Saturday, December 28, 2013

Surname Saturday ~ BUTLER of Martha's Vineyard


Nicholas Butler, my 11th great grandfather,  arrived in Massachusetts in June 1637 aboard the ship Hercules with his wife, children and five servants.  He lived at first at Dorchester, and his son, Henry, went to Harvard College.  By 1651 the Butler family was in Edgartown, on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.  Nicholas was a magistrate and later assistant to the chief magistrate.  He is called Mr. Butler in the records, and Governor Thomas Mayhew signed his will.

Nicholas Butler signed a brief will on 12 August 1671 and died the next day.  His will has a note “his sight as it were gon” and he signed with a mark, which might mean he had gone blind at this time.  His short will does not name any children, and he leaves permission for his wife to decide how his estate will be divided.   His wife left a longer will in 1689 which named her grandchildren.

This doth testify that I Nicholas Butler Being at present Sound in memory doe Now by this my last will give my Estate Whatsoever that I left after I Shall be buried like a Christian wholly unto my wife Joyce Butler, uppon serious consideration for her to dispose of to hir children and my children as shee shall see good, and hereunto I praise [god] being of memorie as aforesaid Sound. I doe witness with my hand this 12th of August 1671.
This will is witnessed
by us
The marke of Nicholas Norton
His sight as it were
the mar  X  of

In the second generation, Henry the Harvard graduate returned to England, and John was the only son to remain in New England and produce descendants.  John is my 10th great grandfather. He died very young, but had five children.  His son, John, my 9th great grandfather, was born in Dorchester and lived in Edgartown on the Great Neck.  He was called a gentleman and captain in the records.  The next John, my 8th great grandfather, lived in Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard.

For more information on the BUTLER family:

The History of Martha’s Vineyard by Dr. Charles E. Banks, Volume II Annals of Edgartown, pages 54 – 58.  You can read this online at this link:

My BUTLER genealogy:

Generation 1:  Nicholas Butler, born about 1590 in Ashford, Kent, England,  died on 13 August 1671 in Edgartown, Massachusetts on the island of Martha’s Vineyard;  married first on 18 July 1613 in Canterbury, England to Mary Cotterell;  married second on 22 January 1624 in Ashford to Joyce Baker, daughter of Richard Baker and Margaret Elkes.  Four children.

Generation 2: John Butler, born before 2 January 1625 in Dorchester, Massachusetts; died in 1658 in Edgartown; married about 1648 to Mary Lynde, daughter of Thomas Lynde and Elizabeth Unknown.  She was born about 1629 and died after 1693 in Edgartown.  Five children.

Generation 3: John Butler, born about 1650 in Dorchester, died between 10 November 1733 and 2 October 1738 in Edgartown; married to Priscilla Norton, daughter of Nicholas Norton and Elizabeth Isaac.  Twelve children.

Generation 4: John Butler, born about 1674 and died after 6 February 1754; married on 16 December 1708 in Edgartown to Elizabeth Daggett, daughter of Thomas Daggett and Elizabeth Hawes.  She was born about 1690 and died after 1754.  Six children.

Generation 5:  Keziah Butler, born 1710 in Edgartown, died in October 1768 in Edgartown;  married first to Samuel Osborn on 9 September 1731 in Edgartown;  married in 1752 to Matthew Pease, son of Matthew Pease and Mary Green.  He was born 5 June 1707 in Edgartown, and died about 1756 in Edgartown.   

Generation 6: Samuel Osborn married Sarah Wass
Generation 7: Sarah Osborn married Charles Skinner
Generation 8: Ann Skinner married Thomas Ratchford Lyons
Generation 9: Isabella Lyons married Rev. Ingraham Ebenezer Bill
Generation 10: Caleb Rand Bill married Ann Margaret Bollman
Generation 11: Isabella Lyons Bill married Albert Munroe Wilkinson
Generation 12: Donald Munroe Wilkinson married Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)

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Copyright © 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. My husband is a direct descendant of Nicholas Butler & Joyce Baker, via their daughter Lydia Butler b. 1625, who married John Minot in 1647. Lydia & John had son Capt. James Minot, who had daughter Lydia Minot. Lydia married Benjamin Barrett who had daughter Lydia Barrett who married Samuel Farrar & had daughter Lucy Farrar. Their son Dr. Asa Farrar Reed m. 3) Margaret Wilson & had son Theodore who had Mary Ellen Reed who married Frederick Wesley Ralston & had daughter Edna Louise Ralston, my husband's grandmother. Got it? lol. Would love to hear from you. Asa came to Canada about 1813 to avoid his 1st wife/war & died in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. MJ Vancouver, Canada.

    1. Hello mj! Thanks for commenting on my blog post. It's very interesting that both our lineages go through Canada. In the 7th, 8th and 9th generations of the lineage above my ancestors were in Nova Scotia, as planters. But in the 10th generation Professor Caleb R. Bill moved back to Massachusetts.

  2. I am directly related to Joyce (Baker) Butler's sister who married Thomas Boulding (1592 - 1663). Her parents were Richard Baker (died 1604) and Margaret Merry (the above noted Elkes marriage is incorrect).

    Thomas Boulding's son Robert (1634 -1717) married (second marriage) to Meriam (Marvel) Starr whose ubnlce was Comfort Starr