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The Freemen of Massachusetts Bay
1630 - 1636

Redacted and introduced by Marcia Stewart.

A primary goal of The Winthrop Society is to determine the identities of the first settlers of Massachusetts Bay Commonwealth. There are no firmer grounds for establishing an early settler among the founders of the Commonwealth than the lists of the first Freemen — those who applied for that estate in Boston in October, 1630, and those so sworn thereafter. The Freemen were the only colonists who were franchised to vote, and the franchise was not offered to all. One generally had to be a mature male church-member, and must have experienced a transforming spiritual experience by God's grace, as attested by himself and confirmed by church leaders. Therefore, the list of names below represents just a small percentage of the population. And apparently, a number of qualifying church-members would not take the oath because they had problems with the wording. An oath in those times was taken very seriously, as though it were a promise made directly to the Almighty with ones soul forfeit in the breach. Numerous persons who are on church and court records of 1630-1632 did not take the oath until 1634, when the oath was shortened and modified to replace the persons of the Governor etc. to whom obedience was due with the impersonal "common weale." Others, such as those who later became Quakers, objected strongly to oaths in general. One can understand all their reservations when one reads this "mother of all American loyalty oaths," below.

The Oath of a Freeman, or of a Man to be made free.

I, A B, etc., being, by the Almighty's most wise disposition, become a member of this body, consisting of the Governor, Deputy Governor, Assistants and a commonalty of the Mattachusets in New England, do freely and sincerely acknowledge that I am justly and lawfully subject to the government of the same, and do accordingly submit my person and estate to be protected, ordered, and governed by the laws and constitutions thereof, and do faithfully promise to be from time to time obedient and conformable thereunto, and to the authority of the said Governor and Assistants and their successors, and to all such laws, orders, sentences, and decrees as shall be lawfully made and published by them or their successors; and I will always endeavor (as in duty I am bound) to advance the peace and welfare of this body or commonwealth to my utmost skill and ability; and I will, to my best power and means, seek to divert and prevent whatsoever may tend to the ruin or damage thereof, or of any the said Governor, Deputy Governor, or Assistants, or any of them or their successors, and will give speedy notice to them, or some of them, of any sedition, violence, treachery, or other hurt or evil which I shall know, hear, or vehemently suspect to be plotted or intended against the said commonwealth, or the said government established; and I will not at any time suffer or give consent to any counsel or attempt that shall be done, given, or attempted for the impeachment of the said government, or making any change alteration of the same, contrary to the laws and ordinances thereof, but shall do my utmost endeavor to discover, oppose, and hinder all and every such counsel and attempt. So help me God.

Applied for Freeman Status, October 19th, 1630

What follows is the entire record of the Court of the session of October 19, 1630. This occasion was nothing less than the birth of democracy on the American continent. The men that applied for freemen status were mostly arrived in 1630 with the Winthrop fleet and the Mary & John. However, the earlier arrivals are also represented here, and this list contains many of the surviving settlers from the the Abigail and the Higginson fleet, as well as a few who came before 1628.

All names were inscribed by the Court clerk, and give an indication of the pronunciation, if not the oath-taker's prefered spelling of his name. The spelling of surnames and most prenames is given here as originally written down, but we have replaced abbreviated prenames by the common full spelling. Where prenames were omitted, they are inserted here in italics. The order of the names as written down originally can be seen here. There is no apparent indication of their social status in the order of the names, but some of the earliest settlers appear first, and study has revealed groupings according to the MBC township of origin.

At General Court, holden at Boston the 19th of October, 1630

The Governor (John Winthrop)
The deputy Governor (Thomas Dudley)
Sir Richard Saltonstall
Mr. (Roger) Ludlowe
Capt. (John) Endicott
Mr. (Increase) Nowell
Mr. (William) Pinchon
Mr. (Simon) Bradstreete

For establishing the government, it was propounded if it were not the best course that the Freemen should have the power of choosing Assistants when there are to be chosen, and the Assistants from among themselves to choose a Governor and a Deputy Governor, who with the Assistants should have the power of making laws and choosing officers to execute the same. This was fully assented unto by the general vote of the people and erection of hands.

Ralfe Sprage is chosen constable of Charlton, John Johnson of Rocksbury, and John Page for Waterton, for the space of one whole year, and after till new be chosen.

It is ordered that the sawyers shall not take above 12d a score for sawing oak boards, and 10d a score for pine boards if they have their wood felled and scored for them.

Walter Palmer made his personal appearance this day, and stands bound, he and his sureties, till the next Court.

