Saturday, December 14, 2013

Surname Saturday ~ OSBORN of Cape Cod and Boston


The Eastham, Massachusetts Windmill

In 1737 Reverend Samuel Osborn deposed that he was educated in Glasgow, Scotland and came to Massachusetts through Ireland, and graduated from the University of Dublin.  His origins are still unknown.  He was teaching school at Sandwich, Massachusetts, and preached a few times at Plymouth when he was invited in 1717 to Eastham, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, as minister.  Another local minister, Nathaniel Stone, was opposed to ordaining Osborn. 

Nathaniel Stone spent twenty years trying to unseat Samuel Osborn from his church at Eastham.  As Osborn’s church grew bigger, Stone’s shrunk in members.  He inveigled some illiterate Cape Codders church to sign papers against Osborn, but when they were questioned by a church council they either admitted they did not want Osborn to leave or admitted they had never even met him. Stone tried other unethical tactics to defame Osborn, but they all backfired. Osborn’s parishioners loved him, and didn't want him to leave.

Finally, as many of the ministers and deacons who originally appointed and ordained Osborn died off, Stone’s complaints found some sympathetic ears. Another church council met to hear the old charges against Osborn.  One serious charge was that he fathered an illegitimate child. Another serious charge was that he was “venting erroneous doctrines”.  Some theologians believe that Osborn was an early Unitarian, and that his Arminian beliefs were too unorthodox for the Cape Cod community.  He was removed from his ministry in 1738.

Samuel Osborn went to Boston, remarried, and taught school for many years. By 1800 Reverend Nathaniel Stone’s own church became Unitarian. I descend from Reverend Osborn’s illegitimate son.

My Osborn Genealogy:

Generation 1: Reverend Samuel Osborn, probably born in Ireland about 1690 and died in 1774 Boston, Massachusetts; married on 1 January 1710 to Jedidah Smith, daughter of Benjamin Smith and Jedidah Mayhew.  Six children.  He was married second on 19 October 1743 in Boston to Experience Scudder.  No children.  He had an illegitimate son with Mercy Norton, and the child was named Samuel Osborn (see below)

Generation 2: Samuel Osborn, born 1711 at Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, died after 8 October 1753; married on 9 September 1731 in Edgartown to Keziah Butler, born about 1710 in Edgartown and died in October 1768 in Edgartown.  Ten Children.  Keziah remarried to Samuel Pease in 1752.

Generation 3: Samuel Osborn, born about 1732 in Edgartown, died in Nova Scotia; married on 28 April 1755 to Sarah Wass, daughter of Wilmot Wass and Rebecca Allen, born 24 January 1738 in West Tisbury, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, died about 1813 in Nova Scotia.  Five children.

Generation 4. Sarah Osborn, born 22 July 1760 in Fredricton, New Brunswick, died on 15 July 1848 in Pleasant Valley, Cornwallis County, Nova Scotia; married on 24 November 1774 in New Brunswick to Charles Skinner, son of Aaron Skinner and Eunice Taintor, born 3 January 1748 in Colchester, Connecticut, died before 1837 in Nova Scotia.  Fifteen children.  

Generation 5: Ann Skinner m. Thoams Ratchford Lyons
Generation 6: Isabella Lyons m. Ingraham Ebenezer Bill
Generation 7: Caleb Rand Bill m. Ann Margaret Bollman
Generation 8: Isabella Lyons Bill m. Albert Munroe Wilkinson
Generation 9: Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)

Another blog post about the Osborns:

Sarah Osborn Skinner 1760 – 1848

Two good journal articles about the Reverend Samuel Osborn controversy:

“Ungodly Carriages on Cape Cod: by Gustavus Swift Paine, The New England Quarterly, Volume 25, Number 25, (June 1952), pages 181 to 198.   Available to read online at this link:

“A Caution to Erring Christians: Ecclesiastical Disorder on Cape Cod, 1717 to 1738” by J. M. Bumsted, The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Series, Volume 28, Number 3 (July 1971) pages 413 – 438.

The URL for this post is 

Copyright © 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Heather was he tried for the illegitimate child in court? There were so many cases! great info! Thanks

    1. There are church records and civil records against Rev. Osborn. This case left lots of records behind, so it has been very interesting to read all the documents.

  2. Hi Heather. Don't you feel very sad thinking about how Rev. Osborn was treated by other so-called Christians? Curious what you think of the comment about Rev. Stone's passions producing a dozen children, while Rev. Osborn had "half as many, including the bastard" [Ref. Ungodly carriages article]. I have have 6 children listed EXcluding what I prefer to call his alleged "natural" child.
    Do you think it possible that after Mercy married Claghorn in 1715, that Rev. Samuel and Jedidah took Samuel to raise as their own? If there were two Samuel Jrs., it is mighty strange that the years of their birth and death are identical! Doris Gates