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Edward's mark on his will

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Edward was "aged" when he made his will on 17 February 1714/15, but of "sound understanding and memory."1 He was very careful, both in deeds of gift and his will, to make the division of his estate and the settlement of it without any ambiguity. Even when someone was testate at this time, division of real estate was usually a matter for a hired and impartial committee. Not so in this case.
     He is particularly concerned about his wife Mary's needs and comfort. She should be suitably and honorably maintained, should have use of their house according to her necessity and comfort and use of the household goods that is necessary and convenient. At her disposal was his best feather bed, bolster and two pillows and furniture (the bed probably had curtains), two pairs of sheets, four pillow cases, two table cloths, twelve napkins, four towels, an iron pot and hooks, a brass skillett, two pewter platters and two pewter plates, his oak chest and his pine box. His sons and estate executors Edward and Mark were to provide for her needs, including a suitable horse to ride and a suitable person to "cary her abroad when she shall have occation." All while she remained his widow, as was usual, but the careful terminology and itemization weren't usual.
     His married daughters Mary Woodbery, Edith Wood and Ruth Balch had already been given most of their portions, which was valued at £50 a piece, probably as dowries, in addition to five shillings for Mary, £5 for Edith and fourty shillings for Ruth. His unmarried daughters Eleanor and Hannah were to get their full £s50, £10 a peice from Jonathan and £40 a piece from Edward and Mark. Son Jonathan had already been given a part of the estate by way of deed or gift, but also a third part of his clothes. Edward and Mark were considered compensated also by deed or gift. Two thirds of his funeral expenses were to be paid from the estate, the rest by Edward and Mark.
     The will also refers to a deed of gift to Edward and Mark as being tied in with his expectations after he died. The deed is dated the same day as the will. In it, he says the gift was to "settle such part of my estate as is hereafter mentioned." He gave them his house, the wash house "down by ye well," his barn, cider house, mill and press and outhousing and the land under them and two thirds part of all his upland in Beverly, which included the homestead land, totalling about forty acres. The other third of this land was to go to Jonathan. In additon, all his ten acres of "meadow ground" on the west and north of the upland and partly in Beverly and partly in Wenham. Also his meadow adjoining Beaver Pond except two acres for Jonathan. Also two pieces of the "Chebacco" salt marsh in Ipswich on the west side of Hog Island River, totalling four and three quarters acres. Also each were given a third of his common land rights in Beverly. Also a ten acre piece of land in Manchester he bought from Abraham Marsters (another of Doug Sinclair's ancestors). Also his personal and moveable estate left at his death and not otherwise designated.
     Edward then mentions the same provisions that are in the will. Eleanor and Hannah to get £40 each from them out of his household goods or money £10 a year for four years after his death. He says in the deed that the sons were to pay two thirds of all his debts, not just the same part of the funeral expenses. He mentions a deed of gift to Jonathan, but it apparently wasn't recorded. It surely mentions his third portion of the real and personal estate referred to in Edward, Jr., and Mark's deed and the provision in the will that he pay Eleanor and Hannah £10 each. He also may have been ordered to pay the remaining third of the estate debts. There are documents missing not only in his probate packet of originals but also never recorded. When the will was proved, the executors, although without a separate administration bond, which was the norm, were ordered to provide an inventory in a month's time. It's possible the heirs settled the real and personal estate divisions themselves and forewent the formalities, but this was unusual. There's also no accounting of the estate's debts and credits. Edward, Jr., Mark and Jonathan may have paid their shares of probating the estate without needing to make a final account for the probate court's record. If this was Edward, Sr.'s, intent, it worked.
     Joseph T. Dodge says that Edward was on a list of 21 subscribers supporting what was then Harvard College in 1653. A call was put out to all the towns in Massachusetts Bay Colony to contribute. A summary of the contributions says Beverly gave £13. Some of the individual town returns are in the library at Harvard, but Beverly's isn't among them. Edward name is said to have been first on the Beverly list and that he gave the most.

