Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Joseph Payson Problem - Part 2

For the explanation of the problem, and the list of some of the Joseph Paysons born and married in the mid-18th century colonial Massachusetts, see The Joseph Payson Problem - Part 1.

I decided to see what might be published in online books and databases concerning Joseph Payson and the possible families.  The answer is: "not much."  However, there are some clues in some online resources.  for instance:

1)  On the Rootsweb WorldConnect  database, Helen S. Ullmann (the current co-editor of the New England Historical and Genealogical Register) has a family tree database for the Pierpont family (see for Joseph Payson in this database).  Joseph and Abigail (Pierpont) Payson were married on 1 January 1761 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and had a family of 11 children between 1761 and 1785, the first seven were born in Roxbury, the last four in East Sudbury (now Wayland).  The marriage and the births (and some baptisms) are found in the published town Vital Record books.  Ullmann attributes Joseph Payson's parents as Ebenezer and Sarah (Sever) Payson, but states Joseph's birth as "about 1748" in Roxbury for some reason (there is a birth record for Joseph as 30 April 1739 in Roxbury). 

The source citation provided by Ullman in this online family tree is:

Helen Schatvet Ullmann, CG, FASG, The Pierponts of Roxbury, Massachusetts (Boston: Newbury Street Press, 2007).

I have not read this book, but it is on my list of books to peruse.  Unfortunately, the closest copy to me, according to, is at the BYU library, over 600 miles away. 

My educated guess is that Helen had a good reason to assign Joseph Payson to Ebenezer and Sarah (Sever) Payson, such as a probate record or a deed.  Time will tell!

2)  The Boston Church Records, found online on the NEHGS site ( website, has many references to several Joseph Paysons, including:

*  Old South Church records for the baptisms of six children of Joseph and Mehitable Payson from 1716 to 1730 (including son Joseph Payson in 1718), and church membership for Joseph Payson in 1720, presumably the father.

*  New South Church records for the marriage of Joseph Payson to Rachel Smalledge on 26 April 1763.

*  Hollis Street Church records for a Joseph Payson and a Mehitable Payson admitted to membership in 1732; a Joseph Payson, baptized in 1741 "mother from Milton, no father listed); a Joseph Payson owning the covenant in 1764; baptisms of nine children of Joseph Payson (no mother's name listed) from 1764 to 1787; a burial of Rachel Payson, widow of Joseph Payson, age 89, in 1833.

Source:  “Boston Church Records,” online database, American Ancestors (, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008), citing The Records of the Churches of Boston, CD_ROM (Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2002).

3)  The New England Historical and Genealogical Register article on the Winchester family notes this about Mehitable Winchester, daughter of John Winchester and Ann Stevens:

"ix. Mehitable [Winchester],  m. at Roxbury, 4 Mar. 1713, Joseph Pason [? Payson], b. 24 Feb. 1686/7.  They lived first in Milton and afterwards in Boston."

Source:  Henry Winchester Cunningham, "John Winchester of New England and Some of his Descendants," New England Historical and Genealogical Record, Volume 78, Number 1 (January 1924), pages 10 (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1924).

4)  A Google search for ["Joseph Payson" Boston] provided some "interesting" information:

*  A Find a Grave memorial for Joseph Payson (1743-1833) in Gardner, Massachusetts, which claims he was a member of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, and had resided in Gardner since 1785.  Four wives are attributed to him, but not Abigail or Rachel.

*  Many web pages listing a Joseph Payson as a participant in the Boston Tea Party.

*  Several online family trees and web pages that have limited information about several Joseph Paysons.

5)  Without further information from land, probate, town and other records that are not available online, it is risky to hypothesize who is who, but I think I have some logical and  workable  "hypotheses," including:

*  Joseph Payson, son of Ebenezer and Sarah (Sever) Payson, was born in Roxbury in 1739, married Abigail Pierpont, and had a family with 11 children born in Roxbury and Wayland.  My reasoning here is that Roxbury was separate from Boston, and that Helen Ullmann must have a good reason (like an authoritative source) in her book to "assign" this Joseph to Abigail Pierpont.

*  Joseph Payson, son of Joseph and Mary (Gulliver) Payson, was born in Milton in 1740, and married Rachel Smalledge in New south Church in Boston in 1763, and had at least 6 children in Boston, baptized in the Hollis Street Church.  The father, Joseph Payson who married Mary Gulliver in 1739 in Milton, was the son of Joseph and Mehitable (Winchester) Payson, who were married in 1713 and had children baptized in Old South Church in Boston, and were admitted to Hollis Street Church in 1732.  The church record data seems to provide a logical string of information through these three families headed by a Joseph Payson.

*  There were other Joseph Paysons that may have resided in Roxbury, Boston and other towns.  One of these Joseph PaysonsPaysons that resided in Boston, but I only know of three at this time (the son, father and grandfather in the Boston Church Records). 

What an interesting twist at the end of this... a Boston Tea Party participant!  I'm real curious as to which one he is.

I will leave it to my correspondent to pursue this further in original source records such as land records, probate records, town records, manuscripts, and whatever else can be found in repositories and websites. 

Please leave suggestions for further research for my correspondent in Comments.


Martin said...

I find it interesting that you mention each couple having children, but fail to name any. Did couple #1 use the names Ebenezer or Seaver? Did couple #2 use Gulliver? I think names of child is a good indicator of who belongs to whom.

Katie Beyer Photography said...

Great info about Joseph Payson. You gather the data well about him. I have a nice read in your article. Thanks for sharing the info.