Born in England. Arrived in Massachusetts by 1634 and later settled in Rhode Island and
Born in England. Arrived in Massachusetts by 1634.
Philip Taber was born in England about 1605 and died probably about 1672 in Rhode Island. He makes his first appearance in the colonial records of Massachusetts at Watertown, where he was made a freeman on 14 May 1634. Prior to 1639 he married Lydia Masters, daughter of John Masters and Jane [surname unknown] of Cambridge, Massachusetts. We know this because the will of John Masters, made two days before his death on 21 Dec 1639, mentions a daughter Lydia Taber. The date of the death of Lydia Masters is not found in the colonial records.
Nothing is known of Philip’s parentage, his home in England or the timing and details of his arrival in New England.
There are several apparently erroneous statements regarding Philip Taber that were perpetuated by George L. Randall, Taber Genealogy: Descendants of Thomas son of Philip Taber (New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1924). The erroneous claims may not have originated with this author, but they have been picked up by others. Many of these have been corrected by more recent research:
- (Not proven): Philip Taber first appears at Plymouth in 1630; there is no evidence for this, and the first record for Philip is in Massachusetts Bay in April 1634, implying arrival no later than 1633.
- (False): Philip Taber and Lydia Masters were married on 21 Dec 1639. This is in fact the date of her father’s death and merely establishes a terminus ad quem for the marriage.
- (False): Philip Taber had a daughter “Esther” who married a man “Mayhew”. There is no evidence that any member of the Mayhew family in the seventeenth century had a wife Esther, by any surname.
- (False): Philip Taber married second Jane “Latham”, sister of Cary Latham. In fact, the surname of Philip’s second wife is unknown. Cary Latham’s wife was also a daughter of John Masters, and it is through this connection that Latham and Taber were described as brothers-in-law.
Some of the biographical information that follows is extracted from Henry Howland Crapo, Certain Comeoverers, Vol. I (New Bedford, Massachusetts: E. Anthony & Sons, 1912).
Philip Taber was not a man who settled in one place for long. He must have come to New England with some capital as well as skill in his trade. The colonial records show that he frequently moved from town to town to engage in business as a sawyer, a carpenter and a builder. On 1 Apr 1634, Philip Taber contributed toward the construction of a protective fort for the harbor at Boston, promising two hundred feet of four-inch planks for the project.
We find him next at Yarmouth, on Cape Cod, where he was one of the first settlers. The permanent and authorized settlement of the town of Yarmouth commenced early in 1639, and the first three grantees of the court were, Anthony Thacher, John Crow and Thomas Howes, each of whom had taken the oath of allegiance the December and January preceding and had surveyed the lands, preparatory to occupation. They, with John Coite, to be inquired of, Mr. Madrick Matthews, Philip Tabor, William Palmer, Samuel Rider, William Lumpkin and Thomas Hatch, were proposed, 7 Jan 1639, to take up their freedom at Yarmouth. On 5 Mar 1639, Philip Tabor was appointed to a committee for the equal division of the planting land in first allotment. In 1639 and 1640 he was chosen a Deputy for Yarmouth in the earliest Assembly of Plymouth Colony. In 1640, his son John was baptized at Barnstable, Cape Cod (probably still residing at Yarmouth, however), as appears by the church records of Barnstable, the Rev. Mr. Lothrop baptized John, son of Philip Tabor dwelling at Yarmouth, a member of the church at Watertown. Six years later in 1646, his sons Philip, Thomas and Joseph were baptized. Philip Taber remained in Yarmouth a few years only and then removed to Great Harbor, later known as Edgartown, on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Thomas Mayhew of Watertown had bought this island in 1641, and many of the earliest settlers of that island came from Watertown. It is quite probable that Philip Taber and his wife knew some of these people as former neighbors in Watertown, and it is evident that the newly started settlement would have been in need of a builder. Just when Philip Taber first came to the Vineyard is uncertain, but it must have been was before 1647, when he sold to John Bland his interest in a tract of land lying against Mr. Bland’s house at Mattakeekset. Philip Taber lived at Pease’s Point. He was evidently one of the “proprietors” of the island, as he shared in all the divisions of lands as long as he was a resident of the island. In 1647 Philip witnessed a document relating to Mr. Mayhew’s ward, Thomas Paine, which suggests that he was somewhat closely associated with Thomas Mayhew.
