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vital records sources

Despite unreliable court records that indicate a birth year anywhere between 1604 and 1609,1 Humphrey was likely was born not long before being baptized on 25 July 1611 in West Coker, Somerset.2 In his deposition that outlines his father's activities in the 1620s and 1630s, he indicates that he moved with him to Dorchester, Dorset, England in 1623 or 1624. That is where the John Woodbery who married Ann Napper lived when they were issued their marriage license in 1628, and evidence leaves little doubt that this was his father and stepmother. By his own account (for which see his father's biography), Humphrey, being about 18, sailed with his father on the Abigail from the port of Weymouth, England, on 20 June 1628, arriving in Salem on 6 September.
      Humphrey appears with 40 acres on a list of Salem landowners who had grants by 1636.3 On 2 January 1635/36 he and others were each given a 1/2 acre of land on Winter Island (now a neck of land in the far northeastern part of Salem facing east on the ocean and northwest on Mackerel Cove in Beverly) for "fishing trade and to build upon."4 In a division of marsh and meadow probably dating to December of 1637, Humphrey was given 2 acres for having a household of 3.5 This strongly points to him, his wife Elizabeth and son Thomas.
     Humphrey's wife was undoubtedly Elizabeth Hunter. She is known to have been named Elizabeth from court and baptism records. Humphrey called Richard More his brother, and one of More's daughters called Humphrey an uncle.6 More was an only surviving child of his parents (he and his siblings came over as children in 1620 on the Mayflower) and given that he didn't marry a Woodbery sister, the only reasonable explanation of their kinship is through Elizabeth. More married Christian Hunter, who sailed with her mother Susan(nah), stepfather Richard Hollingworth, her siblings and half-siblings on the Blessing in 1635. She was 20. Elizabeth Hunter was among them, aged 18, placing her birth within the expected period of birth of Humphrey's wife. More was with the Hunters on the Blessing in 1635 on a later trip from England. From his own deposition after he was married we know that he was "a retainer and labourer in the service of his father-in-law Richard Hollingworth, Sr." about 1635, so he met Christian as an employee of her father.7
     It's interesting to further note that Humphrey and Elizabeth named two of their children Richard and Christian. Two other sons were Thomas and William, the names of two other Hunters, both boys, who came on the Blessing. There is no apparent record of Thomas Hunter as an adult, and it may be that he died as a boy and Humphrey and Elizabeth honored him by naming their first child after him, or at least the first child of record. Richard and Christian moved to Salem by 1639, when Richard requested a grant of land on 20 November of that year.8 Both the Woodberys and the Mores named a daughter Susannah, surely after the Hunter sisters' mother. That Susannah Hollingworth was Humphrey's mother-in-law helps explain a Salem town record from 1676 in which he made it known that he had "taken old Goodwife Hollenworth into his custody and engages to keep her as long as they are able."10
     The Blessing passenger list, as transcribed, says that Susan(nah) was only 10 years older that Christian, the oldest Hunter on the ship. This may be a transcription or original recording error of the passengers in 1635. Perhaps rather than being "30" she was actually 39, the 0 and 9 being confused. This allows for a comfortable chronology: Susannah was born about 1596; married Mr. Hunter about 1615; had Christian, Elizabeth, Thomas and Willam; Mr. Hunter died between the birth of his last child about 1624 and the first of Susannah's by her next husband about 1628; she married Richard Hollingworth about 1627-28 and had William, Richard, Susan(nah), Elizabeth and probably others in New England. The origin of the Hunters and Hollingworths is not yet known, but Richard was a shipwright, indicating they lived in a coast town or one on a navigable river route. Another clue may lie in the statement by Jeremiah and Elizabeth (Whiting) Hobart that Elizabeth was their cousin.11
