An American Family History

Martha Bradstreet Beale

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.

A plaintiff (plt, plte, plt) or orator is the person who brings a case against another.
A defendant (def tf) is a person accused of a crime or someone challenged in a civil case.

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.

Martha Bradstreet Beale was born in 1632 in Ipswich, England.  Her parents were Humphrey and Bridget Bradstreet.  When she was two years old she came to America with her family.

Martha apparently married for the first time in 1648 when she was 16. Else L. Hambleton describes the marriage and consequences in detail in Daughters of Eve: Pregnant Brides and Unwed Mothers in Seventeenth-century Massachusetts.

Secret marriages were prohibed; banns had to be posted for three weeks prior to the marriage ceremony. Thomas Rowlandson was fined 10 shilings in 1648 for "marrying without being published three times" and his marriage to sixteen-year old Martha Bradstreet was annulled. There was however, resistance to the Puritan assertion of control over marriage formation. Seven years after Bradstreet's marriage to Rowlandson was annulled, Bradstreet married William Beale. Twenty-two years later a neighbor, the wife of Mr. William Hollingsworth, was forced ot pay a £ fine for defeaming Beale by calling her an adulterer.That the wive of a gentleman was prosecuted in the first place emphasizes the seriousness with which the court regarded her accusation because as they said in their judgement, her claim reflected on "civil justice and the church.". . . Later that year, William Beale was threated by men engaged in a traditional charivari who stood before his house and shoulted: come out, you cuckoldly cut: we are come to beat thee. Thou livest in adultery.

While these actions occurred within the context of an extended neighborhood dispute, more than two decades had elapsed since the annulment. When neighborhood tempers were aroused the circumstances surrounding the Beale marriage could be resurrected and used against them. Fortunately for the Beals, questioning their marriage also meant questioning the right tof the civil authorities to make or break marriages, so the court was willing to intervene on their behalf."

She married William Beale (Beal) of Marblehead in 1655. William was born in 1628 and was the son of John and Margaret Beale.

In 1655 she inherited from her father

one pound and more. I doe leeve fiftene pounds in the hand of her mother, to be given to her or to her child at her discretion . . [and] to Sammuell Beale five pound.

The estate documents show William Beale's order on July 26, 1655 to "Mother Bradstrete . . . to pay my wife that twenty shillings left mee by my father in his last will.

Martha and William's children included:
Samuel Beale (1654, married Patience Lovewell),
Martha Beale (1657),
James Beale (1659),
William Beale (1662),
John Beale (1666),
Moses Beale (1667),
Moses Beale (1670),
Bridget Beale (1672), and
Aaron Beale (1675, married Elizabeth Nicholson).

On March 27, 1672 "Robert Bartlett v. William Beale. For a mare of plaintiff being killed and found dead in the ground of defendant. Verdict for defendant."

Martha died on April 6, 1675 in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

After her death, he married Elizabeth Jackson the widow of Edmund Jackson on December 16, 1676. Their children included:
George Beale (1677),
Ebenezer Beale (1679) and
Anna Beale (1682).

Elizabeth died on November 5, 1683.

On March 4, 1683/84, William married Mary Hart the widow of Samuel Hart. Their children included:
Elizabeth Beale (1684) and
Thomas Beale (1687).

William died in 1694 in Marblehead.

1677 Map of New England
click to enlarge

The ship Elizabeth sailed from Ipswich, England in April, 1634 with William Andrews, Master. On board were Richard and Ursula Kimball and their children, Ursula’s mother Martha Whatlock Scott and her brothers Roger and Thomas Scott. Humphrey and Bridget Bradstreet sailed on the same ship. They arrived in July at Boston.

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.

    During the 17th and 18th centuries an adult unmarried woman was considered to have the legal status of feme sole, while a married woman had the status of feme covert. A feme sole could own property and sign contracts. A feme covert was not recognized as having legal rights and obligations distinct from those of her husband and could not own any property. When a woman became a widow she became a feme sole again.

    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
  • A gentleman had no title, but descended from an aristocratic family, was of the landed gentry, and had a coat of arms.

    A Puritan woman's clothing consisted of underpants, stockings, linen, shift, petticoat, chemise (underblouse), bolster (a padded roll tied around the hips under the skirt), bodice, skirt, apron, coif (cap), outer gown and shoes. A woman might wear a ruff or bow and an apron. Cloaks were worn instead of coats. Women carried a small cloth draw-string bag or reticule and perhaps wore a chatelaine.

    Europeans who made the voyage to America faced a difficult journey of several months.
    American colonists continued to use British monetary units, namely the pound, shilling and pence for which £1 (or li) equalled 20s and 1s equalled 12d. In 1792 the dollar was established as the basic unit of currency.
    Women played an essential role in American society as mothers and homemakers.



    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."

    Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts: 1672-1674 published by Essex Institute, 1916

    Robert Bartlett v. William Beale. For a mare of plaintiff being killed and found dead in the ground of defendant. Verdict for defendant.

    Writ, dated 19 4 1672, signed by Hilliard Veren for the court, and served by John Woldren, constable of Marblehead, by attachment of the house of defendant.
    Wm. Beale's bill of cost, Hi. 10s. 8d.
    John Waldron, aged about forty-eight years, deposed that Robert Bartlet came to him to go to William Beale's field to see a mare that was killed. He saw that it was Bartlet's mare dead with a wound behind the shoulder, and when he opened her, he took out her heart and found the wound was between her ribs and her heart. Sworn in court.

