An American Family History

Joseph Grafton and Mary Moore

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists."
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts
Merchant sailors were vital to the economy of the American Colonies. They could become wealthy, but suffered very high mortality rates.
Europeans who made the voyage to America faced a difficult journey of several months.
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."

Joseph Grafton was born about 1596 in Southwold, Suffolk County, England. In 1639 Ann Scarlet wrote her will and the abstract from Historical Collections of the Essex Institute indicates that Joseph had siblings.

Ann Scarlet, 4th mo., 1643. Will of Ann Scarlet, of — dated 2d 1st mo., 1639, mentions brother Samuel, in old England, her children Mary, Margaret and Joseph, her sister Dennis, her brother, James Lind, her brother Browning and his wife, her brother Joseph Grafton, admr.

He was a merchant sea captain.

His first wife was Mary Moore. They married after 1620 in England.

Joseph's and Mary's children were:

Elizabeth Grafton Saunders Kitchen.

Priscilla Grafton Gardner was born about 1626.

The family settled in Salem by 1636. In 1637 "Goodwife Grafton" asked the town for a lot for her mother at the end of her husband's lot. In 1637 Joseph was made freeman.

Joseph Grafton was born about 1637.

John Grafton was born about 1638.

Joseph owned a forty ton ketch. In 1640 he made a voyage to Pemaquid and brought back about twenty cows and oxen.

In 1641 he was master of the bark Endeavor.

Nathaniel Grafton was born about 1642.

In 1645 D'Aulnay captured Grafton's ship during the Acadian Civil War (1640-1645). The dispute was between Charles de la Tour and Charles d'Aulna who were competing governors of the French province of Acadia. Their territories overlapped. John Winthrop arranged financial help for La Tour to defend his Saint John River fort against d'Aulnay's attack. Eventually d'Aulnay expelled la Tour from his holdings.

Mary died in November, 1674.

He married Bethia Ray who was the widow of Captain Thomas Lothrop (1613-1675) and the daughter of Daniel Ray. Captain Lothrop led the militia at Bloody Brook where he was killed.

From 1660 to 1663, "the widow Dennis" lived in the Grafton home. The town of Salem made payments to him for her keep.

In the Annals of Salem by Joseph B. Felt describes Joseph Grafton's experience in 1669

The Ketch Providence, Capt. Joseph Grafton, from Salem to the W. Indies, was cast away on a rock in a dark and rainy night. The whole crew were ten, of whom six were drowned. The master, mate, and a seaman who was badly wounded remained on the rock until morning. In the morning they arrived, with difficulty to an island about a half mile off, where they found another of their company. They continued eight days, sustained by salt fish, and also, the last four days by cakes made of a barrel of flour, which washed ashore. After four days they found a piece of touchwood, which the mate had formerly in his chest and a piece of flint, with which, having a small knife, they struck fire. They framed a boat with a tarred mainsail and some hoops and then fastened pieces of boards to them. With a boat so made, they sailed ten leagues to Anguilla and St. Martins, where they were kindly received.

Joseph died on June 24, 1682 in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts.

He left a considerable estate and shares in several vessels at his death. His assets were distributed to:
his wife, Bethia Goodhue,
his son, John Grafton,
his son-in-law, John Gardner,
two sons of his son Joseph Grafton, Jr.,
three daughters of his son Nathaniel Grafton,
to Mary Meade,
William and Edmund Herfield,
his grandchildren Robert Kitchen and his three sisters,
Mary Fox,
Elizabeth Colyer
and Samuel Gardner, Jr.

After his death, Bethia married Deacon William Goodhue. She was the third of William's four wives.

Mary White Rowlandson,Talcot
was captured by Native Americans
during King Philip's War (1675-1676).

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.

Salem is in Essex County, Massachusetts and was a significant seaport in early America. John Endicott obtained a patent from England and arrived there in 1628. Salem originally included much of the North Shore, including Marblehead. Salem Village also included Peabody and parts of Beverly, Middleton, Topsfield, Wenham and Manchester-by-the-Sea.

The Society of Friends (Quakers) began in England in the 1650s, when they broke away from the Puritans. Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn, as a safe place for Friends to live and practice their faith.

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.

The Battle of Bloody Brook was on September 12, 1675 between the colonial militia led by Captain Thomas Lothrop and Native Americans. A wagon train carrying the harvest from Deerfield to Hadley was ambushed and about 60 colonists massacred.


In early New England towns policy was set by a board of 3 to 5 selectmen. They oversaw public responsibilities such as the policing, roads, and fences.

from The Grafton Family of Salem

Joseph Grafton was in Salem as early as 1636, as the baptism of a child is recorded in January of that year. He was a mariner and merchant and evidently a man of considerable importance and large affairs and at the time of his death he left a large estate for those days, including much real estate.

His first wife was Mary. . .

Joseph Grafton's name is found among the Freemen created May 17th 1637, and the fact that he began so early to make extended voyages and to conduct business affairs hich must have taken some little time to institute inclines the writer to the belief that he had been in New England and perhaps in Boston for some years before his first appearance in Salem.

In the list of land grants 1636-7 he had forty acres and a little later thirty more of "ffreemans land" and he was "pmissed planted ground" July 12 1637. He certainly owned all the land on both sides of the present Hardy Street, from Essex Street to the harbor and back of the harbor and on the eastern side of a large lot, owned before 1661 by a Mr. More, which was conveyed by his wife Ann or Hanna, March 10, 1664/5 to Joseph's son Nathaniel Grafton, while behind this, still to the eastward, was another lot which belonged to Joseph Grafton, Sr. . .

In the division of marsh and meadows, in the lists made, it is believed by Conant, he is set down as having seven in the family and therefore had one accre allotted to him. Before 1650 he sold land in South Field to James Smith of Marblehead. . .

King Charles I ruled England from March 27, 1625 to 1649.

The Annals of Salem: From Its First Settlement by Joseph Barlow Felt

June 24th. Joseph Grafton sen. had died lately at an advanced age. He was made freeman 1637, when his mother was living here. He left a daughter Bethiah Goodhue, and a son John. His wife and sons Joseph and Nathaniel, and daughter Priscilla Gardner, died before he did. He had been an enterprising commander of vessels belonging to Salem. He suffered much when taken by D'Aulnay 1645. He was of the selectmen several years. He was a useful and respected man.

The Maryland and Delaware Genealogist, Volumes 19-21 by Raymond B. Clark

Joseph Grafton, sea captain, ship owner, and merchant, was in Salem, Massachusetts Bay Company, by 1636 when he was granted land there, but in all probability had arrived in Boston at an earlier date.


The Pioneers of Massachusetts by Charles Henry Pope, Boston Mass 1900.
Joseph [Grafton], mariner, Salem, 1636. Master of the bark Endeavor in 1641. Made a successful voyage to Pemaquid and Boston in 1639. Goodwife Grafton desired of the town a lot for her mother at the end of her husband's lot in 1637.

Joseph Bapt 24 (11) 1636,
John Bapt 28 (2) 1639, and
Nathaniel Bapt 24 (2) 1642.
Two imperfect wills were set aside, and distribution made by consent of heirs as follows: to Bethia Goodhue, John Grafton, John Gardner (for his ch. by wife Priscilla, ) the two sons of Joseph Jr., dec.; the three daus. of Nathaniel; to Mary Meade, William and Edmund Herfield, Robert Kitchin and his three sisters, Mary Fox, Elizabeth Colyer and Samuel Gardner, Jr.

Early Quakers were persecuted. In the Massachusetts Bay colony, Friends were banished on pain of death.

Priscilla Kitchen, Quakeress of Salem, Mass., and Kent County, Del., and Her Family by George Valentine Massey II, New England Historical and Genealogical Register Volume CVI January 1952, pp. 38-50

After the death of his first wife, Elizabeth, whose surname is not known, he married Elizabeth (Grafton) Saunders (1625-living 1678/9), after 28:10:1648- when the will of her first husband, John Saunders, seaman, was proved. Elizabeth's father,

Joseph Grafton, was a successful Salem sea captain and merchant who had a ketch of forty tons which on 17 May 1640, make a voyage to Pemaquid,

brought back some twenty cows, oxen, &c. with hay and water for them to the bay.

Later Grafton got mixed up in the La Tour, D'Aulnay controversy, lost his ship and suffered severely.

Understand the Puritans better:
Pioneers of Massachusetts

Capt. Thomas [Lothrop]. Salem. Beverly, prop., frm. May 14, 1634; town officer, deputy. Suit in court, 1659. Served in Acadia in 1654-5. He m. Bethia, dau of Daniel Rea; left no child, but adopted a dau. of a cousin of his wife, Sarah Gott.

He d. in the war in 1675; nunc. will prob. 22 (10) 1674; beq. a farm to his sister, the wife of Ezekiel Cheever; another to his dau. Sarah Gott Lothrop; land to the town for the use of the ministry; to his bro. Joshua Rea. and his 4 youngest ch; to Noah Fisk; to his wife [Es. Inst. Coll. II, 177; Reg. XXXVIII, 332.]

The widow m. 2, Joseph Grafton and 3, Wm Goodhue.


from Genealogical and Family History of Central New York by William Richard Cutter

Daniel Ray, immigrant ancestor of this family, was doubtless brother of Caleb Ray, of Boston, and probably also of Simon Ray, of Braintree. Tradition has it that he was Scotch, but few came to the colonies at the time he came except from England. The family was prominent in Galloway, Caithness and Ayrshire, Scotland, for many centuries, and since 1612 in the Scotch counties of Ireland. There are reasons for believing that Daniel Ray came from Suffolkshire, England, though he may have been of Scotch ancestry. He settled in Plymouth colony in 1630, or earlier, and bought land of Anthony Annable, but soon afterward removed to Massachusetts Bay Colony, settling at Salem before February 6, 1631-32, according to a letter from Governor Bradford to Governor Winthrop of that date.

The descendants of Daniel in Essex county have followed the spelling Rea, but those who left that section in most cases have adopted Ray, which is nearly universal in the families descended from Caleb and Simon, the other immigrants. Daniel Ray became a prominent citizen of Salem; was admitted a freeman, May 14, 1634; was proprietor of the town in 1636, and held various town offices; removed to Salem Village, now Danvers, in 1662. His wife, Bethia, survived him. He died before completing his will, but an agreement of his heirs. dated June 26, 1662, is in accordance with the provisions he made therein, signed by his son Joshua and his son (Joshua’s) Daniel; the daughters, Rebecca and Sarah Rea and Bethia Lothrop.

1. Joshua,.
2. Rebecca.
3. Sarah.
4. Bethia, died December 6, 1686; married (first) Captain Thomas Lothrop, who was killed September 18, 1675, at Bloody Brook, in King Philip’s war; married (second) Joseph Grafton; (third) William Goodhue.

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.

from The Essex Antiquarian, vol.10, p.130.

Whereas there hath bene a Will begun to be made by Daniell Rea of Salem, lately deceased, but he not being able to finish it, whereby great inconvenience is likely to arise to his Children, if it be left as it is, Wee therefore whose names are vnderwritten, takeing it into our Consideration, have made this our Joynt Conclusion & Agreement, (if the Honored Court now Assembled please to accept of, & Confirme the same) in Manner as followeth

ffirst, that his sonne Joshua Rea shall have ye Improvement of the whole farme, where he lives, & when his sonne Daniel is growne up to ye age of Twenty one yeares, he shall have halfe ye farme, & his father to have ye other halfe, dureing ye term of his owne life, & also of his wives widdowhood, in Case she should outlive him, & then that halfe also to be his sonne Daniells, & so ye Said Daniel then to have ye whole farme, which is ye proper will of ye Testator.

Secondly, thay ye said Joshua Rea shall have the use & improvement of the seventeene Acres of land, lying on Salem North River, untill his two daughters, Rebecca and Sarah, exprest in ye will, shall attain ye age of fixteene yeares, & then they to have ye land with ye improvement of ye same equally divided betwixt them.

Thirdly, that ye said Joshua Rea, shall have also the one Acre & halfe on the South Rivers side in Salem, as his proper right, to dispose of as he shall see cause.

ffourthly, that his sonne Thomas Lothrop & his wife, shall have the ffarme, Commonly called Captaine Damports farme, as their proper right, to dispose of, as they please, provided that the five pound, paid already by me to Capt. Damport, in a Cowe, be allowed me out of ye other estate. ffifthly, that our mother shall have ye Thirds, of all of this Estate, dureing her life.

Lastly, for the rest of ye Estate, we leave it to the wisedom of the Honoured Court, to dispose of the same, as they shall thinke best, according to lawe.

This aboue writing or agreement is by the Court alowed of & is to be as the Courts determination & ordering of the estate of Danyell Rea deceased being consented thereto by ye children of ye deceased in Court at Salem 24:4mo 1662 atteste Hillyard Verin Cleric

ye is an archaic spelling of "the."

from Essex Institute Historical Collections

The well-known Salem family of Rea or Ray are descended from a Daniel Ray who was of Plymouth 1631 and removed to Salem. His son Joshua married Sarah Waters (not a daughter of Richard, as Savage suggests). Bethia Ray a sister of Joshua became the wife of the famous Capt. Thomas Lothrop.

Colonial Maryland
Colonial New England
Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
Quakers & Mennonites
New Jersey Baptists
German Lutherans
Watauga Settlement
Pennsylvania Pioneers
Midwest Pioneers
Jewish Immigrants

©Roberta Tuller 2023
An American Family History is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program,
an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.