     Humphrey was living on Mackerel Cove along with his Woodbery relatives by 1642.12 At this time he was called to testify as a witness in a case against his neighbor Guido Bailey for hitting his (Guido's) wife.13 His grant of meadow at Mackerel Cove was increased by 1/2 acre in 1646.14 He was admitted to the church at Salem on 23 July 1648, Elizabeth having joined on 1 September 1640.15 Humphrey took the freeman's oath with his cousin Hugh on 2 January 1650.16 He bought a house and 20 acres from Guido Bailey in 1652, the deed referring to Humphrey as a fisherman.17 On 20 February 1655/56 he was granted a parcel of swamp abutted by his own and that of Bailey's, not to exceed 10 acres, the wood within it being reserved for the use of Salem residents.18 The residents of the "Cape Ann side" neighborhood (later the eastern part of the town of Beverly) that included Mackerel Cove then complain about this arrangement, the reason not recorded, and the town decided Humphrey should give up other pieces of his land for public use to compensate for the grant.19
     Humphrey served on the jury of trials for the Inferior Court of Salem on 30 June 1657 and 29 November 1659.20 He was elected a surveyor of fences for Cape Ann Side on 24 March 1663 and is mentioned as the constable for the same on 22 August 1663.21 On 30 November 1664 Elizabeth Woodbery was presented to the court for hitting a woman in the employ of Jeremiah and Elizabeth "Hubbard" (Hobart).22 The latter couple came forward to say that they had no reason to believe such a thing happened but if it had, they had given her permission to do so while they were out of town if the discipline were necessary, their maid being a "provoking wench" and a "sad and bad" servant known to all both in Lynn and Salem. They call Elizabeth their loving friend, kinswoman and cousin. The case was dismissed.
     Upon Humphrey's request to be compensated for a public highway that was laid out on his land, the town granted him five acres elsewhere.23 Humphrey was again an Inferior Court juryman in 166524 and served on the Grand Jury the following year.25 He was a witness to Giles Lee's drunkenness, for which he was brought to court in June of 1665.26 His mother-in-law, Susannah Hollingworth, sold him 10 acres on Cape Ann Side" on 2 December 1667.27 Humphrey is mentioned as a selectman for Salem in 1668.28 and for Beverly in November 1670 (7 Nov, 398.) In April of 1668 that year he agreed to be on a committee to formalize the bounds between Beverly and Wenham. (29 Apr) and a committee to see to repairs of the meeting house (2 June). The quarterly court issued him a license to "sell wine at retail outdoors" on 12 July 167629, which was renewed in 1681.30 He was elected a tythingman for Beverly on 35 June 1677.31 In the November session of the Essex County Quarterly Court in that year, Humphrey's son Thomas brought a case against Richard Stackhouse involving a sail and rope. It was a complex case that will be outlined in Thomas' biography but as part of the case, Jonah Jackson testified that he was at sea with Humphrey in the ketch William & Mary and that it had a "split mainsail in an ordinary gale of wind, bolt rope breaking." This shows that Humphrey (unless Humphrey, "Jr.," was intended) was still active as a fisherman at 60.fn Five Woodberys, including Humphrey (Sr. or Jr. not indicated), took the Oath of Fidelity to the King of England on 3 December 1677, four of them called fishermen.32 He served on the Grand Jury at Salem on 26 November 1678 and 24 June 1679.33

He was one of three men who agreed to build the gallery on the east side of the meeting house on 29 May 1671.34 They would be paid by those whom the selectman agreed to seat there, as well as a being given a "foreseat" there. Apparently there were three tiers of seats.

Humphrey wrote a will on 4 March 1685/1686 that was probated on 11 October 1686:34

In the Name of God Amen

I Humphrey Woodbery Senr of Ye Town of Beverly in the County of Essex in New England Yeoman being though weak and infirme in my body yet of perfect
[mind] and memory having through God's mercy the most of my Reason and understanding Do make ordaine and have this fourth day of March In the yeare of our Lord one thousand six hundred Eighty and five, fix, made, and ordained this my last Will and Testament in manner and forme as followes.

Imprimis I give and bequeath my Soul unto God who gave it me hopeing through the death, merits and Intercession of my Lord Jesus Christ to receive the free pardon of all my Sins and to inherit everlasting life and glory and my body unto the Earth to be decently buried at the discretion of my Executrix here after named And my worldly Goods I dispose of thus

I give unto my loving wife Elizabeth Woodbery the improvement of my Dwelling house or Barne orchard Homestead pasture and all my Land and Meadow thereunto belong (Except what is here after in this my Will Excepted) And also I give unto my Wife all my Moveable Estate consisting in money goods or Chattels & within doores or without She to have the improvement of said Housing and Lands for and during the Term of her natural life only Except She shall have necessity of farther maintenace and if so Then I do give her absolute power to sell two acres of the Land aforesd so that the remainder of the sd Homestead be not endamaged thereby in any considerable respect

Item I give unto my son Richard Woodbery during his Mothers life time that parcel of Land called the middle Pasture containg eleven acres or thereabouts lying against the general fence on the South side of it and against the Common on the West Side of it and the orchard which the sd Richard planted being between said middle pasture and my Barn improve the said Land during his Mothers

And also I give unto my said son Richard and to his heires for ever at his mothers decease the sd orchard afore mentioned and also the Dwelling house Barne Homestead great Pasture and all other the appurtenances in any wise thereunto belonging or in any wise pertaining said Richard paying the sum of Tenn pounds unto my son Thomas for his Legacy

Item I give unto my son Thomas Woodbery the Lott whereupon his House now standeth with a certain Strapp of Land lying at the head of the said Lott both sd parcels of Land being already in his possession And also I give more to my said son Thomas the sum of Tenn pounds aforesd in good pay to be paid unto him by my Son Richard within three yeares after my wives decease and also my halfe acre of Land in Salem lying against Waters his fence butting against the Cove which comes from Winter Island

Item I give to my son John Woodbery that same Forty acre Lott which my said Sonn now dwelleth upon

Item I give unto my Son Isaac Woodbery the Lott of mine which he now dwells upon and all my Land which he now hath in his possession and also at his Mothers decease that halfe of the said middle pasture on the North side

Item I give unto my Son William Woodbery the other halfe of sd middle pasture on the South with the Home Lott whereupon said Williams House standeth joying to said Pasture bounded on the north with my orchard on the South East by the Land of John Solace one corner reaching to the Land of Mr. Hale being now in his possession.

Item I give unto my Son Humphrey Woodbery my Tenn acre Lott which is now Lett out to John Drinker and also a piece of Swamp lying at the head of said Lott being in my said Sons possession already

Item I give unto my Daughter Susanna Tery all my Land at Bradford that I bought for her being about Fifty acres of upland and three acres of Meadow during her life and afterward to her Husband and his heires Except he do otherwise dispose of it

Item I give unto my Daughter Christian the wife of John Traske my two acres of Meadow ground near Longhum adjoining Eastward to the meadow that was Capt Lawthrop which now in my said son Trasks possession

Item I give unto my Daughter Elizabeth the wife of John Walker ten shillings having given her a good portion already

Item I give unto my two Grandchildren Sarah and Eunice Walker a certain House of mine now rented by Humphrey Hovel and two acres of Land thereto adjoining bounded South and West by the Common to be so laid out as to leave a sufficient Highway out of the great pasture into the Common between said House and the Rocks equally between sd GrandChildren and if one of the dye the Survivour to have the whole And if both die in nonage then to my own heires and in the mean time my loving Wife to have the use of the same whom I do hereby make my true and lawful Executrix And I desire my loving Friends Mr. John Hale, my Brother Sergeant Woodbery and Brother Cornelius Baker to be overseers ajustant to my Executris for performa hereof and do disanull any former or other will of mine and do ratify and confirme this my last Will and Testament. In Witness whereof I have set hereunto my hand & seale ye day and year first abovementioned.

Signed Sealed and Declared in the presence of Jno Dodge Sen., Samll Hardey,

The mark of Humphry Woodbery

John Dodge and Samuel Hardy made oath that they were present and saw Humphrey Woodbery then declared the same to be his last Will and Testament and that he was of disposing mind and they then subscribed their Witnesses thereunto this 11th day of October 1686 Before me Barth. Gedney Cornelius Baker and Peter Woodbery made oath that they were present and saw Humphrey Woodbery signe and seale the within written and that he the declared the same to be his last Will and Testament and was then of disposing mind and that John Dodge Senr and Samuel Hardy were also present ans subscribed their names as Witnesses thereunto this 11th day of October 1686

Entered 11th Nov 1686
Before me Bath. Gedney one of the Council

A true copy as appears of Record Examd by Cpl Addington Reg.