The names of such as desire to be made Freeman

Mr. Samuell Mavracke
Mr. Edward Johnson
Mr. Edward Gibbins
Mr. William Jeffries
Mr. John Burslin
Mr. Samuel Sharpe
Mr. Thomas Graves
Mr. Roger Conant
John Woodbury
Peter Palfrey
Mr. Nathaniel Turner
Mr. Samuel Freeman
Eprahim Childe
Mr. William Clerke
Mr. Abraham Palmer
John Page
Nicholas Upsall
Stephen Terree
Henry Smyth
Roger Williams (Roger Williams of Dorchester, not the Minister and later founder of Rhode Island.)
John Woolridge
Thomas Lumberd
Bigatt Egglestone
John Grinoway
Christopher Gibson
John Benham
Thomas Williams alias Harris
Richard Garrett
John Howman
John Crabb
Capt. Walter Norton
Mr. Alexander Wignall
Mr. William Jennison
Mr. Thomas Southcoate
Mr. Richard Southcoate
James Pemberton
Mr. John Dillingham
John Johnson
Mr. Robert Coles
Jehu Burr
Thomas Rawlins
Richard Bugby
Richards Hutchins
Ralfe Mushell
Thomas Lambe
William Throdingham
William Chase
(Richard) Foxewell
Mr. Charles Gott
Henry Harwood
Mr. George Phillips
Mr. John Wilson
Mr. John Mavracke
Mr. Robert Feake
Mr. William Pelham
Mr. Benjamin Brand
Mr. William Blackstone
Mr. Edmond Lockwood
Mr. Richard Browne
John Strickland
Ralfe Sprage
Mr. George Ludlowe
James Penn
Henry Woolcott
Thomas Stoughton
William Phelpes
George Dyar
John Hoskins
Thomas Ford
Mr. John Warham
Mr. Samuell Skelton
Mr. William Colbron
Mr. William Aspinwall
Edward Converse
Mr. Richard Palgrave
John Taylour
Richard Church
Richard Silvester
William Balstone
Robert Abell
Mr. Giles Sexton
Robert Seely
John Mills
John Cranwell
Mr. Ralfe Glover
William Hulbird
Edmond James
John Pillips
Nathaniell Bowman
John Doggett
Laurence Leach
Charles Chadwicke
William Drakenbury
John Drake
John Balshe
Mr. Samuell Coole
Mr. William Traske
William Gallard
William Rockewell
Henry Herricke
Samuel Hosier
Richard Mylett
Mr. Abraham Pratt
William James
William Allen
Samuel Archer

Thus ends the record of the Court of October, 1630.

Names of such as took the Oath of Freemen — 18 May, 1631.

Mr. John Mavracke
Mr. William Blackstone
Mr. Richard Browne
Capt. John Underhill
Mr. Thomas Graves
Mr. George Throckmorton
Sgt. (Richard*) Morris
Mr. Roger Conant
Ralfe Sprage
John Horne
John Woodbury
Edmond Lockewood
Mr. Richard Palgrave
Richard Sprage
Thomas Stoughton
John Johnson
Bray Rossiter
Biggott Egglestone
William Noddle
William Agar
John Benham
Stephen Terre
Robert Hardinge
Mr. George Alcocke
Peter Palfry
John Edmonds
Roger Williams (Roger Williams of Dorchester, not the Minister and later founder of Rhode Island.)
John Moore
John Hoskins
Jehu Burr
Charles Chadwicke
Ralfe Mushell
Walter Palmer
Thomas Ford
Mr. Edward Tomlyns
Edward Gibbons
Mr. William Gennison
Thomas Rawlins
John Warren
Davy Johnson
William Bateman
Mr. John Burslyn
John Pierce
George Dyar
Thomas Moore
Ezekiel Richardson
Robert Abell
Isaacke Sterne
Thomas Lambe
John Ferman
John Grinnoway
Thomas Lumberd
William Gallerd
Richard Bulgar
William Felpes
Mr. Samuel Skelton
William Cheesebrough
Frauncis Smyth
Mr. John Warham
Mr. George Phillips
Capt. Daniel Pattricke
Capt. ( * ) Southcoate
Capt. Walter Norton
Mr. William Colbran
Sgt. (John*) Strickland
Mr. Charles Gott
Laurence Leach
Mr. Samuel Coole
Mr. John Oldeham
John Page
John Doggett
Francis Johnson
Abraham Palmer
Eprahim Childe
Robert Seely
Mr. William Clearke
Mr. Robert Feakes
Nicholas Stower
William Balstone
Samuel Hosier
William Woods
Robert Moulton
Mr. Edward Belchar
George Phillips
John Balche
Henry Herricke
Mathew Grant
Simon Hoytt
William Parks
William Hudson
Henry Smyth
Jonas Weede
Mr. Richard Saltonstall
Mr. Alexander Wignall
Daniel Abbott
Richard Bugby
Mr. William Jeffry
Nicholas Upsall
Mr. John Maisters
Griffin Crofte
William Rockewell
John Taylour
Edward Converse
Mr. John Dillingham
Roger Mawry
Thomas Williams
John Gosse
Gyles Sexton
Mr. Edward Jones
William Allen
Richard Foxewell
John Perkins
Mr. Edward Johnson
Anthony Dixe
Frauncis Aleworth

