An American Family History

Lieutenant Robert Kitchen

The New England Meetinghouse was the only municipal building in a town. Both worship and civil meetings were held there. It was customary for men and women to sit separately and the town chose a committee once a year to assign seats according to what was paid, age, and dignity.

In 1688, during the Glorious Revolution, the Protestant king and queen,William and Mary, took the English throne from Catholic King James II. The bloodless revolution profoundly impacted the American colonies.

Robert Kitchen was born in 1658 in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts and was baptized at the First Church in Salem on February 2, 1658. He was the son of John Kitchen and Elizabeth Grafton.

He was a merchant, ship owner, and sea captain. He traded in London and Barbados.

He married Mary Boardman. Mary was born March 9, 1656 and was the daughter of Major William and Frances Boardman.

Robert and Mary's children included:
John Kitchen (1683),
Elizabeth Kitchen (1683), and
Mary Kitchen Turner (1684, married John Turner).

His second wife was Bethia Weld. She was born in Cambridge, on January 24, 1667/8. She was the daughter of Dr. Daniel Weld.

Robert and Bethia's children included:
Robert Kitchen (1688) who died young,
Bethia Kitchen Lindall (1689, married Timothy Lindall),
Robert Kitchen (before 1699),
Richard Kitchen (before 1699), and
Edward Kitchen (1700).

When Robert Kitchen, Jr., died in 1716 at age 17, at Harvard, Cotton Mather wrote The Voice of the Dove: The Sweet Voice of Piety, and More Particularly that of Early Piety, Articulated. And Some Notes of it Exhibited, in Certain Memoirs of Mr. Robert Kitchen, a Desireable Youth, who Expired at Salem.

Robert, Sr. died in Salem on October 28, 1712. He was buried in the family tomb on Pickering Hill.

Here lyes inter'd ye body of
Mr. Robert Kitchen,
who departed this life
October ye 28, 1712,
aetatis 56.

Children of John Kitchen
and Elizabeth Grafton

Robert Kitchen
Benjamin Kitchen
Abigail Kitchen Guppy
Priscilla Kitchen Hunn

The Great Swamp Fight was on November 2, 1675. Josiah Winslow led a force of over 1000 colonial militia and about 150 Pequot and Mohegan warriors against the Narragansett. Several abandoned Narragansett villages were burned and the tribe retreated to a five acre fort in the center of a swamp near Kingston, Rhode Island. The fort, which was occupied by over a thousand indigenous warriors, was taken after a fierce fight. It was burned and the inhabitants, including women and children, were killed or evicted. The winter stores were destroyed. The colonists lost about 70 men and nearly 150 were wounded.

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.

Edward Kitchen
Edward Kitchen
son of Lieutenant Robert Kitchen

ye is an archaic spelling of "the."



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

. . . Her brother, Robert, and his son, Edward, eminent shipping merchants

second to none among the early mercantile families which built up Salem's trade long before the Derbys and Crowninshields had begun to figure as merchant princes.

The Kitchen family, long extinct in the male line, through daughters is represented in Salem by such names as Turner, Sargent, Bowditch, and Moriarty. . .


Surgeons in colonial America were often barbers who used their cutting tools to perform surgery.
Physicians were university trained.
Midwives assisted women in childbirth.

Robert [Kitchen], Sr., was baptized at the First Church in Salem 15:2:1658, and died in Salem 28 Oct 1712. An eminent citizen and merchant trading with the Barbados and London, he acquired great wealth, and was a close friend of the Sewells.

He married Mary, daughter of Harvard College's first steward, Maj. William Boardman, and secondly, Bethia, whose father, Dr, Daniel Weld, A. B. of Salem, was surgeon general to the New England army at the great swamp fight in December, 1675. When Bethia's son, Robert Kitchen, Jr., (1699-1716), died 20 Sept. 1716, at Harvard, the Rev. Cotton Mather Published "The Voice of the Dove, with a Memoir of Mr. Robert Kitchen, Student of Harvard".

Edward Kitchen (1700-1766), Robert's younger son, emulated his father's successful mercantile career, and was a patron of the college at Cambridge. His portrait, that of a handsome youth hangs in the Worcester Art Museum. With him this distinguished family of Salem merchants became, in the male line, extinct "and now almost forgotten, but which in its time stood second to none" among Salem's early mercantile families.

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.

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."
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.

from Genealogical and Personal Memoirs, Volume 1 edited by William Richard Cutter

Major William Boardman, born 1614, son of Andrew Boardman, was the immigrant ancestor. He came over with his mother and stepfather in 1638. In 1659 Day paid him a legacy of fifty pounds left in the father’s will mentioned above (each of the four sons was to have forty pounds) admitting that it should have been paid twenty-three years earlier.

As a boy he was apprenticed to Richard Gridley until October 17, 1639,-to William Townsend, then to Thomas Witherly, mariner, from January 30, 1639-40. In 1656 Boardman owned and occupied the estate at the east corner of Harvard Square and Dunster street, and at the death of his stepfather came into possession of the estate on the opposite corner, to which his son Aaron added the adjoining land, extending the estate to Brighton street. Both estates remained in the family for one hundred and fifty years or more. He was steward and cook many years for Harvard College, resigning as steward in 1667, being succeeded by Thomas Danforth. He was admitted a freeman May 26, 1652. He died March 25, 1685, aged seventy-one. He was a tailor by trade. He married Frances, who survived him. He deposed August 26, 1672, that his age was fifty-seven.

1. Moses, died March 16, 1661-62.
2. Rebecca, born November 1, 1643; married August 4, 1664, John Palfrey.
3. Andrew, born 1646.
4. Aaron, born 1649.
5. Frances, born 1650; died unmarried, September, 1618.
6. Martha, born about 1653; married, April 17, 1672, Daniel Epes.
7. Mary, born March 9, 1655-56.
8. William, born December 6, 1657; mentioned below.
9. Elizabeth, born August 17, 1660; married, April 28, 1686, John Cooper. The elder children were baptized together.

Merchant sailors were vital to the economy of the American Colonies. They could become wealthy, but suffered very high mortality rates.

The town clerk was one of the first offices in colonial America. The clerk recorded births, marriages, and deaths.

Essex Institute Historical Collections by Essex Institute, Peabody Essex Museum

Lieut. Robert Kitchen was baptized at the First Church, Salem, 15: 2: 1658, and died there 28 October, 1712. He was an eminent citizen and merchant of Salem, trading with Barbados and London.

On 27 June, 1682, he was foreman of a trial jury, and on 12 June, 1688, a selectman. On 28 July, 1692, he was chosen town clerk, and again in 1694. He was lieutenant of the Salem company in 1689. On 14 March, 1683/4, he testifies that about four years since he was in Barbados. He appears to have been at that time master of a vessel trading with the West Indies.

He gradually acquired great wealth and became one of the leading merchants of Salem in his time and was a close friend of the Sewells. On 28 April, 1690, one of his vessels which was acting as a transport in the expedition against Port Royal, was captured by the enemy.

He was buried in the family tomb on Pickering Hill (Broad street), with the following inscription:

Here lyes inter'd ye body of Mr. Robert Kitchen, who departed this life October ye 28, 1712, aetatis 56.

His will is dated 25 Feb., 1606/7; proved 1 January, 1712/13.

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.

The First Church in Salem, Massachusetts was founded by English Puritan settlers in August, 1629. Both accusers and accused were members of First Church during the witchcraft hysteria.

Essex Institute Historical Collections by Essex Institute, Peabody Essex Museum

Robert Kitchen, contrary to the usual belief of such persons as have investigated his life, had two wives. It has been usually stated that he married only once, viz., Bethia, daughter of Dr. Daniel Weld of Salem. Now, inasmuch as Bethia was born at Cambridge, 24 January, 1667/8, and as Robert Kitchen's wife was assigned a place in the "first pew seate of ye womens behind the pews" on 31 May, 1681, it would appear that Kitchen's wife at that time must have been somebody else.

This conclusion is confirmed in a petition of Timothy Lindall (who married Robert Kitchen's daughter Bethia) dated June, 1748, in his case against Edward Kitchen, in which he states that his daughter had received a legacy from her grandmother, Madam Bethia Kitchen, and that this daughter was the only surviving descendant of Madam Bethia with the exception of the said Edward. Yet we know that at this time Edward's sister, Mary Turner, and her children were living, and it is thus clear that she was a daughter by a former marriage.

Now Samuel Sewell, in his Diary, under date of 24 Aug., 1688, records that he travelled from Salem to Boston with the widow Boardman and "Mr. Kitchen's daughter that he had by Mary Boardman." This is clearly Mary, the daughter of William Boardman of Cambridge, born 9 March, 1656, whose subsequent career has hitherto been unknown.

Robert Kitchen then married, first, before 31 May, 1681, Mary, daughter of Major William Boardman of Cambridge, the first steward of Harvard University, and married, secondly, before 17 July, 1688, Bethia, daughter of Dr. Daniel Weld, A. B., of Salem, surgeon general to the New England army at the great swamp fight in December, 1675.

Children of Robert and Mary (Boardman) Kitchen:
11. John, bapt. April, 1683. He was living when his father made his will, and had been residing some time in London. He probably died without issue, as there is no farther trace of him in the Salem records.
12. Elizabeth, bapt. April, 1683; d. before her father made his will,
13. Mary [Kitchen], bapt. 27 May, 1684; m. Hon. Col. John Turner of Salem, member of His Majesty's Council; d. at Ipswich between 16 Feb., 1768, and 29 Aug., 1768.

Children of Robert and Bethiah (Weld) Kitchen:
14. Robert, bapt. July 17, 1688; d. young.
15. Bethia [Kitchen], bapt. 10 Nov., 1689; m. (int. 27 May, 1714), as his second wife, Hon. Timothy Lindall of Salem, speaker of the Provincial Assembly in 1714. She d. 20 June, 1720, leaving him two daughters. Bethia and Mary Lindell, both of whom died without issue.
16. Robert, bapt. 11 June, 1699; d. 20 September, 1716, while an undergraduate of Harvard University. In 1717, Rev. Cotton Mather published a volume entitled The Voice of the Dove, with a Memoir of Mr. Robert Kitchen, Student of Harvard.

Cotton Mather was a Puritan clergyman and theological writer. His writings had great influence in his time. He is generally pictured as the archetype of the intolerant and severe Puritan and is known for his part in the Salem witch trials in 1692 . He did not approve of all the trials, but had helped to instigate the hysteria by his Memorable Providences Relating to Witchcraft and Possessions (1689)

Cotton Mather

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©Roberta Tuller 2020
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