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Benjamin Bullard


From "History of the Towns of Sherborn and Holiston," by Rev. Abner Morse in  1856:
Benjamin at the decease of his father, was probably a minor, and committed to the care of an uncle at Dedham, where he appears about the time he is presumed to have attained his majority, and where he seems to have formed such connedtions as are usually preceded by a long and youthful acquaintance.  He was admitted a townsman at Dedham Jan 1, 1655, which then implied a previous probation, a good moral character, and the age of 21.  His marriage is not on record; but circumstances almost as conclusive show that he married Martha (either Pidge or Fairbanks)., the sister of George F., of Dedham, who was of a good family, and connected with George F., of Somerby, in the vicarage of Halifax, Yorkshire. Benjamin Bullard and George Fairbank  soon after embarked together in an undertaking that must have required courage, enterprise, and means above the possession of most young men of their community.  To Capt. Robert Kayne, of Boston, had been granted, in 1649, 1074 acres, at Pawsett Hill, and which is now partly in Sherborn and partly in Medway.  Capt. Kayne d. Mar. 23, 1655-6.  Of his executors, soon after,  Bullard and Fairbanks are presumed to have bought the south half or third of this tract; and Hill and Breck, also brothers-in-law, from Dorchester, purchasing at the same time another part, bounding them upon the North.  These constituted the second company who planted W. of Charles River; and they all located their dwellings with reference to natural security, and that which they soon provided.   They settled here prior to Feb. 2, 1658, when their first child was born.  Benj. Bullard and his brother-in-law seem to have divided their part of the tract as was then common, so as to give each other scattered lots and secure sites for building near each other. Bullard took the North, and South West parts, and located his dwelling on the north side of Bogistow Pond, near a copious and still valuable spring.  The situation was admirably chosen for the capture of game, the rearing of stock, and for security against surprise from hostile Indians.  The scenery was such as a man of taste would have chosen.  It is still both beautiful and sublime.  From his door he could survey the Broad Meadows, a wet prairie of five miles in extent, through which Charles River meanders, and which in vernal and autumnal seasons is converted into a lake.  Hills beyond, covered with towering pines, then appeared mountains, while the soil beneath, lifted by roots two or three feet above its present level, concealed the hideous boulders which, in consequence of their decay, the absence of protecting humus and leaves, and the action of deeper and more frequent frosts, have since risen to the surface, and occasioned an inconsiderate impeachment of the judgment and taste of many an early planter.  His land was then arable and rich. But his was a frontier location, cut off by river and marsh, and a distance of four miles from the nearest settlement at Medfield.  His prospects and life were in danger.  He found Wood,  Leland and Holbrook, settled from one to two miles north, and was soon joined by Rockwood and Daniels within one mile south, making, with Hill and Breck, one-third of a mile north, and Fairbank hard by on South West,, a settlement of nine families, to be defended by themselves.  They knew the Indian character and mode of warfare-that he never made his assault in the night, nor was he wont to cross open fields in his approach, or fail, if hungry, to publish it by killing a strayed ox.  They accordingly selected for the site of their garrison the north bank of Bogistow Pond, having long, wet prairies on the east and northwest.  The intevening neck was by fire and steel soon demuded on the north and south and a large vacuity secured. The waters of the pond in summer, and of Bullard's spring in winter, attracted their cattle, to report the missing and sound the alarm.  Here they prepared to live, as all of them virtually did, the rest of their lives, in a state of warfare.  They built for a garrison-house a spacious and regular fortess.  It was superior to any similar structure on the then frontier.  It was 65 or 70 feet long, two stories high, all of faced stone, brought over ice from a quarry one mile distant at the northwest, and laid, in a workmanlike manner, in clay mortar.  It had a double row of port holes on all sides, lined with white oak plank, and flaring inward , so as to require no one to expose himself before them,  while the besieged, by taking cross aims, could direct their fire to every point of the compass. This fortress was lighted and entered at the south end, overlooking the pond, where the bank was so low that assailants from that quarter, in levelling at the high windows, would only lodge bullets in a plank chamber floor, or among the furniture of the garret.  The upper story was appropriated to the women and children, and had a room partitioned off for the sick.  To this place of security our ancestors, for more than two generations were accustomed to flee in times of alarm, and here no small number of their children were born.  In this fort they were once besieged by a host of Philip's warriors, who in despair of all other means, attempted to fire the building by running down the declivity above it a cart of burning flax.  Arrested in its descent by a rock still to be seen, and an Indian who had run down to start it having been killed, a retreat was sounded, and the lives of our ancestors saved.  Two months afterwards the enemy returned, when our fathers sallied forth and charged them with such execution that "they never dared to show their faces there afterwards."  The walls of this edifice were carefully preserved by the descendants of Benj. Bullard, until about 1785, when the proprietor sold out to a Vandal, who demolished them.  Will the present proprietor, Horatio Mason, Esq., palisade the rock that scotched the cart, and saved the lives of five of his own ancestors?  Benj. Bullard early united in the enterprise of adding a new town to the colony, and of enlarging the borders of Zion.  In 1662 he signed the first petition for the incorporation of Sherborn.  In 1673, Oct 3, he sold for 40 pounds his patrimonial estate, in Watertown, to Justinian Holden.   In 1674 he signed a second petition for the incorporation of Sherborn, when their prayer was granted, and he, buy an Act of the General Court, with twelve other petitioners and twenty more of such as they might consent to receive as inhabitants, constituted a proprietor of lands, now composing Sherborn, Holliston, and large districts of Framingham and Ashland. After the incorporation of Sherborn, Benj. Bullard was active in advancing her interests.  In the petitions to the General Court, in the social compact of the town that he subscribed, he declared his high regard for the progress of the Gospel and the well-being of man.  He was one of the six brethren to constitute the church at its formation.  He seved as Tythingman 1680, as selectman, 1688, and was chosen to the very delicate office of seating the meeting when their house of worship was finished.
The Indian claim to lands granted in Sherborn prior to the incorporation of the town, not having been extinguished by the original grantees,  Benj. Bullard united with nine other owners of these grants, and for 20 pounds, paid to seven natives as principals, and empowered  by "the natural descendents of the ancient inhabitants and proprietors of the lands in and about Sherborn," procured, June 12, 1682 a quit-claim to 4000 acres.  These included his farm of 150 do.; and in 1686 he was rated with the forty proprietors and inhabitants of Sherborn to raise an equal amount to extinguish the Indian claim to the remainder of 10,000 acres included in the township.  He was rated among the highest, and this rate having been early adopted as the rule whereby the common lands should be proportioned, he and his heirs drew large shares, and became the owneres of much land.  He died intestate, Sept. 27, 1689, and administration was granted to his son Samuel, and Sarah Bullard? pr. his mother or sister. His personal estate was appraised Nov. 28, 1680,  by John Harding and Joseph Bullard, at 235 pounds 16s.; and from another inventory, {Mid. Prob.} he seems, for his day, to have left a good propertty in stock and lands.  The ancient Bullard farm on Bogistow Brook, in Medway, the Bullard Farms in the south and west of Sherborn, and in the North and West of Holliston, were inherited from him, and drawn in his right. These have been enjoyed by many generations of his race, and well may his memory claim their gratitude and reverence.  How can they show them?  He sleeps hard by the scene of his toils and perils.  On the apex of one of Nature's pyramids, whose base is laved by Charles River, repose his ashes, in company with those of the founders of Sherborn.  Over them are scattered the fragments of broken headstones, on their way to the river, whose gurgling waters seem to chant unheard the requiem of the dead, and whose bosom offers a more hospitable home to the tenants of their graves than their degenerate children are willing to provide, with law and justice to aid them.  Editors and travellers have cried "Shame!" in vian.  Will the Bullards now interfere, redeem six feet, and mark it with a monumnt worthy of their great Puritan ancestor?  It can be readily and peaceably done.  There is not a spirited female of the race who cannot by her pen accomplish it.
With brother in law George Fairbanks bought of executors the south half or third of 1074 acres that had belonged to the deceased Captain Robert Keayne at Pawlett Hill (partly in Sherborn and partly in Medway - this property had been granted to Keayne in 1649 and he had died 3/23/1655-6)  Bounding them on the n. of this property was Mr.s Hill and Breck from Dorchester - also brothers in law.  These 4 were the second company to plant w of the Charles River, locating there dwellings with reference to natural security, settling prior to 2/2/1658.  This was a frontier location, cut off by river and marsh and a distance of 4 miles from the nearest settlement at Medfield.  Around this time the settlement grew to 9 families.  A garrison was built on the n. bank of Bogistow Pond, having long wet prairies to the e. and n.w..  The garrison house was spacious and superior to others being built on the frontier.  It was 65 - 70 feet long, two stories high, all of faced stone, brought over ice from a quarry one mile distant at the n.w., and laid in workmanlike manner in clay mortar.  It had a double row of port holes on all sides lined with oak plank and flaring inward, so as to require no one to expose himself before them, while the beseiged, by taking cross aims could direct their fire to every point of the compass.  This fortress was lighted and entered at the s. end overlooking the pond, where the bank was so low that assailants from that quarter in levelling at the high windows, would only lodge bullets in a plank chamber floor, or among furniture in the garret.  The upper story was appropriated to the women and children, and had a room partitioned off for the sick.  To this place of security our ancestors for more than two generation were accustomed to flee in times of alarm, and here no small numbers of babies were born.  In this fort they once were beseiged by a host of King Philip's warriors, who in despair of all other means attempted to fire the building by running down the declivity above it a cart filled with burning flax.  In it's descent the cart was halted by a rock in it's path, and Indian was killed trying to free it, the retreat was sounded and the garrison saved.  2 months later however they were back, but were met with such resistance they did not return again.

"The first settler within the territory, now Medway, was George Fairbanks, from Dedham, in 1657.  Mr. Fairbanks was not connected with the settlement of Medfield Plain, but purchased the tract of land which had been granted in 1643 to Rev. Mr. Allyne by the General Court.  While Mr. Fairbanks lived within the limits of Medfield, and enjoyed religous and municipal privileges in that town, he held his land by purchase and not by town grant.  He was one of the inhabitants of "The Farms", so called.  His immediate neighbors as recorded in 1660, were, Nicholas Woods, Daniel Morse, Henry Lealand, Thomas Holbrooke, and Thomas Bas.  There were also John Hill, Benjamin Bullard and perhaps others."   (History of Norfolk Co., Massachusetts - D. Hamilton Hurd)

With brother in law George Fairbanks bought of executors the south half or third of 1074 acres that had belonged to the deceased Captain Robert Keayne at Pawlett Hill (partly in Sherborn and partly in Medway - this property had been granted to Keayne in 1649 and he had died 3/23/1655-6)  Bounding them on the n. of this property was Mr.s Hill and Breck from Dorchester - also brothers in law.  These 4 were the second company to plant w of the Charles River, locating there dwellings with reference to natural security, settling prior to 2/2/1658.  This was a frontier location, cut off by river and marsh and a distance of 4 miles from the nearest settlement at Medfield.  Around this time the settlement grew to 9 families.  A garrison was built on the n. bank of Bogistow Pond, having long wet prairies to the e. and n.w..  The garrison house was spacious and superior to others being built on the frontier.  It was 65 - 70 feet long, two stories high, all of faced stone, brought over ice from a quarry one mile distant at the n.w., and laid in workmanlike manner in clay mortar.  It had a double row of port holes on all sides lined with oak plank and flaring inward, so as to require no one to expose himself before them, while the beseiged, by taking cross aims could direct their fire to every point of the compass.  This fortress was lighted and entered at the s. end overlooking the pond, where the bank was so low that assailants from that quarter in levelling at the high windows, would only lodge bullets in a plank chamber floor, or among furniture in the garret.  The upper story was appropriated to the women and children, and had a room partitioned off for the sick.  To this place of security our ancestors for more than two generation were accustomed to flee in times of alarm, and here no small numbers of babies were born.  In this fort they once were beseiged by a host of King Philip's warriors, who in despair of all other means attempted to fire the building by running down the declivity above it a cart filled with burning flax.  In it's descent the cart was halted by a rock in it's path, and Indian was killed trying to free it, the retreat was sounded and the garrison saved.  2 months later however they were back, but were met with such resistance they did not return again.

