An American Family History

John Bradstreet

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists."
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
The town of Ipswich was established on August 5, 1634, from common land called Agawam. On October 18, 1648, that portion called the "Village" at the New Meadows was set off as Topsfield. The boundary line between Ipswich and Topsfield was established, February 28, 1694.

Marblehead, Essex County, Massachusetts was first settled in 1629 and incorporated in 1649. It was originally a fishing village. Before the Revolution it was home base for privateers who plundered European ships.

John Bradstreet was born in 1631 in Ipswich, England.  His parents were Humphrey and Bridget Bradstreet. When he was three years old he came to America.

In 1657, he moved to Marblehead. He was a seaman.

He married Hannah Peach. Hannah was born in 1646. She was the daughter of John and Alice Peach.

He received in 1655 from his father

all my farme at Mudde River, now in the occupation of Richard Camball of Ipswich, with one halfe of my commons from Ipswich soe long as he keeps the farme unsold, but in case he sell it, the commons are to returne (and belong) to the farm given to my wife.

John probably suffered from mental illness. Governor John Winthrop mentioned in his journal that John Bradstreet was accused of bewitching a dog. The dog was hung as a witch. John was whipped.

When he was 21, he was tried in Ipswich on July 28,1652, on a charge of "familiarity with the devil." John said that he had read a magic book and heard a voice telling him

Go make a bridge of sand over the sea; go make a ladder of sand up to heaven, and go to God and come down no more.

The court found that he had told a lie. This was his second conviction. He was sentenced to be whipped or to pay a fine of twenty schillings.

He died, childless, in 1660 when he was only 29 years old.

Shortly after his death, Hannah married William Waters on June 4, 1660.

Hannah died in 1687.

Children of Humphrey and Bridget Bradstreet
  • Hannah Bradstreet Rolfe Holt
  • John Bradstreet
  • Martha Bradstreet Beale
  • Mary Bradstreet Kimball
  • Captain Moses Bradstreet
  • Sarah Bradstreet Wallis
  • Rebecca Bradstreet Bonfield
  • Old Style Calendar
    Before 1752 the year began on Lady Day, March 25th,. Dates between January 1st and March 24th were at the end of the year. Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are used to indicate whether the year has been adjusted. Often both dates are used.
    Europeans who made the voyage to America faced a difficult journey of several months.
    Anne Dudley Bradstreet (1612-1672) was the first women poet published in America and England. She was the wife of Governor Simon Bradstreet.


    John Winthrop (1587/8 – 1649) was a leading figure in the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He led the first migrants from England in 1630 and served as governor for twelve years. His vision of the colony as a Puritan "city upon a hill" dominated New England's development.
    The town common (commons) was a small, open field at the center of the town which was jointly owned. It was used as a marketplace, a place for the militia to drill, or for grazing livestock.
    ye is an archaic spelling of "the."

    According to the Essex Antiquarian Volume 9 in the court of June 3, 1651

    Thomas Scott deposed that he heard Joseph Muzy say that John Bradstreett had three or four bastards at Road eyeland and that he should know them wherever he saw them for they had a natural mark and that was lowell [loose hanging like a Spaniel] ears like their father, and I told him so to his face.
    Sworn to in Ipswich court 25-1-1651.

    Joseph Fowler testified that being upon occasion at Goodman Cross' house to see him, being very sick, Joseph Muzi being present, John Bradstreet and I persuaded Joseph Muzi to give his brother satisfaction [atone] for calling him bastard and to agree with him. Joseph replied:

    You have been whipt once allredy for saying yt the fellow in the silver buttons came and said he swore hime befor the gret [George] saggamore the deputy Governar

    and he would doe the best he could to bring hime to it againe and tould him he would haile hime out by the hares and yt he was good for nothing but to rune rouging about the Cuntry.

    That he heard this latly deceased John Cross say that he formarly loved John brodstret well untell that Joseph Muzi had railed such reports on hime

    which caused him to procscecut against him which he feaied now seing he was a lying fellow had don him rong for the said John cross: said he was such a lying felow thar was noe beleving of him he was a nofe to fet a hole town and cuntrary togeather by the years.

    Sworn to in Ipswich court 25- 1 -1651.

    Daniell Roffe testified that he heard Joseph Muzi say he never spoke the words, but the witness spake falsely;

    and another time I heard him say he would rather my brother would be quiet, but if he would come to the court he should make yet appear to be true of what he had said:

    he thought he were better they did not go to the court, but if they did it would be to his disgrace as to me; also,

    that my brother Bradstreet and I being at Goodman [John] Cross, the latter said I believe Joseph Muzi is a lying fellow and the cause of the breaches between John Bradstreet and myself.
    Sworn to in Ipswich court 25-1-1651.

