By Jared L. Olar
July 2007-January 2015
2. Deacon JONATHAN SHAW, son of John and Alice Shaw, born according to tradition on 2 March 1629 (though it may rather have been as late as circa 1631) at Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts; died at age 72 in July 1701 at Plymouth, Massachusetts; buried perhaps in Lakenham Cemetery, or Nemasket Cemetery, or in Plympton (now Carver), all in Plymouth County, Massachusetts. It is thought that Jonathan may have been born at Plain Dealing (present day Cordage Park) in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Shurtleff and Drake's John Shaw of Plymouth, Massachusetts (1972), pages 6-7, presents a summary account of Deacon Jonathan Shaw and his family, while James Savage's Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England (1884, 1994), vol. IV, shows Jonathan and his family on page 65.
The first appearance of Jonathan Shaw in the historical record was on 29 Nov. 1652, when he was a witness for a deed between William Bradford and others involved in the Plymouth venture, on behalf of the "Purchasers or ouldcomers," and the American Indian sachem Massasoit Wosamequen and his son Wamsutta. The deed was for about three miles of land tracts from the Cushenugg River to Acoaksett Harbor (today Westport, Massachusetts, near Little Compton, Rhode Island). "For this land Wosemequen and his son received 30 yards of cloth, eight moose skins, fifteen axes, fifteen hoes, fifteen pairs of breeches, eight blankets, two kettles, one cloak, two pounds in wampum, eight pairs of stockings, eight pairs of shoes, and one iron pot" (See Jonathan Allen Shaw's "John Shaw of Plymouth Colony, Purchaser and Canal Builder," The New England Historical and Genealogical Register (1997) 151:276-277)
Then in the following year, on 3 Nov. 1653, Jonathan was party, along with his father John and his father's wife Alice, to the indenture of Benjamin Savory. As noted previously, Jonathan agreed that if John and Alice were to die, Jonathan would take over Benjamin's indenture and would teach Benjamin how to read and write, and also teach him "whatsoever trad[e] the said Jonathan Shaw can Doe." Jonathan was excused from this agreement of indenture on 4 March 1657, and his brother-in-law Stephen Bryant agreed to take on Benjamin Savory's indenture in place of Jonathan. (See Shaw, NEHGR 151:277)
It was on 31 Dec. 1656 that Jonathan's father deeded him all of his property at Plain Dealing, with the stipulation that Jonathan would allow his father to plant a small plot of upland for "Tobacco or the like," and would provide his father "a Comfortable habitation" with him while he lived (Shaw, NEHGR 151:277). This deed is discussed above in the biography of John Shaw Sr.
On 22 Jan. 1656/57 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Jonathan married PHEBE WATSON, born 1637 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, died perhaps circa 1682, daughter of George and Phebe (Hicks) Watson of Plymouth Colony. (A duplicate marriage record of Jonathan and Phebe gives the erroneous date of 22 Jan. 1649/50.) Jonathan and Phebe had four sons and four daughters. Shaw genealogical researcher Kenneth Linwood Shaw III is seventh in descent from LT. JOSEPH SHAW (1749-1804), who married his third cousin LYDIA SHAW (1755-1813). Lt. Joseph was third in descent from LT. JONATHAN SHAW JR., eldest son of Deacon Jonathan Shaw, while Lydia was third in descent from GEORGE SHAW, second son of Deacon Jonathan Shaw.
Kenneth Shaw indicates that the children of Deacon Jonathan and his wife Phebe were probably all born in Middleboro, though he says their daughter Lydia may rather have been born in Old Plympton. The early town records of Middleboro were burned in a raid by American Indians, so we must speculate or rely upon gravestone inscriptions and Shaw family tradition for the dates and places of birth of Jonathan and Phebe. Jonathan's wife Phebe died at some point after the birth of her twin sons BENONI and BENJAMIN, who were born circa 1672. Some genealogists have speculated that Phebe may have died while or right after giving birth to Benoni and Benjamin, due to the biblical account in Genesis 35:16-18 of Rachel who died in giving birth to a son whom as she was dying she named Benoni (meaning "son of my sorrow"), but whom her husband Jacob immediately renamed Benjamin (meaning "son of my right hand," "son of my strength"). While that speculation is possible, there is no positive evidence to support it, and the year of Phebe's death is unknown. In any event, in August 1683, Jonathan married secondly in Plymouth, Massachusetts, to a widow named PERSIS (DUNHAM) PRATT, born circa 1630-35 in Leiden, Holland, died after 1 Oct. 1702 probably in Plymouth County, daughter of Deacon John and Abigail (Barlow) Dunham. Jonathan and Persis had no children, but Persis had 10 children by her former husband, the late Benajah Pratt, ancestor of the Pratts of Carver, Massachusetts.
When Jonathan and Persis decided to marry, they prepared a prenuptial agreement just prior to their marriage in August 1683. In the agreement, which was witnessed by Joseph Dunham and Eleazer Dunham, Jonathan agreed to raise "her two youngest children namely Joseph and Daniel Pratt . . . as if they were his owne Naturall Children." The agreement was signed by "Jonathan Shaw Senr," while "Percis Prat" made her "P." mark. The agreement also stipulated that in the event that Jonathan predeceased Persis, she would have the right to live in the house and control its 20-acre lot until she died. The exact date of her death is not known, but since it is known that on 1 Oct. 1702, Persis and her stepson, Jonathan Shaw Jr., were called upon to give an account of their administration of Deacon Jonathan Shaw's estate, Persis must have died at some point after that date. (Shaw, NEHGR 151:276)
After Jonathan's marriage to Phebe Watson, he was admitted as a freeman of Plymouth Colony on 3 June 1657. This was almost four years after Jonathan's older brother James had been admitted as a freeman. In the following year, on 1 Nov. 1658, Jonathan, "now Inhabitant of the towne of Duxburrow" (Duxbury), sold his property at Plain Dealing, which his father had deeded him at the end of 1656, to his brother-in-law Stephen Bryant. Jonathan's wife Phebe gave her consent to the sale. It was apparently in 1658 that Jonathan and Phebe had moved to Duxbury, because in that year Jonathan was listed as a freeman in both Plymouth and Duxbury. In addition, Jonathan may have lived in Eastham, Massachusetts, or at least owned property there at some point, since three of his children are known to have married residents of Eastham. Jonathan A. Shaw notes that Jonathan's name is not on the 29 May 1670 "exact list" of Plymouth Colony freemen, and his whereabouts at that time are not known -- perhaps he was then living in Eastham (Shaw, NEHGR 151:277).