It is evident that Philip left the island occasionally to undertake some new work of construction on the mainland. In 1651 he was in New London working with his brother-in-law, Nathaniel Masters, on the Mill Dam. It is possible that after leaving Yarmouth and before going to the Vineyard, he was in New London in 1642, or soon thereafter. In 1653, Philip Taber was back on the island, when with Thomas Mayhew he was chosen one of the four who acted as town’s committee, or Selectmen. In May 1653, Thomas Mayhew, Thomas Burchard and Philip Taber were chosen to divide to the inhabitants out of all the Necks so much land as they in the best judgment shall see meet. To Philip Taber was set off the neck called Ashakomaksett from the bridge that is at the East side of the head of the swamp. The modern name of this locality is Mahachet. Philip Taber, in the same year, shared in the division of the planting lands. During this and the next year or two he made several conveyances of land.
A year or two later, Philip Taber was guilty of certain indiscretions, which made it desirable for him to remove to Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Under date of 3 Jan 1655, the town records of Portsmouth say Philip Tabor is received an inhabitant and taken his ingagement to the State of England and government of this place and bath equal right of commonage with the rest of this towne. It was probably after his final departure from Edgartown that the following entry was made in that town’s records, 15 May 1655: It is agreed by ye 5 men yt Philip Tabor is proved to be a man that hath been an attempter of women’s chastities in a high degree. This is proved by Mary Butler and Mary Foulger, as divers more remote testimonies by others, and words testified from his own mouth with an horrible abuse of scripture to accomplish his wicked end. In August of the same year, Philip Taber conveyed his house and lot at Mahachet, and thereafter he had no further history on the Vineyard.
Evidently Philip‘s indiscretions on the Vineyard in no way prevented him from taking a leading part in the affairs of his new place of residence. In 1656 he acted on the jury at the Court at Newport. In 1660, 1661 and 1663, he represented Portsmouth as a commissioner to the General Court of the Union of the Rhode Island Colonies. In 1663, he was on a committee to devise means of raising money to pay Mr. John Clarke for his services, as the agent of the Colonies in England. During his residence of about ten years in Portsmouth, he constantly served the town as Rater, Tax Collector, Constable, etc. On 31 Jan 1664, Philip (calling himself of Newport, at this date) sold a certain house at Portsmouth now or lately in occupation of Alexander Balcom. In 1665 he sold his house in Portsmouth, which was on the Newport road, to Anthony Shaw for £40 and three hundred good boards. In 1667 he was living in Providence, where he witnessed certain deeds of real estate to his son-in-law, Pardon Tillinghast, the noted Baptist minister, builder of the first wharf in Providence and founder of a wealthy and noted family of Rhode Island, who in 1664 had married his daughter Lydia. It is evident that Philip Taber was a man of some distinction in Providence. His daughter’s marriage to the leading minister and wealthiest merchant of the town would have accomplished that.
In 1671, at his Majestie’s Court of Justices sitting at Newport for the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” Philip Taber and Roger Williams gave evidence against one William Harris for speaking and writing against his Majestie’s gracious Charter to his Colony, which treasonable conduct was evidently regarded very seriously by the Court. There is no further record of Philip Taber after that. He probably died in Providence in about 1672. The final record of Philip Taber is dated 24 Feb 1672, when his testimony was read before the Assembly. There is apparently a family tradition to the effect that Philip settled finally at Tiverton, Rhode Island, and there died, but this is not consistent with the fact that Tiverton, Rhode Island was not incorporated by English colonists until 1694 (although there could have been settlers near that location earlier).
At what date his wife, Lydia Masters, died does not appear in the colonial records. We know only that it was some time between the birth of his youngest child (about 1648) and the date of the deposition of Philip and his second wife, Jane, regarding the drowning death of a child (1669).
That Philip Taber was a man of means, ability and standing is shown by the political positions he held, his subscription to the public safety, and his real estate transactions, all this in spite of his apparently restless disposition and migratory habits.
Children of Philip Taber and Lydia Masters are listed as follows (all born at Barnstable, Massachusetts):
- John, born about 1640.
- Philip (Jr.), born about 1642 and died about 1694 at Dartmouth, Massachusetts. He married Mary Cooke (1651-1712), the daughter of Mayflower passenger John Cooke (1605-1695) and Sarah Warren. Sarah is the daughter of Mayflower passenger Richard Warren (1579-1628), but she arrived afterwards aboard the Anne in 1623.
- Thomas, born about 1644 and died on 11 Nov 1730. He married (1st) Esther Cooke (1650-1671). Thomas and Esther are the 6th g-grandparents of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States. Thomas was a prominent man in Dartmouth, serving in 1673 as surveyor of highways, 1675 fence viewer, 1679 town clerk, and constable, between 1685-1702, eight terms as selectman, 1686 ratemaker, 1689 captain of militia and 1693 Deputy to the General Assembly. In 1672 he married (2nd) Mary Thompson, by whom he had ten children.
- Joseph, born about 1646 at Barnstable and died in 1734. In 1680 he married (1st) Hannah Gray (1648- ) and (2nd) Mary Gladden.
- Lydia Taber, born about 1648 and died in 1720 at Providence, Rhode Island. On 16 Apr 1664 at Providence, she married (1st) Rev. Pardon Tillinghast, and on 4 Nov 1718 at Providence, she married (2nd) Samuel Mason.
The lineage of Lydia Taber and Pardon Tillinghast is continued under his heading.
 At Providence, Rhode Island, 10 Jun 1669, in an inquest case related to the drowning death of the widow Ballou’s lad, he testified that he was 64 years of age, thus placing the year of his birth in about 1605. Philip’s second wife, Jane, also testified in the case stating that her age at the time was 64 years, thus placing the year of her birth also in about 1605. This also fixes 1669 as the date before which Philip’s first wife, Lydia Masters, must have died. In her deposition, Jane also referred to Joseph Tabor as son-in-law.
 My 10th g-grandfather, discussed under his own heading.
 My 9th g-grandfather, discussed under his own heading.
 Documentatry evidence of this is lacking, but the event is reported in many secondary sources.
 Thomas Mayhew (1593-1682) is reported by some sources to be the brother of my supposed 10th g-grandmother, Hannah Mayhew, discussed under the heading of William Gager (1592-1630). The connection has not been proven, but the subject deserves further research.
 John Clarke (1609-1676) is an important man in the history of Rhode Island, and he was the brother of my 8th g-grandfather, Joseph Clarke (1618-1694), making him my 8th g-grand uncle. John Clarke was a medical doctor, Baptist minister, co-founder of the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, author of its influential charter and a leading advocate of religious freedom in the Americas. He is discussed more fully under the heading of Joseph Clarke (1618-1694).
 My 9th g-grandfather, discussed under his own heading.
 My 10th g-grandfather, discussed under his own heading.
 It is from Philip’s testimony in this case that his date of birth is placed about 1605.
 Since documentary evidence is lacking, the dates of birth for Philip’s children are based on various surmises. Many secondary sources state that sons Philip, Thomas and Joseph were baptized together in 1646. No primary evidence has been found for this statement, but in the absence of more useful evidence, these items will be used to structure this family. The dates of birth were derived by first assuming that John was the oldest, then that the next three children were born at two-year intervals, and baptized together in 1646. These three children are listed here in the order that they are listed among the baptisms; this is consistent with the approximate dates of marriage for Philip and Thomas. Since Lydia was not stated to be among those baptized in 1646, she was most likely born later, and placing her birth in 1648 would make her sixteen at marriage, a reasonable age.