    John Remington deposed that last haytime twelve month, being with the late deceased Goodman Cross, I had much discourse with him about John Bradstreet, and he gave John good commendation, saying that he bore great love towards him in so much that he could willingly have bestowed his daughter on him to wife if he carried himself well;

    their farms lay together; also, he commended him for minding good things and loved him well until he heard a report raised by Joseph Muzie against him, concerning himself and others, which did exceedingly incense Goodman Cross against said John, and altered his mind towards him, etc.
    Sworn to in Ipswich court 25-1-1651.

    Hannah Crosse, daughter of John Crosse, testified:

    I heard Joseph Muzzy say that John Bradstreet

    was the leereingest hang doge that was in the world and that he had three or fouer tones at Rode eyland,

    and that he intended to go thither once in a while and then he should see them, and he was confident he should know them, and said that he used to set maids on their heads when he did dwell at Rode Eyland;

    and that Joseph Muzzy said that John Bradstreet inticed him to combine with him to knock Goodman Cross off his horse when he was upon Muddy river bridge, etc.
    Sworn to in Ipswich court 26-1-1650, before Samuel Symonds.

    Thomas Scott deposed that being at Goodman Cross' house, that the latter said he believed Joseph Muzzy to be a lying fellow, etc.
    Sworn to in Ipswich court 25-1-1651.

    Ezekiel Northene [Northend] and Thomas Abbott testified that Joseph Muzzy said, beginning of March, 1651, that John Bradstreet had dealings with the maids at Road Island, set them on their heads, took them by the gingoes, etc.
    Sworn to in Ipswich court 25-1-1651.

    Elizabeth How deposed that she heard Joseph Muzzy say that John Bradstreet had three or four bastards at Rhode Island, and that he was going there and hoped to see them. Sworn to 26-10-1650, before Samuel Symonds.

    William Smith deposed that he heard Joseph Mussy say in Master Appleton's barn that John Bradstreet desired him to combine with him and to lie in wait at Muddy river to knock Goodman Cross off his horse and to knock him on the head, and said John would run away with his horse;

    and that said John had bastards at Rhode Island, and he should go there ere long and should know them by their Bangell [loose hanging] ears, just like himself.
    Sworn to in Ipswich court 25 : 1 : 1651.

    John Bradstreet, Joseph Fowlar, Tho: Scott and Richard Betts, upon their presentments, discharged.

    Thomas Scott, Joseph ffowler, John Broadstreet and Richard Bettes
    presented 26-1-1651.

    Witnesses: Nathaniel Stow and Thomas Nor—.
    Mark Symonds, informant.
    Presentments signed by William Bartholmew for the grand jury.

    In the same court:

    Joseph Fouler testified concerning Goodman [Mark] Simons: affirmed at Robrt Dutch. Ear of hog marked so as to be seen from Mr. [John] Baker's parlor to ye street gate.

    Rich: Kimball, sr., affirmed about the same.

    John Kimball deposed that he heard Mark Simonds profess to Joseph Fowler, after having prosecuted him and John Bradstreet, that he was not the accuser and would go forty miles to do him good.
    Sworn to in Ipswich court 4-4-1651.

    Thomas Smith testified that he asked Goodman Symonds why he said that Fowlar would swear or lie for ten shillings, etc.

    Thomas Scott deposed, I heard Goodman Simonds say that Mr. Treadwall told him that the hog at M. Cogswell's was Goodman Cobean's mark, etc.

    Richard Kimball, sr., testified that Mark Simonds affirmed about the mark of the hog that was shut up in Robert Dutch's yard. It differed from Mr. Cheuts and Goodman Coburn's hogs' mark.

    Henry Kimball testified that he never gave Goodman Simons five shillings and six pence a day for his boy and two bullocks, etc.

    Thomas Whiterit testified:

    I heard Goodman Simonds and Goodman Beals reckoning concerning work done by both parties. Simonds said that Henry Kimball paid him same price for use of his cattle, etc.
    Sworn in Ipswich court 3-4-1651.

    Richard Beals testified that Goodman Simonds plowed for me with a boy and two bullocks, and I worked for him. He told me that Henry Kimball paid him, etc.
    Sworn in Ipswich court 3: 4: 1651.

    Witnesses: Daniell Rofe, Tho: Lovell, John Johnson, Henry Kemball, Tho Scott, Rich: Betts, Thomas Whitred, John Kemball and Joseph Fowlar.

    Abraham Foster and Wm. Dellowe testified that Daniel Rosse [Rose] and John Bradstreet standing together at the barn door Am Symonds came by and desired said Rosse to speak with him, etc.
    Sworn in Ipswich court 4-4-1651.

