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"Mathew ye sonne of Edward Howard & of Ester his wife borne 15th Mrch 1661 & 62"


Since Matthew had children named Edward and Esther, it's reasonable to think he was the Matthew born in Boston, MA Bay Colony on 15 March 1661/62 to Edward and Esther Howard.1 Nothing proven connects Edward to any other men of this name. There was one who married Hannah Hawkins in Boston on 7 June 1661.2 Researchers have assumed these were Matthew's parents. They also assume that, because they were married by Rev. Thomas Danforth of Cambridge, that were married there. Perhaps, but the marriage record is in Boston. That record says Hannah was the daughter of Thomas Hawkins of Boston, making her a decidedly different person than Esther. However, she was referred to as Esther Hannah Hawkins in print at some point, which has been repeated as fact ever since. Hannah didn't die right away to allow her widower to marry Esther and then have Matthew. Another reference to Edward, husband of Hannah, is in 1670, when Thomas Hawkins petitioned the General Court for help paying a ransom to get Edward out of the captivity of the "Turks."3      Another mistake is the absurd connection of Edward with nobility in England, and thus changing his name to "Edward Howard Effingham." I haven't found the origin of it, but the misnaming of Esther and the connection to English nobility can both be found in the widely read Settlers of the Beekman Patent (1990). I believe the reference there was copied from elsewhere, since this publication does so heavily. It appears again in "The Howard Historian," published in 1997, and embellished further. This might have been a case of someone opening using Burke's Peerage or a like source and finding someone with the right name and of the right generation. This happened with other families, although generally in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when it was something of a fad to ignore evidence, or lack of it, and connect and therefore elevate one's family to English high society and then publish it in fancy-looking books. In any case, once in print and now also available online, absurd claims are copied without question. So too are naive mistakes like Hannah and Esther becoming one woman with a new name.
     While we can speculate endlessly on the Howard family history before 1688, Matthew was certainly the progenitor of the Howards in Little Compton, Tiverton, Rochester and Dartmouth, all in Plymouth Colony and then the Province of Massachusetts Bay after 1691. The first time we know he appears in records is when he bought 40 acres and a quarter right to undivided lands in Little Compton from Benjamin Church on the day after Christmas 1688.4 He sold that 40 acres on 27 February 1702/03, with housing on it.5 While this may have been his homestead, he was still in Little Compton ("Seaconet") in July 1704, when he put an ad in a newspaper asking people to look out for his runaway slave.6


Matthew was "of Tiverton" when he bought land there on 22 January 1704/05.7 On 16 Febuary 1714/15, he and Mary mortgaged the homestead.8 This was part of a Massachusetts Province scheme to raise money to pay government bills at a time when banking was still being worked out. The colony was in debt from King William's War, and the interest gained in buying mortgages was thought to help defray that cost. It didn't work. Matthew paid off the mortgage om 15 March 1719/20, having given the government $pound25 in the process. This is the last record I've found of Matthew being alive. A customary note in the margin of the deed giving mortgage closure details says "paid by Matthew Howard by the hand of Philip Taber," likely meaning that Taber went to Boston with the money on his behalf. Matthew was almost 60. While this seems straightforward, there is another deed by which Matthew sold the homestead to Joshua Dwelley on 22 May 1718.9 It was agreed that Dwelley would pay Matthew £130 and £100 would go to the government for the original mortgage sum. Matthew was still legally responsibility for paying off the mortgage, so with Dwelley's £230 in hand, he sent the mortgage portion with £25 interest with Philip Taber to Boston. This deed says Matthew was a husbandman living in Rochester, Massachusetts Province. A previous deed by which Matthew sold his other real estate in Tiverton to Dwelly on 19 July 1715 says he was still in Tiverton.10 I don't find Matthew buying land in Rochester, which may have happened in an unrecorded deed, but the move was probably shortly before he sold the homestead, so perhaps Spring of 1718.
     On 1 May 1719, when Mary (Case) Howard and her sisters sold their rights to their father's property to their brother Isaac, their husbands (except Anna, who was single) also signed the agreement.11 They each "acknowledged" the deed at a later date, Mary on 30 January 1728/29. All the husbands joined in the confirmations except Matthew, who must have been dead. Mary and her sisters Sarah Huddleston and Penelope Lake did so in Dartmouth. Some of Mary's children were in Dartmouth at that point, and she was likely living with one of them.

children of Matthew Howard and Mary Case:

i. Edward b. roughly 1694
ii. Esther b. roughly 1696
iii. William b. roughly 1698
iv. Matthew b. roughly 1700



vital records sources: "Massachusetts, U. S., Town and Vital Records 1620-1988," ancestry.com database online (Provo, UT:2011), image 187 of original mss vol. "Boston Registry of Births, Deaths 1630-1690." There are many transcriptions of the Boston vital records, all of which I've seen are not exact. 15 March lies within the Julian and Gregorian calendars overlap, and in the 17th century, dates in that overlap tended to be double dated to show this. Some transcriptions say 1661, others say 1662. Since the original says 1661 & 1662, it means that, on the Gregorian or modern calendar, the year is 1662. Without the double-date and no other context, it could be 1661 or 1662.

1. see vital records sources.
2. Ibid, image 198.
3. Wendy Warren, The World of Colonial America: An Atlantic Handbook (2017), 180; Charles Sumner, White Slavery in the Barbary States (Boston:1853), 68.
4. Plymouth Co. MA, deed 1:86.
5. Ibid, 4:80.
6. Boston News-Letter, 10 July-17 July 1704, 2.
7. Plymouth Co., MA, deed 5:132.
8. Ibid, 9:26.
9. Ibid, 12:126.
10. Ibid, 9:740.
10. Ibid, 19:475.

all text and photographs © 1998-2021 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted


Mary abt 1674 Elizabeth Case Springer, abt 1676, second child 1698, last abt 1724 Anna Case abt 1679 Sarah Case Huddleston, abt 1681 m. 1702 Mercy Case Huddleston, abt 1683 m. abt 1700 Susannah Case Lake b. 1686 Isaac b. 1688