Tenth Great-Grandparents: Roger and Hannah Billings

We’ve finally arrived at my Billings immigrant ancestor, Roger Billings, Sr.! Thanks to some online books and a trip to the New York Public Library, I’ve gathered more information on him than on his son.

Roger was born circa 1618-1620 in England (I suspect more toward the 1618 side). Some online sources indicate who his parents are, but I’ve read that those parents had been disproven.

Roger arrived in the New World (probably directly to Dorchester, Massachusetts) sometime between 1635 and 1640. He went on to become a carpenter and a farmer.

On June 19, 1640, Roger was admitted as a member of the First Church of Dorchester, which still exists today as the First Parish Church. The minister at the time was Richard Mather, father of Increase Mather and grandfather of Cotton Mather. Roger married his first wife, Mary _____, who was admitted to the church on March 8, 1644. Roger went on to become a freeman on May 10, 1643.

One interesting bit of information I found about Roger was that on May 13, 1646, he signed a petition against Anabaptists (what Baptists were back then) from entering the colony. This makes me think that he was quite the Puritan!

Mary died and it wasn’t long before Roger married my other ancestor, Hannah _____. I know barely anything about her apart from Roger. She was admitted as a member of the church on October 14, 1655, and she was the mother of some (or maybe most) of Roger’s children, particularly my ancestor, Roger, Jr. (The authored sources that I’ve looked at ascribe a different mix of children to each of his wives, but Roger, Jr. is always ascribed to Hannah.) Sadly, Hannah died on March or May 1662, just four days after her last child, Zipporah, was born.

In the 1650’s, Roger and Hannah made their home on the part of Dorchester that is now North Quincy. Some Descendants of Roger Billings of Dorchester, Massachusetts pinpoints where Roger’s farmhouse was: “on the east side present East Squantum Street at the bend in the road just south of the present Quincy Shore Boulevard crossing”.

Quincy Shore Boulevard is the main road, with East Squantum Street being the crossroad.  Courtesy Google Earth

Quincy Shore Boulevard is the main road, with East Squantum Street being the crossroad. Courtesy Google Earth

There's a CVS at this location now!  Courtesy Google Earth.

There’s a CVS at this location now! Courtesy Google Earth.

Once again Roger found another spouse in Elizabeth Pratt, who did outlive him. In the later part of Roger’s life (between 1674 and 1682), he served several appointments; as “Commissioner for Country Rate” (I have no idea what this is) and as a tithingman (which was a church office that ensured people paid their proper tithes and modeled proper behavior in church).

Roger made out his will on February 2, 1680 and made a codicil on November 13, 1683, just two days before he died. (In fact, his codicil stated that he was “senceible of bodily weakeness and decay of body”.)

I don’t know where any of his wives are buried (though I suspect that Mary and Hannah may be buried closer to the church in Dorchester), but Roger is buried in Hancock Cemetery in Quincy. His clearly carved gravestone still stands.

Ninth Great-Grandparents: Roger Billings, Jr. and Sarah Paine

At this point, information is starting to get sketchier, so what you read here is to the best of my knowledge.

Roger Billings, Jr. (who will have the suffix Jr. in this post for the sake of distinguishing him from his father) was born to Roger Billings (sometimes known as Billing) and Hannah ___ on November 18, 1657 in Dorchester, Suffolk County, MA. He supposedly served in King Philip’s War, being listed among the men at the Mendon, Massachusetts garrison on August 24, 1676.

Sarah Paine was the daughter of Stephen Paine and Hannah Bass. I’ve found three different birth dates for her, but the sources all agree she was born in 1657 in Braintree, Suffolk County, MA.

Roger and Sarah were married on January 22, 1678. They had somewhere around twelve to fourteen children, but some of the names do vary. However, Stephen, my eighth great-grandfather, was one of them. I suspect that he was named after Sarah’s father.

Roger died on January 27, 1718 and Sarah died on September 19, 1742 in Dorchester. I assume they are buried somewhere in Dorchester.

Eighth Great-Grandparents: Stephen and Elizabeth Billings

Stepping back in my Billings family line, we come to Seth’s parents, Stephen Billings and Elizabeth Fenno.

Stephen was the son of Roger Billings and Sarah Paine. He was born on August 27, 1691 in Dorchester, Suffolk County, MA.

Elizabeth was the daughter of John Fenno and Rachel Newcomb. She was born on May 7, 1707 in Dorchester.

Stephen and Elizabeth were married on June 9, 1724 (I assume in Dorchester). From what I see on some sources on the internet, they had twelve children! The oldest was named after his father, and I seemed to confuse them in finding the name “Stephen Billings” in NEHGS’s colonial military records. I believe it was the younger Stephen who served in 1748-1749 on Castle William in Boston Harbor. (For all I know, however, both could have served.) At the time, young Stephen served under Captain Spencer Phips, who also was Massachusetts’ lieutenant governor at the time. Today, Castle Island is no longer an island, and the the fort Castle William eventually was replaced by Fort Independence, which is now a state park and on the National Register of Historic Places.

Castle William, as Stephen Billings, Jr. would have known it.  Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Castle William, as Stephen Billings, Jr. would have known it. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Stephen the elder died on June 10, 1767 and Elizabeth on October 17, 1783 in Stoughton, Suffolk County, MA.

Seventh-Great Grandparents: Seth and Jerusha Billings

In my last post, we learned of Levi Taunt and his wife, Jerusha Billings. I’d like to continue climbing up the Billings branch. Again, this is a family that needs more in-depth research, but I did find a couple of interesting nuggets along the way.

As stated before, Jerusha’s parents were Seth Billings and Jerusha Redman. Seth was born on February 1, 1728 in Stoughton, Suffolk County, MA. Some online trees suggest he was the second of the twelve children of Stephen Billings and Elizabeth Fenno. He and Jerusha Redman filed their marriage intention on January 3, 1749/1750, but I don’t have an exact marriage date.

Although they may have had more children, I could find four for sure:

  • Jerusha, born August 3, 1750 (perhaps her conception precipitated her parents’ marriage?); married Levi Taunt on February 25, 1768 in Stoughton, Suffolk County, MA
  • Seth, born May 30, 1756; died August 2, 1769 in Stoughton. Interesting story behind his death: Massachusetts, continuing its rebellious spirit spurred by the Stamp Act and those who enforced it, celebrated when Governor Bernard departed the colony on August 1, 1769. Bonfires were lit, cannons went off, and in Stoughton, a salute was fired off as he left. Sadly, young Seth got in the way and was injured, dying the next day.
  • Robert, born December 29, 1759; married Olive Bussey.
  • Zeruah, born August 11, 1762 in Stoughton; married Samuel Gooch, September 1, 1787; died August 31, 1801.

Seth, Sr. himself died on August 7, 1766, only 38 years old, leaving Jerusha widowed with four young children. She did not remarry until March 15, 1789 to Nathaniel Pitty. I can only suppose that she was assisted by her family until then.

Taunt: A Short But Fruitful Branch

Remember Jerusha Taunt? I wanted to document her lineage as well, starting with her paternal line. Sadly, I only had it going back two more generations. Little did I know that there was a surprise waiting for me as I prepared this post!

Let’s start with the basics, beginning with Jerusha’s father, Seth Billings Taunt. He was the son of Levi Taunt and Jerusha Billings, born on September 26, 1772 in Stoughton, Plymouth County (now Norfolk County), MA. On March 11, 1794 he married Anna Capernaum in Braintree, Norfolk County, MA. One source, The Record of Births, marriages and Deaths and Intentions of Marriage in the Town of Stoughton… noted that the intention of marriage was filed in March 1794 between Seth Taunt and “Mrs. Anna Copernaun”. This brings two questions to mind: Which is the correct spelling of her surname (which I know is very subjective back then)? And “Mrs.” — was Anna really married before? If so, what is her maiden name?

The following are Seth and Anna’s children, the facts of whom all took place in Braintree unless otherwise noted:

  • Anna, born August 3, 1794 (by this date you can see why the intention of marriage was filed!); died September 5, 1811.
  • William, born after 1794; died July 15, 1797.
  • Cynthia, born May 21, 1798; married Elisha Savil on December 20, 1818; died April 23, 1876.
  • Jerusha, born February 7, 1801; died October 12, 1803 (obviously not my Jerusha).
  • Seth, born December 16, 1804; married Mary J. Holbrook on January 19, 1825.
  • Jerusha B. (as I stated before, I suspect that “B.” is for Billings), born May 28, 1807; married Ivory Goodwin on January 25, 1824; died October 20, 1870 in Lynn, Essex County, MA.
  • William, born August 24, 1809; died before January 15, 1817.
  • William, born January 15, 1817.

Seth died on April 17, 1837 and Anna on January 29, 1856, both in Braintree. I have no burial information on them at this time.

Going back a generation, we come to Seth’s father Levi, who lived in Stoughton. There are other Taunts in Stoughton around Levi’s time, and I suspect they are related, but I don’t know how. (Again, a job for an in-person research trip to the town!)

On December 7, 1767, Levi and his future bride Jerusha Billings (born August 3, 1750 to Seth Billings and Jerusha Redman) filed their marriage intention with George Crosman, Stoughton town clerk. They were married on February 25, 1768 by Reverend Samuel Dunbar, a long-time minister there.

Although the 1790 census shows more people in Levi Taunt’s home, I’ve only uncovered two children attributed to him and Jerusha:

  • Charlotte (also listed as Charity and Charlety), born December 10, 1768; married Ebenezer Holmes on February 10, 1789.
  • Seth, born September 26, 1772; outlined above.

Now for the interesting part. Normally before I write a blog post, I review what records I have and maybe do a quick second look in Google. Under a spelling variation of “Tant”, I came across Levi’s name in the History of the Town of Canton, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, by Daniel Thomas Vose Huntoon. Though published in 1893, Huntoon wrote the book in the 1860s after having been Town Clerk in Canton (which had been part of Stoughton) and desiring to preserve the history from its records. Under Appendix XX, “Levi Tant” was listed as a private who was in the First Company under Captain James Endicott, among a contingent of minutemen who marched from Stoughton on April 19, 1775 upon hearing news of the Lexington alarm. Under Appendix XXI, “Levi Taunt” is listed among the “Soldiers who served in the Revolution after the Lexington Alarm”. So my sixth great-grandfather was a minuteman and a Patriot!

Lexington Minuteman Monument. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Lexington Minuteman Monument. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Other than this one book, I can’t easily find any other record of his service (which of course will mean more deep digging). However, I have no reason to doubt it either. What a find, just in time for Independence Day!