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A misreading of 17th century records has led to the thought that John died in London on 18 January 1671 or 1672. His will was probated on 18 January 1672/73. There is no record known of his death. He was serving aboard the 48-gun British Navy ship Crown when he wrote his will in August of 1672.1 The double year of the probate date reflects the Julian and the Gregorian calendars. The Julian was the established calendar but the Gregorian was coming into use. January, February and early March were at the end of the Julian calendar, so records in the 17th and early 18th centuries were often double dated to acknowledge the Gregorian (and current) calendar as well. The date of probate. The day of the month was also different, but this wasn't included in the double dating. The probate date on the modern calendar is 28 January 1673. This places his death probably in the Winter of 1672/1673, either at sea or perhaps in the London area. The will was probated in London.

John Woodbury of Beverley in New England, mariner, but now resident on board his Majesty's ship the Crown, 4 August 1672. I give to my well beloved friend Mr Daniel Berry of Limehouse, Stepney, all my moneys or wages as shall be due for my service or wages in the ship Crown, but to the intent and purpose to pay and satisfy all such just and due debts as are owing unto him the said Mr Berry and to any other person to whom I shall justly stand indebted unto; and, for the remainder of the moneys it is my will that my wife shall have and enjoy and to be sent her by the first opportunity into New England, which I desire Mr Berry to procure safe conveyance of the same. I give and bequeath unto my said wife Elizabeth Woodbury all my books and sea instruments which I have now in my chest and also a new cloth coat, which, my will is, may be also sent to my wife with the first and safest conveyance; or that, if the said Mr Berry shall think convenient, to sell or dispose to sale all or any part of books, instruments or coat and to make return of the product of them unto my wife in money or goods. To my friend John Tayler mariner, one of the said ship's com- pany, all my wearing apparell &c. Commission issued to Daniel Berry 18 January 1672 to administer &c. no executor having been named. Pye, 13.

The most notable event during what was likely John's time aboard the ship was the Battle of Solebay in late May 1672. England and France were allied against the Netherlands at this time. A Dutch war fleet surprised the English and French navies off the shore of Suffolk County, England. During the battle, five were killed and seven wounded on "Crown."2 There are no records to pinpoint his exact time on the ship.
     Another misreading of 17th century records has led to the thought that John's wife was Elizabeth Tenney. Evidence places her as the wife of John Woodbery, son of Humphrey and nephew of the John of this biography. The elder Elizabeth's family name isn't known
     What we do know about Elizabeth is that she was born about 1635, if her death record is correct. It's recorded in Beverly and says 6 January 1725/26.3 Her gravestone says 7 January, and is considered the better source for this article, given that the stone carver was more likely to have gotten his information directly from a family member. The gravestone, as transcribed for the published vital records, say she was "in her 91st year." That means she was 90 and would turn 91 on her next birthday.4 Since she died in mid January, she very likely would have had that birthday some time in 1726.
     There isn't a marriage record for her and John Dodge. Elizabeth was left with four young children in 1673, and John Woodbery didn't leave enough of an estate to support them indefinitely. John Dodge and his first wife's last child was supposedly Jonathan, probably born about 1673 or 1674. Her previous child was definitely born in February 1672. She was young enough to have had more children after this, but none are evident. She likely died perhaps in childbirth with Jonathan or soon after, leaving John with six young children. The most sensible thing is to put John and Elizabeth's marriage about 1674/75. There's no evidence that they had any children together.
     John and Elizabeth Dodge must have fallen on difficult times financially. In the probate estate papers for Ebenezer Woodbery,5 Elizabeth's son and John's stepson and son-in-law, there is a schedule of debits from the estate. Among them are £20 per year for 11 years to take care of Hannah (Dodge) Woodbery's father and mother Dodge. Ebenezer died in 1714 and his probate was in court in 1715. Add eleven years to this and you get the years in which John and Elizabeth died.
     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.John Woodberry - John Woodbury

children of John Woodbery and Elizabeth:

i. Elizabeth, b. 15th of the 6th month (Julian month numbering for August) 1654 (Salem)
ii. John, b. 15 March 1657 (Salem; record not double dated, so it could be 1656, 1657 or 1658)
iii. Abigail, b. 8th of the 4th month (Julian month numbering for June) 1660 (Salem)
iv. Ebenezer, bap. 3 July 1667 (Salem)
v. Hannah, bap. 22 May 1670 (Beverly)





1. Genealogical Gleanings in England, vol. 2 (Boston:1901), 1001, has a transcription, partly abstracted. The will is in the Canterbury Prerogative Court records, also transcribed in vol. 9 of that court's records (not seen).
2. http://russiadock.blogspot.com/2015/03/hms-taunton-1654-first-ship-known-to-be.html, site visited 11/21/2019.
3. Vital Records of Beverly, Massachusetts to the Year 1849, vol. 2 (Topsfield: 1907), p. 419.
4. This way of giving a person's age gradually fell out of favor roughly toward the end of the 18th century. In the waning years, the meaning was sometimes not literal and was used interchangeably with a straightforward age reference. When used when Elizabeth died it should be taken literally.
5. Essex County Probate case file 30375.

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