Thursday, February 4, 2010

Baker Nason, murdered his brother? 1691

It is interesting to find a Blacksheep ancestor. They always leave behind court records! If you ever peruse the message boards at the International Black Sheep Society Genealogists ( ) you will hear over and over again how the records left behind by some naughty or miscreant relatives helped family members to trace their genealogies. This was the case with me in investigating Baker Nason, and other relatives.

Baker Nason was the son of Richard Nason and Sarah Baker, born in Berwick, Maine about 1642. In those days, this section of Maine was known as York County, Massachusetts. Berwick is located near the border of New Hampshire, which roughly follows the Piscataqua River down to the Atlantic Ocean in Portsmouth. The fine harbor in Portsmouth is formed near where the river empties out near the Great Bay, which is a large estuary. To cross from Maine to New Hampshire today you still must cross one of several bridges across the river, estuary or marshlands.

In 1691 Baker Nason “accidentally” dispatched his brother Jonathan with an oar on the Piscataqua River. Judge Samuel Sewall’s diary entry for the date 11 March 1691/2 reads ..."Capt Wincoll brought us the Jury's verdict about Baker Nason killing his elder brother Jonathan Nason with his Oar in the Canoe in Piscataquer River: and asks advice whether to keep him there, or send him to Boston Prison. Seems to have done it in's own defence March 1 1691/2"

There are only a few court records on this case, and not enough to satisfy my curiosity. In the Province and Court Records of Maine, Volume IV, The Court Records of York County, page 10-11, April 1693 "The Grand Jury passing upon the Indictment against Baker Nason brought in their verdict and found that Baker Nason Did Kill his brother Jonathan Nason". In the same book for 4 July 1693 for the Court of Sessions of the peace, "Whereas Baker Nason was Indicted to this court for wilfully murthering of his brother Jonathan Nason... The Jury finds him not Guilty"

I don’t know how Baker got off on this one, but it must have been an interesting trial, especially if Judge Samuel Sewall was writing about it in Massachusetts. Baker Nason came from a family that was infamous for being in the courts. His father, Richard Nason, was in the records in 1645 for a dispute with his father-in-law, Richard Baker, who was tried in New Hampshire and fined 5 shillings “for beating Richard Nason that he was black and blue and for throwing a fire shovel at his wife [his own daughter?]” In 1655 Richard Nason was fined at York for not attending church meetings. In 1665 he was accused of blasphemy. Philip Chesley of Oyster River was witness against him. The General Court did "not judge him so guilty of that fact as that by our lawe he ought to die," but he had to post a £40 bond for good behavior.

Death? For blasphemy? Jeez, I wouldn’t have survived in those days!


The NASON genealogy:

Generation 1: Richard Nason, baptized on 3 August 1606 at Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire, England; died after 15 March 1696 in Kittery, Maine; married about 1637 to Sarah Baker, daughter of John Baker and Sarah Wall, born about 1614, died about 1663 in Kittery. They had nine children.

1. Charles Nason, born about 1639; married to Abigail Willoughby
2. John Nason, born about 1640, died 1719 in Dover, New Hampshire; married on 7 October 1697 in Kittery to Bridget Weymouth. My 7x great grandparents.
3. Baker Nason, born about 1642 and died 1729 in Berwick, Maine; married to Elizabeth Hatch, daughter of Phillip Hatch and Patience Edge.
4. Jonathan Nason, born about 1645, murdered in 1691; married about 1668 to Sarah Jenkins.
5. Sarah Nason, born about 1653; married to Henry Child
6. Mary Nason, born about 1655; died after December 1723 in Newington, New Hampshire; married in 1681 to Ephraim Trickey
7. Joseph Nason, born about 1655 in Kittery, died 1714 in Nantucket, married to Mary Swain.
8. Richard Nason, born about 1657’ married to Shuah Colcord
9. Benjamin Nason, born about 1662, died about Jul 1714; married on 30 June 1677 to Martha Canney.

UPDATE October 2013, Roxanne Saucier of the Bangor Daily News has written an article about Baker Nason, ancestor of Stephen King, the spooky author.


Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Another cousin! Heather, I finally took the time to look through your surnames -- and if my current research is correct, this Jonathan is my 9th great-grandpa. I had the basics on this story, but not the interesting details you shared here. My connection is Jonathan > Charity > Sarah EMERY > John BRACKETT > Miriam > Henry HOBBS > Jerusha > Jerusha Marilla BARKER > Thomas Warren Alonzo Smith > Elizabeth (my maternal grandma). From Vickie in Texas.

  2. Heather,
    Interesting read. I am related to Jonathan who was killed. I knew that his brother was involved but did not realize it might have been murder. Thanks for the story!

  3. Do you have any further info on Sarah Baker's parents?

  4. Dear Anonymous,

    In 1639 Richard Nason was living at Stove Pipe Landing. In 1645 he and his wife had a dispute with her father, Richard Baker, who was tried in New Hampshire and fined 5 shillings "for beating Richard Nason that he was black and blue and for throwing a fire shovel at his wife." In 1650/51 he was Deputy from Dover to the General Assembly. From 1681 until his death in 1697 he lived with his wife Sarah at Portmouth, Rockingham, New Hampshire.
    John Baker, born about 1594 possibly at Bewdley, Worcester, England, died 1696 in Dover, NH; married about 1613 to Sarah Wall, who died after 1672 in York, Maine. Sarah was also married to a Thomas Dew? (I have no more information on this marriage) Two Baker children, Sarah b. abt 1614 who married Richard Nason, and Benjamin b. abt 1616.

  5. My husband comes down through from Jonathan Nason and Sarah Jenkins.
    Interesting to find these things out. Thanks for sharing with us. If any of you would like to share information email me valley @ Make sure to put all of that together though!

  6. Heather, thanks so much for this post. I am also a cousin. I come down through Richard and Sarah (Baker) Nason's son, Charles. We have a very interesting family!

  7. Hi, John Baker was born in Bewdley, his parents Nicholas and Mary Frances Hodgetts Baker were born there as well, they all emigrated to New Haven, CT. John Baker, one direct ancestor, went to Dover, NH, and comes down to me through Charity Nason in Nantucket. Another baker, Francis, John's brother, also comes down to mefrom Yarmouth, MA via Nantucket, Fairhaven, MA to my grandmother, Doris Isabel Baker, and Brockton, MA to my mother, Dorothy-Jane Teresa Baker. this was a good read, I wish there was more details for the familyhistory I am compiling for me cousin's daughter. Ted Cesare Giovannini

  8. Hello,
    Thank you for the information.
    My husband is a descendant of Richard on both his parents' sides. My husband's dad is through John and his first wife. Steve's mom is through Jonathan. I have known about his mom's line, but just discovered his dad's line.