Saturday, November 28, 2009

Women in our Family Tree Defy the Odds

We may not have arrived in this country on the Mayflower, but we didn't miss it by too many years. Several of our English forebears arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early 1600s. We are the product of all of their strengths. The image we may have of these pioneering women, marrying early and dying in childbirth, is not always the case. Sara More Greenleaf was an early settler who gave birth to a dozen children, and although she lost some of them early, lived a long, full life. Coming from a family of some means would have led to better health; it also meant that family members, including women, left wills that give us more clues in the public record.

Sara More/Moor
was baptized on 13 December 1588 in All Saints church in Malden, Essex, England. Her parents were Enoch and Catherine, married 23 November 1585. She had younger brothers Samuel (bap. 8 May 1591) and Francis (bap. 6 October 1592) listed in the Baptisms at St. Peter’s church in Malden. Catherine died soon after Francis’ birth, and was buried 11 Oct 1592 (or 3). Sara was not yet four years old.

Her father Enoch must have remarried, because there are records of daughters Mary and Jane in Haverhill by 1599. Parish records in Haverhill are reportedly not available. In 1615 Sara’s brother Samuel’s mentions his brother Enoch and sisters Merry and Judith living (not Jane; did Jane die young, or was she confused with Judith?), according to his will. Francis received the majority of his estate, perhaps indicating that Enoch was a half-brother.

Sara was to receive five pounds “lawful english money” when she became 21, or married, as stated in her grandmother Willamin in her will, written in 1603, proved in 1606. It is speculated that, because she was the only grandchild mentioned in the will, she may have been living with her grandmother. At age 15, she could have been a capable caretaker for her grandmother.

Her marriage to Edmund Greenleaf is recorded in the church records of St. Giles church in Langford (now Malden?), Essex on 2 July 1611. She would have been 22 years old. Published genealogical data had previously named Sara Dole as Edmund’s wife. More recently researched data establishes the connection between Edmund Greenleaf and Sara More.

Sara had her children between the age of 23 and 43:
  • John, born about 1612 was mentioned in his uncle Samuel More’s 1615 will;
  • Enoch, named after Sara’s father, baptized 1 December 1613 in St. Mary’s la Tour, Ipswich, Suffolk, England and buried 12 September 1617 in St. Margaret’s parish in Ipswich, was also mentioned in Samuel’s will;
  • Samuel, baptized on 8 January 1615/6 in St. Margaret’s parish in Ipswich, shortly after his uncle Samuel’s death
  • Enoch, baptized 20 March 1617/8 in St. Margaret’s parish, Ipswich, married Mary;
  • Sarah, baptized 26 March 1620/1 in St. Margaret’s parish, Ipswich, married William Hilton;
  • Elizabeth, baptized 16 January 1621/2 (only 10 months after Sarah?) in St. Margaret’s parish, Ipswich, married Giles Badger, then married Richard Browne; she was mentioned in her father’s will in 1668;
  • Nathaniel, baptized 27 June 1624 in St. Margaret’s parish, Ipswich, buried 24 July 1633 from St. Margaret’s;
  • Judith, born 2 September 1625 in Ipswich, married Henry Somerby, then married Tristram Coffin, jr.; she was mentioned in her father’s will in 1668;
  • Stephen, baptized 10 August 1628 in St. Margaret’s parish, Ipswich, married Elizabeth Coffin, then married Esther Weare; he was named executor of his father’s will;
  • Mary, married John Wells;
  • Daniel, baptized 14 August 1631 in St. Margaret’s parish, Ipswich, died 5 December 1654 in Newbury, MA;
  • John, born about 1632 in Suffolk, England indicating that the first John had died, married Hannah Veazie.
Sara’s brother Samuel left a will in 1615. She was to receive a bedstead, flockbed, one bolster, two pillows. He must have been fairly well off, because her two sons were to receive 10 pounds when they reached 21 years old, and an aunt Anna Hewster received 20 pounds “to buy her a gold ring to be worn for her for my sake.”

The family immigrated to Newbury, Massachusetts in 1634 on board the Mary and John. Their children at that time were between 2 and 22 years of age. Sara would have been 45. “Ould Newberry” was incorporated in 1635. Edmund Greenleaf is included in a list of first settlers to whom was granted “a house lot of at least four acres, with a suitable quantity of salt and fresh meadow.” On 13 March 1638/9 he was a made a freeman in Newbury. He was permitted to keep a house of entertainment by the town of Newbury on 22 May 1639. He lived “by the old town bridge” and his dyehouse was located “by the spring” in 1655. Edmund was a ordered to be ensign for Newbury in June of 1639, called a Captain in the militia, and in 1642 he was a Leiutenant. In 1644 he was called an “ancient and experienced lieutenant under Captain Gerrish.” On 2 May 1649 he requested to be discharged from military service.

About 1650 they moved to Boston, where Edmund continued to work as a dyer. Sara(h) died 18 January 1662/3 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts at the age of 74, and was buried in Boston. There is little in public records to define the milestones in her life, except for births and deaths of children. Certainly her experiences would be worth memorializing.

Much of the information from England was primary research by a researcher "met" on the internet. So many of the British towns gave names to early American ones.


  1. Sarah, I'm descended of Sarah Moore's brother, Francis Moore who married three times, from his son Edmund b. about 1614 and lived in Newbury. His descendents went by the name MOOERS. We must be cousins!

  2. Sara
    I had no information on my 9G'grandmother, Sarah beyond a note in a family history written long before I was born. He listed her as Sarah Dole, d. 18 January 1662/3 -- no details.
    Thanks for the post CUZ!