Benjamin Bullard's first wife, Martha Fairbanks/Pidge By: John M. Kingsbury
The following has been adapted from Bullard Newsletter, # 168, May 9, 1996, published by the Bullard Memorial Farm Association. The Bullard Farm in Holliston, Massachusetts owned and maintained by the Association, has a close relationship, both genetically and historically, to the Fairbanks Family.
Jonathan Fairbanks built the famous house in Dedham, but in due course, his son George moved to the western frontier of that time (now Sherborn) and built a second generation Fairbanks dwelling. Benjamin Bullard, the second generation of the Bullard Family of Dedham, built next door. The Bullard Homstead Farm of today stands on land that goes back, it is believed, to its original purchase and settlement by George Fairbanks and Benjamin Bullard before 1658.
All of the Bullards of the Bullard Farm are descendants of Jonathan Fairbanks through the marriage of George Fairbanks' daughter Mary to Joseph Daniell (Fairbanks Genealogy; p. 37) and subsequent linkage with Benjamin Bullard's line. One branch of the Bullard Farm Bullards (Kingsbury) is also descended from Martha Pidge, the subject of this essay.
John Bullard, the first of that name in this country, was adventurous. He lived first in Watertown for a year or so after his arrival on American shores around 1635 with wife Magdalen Martyn Bullard and Benjamin could not have married as well socially as his sister Ann had done. Search of local records turns up no other persons of the Pidge surname. Surnames crystallized from patronymics ("son of" names) and nicknames in England in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Some of the nicknames by which certain colorful characters were known locally in those days, although often well earned, were distinctly uncomplimentary, even so earthy as to have been an embarrassment to later generations if they became the heritable name (surname) of the descendants as many did. Later generations tried to "improve" such uncomplimentary names by leaving out letters, or changing the spelling and pronunciation in other ways so that the original etymology was obscured. The most likely unmodified surname for Martha Pidge would be "Pig" or "Pigge". Indeed, at least three Pigge brothers were among the early colonial settlers in America. They came from Wisbech (or Wisbeach), which is at the northeastern end of Cambridge County, near the northwestern end of Suffolk County whence came the Bullards. Thomas Pigge, with his wife Mary, was a householder in East Roxbury by 1634 and was known as "a godly Christian man". His brother Robert came at the same time, but soon moved on to the new settlements in Connecticut (New Haven). Another brother, John Pigge, went to
Virginia in 1644.  Immigrant Thomas Pigge became a freeman (person of property) in Roxbury in 1634, and soon a proprietor of the town. In other words, he was recognized as a person of substantial character and means. But his life was cut short. He fell and bruised his back severely "which hurt his kidneys, and not being carefully cured, they utterly wasted away, and many others of his entrails." Thomas Pigge died and was buried on December 30, 1644. His property was bequeathed in his will, probated July 12, 1645, to his wife, his sons Thomas and John, and his daughters Hannah, Sarah, Mary, and Martha. To Martha was bequeathed an "eight acre lott on Pigg Hill", said to be still so named to this day. Thomas Pigge's wife Mary married, second, Michael Metcalf, a widower. Michael Metcalf made a covenant in his own will benefitting his own children
by his first wife, and also one of the children of Mary Pigge, his new wife, by her first husband. That stepchild is identified in Michael Metcalf's will as "Martha, the wife of Benjamin Bullard." As noted above, Benjamin Bullard had been given over as a child to his Uncle John Bullard to raise when his father died. The same sort of thing happened to Martha Pigge (she was just two years old when her father died), but it seems there were no local relatives to take on the child as happened in Benjamin's case. One of her uncles was in Connecticut, the other in Virginia, and mother Mary Pigge was marrying into a family that already had some eight older Metcalf children. What the specific connection was that brought Martha into the Jonathan Fairbanks' home in Dedham is not known, but the definite statement in Michael Metcalf's will ties all of this together
unequivocally. Perhaps it was the distinguished Jonathan Fairbanks himself who changed Martha's last name from "Pigge" to the more socially graceful "Pidge." In colonial penmanship the two words would appear almost identical.





 
 


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