While Jonathan's father John was illiterate, Jonathan knew how to read and write. Consequently, Jonathan was often called upon to witness and sign legal documents. Thus, on 18 Dec. 1655 he witnessed a deed of sale of land from Edward Gray to Benjamin Eaton; on 4 July 1674, he joined with William Hoskins Sr. in taking the inventory of the estate of Joseph Ramsden of Lakenham; on 31 Oct. 1665, Jonathan Shaw and James Cole Jr. took the inventory of the estate of Nicholas Miller; on 31 Oct. 1673 he and William Hoskins took the inventory of the estate of John Tilson; on 26 June 1674 he witnessed a deed by which John Cooke granted land to his daughter Sarah and her husband Arthur Hathway; on 17 Jan. 1683[/4] he and William Hoskins witnessed the will of Sgt. Ephraim Tinkham of Plymouth, and on 5 June 1685, when Tinkham's will was proved, Jonathan and Hoskins swore an oath that Tinkham had been of a sound mind; on 28 Feb. 1689/90, Jonathan was one of four men who took the inventory of the estate of Elkanah Watson of Plymouth; on 1 April 1691, Jonathan and his second wife Persis signed and witnessed a codicil to the will of Ruling Elder Thomas Cushman; and on 23 April 1696, Jonathan witnessed the will of Lt. John Tomson Sr, of Middleboro (Shaw, NEHGR 151:277-278).
Deacon Jonathan Shaw is said to have been the first permanent resident of what is today known as North Carver, with a house in Lakenham by 1660. Jonathan A. Shaw in his study observes that, "Jonathan Shaw undoubtedly chose the location at Lakenham because it was near a spring, with upland and rich meadows for pasture. It was on the Nemasket Indian trail that led directly to Patuxet (the Native American name for Plymouth)" (Shaw, NEHGR 151:278-279). Shurtleff and Drake note that, "He lived in a house between Deacon [Thomas] Savery and the Old Meeting House." Also, according to Kenneth Shaw, "Jonathan and Phebe Shaw lived at the site where the old Sturtevant House now stands. This house is believed to be the third house erected on the site since their lifetimes. This old Sturtevant house is located on the South side of the Lakenham Green in North Carver."
Jane Kent also notes that Jonathan Shaw's "house at Lakenham, north side, was there as early as 1660. The exact location was on the site of the present Sturtevant house south of the Green. (The present house was built about 1750 and traditionally it is known as the third house built on that site. The Shaws' residence was known to stand midway between Plymouth and Middleboro. By 1700 the Shaws and the Watsons held possession in the west section of Carver. Before moving to now Carver, Plymouth, MA, [Jonathan] was one of many who received forty year grants of various dimensions along the South Meadow River, and he also received a land grant at Lakenham."
Similarly, on this question, Jonathan A. Shaw says:
"Certainly he was in Lakenham by 1661, for 'Att a Towne meeting held att the meeting house at Plymouth the 24th da of May 1662' it was recorded that "Jonathan Shaw desires some Comon land about his house at Lakenham.' Lakenham was at that time an outlying part of Plymouth; later it became a part of Plympton when that town was set off in March 1706/7, and on 19 February 1790, with the incorporation of Carver, a part of that town known as North Carver, a name that it has retained to this day. By 2 April 1638 the ares was already called Lakenham, and land grants were conveyed as early as 1641. Jonathan Shaw's house has been described as just south and adjacent to Lakenham Green and, according to [Henry S.] Griffith, [author of History of the Town of Carver, 1913], was on the site of the still surviving (1996) eighteenth-century Sturtevant House, the third said to occupy the site overlooking the Green." (Shaw, NEHGR 151:278)
According to Jonathan A. Shaw, on 27 Oct. 1662 Jonathan was listed among those who desired "meddow land" in the lower South Meadow, and on the same day a "small pcell of land is graunted to Jonathan Shaw neare his house att Lakenham to bee layed out to him soe as to be not prejudiciall to the Naighborhood there," which indicates that several families were then living at Lakenham. On 30 Dec. 1663, Jonathan requested a further grant of 20 acres of upland, between some land he had "bought of Robert Ransom and the pond (today located on Wenham Road in Carver, Massachusetts). In Feb. 1663[/4], Jonathan was granted 40 more acres "att Lakenham next adjoyning unto that land hee hath there alreddy" Jonathan received yet another 40 acres at Lakenham on 8 Jan. 1665[/6], along with "two acres on the brooke where his father [-in-law George] Watson hath meddow att the south meddow," and then two years after that, on 31 Jan. 1667[/8] Jonathan was granted 10 more acres at Lakenham "next unto his land" (Shaw, NEHGR 151:278-279).
During the 1670s, the colonists' uneasy alliance with the Wampanoag Confederation collapsed with the outbreak of King Philip's War (1675-1678), named for the Wampanoag leader Metacomet or Metacom, who had taken the English name of "Philip." Metacomet was the younger brother of the above-mentioned Wamsutta. During the war, the Native Americans destroyed 12 of the colonists' towns. Among them was Middleboro, which was destroyed in the initial months of the war. Nothing is really known of our Shaw family during King Philip's War, but Jonathan A. Shaw notes that on 4 May 1676, Jonathan Shaw was listed among 70 Plymouth colonists who paid a tax "to pay the souldiers" in the war. In addition, Shaw has observed that Jonathan's older brother SGT. JAMES SHAW disappears from colonial records while King Philip's War was raging, which suggests that he may have been killed, either killed in action or in an Indian attack. (Shaw, NEHGR 151:275, 279)
During his adult life, Jonathan Shaw held several minor public offices in the colony. He served as surveyor of highways in Duxbury in 1659, and also was chosen to be surveyor of highways in Plymouth on 16 May 1673 and again on 17 May 1686. Like his father, he was called upon a number of times to serve on juries -- on 2 March 1674[/5], on 7 March 1675[/6], on 7 July 1682, on 6 March 1682[/3], on 17 June 1683, on 28 May 1689, on 25 May 1691, on 1 March 1697[/7], and finally on 4 March 1698[/9]. At a town meeting in Plymouth on 27 July 1685, Jonathan was appointed as one of three "raters" or tax assessors for the town. At a town meeting on 4 March 1698[/9], "Jonathan Shaw Sen." was chosen to be a fence viewer. (Shaw, NEHGR 151:279-280)
Jonathan Shaw also took part in the efforts of the town of Plymouth in 1689 to maintain title and ownership of Clark's Island in Plymouth Bay, which Sir Edmund Andros, Royal Governor of New England, was intending to seize from Plymouth. In order to pay the legal costs of defending Plymouth's right to Clark's Island, on 22 June 1689 the town of Plymouth appointed a committee of five men -- one of whom was Jonathan Shaw -- to serve as agent for the town "to make saile of Clarks Island Saquosh and the Gurnet." About six months later, on 8 Jan. 1689/90, Jonathan Shaw and three other men, acting as agents for Plymouth, sold Clark's Island to Samuel Lucas, George Morton, and Elkanah Watson. (Shaw, NEHGR 151:279, 280)
Jonathan Shaw was one of the principals named in the following deed signed in 1699, found on page 201 of the Middleboro Town Hall Municipal Records of Deeds:
An agreement made the 19th daye of of May 1697 between John Soule, Zack Howland and Jacob Tomson agents for the proprietors of the lands purchased by Benjamine Church and John Tomson: on the part: and Jonathan Shaw Seniour of the town of Plymouth on the other part: Whereas the said Jonathan Shaw produced a deed of purchase of Tispoquen the Black Sachem: and the two aforesaid purchases seeming to enterfere the one upon the other: we have mutually agreed that the bounds between the two said purchases shall be as we have now run the same: that is to say: from the place where the old Indian path crosseth Mehuchet brook: ranging due south by a range of marked trees unto two small cedar trees marked by the northerly side of a pond: and so cross the pond to a small pine tree marked by the Southerly side of said pond: and from said pine tree ranging northeast by a rang of marked trees unto a red oak marked on four sides with stones about it near the range of the outside of the aforesaid purchase purchased by Benjamine Church and John Tomson. This agreement was signed John Soule - X and Sealed by John Soule, Zack Howland - X Zack Howland and Jacob Tomson - X Tomson the day above said Jonathan Shaw - X Witness: John Wadsworth Joseph Vaughan This agreement was signed and sealed by Jonathan Shaw Senior the sixth day of December 1699: Witness: William Shurtleff Joseph Vaughan
Jonathan Shaw also appears frequently in the church records of colonial Massachusetts. Jonathan A. Shaw notes that as an adult Jonathan was an active member of the Plymouth Church. For example, in August 1687, when a dispute arose concerning the annual salary of the church's minister, Jonathan Shaw and Robert Ransom Sr. were among the six men appointed by the town of the Plymouth to seek the "free subscription of Every one" in the town. For this purpose, Shaw and Ransom were assigned to the districts of "Lakenham Wentuxet and munponset." Jonathan was again asked to do the same thing in 1688. The Plymouth Church records also show that on 19 June 1692, Susanna Ransom, "a sister, having falling (sic) into scandall by excessive drinking, & not appearing this day before the church to answer for it, that therefore the church would by Bro: Shaw in their name require her to attend the next Sabbath." This record indicates that Jonathan had by then been admitted as a member of the First Church of Plymouth. In any case, he was certainly admitted as a member prior to 11 Sept. 1692, because on that date his name appears at the head of a list of 10 "Brethren" who had been "nominated as sutable to read the Psalmes" (Shaw, NEHGR 151:280).
A few years later, the members of the Plymouth Church who lived at Lakenham and Plympton decided that, given their relative isolation in the western parts of Plymouth, it would be more convenient to start their own church. Consequently, on 27 Oct. 1698, Jonathan Shaw and his wife Persis, Stephen and Abigail (Shaw) Bryant, and 14 other persons, were formally dismissed by the First Church of Plymouth so they could establish their new church in Plympton. They ordained Isaac Cushman as their first teacher. Also, Shurtleff and Drake state that "Jonathan Shaw, with John Waterman, were the first deacons of the Plympton Church and were ordained to that office on Sunday, November 27, 1698." (John Shaw of Plymouth, Massachusetts, page 6) Kenneth Shaw reports that the First Church of Plympton (now Carver) was located on the north side of Lakenham Cemetery. According to Kenneth, the Plympton townspeople were unhappy about the distance between the church and the location of their homes, so they decided to let the First Lakenham Church go to "shambles" because it was too far south for them to walk. A second church was built at the location where the present day Lakenham Green is. The Plympton Church -- today known as First Congregational Church of Plympton-United Church of Christ -- and the adjacent Old Cemetery are located on Route 58 in Plympton, about three miles from North Carver, Massachusetts. (Shaw, NEHGR 151:280)
This old photograph shows the Plympton Church with the parsonage and library. Jonathan Shaw and John Waterman were ordained the first deacons of the Plympton Church on 27 Nov. 1698. Though it was established as a Puritan/Congregationalist Calvinist Protestant church, the Plympton Church today is affiliated with the United Church of Christ denomination.
Deacon Jonathan Shaw died without having made a legal will. The inventory of Jonathan Shaw's estate was taken on 30 July 1701 at Lakenham, Old Plympton, Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts, showing that he had died shortly before. Those who took the inventory were Isaac Cushman, John Waterman, and Samuel Sturtevant. According to Jonathan A. Shaw, the estate's total value was only £37 4s 2d, "with much of the value of the estate in linen, clothing, and bedding, suggesting that Persis and Jonathan, in addition to farming, may have undertaken weaving, a not unlikely occupation since Persis' father had been a weaver" (Shaw, 151:281). Administration of the estate of "Deacon Jonathan Shaw, Sr., Esquire" was granted on 25 Sept. 1701 jointly to his widow Persis and his eldest son JONATHAN SHAW JR., and the estate administration was attested by Samuel Sprague, Registrar for the Court. The prenuptial agreement of Jonathan and his widow Persis was confirmed before William Bradford, Judge, on 4 March 1701/2 by the agreement's witnesses Joseph Dunham and Eleazer Dunham. (Shaw, NEHGR 151:281)
A few years later, the disposition and distribution of Jonathan Shaw Sr.'s estate among his children and grandchildren was addressed in two deeds dated 20 June 1705. One of the deeds was recorded in the Plymouth Registry of Deeds on 18 Dec. 1706, but the other was not recorded until 10 June 1719 (though it had been acknowledged by Jonathan's family well before then). Jonathan A. Shaw summarises the first deed of 20 June 1705 as follows:
"On June 1704 the 'Sons and Daughters of [Deacon] Jonathan Shaw of Plym[ou]th . . . and Joanna & Phebe Morton Grand Daughters of the sd Jonathan Shaw Deceased . . ."; George Shaw, Hannah Paine, Lydia Snow, of Eastham in the County of Barnstable, and Benoni Shaw; Mary Ring, and 'Joanna & Phebe Morton the Daughters of Phebe Morton Deceased,' of the Town of Plymouth, sold for £18 to 'our Brother, Jonathan Shaw of Lakenham,' their rights to the movable estate and land owned by their father: 'all that the houses and Land & meadow in Lakenham abovesd w[hi]ch was our father['s] Jonathan Shaw deceased, Sd land is bounded att the head with the Land our father bought of James Cole, bounded att the head with the Land our father gave to Benony Shaw abovesd: and Lying between a pond on ye South East side and ye South meadow path on ye north west side and also half the meadoe, between Jno Watsons Meadow & Springy brook, and a pine tree marked on ye North west End.' The deed was acknowledged in Plymouth County on 20 June 1705 by Benoni Shaw, Eleazer Ring and Mary his wife, and Joanna and Phoebe Morton; and in Barnstable County on 30 June 1705 by George Shaw, Capt. Thomas Paine and Hannah his wife, and Nicholas Snow and Lydia his wife." (Shaw, NEHGR 151:281-282)
Jonathan A. Shaw summarises the second deed of 20 June 1705 as follows:
"On the same date, 20 June 1705, Deacon Jonathan Shaw's children granted a quitclaim deed to their brother Benoni for four acres of meadow and ten acres of upland that their father Jonathan Shaw had given to Benoni but never legally conveyed. The quitclaim was signed by Jonathan Shaw, Eleazer Ring, Mary Ring, Joanna Morton (by mark), Phebe Morton (by mark), Nicholas Snow, George Shaw, Constant Shaw (by mark), and Lydia Snow (by mark). On 20 June 1705 the deed was acknowledged in Plymouth County by Jonathan Shaw, Eleazer Ring and Mary his wife, Joanna Morton, and Phebe Morton; on 8 December 1714 'George Shaw & Constant his wife & Lydia Snow Wife of Nicholas Snow all of Eastham' acknowledged the deed in Barnstable County." (Shaw, NEHGR 151:282)
The final resting places of Deacon Jonathan Shaw and his wives Phebe and Persis are unknown. Jonathan A. Shaw comments that Deacon Jonathan Shaw "almost certainly died at his Lakenham home but was probably not buried in the Old Cemetery beside the Plympton Church where he had served as a deacon, as that meeting did not set aside land for a burial ground until 16 March 1701/2, almost a year after his death" (Shaw, NEHGR 151:280-281). Kenneth Linwood Shaw III also discusses and speculates about the mystery of the burial place of Jonathan, Phebe, and Persis as follows:
"At this time it is unknown where their bodies are laid to rest, and there are possibilities of several burial locations. Maybe the Old Burying ground in Plymouth? Or maybe the hill overlooking the Watson's Pond in Taunton, Massachusetts, New England? However one good strong possibility could be the Nemasket Hill Cemetery in Middleborough, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, New England, sometimes referred to as 'The Hill Cemetery' or 'Old Burial Hill' of 'Middlebury.' Nemasket Hill Cemetery was purchased from the Indians in 1662, a part of the 'Twenty-six Men's Purchase' (Deacon Jonathan Shaw's father John Shaw was one of the 26 men but never received his portion of land) and is in fact the oldest known Cemetery in the town of Middleborough. Maybe Deacon Jonathan and Phebe (Watson) Shaw are buried in the Lakenham Cemetery without stones or just large round cobblestones laid on top where they are located, or could they have had stones and just over hundreds of years deteriorated long ago? The land where the old graveyard is [was] formerly known by the name of Lakenham burying-ground. Now known today as Lakenham Cemetery and originally belonged to Benoni Shaw of Plympton (now present day North Carver) [who gave the land] for the purpose of that cemetery, whose daughter, Rebecca Shaw, who died at about 9 years old in April 1718, is the first person buried there, indicated by the record of her burial monument in this cemetery. Another possibility is a location at the Old Plympton burial ground on the side of Route 58 in Plympton across from the church? Or maybe even the Winslow Cemetery, Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, New England."
The children of Deacon Jonathan Shaw and Phebe Watson were:
-- PHEBE SHAW, born Feb. 1657/8, died 11 June 1686, married John Morton -- HANNAH SHAW, born circa 1661, died 24 July 1713, married Thomas Paine Jr. -- LT. JONATHAN SHAW, born circa 1663, died 18 Jan. 1729/30, married twice. -- MARY SHAW, born 1665, died 28 Nov. 1730, married Eleazer Ring. -- GEORGE SHAW, born circa 1667, died after 8 Dec. 1714, married Constant Doane. -- LYDIA SHAW, born say 1670, died after 8 Dec. 1714, married Nicholas Snow. 3. BENONI SHAW, born circa 1672, died 5 March 1751. -- BENJAMIN SHAW, Benoni's twin, born circa 1672, probably died young.
3. BENONI SHAW, son of Jonathan and Phebe Shaw; born circa 1672 probably at Lakenham (now North Carver), or perhaps Middleboro, Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachuseutts; died at age 79 on 5 March 1751 at Lakenham; buried in Lakenham Cemetery. Many early colonial records of Plymouth and nearby settlements were destroyed in wars with local Indian tribes, and that is probably why no birth records of Benoni and his siblings are extant. Shurtleff and Drake's John Shaw of Plymouth, Massachusetts (1972), page 10, presents a summary account of Benoni Shaw and his family, while James Savage's Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England (1884, 1994), vol. IV, shows Benoni and his family on page 63.
Benoni's name in old records is sometimes spelled "Benoney" or "Benone." He was the first "Benoni" in his family, and his name was handed down among his descendants for the next two or more centuries, especially in my own branch of the Shaws. As noted above, there is no evidence to support the speculation that Benoni was given his name because his mother died in giving birth to him and his twin brother Benjamin. Benoni first appears on the historical record circa 1693, in a Bristol County Deed dated 27 Feb. 1693/94. In that deed, Benoni and his older brother George, both designated as yeomen of Lakenham in the Township of Plymouth and Province of Massachusetts, sold "one Quarter of a whole Share of Upland & Meadow . . . formerly the lands and Meadows of our Grandfather John Shaw" located in Dartmouth. They sold the lands for 36 pounds to Capt. Seth Pope, a merchant of the town of Dartmouth. Then, in a Plymouth County Deed dated 16 March 1693/4, "Jonathan Shaw Senr" freely and absolutely gave to his "Son Benoni the [illegible] end of the fifth acres that I now Dwell upon," land that was adjacent to "my Son George's Land." Jonathan gave both George and Benoni land on the same day (See Jonathan Allen Shaw's "John Shaw of Plymouth Colony, Purchaser and Canal Builder," The New England Historical and Genealogical Register (1997) 151:433).
It was perhaps in or around 1696, probably in Plymouth or perhaps in Marshfield, Massachusetts, that Benoni married LYDIA WATERMAN, born 9 May 1678 in Marshfield, Massachusetts, died 23 July 1757 in Lakenham (North Carver), Massachusetts, daughter of John and Ann Waterman. Benoni and Lydia had 13 children, including a set of twins, and it is likely that all of their children were born at Lakenham. Their eldest child, LYDIA SHAW (or "Lidia") was born 2 Nov. 1697, and their youngest children, the twins BENJAMIN SHAW (my mother's ancestor) and HANNAH SHAW, were born circa 1715.
The marriages of several of Benoni's children are genealogically interesting, because -- like many other early colonial families -- they found it convenient if not unavoidable to choose spouses from among their close kin, which served to create a very tangled pedigree. For example, Benoni's firstborn, Lydia, married her second cousin EBENEZER LOBDELL, a son of Isaac Lobdell and Sarah Bryant, a daughter of Stephen Bryant and ABIGAIL SHAW, who was Benoni's aunt. (As an aside, this Ebenezer Lobdell was himself the second cousin of another Ebenezer Lobdell, whose daughter Susannah Lobdell was an ancestress of my wife.) Also, Benoni Shaw's second daughter MARY SHAW married BENJAMIN CHURCHILL, who was a son of William Churchill and Lydia Bryant, another daughter of Stephen Bryant and Abigail Shaw -- thus, Mary and Benjamin also were second cousins. Benjamin Churchill's sister MEHITABEL CHURCHILL was the second wife of Benoni Shaw's second son ELKANAH SHAW (who, incidentally, shared a birthday with his oldest sister Lydia Shaw, being born 2 Nov. 1703) -- thus, Mehitabel and Elkanah were second cousins as well. (Notably, Benjamin Churchill and his sister Mehitabel had an aunt named Mary Churchill, who was a great-great-grandmother of LUCY SHERMAN, wife of JOB SHAW, No. 5 below, grandson of Benoni Shaw.)
At some point after Benoni Shaw had acquired the abovementioned land from his father Jonathan in 1693/4, but prior to the inventory of Jonathan's estate on 30 July 1701, Benoni received more land from his father. However, as noted above, Jonathan never prepared a legal deed of conveyance of that additional property, which consisted of four acres of meadow and 10 acres of upland. This is known from a 20 June 1705 deed by which Benoni's brothers and sisters quitclaimed to him that property, which is identified as land Jonathan had given Benoni but had not legally conveyed.
Beginning in 1703, when Lakenham was still a part of Plymouth, Benoni held various minor public offices and was active in Lakenham. Thus, on 1 March 1702/3, Benoni was chosen as surveyor of highways at a Plymouth town meeting, and on 1 March 1705/6 he was chosen as a tithingman of Plymouth. Benoni and his neighboring landholders are mentioned in the 1704 public records involving the determination of the ownership and boundaries of the South Purchase, questions that were contested by the towns of Plymouth and Middleboro. As Jonathan A. Shaw explains:
"On 20 September 1704 a committee of six men, three each from the towns of Plymouth and Middleboro, determined the ownership of the South Purchase, resolving a long-standing dispute between the towns. The Plymouth-Middleboro town line, they stated, went to the northwest corner of 'benoney Shaws forty acree lott' and then the Plymouth-Middleboro dividing line for the South Purchase followed this lot to beaver Dam Brook. The committee further stated that the dividing line for the South Purchase, an area of land purchased by Plymouth Colony from the Indians, abutted another Shaw property in the vicinity -- 'Shaw's Purchase' -- which was described as 'unto Mahucket Brook at the old Indian Path.'" (Shaw, NEHGR 151:433-434)
Jonathan A. Shaw also mentions that the South Purchase was located in Plymouth and Middleboro from 1704 to 1707, but afterwards the incorporation of the town of Plympton caused the town boundaries to shift, and the South Purchase instead came to be located within Plympton and Middleboro. From 1712 to 1747, Benoni Shaw engaged in about 15 to 20 land purchases and sales in the area of Lakenham and the South Purchase. "He consistently acquired more land than he sold, and because his homestead was in Lakenham on the Plympton side of the Plympton-Middleboro line it was also convenient for him to acquire land in Middleboro." (Shaw, NEHGR 151:434) For example, on 21 Feb. 1725/6, John Morton's five daughters sold for 10 pounds to "Benoni Shaw of ye Town of Plimton . . . [a] certain Lot of Land containing fourty five acres . . . in the fifth division of ye Purchase called the South Purchase in the Township of Middleborough" (Plymouth County Deeds, 27:275). As an aside, the two eldest of those daughters, Joanna Morton and Phebe Morton, were the children of Benoni Shaw's oldest sister Phebe Shaw Morton.
In October 1731, Benoni Shaw and 64 other men of the Plympton area subscribed to the proposal to build a meeting house at Lakenham (which is today known as North Carver). Jonathan A. Shaw notes that nine of the subscribers were descendants of Deacon Jonathan Shaw bearing the surname of Shaw (See Shaw, NEHGR 151:434-435). Quoting from Henry S. Griffith's 1913 History of the Town of Carver, Massachusetts, page 305, Jonathan A. Shaw shows that the meeting house subscription document commences as follows:
"Whereas we ye Subscribers Being by ye Providence of God Settled where we Live Very Remote from ye Publict Worship & being Desirous to accomodate our Selves & Familys with ye more convenient attending upon the Same Which Can Not be Done without Building a Meting House Which we promas to Do at a Place called Laginham near to ye Buring Hill next to Laginham brook . . . ."
The "Buring Hill" or cemetery that is mentioned in this document is Lakenham Cemetery. Benoni owned land at North Carver (then Plympton) which he had set aside for the purpose of a old graveyard formerly known by the name of Lakenham. Benoni's daughter REBECCA SHAW, who died at the age of 8 or 9 on 4 April 1718, was the first person buried there. Jonathan A. Shaw, in NEHGR 151:435-436, footnote 159, says (emphasis added), "Rebecca is likely Benoni Shaw's unnamed child who d. at Plympton 4 April 1718 and was buried in Lakenham Cemetery, North Carver (Carver VRs, 169). Her gravestone reads: 'Here lyes a child / of Benoni Shaws / Dyed April ye 4th / in ye year 1718 / in ye 8th year of her age.' William T. Davis, Genealogical Register of Plymouth Families (reprint Baltimore, 1985, from Part II, Ancient Landmarks of Plymouth [Boston, 1899]), 235, further says Rebecca and Abigail were twins, and Savage, 4:63, agrees. Davis further states that Rebecca married Samuel Lucas and Nathaniel Atwood, which is known to be false; it was Abigail who married, first, Samuel Lucas and, second, Nathaniel Atwood. Shurtleff is probably accurate in stating that the child that died in 1718 was Rebecca. All that is known is that Benoni's brother Jonathan gave the name Rebecca to a daughter born a few months after the death of Benoni's child in 1718." Based on these considerations, then, it is all but certain that Rebecca was the daughter of Benoni who was the first person to be buried in Lakenham Cemetery. (It should also be noted that the abovementioned Nathaniel Atwood had by his first wife Mary Adams a daughter named MARY ATWOOD who became the wife of Benoni Shaw's son BENJAMIN SHAW, No. 4 below. In addition, the first wife of the abovementioned Samuel Lucas was another Shaw -- Elizabeth Shaw, daughter of Lt. Jonathan Shaw, who was Benoni's older brother. Thus, the wives of Samuel Lucas, Elizabeth and Abigail, were first cousins.)
Lakenham Cemetery sign, North Carver, Massachusetts
The cemetery began when Benoni Shaw set aside land for a burying ground. His own daughter Rebecca Shaw, about 9 years old, was the very first person buried in it, in April 1718.
