Nicholas came to New England and settled in Salem, MA. He was very likely the son of William baptized in South Petherton, Somerset, England. He was certainly the son of Willam and Elizabeth of Salem, being found in William's will, and very likely came to New England with them by early 1636.
The first time Nicholas appears in records as an adult, or nearly so, was a grant of a 10 acre lot to him in Salem on 15 January 1637/38.(1) Nicholas was a defendant with his father and presumed uncle Nicholas Patch and cousin James Patch in a case of trespass brought by John Thorndike on 25 December 1649.(2) He was granted 40 more acres at Salem in 1652(3) and 4 acres of meadow by the pond near the Blackleech farm in the "west end" in 1656.(4) James Patch named him an executor of his will dated 7 August 1658, calling him his "brother" (James married Hannah Woodbury, daughter of William and Elizabeth, likely his first cousin).(5) In the same year he said in a court depostion that Nicholas was about 40 years old, further confirming that he was the Nicholas, son of William, baptized in 1618 in South Petherton.(6)
Nicholas signed a petition to create a new parish at Bass River in 1659.(7) Ann signed a similar petition in 1667, which led to the creation of Beverly.(8) Nicholas and Ann's children Nicholas, Joseph, Isaac, Andrew, Benjamin and Abigail are listed as minors who were dismissed from the Salem church to Beverly with their parents.On 26 February 1660/61 a fence was ordered to be put up between the properties of Nicholas and John West.(9) Nicholas was fined 10 shillings for being absent from the grand jury in 1663.(10) Salem town records say that he was chosen for the grand jury on 22 August of that year(11) and again a year later.(12)
Edward and Elizabeth Berry brought Nicholas to court in 1672 for witholding a piece of land they claimed was rightfully theirs through an inheritance from Elizabeth's mother.(13) Mrs. Berry, former wife of Roger Haskell, had two Haskell sons who deeded the property to Nicholas based on what they claimed was their inheritance from their grandmother. Elizabeth eventually admitted that Mr. Berry instigated the suit on false grounds with her help and Nicholas was acquitted. Nicholas was chosen a constable of Salem on 12 September 1668.(14) He was one of four men taxed for town and county purposes in the same year.(15) In 1669 Nicholas was confirmed an executor of his brother-in-law Mark Haskell's estate (his sister Hannah married Mark after James Patch died).(16) He is mentioned as a selectman of Beverly in 1670.(17) His mill at Mackerel Cove, Beverly, is mentioned in 1673.(18) There is a Nicholas Woodbury on the Massachusetts Bay Colony freeman list of November 1673.(19) Nicholas was on an inquest jury about the drowning death of Elisha Witte.(20) He sued John Ellithorp for 4 years rent on a farm in or near Manchester, presented at court 28 June 1681.(21)
Nicholas wrote a will on 1 August 1685. It apparently is not among the recorded wills in Essex County, in transcribed or original form. It is mentioned in an agreement made for legal purposes by Andrew and Isaac Woodbury, Nicholas' sons. That document gives the date of the will, that it was presented at court and that they were given extensive bequests of land.(21a)
Nicholas and Ann's slate gravestones can be found in excellent condition, side-by-side in the Ancient or Abbott St. Burying Ground in Beverly. Ann's stone can be seen here. Anna was the daughter of Richard and Joan Palgrave, baptized at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England on 29 October 1626.(21b) She has occasionally, but erroneously, been placed in the family of a Dr. Palgrave, touted for his (and her) royal descent.
Nicholas's family name is spelled variously depending on the document. He, his father and brother Hugh signed "Woodberry," although the carver of Nicholas' gravestone used "Woodbury." John, the "Planter" and his son Humphrey signed "Woodbery." The name surely derives from an English geographic description of a wooded place (wood "bury") and "Woodbury" is a common spelling in this family, although more so in later generations. In written records such as town minutes and birth records, spelling was at the discretion of the clerk. Family intent is best found in the signatures, but many people learned to sign their name without otherwise being able to write or spell well, if at all. Some relied on phonetics. Since even the Woodburys themselves in these early generations aren't known to have been literate, the spelling "Woodbury" is used for these articles.
