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Of the first of the name on the Vineyard, Nicholas Norton, a full biographical sketch has been given in this history (Vol. II, pp. 85-90 Annals of E.), and nothing of material importance about him has been found since that was written except the statements which follow concerning his English ancestry. [*One fact is worthy of record as being recently discovered. He served in the Pequot War, 1635-7 as shown by a petition of himself and others. (Sup. Jud. Court Mss. No. 477).]
The opinion hazarded in the sketch of his life above referred to that Nicholas "emigrated from Somersetshire and probably came from the vicinity of Batcombe or Broadway in that county" has been established to the satisfaction of the author after a long search of all the known sources of records which might throw light on the case. His business dealings with Richard Standerwicke, a clothier, of the parish of Broadway, has proved to be the important clue in locating this prominent pioneer as a resident and probable native of the same parish. [*Standerwicke sold to Norton in 1639 "all the cattle whether Bowes, steers or calves, whatsoever I have with Mr. Hull in New England." (Plymouth Col. Rec.). The Standerwick family have been Lords of the Manor in Broadway for over four hundred years and possessed their memorial records for four centuries. I am indebted to the Rev. Mr. Standerwick for assistance in my search and notes from his family records on the Norton family.]
The Norton family was long settled in Somersetshire where the name was generally spelled Nourton and Nurton in the earlier records, and there are references to them as early as 1400 in wills and deeds. They are to be found in more than a dozen different parishes in that county before 1600, including the parish of Broadway. Wills, depositions, chancery suits, and other documents of the 16th century show that a Norton family, tanners, lived at White Lackington, an adjoining hamlet of Broadway, and the fact that Nicholas Norton of Edgartown was a tanner is quite significant. [*John Norton of White Lackington, a tanner, was a witness to the will of John Standerwick of Broadway in 1568, but the Manor Rolls of 1555 do not contain his name. William Norton wee churchwarden of Ilminster in 1543, a still earlier record of the family in that vicinity.] In those days occupations were continued in families from generation to generation.
The first known ancestor of Nicholas Norton was WILLIAM NORTON, tanner, of White Lackington about 1540 described as the eldest of the family, but his parentage is unknown. He had two younger brothers, JOHN, also a tanner who made his will in 1576, and ROBERT NORTON, who took up his residence in the cathedral city of Wells where he followed the occupation of innholder and was at the date of his death (1590) without issue. He left considerable property to his nephews.
WILLIAM NORTON of White Lackington was born abt. 1535 and was living in 1604 in Broadway. He had among other children two sons, namely:
I. NICHOLAS, b. 1562.
II. WILLIAM, executor of the will of his uncle, Robert of Wells.
Robert Norton of parish of S. Cuthbert, Wells, innholder, at his decease had four water mills, which he disposed of by will dated 1590, viz: two to his wife and two to his brother William.
In 37 Elizabeth (1594) Joan the widow, William and Nicholas began suit against William Norton the executor, and litigation was continued by John, the son of Nicholas. The latter had followed the prosecution of this suit for 22 years, according to the complaint of John, to the ruin of his estate and in the end "sickened & died with great greife & anguishe of mince leavinge behinde him a poor widdowe and 8 children (1616) whereof yor subject is the eldest, but not one pennye towards their reliefe & maintenance other than the hopes of the said decree, by means of whose death his wiffe & children have nott only lost a careful! pvider for them but also a possibilitie of an estate wch the said Nicholas had, after the said William the executor, worth at least 200 marks." [*Star Chamber Proceedings, (James I) 221/10, John Norton of Broadway, Chapman, plaintiff vat William Norton et als defendants. The compiler has much other material on this family, which is omitted for want of space. Doubtless the complete pedigree of this family could be worked out in England from the authors' notes.]
