An American Family History

Edward Richards

English colonists from Salem were the first settlers in Lynn.
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."

Alcohol played a significant role in the daily lives of colonists; even children. They feared polluted water and believed in alcohol's nourishing and medicinal properties.

Edward Richards was birth date is not know exactly. His year of birth ranges in various sources ranges from 1614 to 1621. In 1681, Edward swore in court that he was about 65. In 1672 he testified that he was 65.

He came to Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts when he was young. He was probably in Lynn in 1633. In 1678 Edward swore that he had lived in Lynn for forty-five years.

When Lynn was incorporated, he was not a proprietor, but did own a town right. He may have been an indentured servant to Sir John Humphreys. He was probably an apprentice joiner working on the estate of the Assistant Governor.

He was made a freeman in 1641. From the court records it appears that he was a wild young man. After his marriage, he seems to have calmed down, but appeared often in court as a participant and witness.

In July, 1646, Edward was was charged with public lying. According to Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County he said

to two men that he and nine more took a ship at Plymouth in old England, and killed all the men but one, and that he himself was captain, who commanded his men to bring the living man before him, and his head was taken off; and that he and his company were taken, and all but himself hanged, he having escaped, being under age. Wit: John Peabodie and Thomas Winterton. This was about fourteen years ago. Richards said that they were false statements. Fined ten shillings, and to acknowledge his sin and evil at Lynn before the congregation next lecture or Lord's day.

In 1646, Girard Spencer entered a complaint against him for not observing a rule of the planters. That year he was "presented for being distempered with drink at the artillery at Salem."

In April, 1646, he sold Daniel King,"one parcel of land, called Windmill Hill," which was the eastern mound of Sagamore Hill.

He married Ann Knight about 1650. Their children and life together are described in detail in the section on Edward and Ann Richards.

In June, 1670, as the town of Lynn began dividing the common land, Edward was in court again as he "stood with a club to defend the land boundaries." In November, 1670 the selectmen of the town sued him for "affronting" them on the Common, meeting them with a club, striking their cattle."

In 1675 in the Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County

Leift. Thomas Putnam v. Ed. Richards. For coming upon the ground of the plaintiff, or in his possession, and breaking open the door of the dwelling house upon said land that was left fast locked. The jury did not report on the main issue, but took the liberty of the law to present only what they found. Verdict for plaintiff, that the defendant broke open his lock. Appealed to the next Court of Assistants. Edward Richards, Robert Brimsdon and Steephen Haskett bound.

In 1678 he testified that Mr. Tomlins "was not to stop or hinder the alewives to go up to the great pond." An alewife is a species of fish.

In 1688, he signed a protest against Governor Edmund Andros granting Nahant to Edward Randolph.

He died on January 26, 1690 in Lynn. His estate, not including his town right, was inventoried at £180. His widow Ann was appointed administrator, and William Richards her principal surety.
An indenture is a legal contract for labor or land. Two copies on the same sheet were separated with a jagged edge so that the two parts could be refitted to confirm authenticity. An indentured servant worked without wages for a specified time to pay a debt and was bound to the employer. In the 17th century, nearly two-thirds of settlers came as indentured servants to pay for their passage.
Children of
Edward Richards

Ann Knight Richards
  • John Richards
  • Abigail Richards Collins
  • Mary Richards Nick
  • William Richards
  • Deborah Richards
  • Daniel Richards
  • 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.

    To be presented to the court meant to be charged or indited.
    Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts was first settled by English Puritans in 1629 and was first incorporated in 1631 as Saugus.

    Colonial legislatures granted land to a group of settlers (proprietors) who chose how to divide the land. They had some rights of governance.

    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.






    Lush forests in Colonial America allowed settlers to build wooden homes.

    Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts by Massachusetts County Court (Essex County), George Francis Dow, Essex Institute, 1919

    Writ: Lieut. Thomas Putman v. Edward Richards of Lynn;
    review of a case tried at the Salem court in July, 1675, with judgment for Lt. Putman, and on appeal at the Court of Assistants in Sept., 1675, when judgment was reversed;
    dated June 18, 1680;
    signed by Nath. Barnes, J for the court and town of Boston;
    and served by Samll. Cobbett, J. constable of Lyn, by attachment of the dwelling house and land of defendant. Edward Richard's bill of cost, 12s.
    Letter of attorney given by Edward (his mark) Richards to Thomas Norman of Boston.
    Wit: Jonath. Palmes J. and Edmond Bridges.
    Acknowledged, June 29, 1680, before William Browne, assistant.

    When a mark is used for a signature, the person was probably illiterate, but may not have been able to sign because of age or infirmity.

    Boston was founded in 1630 by Puritan settlers from England.




    Essex Institute Historical Collection, 1908

    ...Edward Randolph, early in 1687, had requested Andros to grant to him Nahant. The Council directed the constables to give public notice in Lynn that " if any person or persons have any claim or pretence to the said land they appear before His Excellency the Governor in Council... Although it was considered an act of sedition to assemble in town meetings for purposes of deliberation, a town meeting was held in Lynn, March 5, 1687-8, and " Thomas Laughton, senior, Capt. Ralph King, Cornet John Lewis, Oliver Purchis, Lieut. John Burrill, Edward Richards and John ffuller, senior," were chosen to draw up the claims of the proprietors to Nahant. Lieutenant Burrill, Edward Richards and Captain King were selected as messengers to appear before the Governor and Council.

    In the statement then made, they took the ground that the Lynn records gave evidence that in the year 1635 this tract of land was in the hands of the then freemen of Lynn to dispose of...


    The Essex Antiquarian: An Illustrated ... Magazine Devoted to the Biography, Genealogy, History and Antiquities of Essex County, Massachusetts by Sidney Perley

    Edmond Bridges v. Edward Richards.
    Debt. Of 48s. in bar iron.
    Verdict for plaintiff.

    Edward (his mark) Richards of Lyn, on Nov. 29, 1663, agreed with Edmond Bridgis of Topsfeeld, for the exchange of a mare and horse, etc.
    Wit: Daniell Salmon and Margey (her mark) Salmon.
    Owned in court by defendant.

    Edward Richards declared in court before Mr. Wm. Perkins' face, that the latter being asked whither he was going, said to hell for aught he knew. Mr. Perkins appeared and denied the testimony, and was ordered to appear at the next Salem court.
    Sept. 26, 1665.

    A plaintiff (plt, plte, plt) or orator is the person who brings a case against another.
    A defendant (def tf) is a person accused of a crime or someone challenged in a civil case.

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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