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William is said to have been the brother of John Woodbery, the Salem "Planter" (for an explanation about the spelling "Woodbery," see below). There are no documents known to prove this. They were surely the same men with those names who lived within about five miles of each other in south-central Somersetshire in England and they both settled in Salem, Massachusetts Bay Colony. This is good indication they were at least closely related.
     William was likely the one who married Elizabeth Patch at South Petherton, Somerset, in 1617. The names of their children and a wife named Elizabeth correspond to what is known of the family of William of New England. There was an extended Patch family in South Petherton, likely including the Nicholas Patch who settled in Salem near the Woodberys and often appears with them in court records. He was likely Elizabeth's brother. Their daughter Hannah married James Patch, a son of Nicholas. This circumstantial evidence surely connects the New England Woodberys to the South Petherton area.
     It's also said that William sailed with John Woodbery to Salem in 1628. This was likely a casual statement allied with the one that he was John's brother, and then found it's way deep into Woodbury lore. There is no passenger list for the ship Abigial to say either way. Given that two of his children were baptized in Somerset in 1629 and 1632, he may have left with John's wife and son John, Jr., during the large wave of immigrants to Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635, but on a ship for which no passenger list survives. They first appear in New England records in 1636. William had a 40 acre grant in Salem by 1636.1 An account of the division of marsh and meadow land says that he had ten in his family in late 1637. This corresponds to the English births found thus far with the addition of Hugh and two more. Nathaniel had yet to be born. Given Elizabeth's age, it makes sense that Nathaniel was her last child when she was probably in her mid 40s. It was the norm for there to be a 3-5 year gap between a woman's last child, if her ability to conceive wasn't compromised, and the one before it. This puts the two other births in the gap between Andrew and Hannah. These unknown children died by 1663, when William didn't name them in his will. It's also possible the additional people in the household were not William and Elizabeth's children or children at all. For having a family numbering over six, he was given one acre of marsh and meadow.2 On 17 October 1638 he was granted 20 acres at Mackerel Cove, which is now a part of Beverly, Massachusetts.3 This may have been the land granted to him on 2 March 1637 "in consideration of laying out a 2 acre lot in town [probably a village lot] [he] is to have a parcel of marsh lying before his 10 acre lot & so much upland ground at the other end as to make him level with other men."4
     William was admitted to the church at Salem on 29 December 1639.5 His wife was likely the Elizabeth who joined on 6 September 1640.6 On 30 March 1640 William and another man "shall keepe the milch cattell & heifers that are like to calve this sumer & such bulls as are necessarie for the heard: excluding all other dry cattell" between 6 April and 15 November 1640. "They are to drive out the Cattell when the Sun is halfe an hower high & to bring them in when the sun is halfe an hour high. The Cattle are to be brought out in the morning into the pen neere to Mr. Downing's pale [stockade fence]." Those that did not bring their cattle in on time to join the herd were to pay for any damages that may have occurred if they were unattended. Three men had bulls to offer for this breeding effort and were paid 20 shillings each for it.7 William was a plaintiff in an undescribed case against William "Jygls" in the same year.8 He was chosen for grand jury duty at the court in Salem in 1643, 1644, 1647, and for the "jury of trials" (inferior court) in 1649.9 William had settled near the other Woodberys at Mackerel Cove by this time, being chosen to receive goods there on behalf of the town.10 Woodbery Point is named for them and as prosperous fishermen, they had slips and warehouses on the water in this vicinity. It was also his location that probably caused the town to choose him (with Richard Brackenbury) to lay out a road between Salem ferry and the head of Jeffrey's Creek (now the town of Manchester east of Beverly) wide enough to accomodate horseback riding and cattle driving.11 The men were paid 12 shillings each for the effort out of the town taxes.12 William was paid 7 shillings, 6 pence by the estate of Margaret Pease about 1644 for keeping a heifer and for some part of "wintering" her.13 On 6 July 1647 William "& Co." and his probable brother-in-law Nicholas Patch, "Sr.," inhabitants of Mackerel Cove, presented a petition to the court to be exempted from watch duty.14 He was appointed one of the executors of the will of John Balch on 15 May 1648.15
     He was among the petitioners for a new parish to be created at Beverly in 1667.16 This was one attempt to this end among several. William and other townsmen had signed a similar petition in 1659.17 His will was written on 5 June 1663 and proved 26 June 1677:

