Saturday, December 5, 2015

Surname Saturday ~ TOWNE of Topsfield, Massachusetts

The front door of the
Rebecca (Towne) Nurse Homestead
Danvers, Massachusetts

William Towne and Joanna Blessing were married in the town of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England and their first six children were born there.  Around 1635 they Salem, Massachusetts where two more children were born.  On 11 October 1640 they were granted land “…a little neck of land right over against his howse on the other side of the riuer to be sett out by the towne.”  He asked for more land, along with Francis Nurse, on 20 March 1647.  In 1652 he removed inland to Topsfield where he bought 40 acres, and later purchased more land. In 1663 he gave his son, Joseph, two thirds of his property and kept one third for himself.

William died in 1673 and his estate was given to his widow. When Joanna died about 1682 the six surviving children signed a petition for the land to be divided between the three sons, and the moveables divided among the three daughters.

Almost thirty years after his death, and twenty years after Joanna’s death, those three daughters were all accused of witchcraft during the 1692 Salem witch hysteria.  Rebecca Nurse was hanged as a witch on 16 July 1692, and Mary Esty was hanged on 19 September 1692.  Sarah Cloyes was arrested but was not executed before the trials were brought to a halt.

For more TOWNE information:

Massachusetts and Maine Families in the Ancestry of Walter Goodwin Davis, 1996, Volume III, pages 485 – 507.  See the ancestry of Joanna Blessing in Volume I, pages 193 – 199. 

The Descendants of William Towne, by Edwin Eugene Towne, 1901

The Towne Family Association, Inc.,

Town Cousins group on Facebook

For famous descendants of this family see NEXUS Volume 9, pages 108 – 111 and also there are a plethora of good books (and poorly researched books) on the three TOWNE sisters accused of witchcraft.  

My TOWNE lineage:

Generation 1: William Towne,  son of John Towne and Elizabeth Unknown, baptized on 18 March 1598 at St. Nicholas church, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England , died about 1672 in Topsfield, Massachusetts; married on 25 April 1620 at St. Nicholas church, Great Yarmouth to Joanna Blessing.  She was born about 1594 in  Great Yarmouth and died 1682 in Topsfield.  Eight children including three daughters accused of witchcraft in 1692 – Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Cloyes and Mary Esty. 

Generation 2: Edmund Towne, baptized on 28 June 1628 in St. Nicholas church, Great Yarmouth,  died before 3 May 1678 in Topsfield; married on 25 March 1652 to Mary Browning, daughter of Thomas Browning and Mary Unknown.  She was born 7 November 1637 in Salem, and died about 1717 in Topsfield. Seven children.

Generation 3: Samuel Towne, born 11 February 1673 in Topsfield, died 1714; married on 20 October 1696 in Topsfield to Elizabeth Knight, daughter of Phillip Knight and Margaret Wilkins.  She was born 25 January 1677 in Topsfield and died 17 May 1752 in Topsfield.  Elizabeth married second to Elisha Perkins as his second wife.  She had four children with Samuel Towne.

Generation 4: Rebecca Towne,  born 8 February 1699/1700 in Topsfield; married on 2 December 1730 in Topsfield to Stephen Johnson.  He was born about 1700 and died 29 August 1734 in Topsfield. Two children.  She remarried to Joshua Towne, son of Jacob Towne and Phebe Smith, as his second wife and his second cousin.  Rebecca and Joshua had one daughter.

Generation 5:   Ruth Johnson m. Richard Cree
Generation 6: Stephen Cree m. Hannah Smith
Generation 7: Sarah Cree m. James Phillips
Generation 8: Hannah Phillips m. Captain Thomas Russell Lewis
Generation 9: Hannah Eliza Lewis m. Abijah Franklin Hitchings
Generation 10: Arthur Treadwell Hitchings m. Florence Etta Hoogerzeil
Generation 11:  Gertrude Matilda Hitchings m. Stanley Elmer Allen (my grandparents)

Published under a Creative Commons License
Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Surname Saturday ~ TOWNE of Topsfield, Massachusetts", Nutfield Genealogy, posted December 5, 2015 ( accessed [access date]). 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for writing this. I descend from William and Joanna through son Jacob and Catharine Simonds, and grandson Jacob, and Phebe Smith. I plan to look into the sources you listed. You always have such thoughtful and well written posts.