Friday, January 7, 2011

A Young Man Leaves Home, 1833

This strange newspaper notice was published on 18 February 1833, and repeated on 25 February and 4 March in the newspaper titled New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette:

quit my house without my consent, this is to for-
bid all persons harboring or trusting the said David
Wilkinson on my account as I will pay no debts of his
contracting after this date, and if any shall employ him,
I shall use them as the law directs.
Witness – JERE. TOWLE
Eaton, Feb. 4, 1833”

David Wilkinson was born about 4 January 1813 9 calculated from his death record) in Eaton, New Hampshire, son of Ichabod Wilkinson and Nancy Peavey. That would make David about age 20 at the time this notice was published. I don’t know the laws at this time in history, but apparently this young man struck out on his own to seek his fortune, and his father was upset enough to declare himself free of any debts or contracts his son might contract in the future. Has anyone else ever seen a newspaper notice like this when researching family history?

Ichabod Wilkinson died in 1854 in Eaton. David is recorded in the 1840 Hooksett, New Hampshire census, in the Bow census of 1860 and the Alton census of 1870 and 1880 as a farmer. He died on 1 March 1886 in Alton, nearly fifty three years after his father apparently “disinherited” him. I don’t know if David ever returned to Eaton. He married Patience Upton and had at least five children born in Ossipee, Effingham and Alton. It looks like David wandered all over the New Hampshire map, sometimes near to his hometown of Eaton, and sometimes quite far away.

The Ebenezer Wilkinson listed as a witness is his father’s brother. Ebenezer was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and served as town selectman and several other town offices over the years. Ebenezer Wilkinson, Esq. was listed as a Justice of the Peace in 1828, and his sons grew up to be lawyers in Maine.

There must be more to this story! I'm continuing to look at all possible records.
Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. This type of notice was not uncommon. Searching newspaper archives of this period for Epsom, NH uncovered at least 20 such notices, all similar in tone and text. I have transscribed some of them at my website:
    T.J. Rand

  2. Wow, those are some great examples from Epsom! The wording is very similar in all the legal notices. Thanks for posting all those on your website.

  3. I have seen similar notices in New York papers but never one for a child. I have seen several for wives "who have left my bed and board" and run away indentured servants. I wonder if his father was really all that upset or if having an attorney for a brother, he simply was protecting himself from any poor decisions his son might make?

  4. It think at one time people were responsible for their relatives debts. I think he was just declaring that he was no longer responsible for them.

    I seem to remember that the children were responsible to pay their parents debts too. I do not know when it changed.

  5. Whenever I send my 4-year-old son to Grandma's house, I think I shall now pin this to his shirt. But I agree with the others- at the time, everyone was responsible for one another in the family.

  6. I've seen such newspaper articles when I did research in Philadelphia. In my case, some Acadians / French Neutrals who were indentured escaped - the newspaper posts gave a description of the individuals asking that if seen, they be captured and returned.


  7. I just found an ad like this yesterday in the Worcester Telegram from 1918. In this case it was a husband saying that he was no longer responsible for his wife'e debts.

  8. Ichabod and Nancy Wilkinson, David's parents were married in 1812 by Rev Joseph Boody who's family home in New Durham,NH was where the Free Will Baptist church in America was founded in 1783 by Rev Benjamin Randall. Perhaps the strictness of the Wilkinson family faith had something to do with the publishing of legalese. Interestingly,my 2nd gt grandmother Saloma b. 1816 was David's sister and I find no documentation of hers in New Hampshire because she left forever following her marriage in 1835. she was in Ohio and then Michigan. Could be their dad Ichabod was a real arse.

  9. We had our 2nd gt grandmother David's sister Saloma's headstone repaired last month. It had fallen over. Fremont Cemetery Mayville, Michigan. She was born in NH 1816. Seeing how David had "fled" his parents, now I understand that perhaps Saloma had "left" on purpose as well.