NICHOLAS NORTON, the father of the emigrant, removed from White Lackington with his father when a child, and died there at the age of 54 years (1616) as described in the chancery suit. That he was a man above the average is shown by the fact of his occupying the position of church warden of the parish (1599) but as the parish register does not exist prior to 1678 it is not possible at present to determine the names of but half of his eight children. The attested copies of parish registers then required by church law preserved the names of three of them and the chancery suit furnishes the name of his eldest son. Unfortunately, the Bishops Transcripts of Broadway Parish in the Diosceasan Registry at Wells for the years 1609-11 inclusive, the particular years in which we should undoubtedly find the baptism of our Nicholas whose birth fell, as we know, within those years are missing from the files. His known children are as follows:
I. JOHN, b. abt. 1590.
II. JOAN, bur. 1598.
III. JAMES (?) bur. 1678 at Broadway.
IV. JOSEPH, bapt. 3 Feb. 1607.
V. NICHOLAS, b. 1610 (the emigrant). He deposed in 1676 aged 66 years.
VI. ELIZABETH, bapt. 1612.
The occurrence of the names Joseph and Nicholas in the Broadway family which were also distinctive in the Vineyard family together with other collateral circumstances makes it practically certain that we have here the parentage and home of the first of this family to settle on Martha's Vineyard. Al1 other clues have been carefully followed out and give no such marked combination of the probabilities as does this, and the author is satisfied that it is the right solution.
Broadway, situated in the Hundred of Bulstone, is so-called, because it consists of one wide street leading from Ilminster two miles distant to the Forest of Roche on the West. It has about fifty houses with about 300 population and two religious edifices, one belonging to the Church of England, dedicated to S. Aldhelm, where the parents of Nicholas Norton worshipped, and a dissenting chapel of which latter named the present minister is the Rev. John W. Standerwick, a direct descendant of the Richard Standerwick, who had the business dealings with Nicholas Norton. [*Edward Poole, who was a neighbor of Nicholas Norton in Weymouth, was an emigrant from Broadway also.]
NICHOLAS NORTON undoubtedly found his wife Elizabeth _____ in Weymouth, or an adjoining town after his arrival in New England, but no record of his marriage has been found and nothing to indicate her family name. They had eleven children, four sons and seven daughters; three of the former—Isaac, Joseph and Benjamin left issue and in the following genealogy their descendants will be divided for convenience sake into three "tribes" named for these three sons respectively according to seniority. By wife Elizabeth he had the following named children:
10. ISAAC,(2) b. 3 May 1641.
11. JACOB, b. 1 Mch. 1643; res. Edgartown and Barnstable. It is not known that he ever married. He was living as late as 1691 (Deeds I. 252).
12. ELIZABETH, b. (1646); m. JAMES PEASE (50).
13. HANNAH, b. (1648); m. (1) AUGUSTINE WILLIAMS of Stonington, Conn. (2) bef. 1703 _____ BROWNE of Killingworth, same state.
14. JOSEPH, b. Mch. 1651.
15. SARAH, b. (1665); m. JOHN STANBRIDGE of Newport, R. I.
16. PRISCILLA, b. (1666); m. JOHN BUTLER (10).
17. RUTH, b. (1667); m. MOSES CLEVELAND (10).
18. BENJAMIN, b. 1659.
19. ESTHER, b. (1668) ; m. (1) SAMUEL HUXFORD (2) JONATHAN DUNHAM (41)
14. JOSEPH NORTON, (Nicholas,1), b. Mch. 1652; res. E., gentleman. This ancestor of the second branch of the family was one of the leading citizens of the Vineyard and its first representative to the General Court of Mass. in 1692. He was sheriff of the county in 1699 and was commissioned as Justice of the Court of Common Pleas in 1702. He resided at Major's Cove near Miober's Bridge where he lived until his death, 30 Jan. 1741-2. His will 28 May 1741 was pro. 19 Oct. 1742. He was twice married (1) MARY BAYES (14) abt. 1673 and (2) ANN TRAPP (12) abt. 1702; she survived him and her will Sept. 1750 was pro. 7 Aug. 1753. They had the following named children:
By First Wife:
