ancestral chart father mother index home

vital records sources
go to Thomas How's page

Rebecca was born in Wenham, Massachusetts, likely at her father's homestead just north of Wenham village at the town border with what is now Hamilton. She didn't grow up there. The following document tells us this:1

These presents declare an agreement had made & concluded betwixt Capt. Thomas Fiske of Wenham...& Capt. Thomas How of Malborough...Witnesseth that whereas there is an intended marraige betwixt Thomas How son of sd Thomas mentioned and Rebeccah Perkins a relation of sd Capt. Fiske & brought up by him, that if it shall so please God that they intermarry upon their marraige the sd Capt. How covenanteth & promises to settle so uch real estate upon his sd son as shall equallize any of my [sic - his] other sons for quantity and quality and sd Capt. Fiske covenanteth & promiseth to & with the sd Capt. How that he will give & endow the said Rebeccah Perkins & her beloved when said marraige is compleated one third part of all his real estate that he is now posess'd of and its further agreed that if sd Thomas depart this life before sd Rebeccah she shall have the improvement of sd bequest dureing her naturall life and if they have child or children betwixt them sd children shall inherit in each bequest equally. In testimony hereof each party hath set to his hand & seal this 23d of March 1715

Thomas How
Thomas Fiske

Signed sealed in presence of witneses
Nehemiah Jewett
Martha Dodge

In Wenham the 23d March 1715 Capt. Thomas How of Malborough & Capt.Thomas Fiske of Wenham psonally appeared and acknowledged this instrument ot be their act & deed before me Nehemiah Jewett Justice peace

     Since Thomas Fiske and his wife, also named Rebecca Perkins, didn't have any children of record. She wasn't a known relation of the Ipswich/Wenham Perkinses, being the daughter of Rev. William Perkins of Topsfield. The younger Rebecca may have been offered to them as a substitute. Hopefully she was old enough when this happened to be amenable to the arrangement. Being forced to seems an unrealistically harsh alternative, on either the Perkins or Fiske side. In any case, the Fiskes lived only three quarters of a mile away, if the house formerly at 75 Arbor Street was the site of John Perkins's house. The Fiske house is in the center of Wenham village on the grounds of the Wenham Museum.
     With prenuptial agreement in hand, Rebecca and Thomas announced their intentions to marry eleven days later, published in Wenham. No one objected, and after the usual three week waiting period, they were given a certificate clearing them to marry on 26 April 1715.2 I don't find a record of their marriage in town or church records in Wenham or Marlborough, but the tradition of marriage in the bride's hometown existed at this time, suggesting it was in Wenham. The published vital records of Marlborough say that their first child, Thomas, was born in Wenham, but the original record doesn't. The birth is also recorded in Wenham and was the only child of theirs appearing in Wenham records, suggesting Thomas and Rebecca made their home there briefly before moving to Marlborough. Thomas, Jr., has a baptism record in Wenham eighteen days after his birth, but the Marlborough church has "Thomas How, Thom" baptized on "8.7" 1717. The dating format for these records is day first, then month. The 7th month on the contemporary Julian calendar was September. Was he baptized twice? I think this was very rare and wouldn't have been condoned by the established church. It suggests the Hows moved to Marlborough between the two baptisms. The couple's next child, Mary, was baptized in June 1718 ("Mary How, Thom") in Marlborough twenty four days after her birth.
     Rebecca was alive on 28 February 1755, when she is mentioned in a deed from Thomas to Thomas, Jr.3 53:227 They had an agreement that the improvement of the granted premises would be reserved for Thomas, Sr., and his wife Rebecca for the rest of their natural lives. I've found no further evidence of how much longer she lived.

children of Rebecca Perkins and Thomas How:4

i. Thomas, b. 6 June 17165 bap. 24 June 1716, Wenham,6 and? 8 September 1717, Marlborough7 (these records leave it unclear if he was born in Wenham or Marlborough and if he was baptized twice, once in each town)
ii. Mary, b. 30 June 1718, bap. 6 July 1718, Marlborough8
iii. Ezekiel , b. 29 June 1720
iv. Simon, b. 28 October 1722
v. Samuel, bap. 9 February 1723/249
vi. Sarah, b. 4 July 1725
vii. Rebecca, b. 16 August 1727

vital records sources: Her baptism (only the year is given), and those of her siblings, are from the Wenham First Church records, published in New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. 62 (Boston:New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1907), 34-38. See note 2 for her marriage intentions.

1. Essex Co., MA, deeds, 40:232.
2. "Massachusetts, U.S., Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988," Wenham, database online, (Provo, Operations, Inc., 2011) image 57 of unpaginated mss vol. 1, "Town Records of Wenham, Births, Marriages & Intentions of Marriages & Deaths, 1695-1743."

3. Middlesex Co., MA, deeds, 53:227.
4. Vital Records of Marlborough, Massachusetts, to the (), 99-108. See also note 9.
5. Ibid, 108, "at Wenham," although the original town record doesn't say this. Also recorded in Vital records of Wenham, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849 (Salem, MA:Essex Institute, 1904), 47.
6. Congregational Library & Archives,
7. Ibid,
8. Ibid. Her younger siblings also have baptisms recorded in Wenham.
9. Ibid. This is also in the published vital records, included in lieu of a birth record.

all text and photographs © 1998-2022 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted