Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

4 June 2018: Be careful who you accuse of being a witch in Salem … June 3, 2018

I just finished reading two novels that intertwine modern-day and the history of Salem as it relates to the Salem witch Trials. Interesting stuff, especially when you consider our own family’s entanglement in the area of accusing someone of witchcraft in Salem.  The following is a transcription I did for my genealogy program. It’s such interesting stuff I had to share it with you. Our earliest known Wells ancestor is Thomas Wells who married Naomi Marshall, daughter of Edmund and Millicent Marshall as described below.  This is great stuff. I love articles that have such in-depth citation notes. Normally, these notes are found at the bottom of the typed page. For the purpose of this blog (and my genealogy program) I’ve inserted them at the bottom of the corresponding paragraph.

Here’s a map to give you some reference:

Map of Salem, Mass and Area

FROM: The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 160, July 2006, The Edmund Marshall Family of Chebacco, Essex County, Massachusetts by Patricia Law Hatcher, Page 186 and onward.

The Edmund Marshall Family of Chebacco, Essex County, Massachusetts

Patricia Law Hatcher

The published quarterly court records of Essex County, Massachusetts, area a rich source for the family of Edmund Marshall and Millicent Marshall of Chebacco (now the town of Essex), providing information about vital events, lifestyles, individuals, relationships, and even personalities. (1) Their descendants settled in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

  • (1) Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, 9 vols. (Salem, Mass.; Essex Institute, 1911-75). Spelling has been modernized in the abstracts. The Marshalls seem to have confined their court appearances to Essex County. They do not appear in Supreme Judicial Court files 1629-1797 (“Suffolk Files”) (FHL 0,909,870; 0,909,873; 0,909,876); in John Noble, Records of the Court of Assistants of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, 1630-1692; 3 vols, (Boston: County of Suffolk, 1901-1928); or in Records of the Suffolk County Court 1671-80, 2 vols., vol. 29 and 30 of Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts (Boston: The Society, 1933).

SALEM (1636-1651)

Edmund Marshall and his wife Millicent arrived in New England probably with other immigrants who sailed during the summer or fall of 1636. “Edmund Marshall” became a member of the First Church of Salem 8:11 mo. (January) 1636/7. His daughter Naomi was baptized soon after. “Millisent Marshall” joined the church a year later, on 31:10 (December) 1637. She remained a member of the church by “removed” was written next to Edmund’s name, with no date given (2) On 17 May 1637, Edmund was made a freeman of Massachusetts Bay Colony, a status for which church membership was a prerequisite. (3)

  • (2: Richard D. Pierce, ed., The Records of the First Church in Salem, Massachusetts, 1629-1736 (Salem, Mass.: Essex Institute, 1974), 6, 16, 7. The footnote erroneously interprets 8:11 mo 1636 as “November 8, 1636 (Old Style).”)
  • (3: “List of Freeman,” Register 3 (1849): 95.)

On the 29 11th month (January) 1637/8, land that Salem had granted earlier to Mr. Thorndike was reapportioned in eight twenty-acre lots, including one to Edmund Marshall. (4)

  • (4) Town Records of Salem, Massachusetts, Vol. 1, 1634-1659, Essex Institute Historical Collections, 9 (1868): 64-65. His lot is referenced several times in landholding lists (Town Records of Salem, 18-25). Under “Anno 1636” (page 21), “Edmund Marchall.m” is listed with “20 acrs,” the baffling “m” appearing to refer to the correction in the same hand. Notes next to many names indicating the page to which the entry has been moved (9 in Edmund’s case) reflect an effort to organize the grants geographically.

The common land, maintained by New England towns to be used by all inhabitants, often was eventually divided and distributed, but with an eye to the welfare of the community. On 25 10th month (December) 1637:

It is agreed that the marsh & meadow lands that have formerly layed in common to the town shall now be appropriated to the inhabitants of Salem, proportioned out unto them according to the heads of their families. To those that have the greatest number an acre thereof & to those that have least not above half an acre, & to those that are between both 3 quarters of an acre. (5)

  •  (5: Town Records of Salem (note 4), 61.)

Edmund Marshall received three-quarters of an acre for his household of four persons – Edmund, Millicent, son John and daughter Naomi. (6) On 25 12th month (February) 1638/9, Marshall was granted an additional three acres. (7)

  • (6: Town Records of Salem, 101-3)
  • (7: Town Records of Salem, 85.)

The family remained in Salem through 1646, as shown by the births and baptisms of their children. (8) However, they probably lived in the area that is now Beverly, away from what is today Salem proper. (9)

  • (8: Records of First Church of Salem (note 2), 16-20, Vital Records of Salem, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849, 6 vols. (Salem, Mass; Essex Institute, 1916-25), 1:57.)
  • (9: Sidney Perley, History of Salem, 3 vols. (Salem, Mass: the author, 1924-28), 1:373)

The first appearance of Edmund Marshall in the court records was in 1648 for failure to perform his civic duty by taking his turn at the watch. He was fined for his lapse, but the fine was “remitted on account of the weakness of his family and his poverty,” (10)

  • (10: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 1:246 (Salem, November 1651.)

The Marshalls moved farther from Salem town by early 1651 when Edmund Marshall “of Manchester” purchased sixty acres of land with two and a half acres of marsh in Manchester. (11). Manchester, which lies on the south coast of Cape Ann between Beverly and Gloucester, south of Chebacco. On 18 June 1645, at the request of the inhabitants, the General Court had ordered that “Jeffries Creek shall be henceforward called Manchester,” (12) Unfortunately, the early records of Manchester do not survive for either town of church.

  • (11: Essex County Deeds, 1:9 (dated 18:12mo;1650/51)
  • (12: Sidney Perley, History of Salem, 3 vols, 2:174.)

Edmund Marshall of Manchester skipped the obligatory church services and was presented in November 1651 for “absenting himself from the public ordinances three or four Sundays.” He compounded the error on his ways when he justified his absence by “reproaching Mr. Thomas Dunham, in saying that he had preached blasphemy, and was a common liar.” (13)

  • (13: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 1:246 (Salem, November 1651).


Edmund may have attended the church at Gloucester, where Richard Blinman was preacher. The Rev. Richard Blinman had arrived in New England around 1640 with a number of Welsh followers, settling first at Marshfield, Plymouth Colony, then relocating to Cape Ann (later Gloucester) in 1641. In 1650 he became minister to the fledgling settlement at New London, Connecticut, and members of his group followed. (14)

Sometime before 13 February 1651/2, Edmund sold his twenty acres in Salem. (15) Edmund and John Marshall were on a list of inhabitants of New London taken in March 1651. However, the Marshalls did not remain long in Connecticut and soon returned to Essex County. (16)

  • (14: W. Farrand Felch, “The Blynman Party,” Register 53 (1899):234-41: Isaac J. Greenwood, “Rev. Richard Blinman of Marshfield, Gloucester and New London,” Register 54 (1900):39-44; Frances Manwaring Caulkins, History of New London, (New London, Conn.:the author, 1852), 67,70.)
  • (15: Unrecorded deed; sale referenced at meeting of Salem selectmen 13 12th month (February) 1651/2, Town Records of Salem (note 4), 171; these town minutes quoted in Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 7:293-94 (Salem, November 1679).
  • (16: Felch, “Bylnman Party” (Note 14), Register 53:238. There is no reason to believe that Edmund Marshall was associated with the West County group in England, but recently his wife Millicent has been identified in electronic sources as a Blinman. The contrasting social status for the Oxford-educated Blinman and for the illiterate and poverty-ridden Edmund and Millicent make this highly unlikely, and no hint of a familial connection between Blinman and the Marshalls is shown in David L. green, “Mary, Wife of the Rev. Richard Blinman of Marshfield, Gloucester, and New London; An Unsolved Problem,” The Genealogist 4 (1983): 173-86.)



For Puritan New England, belief in witchcraft was fundamental and consistent with their religious beliefs. It was often the only explanation available for bad things that occurred. It is not known why Edmund Marshall accused Goody Perkins, Goody Dutch, and the wives of William Vincent and William Evans of witchcraft in 1653. The charges were serious; Marshall’s house and orchard were attached to ensure his appearance in court. He was found guilty of defamation and ordered to make acknowledgement in the meeting house in Salem, Ipswich, and Gloucester within fourteen days of the court of 4 September 1653.

  • (17. Essex Quarterly Court Records (Note 1), 1:301 (Ipswich, September 1653).)

Two months later “Edmund Marshall of Salem weaver” purchased five acres near Basse River in what is now Beverly.

  • (18. Essex County Deeds, 1:21, dated 28 November 1653.)

Edmund kept this land until 1661, when he sold it, plus ten acres of upland with a dwelling house in Salem, and ten acres of upland together with half an acre of meadow, signing with his mark.

  • (19. Essex County Deeds, 2:13. The deed was made and acknowledge 25 1st month (March) 1661, recorded 22 3rd month (May) 1661. Edwards had not obtained a deed for the second five acres (from John Marston sr.), and in 1673 he received that deed and filed a statement documenting his neglect (Essex County Deeds, 4:4,5). He signed his statement with an M mark.)

On 31 March 1662, Edmund Marshall of Ipswich sold the house and land in Gloucester that he had purchased from John Browne, including one and a half acres of salt marsh and three acres of upland on the northwest side of the Annisquam River adjoining the other parcel. Edmond and Millicent signed with marks and acknowledged the deed at Ipswich 31 March 1663.

  • (20. Ipswich Deeds, transcribed (FHL 0,873,018), 2:150 (original page number). It is unclear whether the deed was made exactly one year prior to the acknowledgement or whether it was misdated. The earlier deed from Browne was apparently not recorded.


CHEBACCO (1663-1668)

Thereafter, the Marshalls are referred to as of Chebacco (which is given in an incredible variety of phonetic forms in early records). The southern portion of Ipswich was marshy, cut through by numerous waterways whose names are now unfamiliar: Chebacco River, Hog Island River, Harradine’s Creek, Nichols Creek. As the population grew, Chebacco was recognized reluctantly by the town of Ipswich as the second parish and allowed to form its own church. An area with few timid people, it developed its own personality and population, prompting controversies with the town and frequent court squabbles. (21) Shipbuilding was an important industry, even providing the name Chebacco boats to a later style of fishing craft. Edmund pursued his trade as a weaver, (22) but his sons would earn their livings as shipwrights. Chebacco became the town of Essex in 1819.

  • (21. James Colman, Sarah (Marshall) Colman, and Benjamin Marshall were members of the church at Chebacco. In the spring of 1679, the people at Chebacco called Dr. Jeremiah Shepard as their preacher and prepared to build a meeting house. The Council at Ipswich objected to this more than once and ordered them to desist. However, the women of the village determined that the order applied only to the “men” of the village and, acting alone, erected a church building. Soon after, Shepard moved to Lynn, and the congregation was founded around a strong minister, Rev. John Wise. The story of the forming of the parish, with lengthy quotations from the records, is in Robert Crowell, The History of Essex (Springfield, Mass: Town of Essex, 1868), 72-84.)
  • (22. Essex County Deeds, 1:9; Ipswich Deeds (note 21), 2:150 (Original page number).)

Marsh land was valuable to the residents of coaster Massachusetts. The grass that grew in the salt marsh could be cut and used to feed stock through the winter. It was, however, not always easy to identify specific parcels of marsh land, there being few identifiable landmarks. Sometimes parcels were common to several individuals, who each mowed the entire plot in turn. Such were the circumstances precipitating the pair of cases brought in 1662 and 1663. First, John Marshall sued Robert Cross for trespass for mowing the meadow Marshall had hired from Richard Brabrooke; in turn Cross sued Thomas Varney, John Marshall, Edmund Marhsall, and William Warrener for mowing Cross’s marsh grass after previously having been warned. (23) Cross apparently held part of the parcel in Chebacco marsh in common with John Burnham and John Marshall, Presumably, Cross soon thereafter carried out the statement he had earlier been heard to make that he would have the common marsh divided “before another year, that there might be no more difference in one mowing before another.” Although Cross and Marshall apparently settled their differences about the marsh, Cross and Burnham did not, continuing to meet in court on the subject. (24)

  • (23: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 2:434-35 (Ipswich, September 1662); 3:86-88 (Ipswich, September 1663).)
  • (24: Dean Crawford Smith, The Ancestry of Samuel Blanchard Ordway, Melinde Lutz Sanborn, ed. (Boston: NEHGS, 1990), 228-29.)

In a deposition on this case, “Edmund Marshall, junr.” referred to his “brother” John, thereby establishing the existence of a child of Edmund not baptized at Salem. (25) Edmund again referred to John as his brother in a 1663 deposition relating to marshland in the same area belonging to the Knowlton family. This deposition is the last mention found of John Marshall. (26)

  • (25: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1) 3:87 (Ipswich, September 1663))
  • (26: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 5:127-28 (Salem, November 1672). The case was in court in 1672 though the deposition was dates 25 June 1663.)

A great problem in the small, closely-situated lots was stock that got into neighboring fields and destroyed crops. (27) Hogs often had rings put in their noses to reduce the amount of rooting (and hence damage) that they could do. In 1668 William Cogswell accused John Burnham’s hogs of destroying his barley. Edmund and Benjamin Marshall deposed that when they were grinding their scythes at Cogswell’s, he asked them to look at the damage, which was about thirty bushels of barley. There was a creek between the two pieces of property, which cattle did not cross, but it does seem to have been deterred the hogs, which were neither ringed nor yoked. (28)

  • (27: Town Records of Salem (note 4), 64.)
  • (28: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 4:48-49 (Ipswich, September 1668).  At the next court, Burnham asked for a review of the case. The verdict was for Cogswell again, but he court did not accept this verdict (4:68-70 (Salem, November 1668).)



Edmund and Millicent’s daughter Naomi married Thomas Wells, (29) who could not get along with his neighbors either. A feud erupted at the September 1668 court, with many depositions. (30)

  • (29: There is no record of this marriage; the relationship is established from depositions.)
  • (30: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 4:49-50 (Ipswich, September 1668).

Wells’s slanderous statements about his neighbor Brabrook brought Edmund (presumably junior) and Benjamin Marshall into court to depose that Wells had often accused Brabrook of being a liar and disrespectful of the Sabbath, saying he was:

a damned wretch and limb of the Devil and was not fit to live upon god’s earth & it was as prone for him to lie as the smoke to fly upwards and on a sacrament day either going or coming it was all one he made no conscience of it.

The low opinion of Brabrook was shared by others. Robert and Anna Crosse also called him a liar. And the Fosters accused him of selling them a drowned heifer, which he claimed was good wholesome meat and said he was doing them a favor because they had a great many small children. But it had been dead three days and “when it came into (the) house they could not endure the stench.” But the couple also reported that Brabrook and John Bayer came to their farm and told them that when Thomas Wells had written the lease between them (Brabrook and Bayer) for his (Wells’) farm, Wells “wrote that he pleased and left out what he pleased and when he read it, he read what he pleased.” Wells was found guilty of slander and required to make acknowledgement in court.

At the next court, in November 1668, it was Robert Cross who sued Thomas Wells for slander.  Wells had said Cross was “a cheating knave and that he (Wells) should have as good trading with the devil as with him, and better, too.” Cross won, and Wells had to make a statement in court to clear Cross’ good name. The depositions indicate that Edmund junr. was age 23 (based on his baptism, he was actually 24). Benjamin aged 21 (actually 22) stated he had lived with Wills the previous winter. (31)

  • (31. Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1) 4:66-67 (Salem, November 1668).

The squabbling continued at this court, generating numerous depositions and much word-slinging among family and neighbors: “Complaints having been brought in against Robert Cross, Stephen Cross (son of Robert), Benjamin Marshall on the one part, and Thomas Wells (Benjamin Marshall’s brother-in-law) on the other part, for many slanderous, reproachful and threatening speeches, partly against the court and members and partly against the persons of some of the worshipful magistrates.” (32)

  • (32. Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1) 4:76-82 (Salem, November 1668).

Thomas Wells (aged about 42) and his wife Naomi (aged about 31) deposed that Goodman Cross said:

The Major Denison was disgraced in the court at Boston … the members of Boston court gave him a sharp reproof and the Major Denison was not respected in the court of Boston and Goodman Cross said that there came more appeals from the Ipswich court than any town in the country … and the seamen that belonged to our ketches said that Goodman Cross told them that his sons were set in the stocks and punished for nothing and he told us that the major could not abide him and therefore I fare the worse in the court and my sons also were punished for a matter of nothing.

Mister Bradstreet was the undoing of a man at Watertown … Mister Bradstreet sued him from court to court till he had undone him and made him so poor that he brought him from silk that he wore that he had instead thereof nothing but patched clothes and stockings out at the heels … and the court considered the man so undone the court gave him a sum of money for to help him.

Well reported a similar type of statement from Robert Cross’s son Stephen:

The magistrates sat between the court at dinner drinking burnt sack and when they came into court they were ‘broshing,’ looking red as though they were ‘flustered,’ and acted as though they were all ‘fodeeled.’ To which his father (Steven’s father, Robert Cross) replied that it was the fines they took that fed their fat sides, and the father said further that ‘I looked so big and spoke so sorely’ that he made the court quake.

Stephen Cross, Benjamin Marshall (Well’s brother-in-law), John Bayer testified to Thomas Well’s words that:

Our courts at Ipswich was all one (with) the Inquisition house in Spain: when a man is once brought into court thereof he knows not for what: he had as good be hanged: … old Bradstreet was … vaporing about wondering what became of all the fines: he answers himself: why they keep it to buy sack with all: and let cases go which way they will: they care not so long as they can feast their fat gotes.

Robert Cross, junr., and John Bayer testified to even more scandalous words, that Wells claimed he could “set spells and raise the Devil, he affirming himself to be an artist.” Bayer and Benjamin Marshall reported some fairly juvenile behavior by Wells, relating that one day when they were passing Goodman Brabrook’s, Wells wiped his feet on sheets that were hanging on the fence rails.

Thomas and Naomi Wells justified why they felt compelled to reveal the transgressions of the Crosses and Naomi’s own brother:

It had been the pleasure of god to visit my wife with sickness near unto death and other troubles which I never had tried with all before … we both can affirm those things spoken against the magistrates by those persons … we have sinned against god and his people because we had not revealed it sooner … some have said for Christ says he that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me and we apprehend this to be the case … we had rather suffer with a good conscious than not to suffer with an accused conscious.

Seventeen neighbors deposed on behalf of their “beloved neighbors” Thomas Wells and his wife:

We are much grieved and troubled that such things should be laid to their charge … about two years and (a) half they lived about two miles from us … we never found nor understood anything in their speeches or behaviors but that which was good and Christian like, and ever since last April they have lived amongst us … in his discourse being apt to speak or make occasion to discourse or religion and the best things.

Eighteen neighbors signed a petition asking for clemency for Benjamin Marshall (including two who had also signed the petition for Wells), indicating that Benjamin had lived with other families, probably as a farm laborer:

Among whom he hath lived for the most part of the 8th and 9th year of his age till now;  … the good commendation given of him by several in whose families he hath lived, to be an orderly person of quiet disposition, not given to bare anger or a spirit of revenge in labor diligent, dutiful to his parents as they affirm; … Thomas Wells hath often spoke in his commendation (of Benjamin) … now since the court held at Ipswich … Goodman Wells hath given out threatening words against both his brothers Edmund and Benjamin.

Two deposition make it clear that Naomi (Marshall) Wells was a catalyst in the proceedings. Benjamin Marshall’s brother Edmund (aged 23) even tried to indicated that Thomas Wells might have been willing to work things out (and revealing Well’s chauvinistic attitude in the process).

Wells said he had nothing against Benjamin and proffered friendship to them before the deponent’s father and mother (Edmund and Millicent). He wished to see Benjamin and asked to have him ‘Come and reckon with me but not before my wife for it is like(ly) she would rail at him but you must consider: she is but a woman and therefore not come to the house when I am not at home.’

Naomi’s elderly parents, aged 70 and 67, revealed more details:

As for my son Benjamin we never knew him given to malice or revenge in all our lives: not to speak reproachfully of magistrates or of any other: and as for Goodman Cross we have lived by him many years and never heard him speak ill of authority or against any magistrate, but as for our daughter Naomi we do think in our very hearts that certainly in her heart she hates her brothers both Edmund and Benjamin though we speak it with grief of heart, for she would often revile Benjamin and call him rogue before our faces … I told her that I had been in the church of Salem 30 years and upward and never was so detected as your father and I am by you our one child.

The case was proved, and all defendants fined and bound to good behavior.



  1. EDMUND (1) MARSHALL was born about 1598, and his wife MILLICENT _____, was born about 1601, based on depositions they gave in 1668. If these dates are accurate, she had her first child at age 33 and her last at age 45. It is more likely she was born later, closer to 1610. It seems likely that Edmund and Millicent were married in England, and that their son John was born there. Edmund and Millicent were living in November 1668 when they gave depositions, but he died before the September 1673 inventory of his meager estate: (33)

bedding, blankets and pillows     4li.   13 s.

wearing clothes                            2li.   14 s.

new cloth                                      1li.

two hats                                                9s.

one pot and skillet                               13 s.

two chairs                                              3 s.

one chest                                              6 s.

one loom and tackling                 2 li.   1 s.

three cows                                  12 li.

Total                                           23 li.   19 s.

At the May 1674 court, James Colman, who had become the husband of Sarah Marshall, was granted the administration of Edmund’s estate. Sons Benjamin and Edmund were still in the area, but they both admitted their satisfactions with the one cow granted them by their father on his deathbed, with the remainder going to James Colman. (35) From this it would seem likely that James and Sarah had lived with the elder Marshalls and had cared for them.

  • (33: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 5:313-14 (Salem, May 1674)
  • (34: There is no record of this marriage; the relationship is established from the depositions.)
  • (35: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 5:313-14 (Salem, May 1674))

Children of Edmund and Millicent (____) Marshall, all except John and Benjamin baptized at the First Church of Salem. (36)

  • (36: Millicent was named as the mother only in the court record for Benjamin.)

i. JOHN (2) MARSHALL, b. say 1634, probably in England; d. probably by 1674 when he did not appear in the agreement about his father’s estate. He was referred to as brother of Edmund, junr., in 1663, at which time he also deposed. (37) Thomas Burnham testified in 1682 that twenty years earlier (i.e., about 1662) John Marshall had been the proprietor of Richard Brabrook’s farm and that they had mowed some hay. Benjamin Marshall testified that about twenty-five or twenty-six years earlier (i.e., about 1656-57), he lived “with his brother John Marshall and Edward (sic) Marshall, which farm was then Richard Brabrook’s.” (38)

  • (37: Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 3:87 (Ipswich, September 1663).)
  • (38: Records of First Church of Salem (note 2), 16: Vital Records of Salem (note 8), 1:57.)

2  ii. NAOMI MARSHALL, bp. 24 11th month (Jan.) 1636(/7); (39) m. Thomas Wells.

  • (39: Records of First Church of Salem (note 2), 16; Vital Records of Salem (note 8), 1:57.)

iii. ANN MARSHALL, bp. 15 2nd month (April) 1638; (40) possibly d. young.

  • (40: Records of First Church of Salem (note 2), 16; Vital Records of Salem (note 8), 1:57.)
  1. RUTH MARSHALL, bp 3 3rd month (May) 1640; (41) possibly d. young.
  • (41: Records of First Church of Salem (note 2), 17; Vital Records of Salem (note 8), 1:57.)
  1. v. SARAH MARSHALL, bp. 29 3rd month (May) 1642; (42) m. James Colman.
  • (42: Records of First Church of Salem (note 2), 19; Vital Records of Salem (note 8), 1:57.)
  1. vi. EDMUND MARSHALL, bp. 16 4th month (June) 1644; (43) m. (1) Martha Huggins; (2) Lydia (Morgan) Pierce.
  • (43: Records of First Church of Salem (note 2), 20; Vital Records of Salem (note 8), 1:57.)
  1. vii. BENJAMIN MARSHALL, b. Salem 12 or 18 2nd month (April) 1646; (44) m. Prudence Woodward.
  • (44: Vital Records of Salem (note 8), 1:57; Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 1:108 (Ipswich, September 1668).)


  1. NAOMI (2) MARSHALL (Edmund 1) was baptized at the First Church of Salem 24 11th month (January) 1636(/7). Based on the birth of their oldest child, she married about 1655 Thomas Wells, shipwright, (45) who was born about 1626 (since he was age 42 in the 1668 deposition given above). (46)
  • (45: Warrant to Thomas Wells, ship carpenter, in Essex Quarterly Court Records (note 1), 4:77 (Salem, November 1668).)
  • (46: This Thomas Wells is shown (but with no evidence) as the son of Nathaniel Well(e)s of Westerly, Rhode Island, in Albert Wells, History of the Welles Family (New York; the author, 1875), 142-43.)

Naomi and Thomas resided in Boston between 1656 and 1665, when three of their children were born there. (47) They returned to Ipswich by 1668, as shown by their numerous appearances in the Essex court records that year, but shortly thereafter they moved to Westerly, Rhode Island.

  • (47: Thomas Wells apparently joined the First Church of Boston in 1661, based on the baptismal records of his two oldest children; on March 1661 his son Joseph was called son of Naomi Wells, while on 4 December 1661 his son Thomas was called son of Ann (sic) and Tho; Wells (see below: 48)

In July of 1667, Thomas Wells bought from Amos Richardson of Stonington 180 acres in the area under dispute between Rhode Island and Connecticut, agreeing to pay for it by building ship(s) of fifty tons in all. In 1679 he was warned out of Westerly, so he refused to build the ship(s), for which he was imprisoned in March of 1680 by the constable (Richardson’s son), whom the Rhode Island authorities then arrested in retaliation. (48)

  • (48: John Osborne Austin, The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island, rev. ed. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing co., 1969), 218.)

Thomas Wells senr. and junr. appear on a list of Westerly freeman (with lot assignments) dated 7 March 1679/80, (49) although it wasn’t until the town meeting of 28 March 1692 that the hundred-acre lot 40 was granted to Thomas Wells senr., (50) and at the subsequent meeting 1 April 1692 that they “voated Thomas wells senr Admitted freeman of ye town.” (51)

  • (49: Westerly Town Record, Land Evidences, etc., 1 (1661-1706/7), 1 (FHL 0,940,222, item 4). The town records are in one part of the book and the land records in another. All westerly citations use stamped page numbers to agree with the index. The date is at the top of the right-hand column. Thomas Wells junr. had lot 47, Thomas Wells senr. had lot 40.)
  • (50: Ibid., 15.)
  • (51: Ibid., 16.)

The settlers in Westerly acquired their land from the Narragansett Indians, and on 23 August 1698 Thomas Wells witnessed a deed from Nenegreate (the son), sachem of the Narragansett Indians, to Capt. William Champlin. (52)

  • (52: Ibid., 55.)

Thomas Wells left a will at Westerly dated 24 December 1699, proved 12 February 1699/1700, (53) and the wording of the will indicates Naomi was the mother of all his children. He does not seem to have planned his will in advance. He dictated and signed a document that was deficient in several areas, then simply added an unsigned codicil to fix the omissions.

  • (53: Westerly Town Council and Probate Records, 2/1 (1699-1719), 6-8 (FHL 0,930,805, item 1). Naomi Wells presented the will with an inventory totaling £8.16.0 made 2 February 1700 by Thomas Reynolds, Peter Crandall, and Thomas Burdick. The will was proved 12 February 1699/1700.)

The last will and testament of Thomas Wells gent being in good understanding through gods mercy do make this my last will and testament as followeth my eldest son Joseph Wells hath already received his full doubell portion and more as may appear if need require yet not withstanding I give him five shillings at my desease. My son Thomas Wells I hve alredy given him his portion in a horse and neat cattle valued at seven pounds in pay; my eldest daughter Mary Wells and my daughter Ruth Wells have had thire portions already which are desseas(e)d (blot over the e, first and third s are a long s) ^and^ (interlined) my daughter Sarah Wells and my son John Wells and my son Nathaniel Wells have had thire portions in what small matters I had whereunto I sett my hand and seale the date desember 24:1699. (signed) Thomas Wells. (witnesses) Joseph Maxson, Stephen Randall his mark.

In the name of god amen be it known to whome it may consurne that I Thomas Wells senr being neer death doe comit my soule to god and my body to my frinds and to my deare belloved wife I doe make her executers (sic) of what estate I leave during her natural life and at her despose; And further I doe desir that my son Thomas Wells and my son John Wells and my son Nathaniel Wells do take the best care you can of my Loveing wife and what she hase and if she should be taken away suddenly what she leaves shall be devided amongst these three sons above named hoping they woulde take care of thire deear mother my loving wife Najomey Wells.

Children of Thomas and Naomi (Marshall) Wells:

  1. JOSEPH WELLS, b. Boston 7 June 1656, (54) bp. First Church, Boston, 3 1st month (March) 1661; (53) m. Stonington 28 Dec. 1681 Hannah Reynolds, (56) daughter of John Reynolds. (57) In his will, made 26 Oct. 1711 and proved 12 Feb. 1711/12, Joseph Wells, shipcarpenter of Groton, Conn., named wife Hannah: sons Joseph, John and Thomas Wells; and unmarried daughter Anne Wells. (58)
  • (54: (Ninth) Report of the Record Commissioners Containing Boston Birth, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths: 1630-1699 (Boston: Rockwell & Churchill, 1883), 55 (town records).)
  • (55: (Ninth) Report of the Record Commissioners Containing Boston Birth, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths: 1630-1699 (Boston: Rockwell & Churchill, 1883), 82 (church records).)
  • (56: Thomas Minor, The Diary of Thomas Minor, Stonington, Connecticut, 1653 to 1684, Sidney H. Minor and George D. Stanton, Jr., ed. (New London, Conn,: Day Publishing, 1899), 170 (“the 28 day (December 1681) Joseph wells was married & Hanah Reynolds were married”).)
  • (57: Austin, Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island (note 48), 218.)
  • (58: Boston Births, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths, 16301699 (note 54), 80 (town record).)
  1. THOMAS WELLS, b. Boston 4 Dec 1661, (59) bp. First Church, Boston, 8 10th month (Dec.) 1661; (60) m. Sarah ____. (61) Thomas Wells junior was chosen constable of Westerly for the year 1691. (62) On 1 Jan 1694(?/5) Thomas Wells made a deed of gift to his brothers John and Nathaniel; it was signed by Thomas and Sarah Wells. (63) On 22 Nov. 1705 Thomas Wells bought a hundred acres from James Davell. (64) In his will, made 11 April 1716 and probated 9 July 1716, Thomas Wells named a daughter Sarah, sons Thomas and Edward (to whom he gave his carpentry tools in addition to land), and his wife Sarah. (65) Children: 1. Sarah Wells. 2. Thomas Wells. 3. Edward Wells.
  • (59: Boston Births, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths, 1630-1699 (note 54), 80 (town record).)
  • (60: Boston Births, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths, 1630-1699 (note 54), 83 (church record).)
  • (61: She was not Sarah Rogers, as is sometimes stated. Austin, Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island (note 48), 217-18, shows Sarah Rogers, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Rogers, as wife of Thomas Wells of East Greenwich, son of Peter of Kingston.)
  • (62: Westerly Town Records, land Evidences, etc., 1 (note 49), 15.)
  • (63: Acknowledged 22 April 1695. Westerly Land Evidences, 2 (1707-1717), 73 (FHL 0,940,222, item 5.)
  • (64: Westerly Town Records, land Evidences, etc., 1 (note 49), 106.)
  • (65: Westerly Town Council and Probate Records, 2/1 (note 53), 105-6)

iii. MARY WELLS, b. Boston 15 April 1665, (66) m. Stonington 14 Jan 1689 Ezekiel Main(e), Jr. (67) Mary d. 12 Jan 1693, and Ezekiel m. (2) Stonington 22 Oct. 1695 Hannah Rose. (68) Child: Ezekiel Main(e), b. Stonington 15 Dec. 1690; d. there 24 Dec. 1691. (69)

  • (66: Boston Births, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths, 1630-1699 (note 54), 98 (town record).)
  • (67: Stonington Vital Records, 1:80 (marriage performed by Capt. Samuel Mason, recorded with the birth of a son on 15 December 1690 and his subsequent death on 24 December 1691): and 2:54 (family group entry for Ezekiel Maine’s family). It has not been determined whether Mary’s marriage was in 1688/9 or in 1689/90.)
  • (68: Stonington Vital Records, 2:54. It is not clear whether Mary died in 1692/3 or 1693/4.)
  • (69: Stonington Vital Records, 1:80)

iv: RUTH WELLS. Her father’s will indicated she was deceased by 1699 and may have been married; however, it is unlikely she married James Kenyon. (70)

  • (70: Patricia Law Hatcher, “Enigmas #18: Ruth, Wife of James 2 Kenyon of Rhode Island,” The American Genealogist 78 (2003): 306-8.)
  1. SARAH WELLS, b. Ipswich 27 Aug 1668. (71) On 11 April 1720 Thomas Wells made a deed of gift of 12 acres to his “aunt Sarah Wells … single woman.” (72)
  • (71: Vital Records of Ipswich, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849, 3 vols. (Salem, Mass.: Essex Institute, 1910-19), 1:389 (Sarah, d. Thomas, citing court record).)
  • (72: Westerly Land Evidences, 3 (1717-1728), 34 (FHL 0,940,222, item 6; very faint). This Thomas Wells was evidently the son of either Joseph or Thomas, Sarah’s older brothers.)

vi. JOHN WELLS, b. by say 1673 (estimating freeman at age 25); m. before 1 April 1701, Mary ____. On 13 June 1698 he was admitted a freeman of Westerly. (73) On 1 April 1701 John and Nathaniel agreed to divide the hundred acres given to them by their brother Thomas. (74) On that same day John Wells sold fifty acres to Daniel Lewis. The deed was signed by John and Mary, both by mark, with Nathaniel Wells as witness. (75)

  • (73: Westerly Town Records, Land Evidences, etc., 1 (note 51), 21.)
  • (74: Westerly Land Evidences, Book 2 (1707-1717), 73 (FHL 0,940,222, item 5)
  • (75: Westerly Town Records, Land Evidences, etc., 1 (note 51), 30.)

vii. NATHANIEL WELLS, b. by say 1680 (estimating freeman at age 25); m. ca. 1706, Mary Crandall, b. ca. 1686, d. 1763, daughter of Joseph and Deborah (Burdick) Crandall. (76) On 19 Oct 1705 Nathaniel Wells was admitted a freeman of Westerly. (77) In his will, made 5 July 1763 and probated at Hopkinton, R.I., 1 May 1769, Nathaniel Wells names son Jonathan and daughters Naomi Kenyon and Tacy Burdick. (78) Children, born at Westerly: (79)

  1. Naomi Wells, b. 11 May 1707, m. Westerly 15 Sept. 1726 Peter Kenyon. (80)
  2. Elizabeth Wells, b. 9 Jan. 1709/10.
  3. Jonathan Wells, b. 22 June 1712, m. Westerly 29 Nov. 1734 Elizabeth Maxson. (81)
  4. Tace/Tacy Wells, b. 4 Jan. 1714/15, m. ca. 1734 Hubbard Burdick. (82)
  5. Ruth Wells, b. 22 Jan. 1717/18.
  • (76: John Cortland Crandall, Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants (New Woodstock, N.Y.: the author, 1949), 7-8, 11-12.)
  • (77: Westerly Town Records, Land Evidences, etc., 1 (note 49), 40.)
  • (78: Austin, Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island (note 48), 218; also abstracted in Rhode Island Genealogical Register 4 (1981): 138, from Hopkinton Wills, 1:123.)
  • (79: Birth dates of children for Nathaniel and Mary are from Westerly Town Records, 2:127 (FHL 0,930,813), recorded on the day that Ruth was born. Crandall, Elder John Crandall (note 76), 11-12, gives them additional children Thomas and Deborah.)


One thing Miss Hatcher does not mention in regard to Thomas Wells is that he may have lived in New London before he was living in Salem/Ipswich, Mass.  According to “History of New London Connecticut” by Frances Manwaring Caulkins, Page 60, a Thomas Wells received a land grant in New London, dated Feb. 16, 1649-50. This date would mean that Thomas was in New London at the same time Naomi Marshall moved there with her parents circa 1651.  In 1651, Naomi would have been 15 years old. Seems young now, but I’m thinking back then it was time to start looking for a husband. Thomas was only a few years older than her. Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but I picture their eyes meeting on the way into church. Who knows …

Here’s the rub against my romantic grain and something Miss Hatcher left out.

“History of New London Connecticut” by Frances Manwaring Caulkins. Published 1895. Pages 355-356.
“Thomas Wells was one of the early band of planters at Pequot Harbor; probably on the ground in 1648, and certainly in 1649. He was a carpenter, and worked with Elderkin, on mills and meeting houses. The last notice of him on the town record is in 1661, when Wells and Elderkin were employed to repair the turret of the meeting-house. No account can be found of the sale of his house or land. He may have left the settlement, or he maybe concealed from our view by dwelling on a farm remote from the center of business.
A Thomas Wells whether another of the same has not been ascertained is found at Stonington or Westerly, about the year 1677, engaged in constructing vessels at a ship-yard on the Pawkatuck River. He is styled,”of Ipswich, shipwright.”

So the questions is … is the Thomas Wells who lived in New London at the same time as the Marshalls, the same one who ended up in Ipswich/Salem and married Naomi??? If he was a carpenter in New London in 1661, he could not have married Naomi in Massachusetts in 1655.

What we know for sure … We know that the Thomas who married Naomi in 1655 in Massachusetts is our ancestor. What I’m less certain of is that the Thomas Wells in New London is related to us at all.  It seems New London Thomas just faded from the records. No marriage, no death. That seems odd to me.

What are your thoughts? Do you have another piece of the puzzle to add to this discussion. If so, I’d love to hear from you.