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Jacob first appears in Salem Town records on 7 December 1684,1 when an account of men who worked on "ye highway" was given at a town meeting. He worked for a day and was due 2 shillings. This was probably in response to a directive to repair "ye high way at Rum bridge" at the 7 October meeting. Another such list has him on it, brought to the town on 26 January 1684/85.2 The residents of the part of Salem between the North River and the Salem Village (Danvers) Precinct promoted the cause of becoming a precinct or parish separate from the First Church parish, given the difficulty in getting to the church.1 They brought a petition to the Town of Salem, which went nowhere due to a voting technicality on 6 March 1709/10. They took the matter to the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony, but in the meantime, petitioned the town to give them a plot of land on which to build a church. Jacob signed this petition, and the town agreed, provided the General Court gave them parish status.
     It wasn't until 10 November 1710, after more court and committee meetings and hearings, that the Middle Precinct or parish was officially created. It was also called Brooksby Precinct by some, acknowledging one of the names commonly used for what was then and is now the commercial center of town. They held their first meeting on 28 November to arrange for building the church.
     The church was built, a minister hired and the members of the First Church in Salem who lived in the Middle Precinct asked to be dismissed. This list doesn't include Jacob Read. His son Jonathan married into the Hanson family of Quakers, and Jonathan was a member of the Smithfield Friends Monthly Meeting after leaving Salem. Salem Monthly Meeting records may show that Jacob was also a Friend. Also, there are no baptisms or marriages recorded for this family in the First Church records.
     On 25 March 1712/13 Jacob signed a petition with 10 others to establish a school in their neighborhood. They were about to purchase Robert Pease's house and intended to outfit it for the purpose if the community agreed. The petition mentions that no one would be admitted to the community without the approval of the proprietors of the neighborhood. The town agreed in 1714 to contribute toward the establishment of the school in the new "parish" 5 lbs. a year for maintaining "reading, writeing and Cyphering."
     In the 1750s, the Middle and Salem Village Precincts were joined and set off as Danvers Precinct, which eventually formed the town of Danvers, and from Danvers, "South Danvers," which was essentially the old Salem Middle Precinct, was set off as Peabody, but this was after the Reads had left for Rhode Island.

children of Jacob Read and Elizabeth Greene:

i. Aaron b. January 1694(/95?) (record says January 1694)
ii. John b. 26 January 1695/96 (record says 26 January 1695)
iii. Mary b. 9 March 1697/98
iv. Jacob b. 12 February 1699/00
v. Jonathan b. 12 January 1701/02
vi. Sarah b. 15 May 1703
vii. Elizabeth b. 13 March 1704/05
viii. David b. ca1708

vital records sources: Jacob's birth is in Vital Records of Salem, Massachusetts, to the year 1849, vol. 1 (Salem, MA:Essex Institute, 1916), 227, taken from an Essex County Quarterly Court record. The published death records of Thomas and Mary Read's children, as transcribed, are confusing and not reliable. They are also from court records. Two Jacobs are listed, one dying on 22 February 1658/59, another on 19 November 1663. The first date is the same date as his birth record, which is certainly wrong since he was bap. 5 June 1659. The next baptism for a son Jacob is dated 7 November 1663. While it's then plausible he died later the same month, we know there was a Jacob who survived beyond 1663. There are no other birth or baptism records for a son named Jacob, which, given that there are baptism records for every other child and birth records starting with Jacob b. 1659, makes a third Jacob very unlikely. Also, its unlikely he would provide a payable service to the town, as described above, as a minor. Even if he was, say, 20 in the Fall of 1684, that would put his birth no later than about Fall 1664. If he was a third Jacob and born about this time, it was before Sarah and within The Salem vital records have his marriage, but Elizabeth was from Malden, suggesting they have married there rather than Salem. His estate was probated 8 April 1745 (Essex County Probate #23366), making it very likely he had died within the previous several months.

1. Town records of Salem, Massachusetts, vol. 3 (Salem, MA:The Essex Institute, 1913), 117.
Ibid, 125.

all text and photographs © 1998-2020 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted