The Great Migration Begins by Robert Charles Anderson
Abstracted by Janice Farnsworth. Thanks!
Subject: Edward Converse
Source: The Great Migration Begins by Robert Charles Anderson
NEHGS, Boston, 1995. Vol. 1 A-F, p.459-463
Origin: South Weald, Essex, England
First Residence: Charlestown
Removes: Woburn 1640
Occupation: Ferryman. June 14, 1631: "Edw Converse hath under-
taken to set up a ferry betwixt Charlton & Boston, for which he
is to have 2d. for every single person, & 1d. apiece if there be
2 or more."
On April 1, 1633 "There is 11s. 5d. allowed to Edward Converse
for ferrying officers over the water." (MBCR 1:103).
Church Membership: Admitted to Boston Church as member #66,
which would be in the fall of 1630; "Edward Convers and Sarah
his wife" dismissed Oct 14, 1632 to participate in forming new
Charlestown church as founding members, Nov 2, 1632
(Charlestown Church Record 7).
Freeman: Requested Oct 19, 1630 and admitted May 18, 1631
(MBCR 1:80, 366).
Offices: Elected Charlestown selectman Feb 10, 1634/5, Feb 13,
1635/6, Feb 17, 1636/7, Feb 12, 1637/8 (ChTR 13, 16, 24, 34).
Chosen grandjuryman from Charlestown, Feb 12, 1737/8; chosen
by Charlestown to carry a petition to the General Court, Feb.
17, 1636/7; held numerous minor offices in Charlestown, many of
them related to laying out land, including service on a committee to "go up
into the country upon discovery," July 11, 1635.
Coroner's jury on death of Austen Bratcher, Sept 28, 1630 (MBCR 1:77).
Jury "in an action of battery, complained of by Thomas Dextor against
Capt. Endicott," May 3, 1631 (MBCR 1:86)
Committee to set out the bounds between Charlestown and Mr. Cradock's farm,
Oct 7, 1640 (MBCR 1:304).
With Lt. Sprague, to "repair the bridge at Meadford, over Mistick River," Dec. 10,
1641 (MBCR 1:343)
With Simon Willard sent to investigate Shaw- sheen, June 14, 1642 (MBCR 2:11)
Commissioner to end small causes at Woburn, May 10, 1643 (MBCR 2:35)
Committee to lay out the way from Cambridge to Woburn May 10, 1643
With Ralph Sprague to view the bridge at Mystic and report repairs needed,
May 6, 1646 (MBCR 2:149).
Deputy to General Court for Woburn, May 30, 1660, Dec. 19, 1660
On March 10, 1661/2 in the process of deposing about grants of
land in Woburn, "Edward Converse aged about 73 years & John
Mousall aged about 66 years" stated that they were "two of the
selectmen of the town of Woburne from the beginning of the
plantation to this present time" (MLR 2:197).
Estate: Granted two acres planting ground in Charlestown, Jan
10, 1634/5 (ChTR 12); in 1635, along with several others, re-
linquished five acres of his grant on Mystic side; on Feb 9,
1635/6, listed with hay lot #56, four acres (ChTR 19,20); granted
five acres on Mystic side, Mar 6, 1636/7 (ChTR 27); in
1637 and on Dec 30, 1638, listed as holding five and a quarter
cow commons (ChTR 32, 42), granted parcels of thirty-five and
eighty acres on Mystic side, April 23, 1638 (ChTR 36).
On June 23, 1635 Edward Converse sold to Thomas Brigden two
acres with an old house, as a result of which Converse was granted
two acres at "Wenotomies River" (ChTR 14).
In 1638 Charlestown Book of Possessions Edward Converse held
thirteen parcels of land: one rood of ground in the middle row
"with a dwelling house, store house and other appurtenances";
five acres arable land in East Field; one acre and a half arable
land in East Field; three acres meadow in South Meadows; one acre
meadow in South Mead; five and a quarter milch cow commons,
two acres meadow in Line Field, with a parcel of upland adjoin-
ing; eight acres arable land in Line Field; three acres meadow
"lying on the north of Mount Prospect"; five acres woodland in
Mystic Field; thirty-five acres woodland in Mystic Field; eighty
acres of land in Water Field; and five acres woodland in Mystic
Field (ChBOP 6-7).
On March 6, 1649, Edward Converse of Woburn, having "formerly
given & granted" to Ezekiell Richardson of Woburn, late dec'd,
twelve acres of meadow and upland at Three Brothers Brook, now
confirms to the same Richardson's executors and heirs (MLR 2:71)
On June 7, 1651 Edward Converse of Woburn, yeoman, sold to Henry
Brooks of Woburn seven acres at Horn Pond River in Woburn; "Sara
Convers," wife of Edward, acknowledged this deed on Aug 15, 1651
In his will, dated [blank] August 1659 and proved Oct 7, 1663,
"Edward Convers of Woburn" though "weak of body" bequeathed to
"my beloved wife Sara Converse" f 10 a year for her life, f 5
from "my son Josiah Convers" and f 5 from the mill; to my wife
"such rooms to live in during her life in the house I now live
in as she shall make choice of and ten of the apple trees in
the old orchard...a fourth part of all my moveable goods";
to my son Josiah Convers" the house wherein he now liveth and
appurtenances, and the land in the great field, and the meadow and for
want of heirs of Josiah the same to go to "my son James
Convers his son Edward Convers" and for want of heirs, to be
divided equally between the rest of my son James his children; "to my
two sons Josiah and Samuel" the field, my mill and mill
house and appurtenances; to "my son Samuel Convers" my house
wherein I now dwell and all the land behind the house and all the
plowable land on the north side of blind bridge and the
adjoining meadow (paper is damaged); remaining lands equally
divided between Josiah, James and Samuel, except the timber on
the pasture lands, James shall have no part therein; if my son
Samuel die without issue, his share divided between "the children of my
daughter Mary Thompson"; to "my son James Convers
f 30; to "my daughter Mary Sheldon" 20 marks; to my kinsman Alin
Convers" f 10; to "my kinswoman Sara Smith" f 5; "my kinsman John Parker"
40s; sons Josiah and Samuel executors; son James
Converse "my kinsman Alin Convers, and my kinsman John Parker"
overseers (MPR #4920). (A bequest to a son, of meadow, is in
fragments in the margin.)
In her will, dated Feb 24, 1674/5 and proved June 15, 1680,
"Joanna Convers widow to Edward deceased sometimes wife of
Lieutenant Ralph Sprague" wished to be buried "by my children"
and bequeathed to "my daughter Mary Edmands" household goods;
to my son Phinehas Sprague" household goods "at his father's
house"; to Mary Edmands, daughter to Daniell & Mary Edmands",
household goods; residue to my children equally, "John Sprague,
Richard Sprague, Samuel Sprague and Mary Edmands" (MPR Case # 4930).
Birth: Baptized Navestock, Essex. 23 March 1588/9, son of Allen
Converse (see discussion below). He deposed March 10, 1661/2 aged about
73 years (MLR 2:197).
Death: Woburn August 10, 1663.
Marriage: (1) Great Burstead, Essex, England, June 29, 1614 Sarah Parker
(NEHGR 146:130); she died Woburn Jan 14, 1662[3?].
m. (2) in 1663 Joanna (Warren) Sprague (widow of Ralph Sprague)
She died Woburn 24 February 1680 and called herself "Joannah
Convers widow to Edward deceased sometimes wife of Lieutenant
Ralph Sprague" in her will (MPR Case #4930).
i. Josiah, bp South Weald, Essex, 30 October 1618 (NEHGR 141:
131; Converse Gen 8673); m. Woburn 26 March 1651 Hester
ii. John, bp. South Weald, Essex, 29 November 1620 (NEHGR
141:132; Converse Gen 863); no further record unless this
record is really for James, immediately below.
iii. James, b. abt 1621 (deposed 4 April 1660 aged 39 (Pope,
presumably citing Middlesex Court Files); m. Woburn 24
October 1643 Ann Long.
iv. Sara, bp South Weald, Essex, 2 June 1623 (NEHGR 141:131;
Convers Gen 863); no further record unless this record is
really for Mary, immediately below.)
v. Mary b. say 1625; m. (1) Woburn, 19 Dec. 1643 Simon
Thompson; m. (2) Woburn 1 Feb 1658/9 John Sheldon (recorded
vi. Samuel bp Charlestown 12 March 1636/7 (ChChR 47); m.
Woburn Oct 14, 1660 Judith Carter.
Associations: Edward Converse called Allen Converse "Kinsman"
and made him an overseer of his will. "Kinsman" John Parker was
presumably related to Edward's first wife.
Samuel Fuller in his 1663 will speaks of "a child committed to
my charge called Sarah Converse." Since Fuller also had in his
household two members of the family of Rice Cole of Charlestown,
it may be that this Sarah Converse was a member of the family of
Edward Converse or in some other way related.
The search for the English origin of Edward Converse present an
interesting story. For many years it was believed that Edward
was derived from a Convers or Conyers family in Northamptonshire
and this led to various royal descents. But an extensive
appendix to the second volume in Charles A. Converse "Some of
the Ancestors and Descendants of Samuel Converse, Jr." (2 vols.
Boston, 1905) cited herein as Converse Gen), provided data on a
Converse family which was spread over several parishes in south
western Essex. (ENG). This appendix does supply the origin of
Edward Converse, but was clearly not known to the compiler when
he produced the first volume. Because this material is separated by
hundreds of pages from the account of the family in New England,
many later investigators have overlooked this data.
The baptismal dates for the children of Edward and Sarah Converse,
both in South Weald and in Charlestown, deserve some comment.
On 4 April 1660, Josiah Converse gave a deposition in which he
stated his age as 41, which is in precise accord with his baptismal date.
On the same day James Converse deposed that his age was 39, which
would be the correct date for the John Converse, son of Edward, baptized
on 29 Nov 1620. This suggests strongly that the South Weald register is
defective, and causes us to look closely also at the entry for the next child.
There is no further record for the Sarah baptized on 2 June 1623, but she
would be just the right age to marry in 1643, as did Mary Converse.
Assuming that all this is correct, and the three baptisms in So.
Weald correspond to the three children who sailed to New England
in 1630, then we have a gap of fourteen years between the baptism of the last
child in England and that of Samuel in Charlestown in 1637. This might in
some cases suggest that Samuel was by a second wife, but there is no
evidence whatever that this is the case.
Edward Converse was in the 1630 list of those admitted as inhabitants of
Charlestown (ChTR 5), and was included in lists of inhabitants dated 9 Jan
1633/4 and Jan 1635/6 (ChTR 10, 15).
On 1 September 1635, Edward Converse posted bond of f 10 for
William Dixon. When Dixon fled the jurisdiction, Converse for-
feited the bond and in the general amnesty of 6 Sept. 1638 he
was remitted f 2 of the forfeiture (MBCR 1:154, 244).
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