* The given names of Southcoate, Morris and Strickland were not shown on the original list. The identities of Morris and Strickland can be determined, but Capt. Southcoate was either Richard or Thomas Southcoate of Dorchester, both of whom had petitioned earlier to be made Freemen.

Names of such as took the Oath of Freemen — 6 March, 1631/1632.

Mr. John Ellyott
Abraham Browne
Isaack Perry
William Frothingham
John Blacke
Jacob Ellyott
James Pennyman
Gregory Baxter
Samuel Moore
John Mylls

Names of such as took the Oath of Freemen — 3 April, 1632.

Mr. John Winthrop, Junr.
John Sampeford
Mr. William Aspinwall
William Hulbert

Names of such as took the Oath of Freemen — 3 July, 1632.

Mr. Nathaniel Turner
Elias Stileman
Mr. Samuel Sharpe
John Moore
John Ruggles
Mr. William Dennison
Mr. John Wilson

Names of such as took the Oath of Freemen — 7 August, 1632.

John Phillips
John Hull
Valentine Prentice
Samuel Wakeman

Names of such as took the Oath of Freemen — 2 October, 1632.

Mr. Samuel Mavricke

Names of such as took the Oath of Freemen — 6 November, 1632.

Mr. Thomas Weld
Mr. John Willust
Mr. Richard Dummer
Mr. John Branker
Thomas French
John Benjamin
James Olmstead
William Leawis
William Wadsworth
Mr. Thomas James
Mr. John Coggeshall
Mr. Thomas Ollyver
Mr. Thomas Beecher
William Goodwin
John Talcott
John Clerke
Nathaniel Richards
Richard Webb

Such as took the Oath of Freeman on March 4, 1632/33

William Curtis
Thomas Uffott
John Perry
Isaack Morrall
William Heath
George Hull
Eltweed Pummery
Nicholas Denselowe
Gyles Gibbs
John Neweton
John White
William Spencer
John Kirman
Tymothy Tomlins
Henry Harwood
Richard Collocott
William Brakenbury
John Smyth

Such as took the Oath of Freeman on April 1, 1633

Sgt. (John) Greene
Rise Coles
William Dady

Such as took the Oath of Freeman on June 11, 1633

William Stilson
Richard Millett
Richard Lyman
Jesper Rawling
Thomas Smyth
David Wilton
John Witchfield
Elias Mavracke

Such as took the Oath of Freeman on November 5, 1633

Mr. Israell Stoughton
Mr. John Coggin
Mr. William Hill
Mr. John Moody
John Porter
Frauncis Weston
John Watson
John Holgrave

Such as took the Oath of Freeman on March 4, 1633/34

Thomas Grubb
Edmond Hubbert
Edward Hutchingson
Mr. Thomas Leaveritt
Mr. Gyles Ferman
Edmond Quinsey
William Collishawe
Thomas Minor
Thomas Howlett
John Gage
Samuell Wilboare
John Levens
John Cranwell
Edward Mellowes
James Browne
Mr. John Woolridge
Josuah Hewes
Robert Turner
John Biggs
Thomas Matson
Walter Merry
Richard Tappin
Mr. Atterton Hough
William Andrews
Richard Walker
George Ruggles
Mr. Nicholas Parker

Such as took the Oath of Freeman on April 1, 1634

Mr. Daniell Dennison
George Minott
Richard Gridley
Thomas Reade
George Hutchingson
Robert Roice
John Pemerton
Bernard Lumbert
Henry Wulcott
Richard Hull
John Gallop
Richard Silvester
William Horseford

Such as took the Oath on May 14, 1634

John Haynes, Esq.
Phillip Sherman
Daniel Brewer
Thomas Gaildthwaite
Robert Gamlyn, Sr.
Thomas Hale
Edward Riggs
John Walker
Thomas Wilson
Samuell Basse
Thomas Pigg
William Hill
Samuel Finch
George Williams
Edward Gyles
William Dixy
George Norton
Thomas Eborne
Daniel Wray
Abraham Mellowes
John Ollyver
Robert Hale
Thomas Cakebread

Two separate groups were sworn on May 14th, 1634, and this redactor is uncertain of the reason. One might speculate that, after the first group, above, was sworn by the Oath of 1631, the New Oath was proposed by the larger second group containing many worthies and first settlers, including the notable ministers Thomas Hooker and Samuel Stone, and was then adopted by the Court. At that same session, we note also that Thomas Dudley replaced the more conservative John Winthrop as Governor, and the powerful and persuasive Rev. John Cotton (among the second group of Freemen, below) was heard to speak on constitutional issues.

