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Josiah's signature taken from the petitioners list to create the Town of Beverly

Josiah was baptized as "Josias Ruttes" at Ashford, Kent, England in 1613. An interesting and rare document from Kent is an account of people getting on the ship Hercules in 1635 at Sandwich, heading for New England.1 It is or was a list with names of the passengers, where they lived, how many were travelling with them (probably to account for children) and certificates from their local vicars attesting to their church membership and allegience to the crown. "Jos. Rootes" was from Great Chart. Just before him on the list was his mother, "widow Em. Muson." "Muson" was undoubtedly a transcription error. She was from Eastwell. Neither had anyone accompanying them. Josiah had several brothers who also came to Salem, but they were on one or more of the many Great Migration ships for which there are no extant passenger lists. They had three Mason half-siblings, only one of whom has a burial record in Eastwell, where their father died and where their mother lived in 1635. They, if alive, were teenagers when their mother immigrated, so what happened to them is a mystery. There was a John Mason in Salem in the later 1600s, but I find little about him. He was allowed an inhabitant of Salem on 7 December 1658. 221
     Josiah probably married Susannah about 1640. No evidence has been found of her birth family. Based on a deposition in 1678 that says she was about 53,2 she is thought to have been born about 1625. Ages in court depositions are often incorrect, even though it's reasonable to think the deposers gave their age themselves. I've come across several depositions within the same case in which someone (theoreticallly) gave themselves two different ages. In the case above, Josiah also deposed twice and gave his age as about 65, which is correct, and about 60, assuming the transcription is accurate. I don't think the one for Susannah is correct. Her first child, which had to be Bethiah (see note ), was very likely born before 1642. If Susannah was born in 1625, she was about 17 when she had Bethiah and 15 or16 when she married. That's possible, but way out of the norm for this place and time. I prefer a circa birth date of 1620-22.
     "Josua Roots" was given 20 acres of land by the Town of Salem between 11 between 26 Dec 1636 and 12 July 1637, as was his mother "widow Mason" and his brother Thomas. 1:24 10 November 1645, "agreed that Joseph the Drummer shall have 10s a day for the trayning dayes." 139 18 November 1645, approved a bill from Joseph Rootes for £7. 139 Massachusetts Bay Colony records until February of 1645/46.3 "Josiah Rootes of Salem, drummer, fined 10s[hillings] for being overtaken in drink at the last excersize of the artillery in Salem, which was publicly known to the bench." He petitioned the court to waive the fine the following year.4 12 May 1647, bill to town approved £4, 10 s. 1:151 On 13 June 1648 he was admitted to full communion in the First Church of Salem,5 and his four children were baptized there on the following 10 September.6 On 21 January 1649/50 he was granted two acres that abutted his own lot on one side and Robert Morgan's on the other.7 In February of 1649/50 he was sworn a freeman of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.8 Beverly in 1700 says his lots were on what is now the west side of Cabot Street roughly between Pleasant and Federal Streets.9 On a tax list for raising money for town expenses in - 10 November 1655, a town rate was needed to pay town bills, including Josiah, £2. 186 3 March 1656/57, Joshua Roots will have 40s per year for beating the drum to the train band and to continue as long as the town sees fit 197 8 June 1657, dispute about a driftway from the head of Bass River into Ryall's Neck, William King, John Batchelder, Nicholas Hayward, etc. vs. Ens. Dixey, Josia Roots and Samuel Corning. Committee appointed to moderate. 201 4 April 1659, surveyor of fences for Cape Ann side 224 1660, "Josias" is listed with the amount of £4 and in 1661, £2 10 Between at least 1657 (p. 227, Joshua "the Drumer 40s" and "Josia Rootes for his wages in 56") and 1667, Josiah presented bills to the town, all but one year amounting to £2 per bill. He is called Josiah and Joshua. The entry for 1666 refers to him as "drum major," and it's likely he was paid these years for being the town drummer.11 Drummers were used during military exercises, as indicated above, and to call people to town meetings. He was on a list of eligible grand jurymen chosen twice in 1665.12 A court record of the same year shows he owned a share in the field on "Cape Ann side," referring to an area soon to be named Beverly.13
     Josiah was on the list of petitioners for the creation of the Town of Beverly, Massachusetts, dated 23 April 1667.14 On 24 May 1668 his minor children Thomas, Susannah and Jonathan were named in the transfer from membership in the Salem church to that of Beverly.15
     In 1669 Josiah charged his neighbor Joseph Harris with stealing his calf.16 On 25 October 1678 he brought a complaint to the court that he and his wife "for neare twenty years" experienced theft of their goods, including sheets, a shirt, apples, wood, hay and oil, at the hands of the Harris and Hoar families.17 A litany of accusations, some bordering on gossip, were heard from other neighbors and townspeople during the trial.
     "Josias" was chosen a constable for Beverly on 13 September 1671.18 (MDCB, 405) At the same meeting it was decided to create a cemetery on an acre of land bought from William Dixey, bounded on one side by the Country highway and on the other by "Josias" and Nathaniel Gove. "Josiah Roots desired to be freed from common training from military service due to age and weakness" in 1676.19 He was chosen to be a tithingman for Beverly in 1677.20 He lived about 6 more years. He wrote his will on 15 May 1683:20