    Thomas Harris testified that being at Mr. Baker's ye sd day before Salem court when Nathaniel Stow was to testify, the latter came out of the new room and inquired of me for Goodman Lord, etc.
    Sworn in Ipswich court 25-1-1651

    Goodman was a courtesy title before the surname of a man not of noble and Goodwife or Goody was the courtesy title for a married woman not of noble birth.

    Essex County, Massachusetts was created on May 10, 1643 by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, when it ordered "that the whole plantation within this jurisdiction be divided into four sheires."
    To be presented to the court meant to be charged or indited.
    In contracts and pleadings usually people and things mentioned before are designated by the term said (sd ) for clarity. Aforesaid (afd, afsd, aforesd ) means it was already mentioned.
    Mister ( Mr.) was derived from master and Mrs. and Miss were derived from mistress. They indicated people of superior social status in colonial America.
    Pope's Pioneers of Massachusetts is avaiable on Kindle.

    History of Newbury, Vermont edited by Frederic Palmer Wells

    John, Jr., and Alice ( ) Peach. John, Jr., was b..it would appear from various depositions, between April 26 and July 22, 1613. Pope's Pioneers of Massachusetts, p. 349, says that John, Sr., and John, Jr., had lived in Marblehead 41 and 33 years, respectively, Jan. 25, 1672. Therefore, in 1638 or 1639, John, Jr., came to Marblehead. His wife, Alice, is named in different documents dating from 1644 onward. She was one year younger than he. They were m before 1640, for their eldest dau. was a widow in 1660.

    They had three daus.:
    Hannah, first the wife of John Bradstreet, then of William Waters;
    Mary, who m. William Woods, and
    Elizabeth, who m. John Legg.
    Their only son was William.

    John, Jr., lived in Marblehead for about fifty-four years. In 1656, '59, '60, '61, '62 and '71 he was a selectman.or "towne's man," and was often besides appointed on responsible committees, to "lay out" land that was to be divided, "view ffences," guard the rights of the commoners to pasturage of their cattle, etc. On the latter committee he was elected as late as April 11, 1692. He was often a witness to wills and deeds. In 1674-5, when disputed rights in the commons were settled by the General Court, out of 116 commoners who subscribed agreement, his rights to five cows commonage were exceeded only by Moses Maverick (nine), and equalled beside only by Samuel Cheever, the minister, (five). He was admitted a freeman, May 16, 1683. His lands are frequently referred to as boundaries.

    Within a fortnight before making his will, he deeded his share (of six or eight acres) of the "Coye-pond" lands to his daughter, Elizabeth Legg, and his portion of "the Humphrey farme" to his dau., Mary Woods. He also gave land to the heirs of his daughter, Hannah Waters, during his lifetime. The date of his death is not known, but the earliest date in the settlement of his estate is Nov. 28, 1693. His will is on file in the Essex County Probate office. His remaining estate was inventoried at £389, and consisted of two dwelling-houses with adjoining lands, and four several lots, two often each, one of five and one of four (?) acres, household goods, and "six cattle." His real estate was to be a life tenure of his "dear and Moved wife, Alice Peach," and after her of his "onely sonne William Peach," and after him of his "present wife Emme," and then to be divided between John and Thomas, sons of William and Emme. William, their youngest son, was left out.

    Any man entering a colony or becoming a a member the church, was not free. He was not forced to work, but his movements were carefully observed to see if they followed the Puritanical ideal. After this probationary period, he became a "freeman." Men then took the Oath of a Freeman where they vowed to defend the Commonwealth and not to overthrow the government.


    Rowley, Essex County, Massachusetts was first settled in 1639.

    History of Essex County, Massachusetts edited by Duane Hamilton Hurd published by J. W. Lewis & Co., 1888

    The John Bradstreet, of Rowley, of whom it mentioned in Winthrop's Journal, that he was whipped for having "familiarity with the Devil," was one of this Humphrey's sons. He was accused of having bewitched a dog, and the dog was hung as a witch.

    The witnesses against him were Frances Parat and wife, of Rowley, and William Bartholomew of Ipswich; who testified that he told them that he had read in a book of magic, and that he heard a voice asking what work he had for him; and the voice answered, "Go make a bridge of sand over the sea; go make a ladder of sand up to heaven, and go to God and come down no more." It is supposed that Bradstreet had related to these witnesses what he had heard in a dream; and yet, upon that testimony principally, he was held on a charge of witchcraft and, according to Winthrop, publicly whipped.

    Felt mentions that in 1652, for the same alleged offence "familiarity with the Devil," a person was sentenced at the court in Ipswich, to pay a fine of twenty shillings or be whipped; but he does not give the name of the culprit. He may have been the John Bradstreet referred to, and perhaps he chose to have the "charge" "scored" upon his back, rather than to pay cash down as a fine. But, alas! what a degradation, not only to him, but to his silly and credulous accusers and the barbarously deluded jury or magistrate.

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
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