Isaac Stearns: The First Generation in America

THE FIRST GENERATION BACKGROUND

 The Arbella was the first of the Winthrop Fleet to arrive in Salem, Massachusettson 12 Jun 1630. The Jewell arrived 13 Jun 1630, the Ambrose on 18 Jun 1630, the Talbot followed on 2 Jul 1630. The passengers not being happy that Salem was the right settlement for them proceeded to Charlestown and theMount Auburn area of Watertown,  Massachusetts; where Isaac’s homestead can be found. In 1642, it was listed as being bordered by John Warren to his north; John Biscoe to his south; the highway to his west and the Pequssett Meadow on his east. It is noted that Isaac owned part of the meadow. On 18 May 1631 Isaac was admitted as a freeman, one of the earliest admissions recorded. He also was selectman for several years. On 4 Dec 1638 “Isaack” Stearns and John Page were fined 5 shillings for rerouting the highway. They were seen in Quarter Court, Boston, Massachusetts. In 1647 Isaac and John Biscoe were appointed by the selectman to “consider how the bridge over the river shall be built, and to agree with the workman for doing it, according to their best discretion.”  This is the first mention of a bridge over the Charles River, at Watertown (5) (6), the first bridge south of the current five lane bridge was a walking bridge. The Watertown Bridge from the north bank of the Charles River looking west was built in 1907; previous bridges at this location were built in “1647″, 1667 and 1719. (5)

Records have been found for Isaac and his brothers: Charles b. abt 1590, England, d. abt 1631, Massachusetts; Isaac b. abt 1593, England, d. 19 June 1671, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Daniel b. abt 1597,England, d. aft 1630, Massachusetts; Shubael b. 1598,Yarmouth, England, d.1630,Watertown, Massachusetts; Isaac’s wife, Mary Barker b. 1 Jan 1602, Nayland Parish, Suffolk, England; their first three children were born in England-John, Mary and Anna. Anna was referred to as Hannah in earlyWatertown records.  (4)  (11)

An inventory of Isaacs’s estate was recorded on 28 Apr 1671 that reflects a rather affluent man for those early years. Especially as per the custom of the times he had given respectable portions to each of his seven children. His estate embraced fourteen lots/parcels of land, approximately 467 acres, a large quantity of livestock and farming essential, provisions and household goods. Van Wagenen records refer to his death as 16 April 1671. The Massachusetts Death and Burial Records 1795-1910 list his date of death as 19 Jun 1671 which agrees with the Watertown history. (6)  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ancestral File (R), Copyright (c) 1987,  June 1998, data as of 5 January 1998.  A copy of his will can be found in the Cambridge Open Court Records 1672. Recorded in Van Wagenen Volume 4 page 129-130

I have found two web sites claiming Isaac as their ancestor and lineage to England. Cookie Crumbs Ancestry of Isaac Stearns lists his father as Thomas Stearns b. about 1550-1555, d. before 30 Jun 1599, mother, Dorothy Plampin b. about 1555, d. Feb 1617/18. It lists Isaac being baptized 3 Oct 1595 at Fordham, Essex, England. No siblings are mentioned for Isaac on this site. It does mention his marriage to Mary Barker and the children they had. The second site genealogy.com Descendants of William Stearns, Sr. mention his father as William Stearns, Jr b. 1571, Levenham, England, d. 1632 in England, mother Emma Ramsford b. before 1598 in England and died in England, no death year listed. Children listed were Shubael b. about 1598, Isle of Wright County, England, d. 1630 Watertown, Massachusetts, Isaac b. 25 Feb 1599/1600, Daniel no information. It continues on with Shubael and his descendants with no further information on Isaac except in the endnote that eludes to verification of information to Van Wagenen Genealogy and Memoirs of Charles and Nathaniel Stearns and their descendants (1901) starting “soon after arrival in America, Shubael and his wife died, leaving their two young sons to be raised by their uncle Isaac Stearns.”

The Thomas Stearns information was credited to five citations; The ancestry of Dr. J.P. Guilford, Volume II, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Fifty Great Migrations to New England & their Origins, Bond’s -Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of Early Settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts and the  Ancestors of Michael Edward Dobson.

This writer has not been able to confirm or deny either link to Isaac Stearns based on recent research. The mention of both Isaac’s parentage possibilities is for future generations to explore as more historical information is gathered.  When first collecting information on the Stearns family heritage this writer was using the Erza Stearns Genealogies, library catalogs and the Bureau of Vital Records in Concord, New Hampshire.  In more recent years as Internet genealogy sites and family histories appear, this writer has been able to gather more information. Genealogy is an ongoing learning experience and journey to finding those lost souls that are screaming to be found.

Children of Isaac and Mary Barker:

 1. Child, baptized Nayland England, 20 Ap1623 d. soon

2. John Stearns b 20 Apr 1623, England, d. 5 Mar 1668 m1. Sarah Mixer, m2 Mary Lathrop

3. Mary Stearns b Jan 1626, England, d. 21 Dec 1663 m. Isaac Learnard, m2 John Burge

 4. Hannah/Anna Stearns b. 5 Oct 1628, England  d. 17 Jun 1656  m. Samuel Freeman

                            5. Isaac Sterans  b. 6 Jan 1632 Watertown, Massachusetts, d. 29 Aug 1676, m. 24 Jun 1660 Sarah Beers

6. Sarah Stearns b. 22 Sept 1635 Watertown, Massachusetts, d 6 Oct 1700, m. Deacon Samuel Stone

 7. Corp. Samuel Stearns b. 24 Apr 1638, Watertown, Massachusetts, d. 3 Aug 1683, m. Hannah Manning

 8. Elizabeth Stearns b. 1644, Watertown, Massachusetts, d. 24 Jun 1671, m. Samuel Manning

 9. Abigail Stearns b. 1646, Watertown, Massachusetts d. 16 Oct 1690, m. John Morse

Isaac Stearns held several town offices. He was a selectman for Watertown in 1648,[5/1:10] 1659,[5/1:59] 1670,[5/1:95] and 1671.[5/1:102]. He was a constable in 1652,[5/1:24] 1660,[5/1:65] and 1661.[5/1:72] Isaac was also surveyor of highways in 1663.[5/1:75]

For more information on Isaac and Mary Barker’s children and descendants see Van Wagenen Genealogy Volume 1 Ancestors of Michael Edward Dobson for Mary Barker’s history, Genealogical and Family History of New Hampshire compiled by Erza Stearns (1901) Volume IV

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