Brooks #5212

Henry Brooks (1592-1683)

Born in England.  Arrived in Massachusetts by 1639 (probably a few years earlier) and

1st Wife of Henry Brooks ( – before 1651)

Born in England.

Brooks 5212I am also descended from a different daughter of Timothy Brooks (c. 1638-1711)[1].

Regarding this ancestor, much basic information is adapted from: The Brooks Family of Woburn, Mass., by William R. Cutter and Arthur G. Loring (Boston, Massachusetts: David Clapp & Son) 1904, reprinted from New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Jan & Apr 1904.

Henry Brooks was probably born about 1592 in England.  We know this, because in a lawsuit in Dec 1658, he testified that he was then aged about 66 years.  Nothing is known of Henry’s early life or parentage[2].  Unfortunately, neither the date of Henry‘s arrival nor the place whence he came can be verified, as there appears to be no record of either[3].

Unfortunately, the name of Henry’s first wife is unknown to us[4]Henry is known to have resided at Concord, Massachusetts in 1639, where he was admitted a freeman on 14 Mar that year.  Henry and his family later removed to Woburn, Massachusetts, where he appears on the Woburn tax list between 1649 and 1657.  After his arrival at Woburn and before 27 Mar 1651, Henry married Susanna, the widow of Ezekiel Richardson, for his second wife[5].  On 13 Dec 1659, Henry Brooks and Susanna of Woburn, in accordance with an award of the court, resigned one-half of Ezekiel Richardson’s house and lands[6], deeding the property to her son. Theophilus Richardson[7].

Many secondary sources superficially dismiss Susanna Brooks with the passing reference that she was an ancient and skilful woman noted for her medical knowledge.  The source of this quotation, given in full in Hurd’s History of Middlesex County, is much more revealing.  Hurd quotes the account of Daniel Gookin, the English superintendent of Bay Colony Indians prior to King Philip’s War (1675-76)[8]:

In the year 1670, a party of Maquas, being looking after their prey, met with some Indians in the woods, belonging to Naamkeek, or Wamesit, upon the north side of Merrimak river, not far from some English houses; where, falling upon these Indians, that were travelling in a path, they killed some and took others whom they also killed, and among the rest, a young maid of about fourteen years old was taken, and the scalp of her head taken off and her skull broken, and left for dead with others. Some of the Indians escaping came to their fellows; and with a party of men, they went forth to bring off the dead bodies, where they found this maid with life in her. So they brought her home, and got Lt. Thomas Henchman, a good man, and one that hath inspection over them, by my order, to use means for her recovery; and tho’ he had but little hope thereof, yet he took the best care he could about it; and as soon as conveniently he could, sent the girl to an ancient and skillful woman living at Woburn, about ten miles distant, called Goodwife Brooks, to get her to use her best endeavours to recover the maid; which, by the blessing of God, she did, though she were about two years or more in curing her. I was at Goodwife Brooks’ house in May, 1673, when she was in cure; and she showed me a piece or two of the skull that she had taken out. And in May last, 1674, the second day, I being among the Indians at Pawtuckett, to keep court, with Mr. Elliott, and Mr. Richard Daniel, and others, with me, I saw the maid alive and in health, and looked upon her head, which was whole, except a little spot as big as a six-pence might cover, and the maid fat and lusty; but there was no hair come again upon the head where the scalp was flayed off. This cure, as some skillful in chirurgery apprehend, is extraordinary and wonderful; and hence the glory and praise is to be ascribed to God, that worketh wonders without number.

Susanna died on 15 Sep 1681, and on 12 Jul 1682, Henry Brooks married, Annes Jaquinth, probably as his third wife.  Henry died 12 Apr 1683.

On 20 Dec 1650, William Brackenbury of Charlestown conveyed to Henry Brooks six parcels of land in Woburn (178 acres) at a place commonly called Horn Pond, together with a house.  The homestead estate of Henry Brooks is described in the Woburn Records (1678).  The buildings were then located on what was called South Street (present lower Main Street).  The property stayed in the family for several generations, and in 1798, this homestead was owned by Capt. Nathaniel Brooks.

Sunset at Horn Pond, Woburn, Massachusetts - If you notice on the left that is a great blue Heron standing next to the tree (28 Jan 2012); photo credit: Vath Sok

Sunset at Horn Pond, Woburn, Massachusetts – If you notice on the left that is a great blue heron standing next to the tree (28 Jan 2012); photo credit: Vath Sok

Henry Brooks was selectman of Woburn in 1667, 1671 and 1672.

