Baker #5210

Edward Baker (1610-1688)

Born in England.  Arrived in Massachusetts before 1638 and possibly a few years earlier and

Joan (1618-1693)

Born in England.  Arrived in Massachusetts before 1638 and possibly a few years earlier.

Baker 5210

Family historian Nelson M. Baker recorded most of the known facts regarding my immigrant ancestor, Edward Baker in his Genealogy [1] (1867), as follows:

“He was an Englishman, a farmer, and settled on the south side of “Baker’s Hill,” in Saugus, (then Lynn) Mass[achusetts], in the year 1630.  Undoubtedly he came hither in the large fleet under Gov. Winthrop, which sailed from England in April, and arrived at Boston and Salem in June and July 1630.  This fleet consisted of eleven vessels, and brought about 1700 colonists.  Some of them were from the western part of England, but the greater number from about London.  On their arrival they began to make settlements in the pathless woods…. Research has failed to bring to light anything concerning him prior to his arrival in Lynn. The hill to which his name was first given, has known no other, and yet stands, ‘rock-ribbed and ancient,’ an enduring monument to the God-fearing, liberty-loving and hard-working pioneer who gave us this goodly heritage.”

More recently, genealogists have uncovered historical documents of an Edward Baker who was baptized on 2 February 1613 in Staffordshire, England who they believe was the same Edward Baker who immigrated to New England.  In fact, however, the location of Edward’s birth in England is widely disputed ranging from Staffordshire in central England, to Suffolk County in southeast England, to Devonshire County in southwest England.  His estimated birth year is also in dispute[2].  The truth is we have no concrete evidence as to when and where he was born or when he arrived in America.  We can only speculate using common sense and logic.

Genealogy of the descendants of Edward Baker by Baker 1867-title pageFor example, we can speculate that Edward Baker was probably born to a middle class English family that owned land in southeast England very possibly in Suffolk or Essex County.  Many of the earliest Puritans who immigrated to New England in the 1630s were known to have come from Suffolk and Essex Counties including Gov. John Winthrop who was born and raised in Essex.  Edward’s parents were probably Puritans.  Furthermore, Edward was most likely not their oldest son, and he would have known that upon the death of his father he would not be inheriting the family land.  Edward was probably a young unmarried man when he immigrated to America, probably in his early or mid-twenties, and as such he was easily incensed (a trait of youth) by the harsh treatment of Puritans in England that began in earnest when King Charles I gained the throne of England in 1625.

Although early Baker family historians have asserted that Edward Baker was a passenger on one of the ships traveling with the Winthrop fleet in 1630, in fact there is no evidence to support this assertion.  While no original passenger lists exist from this time period, the more recent lists of likely passengers arriving in 1630 created by historians do not include the name of Edward Baker.  Furthermore, no mention of Edward Baker appears in the early colonial records until he became a freeman at Lynn, Massachusetts in 1638.  The principle requirement of becoming a freeman in the 1630s was that one had to become a member in good standing of a Congregational church.  The vast majority of the earliest Puritan settlers arriving in New England in 1630 became freemen by 1631.  It does not seem likely that Edward Baker arrived in the Boston area in 1630 and avoided joining with his fellow Puritans the Congregational church until 1638.  More likely is that Edward Baker immigrated to the New World sometime between 1635-37, like many others.  While there is no way of knowing for certain, it is estimated that the population around Massachusetts Bay and the Charles River in the new towns of Boston, Charlestown Dorchester, Roxbury and Salem to the north was somewhere around 8-10,000 by the time that Edward Baker arrived in America.  While the area where Edward Baker eventually settled near Saugus, Massachusetts was settled as early as 1629, it is probable that by 1638 when Edward was granted 40 acres of land near Saugus, this area was one of the closest areas to Boston where large plots of land were still available.

All that is known of Edward’s wife is that early records are conflicting with respect to her name, as she is listed in a few documents as either Joan or Jane, and that she died on 9 Apr 1693.  We do not know whether they were married in England or in America.  The couple settled on a 40-acre parcel of land located about five miles south of the existing city of Saugus, Massachusetts, located in present day Essex County just north of the City of Boston.  Edward’s land was largely on the south side of a hill that rose to an elevation of 180 feet above the nearby Saugus River and the Massachusetts Bay.  Edward and Joan’s neighbors called the area of his farm, Baker’s Hill, and the area (now part of a residential area in Weston, Massachusetts) is still known by that name.  The fact that Edward was granted only 40 acres of land, which is somewhat smaller than the typical grant to an English “gentleman”, was probably a reflection of his young age and lack of stature in the community.  Grants of land with respect to size and location were determined by one’s wealth and status in the community.

Northampton, Massachusetts

In 1657, Edward Baker removed from Lynn to Northampton, Massachusetts, only three years after the settlement of that town, where he had several grants of land from the town, purchased several lots besides, held important town offices and remained many years.  While Edward’s reasons for leaving his home in Lynn (formerly Saugus) may have been motivated by religious differences with the Puritan leadership in Lynn, as this was one of the major reasons for the founding of both Hartford and Windsor by earlier Puritans, another and maybe more compelling motive for his move may have been to take advantage of the opportunity both for himself and his sons to purchase excellent land in a new growing community for a fraction of the cost that he received when he sold his land in Lynn.

Smith College campus map, 1922 (Smith College Archives)

Both Nelson M. Baker’s history of Edward Baker and his descendants and a historical narrative of Northampton written by James Russell Trumbull[3] indicate that Edward’s son, Timothy, was a large landowner in Northampton.  By the early 1660s he owned several grants of land that he had received from the town plus several additional lots that he purchased.  His estate is identified as being on the south side of Elm Street running westward from the intersection of Elm and Prospects Streets.  We also learn that another son, Joseph, owned land that he obtained from his father on both sides of Henshaw Avenue, where it too intersects with Elm Street.  This property forms a large portion of the campus of Smith College, a premier liberal arts college for women where many famous American women including Barbara Bush, Julia Child, Sylvia Plath, Nancy Reagan and Gloria Steinem are listed as alumni.

Virtually all historians and family genealogists agree that at some point, Edward and Joan returned to Lynn, Massachusetts.  Nelson M. Baker states: “We are unable to account for his return to Lynn.  His circumstances in Northampton seem far preferable every way.”  It makes absolutely no sense from what we know about the exceptional life that Edward and Joan had made for themselves in Northampton, but the fact that his will was recorded in Lynn on 16 October 1685 and his burial on 17 March 1688, provide solid evidence that he in fact returned to Lynn in later life.    Before they left Northampton, they made certain that both of their sons, Timothy and Joseph, were well situated and owned their plots of land in Northampton.  While there is no record of what Edward provided to his other children still living in Northampton before they departed for Lynn, it is likely that he had transferred items of value to the other siblings of Timothy and Joseph.

Edward and Joan may have returned to Lynn to be with their other children and grandchildren who continued to live in and around the Lynn area.  While this is only a guess, what we do know is that Edward’s Will listed only a few of his children, and the assumption is that he had provided for most of his other children not mentioned in his will prior to preparing the document.

Edward Baker died on 16 Mar 1688, and his wife, Joan, died on 9 April 1693, about six years after her husband.

According to Alonzo Newhall in his History of Lynn[4]:

 “The will of Mr. Baker is dated 16th Oct 1685, and having previously provided for some of his children by deed, not all of them are named in it.  He exhorts his family to live peaceable and pious lives, and desires for himself  a decent funeral suitable to his rank and quality while living.  His burial place is unmarked and unknown.”

There were five sons and one daughter named in his will (Joseph, Mary, John, Timothy, Thomas and Edward).  His daughter (our ancestor), Hannah Baker, who was about 40 years old and probably living at Bristol, Rhode Island at the time of Edward’s death, is not mentioned.

Edward’s son, Timothy, is listed as one of the 150 or so combatants in a battle known as the Battle of Turners Falls (sometimes called the Turners Falls Massacre) that took place on the morning of 19 May 1676. A monument in Gill, Massachusetts marks the spot where Capt. Turner was slain. The site of the battle is in the Riverside Archeological District, a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The children of Edward Baker and his wife, Joan, are listed as follows (all born at Lynn, Massachusetts):

  1. Hannah Baker, born about 1638 and died in Jan 1717 at Bristol, Rhode Island.  On 11 Nov 1659 she married Thomas Lewis.
  2. Joseph, born about 1640 and died during King Philip’s War 29 Oct 1675 at Northampton in an Indian attack that took the life of both Joseph and his 9 year old son.  They were killed while working in the fields by their farmhouse.  On 2 Feb 1662 he married Ruth Holton.
  3. Mary, born about 1642 and died in 1719 at Milton, Massachusetts.  On 7 Apr 1662 she married George Sumner (about 1634-1715) of Dorchester, son of William Sumner and Mary West.
  4. John, born about 1645 and died 15 Sep 1719, probably at Dedham, Massachusetts.  On 17 Dec 1668 he married Abigail Fisher (1646-1723), daughter of Capt. Daniel Fisher of Dedham.
  5. Timothy, born about 1647 and died 30 Aug 1729 at Northampton.    He served in King Philip’s War[5].  In 1672 he married (1st) Grace Marsh ( -1676), daughter of John Marsh and granddaughter of John Webster[6], Governor of Connecticut.  He later married (2nd) Sarah Hollister ( -1691), widow of Rev. Hope Atherton[7] of Hatfield, Massachusetts.
  6. Thomas Baker, born about 1653 and died 2 Oct 1734.  He served in King Philip’s War.  On 10 Jul 1689 he married Mary Lewis (1665-1693), daughter of John Lewis[8] and Hannah Marshfield.
  7. Edward, born about 1655.  On 7 Apr 1675 he married Mary Marshall, daughter of Capt. John Marshall.
  8. Jonathan, born 20 Feb 1657.

The lineage of Hannah Baker and Thomas Lewis is continued under the heading of Edmund Lewis (Lewes) ( -1650).

[1] Nelson M. Baker. A Genealogy of the Descendants of Edward Baker of Lynn, Mass., 1630 (Syracuse, New York: privately published) 1867.

[2] We have no way of knowing Edward Baker’s exact date of birth, except that he must have been at least 21 years old when he became a freeman in 1638. We also know that he is listed in a history of Lynn as one of its earliest settlers, which might suggest that he may have settled in that area as early as 1635 and may have been older than 21 by 1638. If we arbitrarily give him an age of 28 in 1638 (born in the year 1610), then he would have been 47 years old when he moved to Northampton, Massachusetts in 1657 and 77 years old when he died in 1687. I believe that assuming that Edward Baker’s year of birth was around 1610 is a realistic assumption.

[3] James Russell Trumbull. History of Northampton, Massachusetts, from its settlement in 1654 (Northampton, Massachusetts: Press of Gazette Printing Co.) 1898.

[4] Alonzo Lewis and James R. Newhall. The History of Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts: Including Lynnfield, Saugus, Swampscot and Nahant (Boston, Massachusetts: John L. Shorey, Publisher, 1865) p. 126.

[5] Timothy Baker’s name is listed as one of the 150 or so combatants in a battle known as the Battle of Turners Falls (sometimes called the Turners Falls Massacre) that took place on the morning of 19 May 1676.  This particular conflict is one of the low points of the war but it profoundly illustrates the deep hatred that the English colonists felt towards the Indians (and the feeling was no doubt mutual). In the early morning of 19 May 1676 a contingent of militia from the towns of Northampton, Hadley and Hatfield surrounded an Indian village near the present day town of Turners Falls, Massachusetts, and in a surprise attack they killed approximately 200 defenseless Indians, mostly women and children.  There was apparently no attempt at mercy.  Following the killings the soldiers then burned the Indian village and destroyed the food supplies.  The Indian warriors were not at their village at the time of the attack, however as they learned about what had happened they counterattacked the retreating soldiers and managed to achieve some small amount revenge by killing many of the fleeing militia, including Capt. William Turner, who led the attack, and after whom the town of Turner’s Falls was later named. A monument in Gill, Massachusetts marks the spot where Capt. Turner was slain. The site of the battle is in the Riverside Archeological District, a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

[6] John Webster (1590-1661) is my paternal 11th g-grandfather, discussed under his own heading.

[7] Hope Atherton’s name appears along with Timothy Baker’s on the list of soldiers who were involved in the Battle of Turner’s Falls (see above).

[8] John Lewis (1660-1711) is the son of my paternal 10th g-grandfather, Edmund Lewis (Lewes), discussed under his own heading.


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