A few years after the building of the Lakenham meeting house, in 1736/7, Benoni Shaw and Jonathan Shaw (presumably Benoni's son Lt. Jonathan Shaw) deeded a parcel of land in Lakenham to be used as a common. The town came to use it as a military training green. It was first known as Lakenham Green, but after the Civil War came to be called Carver Green. The green is located in the center of North Carver today and forms a part of the Lakenham Historic District (Shaw, NEHGR 151:435).
Having built up a good estate over the years through his land purchases and sales, starting in the 1730s Benoni Shaw began to allot portions of land to his sons. At first he allotted the land to them through deeds of gift, but in the years before he died he also sold them parcels of his land (See Shaw, NEHGR 151:435). Citing the Plymouth County Deeds, Jonathan A. Shaw writes (emphasis added):
"On 10 February 1731[/2] he gave to his son Elkanah for 'Love and good affection' a parcel of land in the 158th lot in the South Purchase in Middleborough, together with two acres of meadow. On 2 February 1735/6 he gave to his 'loving Son Benjamin Shaw' for 'parental Love good Will and natural Affection . . . all that my Farm or Tenement whereon I now dwell lying in Plimpton aforesd in a Purchase called Middleboro South Purchase sd Farm Containing ninety acres . . . and my Dwelling House and Barn standing on the aforesd ninety acres of Land . . . reserving the sole improvement . . . unto myself and my wife during our natural Lives . . . .' On 27 March 1746 he sold to his 'Son John Shaw' of Plimpton, for 50 pounds, his forty-acre lot, which included the dwelling house where his son John Shaw was then living and also four acres of meadow 'which did formerly belong unto My Hond Father Jonathan Shaw deceased.' On 1 October 1747 he sold 'Jonathan Shaw junr of ye Town of Middleborough,' who was probably his son of that name, for 50 pounds, two parcels of 45 acres each, both in the South Purchase."
Notably, Jonathan A. Shaw writes that about two years prior to the 1747 sale to Jonathan Shaw, "Benoni Shaw, James Shaw, Samuel Shaw, and Nathaniel Shaw divided Shaw's Purchase on 17 June 1745, each receiving three lots -- one each in Cedar and Log Swamps and one of upland. This suggests that it may have totaled as much as 200 acres and was almost certainly the land granted to John Shaw, Purchasers and Canal Builder." For this significant land division in the Shaw family, Jonathan A. Shaw cites Plymouth County Deeds, 38:157-58.
About four years later, Benoni died in Lakenham at the age of 79 on 5 March 1751. He was buried at the highest point of Lakenham Cemetery, Row 3, Section O. The cemetery is located at the corner of Linton Drive and Forest Street in North Carver, Massachusetts. His gravestone inscription says:
IN MEMORY OF Mr/BENONI SHAW/WHO DIED MARCH/ Ye 5th 1751 IN/Ye 79th YEAR OF/HIS AGE.
Benoni's widow Lydia survived him by about six years, dying in Lakenham at the age of 81 on 23 July 1757. She was buried next to her husband, and her gravestone inscription says:
IN MEMORY OF Mrs/LYDIA WIDOW OF Mr/ BENONE SHAW SHE DIED/JULY Ye 23 1757/ IN Ye 81th YEAR OF/HER AGE.
No Plymouth County will or probate has been found for Benoni or Lydia, but the Plymouth County Deeds show that about a month after Benoni's death, on 3 April 1751, the "Heirs to the Estate of Benoni Shaw late of the Town of Plimton in New England deceased" signed at least four deeds certifying that Benoni had given property to his children or to their heirs. The signers, according to Jonathan A. Shaw, were Benjamin Churchell (by mark: B); Mary, his wife (by mark: M); Isaac Lobdell; Sarah Loring, Thomas Loring; Thomas Loring guardian for Lydia Lobdell; Elisha Lucas; Margaret Lucas, his wife (by mark: M); Benjamin Shaw; Elkanah Shaw (by mark: E); John Shaw; Jonathan Shaw Jr.; Moses Shaw; Jabez Thomas; Phebe Thomas, his wife; Ebenezer Tinkham; Hannah Tinkham, his wife (by mark: h); Nathaniel Wood; Abigail Atwood/Wood, his wife (by mark: X). Benoni's sons Elkanah and Jonathan received two fifth parts, and their brother Benjamin received one fifth part, of their father's wearing apparel. (See Shaw NEHGR 151:435-436)
The children of Benoni and Lydia (Waterman) Shaw were:
-- LIDIA SHAW, born 21 Nov. 1697 in Plymouth (now North Carver), Mass., md. Ebenezer Lobdell -- DEACON JOHN SHAW, born 3 May 1699 in Plymouth (North Carver), Mass., md. Abigail Perry -- MARY SHAW, born 16 Jan. 1699/1700 in Plymouth (North Carver), Mass., md. Benjamin Churchill -- MARGARET SHAW, born 28 June 1701 in Plymouth (North Carver), Mass., md. Elisha Lucas -- ELKANAH SHAW, born 2 Nov. 1703 in Plymouth (North Carver), Mass., married twice -- MOSES SHAW, born 28 June 1704 in Plymouth (North Carver), Mass., md. Mary Darling -- LT. JONATHAN SHAW, born circa 1706/7 in Old Plympton or South Middleboro, Mass., md. Mary Thomas -- [INFANT DAUGHTER] SHAW, born circa 1708. -- WILLIAM SHAW, born circa 1708. -- REBECCA SHAW, "child," born circa 1711 in Old Plympton or South Middleboro, Mass. -- ABIGAIL SHAW, born circa 1713, prob. in Old Plympton, Mass., married twice -- PHEBE SHAW, born circa 1714, prob. in Old Plympton, Mass., married Jabez Thomas 4. BENJAMIN SHAW, born circa 1715/16 in Old Plympton or South Middleboro, Mass. -- HANNAH SHAW, born circa 1715/16 in Old Plympton, Mass., md. Ebenezer Tinkham
