An American Family History

Martha Fiske Underwood

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists."
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Elizabeth Fones (1610) was a Puritan woman in New England. She married her cousin, Henry Winthrop, son of John Winthrop. After he died, she married Robert Feake and lived in Watertown and Greenwich, Massachusetts. Robert apparently suffered from mental illness and abandoned his family. She then lived with William Hallett in Long Island.

Martha Fiske Underwood was born about 1603 in England. 

She married Martin Underwood who was born about 1596.  Martin was a weaver or cordwainer.

They came to New England on the ship Elizabeth and arrived April 30, 1634 and settled in Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

Martin died on November 7, 1672. Martha died on March 06, 1683/84.

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.
Watertown was settled in 1630 by English Puritans in Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

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.




A cordwainer (or cordwinder) made shoes from fine, soft leather. There was a distinction between a cordwainer, who made shoes, and a cobbler who repaired them.


Seals were used to authenticate documents and men were expected to have a personal die. Records in deed books are copies and signatures are usually in the clerk’s handwriting. The clerk drew a circle around the word “seal” to indicate that the original document was sealed.

from the Underwood Families of America

Martin Underwood of England, b. 1596, with his wife, Martha Fiske, b. about 1602, [She was reported as 83 at the time of her death in March, 1684. Her age at time of landing, 1634. was 31. Both statements can hardly be true so the above date is an approximation.] arrived in America in the Elizabeth of Ipswich the last of April, 1634, and settled in Watertown, Mass. He was a cordwainer by trade and 38 years of age; his wife, Martha, was 31. His will made 23 Aug., 1663, shows that he had no children. He is not known to be a relative of the other two Watertown settlers of that name although Thomas Underwood appears as one of the witnesses to his will.

Will Of Martin Underwood
August this 23, 1663 In the name of God Amen: I Martaine Underwood dwelling in Watertowne being in perfect memory do ordaine this as my last will and testament,

first I do comend my soul unto God from whome I have received it and my body to the earth believing and expecting a resurecion unto eternal life in and through the meritts of Christ Jesus.

As for my temporall estate I do bequeath it all unto my deare and beloved wife and doe make her sole executor of all my estate wheather lands, chattels, or moveables and after her death

I do give and bequeath my house and homestall and barne with all my lands in Watertowne, and all my rights belonging to me now or may be hereafter unto my kinsman Nathan ffiske [According to Bond, his wife's nephew, son of Nathan Fiske, Sr., her brother.]

Provided that in case my deare wife have need to make use of any part of that estate bequeathed unto my cousin Nathan ffisket for her releife and comfort then it is my minde and will that she shall have full liberty to make sale of any part of the before bequeathed estate for her comfortable subsistence: and farther in case my cousin Nathan ffiske should dye without heyres, executors or assigns it is my minde and will that my cousen John fiske his brother shall inioy all that I have bequeathed unto my Cousen Nathan ffiske:

and further it is my minde and will that in case any of my sisters children should after my decease come over into this country to lay claime to any part of my estate before bequeathed and given: then it is my minde and will that so many of them as shall come over shall have twenty shillings apeece to be paid out of my estate in one thing or another as my executors can best pay

and further it is my minde and will that after my debts and funerall expenses be payed that wtever of my estate shall be left indisposed by my wife and not given by her shall all fall into the hands of my Cousen Nathan fiske: whome it is my desire after my wives death that he should be the heyre and owner thereof: I say him that is my Cousen Nathan fiske his heyres, executors, administrators or asins and in case my kinsman Nathan fiske should dye without heyres, executors, administrators, or assigns, then it is my will that my kinsman John ffiske his brother shall inioy all that my kinsman Nathan fiske should have inioyed if he had lived unto which will and last testament I have set my hand and seale.

Martain Underwood (Seal)
John Eddie
Thomas Underwood.

Martin Underwood d. 17 Nov., 1672.

Martha Fiske Underwood, widow of Martin Underwood, d. 6 March, 1684, ae. 83. Papers relating to the settlement are in the Middlesex Probate. No mention of descendants occurs anywhere in the documents.

Personal property can be called personalty (personality), goods, chattels, articles, or movable property. It includes both animate or inanimate property.
Bond's genealogy of Watertown is available on Kindle.
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©Roberta Tuller 2020
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