As was noted above, the Oath of 1631 was considered unreasonably demanding to many of the first settlers, and the Oath in 1634 was reworded to make allegiance binding to the Commonwealth, but not to the persons of the present government, and also allowed the oath-taker's conscience to bear in its interpretation.

A significant portion of the first settlers of the Colony refused the first oath, but are found on the following lists of 1634 and 1635, among more recently arrived settlers. Below is the New Oath, and a list of all who took the New Oath in this and the subsequent court sessions up to the end of the Julian year 1635/36.

The Oath of Freeman agreed upon at the General Court, May 14, 1634.

I, A&B, being by God's providence an inhabitant and freeman within the jurisdiction of this common weale, do freely acknowledge myself to be subject to the government thereof, and therefore do hereby swear by the great and dreadful name of the ever-living God that I will be true and faithful to the same, and will accordingly yield assistance and support thereunto, with my person and estate, as in equity I am bound, and will also truly endeavor to maintain and preserve all the privileges and liberties thereunto, submitting myself to the wholesome laws made and established by the same. And further, that I will not plot nor practise any evil against it, nor consent to any that shall be so done, but will timely discover and reveal the same to lawful authority now here established for the speedy preventing thereof. Moreover, I do solemnly bind myself in the sight of God that when I shall be called to give my voice touching any such matter of this State, wherein Freemen are to deal, I will give my vote and suffrage as I shall in my own conscience judge best to produce and tend to the public weale of the body, without respect of persons or respect of any man. So help me God in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Freemen made at the General Court, May 14th, 1634:

Thomas Squire
Robert Houlton
Richard Fairbanks
Phillip Tabor
Gregory Taylor
John Chapman
William Learned
Mr. Thomas Hooker
Mr. Samuel Stone
Edward Howe
Bartholomewe Greene
Richard Wright
John Steele
Edmond Stebbins
Andrewe Warner
George Steele
Richard Butlar
Thomas Spencer
Edward Muste
Richard Goodman
John Pratt
John Haward
Andrewe Ward
Joseph Twitchell
Thomas Hatch
George Whitehand
Jerad Hadden
John Odlyn
Roger Clapp
Joseph Reddings
Anthony Colby
John Bosworth
Frauncis Palmer
Humfry Pynny
Bray Wilkins
James Rawlyns
Jacob Barny
Thomas Lowthrop
Steven Hart
Jeffery Massy
Richand Brakenbury
Thomas Faireweather
William Hedges
John Hoskins
Peter Woolfe
William Chase
William Talmidge
Mr. John Cotton
Nathaniel Gillett
Daniel Howe
Myles Reddin
John Eales
Mr. William Peirce
Mr. Thomas Mahewe
Josuah Carter
Thomas Talmadge
Robert Walker
Phillip Randall
Thomas Holcombe
Thomas Dewey
Thomas Jeffry
James Parker
Walter Filer
John Haydon
Edmond Harte
William Hathorne
Steven French
Christopher Hussey
Edwarde Bendall
John Button
Richard Raymond
Jonathan Wade
Thomas Coldham
James Tompson
Thomas Hubbard
John Hall
John Baker
Mr. William Brenton
John Capen
Frauncis Dent
Henry Feakes

Freemen made at the General Court, September 3, 1634.

Benjamin Hubbard
Edmond Hubbard
John Mousell
William Baker
William Nashe
Thomas Goble
Ollyver Mellowes
Robert Gamlyne
Ralfe Hiningway
Jesper Rawlyns
John Stowe
John Cumpton
William Freeborne
William Perkins
James Everill
Jonathan Negos
Thomas Thorneton
Matthias Sension
Nicholas Willust
Alexander Becke
Henry Pease
Samuel Crumwell
Joseph Rednape
Edward Hutchingson
John Sibley
Hugh Hillyard
Moses Mavracke
Mr. John Spencer
Robert Mussey
Henry Shorte
Phillip Fowler
Bryan Pendleton
Abraham Finch
Anthony Peirce
Mr. Thomas Parker
Mr. Nicholas Easton
John Bernard
Martyn Underwood
Samuel Smyth
John Browne
John Edy
Robert Abbitt
Robert Coe
Nathanel Foote
Richard Davenport
Mr. Thomas Newbery
John Pope
John Hawkes
Ralfe Fogg
Robert Reynolls
Robert Potter
John Hardy
Josuah Hubbard

Freemen made at the General Court, March 4th, 1634/1635.

