Saturday, November 10, 2018

Surname Saturday ~ CHESLEY of Oyster River (Dover), New Hampshire


The first record I can find of my 9th great grandfather, Phillip Chesley, is when he witnessed a deed from Rev. Thomas Larkahm to William Waldron on 13 September 1642.  There are some online sources that say he arrived at the Oyster River Plantation at age 15 in 1633, but I have not found any source for that.  There are also some who say he was from the Isle of Jersey, son of Thomas Chesley and Margaret Rogers, but I have not seen any proof of his origins.

Phillip Chesley’s first wife was Elizabeth Leighton, with whom he had two sons.  Elizabeth and Phillip signed a deed for a house lot on Dover Neck.  Some time after this he remarried to a woman named Joan or Joanna.  On 12 August 1663 he and Joan deed his land and house to his sons, keeping only one room in the house for himself.  He had three daughters with his second wife.

Life was difficult on the New Hampshire seacoast. It was on the border of the frontier with French Canada.  Most of the settlers were involved with logging and lumber which was dangerous work.  In 1657 he was on the jury that investigated a drowning of a logger.   In 1660 he was the local constable when Thomas Canyda was killed by a falling tree.   He was present at the coroner’s inquest of an Alexander McDaniel who drowned in the Piscataqua River in 1663.  Chelsley was chosen to lay out the road from Oyster River to Cochecho with Patrick Jamison in 1664.

My ancestor appears to have been a drunk and a belligerent neighbor.  He was also the Oyster River constable for a time, which seems incongruous. Because of his behavior, the court records are full of mentions of Phillip Chesley.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t know much about his life in early New Hampshire. He appeared in court with Stephen Jones in 1668 “upon suspicion of having a hand in ye untimely death of Edmond Green blacksmith” [NH Provincial Deeds, 2: 150b, 151a].  In April 1661 there was a bond issued to Phillip Chesley to keep the peace, especially towards his wife, and to appear in court in Dover to answer the complaint of his wife, Joan. 

In June of the same year two witnesses claimed Chesley called Edward Colcord “Rogue & Rascall, & that he deserved to be sold to the Berbadoes or Virginia, & he would doe it if he Could.”   In another slander case Mr. Samuel Hall claimed that Chelsey was “Cozening and cheating saying yt he was a Knave & yt he had Cozened & cheated him the sd Chesley of 10 pounds or more wch was a Just debt whereby the sd Hall is damnified in his Credit 500 pounds.”  The jury found him guilty but only chared him 50 shillings in damages and 21 shillings court costs.  [New Hampshire Court Records 1640 – 1692, Court Papers 1652 – 1668, in the New Hampshire State Papers Series, 40 (State of New Hampshire, 1943), 172, 474 – 7, and Court Papers, 1: 69, 89, 93, 95, 115 – 123.]  This case is explained in great detail in Diane Rapapport’s 2007 book The Naked Quaker: True Crimes and Controversies from the Courts of Colonial New England, on pages 83 – 88 in a sketch she calls “Chesley and the Cheating Knave”. 

In the second generation I descend from his son, Phillip Chesley, Jr.  His older brother, Thomas Chesley, was killed in an Indian massacre near Johnson’s Creek on 15 November 1697, leaving seven children and a widow.  Phillip, Jr. married Sarah Rollins and had six children.

In the third generation I descend from Philip’s youngest son, Jonathan.  He lived in Greenland, and was a representative to the General Court in 1745.  He married Mary Weeks and had three children.  I descend from their daughter Comfort Chesley, my 7th great grandfather, who married Stephen Perkins of Wells, Maine, and they had twelve children born in Wells and in the part of Canterbury, New Hampshire that became the town of Loudon.  

Some other Chesley resources:
History of Durham, New Hampshire, Volume 1, by Everett Schermerhorn Stackpole, 1913.
Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, by Charles Thornton Libby, Walter Goodwin Davis and Sybil Noyes, 1928.
Batchelder Genealogy, by Frederick Clifton Pierce, 1898

My CHESLEY genealogy:
Generation 1:  Phillip Chesley, born about 1606 and died after 30 April 1685 at Oyster River, New Hampshire; married first to Elizabeth Leighton, daughter of Thomas Leighton and Joanna Sisbee.  She was born about 1625 in Dover, New Hampshire; married second to Joan Unknown.  Two sons with the first wife, three daughters with the second wife.

Generation 2:  Phillip Chesley, born about 1646 in Oyster River, and died 18 December 1695 at Oyster River; married about 1675 to Sarah Rollins, daughter of James Rollins and Hannah Fry.  Six children.

Generation 3:  Jonathan Chesley, died about 1785; married on 17 November 1720 in Greenland to Mary Weeks, daughter of Joshua Weeks and Comfort Hubbard.  She was born about 1700 in Greenland and died about 1755. Three children.

Generation 4:  Comfort Chesley, born about 1735 and died 12 February 1818; married to Stephen Perkins, son of Jacob Perkins and Anna Littlefield.  He was born about 1736 in Wells, Maine and died 13 May 1818 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  Twelve children.
Generation 5:  Mary Perkins m. Nathaniel Batchelder
Generation 6:  Jonathan Batchelder m. Nancy Thompson
Generation 7:  George E. Batchelder m. Abigail M. Locke
Generation 8: George E. Batchelder m. Mary Katharine Emerson
Generation 9: Carrie Maude Batchelder m. Joseph Elmer Allen
Generation 10:  Stanley Elmer Allen m. Gertrude Matilda Hitchings


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, “CHESLEY of Oyster River (Dover), New Hampshire”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 10, 2018, ( accessed [access date]). 

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