William is thought to be the brother of John Woodbury, the Salem "Planter." While this may be, the author hasn't seen evidence to support it other than that they apparently lived near each other in England and that they both settled in Salem, MA. Evidence strongly indicates that William was the man of that name who married Elizabeth Patch at South Petherton, Somerset, Eng., in 1617.(1) Three of their children were baptized there and very likely two more in Misterton, Somerset.(2) The names of these children and a wife named Elizabeth correspond to what is known of the family of William in New England. There was a Nicholas Patch baptized in South Petherton (2.5) who appears to be the man of that name who settled in Salem near the Woodburys and often appears with them in court records. He was likely Elizabeth's brother, and it may have been him or perhaps a father of the same name for whom William and Elizabeth's first child, Nicholas, was named. It is also significant that their daughter Hannah married James Patch, a son of Nicholas. Other children may eventually be found in English church records to further confirm that this is the family that settled in Salem.
William is said, without apparent evidence, to have sailed with John Woodbury to Salem in 1628. He may have come over with John's wife and son John, Jr., who arrived no later than early 1636.(3) He had a 40 acre grant in Salem by 1636.(4) 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, two more probably born in the mid 1620s where there is a conspicuous gap and another born between 1632 and 1636. These unknown children probably died by 1663, when William did not name them in his will. It is also possible that 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.(5) On 17 October 1638 he was granted 20 acres at Mackerel Cove, which is now a part of Beverly, MA.(6) 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."(7)
William was admitted to the church at Salem on 29 December 1639.(8) His wife was likely the Elizabeth who joined on 6 September 1640. (9) 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.(10) William was a plaintiff in an undescribed case against William "Jygls" in the same year.(11) 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.(12) William had settled near the other Woodburys at Mackerel Cove by this time, being chosen to receive goods there on behalf of the town.(13) Woodbury 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.(14) The men were paid 12 shillings each for the effort out of the town taxes.(15) 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.(16) 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.(17) He was appointed one of the executors of the will of John Balch on 15 May 1648.(18)
William was among the petitioners for a new parish to be created at Beverly in 1667.(19) This was one attempt to this end among several. William and other townsmen had signed a similar petition in 1659.(20) William's will was written 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.(21)
William's family name is spelled variously depending on the document. He signed "Woodberry," as did his sons Hugh and Nicholas, 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. 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 William and Elizabeth (Patch?) Woodbury:
Nicholas, bap. 19 April 1618(22), South Petherton, Somerset, England
William, bap. 7 May 1620(23), South Petherton, Somerset, England
Andrew, bap. 1 March 1621/22(24), South Petherton, Somerset, England
?child, b. abt. 1625
?child, b. abt. 1627 Hannah, bap. 13 September 1629(25), Misterton, Somerset, England
Isaac, bap. 10 January 1631/32,(26), Misterton, Somerset, England
Hugh, b. abt 1633-1637
?child, b. abt. 1633-1637
Nathaniel, bap. 11 December 1639(27), Salem, Essex Co., MA
(1) see above.
(2) see notes #23-#26.
(2.5) According to the Mormon IGI database. No parents names are given. The original records should be consulted.
(3) John and Ann/Annis Woodbury are considered parents of a child baptized in Salem in December 1636. See John Woodbury's biography.
(4) town records of Salem published in Essex Institute Historical Collections (hereafter TRS 1), vol. 9, pg. 25. The time of year is not recorded.
(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, pg. 72.
(7) Ibid, pg. 39.
(8) Records of the First Church, Salem (hereafter RFS), pg. 9.
(10) TRS 1, pg. 99.
(11) 29 December 1640; Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts (hereafter ECQC), vol. 1, pg. 24.
(12) Ibid, pp. 120 (1643), (1644), 150 (1647).
(13) Ibid, pg. 120.
(14) Ibid, pg. 145.
(15) Ibid, pg. 152.
(16) ECQC, vol. 1, pg. 86.
(17) Ibid, pg. 118,
(18) Ibid, pg. 144.
(19) Baptisms of the First Church in Beverly, 1667-1710, pp. 4-5.
(20) 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.
(21) ECQC vol. 6, pg. 315.
(22), (23), (24) research by Robin Bush, parish registers for South Petherton, Somerset, Eng.
(25), (26) research of Robin Bush, parish registers of Misterton, Somerset.
(27) RFS, pg. 17.