Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Working on Wednesday: John Irish (About 1611 - 1677), Laborer, Roper, Farmer

On April 20, 1629, this maternal tenth great grandfather entered into an indenture with a man called Timothy Hatherly of the parish of St. Olave, Southwark, whereby John, described as a laborer, agreed to "dwell, serve, remain & abide with the said Timothy Hatherly or his assigns at the town of Plimouth called New England from the day of the date of these presents unto the end & term of five years from thence next ensuing."* The birth year given for him is an estimate based on the assumption that he was about 18 at the time. The indenture stated that John was "of the parish of Clisdon in the county of Summersett." Unfortunately there is no Clisdon in Somerset according to scholars who have unsuccessfully tried to locate John's birthplace for a very long time.
[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.
Source: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection]

Experts agree that John Irish arrived in Plymouth in 1630 although it's not certain what ship he arrived in. He is undoubtedly one of "Mr Hatherlie's two men" not otherwise identified in Plymouth tax lists in 1633 and 1634. In 1637 John volunteered to fight in the Pequot War.
[The south part of New-England, as it is planted this yeare.... William Wood, London, 1634.
Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University]

According to the terms of his indenture, John was to receive 25 acres of land and 12 bushels of wheat at the end of his service. Records show that he owned 5 acres by Stony Brook in Duxbury in 1639 and doubled his holdings two years later through an agreement with a neighbor that the survivor of the two would get both plots. As part of a deal establishing a grist mill on the brook, John traded his land for a house and land in Duxbury in 1641, where he was listed as a man able to bear arms in defense of the colony. He married a woman we know only as Elizabeth by about 1644 and over the next five years they had three children (that we know of), two boys and a girl.**

About the time of his marriage the court ordered that he was to have his land from that around Duxbury but I'm not sure what came of that because he was given permission to choose again in 1658 apparently in the same area. There is no record of John Irish ever becoming a freeman of Plymouth Colony.

In a 1659 land sale John described himself as a "roper" which my source tells me is a person who makes ropes or nets. Otherwise he was called a "planter" meaning that he was a farmer unlike in Virginia where the word had more grandiose connotations..

In 1662 John Irish  on the list of "servants and ancient freeman" was given permission to seek out land at Saconett Neck (now Little Compton, Rhode Island) or some other place and he did move to Little Compton where he died March 5, 1677/8. His wife, son John and daughter Elizabeth survived him, his second son Elias having predeceased him, leaving a widow and child.

*This quote and most of the information above is from the profile of John Irish published on pages 1065-1068 in The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010), (Originally Published as: New England Historic Genealogical Society. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III, 3 vols., 1995).
**I am descended from their oldest son, another John Irish whose granddaughter Rebecca Richmond married Peter Worden IV.

© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Your ancestors and mine must have known each other, we both have quite a few hanging about the same area at the same time. They might have bowled together.