    Richard Rowland, aged about fifty years, and James Smith, aged forty-eight years, deposed that they viewed the fences and found that in many places there was not a board three feet high by measure, and some of Beale's children were mending it. Sworn in court.

    Benjamin Parmiter deposed that he and five other neighbors appraised the damage in Beale's hay meadow at 20s. in silver and 20 bushels damage in his crop of rye. They saw eighteen inroads made through his fences by horses and they met with Thomas Pitman, one of the overseers of fences, whom they asked to go with them, but he said it was needless because he had recently been around Beale's fences, and they were sufficient. If there were objection made to the stone wall being too low, he answered that it was sufficient on account of the fall of ground on the inner side and brush growing near it. There was also no need of the sharp stakes, as they found in some of the broken places, and they cut them off even with the top of the hedge. Sworn in court.

    Henry Stacy deposed the same. Sworn in court.

    Adam Clarke, aged about seventeen years, deposed that William Beale came to his master's shop and said that there were horses using his field but he did not know whose they were. He also said that he would not hurt them with any hand weapon but would set something in their way that would hurt them. Sworn in court.

    Thomas Bowen and Thomas White testified that they' were among those who viewed the damage on Apr. 26, and they tried to get Thomas Pitman and John Gachell, the overseers of fences, to go but they refused, etc. Sworn, 22- 4-1672, before Wm. Hathorne, assistant.

    Horse Terms
    Foal: less than 1 year old
    Yearling: between 1 & 2
    Colt: male under 4
    Filly: female under 4
    Mare: female over 4
    Gelding: castrated male
    : non-castrated male over 4


    Thomas Pittman, aged about fifty years, deposed that as fence surveyor, he viewed the mare and found her in a field where there was no corn. Beale and his wife showed them the damage done and said that Goodman Legges mare and Mr. Kinges horses were responsible.

    Thomas Bowen, aged upward of forty-five years, and Thomas White, aged about thirty-two years, deposed. Sworn, 24- 4 - 1672, before Wm. Hathorne, assistant.

    Samuell Beale, aged about seventeen years, and James Beale, aged about fourteen years, deposed concerning damage in their father's field, etc. Sworn in court.

    John Gatchell, sr., aged about sixty years, deposed. Sworn in court.

    James Beale deposed that he found the mare dead and informed his father, who notified Thomas Pitman, the elder. The latter said it was Robert Bartlet's mare, that she was in the ferry lots and did a great deal of damage, and that Nathaniell Walton disowned her. Also that the overseers of fences looked at the sharpened stakes and allowed them. Sworn in court.

    Rebeacka Waldren, aged about sixteen years, deposed that she heard Beale say in her father's house, etc. Sworn in court.

    Anne Dudley Bradstreet (1612-1672) was the first women poet published in America and England. She was the wife of Governor Simon Bradstreet.

    Essex Institute Historical Collections published by Essex Institute Press, 1912

    William Beale Lot. That part of this lot of land which lies westerly of the western dashes was granted by the town of Salem to Henry Harwood of Salem, who sold it, for eighteen pounds, to William Stratton (who was " mafter of ship of Briftow then vfed this contry in 1674) July 10, 1649f Mr. Stratton sold it to William Payne and Richard Russell; and they immediately erected at the brook in the cove a gristmill, the first in the town of Marblehead, which had just been incorporated as a town. Robert Knight testified in Salem court, 29: 9: 1674, that the mill at Frogmorton's cove was built twenty-four or twenty-five years before.

    William Beale of Marblehead hired the mill while it was owned by Messrs. Payne and Russell, until they sold out to Joseph Jewett of Rowley, merchant, and also after Mr. Jewett had acquired the title to it. Mr. Jewett conveyed the lot of land and corn mill with the buildings, ponds, dams, stones, utensils, implements, etc., to John Bradstreet of Marblehead June 28, 1658.

    Mr. Bradstreet died in 1660, a young man, and his real estate descended to his brother Moses Bradstreet of Ipswich and sisters Hannah, wife of Nicholas Holt of Andover, Martha, wife of William Beale of Marblehead, Mary, wife of John Kimball of Ipswich, wheelwright, Sarah, wife of Nicholas Wallis of Ipswich, and Rebecca, wife of George Bonfield of Marblehead.

    Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Wallis conveyed her seventh part to George Bonfield; and Moses conveyed his seventh to Mr. Bonfield. Mr. and Mrs. Bonfield (he was then a fisherman) conveyed the two-sevenths that he had bought and the one-seventh she inherited from her brother John Bradstrteet to William Beale of Marblehead, the deceased's brother-in-law, Dec. 8, 1674. The mill was then gone, "ye old mill place" being mentioned in the deed.

    That part of the lot lying between the dashes was granted by the town of Salem to Thomas Tuck of Salem, smith, before July 5, 1658, when, for three pounds and ten shillings, he conveyed it to William Beale.

    That part of the lot lying easterly of the eastern dashes belonged to Mr. Beale in 1658.

    Mr. Beale died, possessed of the entire lot, in the spring of 1694, having devised it in his will to his eight children, Samuel (the eldest), William, John, Aaron, Ebenezer, Martha, Elizabeth and Thomas. The daughter Elizabeth Beale conveyed her interest in the land to her brother William Beale of Marblehead, Dec. 13, 1699, and the other heirs probably released their interest to him at about the same time. He owned the estate until the summer of 1711, when he died.

    A grist mill is a building where a miller grinds gain into flour.

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

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
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