THE WOMEN WHO MARRIED THE ORCUTT MEN
By Judy Orcutt Holy
Mary Martha Lane
The first Orcutt to America (actually 2nd since the first was William Orcutt’s purported sister Susannah Orcutt Edson, who immigrated with her husband Samuel Edson in 1638) bearing the Orcutt name (or a version of it!): William Orcutt, who married Mary Martha Lane, January 24, 1663/64
Background to their marriage:
William Orcutt appears to have emigrated from England (baptismal record from Fillongley, Warwickshire, England, 6 December, 1618 in the name William Orchar, son of William Orchar, a name supposedly modified from the Scottish Urchard/Urquhart) and arrived in this country prior to this marriage date. Some sources say he came in 1660, arrived in Weymouth, MA, moved to Scituate/Marshfield. One tradition from the John line (Helen G. Judson) says he was a cabin boy on the second ship to Plymouth [this would make sense if the “second ship” refers to a “Mayflower fleet” in 1630, but this needs to be confirmed; it couldn’t be the 1621 ship, since he would have been 3-4 years old at that time; JOH], and later became a seaman; this view could account for few records or any land purchase/grant between 1664 (or earlier) and the family’s move to Bridgewater apparently after October 7, 1683 — the year daughter Deborah was baptised in 2nd Church Scituate, also the year William purchased property in Bridgewater — or shortly thereafter, since last child of 12, daughter Susannah, was born in Bridgewater in 1685.
Earlier tradition: according to research and records obtained and compiled in 1968 by Helen Judson, an Orcutt family genealogist for the John line, members of the Scots family Urquhart–sons of Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty who died in 1557–migrated to England from Scotland. [JOH: This may have occurred possibly following the 1547 Battle of Pinkie (during which 7 of the supposedly 25 sons of Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty died; interestingly, the Earl of Warwick, John Dudley, commanded the 4,000 English cavalry during the Battle of Pinkie; 1,500 prisoners were taken) or during Mary Tudor’s (“Bloody Mary”) reign, 1553-1558.] According to the famous Sir Thomas Urquhart, some Urquharts settled in Carlisle (and became mayors there) just south of the Scotland border, one settled in Devonshire; so possibly one or more settled in Warwickshire, where Fillongley is located. Edson family genealogists (see below) remark that Susannah (William’s sister, born February, 1618) Orcutt’s family had “long been in Warwickshire”in 1638 (Carroll Edson, Vol. I, p. 28). The Earl of Warwick, Robert Rich, had promoted colonization in Massachusetts Bay through his aid to the New England Company. Consequently, many young people from the rural districts of Warwickshire became interested in emigrating, Samuel Edson with his wife Susannah Orcutt Edson among them. Some have supposed William Orcutt accompanied them, but no record of William Orcutt has been located in Salem between 1638 and 1651 when the Edsons moved to Bridgewater. It is Elijah Hayward (Edson descendent) who, in writing an account of the Edson family of Bridgewater, states that Susanna Orcutt is “supposed to have been a sister of William Orcutt who came from Scituate and settled in Bridgewater” (2 sources for this information: Elijah Hayward’s 1853 handwritten “Account of the Edson family”, first page, found by JOH in Edson file in Old
Bridgewater Historical Society records; also on p. 4 of A Genealogical Account of the Edsons, Early Settled in Bridgewater, with Appendices by the Rev. Theodore Edson and Elijah Hayward, printed in 1864).
Mary Martha Lane, daughter of Andrew and Tryphena (_____) Lane, was born in 1640, baptized in Hingham, MA, on Aug. 16, 1646 together with two of her siblings. [Many earlier and current genealogists mistakenly give Mary’s birthdate as August 16, 1646; however, the three siblings baptised that day were not triplets. For Mary’s birthyear 1640, see Lane Genealogies by James Hill Fitts, Vol II, 1897, p. 10; this is source for much of the information on the Lane family; dates and birth places for William Lane’s children comes from a document “Descendants of William Lane” produced by Janice M. Castleman, obtained 8/29/00 over the Internet: www.familytreemaker.com/users/c/a/s/Janice–M-Castleman/GENE4-1110.html]
Her father, Andrew Lane was born in England and emigrated to America in 1635, becoming an original proprietor in Hingham, Mass.
Andrew Lane’s father was William Lane [some Lane researchers say born 1580 in Dorset, England], a resident of Dorchester, Mass. as early as 1635. [Fitts gives no information about William Lane’s wife; some researchers speak of 2 wives, Mary Killoway about 1609; Agnes Farnsworth, m. 1618 in England; others refer only to Farnsworth. There are no records referring to a living wife of William Lane in America.] Several grants of land were assigned to William Lane in 1637. His mark (X) as a proprietor is on a document dated 1641, relinquishing some land on Thomson’s Island to the town of Dorchester for the maintenance of a Free School. According to Fitts Lane Genealogies, vol. II, p. 2: “This ancestor of a numerous posterity was a person of competent property, a freeman, a virtuous and good citizen who evidently had the esteem and confidence of the people.” His daughter Mary was the widow of Joseph Long, and he lived with her several years and died apparently in 1654 (his will is given in Fitts, vol. II, pp. 2-3.).
Children of William Lane in the order mentioned in his will:
I. Elizabeth, b. Norfolk, England about 1615, m. Thomas Rider, who came to America in ship Hercules, 1634; a “caulker” by trade, residing in Dorchester and Boston. They received by her father’s will, “my new dwelling house in Dorchester, etc.” Their daughter Hannah was b. Boston, 7 Mar., 1655/56.
II. Mary, b. Norfolk, England about 1620, m. first, Joseph Long, who lived and died in England, leaving two sons who came with their mother and grandfather Lane to Dorchester. She m. second, Joseph Farnsworth, of Dorchester, a widower with four children. They received by her father’s will the Great Lot estimated 24 acres, and personal estate. He was a freeman Mar. 14, 1639; selectman, 1647; and died 12 June 1660. She was living a widow in 1690.
Her children by Joseph Long: 1. Joseph, Senior, res. Dorchester, m. 3 Feb. 1662, Mary, and d. 26 Aug., 1676. Children Mary, Sarah, Joseph, Hannah, Alwen. 2. Thomas, res. Roxbury, Mass. and had Thomas. Her children by Joseph Farnsworth [related to William Lane’s second wife?]: 1. Joseph; 2. Samuel (who had children by 2 wives, Mary, Joseph); 3. Esther; 4. Elizabeth.
III. Annis, b. England about 1610, m. there about 1630 Thomas Lincoln, and came to Hingham, Mass., about 1635, where both were members of the first church. She died 1682-83. Thomas Lincoln, the “cooper” and “malster,” [??] was granted 5 acres land in 1636; he was freeman 1638, was allotted 1680-81, a sitting “in the seate under ye pulpit,” and Mrs. Lincoln was assigned to “the second seate next ye pew.” He died 28 Sept., 1691. His will dated July 13, 1688 mentions three sons and one daughter. Their children:
1. Child b. and d. in England; 2. Sarah, b. England, d. soon after their arrival; 3. Thomas, bap. Hingham 1638 who m. 1st Mary Chubbuck, 2nd Lydia Hobart (dau. of Rev. Peter Hobart), he was “carpenter”, constable, 1671, freeman 1672, selectman, 1684, 1688, 1691, ensign, lieutenant and captain, d. 1708, children Lydia, Mary, Thomas, Lydia, Josiah; 4. Joseph, bapt. 1640, who m. 1st Prudence Ford, 2nd Sarah Bisbee Hopestill, he died 1716, children Joseph, Israel, Nehemiah and Elisha, all by first marriage; 5. Benjamin, bapt. 1643, m. Sarah Fearing, he was a “malster,” d. 1700, children John, Margaret, Benjamin (who was father of Col. Benjamin Lincoln, the personal friend of George Washington), Thomas, Jeremiah, Jonathan; 6. Deborah, bapt. 1645, m. Samuel Thaxter (his 2nd wife), she d. 1694, children Deborah, Samuel, Abigail; 7. Sarah, bapt. 1650, d.1658.
IV. George, born in England about 1613, an original proprietor of Hingham. (Rev. Peter Hobart and his colonists erected the plantation in July, 1635, when Hobart and 29 others drew houselots for themselves.) Was a “shoemaker.” He was assigned 1681/82 to “the seate under ye pulpit” and his wife to a sitting “in the fore-seate for the women in the body of the meeting house.” Married Sarah Harris. He died 1698, she 1694/95. Their children:
1. Sarah, bapt. 1637-38, m. Lieut. James Lewis who came to America in 1633, resided in Scituate where he united with the church in 1635, admitted freeman 1648, removed to Barnstable, Mass., where he was lieutenant and selectman, 1660, 1679, 1681, he d. 1713, children John, Samuel, Sarah, James, Susanna, Ebenezer, Mary, George, Hannah, Joseph.
2. Hannah, bapt. 1638-39, m. Thomas Humphrey of Dover, NH, children George, William, Ebenezer, Joseph.
3. Josiah, bapt. 1641, m. 1st Mary ____, 2nd, Deborah Gill.
4. Susannah, bapt. 1644, m. 1665 (by Capt. Joshua Hobart) William Robbarts, child
5. Elizabeth, b. 1646, m. Walter Poor, children Walter, Elizabeth.
6. John, b. 1647-48, m. Mehitable Hobart and Sarah Briggs.
7. Ebenezer, bapt. 1650, m. Hannah Hersey.
8. Mary, bapt. 1656, m. Mr. Ellis.
9. Peter, bapt. 1656. In King Phillip’s war he was on the roll of Capt. Samuel Moseley’s co. of Dorchester, at Dedham, 9 Xber [December], 1675 and again Dec. 10, 1675; enlisted in Capt. John Robertson’s co. of New England troops stationed at Annapolis Royal, Oct.10, 1710, and died Feb. 6, 1711; time of service 118 days.
V. Sarah, b. England about 1611, wife of Nathaniel Baker, original settler in Hingham, and brother of Rev. Nicholas Baker, of Hingham and Scituate, Mass.; he was “farmer,” constable, 1668, selectman, 1661 and 1676, in active service in Philips’ War, 1675, died 1686 (will gave legacies to 2 Indian servants, grandchildren, and children of his deceased brother Nicholas, late of Scituate), she d. 1695; only 1 child: Mary, bapt. 1639, m. John Loring who came to Dorchester in America 1634 and settled in Hull, freeman 1673, representative 1692, she died 1679, he had 10 children with 2nd wife Mrs. Rachel Buchland.
VI. ANDREW LANE, born in England about 1613, and became an original proprietor of Hingham, Mass. as did brother George. He drew on Sept. 18, 1635, house-lot of five acres, “No. 26 from the cove on the north side of the road to Fort Hill.” This was further described as being located on Town (North) Street, Hingham as was the property of brother George. Andrew Lane also had 10 acres granted him at Nutty Hill, and 6 shares of the common lands in subsequent divisions of the town. On April 6, 1648, he purchased of Aaron Ludkin of Charlestown, a house-lot in Hingham containing 5 acres with a dwelling and buildings thereon, and bounded by land of George Lane. He also bought lands at Pleasant Hill, at the Great Lots, at Weir River, at Squirrel Hill, at the Plain Neck and at Broad cove. He was described as a feltmaker and farmer, an industrious, worthy citizen.
Andrew Lane died 4 May, 1675, and his estate was appraised at 235 pounds, 3 shillings. Triphena Lane and son Andrew Lane were administrators of his estate. The inventory included dwelling house, barn, 8 acres home lot, salt meadow and other lands; four oxen, four cows, two yearlings, 2 calves, swine, piggs, bedding, wearing apparell, household goods, farming tools.
Andrew Lane’s wife’s surname is unknown. She survived him (a Hingham record specifies the pew seat of Tripheny Lane as widow of Andrew Lane in the new meeting house, Jan. 5, 1681/82) and died in Hingham on 2 January, 1706/07 aged about 95 years. (Thus born about 1612.)
The Lanes had 9 children, all baptised in Hingham [the minister may have been the first minister of Hingham, Peter Hobart]; birth dates here from Fitts do not always agree with records researched by Frederic Scott Orcutt:
1. MARY, b. 1640, bap. 8/16/1646, m. 1/24/1663/64 William Orcutt, residence Weymouth, Scituate, and Bridgewater, Mass. He d. about 1694. Their twelve children were: William b. Weymouth, 1664, Andrew, b. 1666, d. 18 Aug., 1695, John b. Scituate 1669, m. four times, constable 1712, original member of second church, Hingham, 1721, d. Sept. 1753, Martha b. 1671, Joseph b. 1672, Mary and Hannah (twins) b. 1674 [FSO: 1675], Thomas b. 1675 [FSO
1677], Benjamin, b. 1679 [FSO 1680], Elizabeth, b. 1682, Deborah b. 1683, Susanna, b. Bridgewater, 1685.
2. Abigail, b. 8/11/1642, bap. 8/16/1646 m. 12/27/1665 (by Capt. Joshua Hobart) Daniel Stodder who became a selectman for Hingham, and died at the very advanced age of 103 years, 5 months and 9 days. She d. 1707, age 61 years. Eleven children: Daniel, Abigail, Sarah, Deborah, Rebecca, Josiah, Lydia, Joseph and Jael (twins), Ruth, Lydia (born and died same year as 1st Lydia).
3. Andrew, bap. 8/16/1646. m. 12/5/1672 Elizabeth Eames, dau. of Mark and Elizabeth Eames [her grandfather, Lt. Anthony Eames, was the first local commander of Hingham — there is extensive reporting of controversy regarding jurisdiction, authoritative office between the Rev. Peter Hobart and Lt. Eames in Hingham history]. Andrew is included in list of freemen published 23 May 1677, NEG&H Reg. 3:24. He was a wheelwright, bought houselot from Jeremiah Beal(e?), Sr. and Sarah, his wife in 1674 (the Beals were parents of his brother John’s wife); was a soldier in Philip’s War.
Andrew Lane and wife Elizabeth, of Hingham, testified, Feb. 10, 1708-09, respecting
Mahitable Warren, of Plymouth, that they never heard nor had thought that Euea she
was guilty of the sin of being a witch notwithstanding her many distempers of body.
He died 4 Dec. 1717, and his widow d. 12 Nov., 1727, ae. 83 years. Three children: John, Elizabeth, Andrew (this 3rd Andrew b. 2/8/1677/78, d. about 1749, was “an Attorney at Law” in Boston; chosen constable March 13, 1726/27, according to Samuel Sewell’s records).
4. John, b. 1/30/1647/48. m. 1st, 1/21/1679/80 Sarah Beale, dau. of Lt. Jeremiah and Sarah Beale who d. 12/13/1693; and 2nd, on 4/16/1701 Bethia Lincoln, dau. of Stephen and Elizabeth Lincoln, who d. 3/17/1716/17. He was a carpenter (emphatically designated to distinguish him from his cousin John Lane, the shoemaker). He d. 3/12/1729/30. Five children by wife Sarah: Sarah, Hannah, Rachel, Susanna, Infant. Three children by 2nd wife Bethia: Bethia, Mary, Lydia.
5. Ephraim, b. 2/1649/50. m. 1st, late in life on 2/20/1700/01 Susanna Huit (or Huet) dau. of Ephram and Elizabeth (Foster) Huit, who d. 5/15/1708; and 2nd, on 12/29/1709 Elizabeth Beal, youngest sister of his brother John’s wife. She d. 7/30/1716. He was a wheelwright, soldier in active service under Capt. Joshua Hobart in Philip’s War 1675, and was also on the roll of Capt. Isaac Johnson’s Roxbury Co., which enlisted for the Narraganset campaign of July, 1675. Was constable of Hingham in 1696. He died 12/1/1715. Child with 1st wife: Ephraim (b. 7/1703; weaver and husbandman). Child with 2nd wife: Jeremiah (b. 6/1710).
6. Deborah, bap. 6/20/1652 m. 12/30/1674 (by Capt. Joshua Hobart) William Sprague res. Hingham and Providence, R.I. His brother Anthony was ancestor of the poet Charles Sprague. She died 1706/07, 8 children: William, Deborah, Joanna, David, Jonathan, Abiah, John, Benjamin.
7. Joshua, bap. 8/20/1654. m. (date unknown) Elizabeth _____. Was living in Boston in 1696.
Was a cordwainer (??) in Boston; earlier served with Captain Turner in 1676 on the Connecticut River, later Falmouth. He also enlisted under Capt. Samuel Wadsworth of Dorchester, Mass., was in the Sudbury Fight, where Capt. Wadsworth was slain by the Indians 4/21/1676. He died 11/27/1710 ae. about 57 years (his wife survived him). Children: child, Elizabeth, John (cordwainer in Hingham), Sarah.
8. Caleb, bap. 7/17/1657. Probably unmarried. Is not listed among the sons and sons-in-law in the inventory agreement regarding his father’s estate (below), so may have died before 1675.
9. Hannah, bap. 9/30/1658 m. 5/22/1677 (by Capt. Joshua Hobart) Jeremiah Beal, Jr. who was a blacksmith, sexton, Hingham selectman 1690, 92, 96; he d. 1703 aged 48 years; she d. 1719, aged 61 years. 11 children: Jeremiah, Sarah, Hannah, Jael, Andrew, Jedediah, Abraham, Bathsheba, Rebecca, Benjamin, Abigail.
At the time of the 1675 inventory of their father Andrew Lane’s estate, the following document was also recorded:
“The sones & daughters and sons in law of Andrew Lane doe agree and fully consent that their mother Triphenie Lane shall have all the estate left by their abousaid father to improve for her
sufficient maintenance as longe as shee the abousaid mother lives a widow, as witness our hands thereunto.
the mark of C Ephraim Lane
the mark of X William Orcutt
[In the NEG&H Reg. 42:149,150: Ebenezer Lane and brother Andrew Lane founded Lane Theological Seminary, Cincinnati, date unknown at this 8/2001 writing.]
Family of William Orcutt and Mary Martha Lane
[Sources: Frederic Scott Orcutt, Sr., Descendants of Thomas Orcutt, 1677 to 1977 plus this writer’s visit 3/2000 to the First Unitarian Church, Norwell, MA, and others as indicated. Significant information comes from Edson family researchers as referred to on p. 1, descendants of that family with which Orcutts were connected in both England and Massachusetts, including several marriages.]
The baptisms of ten of the twelve children of William Orcutt and Mary Martha Lane are recorded in the records of Second Church, Scituate (now First Unitarian Church, Norwell, MA). All ten were baptised by the first minister of Second Church, William Witherell, whose ministry extended from 1642 until his death in 1684. The Rev. Mr. Witherell baptised no less than 608 children (the occasion for the split from First Church Scituate and its minister the Rev. Chauncey was largely over the issue of the method of baptism: The Rev. Mr. Witherell favored sprinkling.) The early records are apparently written by him (until 1674, when his assistant and successor Thomas Mighill began keeping the records). Hence, Witherell spelled the surname “Orcott “the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th children. Mighill spelled the surname “Orcut” for children 6-11 (see below).
William  was apparently not baptized by him, and may have been born elsewhere; some researchers say William Jr. born 1664 in Weymouth, Mass.
2. Andrew Orcott, bap. 3/24/1666/67.
3. John Orcott, bap. 4/18/1669.
4. Martha Orcott, bap. 4/23/1671.
5. Joseph Orcott, bap. 12/9/1672.
6. Mary &
7. Hannah Orcut, twins bap. 4/11/1675.
8. Thomas Orcut, bap. 10/2/1677 (page worn, could have another number in Oct. date).
9. Benjemin Orcut, bap. 3/7/1679/80.
10. Elizabeth Orcut, bap. 7/16/1682
11. Deborah Orcut, bap. 10/7/1683.
By 1685 William and his wife and family of 9 living children (Elizabeth and Deborah, born 1682 and 1683 and baptized in Scituate had apparently died in infancy) were living in Bridgewater, MA, where:
12th child Susannah Orcutt (note spelling, a third version among the 12 children) was baptised in 1685. [By the Rev. James Keith? No record of this birth has yet been located.]
William Orcutt is recorded as a purchaser of land on the west side of Bridgewater in a listing dated 24 December, 1683. He owned one share of the 56 proprietor shares (according to Helen Judson, p. vi, “There has never been found to date (1966) that William (1) Orcutt owned any land anywhere in the Colony before he bought in 1670 “of Edward Gray of New Plymouth for 30 lbs”: “He sells to William Orcutt of Marshfield, Massachusetts one share of upland and meadow in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.” It is generally agreed that William Orcutt and his family did not take possession of and settle on his homestead for 13-15 years after the purchase of this land.) Further woodland was added to his holding in 1686. He died in Bridgewater 14 September, 1693, age 74. There is no presently known gravestone for either William or his wife. According to Frederic S. Orcutt, Sr., burial could have been on their own property, and headstones long since disappeared. However, in the listing regarding son Andrew made by George Walter Chamberlain in Genealogies of the Early Families of Weymouth, Massachusetts (1923), p. 447, t
there is the following sentence: Widow Orcutt, probably the widow of William, died at Weymouth, 30 Apr. 1712. This is information FSO apparently did not have. [The Old Graveyard on South Street in West Bridgewater came into use sometime after a grant in 1683. It appears that Samuel and Susannah Edson were possibly the first or among the first persons buried there, he in 1692, she in 1699, followed by Susannah Edson Keith 1705, Rev. James Keith 1719. Noting that Samuel Edson died 1692, just one year before William Orcutt died, it should be mentioned that the above-ground tomb also includes wife Susannah’s grave with his, and she died in 1699. Next to it is that of the Rev. James Keith who died in 1719. Further note: 9/13/00, visiting the Old Bridgewater Historical Society on Howard Street in West Bridgewater, JOH noted cement marker catty-corner across street on Marlene Howells’ property, commemorating the likely site of the first burial ground in Old Bridgewater. No gravestones remain currently. Perhaps this could have been the site where William Orcutt 1 was buried? His son, William 2, was buried in the Bridgewater cemetery, as was William 2’s wife Hannah — presumably 3rd wife Hannah Newton.]
In that same western section of Bridgewater lived Deacon Samuel Edson and his wife Susannah Orcutt Edson. Edson family history states that Susannah was born in Fillongley in 1618, married Samuel Edson in 1638, and the two emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638, settling first in Salem, then moving to Bridgewater (settled first by Miles Standish and others) in 1651 when Samuel is added to the list of Bridgewater’s original proprietors. As mentioned earlier, both Edson and Orcutt family traditions state that Susannah and William Orcutt were sister and brother, born in February and December of the same year, 1618, in Fillongley. No birth or baptismal record has been found for Susannah Orcutt in 1618, but Helen Judson reports receiving a letter August 4, 1965 from the Diocesan Archivist of Warwickshire, England that states:
“There was a William, son of William Orchar (the name Orchar being a modification of the name Urchard and probably Anglicized to the name Orcutt later) baptized December 18, 1618 recorded in the parish register (1538-1653) of Fillongley, Warwickshire, England.”
Ms. Judson goes on to say that the register is not indexed and the brief glance at this time did not reveal other children of this William Orchar. [Note: This author possesses a photocopy of the register item, with date of December 6, 1618. The discrepancy between December 18 and December 6 has not been explained as of this date. A simply miscopying repeating the last two digits of the year? See copy of this record following p. 19, Exhibit A.]
Edson Family History and Genealogy, editor Carroll Edson, vol. I, pp. 23-41 gives background information about Samuel Edson and his forbears. On page 34 of that work, Carroll Edson quotes at length from The Rev. Theodore Edson, an Episcopalian clergyman, including the following depiction of Susannah Orcutt Edson in his A Genealogical Account of the Edsons, Early Settled in Bridgewater, With Appendices published in 1864 and co-written with Elijah Hayward, another Edson descendent:
“Susannah, his (Samuel Edson’s) wife, was one fully worthy of him and the age in which they lived. Her education and natural abilities were said to be fully equal to his, while in union with an expressive modesty of deportment and unaffected piety gave to her person an elevated position and to her character a high rank among the matrons of the town. She exhibited a majestic figure, rather above the medium height, and elegant and majestic mien, with a countenance happily combining graceful dignity with cheerful benignity. Her daughters were of elegant forms, and with all their domestic and retired habits were of easy and pleasing manners. As the affectionate companion of her husband, she was his prudent and discreet counsellor, and as a true mother, she religiously taught her children the way they should go, and when they were old they did not depart from it; and her descendants through succeeding generations point to the example of this, their maternal ancestor, with sentiments of respect, esteem and reverence. Such parents as these do not live to themselves nor die to themselves, and their memories will be cherished while virtue and charity shall be practiced, as a valuable example to mankind.”
Carroll Edson points out that in gathering his information, the Rev. Edson likely spoke with individuals who could have known and talked with the grandchildren of Deacon Samuel and Susannah Edson.
This author (JOH) located a handwritten document (on brown paper with string binding) by Judge Elijah Hayward, dated 1853 and titled Account of the Edson Family in the Old Bridgewater Historical Society collection (Edson genealogy packet), with the following description almost verbatim to that above (this is the same source stating Susanna Edson is supposed to be a sister of William Orcutt):
“The wife of his [Samuel Edson] bosom and virtuous partner of his life was worthy of him and of the age in which they lived. Her natural ability and literary education were said to have been full equal to his, which, in union with an expressive modesty of deportment and unaffected piety, gave to her person an elevated character and high rank among the females and matrons of the town. She exhibited a majestic figure rather above the medium height an elegant and stately mein and a benign and dignified countenance.
“She succeeded in so training her daughters that they copied most of her virtues.
“As the affectionate companion of her husband she was even his prudent counsellor and as the mother of their offspring she religiously taught them early the way in which they should go, and it may be truly said that when they were old they did not depart from it. And her descendants through succeeding generations, point to the example of this maternal ancestor, with sentiments of respect, esteem and reverence. Such parents as Deac. Samuel Edson & his wife do not live to themselves nor die to themselves. Their memory will be cherished while virtue and Christian charity shall be practised, as a most worthy example to mankind….
[Hayward goes on to speak of Capt. Edson, his forebear, and refers to a book this great grandfather wrote, reflecting his own sources of information.]
“I also often heard my grandmother Hayward, mention her father’s book as she called it, lament its loss, and relate to me of its contents. On the death of Capt. Edson I have been informed, all his papers came into the hands of his son Col. Josiah Edson, and but a very small portion of them have since been seen. It was a matter of regret to those who spoke of it that this manuscript work could not be found………Rev. Peres [spelling unclear] Fobes was 20[,] my father 19 years old and my grandmother 49 when Capt. Edson died 1762. Mr. Fobes d. in 1812 a 70 my father in 1815 a. 74. And my grandmother in 1800 a 87. I was born in 1786 [the 6 is not entirely clear, thus a guess]. It was from my recollections of their conversation in relation to that work, and from information of a similar import received of aged inhabitants fifty years ago, that I am indebter for the characters I have described of some of the first generations of those who made early and permanent settlements in the town “…….signed June 2 [not exactly clear] 1853 Elijah Hayward”
The reference to Susannah’s education and natural abilities being fully equal to those of Samuel Edson is of particular note, since her brother William made his mark instead of signing his name, which has been taken to indicate he may have been illiterate. (Similarly, his son William 2 made a mark for his name as a witness for two different wills as well as to the agreement of settlement for his father’s estate; however, Andrew and John both signed their names to that document, although Joseph made his mark; and Thomas signed his name on a later document on which his wife Jane made her mark.) Education for their children was a very high priority among Highland Scots families, so perhaps there is another reason the 2 William Orcutt men and Joseph Orcutt made marks for their names? [One Internet Orcutt correspondent says that, when told of Wm. Orcutt 1’s possible illiteracy, her father snorted and said: “The man couldn’t see!”]
Deacon Samuel established the first sawmill and grist mill in Bridgewater. The stones for the gristmill and its site with millrace are visible today in the lovely Town Park of West Bridgewater, with a plaque commemorating Samuel Edson’s contribution to the Bridgewater community’s self-sufficiency. For that contribution he was granted an extra land plot.
Deacon Samuel and Susannah Orcutt Edson’s daughter Susannah married the first minister in Bridgewater, the Rev. James Keith, b. 1644 [class of 1657 of Marischal College, located adjacent to Kings College in Aberdeen, as ascertained from Keith family genealogists; the Keiths were hereditary Marischals of Scotland] who emigrated from his home in Aberdeen, Scotland, arriving in Boston in 1662 and coming to Bridgewater in 1664 at the age of 18 under the recommendation of Increase Mather. Keith had a long ministry in Bridgewater and was much beloved until his death in 1719. Some Keith researchers claim he and Deacon Samuel were partners in the mill. Deacon Samuel was also choir director for the church. (The W. Bridgewater museum displays both a communion set Deacon Samuel donated to the church, as well as his pitchpipe. He was known to have thrown that pitchpipe at choir members who persisted in being off-key!)
The Rev. James Keith is a key figure providing circumstantial evidence relating immigrant William Orcutt’s family to the Urquharts of Scotland. In his handwritten record of having performed the marriage of William’s son William to his 2nd wife Hannah Smith September 21, 1698, he spells the groom’s surname as Urxohart, [transcribed records spell this Urrohart; see photocopy of the record following p. 19, Exhibit B] a known variant of Urquhart. There is current (1999-2001) dispute over whether immigrant William Orcutt is of the Scottish Urquhart clan line (active on Internet genealogical Orcutt family boards, initiated by a Joel Thomas Orcutt — descendent of Joseph 2 Orcutt and living in Oklahoma — who has spent a number of years working on genealogy. JTO [Joel Thomas Orcutt] claims to have found documentation in Warwickshire that Samuel Edson married Susannah Bickley, not Orcutt, and that Susannah Bickley may have been aunt to William Aucotte in Warwickshire, whom he identifies as William Orcutt). It is of key significance to this dispute that the Rev. Keith was himself married to Susannah Edson, daughter of Deacon Samuel and Susannah Orcutt Edson, hence an in-law relative to Wm. Orcutt Jr., as well as a member of the Keith family of Aberdeen, Scotland who were linked to the Forbes family which in turn was linked by shared ancestry to the Urquhart family. In the small community of Bridgewater in the late 1600s (probably less than 60 families settled there), the Keith, Edson and Orcutt families were interrelated. The Rev. Keith and all his family were highly educated, according to Keith family researcher, Charles F. Eaton, who confirms that Keith was probably very deliberate in spelling that marriage record; no likelihood of any mistake.
This writer (JOH) believes that the Rev. Keith wrote the name as he did in a deliberate effort to publicly link the family to the Urquharts, since neither immigrant William nor his son William appear to have been literate; both having signed documents of record with their mark instead of spelling their name. That the educated and respected minister in the community with his own multiple family connections with Orcutts/Urquharts chose to spell the surname as he did in their behalf is of real significance, something JTO has not been able to dispute (other than to cite the name of William Orcutt 2 spelled as Aucott in a deed for his wife’s family land in Taunton from his Smith brother-in-law, but researchers have viewed this particular deed as a misspelling of Orcutt for over a century). Family historians of William 2’s line from 2nd wife Hannah Smith, as well as George L. and Elizabeth O. Davenport’s The Genealogies of the Families of Cohasset, Mass., p. 321, have no doubts that Urrohart meant Orcutt.
What JTO does claim is that according to [unnamed] Edson researchers, it has been proven that Susannah Orcutt was not Orcutt but Bickley, aunt to William Awcotte/Orcutt, not sister. This author has been unable as of August 2001 to locate which Edson researchers relate the Bickley connection. The only clue to connect with a name spelled like Awcotte is a statement in Jarvis Bonesteel Edson’s Edsons in England and America and Genealogy of the Edsons, 1903, pp. 89-90 as follows:
“Samuel Edson, furthermore, saw that his determination to become a colonist of Massachusetts Bay would permit his immediate marriage to Susanna Orcutt, with whom he had plighted troth
before he had given any thought to his going to New England. The Orcutt family, as the Edson, had long been seated in Warwickshire. The surname appears to be an etymological modification of the French compound, Orcote, which in England became corrupted into Alcott, Orcutt, Aucott, and Howcote. Although many descendants of this long-known and highly respected family still reside in several of the parishes adjoining the parish of Fillongley, no trace of Susanna Orcutt’s parents seems now to exist. The church register in which their baptism and marriage may have been entered is in all probability no longer extant.”
This reference makes no comment regarding a Susannah Bickley, so that must be a recent
discovery. Jarvis Bonesteel Edson here is certainly simply speculating about the origins of the Orcutt name (appears to be), rather than showing knowledge of the Orcutt name’s history.
Because of this controversy, it may be worth noting here that the introductory portion of the document hand-written by Judge Elijah Hayward in 1853 and found in the Old Bridgewater Historical Society collection states the following:
“Deacon Samuel Edson was born in England 1612 came over early to Massachusetts; resided in Salem 1639 Married Susanna Orcutt about 1649 (supposed to have been a sister of William Orcutt who came from Scituate & settled in Bridgewater before 1682) removed to Bridgewater about 1651 and died July 9th 1692 aged 80 his will dated Jan. 15, 1688/0. His wife was born in England 1618 and d. Feb. 20 1699 a. 81.”
Given the Edson family sources Judge Hayward cites, which are within a couple of generations of Samuel and Susannah Orcutt Edson, one wonders whether 20th century revisionist genealogists have not undertaken a narrow written paper document proof tack. Certainly JTO and others do not effectively counter the multiple early and varied documentations and strong clues of Edson/Orcutt/Urquhart connections. Nor do they utilize the approach of exploring the community history and traditions of the generations in question — including families with whom Orcutts intermarried. The history is not so long ago as to qualify as pre-history, hence many clues can be found, and good judgment in assessing them all for probability is a worthy route.
In her genealogy following the line of John 2, Helen Judson states: in the absence of definite proof so far it may not be unreasonable to assume that the scion of the Urchards, Urquharts, Orquarts and those that had Anglicized the name to Orcutt was Sir (sic) Thomas Urquhart who died in 1557, for it was some of his sons that settled in England. Early Orcutt Historians record that it was well understood among the descendants that their Orcutt Ancestors were of Scotch origin. In fact, old Father William 1, and his sons and grandchildren, had such a Scottish burr in their speech that the clerks, registrars, and army officers had difficulty in spelling the name correctly for the records…. No record has been found of her [Susannah’s] parents under the name of Orcutt in Warwickshire, England. It is possible that her parents didn’t Anglicize their name from Orchar, Urchard, Urquhart, or Orquart during their lifetime, but that their children changed the spelling when they took up their new life in America. Records found in America give her birth as 1618, in Filloughley (sic), Warwickshire, England, a small village located about 10 miles
from the river Avon. [Helen Judson also cites Javis Bonesteel Edson’s work, thus is familiar with his speculation regarding the origin of the Orcutt name quoted above.]
Worth mentioning in this connection is the pronunciation of the name Urquhart in those days. As best as can be ascertained — and written — a Scots pronunciation (depending on where the pronouncer originated in Scotland!) is “AHR-kart” with the accent on the first syllable. Note how much closer to Orcutt (“ORE-cut”) that sounds, compared to our tendency today to pronounce Urquhart “URK-heart.” If the two William Orcutts were illiterate and only pronounced the name, the spelling change seems to follow readily.
It may be worth mentioning too that there was soon such a significant Scottish settlement in Bridgewater, Mass. that a section of the town was designated Scotland. A church (not that of the Rev. James Keith) was named the Scotland Church, and a portion of the cemetery was designated Scotland. However, it may not be appropriate to cite the Scottish community in Bridgewater as a factor that may have attracted William 1 there, since it appears to have developed after his death, and there seems no causal connection with the Rev. James Keith (though this may bear further exploration and a visit to that church with a records check; the coincidence is a little striking, given the small population of the area). Interestingly also, only one of William 1’s six sons with his descendants remained in Bridgewater, William 2 (however grandchildren of John and Joseph, possibly others, did return/marry Bridgewater men/women). But William 2 was active in a church (not the Scotland church), a member of at least three committees established in 1730 to investigate charges against a minister.
Some of the topics JTO mentions concern this writer, too: that William 1 is age 46 when he marries 24-year-old Mary Martha Lane (JTO thinks she is 18, following that mistaken baptismal year taken as birthyear also); a bit old even for those days of somewhat later marriage, especially for men, though certainly not unheard of. Another possibility is that he was married earlier, even in England, and possibly emigrated when his first wife died. Were there prior children? But men typically didn’t marry until they had land, a homestead to provide. Maybe he just didn’t get that, not even until Bridgewater. And he IS a kind of Strom Thurmond, fathering his 12th child at age 67! (Mary Martha was 45 then.)
2nd, there is puzzlement about not being able to write his name, since Scots families, especially Highlanders, have long been so strong for education for their children and was an Urquhart tradition. Was it difficult for Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty to educate all 25 sons who reached maturity? Possibly this was a Fillongley issue? Yet it would seem likely that as an Urquhart he would have remedied it; Samuel and Susannah Orcutt Edson seem to have done just that.
3rd, what in the world was he doing between 1664 and 1683? Was he a seaman? But where did that large family live? With Lane relatives? But they weren’t in the neighborhood of the 2nd Church, Scituate. Records aren’t complete, certainly, but they are remarkably good for that era, and there is nothing at all to show land possession until Bridgewater. This gives more credence to Helen Judson’s belief that he was a seaman; perhaps the family went with him aboard ship
(but so many?!). There are certainly Urquhart seamen and ship builders, starting in Scotland, and coming to the New World.
A poignant supposition is to note that it is soon after two daughters died, Elizabeth baptized July 16, 1682 and Deborah baptized October 7, 1683 (both appearing to have died in their infancy), that immigrant William Orcutt moves his family to Bridgewater. Could that situation of the death of two daughters in a row, possibly in two succeeding years, have been related in some way to the father’s career as a seaman, then the desire to change it? The last daughter, Susannah, is born in Bridgewater in 1685. William Orcutt, if born in 1618, was 67 when Susannah was born in Bridgewater, and wife Mary Martha was 45.
Immigrant William Orcutt died in Bridgewater September 14, 1693. The inventory of his estate, translated as best as possible from the handwritten and fragmented 1693 document and retaining as much as is discernible about the spelling, capitalization, is as follows:
“An Inventory of the Effects of William orkat of ye towne of bridgewater in ye County of plimouth in new englend December ye fourteenth of September one thousand six hundred (rest is missing) ___ and ___ which is as followeth
(difficult to read: Imprimis To monoa? Money?) — 4-3-0
to ___sing cloaths linin woollon and leather(?) 3-5-0
to beddes and furniture ______ 8-0-0
to __ __ pots and ___ 2-5-0
to ___ ___ ___ 2-5-0
to guns and a sword 1-15-0
to ___ ___ and other iron ware 1-16-0
to hoops __ ___ ___ and other lumber 1-5-0
to yarn __ __ and __ __ __ 3-16-0
to __ (lamp?) and ___ 1-15-0
to ___ __ __ and __ __ 13-0-0
to ___, sheep (?) 1 mare bridle and saddle 22-0-0
to __ dwelling hous, barne and seventy (?) acors 40-0-0
of land joyning heirunto part being improved
to fifti acors of dormund land 2-10-0
to twenty acors more of land 2-0-0
to fifteen acors more 2-0-0
to 2 lots of maddow 2-0-0
to a whole share in ye __ swamp 1-0-0
to swine and tobacko 3-5-0
to things unseen and forgoton 1-10-0
The summ totall if no mistake in casting up is 119 pounds and eleven shillings.
This above Inventory was taken by us according to our best understanding this eleventh of october one thousand six hundred ninety and three as witnessed our hands.
John ____ (Arnold?)
(In another penmanship):
William Orcutt, eldest son of the above named William Orcut (deceased?) (made?) oath before William Bradford __ ___ (something judge?) of probate __ ye16th day of December 1693 that ye above written is a true Inventory of goods chattels __ __ __ of __ so far as his ___ and that __ __ ___ to him __ will make it __ (known?).
___ Saml Sprague (?) registrar (?)
This above written Inventory is recorded in ye 186th (?) page of plimouth country Book of __ for wills (?) __ January ye 16th 1693/4 __ Saml Sprague registrar(?)”
The next document is the agreement about the estate of William Orcutt 1:
“This Agreement made Between the widow orcut wife of William Orcut who deceased in the year 1693: Inhabitant in the Town of Bridgewater in the County of New Plimouth in New England: and her children, her Sons and Daughters whose Names Are here in mentioned: About the ___ of the Estat of Sd William Orcutt De__ (Deceased?) is As followeth
Inprimis(?) The widow Martha Orcut is to have the houseing and lands adjoyning __ with the benefit & priviliges there of untill her Son Thomas Orcut Comes of Twenty one years of Age and After Sd Thomas Orcut Come of Age __ widow orcut is To have foure Acres of broken up improfed Land: & her fire wood provided for her & full and free liberty to live in Sd house and improv(__) own ___ __ as she has ocassion Dureing the Time of her widowhood.
And to William Orcutt he is to have fifteen acres of Land being of __ and a five acre lot lying on the North Side of the Towne River and lying westward of a fifty acre lot of John Willis & a lot of ___ (next two lines illegible) William Orcut made over to him (illegible two lines) gift before his Decease.
And to (illegible: appears to be John Orcutt) ___ ___lying to the Northward of John __ house butting on the Easterly side of Sotuckot River: And this with what (land was?) made over to him by the deed of gift by his father William Orcut before his (decease?).
And to Andrew Orcut the land made over to him by Deed of Gift by his (father?) William Orcutt before his Decease: which land sd. Andrew has solde to brother John Orcutt above sd.
And to Joseph Orcut fifty acres of Land lying to the southwestward of ye __ pond the bounds of
which is ___ ___ in the ___ ___ book of Records: And A Third part of A lot of meadow lying __ of Bridgwater in A place known by the Name of the __ meadow and the other two thirds sd Joseph Orcut has bought of his brothers John and Andrew Orcutt.
And to Thomas Orcut half the lands ___ ___ ___ sd widow orcut Now lives: being thirty five acres more or less and halfe the house and barne when sd. Thomas Comes to be of the age of one and twenty years.
And Benjamin Orcutt [2nd t seems occasionally added in this document; interesting that people doing the writing/recording are aware of the two spellings] the other halfe of the Land Adjoyning to sd house Being about thirty five Adres more or less with the other halfe of the house and barne where the sd widow Orcut Now Lives when he comes of the age of one and twenty years or as his Guardian ___ ___ (does Cause?).
And To the Daughters of sd William Orcutt ___ As followeth Martha Orcut six pound
To Mary orcut six pound
To hanah orcut six pound
To Susanna orcut six pound which six pound is delivered in to her brother William orcuts hands to return the principle when sd Susanna Comes of Age or before if she stands in need of it.
This agreement made between the widow (blank space) orcut and her children Sons and Daughters whose Names are ___ above __ __ in Dividing of sd Estat of William__ __ __ Agreement wld(?) binde ourselves our hairs ___ __ __ to stand to: To which __ ___ __ __ __ __ and __ this thirtyth of october one thousand six hundred ninety four.
The widow Martha orcutt her H mark (seal)
William Orcut his 0 mark (seal)
Andrew Orcut (seal)
John Orcut (seal)
Joseph Orcutt his @ mark (seal)
Martha Orcut her A mark (seal)
hanah orcut her ll mark (seal
Edward Mitchell (?) as __ __ [guardian?] to Thomas and Benjamin Orcutt (seal)
The mark H of Martha Orcut widdow in behalf of Susanna Orcutt (seal)
In the presence of (signatures below)
Samuel Allin sr. (?) — (whose handwritten appears same for whole document)
(Next two lines illegible) William Orcut Andrew Orcut John Orcut Joseph Orcut Martha Orcut Mary Orcut Hannah Orcut. Edward Mitchell Guardian of Thomas and Benjamin Orcut (illegible crossover) And the said Widdow in behalf of Susanna her daughter came off of them personally
before me the subscriber Judge of Probate __ on ye 24 day of November 1694 & acknowledged the within and above written to be their own free acts and final settlement of ye Estate of William Orcut late of Bridgwater ___.
The above and within written agreement is recorded in ye 215th (?) and 216th pages of plymouth County Book of Records for Wills __ __ Saml Sprague Register
December 5th, 1694.”
Mary and/or Martha?
Notes regarding Mary Martha’s dual name: From Helen Judson, p. vii, The name Martha given as the widow of William Orcutt has given rise to the theory that Mary (Lane) Orcutt died early and that Martha Orcutt was his second wife. This theory would seem to be without foundation for in the above-mentioned agreement she acknowledges all the children as those of her and William. Also there has been found the Plymouth Probate Court record of the signing of an agreement upon the death of Andrew Lane, father of Mary (Lane) Orcutt and father-in-law of William Orcutt, July 27, 1675, with all the sons and sons-in-law, acquitting to their mother, Tryphena Lane, for her life, the use of the Estate of Andrew Lane. William Orcutt signed this agreement with his mark O for his wife, Mary (Lane) Orcutt. [JOH: see p. 6 of this document for the text of that agreement.] This is sufficient proof that Mary (Lane) Orcutt was not deceased in 1675 and that according to records found eight of the children of William and Mary (Lane) Orcutt had already been born. The reason that Mary (Lane) Orcutt used the name Martha later in life can only be assumed, but there is little doubt that Mary Lane Orcutt and Martha Orcutt are one and same person from the information gathered from the Probate Court records above stated. Hence, she is continually referred to here as Mary Martha.
The said Widow Orcutt survived her husband for another 19 years. There were still three minor children to complete raising when William died: Thomas (16 when his father died), Benjamin 14) and Susanna (8). How long then did she continue to live in Bridgewater? Thomas became 21 in 1698; notably, he sold land and a small house near Joseph Alden’s house in 1700 (the year co-heir brother Benjamin became 21), according to Mitchell’s History of Bridgewater, p. 249. His inheritance, thus his mother’s home? She must have moved by then by her own choice, possibly with Susanna who was then 15, since the Estate Agreement specified she could continue to live in the house after Thomas came of age as she has occasion during the time of her widowhood. Thomas was married and settled in Cohasset in 1703; Benjamin married about 1705 and may have moved to Weymouth (both probably owned property in their new locations prior to their marriage, as was then the custom). The date for Susanna’s marriage to Benjamin Washburn has not yet been identified.
Since Mary Martha Lane Orcutt’s death seems to be recorded at Weymouth as 1712, she may have moved to live with either second son, Andrew (married Francis Ward in 1692, first child Andrew born 1693, daughter Mary born 1699; youngest daughter Remember born about 1706 in
Weymouth) or after an interval her youngest son Benjamin, who himself died in Weymouth in 1770 (Benjamin married Elizabeth Randall about 1705; twins Martha and Silence Orcutt were born in Weymouth in 1719 or 1720; both Andrew and Benjamin had daughters named possibly for their mother).
A side comment is to note here that in Mary Martha’s later years, at least by her 1712 death, she wasn’t living near/with eldest son and co-executor William 2, the only son who remained in Bridgewater for the rest of his life (died there 1739). There is some question among a few researchers that William 2 and Hannah Smith, married 1698, may have divorced (they had three daughters born between 1700 and 1702) and there is no record of Hannah’s death. William 2 married 3rd Hannah Newton April 10, 1706 (did Mary Martha disapprove of that marriage? That marriage produced William’s only sons, David b. about 1708, Moses b. about 1713, and Caleb b. about 1715); some researchers believe William 2 was married only twice, probably confusing the two Hannahs.
But had there been a divorce — something presumably unusual in those days — there surely should be some sort of record; none appears. It might have created some sort of scandal.
However, William 2 was later a member of several sensitive and important small church committees years later, in July, October, and December of 1730, relating to investigations of the minister Rev. Benjamin Allen which led to Allen’s dismissal. So he was clearly in good church standing then, 24 years after his 3rd marriage to Hannah Newton. Still — Mary Martha didn’t go to live with either son William or her married daughters in Bridgewater. Interesting.
Mary Martha’s Era
Mary Martha Lane Orcutt witnessed the impact of significant events in the history of western civilization. She was firstborn of a family that immigrated from England only 15 years after the arrival in Plymouth of the Mayflower. Growing up in the Hingham home of her father Andrew Lane who immigrated in 1635 from England to Massachusetts with his father, Mary Martha probably knew her grandfather William Lane, who died in 1654. At age 24/25 came her marriage and probably odd and dangerous life with a — to us — mysterious seaman (perhaps) whose family according to tradition descended from the Scottish Urquhart Clan (perhaps). Then she and the family joined the first generation of settlers in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, related by marriage to the prominent Edson family there. Her widowhood came in the year of the Glencoe Massacre in Scotland and the aftermath of the Witch Hunt in Salem, Mass. (her younger brother and sister-in-law Andrew and Elizabeth Eames Lane had later publicly defended a woman charged with witchcraft). The life of Mary Martha Lane Orcutt was definitely that of a colonial pioneer.
The land of her birth was yet a colony of England (and Scotland wasn’t yet part of the Great Britain realm — but that came in 1707, five years before Mary Martha’s death), and during her
lifetime Charles I (from the Scottish Stuart family, born in Dumfermline, Fife, Scotland) was executed in 1649 when she was nine. Cromwell’s interregnum republic governed England next (1649-1658 — a relative of her husband’s, Sir Thomas Urquhart, was imprisoned in the Tower of London following the royalist loss of the 1651 Battle of Worcester). The monarchy was restored in 1660 with Charles II (to the sounds of the laughter of said Sir Thomas Urquhart, which laughter was reputedly the cause of his expiration in the Netherlands where he had moved, presumably a stroke), just four years before she and William Orcutt married in 1664/5.
James VII/II reigned after his brother’s death from 1685 to 1688 as last of the Stuarts who originated in Scotland; in 1689 William (implicated for Scotland’s Glencoe Massacre) and Mary came to the English throne following the defeat/desertion of James. After they died childless, the throne passed in 1702 to Queen Anne (William’s sister-in-law) during Mary Martha Lane Orcutt’s later years; hers was the reign during which the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland came into effect on May 1, 1707. [And what did the Orcutts think about that?!]
For that matter, what was it like, for Mary Martha Lane to be married to this son of Scotland who was considerably older than herself, herself of English descent? Whatever the politics, it was clearly preferable for both the Lane family and for William Orcutt to take the risks of making a living in England’s colony in the New World than to do so in the Great Britain developing across the ocean.
Perhaps more can be surmised about Mary Martha, her values and family traditions, than from the sparse information we have about William Orcutt himself. Her Lane family came to the New World fully a generation before she married William Orcutt. It is intriguing to imagine what may have been the circumstances of Mary Martha’s and William’s meeting in the Hingham area, as it is about many aspects of their life as a couple and a family. High family standards of conduct, responsibility and values are very much a part of the family traditions of both the Lanes and the Orcutts, and went far to aid them in their difficult and demanding lives in the 1600s-early 1700s in Massachusetts. Giving birth to twelve children (including twins, both of whom lived to adulthood) and raising ten of them to adulthood and families of their own; possibly caring for small children during lengthy and dangerous periods at sea with a seaman husband for as many as 20 years; frightened during King Phillip’s War in 1675 (the year of her father’s death) when Hingham and Scituate neighborhoods were terrified by Indians killing whites and burning their homes while their men marched to protect them; nearly a decade later moving many miles away from the vicinity of her family of birth — her mother still living in Hingham until dying at age 95 in 1706 — to the Bridgewater frontier settlement, furthest western settlement at that time in Massachusetts, herself yet grieving the quickly-succeeding infant deaths in 1682 and 1683 of two of her children — such a record is a tribute to the courage, energy, stamina, and sense of the high importance of family embodied by Mary Martha Lane Orcutt. She could say, in the early 1700s: “And I’m still here!”
Transcribed by Danielle Mead Skjelver.