4. BENJAMIN SHAW, son of Benoni and Lydia Shaw, born circa 1715/16 in Old Plympton (Lakenham or North Carver) or perhaps South Middleboro, Plymouth County, Massachusetts; died in his 77th year on 17 Jan. 1792 in Carver, Massachusetts; buried in Row 3, Section I of Lakenham Cemetery, at the corner of Linton Drive and Forest Street, North Carver. Shurtleff and Drake's John Shaw of Plymouth, Massachusetts (1972), pages 24-25, presents a summary account of Benjamin Shaw and his family, while James Savage's Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England (1884, 1994), vol. IV, shows Benjamin on page 63. Both of these sources state that Benjamin and his sister Hannah were twins, and Jonathan Allen Shaw has also observed, "The ages at death noted by the Waterman Family [note 134] for Benjamin and Hannah support Shurtleff's point that they were twins, and contradict the dates of 1714 and 1716 suggested by Waterman Family." (Shaw, NEHGR 151:437)
During the 1730s, Benjamin's father Benoni began to allot portions of land to his sons. Among those allotments was a significant deed of gift to Benjamin in 1735/6, as noted by Jonathan A. Shaw (See Shaw, NEHGR 151:435). Citing the Plymouth County Deeds, Jonathan A. Shaw writes (emphasis added):
"On 2 February 1735/6 Benoni gave to his 'loving Son Benjamin Shaw' for 'parental Love good Will and natural Affection . . . all that my Farm or Tenement whereon I now dwell lying in Plimpton aforesd in a Purchase called Middleboro South Purchase sd Farm Containing ninety acres . . . and my Dwelling House and Barn standing on the aforesd ninety acres of Land . . . reserving the sole improvement . . . unto myself and my wife during our natural Lives . . . .'"
Benjamin was about 20 years old when he received that gift of land. About seven years later, on 1 Nov. 1742, in Plympton, Massachusetts, Benjamin married MARY ATWOOD, born 9 Dec. 1723 in Plympton, Massachusetts, died 9 June 1808 in Carver, Massachusetts, daughter of Nathaniel and Mary (Adams) Atwood. As noted above, Mary Atwood's stepmother Abigail (Shaw) Atwood was an aunt of her husband Benjamin Shaw.
Some online sources refer to Benjamin Shaw by the military rank of lieutenant, but no records can be located to substantiate that. There was a Revolutionary War officer named Lt. Benjamin Shaw (1753-1838), born in Beverly, Massachusetts, but that obviously is a different person. Ancestry.com's searchable index of "Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots" shows a Benjamin Shaw buried in Carver, Massachusetts. However, while our ancestor Benjamin Shaw is buried in Carver, he was too old to have served in the Revolutionary War. It would not be unlikely if Benjamin had served in a Massachusetts militia at some point in his life -- and on that point, it's significant that Find-A-Grave's photograph of Benjamin's gravestone shows that an American flag had been placed at his grave, indicating that he was a military veteran. Nevertheless, I have not found any record that Benjamin had any kind of military service.
Benjamin and his wife Mary remained in the Lakenham (Carver) district throughout their lives together. Shurtleff and Drake list 12 children of Benjamin and Mary. Notably, in his database Kenneth Linwood Shaw III lists two additional children -- an eldest child named ELIZABETH SHAW ("Miss Betty Shaw"), born after 1742 in Middleboro, Massachusetts, and a youngest child named MARTIN SHAW, born 1771. I am not aware, however, what evidence there is for these two additional children.
Benjamin is listed in the 1790 U.S Census as a resident of Carver Township, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, the head of a household consisting of one male over the age of 16 (i.e., himself) and three females (one of which was his wife Mary). Benjamin died in his 77th year on 17 Jan. 1792 in Carver, Massachusetts. He was buried in Row 3, Section I of Lakenham Cemetery, at the corner of Linton Drive and Forest Street, North Carver. His widow Mary survived for about another 16 years. She is listed in the 1800 U.S. Census as "Mary Shaw, widow," a resident of Carver, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, the head of a household consisting of one female age 45 or over (i.e., herself) and one female aged 26 to 45. Mary died in Carver, Massachusetts, on 9 June 1808. She was buried next to her husband. Her gravestone inscription says:
"In memory of Mrs/Mary widow of/Mr. Benjamin/Shaw she died/June 9, 1808"
The known children of Benjamin Shaw and Mary (Atwood) Shaw were:
-- KEZIAH SHAW ("Catee"), born circa 1744 in Plympton or Plymouth, Mass., md. John Bennet Jr. -- MARY SHAW, born circa 1745 in Plymouth, Mass., md. Simeon Barrows -- HANNAH SHAW ("child"), born 1747 in Old Plympton (North Carver) or Middleboro, Mass., died 15 Dec. 1753 -- ISAAC SHAW, 2nd., born 1749 in Plympton, Mass., married twice. -- AMBROSE SHAW, born 1751 in Plymouth, Mass., md. Abigail Rickard -- REBECCA SHAW, born 1754 in Plympton or Plymouth, Mass., md. Arthur Bennet -- HANNAH SHAW, born circa 1755 in Plympton, Mass., md. Samuel Snow -- BENJAMIN SHAW JR., born 1 Nov. 1758 in Plympton, Mass., md. Relief Perry -- ISAIAH SHAW SR., born 10 March 1760 in Plympton, Mass., married twice 5. Capt. JOB SHAW ("Jobe"), born 1763/4 in Plymouth, Mass. -- BENONI SHAW SR., born 1765 in Carver or Plymouth, Mass. -- ELKANAH SHAW, born Dec. 1766 in Plympton, Mass., md. Susanna Maxham, no children.
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