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The first record found of William is at the 7 January 1638/39 Plymouth Colony court.1 The minutes include four records postdating 7 January but predating the next court session. There is no apparent explanation for this. One of these is the 10 January 1638/39 apprenticship agreement between William and John Barker. William had been apprenticed to Thomas Boardman, a Sandwich carpenter, about June 1638. It may be that William changed his mind about vocation, because Barker, of Scituate, was a brickmaker. Boardman consented to the change, and it was agreed that Barker would buy the six and a half years remaining of the apprenticship as of 1 December 1638. In return, William would learn brickmaking and be paid twenty bushels of Indian Corn, two "suits of apparel" and a ewe lamb.
     Thomas Boardman was settled in Sandwich by August 1638, and presumably by June, otherwise there wouldn't be much sense in taking on a brickmaking apprentice. That August, a fornication case involving him and his wife Lucy was based, apparently, on someone telling the court they had a child out of wedlock in London and left it there.2 They were married and Lucy was pregnant at the time. This case is surely the origin of the statement found in various publications that William came from London, and that he came over with the Boardmans in June 1638. The evidence doesn't support either.
     It's interesting to note that in Hartford, Connecticuty Colony, Nathaniel Barden bought land in February 1639.3 John Winthrop, Jr.'s, medical journal says he died in 1657 at age 69.4 William had a son named Nathaniel. If Nathaniel was in New England first in the Plymouth region, and his wife was no longer living, he may have put William out as an apprentice in 1638 before going to Hartford.
     If William was of the usual apprenticeship age of 13 when he went to Boardman, he was born about 1625. This means he was about 18 in 1643, old enough to be included on the "Able to Bear Arms" of that year for Marshfield.5 John Barker and his brother Robert are also on the list. His apprenticeship, if served to the agreed time, ended in the Summer of 1645.
     William isn't on the list of men taking the Oath of Allegiance in Plymouth Colony in 1657.6 John Barker, Jr., (John, Sr., having died), Robert Barker and the husband of John's now remarried widow Anna (Williams) (Barker) Blush are, and among those living in Duxbury. William reappears in records when he married John and Anna's daughter Deborah Barker in February 1660/61.7 The marriage and the births of their children up to Anna in 1677 are recorded in Barnstable as a group. Like many New England towns, Barnstable's town clerk(s) periodically gathered vital records and created these record clusters. While the Barkers did live in Barnstable, they weren't necessarily there when they married. Within a month of the marriage, on 1 March 1660/61, William signed an acknowledgement saying Deborah had gotten her share of her father's estate.8 He said he was of Concord, but "heretofore" of Duxbury. Deborah must have still been a minor, explained at her page. She had chosen Thomas Bird of Scituate as her guardian in 1657. She was probably still with him when she married, so it's plausible they married in Scituate, but also possibly in Duxbury, where William, her mother, stepfather, brother and uncle were living.
     The family was in Barnstable by 1666, when William and John Bates were brought to court for fighting.9 For this they were fined three shillings, four pence. William was drunk, for which he was fined another 5 shillings, but Bates had an additional 20 shillings applied for "lying upon him and striking of him, whereby he was disabled for a ceratin time to attend on his calling."
     Abraham and Anna (Williams) (Barker) Blush had moved to Barnstable as well.10 The Bardens are absent from town meeting records, and William isn't on a 1670-1682 list of Barnstable residents entitled to shares in the common meadow. It's open to speculation what their living circumstances were. A Barnstable church record of members who "dwell in remote places" says Deborah transferred her membership to Middleborough.11 Researchers have assumed this was in 1683, even though this group of records isn't dated. The only other date given on the rest of the page is 1683, one being a death and others who were admitted in 1683, so this year is plausible for Deborah's membership transfer. She also appears as an early member of the Middleborough church as the widow Deborah, but the list is also not dated.12 The church was officially incorporated in 1694, which is a plausible date for that list.
     William's only recorded deed was selling his share in the "Sixteen Shilling Purchase" to Nathaniel Warren on 20 June 1687.13 The deed says he bought it from "Guydo Bayley." He is on an account of being given land in that purchase, but that's the only mention of him in the land grants in his lifetime. He had a homestead in Middleborough, but it's not clear in his will to whom it was given. There are numerous deeds involving his male heirs and William's property, most of which aren't obviously including the homestead, but more research is needed for more information, if any.

William wrote a will, but it isn't dated and he didn't sign it:14

I William Burden inhabitant of Middelberry being in a weake and low condishione by Reason of sicknes not knowinge how God maye deale with me yet while I have my perfect sences and understange and now minded to maake my last will and testament as here followeth.

first of all to my tow eldests sones I give a hundred ackars of land lying in bridge watter boundes att tooticut river and the north side John shall have his choyse of that land being equally divided

Allsoe a hundred ackars of land I give to Abram & Joseph lying att pecheake

Allsoe I apointe Abraham Joseph & Stephen to give to give to Anna Mary & Sarah twenty shillings a peice when thay are att eighteene yeares of age

Allsoe Deborah I give a cow and all the rest of the stoocke I give to my wife

Allsoe my horse with the taclinge belonge to him my carte wheeles and what belonge to them as shall be att my wives disposinge

Allsoe my house & the two lots belonginge thereto shall be my wives

Allsoe the moveables that is my wives that is in the house I give to my wife

Allsoe itt is my will that att my wives decease that shee dispose what shee then injoyes to my three younger soones and daughters.

wittnesses therto

Samuel ffuller
David Wood

     The witnesses were sworn on 22 March 1692/93, but the will didn't qualify for probate. An inventory of the estate was taken on 14 September 1692 seems to have escaped most, if not all, previous researchers estimating when he died. Combined with his being sick enough to prompt writing a will, he very likely died in the Summer of 1692. The following is a transcription of the original inventory in his case file. The full year is missing due to damage. A contemporary transcription (with different spelling) in the probate volumes shows it was 1692.

Middelbury September:14:16[92]

A tru inventary of the estate of William Barden deseased

his wearing cloes and hat
[£]2-10 [shillings]-00[pence]
his arms and amunison 03-05-00
the howsell stuf 04-10-00
the beaden 12-00-00
for cart and all manner of lumbor 10-05-06
for linnon and woolen yard 02-05-06
indian corn and Englis corn and Hay 15-00-00
the oxen and cows and hogs 25-00-00
his hows and Lands and meadow 90-00-00
thre poun for bricks and dedt 03-00-00

taken by us whose names are under written

John Allyn
Ephraim Tincom

Deborah swore to the accuracy of the inventory on 22 March 1692/93.

     Anna, Mary and Sarah were probably given bequests since they were still underage and unmarried. Older daughters Mercy and Deborah were already married. Daughter Content isn't mentioned. Mercy was born in November 1662. If her parents married, at the latest, about February 1662, it's reasonable to say Deborah (Barker) Barden was no younger than 16, but even that was unusually young, even in mid 17th century New England. The normal fertility period for women, especially if they started to have children in young adulthood, was a continuous period to about 40, then about a five year gap and a final child at about 45. If Deborah were, say, 16 when she married in 1662, she was born about 1646 and would have had her last child about 1691. If Deborah were pregnant when William died, he would have accounted in some way for that child, especially if it might be a boy. If Content was born after his death, her mother would likely have not known she was pregnant when William died. This puts Content's birth about Spring 1693. An alternative is that whoever wrote William's will for him was mistaken about a daughter Sarah and it should be Content. There is no record of Sarah after the will.

children of William Barden and Deborah Barker:15

i. Mercy, b. 1 November 1662
ii. Deborah, 28 June 1665
iii. John, 17 March 1667/68
iv. Stephen, b. 15 April 1669
v. Abraham, b. 14 May 1674
vi. Joseph, September 1675
vii. Anna, 26 August 1677

1. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, also called Records of Plymouth Colony [hereafter PCR], vol. 1, Court Orders, 1633-1640 (Boston: 1855), 110
2. Ibid, 93-4.
3. General index of the land records of the town of Hartford (Hartford: 1873), multiple pages.
4. Online reference to "Medical Journal of John Winthrop, Jr.," p. 69, Massachusetts Historical Society collections.
5. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. 4 (Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1850), 259; PCR, Judicial Acts, 1636-1692 (Boston: 1857), 196.
6. PCR, ibid, 182.
7. Barnstable town records 1:394, transcribed in (MD, 3:51)
8. Plymouth Colony Wills, 111.
9. PCR, Court Orders, vol. 4, 1661-1668 (Boston: 1855),137 (31 Oct 1666 court session); PCR, Miscellaneous Records, 1633-1689 (Boston: 1857), 119. John Bates and William Burden of Barnstable paid their fines.
10. PCR, 1:177 (1641); PCR, Court Orders, vol. 3, 1651-1661 (Boston: 1855), 9 (June 1652).
11. Congregational Archives & Library website, Barnstable West, church records, 1668-1807, image 20.
12. Ibid, First Congregational Church of Middleboro, Mass., Church records, 1694-1826, images 2-3.
13. Plymouth Co., MA, deed 1:97; see also The Mayflower Descendant, vol. 33 (Boston: The Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1935), 21-2.
14. Plymouth Co., MA, probate file 878, also transcription vol. 1:158.
15. Mayflower Descendant, vol. 3 (), 51.

all text and photographs © 1998-2023 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted

John Barker, Robert Barker, Abraham Blush, OofA Duxbury 1657 PCR 7:182 Thomas Boardman of London in Plymouth 1634, in Sandwich 1637 or 8, supp in Yarmouth by 1643, but on Sandwich Arms list in that year 7 August 1638, Robert Barker apparently was also apprenticed to Boardman. Barker sued him for wages and corn. The court settled the case, being "in full of all accounts & reckonings betwext them, and the said Robte Barker to be freed from any further service to the said Thom Boardman" 7:9 Robert's parents John and Ann were in Marshfield by 4 June 1645, when they were brought to court. 8:41 William, a mason, was "heretofor of Concord" but a resident in Duxbury when he acknowledged getting Deborah's £10 share of John Barker's estate on 1 March 1660.PC wills 111 He referred to it as "her dower or legacy." This strongly suggests she had recently turned 21, putting her birth in 1640, and making her 19 when she accused her uncle of "misuse." 31 Oct 1666 court, 4:137 William "Burden" and John Bates were both fined 3 shillings, 4 pence for fighting. William was fined an additional 5 shillings for being drunk at the time and Bates was fined 20 shillings for "lying upon him and striking of him, whereby he was disabled for a ceratin time to attend on his calling." in Misc Records 119, John Bates and William Burden of Barnstable paid their fines John Barker was constable at Barnstable in 1682 John Barker 3 May 1653 court 3:28, coronor's jury met 14 December 1652, after examining the bodies of John Barker and John Browning, they found that the only cause of death was drowing. Robert Barker was on the jury. admininstration of his estate was given to his widow Anna, 9 June 1653 court.3:37 John Williams, Jr., surety. He was replaced by Abraham Blush. Three daughters Anna, Deborah and Mary were to each get £ 10 when they turned 21. A suit against John Williams of Scituate was brought to the 3 May 1659 court (160). He was accused of "hard usage of a daughter of John Barker, deceased." She was moved to the household of Thomas Bird of Scituate until the next court session. She is described as weak and infirm, and Bird "is to endeavor to procure means for her cure" and the court would pay for the expense. 6 October 1659 (171-2) Williams was at court to answer the accusation brought by Robert Barker on behalf of Deborah. He brought "many evidences" to defend himself and the court concluded that there wasn't enough evidence to support the accusation. The court decided she shouldn't go back to her uncle "Ensigne Williams." She chose to stay with Thomas Bird. 3 October 1665 court,(108) John Williams, Jr., was appointed guardian to John Barker and ordered to "bring him upin a way of education and learning, so as my be to his advantage and help when he comes to be of age, by putting him forth to a trade, etc." Abraham Blush was in Barnstable 1 June 1641 (1:17) and 7 June 1652 (3:9) Deborah could receive her legacy at 21 or marriage, so she could have married at about 18 and soon after get her legacy from the medical journal of John Winthrop, 69, Nathaniel Barden d. 1657, age 66 Nathaniel Barden from William Edwards, deed Feb 1639, Hartford No one has claimed any connection for William in England. I didn't find any. Nutting provides no sources. His statement that William was one of the apprentices sent to Plymouth Colony is a poor paraphrasing of "Genealogical Notes of Barnstable Families," which infers there was an organized effort to send potential apprentices to Plymouth, and William may have been one of them. The court minutes that outline the apprenticeship agreement say that the seven year term had six and a half years remaining as of 1 December 1638. I guess since the Boardman apprenticeship agreement was made about June 1638, the assumption has been that William came over shortly before that. There's no evidence to suggest it that I've seen or found. Thomas Boardman was settled in Sandwich by August 1638, and presumably by June, otherwise there wouldn't be much sense in taking on a brickmaking apprentice. That August, a fornication case involving him and his wife Lucy was based, apparently, on someone telling the court they had a child out of wedlock in London and left it there. They were married and Lucy was pregnant at the time of the case. I think this case has made some people think William was in London, and that he came over with the Boardmans. William was in Sandwich, where the Boardmans lived, then Scituate, where the Barkers lived, then Barnstable when the Barkers moved there. One anomaly is that he is on the Marshfield "Able to Bear Arms" list for Plymouth Colony in 1643, two years before his contract with Barker ended. Maybe it had ended by then by agreement and he was already moving around, but if his apprenticeship started when he was 13, he was still a minor in 1643. The "Arms" list included males over 16 to 60, but I've found no reason to think the Barkers were in Marshfield in 1643. Did Barker have masonry contracts in other towns? The Concord reference comes from a probate record in which William acknowledges receiving his wife Deborah (Barker) Barden's share of her father's estate in March 1660 (1660/61). He was a "mason" of Concord, "heretofor" of Duxbury. He had just married Deborah within a month previous, so before that a single (adult) man with no ties, maybe going where there was work. It still seems odd. Deborah was probably living in Scituate with Thomas Bird, her guardian (widow Content Leach, with Elijah, wife Ruth and children Elijah and Jemima, warned out of Halifax 23 March 1767 PCR in NEHGS database, original page 196) Elijah, Ruth, Jemima and Content warned out of Freetown 13 Feb 1773, of Halifax, Content named as Elijah's mother. Samuel, Phebe and ch. Silas Samuel and Phebe of warned out of Middleborough, not residents there, 30 May 1759 3:NEHGS image 64 d. Bridgewater 1 Oct 1760 "in service" 33rd year, inv 18 Mar 1761