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Hathway or Hathaway?

In my ancestor's biographies I spell their names the way they did wherever possible. Some were illiterate, shown by signing with a mark. Many in the 17th and 18th centuries were semi-literate - they signed their names but probably didn't have frequent reasons to write and not enough education to spell everything correctly. When it comes to surnames, some were committed to a certain spelling. Some spelled their name or names inconsistently, probably because they signed infrequently and it wasn't important to them to be consistent. I also compare signatures of other members of their family. In some cases there was a prevailing spelling of the time. For instance, the prevailing spelling of the family we now call "Hathaway" was "Hathway." Others spelling this name used "Hathwey," "Hatheway" and less commonly "Hadawy" and "Hathaway." "Hathaway" became the standard spelling in the later 18th century, and I think using it is anachronistic for earlier generations. Even if it was phonetic and the signers were semi-literate, I defer to "Hathway" because it was the most common spelling in the 17th and early 18th centuries in New England.

There isn't a town birth record for Charity, Thomas and Margaret's first-born, even though there are for all her younger siblings. A 1760 deed refers to her as "one of the daughters of Thomas Hathway and Margret his wife, both late of Berkley, deceased."1
Charity was given a piece of her father's homestead land when his estate was divided in 1756, which she and her husband John Briggs sold in 1760 in the deed mentioned above. She was alive as late as 6 June 1796, when she and John acknowledged deeds giving half their homestead each to their sons hathway and John.2 She was likely the woman over 45 enumerated with her son John in the 1800 US census.3 hathway sold his half of the homestead to his John, Jr., in February 1801,4 and this may be not long after Charity died, but John, Jr. was the executor of John, Sr.'s, estate in 1799 rather than Charity, so she may have been dead by then. Alternatively, she may have declined to do so because of her age. John, Jr., and hathway are enumerated next to each other in 1800, suggesting they either shared the house or hathway built his own next to his parents. The former is more likely. When John, Jr., mortgaged this property to his son John, it was described as being about 40 acres, which was the size of John and Charity's homestead.

children of Charity hathway and John Briggs:5

i. Lydia b. 19 March 1739/1740
ii. Prudence b. 29 May 1742 (Berkley town record says she was born in Dighton)
iii. Ebenezer b. 6 December 1744
iv. Richard b. 21 May 1746/1747
v. Margaret b. 2 March 1748/1749
vi. Rachel b. 5 May 1751
vii. John b. 31 August 1753
viii. Hannah b. 29 March 1756
ix. Joel b. 6 July 1758
x. Jerusha b. 23 February 1761
xi. Hathway/Hathaway b. 12 December 1763? (bap. 18 Mar 1764)6

vital records sources:

1. John and Charity Briggs to Edward Bobbitt, Bristol County, MA, deed 48:405.
2. Ibid, 75:34, 77:124.
3. John Briggs household, 1800 US census, Berkley, Bristol Co., MA, NARA series M32, roll 19, p. 521. John's second wife Lorania is the woman in the 26-44 category.
4. Bristol Co., MA, deed 84:454.
5. Berkley town records.
6. The Berkley town records say 12 Dec 1766, but he was bap. in 1764. He said he was 75 in a July 1838 Revolutionary War pension file affidavit for his brother John, putting his birth in 1762 or 1763. Based on when his siblings were baptized, it's unlikely John and Charity waited well over a year to baptize him.

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