Henry seems to have materially increased his estate and wealth during his lifetime.  While in 1650 he called himself as simply a yeoman, in his old age he referred to himself a clothier.  In Pope’s words[9]:

“A ‘clothier’ was a man who combined the various departments of cloth-making and handled the products. The carder prepared the wool for the spinster; the weaver passed his pieces over to the webster and fuller; the tucker got things in shape for the shearman; and the clothier criticized, accepted, or rejected, and adjusted the prices of the cloths, and put them on the market. … Clothiers were generally men who comprehended the entire process of manufacturing cloth, and who were cloth merchants; so the trade or business implied a person of large brain and strong grasp of details and good sagacity.”

Increase Mather[10] mentions Henry Brooks in passing, in his history of King Philip’s War[11], in connection with his testimony regarding a “monstrous birth[12]” in 1670.  His account reads as follows:

“And now that I am upon this Digression, let me add, that the monstrous births which have at sundry times hapned, are speaking, solemn providences.  Especially that which was at Woburn, Febru. 23, 1670.  When the wife of Joseph Wright was delivered of a Creature the form whereof was as followeth. The head, neck and arms in true Form and shape of a child; but it had no breast bone nor any back bone; the belly was of an extraordinary bigness, both the sides and back being like a belly, the thighs were very small without any thigh bones; It had no buttocks, the Membrum virile was a meer bone; it had no passage for nature in any part below; the feet turned directly outward, the heels turned up, and like a bone; It being opened, there were found two great lumps of flesh on the sides of the seeming belly; the bowels did ly on the upper part of the breast by the Vitalls.

This was testified before the Deputy Gouernour Mr. Willoughby on the 2d of March following, by Mrs. Johnson Midwife, Mary Kendal, Ruth Bloghead, Lydia Kendall.  Seen also by Capt. Edward Johnson, Lieut. John Carter, Henry Brook[s], James Thomson, Isaac Cole.  There are judicious persons, who upon the consideration of some relative circumstances, in that monstrous birth, have concluded that God did thereby bear witness against the Disorders of some in that place. As in the dayes of our Fathers, it was apprehended that God did testifie from heaven against the monstrous Familistical Opinions that were then stirring, by that direfull Monster which was brought forth by the wife of William Dyer, Octo. 17, 1637, a description whereof may be seen in Mr. Welds his History of the Rise and Ruine of Antinomianisme[13], p. 43, 44, and in Mr. Clarks Examples, vol. I, p. 249.”

Apparently, Henry Brooks believed (as was common at the time among the Puritans of New England), that the birth of a deformed infant as a sign of God’s judgment on the mother and even the entire community.

In his will dated 18 Jul 1682 (six days after his last marriage), Henry names wife Annes, son-in-law, John Mousall, sons John, Timothy and Isaac and daughters Sarah and “Lestor” (Hannah).  He also names his grandchildren, Isaac and Henry, sons of his son Isaac, and Miriam, their sister.  An abstract of the will of Henry Brooks was published in the Hon. Edward F. Johnson’s Abstracts of Early Woburn Deeds (p. 31).  In this document, he described himself as a clothier, and as stricken in years, his age being then about ninety-one years.

The will of Henry Brooks describes his lands with some particularity.  The inventory discloses about 20 acres of upland on the east side of the highway, 7 acres of meadow, adjoining to said land, 8 acres of meadow in Forty Pound Meadow (given to the children of Isaac Brooks), about 80 acres of upland on west side of the highway on both sides of the river (given to the two sons of Isaac Brooks), the great lot of 42 acres in Woburn Common[14] (given to Miriam, daughter of Isaac Brooks), 3 small lots in Woburn Common, amounting to about 15 acres, for a division of woodland in Woburn Common land, the half given to the two sons of Isaac Brooks, 6 acres of meadow land in Shred Pine Meadow, for the town privilege in herbage, the half given to the two sons of Isaac Brooks, 5 1/2 acres of swamp bottom and 15 acres of land by Mount Discovery[15].

In addition, to his daughter Lestor [Hannah], he gave 5 shillings, and no more, because she hath received her portion already.  To his Rev. pastors, Mr. Thomas Carter and Mr. Jabez Fox, he gave 20 shillings apiece.  Isaac, his son, was his sole executor, and his trusted friend. Lt. William Johnson, he desired should be overseer, and he gave him 20 shillings.  He made his executor his residuary legatee, and desired that his two grandchildren should not alienate any of the land he gave them during their father’s life.

Henry’s children, probably all by his first wife, are listed as follows (birth dates and birth order are mostly not known with certainty, with the information below being the best guess):

  1. Hannah, born about 1620 in England.  She is referred to in Henry’s will as daughter Lestor.  In 1647 at Concord, Massachusetts, she married (1st) the widower Thomas Fox (married first to Rebecca Wheate in Concord, MA and they had 3 children, she died in 1647) and they had 6 children.  Thomas Fox died in 1658.  In 1661 at New London, Connecticut, Hannah married (2nd) the widower Andrew Lester.  In 1672, Hannah married (3rd) Isaac Wiley.  She died in 1692.
  2. John, born about 1623 and died 29 Sep 1691.  He married Eunice Mousall, daughter of John Mousal and Joanna Thompson.
  3. Martha, born about 1626 and died 3 Aug 1665.
  4. Mary, born about 1630 and died on 24 Feb 1672/73 at Watertown, Massachusetts.  On 24 Jun 1650 she married Richard Norcross, who died in 1709.
  5. Sarah, born about 1633.  She married John Mousall (Jr.), son of Deacon John Mousall at Woburn on 13 May 1650.
  6. Timothy Brooks, born probably about 1634-38, perhaps at Concord, Massachusetts shortly after Henry’s arrival in America, or possibly born in England.  Later he resided at Woburn, Billerica and Swansea, Massachusetts and Salem, New Jersey.
  7. Joseph, born at Concord, Massachusetts on 12 Apr 1641 and died before 1682.
  8. Isaac, born about 1643.  He married Miriam Daniels on 10 Jan 1665/66 at Woburn and died about 1686.

Susanna had children by her previous marriage.

Timothy Brooks, son of Henry, was born in Concord, Massachusetts, after the arrival of his parents in America (perhaps as late as 1638, which would make him 21 years old at the time of his first marriage), or he may have been born in England.  He moved with his family to Woburn in about 1648-1649 where he married Mary Russell, daughter of John Russell, on 23 Dec 1659.  In about 1670, Timothy and Mary moved to Billerica, Massachusetts with their two sons, Timothy (Jr.) and John.  The other children of Timothy and Mary (all daughters) were born at Billerica.  John Russell, the father-in-law of Timothy Brooks, was a strong supporter of the Baptist church at Billerica, and Timothy and Mary likewise followed the tenets of this Church.  It was this interest that prompted him, along with
fifty-four others to petition the court of Plymouth for the formation of the township of Swansea[16], where the first Baptist church in Massachusetts was established under the leadership of Elder John Myles[17], who had settled at Rehoboth, Massachusetts with some of his Welsh Baptist followers in 1662.  The town of Swansea prospered and grew for several years, but Indian attacks in 1675 (the first in King Philip’s War) largely destroyed the settlement, and the settlers scattered for a few years before returning to Swansea after the war.  It was around this time that Timothy Brooks removed to Billerica, Massachusetts.

At Billerica, by an order of the selectmen, Timothy Brooks is allowed for garrison and to entertain Michael Bacon’s family and to have two garrisons of soldiers to defend ye mill and himself ye master of ye garrison.  The mill referred to was one at the falls of the Shawskin River in the east part of Bedford, which Timothy Brooks had purchased from George Farley in 1673.  On 15 Sep 1680 at Billerica, Timothy’s wife Mary died.  Shortly after, Timothy moved back to Swansea, where many of the former Swansea residents who had scattered during the Indian scare, had returned, including Elder John Myles, who had fled to Boston, and Eldad Kinsley, one of the seven founders of the Swansea church.  Mehitabel, the wife of Eldad Kinsley, died in Aug 1679, and in the fall of 1680, Timothy Brooks and Mehitabel (Kinsley) were married.  In Aug 1681, Mehitabel gave birth to a son, Josiah.

Timothy Brooks was one of the respected citizens of Swansea during his ten years of residence.  In 1689, he was elected a representative and on 20 May 1690, he was commissioned a captain.  In about 1690, Timothy and some others[18] from Swansea removed to Salem, New Jersey, where a small settlement of Baptists had formed and built a log church.  According to some sources, Timothy acted as Pastor of this congregation.  Timothy Brooks died at Salem, New Jersey in 1711/2.

The following details regarding the children of Timothy Brooks are extracted mostly from The Brooks Family of Woburn, Mass., by William R. Cutter and Arthur G. Loring (reprinted from New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Jan & Apr 1904), p. 6-7, 10:

The children of Timothy Brooks and his first wife, Mary Russell, are listed as follows: (1) Timothy, born at Woburn 10 Nov 1660 and died 20 Jan 1661; (2) Timothy, born at Woburn 9 Oct 1661, married Hannah Bowen on 10 Nov 1685; (3) John, born at Woburn 16 Oct 1662; (4) Mary, born at Woburn and died 2 Jul 1670; (5) Elizabeth Brooks, born at Woburn and married Thomas Lewis on 10 Apr 1689.  She died before 29 Nov 1731 at Swansea; (6) Mary, born at Billerica 15 Dec 1670 and died 14 Jan 1671; (7) Mary, born at Billerica and died 10 Dec 1671; (8) Hephsibeth Brooks, born at Billerica Feb 23 1673/4, married Pelatiah Mason on 24 May 1694; (9) Anna, born at Billerica 23 Jan 1675/6.  She was living with her aunt, Sarah Mousall of Woburn, on 15 Jun 1702 and was named in her will; (10) Lydia, born at Billerica 8 Jan 1677; (11) Rebecca, born at Billerica 5 Oct 1679, married Melatiah Martin on 6 Nov 1696; (12) Abigail, born at Woburn and married Levi Preson on 16 Oct 1695.

The son of Timothy Brooks and his second wife, Mehitabel, is Josiah.  He was born 26 Oct 1695 at Swansea, Massachusetts and later settled in New Jersey.

I am descended from two of the daughters of Timothy Brooks and his first wife, Mary Russell:

  1. Elizabeth Brooks (1668-1731)
  2. Hepsibeth Brooks (1674-1727)

The path back to me branches here and does not reconnect until Reuben Baker marries Lydia Mason in 1783.  Their daughter, Lydia Baker, married Loren Hamlin, and their lineage then continues under the heading of James Hamlin (Hamblen) (1606-1690).


Descent through Elizabeth Brooks  

Elizabeth Brooks married Thomas Lewis (Jr.), son of Thomas Lewis and Hannah Baker.  He was born 29 Apr 1668 at Lynn, Massachusetts and died Oct 1717 at Swansea, Massachusetts.  Their lineage is continued under the heading of Edmund Lewis (Lewes) ( -1650).


Descent through Hepsibeth Brooks 

Hephsibeth Brooks married Pelatiah Mason, was born 1 Apr 1669 at Rehoboth, Massachusetts and died 29 Mar 1763 at Swansea.  In this family, both the surnames “Brooks” and “Russell” were used in subsequent generations of the Mason family as given names.  Their lineage is continued under the heading of Sampson Mason (1625-1676).

[1] I am also descended from Timothy’s daughter, Hepsibeth (1674-1727), who is also my 8th g-grandmother.

[2] It is estimated that as many as ten immigrants of the name “Brooks” came to America before 1650. Genealogists have speculated since the time of Lemuel Shattuck, who published his history of Concord, Massachusetts, in 1835, that Henry Brooks of Woburn and Capt. Thomas Brooks of Concord, each the immigrant founder of a prolific Massachusetts-based line of descendants, were brothers. Surviving evidence in contemporary records is sparse – a mention in the will of Henry’s son-in-law of his “uncle Thomas Brooks,” and a 1666 Concord tax list in which Thomas’s son Joshua is living on property of Henry’s son Isaac. Given the looseness with which terms such as “uncle” and “cousin” were used in 17th-century Massachusetts, these two facts alone fall short of definitive proof. At the same time, it is unusual that two sibling lines of colonial Englishmen, living in close proximity, could somehow remain completely isolated from each other for a century. Historian David Hackett Fischer has aptly described Massachusetts by the mid-18th century as “a vast cousinage.” Yet there is no record of a single intermarriage between these Woburn and Concord lines prior to 1755.  Since allied families often migrated in groups, or settled near each other, we may also ask why the Woburn and Concord lines diverge sharply in their early geographical dispersion. Henry had numerous descendants in early Connecticut and West Jersey, yet Thomas none. In town after town in Massachusetts and even Connecticut, the early Brooks population is either exclusively Concord line or Woburn line. They seem somehow to be oil and water. Of course, human factors such as family estrangement or religious differences could be at work. In 2006, unpublished results of DNA testing of known Brooks descendants supposedly confirmed beyond a doubt that Henry and Capt. Thomas Brooks of Massachusetts shared a recent common male ancestor.  Also, an esteemed genealogist, John Brooks Threlfall has privately published research into the origins of these two men in England. The serendipitous result is that Mr. Threlfall’s research and the DNA test results converge on one man, Richard Brooke of Manchester, Lancashire, England, as the common ancestor – a grandfather to each of our emigrants, making them first cousins. Basically, the DNA results tell us that Thomas and Henry of Massachusetts were closely related, sharing a common male ancestor in their recent past. John Threlfall’s research tells us that a Henry and Thomas Brooks who were, as proved by will, first cousins, lived in or about Manchester, England at precisely the right time in history. Thomas Brooke of Manchester married a wife Grace, and the bridal couple subsequently disappeared from Manchester records (presumably having emigrated to New England). Although we lack absolute certainty in an imperfect research world, these researchers believe we can state with some confidence that Thomas and Grace of Massachusetts were the Thomas and Grace of Manchester. Nothing is proven, but there are clues to profitable avenues for future research.

[3] There were apparently two men with the name: “Thomas Brooke”, who arrived at Boston in 1635 on the Susan & Ellen. Henry Brooks does not appear on the passenger list for this voyage or any other known list.

[4] Some sources report, without proof, that her name was Grace Wheeler.  She may have been the wife of a Thomas Brooks of Concord, Massachusetts, who may have been Henry’s brother or other close relation.

[5] Compare Mass. Hist. Coll., i., 163, W. R. Cutter’s sketch ” Woburn,” and Hurd’s History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, i., 366-367. Ezekiel Richardson, her former husband, died 21 Oct 1647. He was one of the three brothers Richardson, prominent in the first settlement of Woburn, and his brother, Samuel Richardson, in a deed dated 27 Mar 1651, mentions Ezekiel Richardson, my brother, Thomas Richardson, our brother and my sister Susanna Brooks (who was wife of mv deceased brother, Ezekiel Richardson). Henry Brooks and wife Susanna conveyed property to Theophilus Richardson, the son of Ezekiel, which stands as a confirmation of this relationship, and Theophilus Richardson’s widow married John Brooks, son of Henry Brooks.

[6] Edward F. Johnson, Early Woburn Deeds, 7, Brooks/Richardson (Book 2, Page 154).

[7] Anderson, Robert Charles, George F. Sanborn Jr. and Melinde Lutz Sanborn. The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634–1635 (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society) 1999. See entry for Theophilus Richardson.

[8] Hurd, D. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton).  History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts: with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (1890), p. 367-8.

[9] The Pioneers of Massachusetts, a Descriptive List Drawn from Records of the Colonies, Towns and Churches, and other Contemporaneous Documents, by Charles Henry Pope, Boston, 1900 (8 volumes).

[10] My 1st cousin 11x removed, discussed under “Notable Kin”.

[11] Increase Mather. A Brief History of the Warr with the Indians in New-England (Boston: Massachusetts) 1676. This work is Mather’s influential contemporary account of King Philip’s War, between the English colonists in New England (and their Native allies) and the Wampanoag, Narragansett, and other Indian nations of the region, beginning in 1675. Mather’s account runs through August of 1676, when hostilities in southern, central, and western New England ended; fighting continued in the region of Maine until 1678. The war was disastrous for both sides, but particularly for the hostile Native Americans, who were brought very close to extermination. The Brief History delivers many telling truths about the conflict: that the English conducted search-and-destroy campaigns against both persons and provisions, slaughtered (Mather’s word) large numbers of women and children as well as men, executed captured leaders by firing squad (on Boston Common and at Stonington, Connecticut); and that their “armies” were on several occasions routed or entirely wiped out by Native fighters.

[12] Some of the Puritan’s interpreted the birth of a deformed infant as a sign of God’s judgment on the mother. This scenario was played out in the famous cases of both Mary (Barrett) Dyer (my paternal 9th g-grandmother) and Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson (my paternal 10th g-grandmother).  These women are discussed under their own headings, and detailed accounts are included.

[13] Winthrop, John (1588-1649) and Weld, Thomas (1590?-1662). A short story of the rise, reign, and ruin of the Antinomians, Familists, and libertines that infected the churches of New-England and how they were confuted by the assembly of ministers there as also of the magistrates proceedings in court against them : together with God’s strange remarkable judgements from heaven upon some of the chief fomenters of these opinions : and the lamentable death of Mrs. Hutchison : very fit for these times, here being the same errors amongst us, and acted by the same spirit : published at the instant request of sundry, by one that was an eye and ear-witness of the carriage of matters there. (London: Printed for Tho. Parkhurst) 1692.

[14] Meaning not the present Woburn Common, now a square in Woburn Centre, but lots in common land or lands.

[15] These lands can be traced by deeds for three generations. (See Early Woburn Deeds by Hon. Edward F. Johnson.)

[16] Named for the town of that name in Wales.

[17] John Myles (1621-1683) is my paternal 9th g-grandfather, discussed under his own heading.

[18] Among these settlers were Timothy Brooks, his son Timothy Brooks (Jr.) and members of the Bowen, Barrett and Swinney families.


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