vital record sources: John's death date comes from a Middlesex Co. record included in the published Marlborough town vital records.

1. Savage's Genealogical Dictionary of New England.
2. Daniel Wait How and Gilman Bigelow Howe, Howe Genealogies (Boston:1929), [first part] "Descendants of John Howe of Sudbury and Marlborough, Mass.," p. 2.
3. probably Edmund, since "Goodman" was a title given to men of established position.
4. Charles Hudson, History of Marlborough...Massachusetts (Boston:1862), p. 381.
5. Middlesex County probate file #12049.
6. Vital Records of Marlborough, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849 (Worcester:1908), p. 367.



all text and photographs © 1998-2009 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted