Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Elusive Hannah Brown (ca1725 - before 1774, wife of John Phillips)

It's National Women's History month, so I am posting some of my most elusive women ancestors in hopes that someone will Google their name and find my post. Ideally, the Googlers will provide me with more information about my elusive female ancestor's ancestry. Realistically, they will commiserate with me about the lack of records and wonder why no researcher has figured the problem out yet.

Family of Hannah (Brown) Phillips

Hannah Brown was born about 1725 in MA, and died before 1774 in probably Shrewsbury, Worcester County, MA. She married John Phillips 03 May 1749 in Southborough, Worcester County, MA, (vr), son of Ebenezer Phillips and Mary Smith. He was born 11 September 1722 in Charlestown, Middlesex County, MA, (VR, 278).

Notes for Hannah Brown:

The parents, birth date and birth place of Hannah Brown are not known.

There were many Brown families in Southborough, Massachusetts and surrounding towns (e.g., Marlborough, Sudbury, Framingham, Stow, etc.) during the 1740 to 1750 time frame.

Town vital records do not provide a clue to Hannah's parentage, nor do probate records of Worcester and Middlesex Counties, Massachusetts for candidate Brown males.

Notes for John Phillips:

John Philips was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He married Hannah Brown in 1749 in Southborough, and their first two children were born there. Their last three children were born in Shrewsbury in Worcester County, Massachusetts.

Hannah may have died before 1774, because John married Mary Richards of Southborough in 1774. She had one son, named Isaac Buck, born out of wedlock in 1757. They resided in their later years at least, in Sterling, Massachusetts.

In the 1790 US Census, John Philips is a head of household in Sterling, Massachusetts with one male over age 16 and three females.

There are no probate records for John, Hannah or Mary Philips in the Middlesex County or Worcester County, Massachusetts probate indexes.

Children of Hannah Brown and John Phillips are:

i. Sarah Phillips, born 01 May 1750 in Southborough, Worcester County, MA, (vr).

ii. Jonathan Phillips, born 22 February 1752 in Southborough, Worcester County, MA, (vr).

iii. Joanna Phillips, born 24 August 1755 in Shrewsbury, Worcester County, MA, (vr).

iv. Martha/Patty Phillips, born 20 August 1757 in Shrewsbury, Worcester County, MA, (VR, 84); died after 1820 in probably Sterling, Worcester County, MA. She married Isaac Buck 18 May 1780 in Lancaster, Worcester County, MA (VR, 126); born 27 September 1757 in Southborough, Worcester County, MA, (VR, 23); died 07 February 1846 in Sterling, Worcester County, MA (VR).

v. Elizabeth Phillips, born 15 June 1764 in Shrewsbury, Worcester County, MA, (vr).


Everybody thinks that Massachusetts town records contain every birth, marriage and death in the mid-1700's. In truth, the records are spotty - some towns are very complete, others are not. In this case, there are no Hannah Brown's in the town records that match up well with the known facts.

My own ancestry is through Martha/Patty Phillips, who married Isaac Buck.

If anyone has additions or corrections to this family data, please, please, please, please (shades of James Brown, eh?) email me at

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