Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Working on Wednesday: Barnabas Davis (About 1599 - 1685), Tallow Chandler, Soldier, Planter

Although it sometimes can be difficult to trace colonial ancestors back across "the pond" to their origins in the Old World, that's not the case with this paternal ninth great grandfather--sources agree that he came from Tetbury in the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire and was born about 1599. Therefore he was about 29 when he married Patience James in Tewkesbury on July 4, 1628. The couple's four oldest children were baptized in Tetbury.*

[Glocestershire; Britannia Depicta or Ogilby Improved. Being a Correct Coppy of Mr. Ogilby's Actual Survey of All ye Direct & Principal Cross Roads in England and Wales ... By Ino. Owen ... Maps of All the Counties of South Britain ... By Eman Bowen, Engraver. 1675. Source: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection]

In 1635 Barnabas and Patience decided to emigrate to New England with their four children and chose to make their departure from London. However in July of that year, Barnabas left London by himself on the ship The Blessing bound for New England as the agent of William and John Woodcock who had made an investment in Connecticut land and wanted Barnabas to check on its progress, and they convinced him to leave his family in England.

Ten days after Barnabas landed in Boston he set out for Connecticut on foot. But when he arrived at the Woodcock's property he found nothing had been done and that Francis Stiles, the man in charge of the work, had returned to England so Barnabas left as soon as he could get passage back to London.** After he reported his findings to the Woodcocks it was learned that Stiles had gone back to Connecticut. So the Woodcocks sent Barnabas off to New England again (after a short visit to his family who apparently were back in Tewkesbury).

He arrived in Boston during the Pequot War and as it was no longer safe to travel overland to Connecticut he went by sea. Because of trouble with the Indians he wasn't able to visit the location of the Woodcock's property but Barnabas was able to ascertain from neighbors that the promised work had not been done and was given letters to deliver to his employers in London.
"[B]ut in the meantime he was taken a soldier against the Pequids and before he could return & get shipping in the sea near upon a year was spent from his last landing."

[A Map of New England from  A Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians in New-England, from ... 1607 to this present year 1677 ... To which is added a Discourse about the Warre with the Pequods in the year 1637. By W. Hubbard, Minister of Ipswich. ... Boston.
Source:David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.]

So Barnabas returned to England for the final time and embarked with his family in 1639 to settle in Charlestown where he remained for the rest of his life.*** He died on November 28, 1685.

He is referred to as a tallow chandler in deeds, also sometimes as a planter or husbandman.**** The inventory of his estate included "tallow valued in 13s. 6d. and mold & [nod] & knife for a chandler valued at 6s."

[The Art and Mystery of Making Wax and Tallow Candles, engraved for the 'Universal Magazine', 1749 | Social Studies, The Arts | Image | PBS LearningMedia]

Although the engraving above is dated 1749, the candle-making process didn't change much in the intervening years. Tallow chandlers often made soap also. It was a smelly but profitable trade.

Elizabeth Davis (1728-1823), the great great granddaughter of Barnabas and Patience, married Thomas Farnsworth (1731-1820) and their daughter Lucy (1762-after 1850) married Joshua Shepard (1753-1804). Their great great granddaughter Letta Estella Porter is my paternal grandmother.

*Three more children were born to the couple later. My descent is from their oldest child, Samuel (1629-1699). Most of the information here is taken from his profile in The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volumes 2, page 286.. Boston: New England Historical and Genealogical Society, 1996-2011.
**In 1636. We know about this period of his life from depositions taken during his suit again the Woodcocks in 1641 for money they owed him. Unfortunately the result of this suit is lost to history.
***He continued to act as a agent of the Woodcocks and was able to get a judgement for 300 pounds against Stiles after his 1639 landing.
****Both Barnabas and Prudence were able to sign their names on these deeds.

© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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