50. JOHN, b. 1674.
51. JOSEPH, b. (1676).
52. RACHEL, b. (1681); m. JOSHUA SMITH 17 JULY 1701.
53. LYDIA, b. (1685) ; m. RICHARD AREY (17) 6 Dec. 1705.
54. EBENEZER, b. 1691.
55. BETHIAH, b. (1693) ; m. WILLIAM MANCHESTER 16 Nov.1715.
56. ELIZABETH, b. (1696); m. NATHANIEL MANCHESTER 14 May 1716.
By Second Wife:
57. SYLVANUS, b. 22 Mch. 1703; d. Apr. 1720.
58. ANN, b. 9 Feb. 1705; m. JOSEPH PEASE (131).
59. EUNICE, b. 26 Sept. 1714.
54. EBENEZER NORTON, (Joseph,2 Nicholas1), b. 1691; res. El. (Farm Neck, Major's Cove), farmer; m. DEBORAH MAYHEW (64) 18 Nov. 1715, who was b. 1681 and d. 3 Dec. 1772. He d. 11 April 1769. They had the following named children:
420. ELIAKIM, b. 1716.
421. PETER, b. 9 Sept. 1718.
422. MEHITABLE, bapt. 8 JU1Y 1722, prob. m. EBENEZER BUTLER (84).
423. JEDIDAH, bapt. 20 Sept. 1724; m. JOSEPH DAGGETT (410).
421. PETER NORTON, (Ebenezer,3 Joseph,2 Nicholas1), b. Sept. 1718; res. E. (Major's Cove, Farm Neck). He was a prominent, public-spirited man, a leader in the political and social life of the county; sheriff for many years, deacon of the Baptist Church from its establishment and Major of the county militia. The house he lived in still stands and is shown in Vol. II, p. 40, Annals of Oak Bluffs. He m. Sarah Bassett (50) abt. 1740, who was b. 19 Mch. 1720 and d. 8 Sept. 1804. He d. 13 Feb. 1792 and his will dated 12 July 1791 Was pro. 17 Apr. 1792. They had the following named children:
500. EBENEZER,5 b. 29 Aug. 1741.
501. SAMUEL, b. 16 Apr. 1743.
502. MARTHA, b. 16 Oct. 1744; d. 4 May 1816 unm.
503. CORNELIUS, b. 27 Feb. 1746.
504. LYDIA BASSETT, b. 17 Nov. 1747; m. NATHAN BASSETT, Jr. (73) 22 Sept. 1791.
505. ELIAKIM, b. 25 Mch. 1749.
506. MEHITABLE, b. 17 Nov. 1750; m. HENRY BUTLER (263) 14 Feb. 1771.
507. EPHRAIM, b. 28 Aug. 1752.
508. ZACHARIAH, b. 28 Aug. 1754.
509. JOSEPH, b. 4 Jan. 1756.
510. ANDREW, b. 7 Feb. 1758; prob. d. y.
511. ICHABOD, b. 17 Dec. 1761; d. 1849, unm.; well-known as the wealthiest man on the Island in his life time.
512. PETER, b. 4 Oct. 1763; prob. d. y.
501. SAMUEL NORTON, (Peter,4 Ebenezer,3 Joseph,2 Nicholas1), b. 16 Apr. 1743; res. E., mariner. He m. Mrs. MARY (Davis) (30) NORTON 23 Nov. 1766, who was b. 14 Jan. 1744 and d. 20 Feb. 1820. He d. 23 Nov. 1801 and his will 18 Nov. of that year was pro. 11 Dec. following. They had issue as follows:
689. HENRY,6 b. 1767.
690. DEBORAH, b. (1770); m. ISAAC NORTON (185) 28 Nov. 1791.
691. TRISTRAM, b. 17 Aug. 1772; m. SALLY BUTLER 2 Dec. 1794.
692. MARY, b. 11 May 1775; m. DENNIS DAVIS (52) 26 Nov. 1800.
693. LYDIA, bapt. 31 Aug. 1784; m. FRANCIS NORTON (526) int. 12 Aug. 1804.
694. SAMUEL, bapt. 31 Aug. 1784; m. ANNA DAVIS (53) int. 12 Aug. 1804.
695. HEPSIBAH, b. 1787; m. CORNELIUS DAVIS (51) 17 Dec. 1807.