Imprimis I give and bequeath unto my wife Elizabeth my Dwelling house with the land adjoyning unto it as allso whatsoever other Land I Doe posesse and enjoy, save what I shall except in this I will to give unto my sonne William.
It: I give unto my said Wife all my household stuffe and other goods debts Dews Cattle or whatsoever else aperteines unto my wife paying these Legacycs here under expressed.
It: I give unto my eldest sonne Nicholas twenty shillings
It: I give unto my sonne William ten shillings as allso five akers of land which lyes nere snake hill and adjoynes unto ten akers of his owne
It: I give unto my sonne Andrew & Hugh my sonne Isacke and Daughter Hannah Haskels to each of them ten shillings the piece Constitutetinge & ordeining my said wife Elizabeth sole Executrix of this my will.

Wit: John Thorndike, Nicholas (his mark) Pache and Richard (his mark) Brackenbury.

Inventory of the estate of William Woodbery, aged about eighty-eight years, deceased 29 : 11 :1676, appraised by William (his mark) Dixsy and John Hill : cotes, ili.; lining cloth, 21i. 16s.; ticking, 12s. 6d.; shets and shirts, ili. 12s. 8d.; 4 yds of carsy, 1 li. 4s.; yards and 3 quarters cloth, us.; bags, 15s.; 4 yards sad colerd cloth, 18s.; 12 yds. penisstone, ili. 16s.; to yards coten, 6s.; one paire stockings, 2s.; bed and furnituer, 31i.; plators, 5s.; brass pots, 12s.; 3 kitells, ili. Debts, due from Nicolas Woodbere, 181i.; from Hugh Woodberre, 41i. 9s.; from Hana Bradford, 21i. 2s.; from John Patch, ili. l0s.; monney, 31i.; total, 451i. us. 2d.
18

     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.William Woodberry - William Woodbury

children of William Woodbery and Elizabeth Patch: 19

Nicholas bap. 19 April 1618, South Petherton, Somerset, England
William bap. 7 May 1620, South Petherton, Somerset, England
Andrew bap. 1 March 1621/22, South Petherton, Somerset, England
?child b. abt. 1625, d. aft. 1637
?child b. abt 1627, d. aft. 1637
Hannah bap. 13 September 1629, Misterton, Somerset, England
Isaac bap. 10 January 1631/32, Misterton, Somerset, England
Hugh, b. abt 1634
Nathaniel bap. 11 December 1639, Salem, MA


vital records sources: His inventory gives his death date and age at death as about 88. The inventory says he died in the 11th month, which at that time was January, not November. Given that, he most likely would have turned 89 in 1677, placing his birth about 1588. His marriage is from various sources, the original from the South Petherton parish register has not been seen. His signature was taken from the source given in note #20.

1. town records of Salem published in Essex Institute Historical Collections (hereafter TRS 1), 9:25. The time of year is not recorded.
2. Ibid, 101, clearly misbound in the town record book and belonging to the minutes of the town meeting held 25 December 1637.
3. Ibid, 72.
4. Ibid, 39.
5. Records of the First Church, Salem (hereafter RFS), 9.
6. Ibid.
7. TRS 1, 99.
8. 29 December 1640; Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts (hereafter ECQC), 1:24.
9. Ibid, pp. 120 (1643), (1644), 150 (1647).
10. Ibid, 120.
11. Ibid, 145.
12. Ibid, 152.
13. ECQC, 1:86.
14. Ibid, 118.
15. Ibid, 144.
16. Baptisms of the First Church in Beverly, 1667-1710, 4-5.
17. Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, vol. 8 (Boston:1906), facing pg. 127, which is a copy of the 1659 petition from Bass River to create a new parish that became Beverly.
18. ECQC, 6:315.
19. research by Robin Bush, parish registers for South Petherton and Misterton; RFS, 17.

all text and photographs © 1998-2021 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted