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John's mark made on his will

It's been accepted in scholarly publications that there is no credible evidence to support the idea that John came from Hinton Blewett in Somerset, England, from Ottery St. Mary, Devon, England, or that he was related to William Hayden of Connecticut. It was discussed in 19th century books after a handful of Haydens were found in Somerset and Devon parish registers and in a will, and this was elevated to "strong presumptive proof that William Hayden, of Windsor, Conn., and John Hayden of Braintree, Mass. are brothers who came from Hinton Blewitt, Somerset."1 There isn't a plausible connection, either to these England records or to each other.
     John was given a sixteen-acre great lot in Dorchester, Massachusetts, on 16 January 1632/33 "next to the great lotts that are all redy layde out towardes Naponsett," which was on the east side of town bounded by the harbor and what is now the Neponset River.2 On 1 December 1634 he was among the men given eight acres along the border with the town of Roxbury.3 He was given one and a half acres of swamp "betwixt the Wolfe Trapp and the dead swamp" on 17 April 1635.4 Another eight acres was given to him on 18 March 1637/385 30 and three acres in a lot in meadows "beyond Neponset,"6 which may mean salt marsh on the coast, which was usually called meadows at the time rather than marsh. John is among the men who took the freeman's oath at the 14 May 1634 session of the Massachusetts Bay Colony General Court.7 It's usually said he was a "freeman of Dorchester" when referring to this source, but to be clear, the list doesn't give residences. It can only be inferred based on his land grants.
     He moved to Braintree, Massachusetts, between the land grant in Dorchester in March 1638 and the birth of his son Jonathan recorded at Braintree in 1640.8 Within this gap is an entry from the General Court session of 6 June 1639 that says "John Haydens fine, for intertaining a servant unlicensed, being done ignorantly, is remitted him."9 It doesn't give his residence, and th ere's no record of him being fined in the first place. He petitioned the General Court "for relief in regard of his own infirmity and his child bereaved of his senses, that if the church could not help them, it was fit they should be helped out of the public treasury, but otherwise they must take care of their poor, as other towns do." It was decided to give the family 5 lbs out of the impost on wines for John’s "distracted or possessed child" on October 18, 1648, and eventually more was given.10
John's will was written when he was over 70 and says he was "weake in body."11 He gave to "my deare wife Susanna who hath beene my faithfull companion for many yeares my whole visible estate" except what he gave to his son Ebenezer. To him he gave 2 acres of upland and 1 acre of meadow in Braintree "in an instrument not full prfected." He specified that Susanna's bequest was to include "the mainteininge of my son Joseph & in case Joseph outlive his mother, the sd estate shall be in the hands of my executors for the maitenance of the sd Joseph during his naturall life." He gave all his moveable estate to Susanna for her own use. To his son John, after Susanna's and Joseph's deaths, enough out of the estate to equal what his brothers were given. To all his children an equal share of whatever remains of the estate after Susanna's and Joseph's deaths, with one child's share going to the children of his son Samuel and daughter Hannah. To son Nehemiah he confirmed what he had already given him, including one end of John's house "& the rest mentioned in an instrumt to that end." This apparently wasn't a gift, at least not completely, since he was to pay the executors the £s30 he stilled owed his father for the benefit of Susanna and Joseph. He appointed Susannah and "my loving friends Samuell Thompson & Joseph Peniman" to administer the estate. John signed with a mark, as shown above. The witnesses were "Steven Payen" and Christopher Webb. The will was brought to court and proved on 26 July 1682.
His inventory is undated, but it was taken after Susanna died and was whatever estate remained by John Bass and Thomas Bass: "one part of an house and two acres and a quarter of lands" valued at £25; "four or five acres and a quarter of meadow & swamp" valued at £40 and "ffour acres of marsh" valued at £30. It was brought to court and accepted on 4 April 1695. If there was ever an earlier inventory, it isn't evident. Susannah had died well before this. She died by 3 February 1684, when the remaining executors Thompson and Penniman refused the appointment. Sons John and Jonathan Hayden took over the administration on 9 February, and in a statement with the same date on the back of his will, it says Susannah was the only appointee to have accepted, which infers Thompson and Penniman had already refused.

children of John Hayden and Susannah:12

i. John
ii. Joseph
iii. Samuel
iv. Jonathan, b. 19 May 1640
v. Hannah, b. 7 April 1642
vi. Ebenezer, b. 12 September 1645
vii. Nehemiah, b. 14 February 1647/48

1. for instance, Jabez Haskell Hayden, Records of the Connecticut Line of the Hayden Family (1888), 98.
2. Fourth Report of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston, Dorchester Town Records, 2nd ed. (Boston:1883), 1.
3. Ibid, 9.
4. Ibid, 11.
5. Ibid, 30.
6. Ibid, 31.
7. Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England [hereafter RGCM], vol. 1 (Boston:1853), 369.
8. see note 8.
9. RGCM, 1:262.
10. Ibid, 2:199, 2:259, 3:232
11. Suffolk Co., MA, probate case 1235.
12. "Massachusetts, U. S., Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, Boston, Transcript of County Records, 1643-1660, vol. 1, Births, Marriages Deaths from 1630-1666," database online,, images of original volume pages 42, 360.
Records of the Town of Braintree, 1640 to 1793 [hereafter RTB], ed. Samuel Austin Bates (Randolph:1886),

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