vital records sources
Samuel first appears in records with his father among a group of men signing a petition on 19 Oct 1664.1 This was in response to the Nicoll's Commission, created by newly restored King Charles II to tour the colonies and assess their condition and disposition. Massachusetts in particular was concerned about what the Restoration would bring. There isn't a record of Samuel's birth or age during his lifetime, but this document puts it before 19 October 1643, since he would have been at least 21. His mother was baptized in August 1625, and there isn't anything to suggest it was delayed. The most likely scenario is that she marred in 1642 when she was 17 and Samuel was born perhaps early to mid 1643.
Samuel and his father served in King Philip's War, and in an account of wages paid gathered from towns in Massachusetts Bay Colony dated 24 August 1676, he's listed as having been paid £9.2
Samuel and Mary, in connection with admittance to the Dorchester church, owned the covenant of the church on 29 July 1677.3 Mary was received in "full communion" on 4 November 1677,4 and their membership led them to bring their four children to be baptized on the 18th of that month.5 A seating plan for the church says that on 17 March 1693,6 Samuel was in the East Gallery, south part, fifth seat (which was shared with other men like a short pew).7 Samuel's wife, not named, sat in the seventh (women's) seat.8 Mary died about this time, but she was a documented member of the church, so she's likely the woman referred to. Samuel married Christian Potter no later than July 1694, given when their daughter Margaret was born and the fact that there isn't a fornication case in the courts to show Christian conceived before marriage. That infers Mary's death and Samuel's remarriage happened between 17 March 1693 and July 1694. If it was Christian who had the church membership and was entitled to be seated, she would likely have been mentioned as joining the church, which she's not. This makes it very likely that the church seat was Mary's and that Richard was Mary's son, given that he was born in 1692. Richard probably had a daughter Christian, which has led to the assumption that Christian was his mother. She was the only mother he would have known, so the honorific isn't odd. Richard may have also had a daughter Mary, but records are lacking for his own family, and there are no Mary Maxfields in later records looking to be placed with parents as there are with his presumed daughters Christian and Judith.
Christian Potter was a pauper in Dorchester, and it's very likely she was Samuel's second wife. There's a town record that says "The 8 10 89 [the 8th of the 10th month 1689, i.e. 8 December 1689, Julian Calendar) ther was a generall Contrebution for ye poore in Dorchester at ye otion of ye Select men, at which time ther was Contrubuted in oney six pound 7s-8d (& some Bills [of credit?]). Bils yt weer put in was by ye Select men & deakons appointed to Severall p'sons as they thought needed as followeth...for Christian potter, Samuel Toplif on [one] bl [bushel] of Corne, Thomas Trot Jrnr 3 shillings, preserved Capen on shilling as money, Obadiah Haws 2 pecks of Rey [rye]."9 Her family origins haven't been found, nor if she was or wasn't a widow. She may have been born about 1650 and had her last known daughter Margaret when she was about 45, which would explain why there are no other apparent children born to the couple. She's recorded as joining the Bristol church as the widow of Samuel in April of 1704.10 She remarried to John Hathaway of Freetown, Massachusetts.
Once in Bristol, Samuel was elected "culler of staves" and "meat packer."11 He served for nine years up to his death. A culler of staves assesses the quality of timber and wood products brought to the town for tax rates. Whether actual staves or wood suitable for staves, barrels apparently were the primary object of value in this exchange. Once made, meat brought in for the same purpose was packed in the barrels, so the two positions were related. My theory is that Samuel was a cooper by trade. Men new to any town in early Masschusetts were unlikely to be elected to town office right away unless they had unusually high status. His presumed son Joseph was a cooper. His last year in office was 1703. In March 1704 Timothy Ingraham was elected in his place, although the position of meat packer had been retired by then. Ingraham had preceeded Samuel with these duties and he served for the year after Samuel died, but the culler of staves was also discontiued thereafter. Timothy's son Timothy, Jr., and Samuel's daughter Margaret, both unmarried, had a child born in 1713. The connection may be a coincidence.
I find no record of Samuel owning land in Dorchester or Bristol, but he certainly did in Bristol. I haven't done a full search of available deed records, only some of them being online. A tax list of 20 September 1695, raised to cover sundry town costs, says his rate was based on himself (presumable a poll type of category), which was a standard 2 shillings for this particular tax, as well as 6 shillings based on his house value and a 13 shillings for his farm value.12 He apparently didn't have this property when he died, since there's no probate for him.
The place where some of Samuel's children grew up is a mystery. John never left Dorchester, becoming an adult before his father moved to Bristol. Mary, Ebenezer, Joseph, Richard and Margaret most likely moved to Bristol. Ichabod's marriage in Freetown suggests he moved to Bristol and then to Freetown when his stepmother married John Hathaway of that town. The wild cards are Mehitabel, Sarah and Judith. They were about 18, 15 and 13 at the most when their father moved. Mehitabel joined the church in Dorchester when she was 19 and still single. Sarah married in Dorchester when she was 21. Judith married in Boston when she was 24. Boston and Dorchester being adjacent towns, did these sisters grow up in Dorchester in their brother John's household? Or were they adopted by a relative? They were old enough to have been put out to work, but their eldest sister Mary was in Bristol. She was an adult at the time of the move, but being single, she wouldn't have lived in her own household.
children of Samuel Maxfield and Mary Davenport:13
(first four bap. 18 November (9th m) 1677, Dorchester, their mother in full communion)
i. John b. 13 August 1671
ii. Mary b. 27 November 1673
iii. Ebenezer b. 20 November 1675
iv. Mehitable b. 18 September 1677
v. Sarah b. 1 July 1680, bap. 4 July 1680, Dorchester
vi. Samuel b. 27 May 1682, bap. 9 July ("5th month," Julian calendar) 1682
vii. Judith bap. 9 March 1683/1684
viii. Ichabod bap. 30 May 1686, Dorchester
ix. Joseph? b. ca1689-90
x. Richard b. 18 September 1692, bap. 25 September ("7th month," Julian calendar) 1692, Dorchester
child of Samuel Maxfield and Christian:
xi. Margaret b. 2 April 1695, bap. 22 July 1705, Bristol
1. History of the Town of Dorchester, Massachusetts (Boston:1856), 200.
2. George Madison Bodge, Soldiers in King Philip's War (Leominster:1896), 368. He served under Capt. Thomas Brattle, Ibid, 220.
3. Charles Henry Pope, ed., Records of the First Church of Dorchester in New England, 1636-1734 (hereafter RFCD) (Boston, 1891), 13.
4. Ibid, 25.
5. Ibid, 188.
6. Ibid, 243. The record includes the "former" seating of the church from "17. 1. 93" and a "new" seating on "5. 10. 98." The middle number is the month, and in the 17th century, months were numbered according to the Julian Calendar, starting in March. Ergo, the first seating, or it's recording, was on 17 Mar 1693 and the second on 5 Dec 1698.
7. Ibid, 246.
8. Ibid, 249.
9. Ibid, 99-100.
10. James P. Lane, Manual of the First Church in Bristol, Rhode Island, 1687-1872 (Providence:1873), 180.
11. Bristol town records, familysearch.org, film 008204692, images of original mss vol. 1.
12. New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. 123 (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1969), 193.
12. births from the Dorchester town records, baptisms from the First Church of Dorchester records.