Children of Nicholas and Ann (Palgrave) Woodbury:
i. Abigail, b. abt. 1651?, bap. 4 December 1653.(22), Salem, Essex Co., MA, d. bef. August 1655.
ii.Joan, b. March 1653, bap. 4 December 1653.(23), Salem, Essex Co., MA, d. bef. 1667.
iii. Nicholas, bap. 7 May 1654.(24), Salem, Essex Co., MA
iv. Abigail, b. August 1655.(25), Salem, Essex Co., MA
v. Nicholas, b. 31 July 1657.(26), Salem, Essex Co., MA
vi. Joseph, b. abt. 1662-3, bap. 20 October 1665(27), Salem, Essex Co., MA
vii. Isaac, bap. 20 October 1665.(28), Salem, Essex Co., MA
viii. Andrew, bap. 20 November 1665.(29), Salem, Essex Co., MA
Nicholas' baptism is included in an article on the Woodburys in England in Search for the Passengers of the Mary & John, 1630, 25:78-9. His death record is found fully transcribed in Early Records of the Town of Beverly and on his gravestone, although the latter gives the day as the 16th, aged about 69 and the town records the 19th, aged about 70. A "notarial" record in Salem, which the author hasn't seen, apparently has testimony from witnesses that say that Ann was a Palgrave and came to New England with her mother Joan and stepfather John Youngs on the Mary Anne in 1637. They were from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. She was surely the "Anna," daughter of Richard and Joan, who was baptized there in 1626. Nicholas inherited land in this area of Co. Norfolk. Her father was not Dr. Richard Palgrave who came to New England with his family. She is referred to as Ann in these articles since she is referred to as such in all New England records. Ann will be given a separate biography when there is further research on her. For Nicholas' signature source see note #7.
(1) town records of Salem published in Essex Institute Historical Collections (hereafter TRS 1), vol. 9, pg. 65
(2) Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts [hereafter ECQC],vol. 1, pg. 181.
(3) 5 January 1651/52; TRS 1, pg. 170.
(4) 13 March 1655/56; Ibid, pg. 190.
(5) ECQC,vol. 1, pg. 108. James married Hannah Woodbury. He apparently was Nicholas' first cousin as well.
(6) Ibid, vol. 2, pg. 323.
(7) , vol. 8 (Boston:1906), facing pg. 127, which is a copy of the 9 May 1659 petition from Bass River to create a new parish that became Beverly.
(8) Baptisms in the First Church in Beverly, 1667-1710 (hereafter BFCB), pp. 4-5.
(9)Town Records of Salem, Massachusetts [hereafter TRS 2], vol. 2, pg. 12.
(10) November session, 1663; ECQC, vol. 3, pg. 109.
(11) TRS 2, vol. 2, pg. 37.
(12) 14 August 1666; Ibid, pp. 69 & 75.
(13) June session 1672; ECQC, vol. 5, pg. 46.
(14) TRS 2, p. 93.
(15) 1 December 1668, 33 lbs., 8 sh., 10 p.; Ibid, pg. 95.
(16) ECQC, vol. 4, pg. 122.
(17) Ibid, pg. 323.
(18) Ibid, vol. 5, pg. 221.
(19) Ibid, pg. 289.
(20) 17 May 1675; Ibid, vol. 6, pg. 115.
(21) Ibid, vol. 8, pg. 323.
(21a) 14 February 1698/1699, Essex County deeds, 13:64.
(21b) The American Genealogist 3:903.
(22) birth record is not in vital records. She was baptised with Abigail, from Records of the First Church, Salem (hereafter RFS), pg. 24, daughters of "Sister Ann." She surely was the Annice who was admitted to the church on 27 November 1653, RFS, pg. 14, and had her two daughters baptized a week later.
(23) birth recorded in Salem vital records, taken from a court record that says she was the daughter of Nicholas and Ann; Ibid, pg. 24;
(24) Ibid, son of "Sister Ann."
(25) birth recorded in Salem vital records, taken from a court record that says she was the daughter of Nicholas and Abigial. She was baptized 28 October 1655, same source as notes #20-22.
(26) Ibid, "last of July," son of Nicholas and Ann; bap. 22 November 1657, RFS, pg. 25.
(27), (28), (29) sons of Nicholas; RFS, pg. 27.
(30) Benjamin is named in Nicholas' will. He was born at the time the Beverly parish was created and his baptism may have occurred there but before baptisms started to be recorded in 1667.
all text and photographs © 1998-2009 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted