An American Family History

Priscilla Grafton Gardner

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."
Estate inventories give us a glance into the home life of Colonial Americans.

Priscilla Grafton Gardner was born about 1626 in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts. Her father was Joseph Grafton.

She married Captain John Gardner on February 20, 1653/54 on Nantucket. John was born in 1624. He was the son of Thomas Gardner.

John and Priscilla's children probably included:

John Gardner (1653, married Susannah Green),
Joseph Gardner (1655),
Priscilla Gardner (1656, married John Arthur),
George Gardner (1656, married Eunice Starbuck),
Benjamin Gardner (1658),
Rachell Gardner (1661, married John Browne and Jonathan Pinkham),
Benjamin Gardner (1664),
Ann Gardner (1667, married Edward Coffin),
Nathaniel Gardner (1668),
Mary Gardner (1670, married Jethro Coffin),
Mehitable Gardner Dawes (1674, married Ambrose Dawes, Jr), and
Ruth Gardner (1676, married James Coffin, Jr.).

In 1639 the General Court at Boston's

treasurer was ordered to pay John Gardner 20s. for witness charge & carrying Goodman Woodward, his instruments to Ipswich.

In 1642 he and his brother Richard were each granted ten acre lots in Salem

nere Mackrell Cove next to Mr. Thorndiks playne to be laid by the towne.

John Gardner, mariner of Salem,

sold unto John Putnam, husbandman for forty shillings tooe acres of medow lying nere Ipswich River as by deed dated 6th day of Februarie 1653 apeth

On May 27, 1659 John Gardner, mariner, bought property from Hannah Shattuck. The property included a house with a shop and a quarter acre, bounded

with ye broad streete ye comes from ye meeting house on ye north, with ye dwelling of Richard Prince on ye east, & som ground of Nathanyell Pitman on ye south & adjoining to the dwelling of Richard Gardner on ye west, to have & to hold.

In 1663, John and Samuel Gardner and others were granted permission to build a mill over the South river, provided it be built in two years.

The family moved to Nantucket. A grant was made on August 5, 1672 by the town

to Mr. John Gardner of Salem, mariner, a seamans accommodation, with all appurtinances, etc. upon condition that he com to Inhabit and set up the Trade of fishing with a sufficient vessel fit for the taking of Codfish

and that any of the Ingabitants shall have liberty to jiyne in such a vessall with him and that the aforesayd John Gardner shall use his best endeavor to prosecute the fishing trade effect in the fit season of the year

and if he see casue to depart from the Island within Three years after the time that he shall com to Inhabit that then the land shal return into the hands of the aforesayd grantters, they paying for al necessary building or fencing that are upon it, as it shal be judged worth,

also the said John Gardner is to be here with his family at or before the last day of April 1674 or else this grant to be voyd.

In 1676 Nantucket residents resolved that John Gardener should not

medal at all hence forward in any of the towns Consernes ether at Yorcke or elce whare under any colour or pretence what so ever.

The town issued a warrant for John Gardner's arrest. During the proceedings Tristram Coffin said to him,

I am sorry you do behave yourself as a Delinquent.

To which John Gardner replied,

I know my business; and it may be that some of those that have meddled with me had better have eaten fire.

On June 5, 1677 John was fined 10 pounds and appealed to the Governor. Governor Andros decided that the court proceedings were illegal and beyond their authority.

On November 10, 1680, 1682 and 1684, John was commissioned Chief Magistrate of the Island.

When her father, Joseph, died in 1681, the Gardner children were left a fourth part.

John Gardner died in 1706, at the age of eighty-two. He was buried on "Forefather's Hill."

Children of Joseph Grafton:
  • Elizabeth Grafton
  • Priscilla Grafton Gardner
  • Joseph Grafton
  • John Grafton
  • Nathaniel Grafton
  • 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.

    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.
    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.
    Early European settlers in the American colonies were mostly farmers and craftsmen. They had to work hard to provide daily neccesities for themselves.


    ye is an archaic spelling of "the."

    from Thomas Gardner: Planter (Cape Ann, 1623-1626 by Frank Augustine Gardner

    John Gardner married Priscilla Grafton, daughter of Joseph Grafton of Salem. The Grafton family was a prominent one in Salem in the early colonial days. When the estate of Joseph Grafton was settled, June 7, 1681, the children of his daughter Priscilla were remembered as follows:

    John Gardner shall have for his Chilldren by Priscilla his wife that now is, one fourth part.

    The statement is made in that delightful little book Trustum and his Grandchildren, that she died in 1717, but I have been unable to find any record to verify it.

    John Gardner died in 1706, at the age of eighty-two. He was buried in the old burial ground on "Forefather's Hill,"... A substantial granite stone stands in its place at the grave, upon which is inscribed the following:

    Here lyes buried ye body of John Gardner Esq. aged 82 who died May 1706. ...

    The last will and Testament of John Gardner of Nantucket ...

    First I give to my loving wife Priscilla Gardner all my houseing lands and stock of Cattle of all sorts on the Island of Nantuckett and Marthas Vineyard all which I do give my wife during her natural life Except what is hereafter exprest.

    Secondly I give my Grandson John Gardner my house and all my lands with one eight part of the water mill at Salem.

    Thirdly I give my Grandson Jeremiah Gardner thirty pounds in or as money when he shall be of age.

    ffourthly I give my Grandson Nathaniell Gardner thirty pounds in or as money when he shall be of age.

    ffifthly I give my Son George Gardner half one share of Lands on Nantucket with full stock on it of Cattle andsheep with what he hath already received and after his mother's decease all my housing lands and stock of Cattle of all sorts on Nantucket he paying or making good such Legacies as are herein expreft.

    Sixthly I give my daughter Priscilla Arthur after her mothers decease Six pounds per annum during her natural life to be paid out of my estate herein expreft.

    Seventhly I give my daughter Rachell Gardner fourty pounds after my wife's decease to be paid out of my estate herein expreft.

    Eightly I give my daughter Anne Coffin fourty pounds after my wife's decease to be paid out of my estate herein expreft.

    Ninthly I give my daughter Mary Coffin one half of all my Lands and Stock on Marthas Vineyard and ten pounds in money after my wife's decease to be paid out of my estate herein exprest.

    Tenthly I give my daughter Mehitable Daws fourty pounds after my wife's decease to be paid out of my estate herein exprest.

    Eleventhly I give my daughter Ruth Coffin one half of all my lands & stock on Marthas Vinyard and ten pounds in money after my wifes decease to be paid out of my estate herein exprest.

    All the above sd Legacies to be paid out of my Estate herein exprest within one year, if demanded after my wifes decease in or as money.

    Lastly I make my wife sole executrix to this my last will during her naturall life and my son George Gardner sole executor after my wifes decease, and I desire my friends Mr. James Coffin my Cousin Samuel Gardner and Richard Gardner as assistants to my wife and Son George in Executing this my last will in Witness hereof I have put to my hand and seal the Second day of December one thousand seven hundred and five.
    The mark of John Gardner.
    Signed Sealed published pronounced and declared by the said John Gardner as his last will and testament in the presence of the subscribers
    William Sayer,
    James Coffin,
    William Worth,
    Eleazer Folger.

    39. John, b. 20, 12mo. 1653 ; d; m. Susannah Green, dau. of Nathaniel and Mary (Honchine) Green...
    40. Joseph, b. 8, 5mo. 1655.
    41. Priscilla, b. 6, 9mo. 1656; m. John Arthur. ...
    42. Benjamin, b. 3, 12mo. 1658; d. 23, 6mo. 1662.
    43. Rachell, b. Aug. 3, 1661; f d. ;m., 1st, Aug. 1686, John Browne, s. of John and Hannah (Hubbard) Browne.... 2d, Jonathan Pinkham, s. of Richard)....
    44. George, b. ;d. 17, 2mo. 1750: m. Eunice Starbuck, dau of Nathaniel, Sr., and Mary (Coffin) Starbuck...
    45. Benjamin, b. May 17, 1664.
    46. Ann, b. 30, 12mo. 1667; m. Edward Coffin, s. of Peter and Abigail (Starbuck) Coffin. (No issue.)
    47. Nathaniel, b. 24, 7 mo. 1668.
    48. Mary, b. May 27, 1670; d. ;m. prob., in 1686, Jethro Coffin, s. of Peter and Abigail (Starbuck) Coffin. They lived in the "Horseshoe house."...
    49. Mehitable, b. at Nantucket, Nov. 24, 1674 if d. ; m. Aug. 14, 1704, Ambrose Dawes, Jr. . .
    50. Ruth, b. at Nantucket, Jan. 26, 1676 ;f d. Oct. 4, 1748; m. 19 of 3dmo, 1692, James Coffin, Jr., s. of James and Mary Coffin. ...

    Cattle were vital to a household and an important legacy.
    Unweaned cattle are calves.
    Female cattle are heifers and cows (had a calf).
    Male cattle are steers (castrated) and bulls.
    are trained draft animals and are often castrated adult male cattle.

    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.

    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.

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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