The Inventory of Humphrey Woodbry his Estate

This is A true Inventory of ye Estate of Humphrey Woodbry Snr Late of Beverly Decd =
[?] as it was appraised by us the subscribers herof this 11th day of June ano Domini 1686.

[lbs] - 00 [shillings] - 00 [pence] [?] the dwelling house, barn, & out housing
156 - 00 - 00
[?] The homsteade Containing about 20 Acres
060 - 00 - 00 A pasture adjoining of about 20 Acres
045 - 00 - -- A parcel of Land of about 15 Acres
that is now in ye hands of Wm Woodbery
096 - 00 - 00 A parcel of Land of about 16 acres
that is now in the hands of Isaac Woodbery
005 - 00 - 00 halfe an Acre of Land in Salem
100 - 00 - 00 40 acres of Land in Jno Woodberys hands
040 - 00 - 00 10 acres of Land in Hupmph Woodberys hands
026 - 10 - 00 53 Acres of Land being in Haverill bounds
010 - 00 - 00 2 Acres of Medow being at Longham
035 - 00 - 00 Another dwelling house
008 - 00 - 00 A yoke of Oxen
022 - 00 - 00 6 Cowes 1S: two heifers
006 - 10 - 00 11 Sheepe & 15 Lambs
002 - 00 - 00 One mare & a colt
002 - 05 - 00 Wheeles & other Utensils
002 - 04 - 00 A parcel of Pewter & Chafing Dish
000 - 06 - 00 A warming Pan & skillet
002 - 00 - 00 A parcel of Iron Utensils
000 - 08 - 00 Earthen Ware 3 sinking Glass 5
000 - 10 - 00 Tables; [?]; & Stooles:
008 - 10 - 00 One bed: bedsteads & furniture
001 - 12 - 00 Chaires & a frying pan
002 - 00 - 00 A parcel of corn & beanes
002 - 10 - 00 Sheets & other linen 1-10: Chest
003 - 06 - 00 5 yds of Carsey 30; 3 yds broadcloth 36
000 - 13 - 00 2 yds peniston 7: pw 2 yds 1/2 of Carsey 6
007 - 00 - 00 Another bed; bedstead, & furniture
002 - 02 - 00 14 yds of woolen cloth
000 - 10 - 00 Sword: Gun & other Lumber
769 - 16 - 00-Sum total
000 - 10 - 00-to a Sadle not before mindes
--- --------------
770 - 06 -00

The Estate aforementioned was appraized by us at ye desire of ye widow Woodbery as = Witness
[our] hands ye day & year aformentioned

John Hanment Snr
Andrew Elliott Somes

Elizabeth Woodbery executrix of the last will & testament of Humphrey Woodbery deceased made oth that the above written is a true inventory of the
[Humphrey] Woodbery estate [?] the [?] of her [?] & if more [be] found she will give accnt of the same this 11th day of October 1686

Before me Bartho Gedney

     This family name in the 17th and early 18th centuries is spelled variously depending on the document and the gravestone. There were varying degrees of literacy, even among town clerks and ministers. Spelling was fluid and often reflected phonetics, but the prevailing spelling amongst family members was decidedly "Woodbery." Since there is no ambiguity about this, I see no reason not to use it. I do so with the note that other spelling were used, uncommonly by Woodberys themselves, more commonly by others. This spelling eventually shifted to "Woodberry," and now "Woodbury" is favored.Humphrey Woodberry - Humphrey Woodbury

children of Humphrey Woodbery and Elizabeth Hunter:1

i. Thomas, b. prob. by December 1637, no baptism record at Salem
ii. John, bap. 24 October 1641
iii. Isaac, bap. 4 February 1643/44
iv. Humphrey, bap. 8 March 1645/46
v. Susannah, bap. 4 February 1648/49
vi. William, bap. 4 May 1651
vii. Peter, bap. 17 April 1653
viii. Richard, bap. 1 April 1655
ix. Elizabeth, bap. 30 May 1658
x. Christian, bap. 1 August 1661

vital records sources: See text for a discussion about Humphrey's birth and marriage. His will was made in March and probated in October of 1686. The image of his signature comes from a petition to have a new parish formed on the Cape Ann side of Salem, also called Bass River, now Beverly, dated 9 May 1659.

