Monday, August 12, 2013

Searching for Hannah Brown's Parents - Post 4

In Searching for Hannah Brown's Parents - Post 3, and the previous posts, I am trying to find the parents of Hannah Brown, who married John Phillips (1722-????) in 1749 in Southborough, Mass. Hannah probably died before 1774, when John Phillips married Mary Richards (1733-????) in Southborough, Mass.  John and Hannah had children Sarah (born 1750) and Jonathan (born 1752) in Southborough, and children Joanna (born 1755), Martha (born 1757) and Elizabeth (born 1764).  Based on the age of her husband, her marriage date, and the date of the last birth of a child, I estimate that Hannah Brown was born between, say, 1715 and 1732.  

In Searching for Hannah Brown's Parents - Post 3, I reviewed the birth records, and marriage records for those not known to be attached to parents, for a number of Hannah Brown persons from eastern Massachusetts (including Middlesex and Worcester Counties).  There were a number of Hannah Brown persons born between 1715 and 1732, and married between 1735 and 1760.  Of course, it is possible that the Hannah Brown who married John Phillips did not have a birth recorded, or was married previously (but I think that's probably unlikely).

In this post, I want to review the probate records that I collected back in the 1990s from Middlesex and Worcester Counties.  Here's what I've found:

*  Thomas Brown of Concord died 1718, leaving a wife Hannah, and children Ephraim, Luke, Timothy, Hannah.  Daughter Hannah was Hannah Cordis (?) when the estate was distributed in 1783.  The widow Hannah married Simon Davis. This family was on my list of possibles, with Hannah born in 1716 and married to Joseph Davis in 1743 (which is wrong - see below).

*  Jabez Brown of Stow died in 1747, with a will written 13 March 1747 and proved in 1747.  He named his wife Sarah, only son Joseph, and daughters Ruth Lawrence and Hannah Brown.  His wife, Sarah, died in 1757 wrote a will in 1757 which as proved in 1760. She named son Joseph, three sons of Ruth Lawrence, and a great-grandson, and Hannah Brown, her only surviving daughter.  This probably means that this is not the Hannah Brown married to John Phillips and having children in the 1757-1760 time frame.  I did not have this Hannah Brown on my birth list.

*  Jonathan Brown of Concord died in 1745 in Littleton, with an insolvent estate, which was administered in 1747.  His son, Aaron Brown was administrator.  The commissioner awarded money to Thomas Brown (probably Jonathan's brother) for boarding and clothing of Lois Brown, daughter of the deceased (age 3), and noted that Thomas Brown (age 8), son of Jonathan Brown, chose Samuel Stanhope as guardian.  Jonathan and Sibyl (Dudley) Brown had a daughter Hannah Brown recorded in 1728, but she  is not listed in this record.  There were at least 12 children born to Jonathan and Sibyl from 1719 to 1745, but only three are mentioned in this probate record.  The account of the administrator was approved by the court on 23 November 1749, after the marriage of Hannah Brown to John Phillips on 3 May 1749.  Since the estate was insolvent, and no guardianship was involved, Jonathan and Sibyl (Dudley) Brown remain, in my mind, candidates to be the parents of my Hannah Brown.

*  John Brown of Concord died intestate in 1750, and his estate was administered 16 April 1750 with his wife Elizabeth as administrator.  The distribution names children eldest son John Brown, to pay to his brother Joseph Brown, brother Josiah Brown, sister Rebecca Brown, sister Elizabeth Davis (married to Stephen Davis), sister Grace Wheat (married to John Wheat), and Hannah Davis (married to Joseph Davis).  So this is the Hannah Brown married to Joseph Davis - not the Hannah Brown daughter of Thomas and Hannah Brown of Concord.  This John Brown was the son of Thomas and Rachel (Poulter) Brown of Concord, who were also the parents of Jonathan Brown (1698-1745) who married Sibyl Dudley.  Obviously, this is not the Hannah Brown who married John Phillips in 1750, since she was married to Joseph Davis in 1750.

There may be other candidates for my Hannah Brown in the Worcester and Middlesex County Probate Records.  I have only the probate index for Browns for Worcester County, and several possibles, which don't indicate a candidate Hannah to me.  That list of Browns is extensive and, since the probate packets are not microfilmed (only the court clerk records are microfilmed by volume), reviewing all of them will be a long and difficult process.  I haven't started it!  I abstracted all of the probate records in Middlesex County for persons dying between 1700 and 1800, but I only did the names from Hannah to the end of the Browns.  I need to do the same thing for the Brown given names before Hannah (i.e., A to H).  Again, I haven't started this process.  Fortunately, the probate packets are filmed which makes this task easier.

Relationships are very complicated sometimes, and using only probate records are not always definitive or successful.

What about onomastics?  I noted early on that the only son of John and Hannah (Brown) Phillips was named Jonathan, and Jonathan and Sibyl Brown are still a candidate for Hannah's parents.  However, of the other Phillips children's given names - Sarah, Joanna, Martha and Elizabeth - only Joanna is in John Phillips' birth family, and Sarah was John's grandmother's given name.  It would have been great if they had named a daughter Sibyl or something uncommon!

My conclusion at this point:  I have one pretty strong candidate for Hannah's parents - Jonathan and Sibyl (Dudley) Brown, but I have not performed a reasonably exhaustive search in town, church, land or probate records in Worcester County and Middlesex County, let alone in another county.

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

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