MDCB, 419, one of two collectors of money or wood for Rev. Hale's maintenance, 5 Nov 1675 town meeting 5 Nov 1677, chosen to serve on the next jury of trials. 27 Nov (laserfiche,
Quarterly Court record refers to him as a tythingman of Beverly, June 1679 session (7:227)
11 March 1684, constable for Bass River Ward for the following year
9 March 1685/86, asked for and was given permission to build a fence on "the highway by George Hull's to stop his sheep."
5 March 1692/93, on a committee to review the boundaries of land abutting the town commons and correct them if they're found to encroach.
20 March 1692/93, surveyor of highways
8 November 1693, grand juryman for the next court of assize, "Edmund"
3 March 1695/96, selectman
1 Nov 1698, grand juryman

26 June 1683, at the session of the Essex County Quarterly Court at Salem, freeman Record and Files, vo. 9, p. 63
Dismissed from Beverly 25 December 1715, with Mary, to form the 2nd Congregational Church, North Beverly. 52

children of Edward Dodge and Mary Haskell:1

Mary b. 21 April 1675
Jonathan bap. 15 December 1678 (p. 95)
Jonathan b. 3 July 1679
Edith b. 3 January 1680/81
Ruth b. 16 August 1685
Edward bap. 6 November 1687 (104)
Hannah bap. 17 April 1692
Mark bap. 21 October 1694

vital records sources: the full date reference for his marriage is in the original Beverly Town records: "last of aprill 1673." Vital Records of Beverly, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849, Vol. 2 (Topsfield, MA:1907), 90, the source of which is a 19th century transcription of the original records, leaves out the day, which clearly was the 30th. His death is in ibid, 419.

We can safely assume Edward was older than Joseph. When his father's will mentions them, it's always together and Edward first. The same is true in the agreement they made concerning brother John's inheritance, both within the document and how they signed it. All the heirs signed an agreement in 1678. They aren't mentioned by name within the agreement, but John signed first, then Zachariah Herrick (husband of Mary), Richard, Edward, Samuel, Peter Woodbery ( Sarah's husband), and Joseph. Peter is certainly out of place, making this chronology unreliable. If it's otherwise correct, Edward's birth could be squeezed in before Samuel's. It could also have been as early as 1640, between Mary and Sarah/Richard. It could also have been between Samuel and Joseph if the signatures were out of order. Circumstantial evidence favors Samuel being the unnamed child baptized by Rev. Fiske in 1646. Salem baptisms go back to 1636 and in East Coker through the 1630s. Regardless of where the three possible spots are in the line-up where Edward could have been born, there should be a baptism record. This will always be a mystery. Later records don't help. Edward didn't become a freeman and wasn't elected to town office until well into adulthood.
     My chosen estimate of when Edward was born, Winter 1647, is based circumstantial evidence and on the plausible windows of opportunity for his conception and birth between his siblings. If you want to read about my reasoning, you'll find it at Edward's page If it was between Mary and Sarah/Richard, there was a big window. Although some men waited later in life to marry, it wasn't the norm. If Edward was born about, say, 1640, he married at 37. I favor a later birth, which fits more comfortably with him and Joseph being single and still at home when their father died.
     I find no window open allowing Edward to be born between Sarah/Richard and Samuel. Sarah and Richard were both born no later than about October 1643 (both being baptized in June 1644). A subsequent child could have been concieved soon after, say several months after, and then born about Fall 1644. Samuel, if the gravestone is correct, was born within the year before 4 December 1645. The earliest he was born in this scenario was about December 1644, with a conception date of about March 1644. The latest birth was about November 1644, with a conception about February 1645. This is good evidence that Samuel came after Sarah/Richard.
     After Samuel's birth, Edward could have been concieved within the next couple of months, most likely after. If we go by the latest date for Samuel's birth above, November 1645, Edward's could have been as early as about October 1646. Since Joseph had to have been 21 by 14 November 1670, when his father named him an executor in his will, his birth was no later than about February 1649. Subtract nine months and several more, Edward's birth could have been as late as about May 1648. Splitting the difference between earliest and latest dates in this scenario puts his birth in the Winter of 1647.

1. Vital Records of Beverly, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849, Vol. 1 (Topsfield, MA:1906), 103.

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