Saturday, April 15, 2017

Surname Saturday ~ BECKETT of Salem, Massachusetts

The John Becket House, 1655, at the House of Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts
is labeled the "Retire Becket House" by the front door. 


John Becket, my 9th great grandfather, was first recorded in Salem, Massachusetts on 9 April 1655 when he bought “one dwelling house and three acres of land behind it” from Samuel Archard.  The street where this house stood is now known as Becket Court, near the waterfront in Salem. Eventually the family built a shipyard on this property.  In 1924 this house was moved one half mile to the museum compound where the House of Seven Gables stands, and was converted into the gift shop.  (from The Chronicles of Three Old Houses, by Caroline O. Emmerton, 1985, published by the House of Seven Gables Settlement Association)

John Becket was the great great grandfather of the famous ship builder Retire Becket.   In 1816 the millionaire George Crowninshield, Jr. of Salem commissioned Retire “Tyrey” Becket to build the first known private luxury yacht, which was known as Cleopatra’s Barge.   It cost $50,000 to build, and another $50,000 to outfit it as an ocean going mansion (in 1816 dollars!).  No expense was spared on this 100 foot brig.  In 1820 this yacht was traded to King Kamehameha II of Hawaii and renamed Ka Ha'aheo O' Hawai'i.  She sank off Hanalei Bay on the north of Kauai in 1824, and in 1994 the wreck was rediscovered.  191 objects were raised from the wreck and displayed at the Kauai Museum.

There is a reconstruction of the main cabin of Cleopatra's Barge
inside the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts

William Becket, my 8th great grandfather, was also a shipwright, as well as his son, John Becket (1684 – 1763). This lineage lived in Salem from John Becket the immigrant in the 1650s until my grandmother’s time.  If you look down below to generation 8 you will see my great great grandfather, Abijah F. Hitchings, who was the deputy customs collector at the Salem Custom House, also on the waterfront.  He lived in a house that stood on the land that is now the parking lot for visitors to the House of Seven Gables.  This family has always lived in this neighborhood of Salem.  

For more on the BECKET family:

The Story of George Crowninsheild’s Yacht, Cleopatra’s Barge, by George Crowninshield, 1913

A video of the wreck and recovery of Cleopatra’s Barge AKA  Ka Ha'aheo O' Hawai'i

My BECKET genealogy:

Generation 1:  John Becket, born about 1626, probably in England, died 26 November 1683 in Salem, Massachusetts; married Margaret UNKNOWN.  She died about 1717.  Five children.

Generation 2: William Becket, born 9 April 1665 in Salem, died 10 November 1723 in Salem; married on 8 May 1683 in Marblehead to Hannah Sibley, daughter of Richard Sibley and Hannah UNKNOWN.  She was born 20 September 1661 in Salem and died 1734.  Eight children.

Generation 3:  John Becket, born 10 August 1684 in Salem, died 1763 in Salem; married on 20 September 1711 in Salem to Susannah Mason, daughter of Thomas Mason and Christian Oliver.  She was born 23 August 1687 in Salem, and died after 1769.  Six children.

Generation 4:  John Becket, born 28 February 1715 in Salem, died 29 August 1781 in Salem; married first on 3 May 1738 to Rebecca Beadle, daughter of Lemon Beadle and Rebecca Atwater.  She was born 31 January 1714 in Salem and died 13 January 1758 in Salem.  Thirteen children.   John married second to Sarah Rue on 25 November 1762 in Salem.  No more children with second marriage.

Generation 5: Hannah Becket, born 17 November 1751 in Salem, died 18 August 1837 in Salem; married on 20 June 1770 in Salem to Joseph Cloutman, son of Joseph Cloutman and Mary Webb.  He was born about 1748.  Seven children.
Generation 6: Mary Cloutman m. Abijah Hitchings

Generation 7:  Abijah Hitchings m. Eliza Ann Treadwell
Generation 8:  Abijah Franklin Hitchings m. Hannah Eliza Lewis
Generation 9:  Arthur Treadwell Hitchings m. Florence Etta Hoogerzeil
Generation 10:  Gertrude Matilda Hitchings m. Stanley Elmer Allen (my grandparents)


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, “Surname Saturday ~ BECKET of Salem, Massachusetts”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted April 15, 2017, ( accessed [access date]). 

1 comment:

  1. The first and only royal American yacht - the things you learn! Thank you for sharing, Heather.