1. His age is given as 70 in June 1679 (note #6) and about 76 in June 1680 (note #35). It is given as 61 in a court record of July 1668 Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts (hereafter ECQC), vol. 4, pg. 47).
2. research of Robin Bush?, Search for the Passengers of the Mary & John, 1630 (hereafter SPMJ), 25:78-9.
3. town records of Salem published in Essex Institute Historical Collections, vol. 9, (hereafter TRS 1) pg. 24.
4. Ibid, pg. 33.
5. Ibid, pg. 101, clearly misbound in the town record book and belonging to the minutes of the town meeting held 25 December 1637.
6. Ibid, vol. 7, pg. 251.
7. Mayflower Deed and Wills, pg. 347, taken from an Essex Co. court record (prob ECQC), vol. 49, pg. 75, dated 1 April 1690.
8. TRS 1, pg. 92. Richard and Christian were married in his former home town of Plymouth, MA, found in that town's vital records for 1636. They probably stayed in Plymouth until Richard told the town of Salem that "desires land" there late in 1639. Christian's surname is given as "Hunt." It is possible that the Blessing passenger list is in error by calling them "Hunter," but if a mistake was to be made it was more likely by dropping the "er" from Hunter rather than adding it to "Hunt."
9.? (misplaced citation) 6 March? 1642/43?; Records of the First Church, Salem (hereafter RFS), pg. 18.
10. 14 February. She was a widow (Richard Hollingworth died in 1654) and may have been living with the More's. This date is a month before Christian More died. Perhaps she was sick and could no longer look after her mother. Town Records of Salem, Massachusetts [hereafter TRS 2], vol. 2, pg. 205.
11. ECQC, vol. 3, pg. 224.
12. TRS 1, pg. 113. Samuel Edson was granted land at Mackerel Cove adjacent to Humphrey's farm on 10 August.
13. 27 December 1642; ECQC, vol. 1, pg. 49.
14. 28 December; Ibid, pg. 146.
15. RFS, pg. 13 and 10 respectively.
16. ECQC, vol. 1, pg. 205.
17. 11 or 10 October; Putnam's Magazine, vol. 3, pg. 111, also Some Descendants of John Woodbury.
18. ECQC, vol. 1, pg. 175.
19. 8 May 1654; Ibid, pg. 177.
20. ECQC, vol. 2, pp. 42 and 182 respectively.
21. TRS 2, pp. 36 and 37 respectively.
22. ECQC, vol. 3, pp. 224-5.
23. 7 February 1664/64; TRS 2, pg. 53.
24. 28 November; ECQC, vol. 3, pg. 281.
25. 27 November 1666; Ibid, pg. 367.
26. Ibid, pg. 268.
27. Some Descendants of John Woodbury, from an Essex Co. deed.
28. 10 March 1667/68; TRS 2, pg. 87.
29. ECQC, vol. 6, pg. 172.
30. Ibid, vol. 8, pg. 140.
31. Ibid, pg. 289.
32. Ibid, vol. 6, pg. 400-401.
33. ECQC, vol. 7, pg. 195 and 106 respectively.
34. Municipal Documents of the City of Beverly, Massachusetts (Beverly, 1896), 404.
This transcription was made by Charla Woodbury and Kris Ormond made it available to me. Although the will doesn't seem to be recorded in the Essex County Surrogates Court, the matter is referred to as "docket #1500," Essex Institute Historical Collections, vol. 40, pg. 214. The will is in the collections of the Beverly Historical Society, who made it available to Charla Woodbury. Thanks to all!
35. RFS, 18-25.

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