I give unto my loving wife Susanna ye use & emprovment of all my personall estate: whatever untill such time as my son Jonathan cometh unto ye age of one and twenty years: or till such time as she mary or bee married again: yt is provided she marry before he come to age. Item I give & bequeath unto my loving son Jonathan Roots all my whole Estate whatever: after ye legacy hereafter mentioned are duly paid out of 5d Estate provided yt my 5d son Jonathan shall carefully & honestly & sutably maintaine his Mother during ye term of her widowhood & if she remain A widow during ye term of her naturall life: but provided he & she doe differ about her maintainance: then he shal pay unto her his 5d Mother eight pounds a year; yearly during ye term of her widowhood or her naturall life & let her have ye use of ye west end of my now dwelling house: & of A bed & beding & her firewood brought to ye doore during ye term aforsd: Item. I give unto by daughter Bethiah Lovett: ten shillings to be paid her after her mothers decease. Item I Give unto my Son John Roots twenty shillings. Item I doe make my loving Wife Susana Executer of this my last will & testament & desire my loving freinds John Hill & Nehemiah Grover: as overseers.

     Witnesses were William Dodge and Samuel Hardy. He signed with a mark despite signing his name earlier in life. This isn't surprising since he calls himself weak in body and he died two and a half weeks later. Susannah Roots petitioned the court "that she had many weaknesses and infirmities of old age and and could not serve as executor."

Inventory of the estate of Josiah Roots of Beverly who deceased June 3, 1683 taken by Samuel Corning, sr., and Andrew Elliott:

one coverlaide, 10s.; 1 bed ticking, 15s.; coverlaide, 1li. [£]; 4 yards of red Cloth at 6s. per yard, 2li. 4s.; 7 yards of Lining Cloth, 1li. 8s.; 4 yards of Dowless, 8s.; 4 yards and 1-2 of kerzey, 1li. 6d.; New England money, 7li. 8s.; old England money, 16s., 8li. 4s.; 2 yards of broad Cloth, 1li. 2s.; 1 yard & 1-2 of broad Cloth, 18s.; 2 yards and 1 quarter of Red Cloth, 15s.; 1 Carpet, 10s.; 11 yards of sarge, 2li. 4s.; 7 yards of white Cotten, 14s.; 1 Chest, 2s. and his woolling wearing Cloths, 5li. 5s.; and his wearing Linning, 1li. 10s.; 6li. 17s.; 6 yards of kerzey, 1li. 16s.; 4 yards and a quarter of kerzie, 3li. 1s. 6d.; 3 yards of Lining Cloth, 5s. & 1 hatt, 4s. 9s.; 8 pair of sheets for beding, 4li.; bed and its belongings, 4li. 10s.; 1 bed and 2 bed steads with other furniture, 5li.; 1 bed with its furniture, 2li. 10s., and other Lumber, 3li.; 3 chests, 1li. 2s.; 1 Table and 3 Joint stooles, 1 Table, 18s.; Cushions, 6s.; 1 Little Table, 4s. 2li. 10s.; 2 Chairs, 3s.; pewter, 2li.; brass & Iron, 1li. 13s., 3li. 13s.; 1 Cart & wheels, plowghs & plowgh tackell, 4li.; 1 sled & 4 axes, 6s.; 3 hoes, 3s. 9s.; barrell, Tubs and other Lumber, 12s.; 3 other Tubs, 2s. & 2 spades, 5s. 7s.; 1 horse, 2li. 10s.; parcel of shingles, lli. 5s., 3li. 155.; 10 thousand of shingle nailes, 1li. 10s.; 2 oxen, 7li. & 4 Cows at 12li., 19Ii., 2 Steeres, 4li. 10s.; 19 Sheep & Lambs at 3Ii. 19s., 8li. 9s.; houses, land and orchard, 260li.; 6 Acres of meadow, 30li.; 5 swine, 10s. per, 2li. 10s.; total, 384li. 19s. Several debts, 19li. 8s. 3d.

