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Nehemiah's signature on his will

Nehemiah was appointed a surveyor of highways for Braintree, Massachusetts, in 1693, and for "Menatiquod" in 1700.1 Menatiquod (variously spelled, also "Menaticut") seems to refer to, roughly, the middle and maybe the entire southern half of what was Braintree, which then included Quincy, Randolph and Holbrook. Later maps show the Menatiquot River, among others, running through it. The town officers from Menatiquod occur with others serving for "ye Town." The northern part of the town was much more settled, and may have been considered "ye Town." In his will, his father gave him "what he was give before," including one end of his house and more specified in a document. I don't find any of the Hayden's buying or selling land in Suffolk County before 1700, although they obviously did. I don't know where Nehemiah's homestead was specifically, and the only significant piece of property for which there is a record of him buying was north of what is now Pond Street and west of Sunset Lake, formerly known as "Little Pond," onto which several of his sons settled.2
     He was elected tythingman (a man whose duties were to enforce observance of the Sabbath and to keep peace during church services) in 1696.3 There were several votes at the 2 March 1695/96 town meeting regarding several financial arrangements. Nehemiah, Dependence French, Samuel French and Jonathan Paddlefoot were called "Monotoquod" men when they went on record opposing the results.4 Other little groups of Menatiquod men dissented other votes, but I don't see an obvious reason to do so based on where they lived.
     When the original town of Braintree was divided into precincts in 1709, they were called "North" and "South." The North Precinct eventually became Quincy, the South Precinct included what is now the towns of Braintree, Randolph and Holbrook. The histories of the towns involved usually say this was in 1708, but they don't take into account that the contemporary Julian calendar wasn't the same as the current Gregorian calendar. The precincts were formed in 1708 on the Julian calendar, but 1709 on the Gregorian. Contemporary records often included a dual year to clarify this. Braintree records say 1708/09, so saying it happened in 1708 is confusing.
     Each precinct had some town office positions separate from each other. Others served the town as a whole, such as selectmen. Within the South Precinct (also called South Braintree Precinct at the time), Nehemiah was elected moderator for the first precinct meeting5 and nearly all of them between 1711 and 1717. He was a tax assessor in 1709, 6 1713,7 and 1716 .8 He was a selectman between 1706 and 1714.9 When he was elected in 1707 he was recorded as "Serjeant" Nehemiah,10 for the first time and in most references to him thereafter.
     Nehemiah signed the Oath of Protest against Boston claims on land in Braintree in January 1698, also signed by ancestors Dependence French and John Hollis. He was on numerous committees: to run a town line between Braintree and Weymouth in 1700;11 to represent Braintree at the General Assembly to have two parishes laid out (1708);12 to find a minister for South Precinct, and the town having chosen Samuel Niles, make arrangements for his settlement and ordination (1710, 1711).13 He wasn't on the committee to arrange for the ordination event. He returned as a commiteeman on 28 July 1712 to continue settling Rev. Niles;14 to run another town line, which caused a conflict with the corresponding Weymouth committee (1709);15 to regulate the use of the Town Common (1709),16 and to see that no one took wood or stone from the common to sell outside the town without permission (1711).17 In 1714 the town voted to cut all the wood "that is fit for cutting" in the common and sold for the town's profit,18 and Nehemiah was on the committee to oversee that. He was on a schoolhouse committee in 1716.19 In 1711 he was one of 5 men who petitioned for pews in their meeting house.20
     When Nehemiah was elected selectman in 1706 he's called a sergeant, indicating activity in the local militia. This suffix was used in town records nearly to the year he died, but in 1741, Rev. Niles calls him Lt. Nehemiah in the record of widow Hannah's burial. I haven't found a record of local militia appointments, but this may be Niles's error, given that this was 23 years after Nehemiah's death.

In Nehemiah's will, dated 6 January 1718, he says he was "sick & weak in body."21 That explains the extremely shaky signature shown above.

To wife Hannah "one end of my now dwelling house which she shall chuse during her life, also a good cow to be summered & wibtered for her at the charge of all my sons." Also "six pounds money be paid her by all my said sons." "They also to find her all her fireing," meaning firewood. She also was given half of his "household moveables to give to whom she pleases."
To his eldest son Nehemiah: all the land adjoining his previous deed of gift, bounded by Nathaniel Thayer, the Frenches "& so on the pond," which likely meant Little Pond, now Sunset Lake. Also given were four acres of swamp in French's Swamp and eight acres of woodland bounded by Josiah Hobart, John Ruggles, Ebenezer Thayer and his Nehemiah, Sr.'s, own land.

To his son Samuel: half the house he lives in and thirty acres adjoining it.

To son Benjamin: his father's "now dwelling house and all the lands adjoyning thereto," and from that asset he was to pay £20 each to daughter Rachel Paine and son-in-law Samuel Hayden four years after his death.
To his son John Hayden: the house he was currently living in and twenty five acres adjoining.

To his son Ebenezer: "one hundred pounds in lands as it shall be valued out of that land I purchased of the Honourable Saml Sewall, Esq., lying at the head of the Little Pond."

To his son Jonathan: the same arrangement as for Ebenezer.

The rest of the land was to be equally divided between his sons. "All my stock & ye other half of the household moveables & what of my cart, tacklings, etc., it be all equally divided between all my said sons," and out of that they were to pay his daughter Hannah Stevens &pund10 four years after he died. He appointed wife Hannah to be executor. The witnesses were Joseph Faxon, Benjamin Hobart and Joseph Parmenter. The will was brought to probate court in Boston and proved on 29 February 1717/18. There is no record of Hannah signing an administration bond, an account of her administration or an inventory being taken of the estate, which is very abnormal.

children of Nehemiah Hayden and Hannah Neal:22

Nehemiah, b. 16 May 1680
Hannah, b. 16 July 1681
Benjamin, b. 22 February 1685/86
Mary, bap. 4 October 1691
Samuel, bap. 4 October 1691
John, bap. 4 October 1691
Ebenezer, bap. 16 April 1693
Rachel, bap. 22 April 1694
Jonathan, bap. 4 June 1694

vital records sources: his death record is in Records of the Town of Braintree, 1640 to 1793, ed. Samuel Austin Bates (Randolph:1886), and Rev. Samuel Niles's journal, p. 207, image 72, says "Mr. Nehemiah Hayden Leutenant was buried ye Janry 14th 1717."

1. Records of the Town of Braintree, 1640 to 1793 [hereafter RTB], ed. Samuel Austin Bates (Randolph:1886), 28, 46.
2. Suffolk Co., MA, deed records, 20:596.
3. RTB, 33.
4. Ibid.
5. Records of the First Church, Braintree, financial records [hereafter FR], 2, images at
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid, 14.
8. Ibid, 20
9. RTB, 63, etc.
10. Ibid, 64.
11. Ibid, 46.
12. Ibid, 70-71.
13. FR, 8, 10.
14. Ibid, 14.
15. RTB, 72.
16. Ibid, 73.
17. Ibid, 76.
18. Ibid, 82.
19. Ibid, 88.
20. FR, 12.
21. Suffolk Co., MA, probate case 3962.
21. RTB, various pages.

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