John Fay’s naughty exploits…

I have more goodies to share from my recent research trip to Salt Lake City. Sit back and enjoy.

Just some picture of Puritans I stole from the internet. Have to add media interest.

The Fay family has appeared in a previous post when I talked about Stephen Fay who was the owner of a famous tavern in Vermont during the Revolutionary War. The Fay in this post is either his grandfather or father, I am not 100% sure which one is the principal character.

John Fay, sr. was born in England about 1640 and came to America sometime after. He settled in Middlesex County, Massachusetts and sometime before 1669 he married Mary Brigham (his first wife). She bore him 4 children, dying shortly after the birth of Mary, the youngest, in 1676.

The publication titled: The History of the Brigham Family; Descendants of Thomas Brigham, compiled by Rhonda R. McClure has a quote from Sex in Middlesex: Popular Mores in Massachusetts County, 1649-1699, by Roger Thompson, which is of interest to us Fay descendants as it regards a court case I have summarized as follows:

William Hudson, came to court in April of 1691 and bewailed “the danger that whores accuse rich single men or married men as the father of their bastards.” Because he was protesting his innocence in the case of fathering a child he was asked to provide evidence that another male could be responsible. Hudson produced evidence that “in August [1689] the soldier John Fay had been at the house of Ephraim Roper** in Lancaster, in or on the bed with sd. Mercy Rugg, lying upon his belly with some violent motions toward her.” By the time of William’s testimony in the case John Fay, sr. had conveniently died, so could offer up no defense. Hudson was judged to be the father.

I was a little taken aback when I saw this entry, then I started shaking my head trying to get the images out that had popped in there. Geez gramps, close the curtains! (Well, that’s assuming they had curtains. Or doors.)

After reading the entry a few time the next thought that came to mind was: “Is it possible Mr. Hudson is actually taking about John Fay, jr.,  who would have been about 20 years old at the time.” The mention of ‘soldier John Fay’ brings to mind someone younger. But, if it was John, sr. then he was definitely having sexual relations outside of his marriage. Susanna, his 2nd wife, would not have been pleased. If it was John, jr., then he would also have committed adultery, as he was married December 1 of 1690 to my 8x great grandmother Elizabeth Wellington. Or he had relations shortly before his marriage; the case doesn’t say whether Mercy had had the child, or was still pregnant in April of 1691. (As I haven’t seen the actual case it is possible that mention is made of John Fay, sr.’s demise, which would of course answer the question of which ‘John’ (ouch! no pun intended).)

Typically, William, who is being accused, calls Mercy a whore, it is doubtful she actually was one. He was just a little too free with his favors, proceeded to get her pregnant, and didn’t want to pay the price for unprotected sex. I have a little violin playing just for him in the ‘oh woes me’ band.

While investigating this source I ended up reading the whole book by Roger Thompson. I learned quite a bit about our ancestral Puritan’s and everyday shenanigans. They were a group of pretty typical humans whose Puritan beliefs really didn’t change the natural tendencies of human nature, and their children were just as rebellious and annoying as teenagers today. The Puritans fooled around, got into squabbles, swore, and blasphemed with the best of them.

**Interesting side note: The Ephraim Roper mention in the above case file, was the second husband of Hannah Brewer Goble Roper, our ancestress. So this incident involved two ancestors or ours, Hannah Brewer and John Fay, who was having sex in her house, with her servant. And…when Montreal Goble Shaw married Charlotte Hatch in 1909 the two families were now connected by marriage. In our family at least.


More about crazy Esther and the Lyons…

One of my goals on my trip to Salt Lake City the week before last, was to see if I could find more out about my crazy 5x great grandmother Esther (Newell) Lyon.

My belief was that because I could not find a death record for her in Vermont, maybe there is something in Asa Lyon’s probate records that could help answer the question. The assumption being that if she wasn’t mentioned in his probate records she had probably died.

A page from Asa Lyon’s probate records of Chittenden County, Vermont.

I am happy to say that she was.

For those who don’t remember – Esther was born in 1761 in Goshen, Litchfield County, Connecticut eldest daughter of the Rev. Abel Newell and his wife Abigail Smith. She married Rev. Asa Lyon, who was two years younger than her, in 1796 when she was 34 years old. They lived in Grand Isle County, Vermont for most of their married life and had three known children together: Abigail, who married Abijah Hatch, Esther, who married Daniel Brown, and Newell, who married Arrietta unknown.

Asa Lyon, the patriarch of the family, died in 1841, and thankfully he left us probate records regarding his estate. In these estate papers I learned several interesting things, the most important was that Esther, his wife, was still alive at the time of his death. However, it was also learned that his daughter Esther had died. She had lived long enough to marry, but it is doubtful she had any children as they are not mentioned in the probate record. The only two children inheriting any part of the estate were Abigail and her brother Newell.

When Asa died he owned close to 1500 acres of land in Vermont, the largest tract being about 300 acres. not all together, but in various places in the state. Its total worth was about $29,000 (that would be about $830,000 in 2015 dollars). So needless to say the Lyons were a family of means and property. I guess it helps if you are a bit of a skinflint, as Asa was known to be.

Abigail’s husband Abijah had been named as Esther’s guardian:

On Application of Abijah B. Hatch guardian of Esther Lyon, widow of Asa Lyon, late of Grand Isle, deceased, an insane person.

and one of the responsibilities of probate court was to make sure that Esther’s needs were going to be taken care of, as seen in this entry:

The said Abijah & Abigail agree to maintain and support the widow of the said Asa Lyon during the residue of her natural life free of any charges upon the said Newell or upon that part of the estate of the said Asa Lyon which shall in the distribution thereof be set to him by procuring for her suitable apartments in the house in which she now resides, and such meats and drinks medicines, bedding, attendance and other accommodations as shall render her as comfortable and happy as in her circumstances she can be made during her life, and inter her remains and lay her coffin beside that of her husband Asa Lyon.

The court even makes sure that her body is properly ‘placed’ when she does pass out of this world.

The probate case file continues until 1843, at no time during this period is it indicated that Esther has died, but, she is not listed in the 1850 census as living with her daughter Abigail. So I can only assume that sometime between 1843 and 1850 Esther died.

This was more than I knew before, so even if I don’t have an exact date I am very pleased.

Their son Newell married and had 6 children with his wife Arrietta. Only his eldest, Asa N. Lyon, survived to adulthood. But Asa married very late in life and never had any children of his own, so, it was up to my 4x great grandmother Abigail to keep the family line going, which she did with great gusto as she had 11 children with Abijah, (that we know of). Her son Oscar Ebenezer Hatch is my ancestor.

Research is hard…

So I am glad that I saw this little tidbit, it made my day…

The King vs. Willm Buchanan — Sur. Indictment for an assault. Ignoramus.

This is a York County, Pennsylvania court docket record in the 1740s-50s. I have have no idea if this Buchanan is related to my William. But I certainly hope so!

Back to work😈

Irish troubles…

An Irish peasant cabin.      circa 1840
An Irish peasant cabin. circa 1840

This weekend I received an offer from FindMyPast for a really cheap yearly subscription. I wasn’t sure what databases they had on their site that would be of interest to me, but what the heck. So, I went ahead and bit the bullet.

Come to find out they have databases that I can not get from other sites. Specifically, Irish records that have been newly digitized and indexed. The British databases are not as much of an interest to me, at this time, because the vast majority of my British ancestors emigrated in the 1600s.

The most interesting record that I found was for Dennis Connelly my 4x great grandparent. It was a record related to the Irish Reproductive Loan Fund. The fund was set up in 1824 as a micro credit project, that would provide tiny loans to the poor. The loans could be for as little as one pound, and repayment could not exceed 12 months. When one applied for a loan two sureties signed who agreed to pay if the borrower defaulted. Lending ceased in 1848 because the famine was so great that the number of defaulters out-weighed those able to pay back their debt, and a large majority just left the country instead to trying to pay off their loan.

The caption is a transcription of the entry:

Denis Conaly, 5 Sept. 1846, Denis Conaly resided here at this date. Laborer since gone to America. Circumstances bad.

Dennis signed as surety for several local resident’s loans. Friends, family, I don’t know. The loans were for only 2-3 pounds. It is telling that while his own family was going through difficulties, they put themselves out to help others in the same circumstances. The Connellys left Ireland in 1849 and went to Rhode Island, although most of the family eventually went on to Wisconsin and Nebraska.

The following .pdf file contains all the records that I found for Dennis in the collection. He is confirmed as a tailor in several indexes and entries. But apparently being possessed of a skill was of no use when it came to feeding his family.

Next week I will be in Salt Lake City, hopefully finding new and wonderful thing out about other ancestors. Well, it doesn’t even have to be wonderful, anything at all will be great.


A 4th of July celebration…

In celebration of the 4th of July and America’s 239th year of independence from the tyranny of Great Britain I am posting this newspaper clipping from the Cincinnati ‘Liberty Hall’ Newspaper from 1813. The article goes on to list all the toasts that were made at the Newtown celebration at Mr. Allison’s tavern. Our ancestor Col. Clayton Webb delivered an oration ‘suited to the occasion.’ He also delivered a toast to “Capt. James Lawrence, who nobly fell fighting the battles of his county…”.


Have a great 4th of July. I’m planning on being in a parade in White Lake. Hope the day is fine.