29 August, 2014

Edward Sturgis, Early Yarmouth Settler

I've begun writing up little biographies of ancestors as information comes to light during my research. This little bio is about Edward Sturgis, my maternal 9th great-grandfather.


Edward Sturgis
(1613-1695)


Edward Sturgis (sometimes spelled Sturges) was most likely born in January 1613 in the
village of Woodnesborough, Kent, England. His parents were John Sturges of Sturry, Kent and Margaret Austin of
Woodnesborough, Kent, England (photo by Nick Smith)
Tilmanstone, Kent. This couple had married in November of 1608 in Tilmanstone.

Edward was left 40 shillings by his grandfather (also Edward Sturgis), upon his death in 1623, to be given to young Edward at his 18th birthday. This amount would equal approximately $485 today. (Isn't the internet a wonderful thing?)

In 1634, when Edward was 21 years old, he made the decision to come to the American colonies. He appears to have made the trip by himself, as none of his siblings (Margaret, Elizabeth and Andrew) are mentioned in colonial records. What his dreams and ambitions were can only be guessed at, but he would prove a competent and enterprising young man and an asset to his chosen home town of Yarmouth, Massachusetts.

Prior to making Yarmouth his home, Edward arrived at Charlestown and received a grant of four acres of land there in the same year of his arrival. Little is known of Edward's time in Charlestown, but he did not find a wife there, and perhaps decided to move on to greener pastures. For whatever reason he removed to the newly settled town of Yarmouth on Cape Cod in 1640 where he met and married Elizabeth Hinckley in 1642. There were only 25 families in Yarmouth at that time, among them that of Giles Hopkins Mayflower passenger and son of Stephen Hopkins of the Mayflower, and also Antony Thacher, one of the co-founders of the town. Edward Sturgis settled to the eastern side of the town near the meetinghouse and was a near neighbor to Reverend Marmaduke Matthews, the pastor of Yarmouth.

Edward was one of the first to keep an “ordinary” or tavern in the town of Yarmouth. In those early colonial days, individuals could obtain a license to serve liquor, usually from their own homes. Later they would build larger accommodations, often including rooms for travelers, but initially the “ordinary” was simply the hospitality of the homeowner and a little something to warm the belly.
Colonial Ordinary

Edward evidently made a positive impression on the Yarmouth settlers, for they made him constable of the town in 1641. In 1643 he was judged “able to bear arms” and named a freeman of the town. He later served as selectman and as deputy to the General Court as well as serving on a number of committees governing the town. His occupation was listed as “innkeeper” and “husbandman” in later records, so he evidently expanded his “ordinary” at some point and kept a substantial farm.

His family grew rapidly, adding to the rolls of the newly formed town of Yarmouth four daughters and three sons. His childrens' names were Edward, Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, Hannah, Sarah and Thomas. (Sarah was the Thacher family ancestor.)

Edward left this life in October 1695 at the age of 81 years, dying in the town of Sandwich on Cape Cod. Though Edward Sturgis was considered one of the wealthier residents of early Yarmouth, he somehow died with substantial debt, leaving his second wife, Mary, in somewhat of a bind. Evidently she settled the estate for a sum of 23 pounds, leaving the rest to Edward's surviving son, Thomas.


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