Capt. John Mason
Hugh Mason
George Munnings
John Brandishe
Samuell Hubbert
Edward Dixe
Thomas Bartlett
George Buncar
Robert Blott
Richard Kettle
William Johnson
Thomas Lynd
Mr. William Andrewes
William Westwood
Mathewe Allen
Guy Bambridge
William Pantry
Thomas Fisher
John Hopkins
John Bridge
William Kelsey
John Bernard
James Ensigne
Samuel Greenehill
Tymothy Stanley
Richard Lord
John Prince
Edward Winshipp
Samuel Greene
Joseph Clerke
John Wulcott
Abraham Newell
Richard Pepp
Isaac Johnson
Christopher Peakes
Thomas Woodford
Thomas Scott
Thomas Boreman
Roger Lanckton
John Webster
Hugh Sheratt
Joseph Metcalfe
William Bartholomewe
Thomas Dorman
Richard Kent
James Davis
John Newegate
Mr. William Hutchingson
Thomas Marshall
Richard Cooke
William Netherland
Thomas Wardall
Richard Hutchingson
Frauncis Hutchingson
Gamaliel Wate
Richard Trusedale
Edward Hitchin
Robert Parker
Joseph Easton
John Tylley
Thomas Stanley

Freemen made at the General Court, May 6th, 1635.

Philemon Portmorte
Henry Elkines
Christopher Martiall
Edmond Bulckley
Edward Browne
Jarrett Bourne
William Pell
Benjamin Gillom
Thomas Alcocke
Edmonde Jacklinge
John Sebley
Thomas Peirce
Mr. Sachariah Syms
Barnaby Wynes
Jeffery Ferris
Thomas Gunn
Robert Dibell
Henry Fowkes
Elias Parkeman
John Blackeleach
Daniel Morse
Joseph Morse
Edward Garfeild
John Reynolls
Henry Bright
Thomas Hastings
John Lethermore
John Batchelor
John Tompson
John Clerke
Thomas Swifte
Robert Wincall
Thomas Hosmer
William Butlar
John Arnoll
George Stockin
Nathaniel Ely
Robert Day
Richard Browne
William Moody
Christopher Osgood
Thomas Buckland
Richard Jacob
Aron Cooke
George Phelpes
Boniface Burton
Jerymy Adams
Joseph Maggott
John Hall
Samuel Allen
Humfry Bradstreete
Thomas Pyne
John Gay
George Strange
Nathaniel Duncan
Thomas Marshall
Thomas Hoskins
Richard Kemball
Robert Andrewes
Henry Wright
Jonathan Jellett
Robert Bootefishe
Robert Dryver
William Edmonds
John Ravensdale
John Legg
George Farr
Robert Cotty
Mr. Steven Batchelor

Freemen made at the General Court, September 2, 1635.

William Blumfield
Joseph Hull
William Reade
Richard Adams
John Upham
Robert Lovell
William Smyth
Richard Woodward
Peter Hubbert
Mr. George Byrditt
Mr. Townsend Bishopp
Phillip Vereing
Mr. John Fawne
Thomas Scruggs

Freemen made at the General Court, March 3, 1635/1636.

Mr. Clement Chaplaine
William Mosse
William Dyer
Joseph Wells
John Cogeswell
Richard Tuttle
Robert Lord
William Walton
Thomas Loreing
Clement Bates
John Astwood
Thomas Wakely
William Norton
George Ludkin
George Marshe
John Ottis
Nicholas Baker
Nicholas Jacob
David Phippin
Edmond Batter
Philemon Dolton
John Whitney
William Swayne
Henry Kingman
Thomas White
Angell Hollard
John Kingsbury
John Levett
Thomas Rawlyns
Roger Harlakendine, Esq.
Mr. Joseph Cooke
Mr. George Cooke
Mr. Nicholas Danforth
Thomas Marryott
Mr. Samuell Shepheard
William French
Simon Crosby
Thomas Cheeseholme
John Russell
Passevell Greene
Mr. Hugh Peters
Thomas Bloyett
Edmond Frost
Mr. Thomas Shepheard
Henry Vane, Esq.
Thomas Ewer
Thomas Brigden
Michaell Bastowe
Joseph Andrewes

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