     Susannah ended up in the care of Ambrose Gale after Josiah died. Since she had known family members who survived her it can be speculated that she was related to Gale. Ambrose's English ancestry has not been proved, leaving the question whether or not Susannah was his sister. However, the arrangement was not without a business-like aspect. In June of 1684 the court ordered that Susannah's inheritance should be given to Gale to reimburse him for expenses.21 It was agreed that with the transfer of her assets, Gale would care for her for the rest of her life.

At about 70 years old Susannah found herself caught up in the Salem witchcraft hysteria:22

To the Constables of Beverly.

Whereas Complaint hath been this day made before us, by Sergent Thomas Puttnam and John Puttnam: both of Salem village yeomen against Susannah Roots of Beverly widdow for sundry acts of witchcrafft by her Commited on the bodys of Mary wallcott Abigal williams Marcy Lewis Ann Puttnam and others.

You are therfore in their Majesties names hereby Required to apprehend and forthwith bring before us Susannah Roots of Beverly widdow, who stands charged with Committing Sundry acts of witchcraft as aboves'd to the wrong and Injury of the bodys of the above-named Persons, in order to her Examination Relateing to the aboves'd Premises faile not Dated Salem May the 21'st 1692

After the she was arrested on the 23rd of May, the following deposition was taken from Andrew Elliott:23

An information if it might be any help in the examination of the person before you goode [goodwife] Roots I being in the house of Mr Laurence Denni's some time since she was suspected for what shee is now before you & there was Likewise Leonard Austen of our Town of Beverly s'd Austen then s'd that he thought she was a bad woman, his reason was that he Living in the house with s'd Roots not Long since and when he went to prayer at any time with his wife & thought s'd Roots would acompany them in s'd Duty but Did not at any time but would withdraw & absent herselfe: & further when my self were gone to bed & she unto her bed she would rise in the night & we Could hear her talk in the roome below I lying in the Chamber over s'd roome as if there were 5 or six persons with her more s'd Austen might speak if caled thereunto as far as know more concer[n]ing Roots

Susannah was eventually released, but while she was in prison her grandson John Lovett 3rd visited her and gave the following deposition about his conversation with Dorcas Hoar, another prisoner:

The depersision of John Lovet aged about 25 years this deponant tetifieth & say that he the s'd deponant sume time in June last past went into the prisan to see my gran mother then goodee hore asked me the s'd deponant whether I knew of any witnesses that would Come in or be brought in against hear & I the s'd deponant told her I did not know of any and then the s'd hore asked me whether goodman witreg would not Come in against her about his Cow I the s'd debonant tould the s'd whore I did believe he Would the s'd whore replyed she did not know that he had ara Cow, furder saith not

children of Josiah Rootes and Susannah:24

Bethiah, b. abt. 1640-41, bap. 10 September 1648
Josiah, b. abt. 1642-43, bap. 10 September 1648
John, b. abt. 1645-46,25 bap. 10 September 1648
Susannah, b. abt. 164826, bap. 10 September 1648
Thomas, bap. 16 February 1651
Jonathan b. abt. 1665, bap. 28 October 166527

vital records sources: His baptism is recorded as 7 March 1612, but the chronological sequence shows this was in the Julian/Gregorian transition to 1613. His death is given in his estate inventory.

