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.
A constable was an elected official who was responsible for keeping the peace. His duties were more limited than the sheriff's. He apprehended and punished offenders, helped settle estates, and collected taxes.
from Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families edited by William Richard Cutter
Thomas Gardner, the immigrant ancestor of the Salem-Nantucket family, was born somewhere in England, about the year 1592, and came to America in 1624. The place of his birth is not known, but there is reason for the belief that he came of either the Dorsetshire family or that of the neighboring county of Somerset.
He was made freeman 1637, and in the same year was appointed one of "the twelve men of the town" and also served as juror; was overseer of highways, 1638; town surveyor and "cunstable," 1639; and in later years appears to have been chosen to fill almost every one of the principal offices in the town.
He owned considerable tracts of land, and his estate inventoried at 274 pounds 16 shillings.
He died October 29, 1674, having married twice. In some accounts the name of his first wife is given as Margaret. His second wife was Damaris Shattuck, a widow with several children by her first husband.
Thomas Gardner had children:
1. Thomas, born in England; died 1682; married first, Hannah; second, Elizabeth .
2. George, born probably in England; died 1679; married
first, Eliza (or Elizabeth) Home;
second, Mrs. Ruth Turner; third, Mrs. Elizabeth Stone.
3. Richard, died January 3, 1668; married Sarah Shattuck.
4. John, born 1624, died May, 1706; married Priscilla Grafton.
5. Samuel, born 1627
6. Sarah, died April 5, 1686; married Benjamin Balch.
7. Miriam, married John Hill.
8. Seeth, baptized October 25, 1636, died April 17, 1707.
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.
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."
from Annals of Salem
1724. Feb. 24th.Samuel, son of George Gardner, died lately. He was born May 14, 1648. He had two wives, Elizabeth, widow of Nathaniel Grafton, whom he married 1670, and a widow Daniels. He had children, George, John, and Hannah, who deceased before he did. — Hannah was wife of Jno. Higginson 3d.
Mr. Gardner had been frequently Selectman and Representative to General Court. He was a respectable merchant.