Friday, January 18, 2013

Surname Saturday ~ Carter of Woburn, Massachusetts

Capt. John Carter, son of Thomas Carter, Woburn Old Burial Ground

There are two Thomas Carters who were first settlers of Woburn, Massachusetts.   It is easy to keep their stories and families separate if you recognize that their ages are about thirty years apart.  One was the first minister, and the other a lowly blacksmith.  Their children have similar names, and both had wives named “Mary”.  

My ancestor Thomas Carter was born about 1585 in England.  It is unknown when he immigrated, or on which ship he arrived.  He was admitted as a freeman in 1636. Thomas Carter was a blacksmith, and served once as constable but was fined for being late in directing witnesses to a trial.  He lived first at Charlestown, but was described as being “of Woburn” (the borders seem to be a bit confused in those days.)  His  1650 will names his wife, Mary, sons Thomas, Samuel, Joseph and John, daughters Mary and Hannah, grandsons Caleb and Joseph Carter, John Brinsmead and John Green.   Among his assets was a Scotsman named Matthew, valued at 14 pounds.

Among my Woburn ancestors, another, Francis Wyman, a tanner, owned several Scotsmen who were prisoners of war from the Battle of Dunbar.  Another was a Scots prisoner, William Munroe.  It is interesting that these men stayed and intermarried in the communities where they were once held captive and in servitude. 

Randy Seaver posted Thomas Carter’s will recently at his blog GeneaMusings

The best sources for Thomas Carter, the blacksmith, are the town histories of Charlestown and Woburn, and the vital records.  There is a short sketch of Thomas Carter in the book The New England Ancestory of Dana Converse Backus, by Mary E. N. Backus, 1949.

My lineage from Thomas Carter:

Generation 1: Thomas Carter, born about 1585 in England; died about 1652 in Woburn, Massachusetts; married Mary Unknown, who died 6 March 1665 in Woburn.  Six children.

Generation 2: John Carter, born about 1617, died 14 September 1692 in Woburn; married about 1642 in Woburn to Elizabeth Kendall.  She was born about 1613 in England, died 6 May 1691 in Woburn.  Five children, I descend from two Carter daughters.

Line A.  
Generation 3.  Abigail Carter, born 21 April 1648 in Woburn, died 11 May 1718 in Woburn; married in 1666 in Woburn to Lt. James Fowle, son of George Fowle and Mary Tufts. 
Generation 4.  Capt. James Fowle m. Mary Richardson
Generation 5. Mary Fowle m. James Simonds, Jr.
Generation 6. Caleb Simonds m. Susanna Convers
Generation 7. Ruth Simonds m. Andrew Munroe
Generation 8. Luther Simonds Munroe m. Olive Flint
Generation 9. Phebe Cross Munroe m. Robert Munroe Wilkinson
Generation 10. Albert Munroe Wilkinson m. Isabella Lyons Bill
Generation 11. Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)

Line B.
Generation B.
Generation 3.  Hannah Carter, born 19 January 1651 in Woburn, died 10 August 1691 in Woburn; married on 1 January 1669 to James Converse, son of James Converse and Anna Long.  He was born on 16 November 1645 in Woburn and died on 8 July 1706 in Woburn.
Generation 4. Robert Converse m. Mary Sawyer
Generation 5. Susanna Converse m. Caleb Simonds (they were first cousins once removed)
(See Above)


To cite/link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Surname Saturday ~ Carter of Woburn, Massachusetts", Nutfield Genealogy, posted January 18, 2013, ( accessed [access date]). 


  1. I'm a descendent of the other Thomas Carter - Rev. Thomas Carter.

  2. One of your sentences stands out to me: "Among his assets was a Scotsman named Matthew, valued at 14 pounds." I suppose that I often forget the early blurred lines between indentured servitude and slavery. As time went on, perhaps, the lines became clearer and more closely connected with race.

    1. Many Scots prisoners of war were sold into servitude in Woburn and Cambridge. My Wyman ancestors in Woburn also had several Scots in their inventories. Another ancester, William Munroe, was one of the Scots sold at auction in to servitude in Cambridge, but later was a landowner in Lexington. At least their servitude was temporary, not lifetime.

  3. Hello.

    My Name is Anton Carter. I am looking for info on a John Carter born in Woburn around 1735, had a son also john carter in 1761, then both moved to Onslow, Nova Scotia, Canada. any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Anton, I don't have any information on John Carter. Perhaps another reader will see your message here and share with you.

    2. Anton, my 3rd-great-grandmother Joanna Gay was born 1771 in Onslow. She married Isaac Powers Carter in Waldo co. Maine in 1793.

  4. Heather, my ancestor Lt. John Carter was a brother to Abigail and Hannah. Capt. John Carter was my 8th great-grandfather. Thanks for the info. -- Dan Rooney

  5. Howdy cousin (again!) . . . just yesterday I made the connection to James Simonds and Mary Fowle . . . via their son, Joshua Simonds, who married Jerusha Waters, and they then had a daughter they named Jerusha aka Polly . . . Polly is my 5th great-grandma, and yesterday was her birthday, so I dedicated the day to researching her ancestry . . . sure glad I did!

  6. Captain JOHN Carter (1616 - 1692)
    MY 9th great-grandfather

    John Carter (1653 - 1727)
    son of JOHN Carter Captain

    Ruth Carter (1681 - 1774)
    daughter of John Carter