1. William Boys, Collections for an history of Sandwich in Kent (Canterbury, Eng, 1792) 751.
2. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts [hereafter ECQC], Vol. 7 (Salem, MA: Essex Institute, 1919), 51.
3. Ibid, vol. 1 (1911), 92
4. Ibid, 118.
5. Richard D. Pierce, ed., The First Church in Salem, Records, 1629-1736 (hereafter FCS) (Salem: 1974), 13. See also images of the earliest transcription of these records at the Congregational Library & Archives website,<
6. Vital Records of Salem, Massachusetts, to the year 1849, vol. 2 (Salem, MA: Essex Institute, 1918), 245
7. "Town Records of Salem, Massachusetts," Essex Institute Historical Collections vol. 9 (Salem:1868), 163.
8. 26 Feb 1649/50, ECQC, 1:184.
9. Essex Institute Historical Collections, vol. 55 (Salem, MA: Essex Institute, 1919), "Beverly in 1700," 273 etc.
10. Town Records of Salem, Massachusetts [hereafter TRS], vol. 2, 1659-1680, 9, 19.
11. Ibid, 11, 21, 65, 71, 72, 85. The entry for 1661 says payment was due "to Josias Roots to Balch." Balch may have paid his expenses and was to be reimbursed by Josiah when he received town money.
12. Ibid, pg. 57 (25 June); ECQC, vol. 3 (1913), 281 (28 Nov).
13. ECQC, vol. 6 (1913), 147 (28 June).
14. Bev petitioners, citation needed.
15. Records of the First Church in Beverly, Massachusetts, 1667-1772 (Salem, MA: Essex Institute, 1905), 21.
16. ECQC, vol. 4 (1914), 216 (24 Sept 1669).
17. Ibid, vol. 7 (1919), 50-51.
18. Municipal Documents of the City of Beverly, Massachusetts, 1895 (Beverly:1896), 405.
19. ECQC, vol. 6, 228 (28 Nov 1676)
20. Ibid, 289 (26 June 1677).
21. Ibid, vol. 8, 266 (24 June 1684). These transcripts of the will and inventory are said to have been transcribed before 1921 by Harriet Tapley and are undoubtedly from the late 17th century, but they differ in format and slightly in wording from the contemporary transcription in the Essex County probate volumes, 302:39-40. It suggests the Quarterly Court transcripts above were taken verbatim from the originals, which aren't available as images online.
22. The court transcriptions were made by Boyer & Nissenbaum, as presented in "The Salem Witchcraft Papers, vol. 1."
23. Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive,
24. see note 5. The church record gives Julian calendar dates with numbered months: "24:7m:1648" and for Thomas, "16:12m:1650." All the baptisms except Jonathan's say "Joseph" was there father. This name also appears in Salem town records, but most of all these records are obviously referring to Josiah. I posit that Bethiah was the first-born. Her son Simon Lovet's death record puts his birth abt. 1660, and his father's will leaves little doubt he was her first-born. His father was born abt. Summer 1637, and 23 is a reasonable age for having been married and having a first child. Also, the 1668 baptism record for the three oldest Lovett children lists them "Symon, John and Susanna." This suggests his mother's birth was after her husband's and before about 1642. The latter would mean she was married about 17-18 and had Simon when she was 18-19, which is at the far young end of the norm for New England at this time. Given this, a reasonable approximate birth year for her is 1640-41. The first child mentioned in Josiah's will was Jonathan, the youngest, and he was given most of the estate. He then mentions Bethiah and John. John was "in his 78th year" when he died (see note 25), meaning he would have turned 78 within the year after 25 May 1723. This puts his birth abt. 1645-6. Susannah was born abt. 1648 (see note 26). That leaves Josiah, about whom I've found very little, but given the discussion above, he likely was born abt. 1642-3.
25. Connecticut Vital Records to 1870, database online, (New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011), images of original typescripts of the Lucius Barnes Barbour Collection, Woodbury volume, 91, gives his age at death.
26. ECQC, vol. 4 (1914), 216. She deposed in March 1670 that she was about 22 and was the daughter of Josiah Roote and wife of Roger Hoskin or Haskin.
27. A court deposition in June 1678 says he was about 13. See note 17. His birth is in Vital Records of Salem, Massachusetts, to the year 1849, vol. 2 (Salem, MA: Essex Institute, 1918), 245.

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