John White

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John White, son of Robert White and Joan (…), was born probably shortly before his baptism at South Petherton, Somerset, England, 7 March 1602.1 He died at Lancaster, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts, May 1673,2 and was buried in the Old Settlers Graveyard, Lancaster, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts.3

John married Joane West, daughter of Richard West and Maudlin Staple, at Drayton Parish, Somerset, England, 28 May 1627.1,4

John White is first of record in New England when in August 1639, he was received as in inhabitant of Salem, and granted 60 acres. On 15 February 1643[\4?] he was granted 6 acres of meadow at Enon (Wenham) "which John Woodbury did apoynt him to mowe, which he hath mowed, these 2 or 3 years past." "Also 40 acres more of upland, and 4 of meadow to be laid out near the former." On 30 January 1643, ". . .  he, along with Richard Prince, Sarah, wife of Daniel Trumball, in the right of George Norton, are granted 4 acres of meadow each at Wenham, then in the possession of William Paine." It appears that John White never lived in Salem proper, as all his grants of land were in Wenham. That town was then under the jursdiction of Salem—going by that name until 1648.

The first saw and grist mill was built by Richard Haws on the brook that ran through John White's grant, and for many years the area was known as "White's Mills."5

In 1648 he returned to England to attempt gain both his wife's inheritance and payment from his brother Robert for the use of lands that belonged to their father, Richard White. The outcome of the suits are not given, though John White does move to Lancaster shortly after his return in 1653, and is shown to have £380 06s. by which it appears he did receive at least some justice. Although lengthy, the proceedings are interesting. The language used in these reports does not "feel" like 17th century language, and is probably modernized by the researcher White and Larkin had hired. He appears to be a Mr. J. Henry Lea; the series is "Chancery Proceedings Before 1714", citing Bridges 389:188 for the first bill, and Mitford 119:135 for the second. The repository for them is not shown. A search of the Chancery Proceedings database ( in Aug 2012, which should cover these records, does not show their existence:
Bill of complaint of John White of the parish of South Petherton, co. Somerset: yeoman, dated 6 February 1648-9. About ten years since, by agreement between one Harvord deceased and William Storton Plaintiff was to give to Harvord and Storton the sum of £8 for the grass growing in a close in the parish of Ilbrews in the county aforesaid. For payment thereof plaintiff became bound in a penal bond and about the time limited did pay unto Storton the half of the debt. Notwithstanding, Harvord, now dead, his wife, and Thomas their son, have commenced action at law against plaintiff, and will neither take the money paid to Storton nor take less upon the bond than the whole penalty.

Further: About ten or eleven years now sithence plaintiff's brother agreed to pay unto him the sum of £430 in consideration of a surrender of a copy hold which plaintiff had for his and other lives in a tenement with meadow thereunto belonging, lying at a place called Southark in the parish of South Peterton, to the end that the said Robert might be admitted tenant thereof. Plaintiff accordingly surrendered his estate, and Robert White was admitted therto, but failed to make payment of the greater part of the £430. Further: About 20 years sithence upon plaintiff's marriage with his now wife, daughter of Richrd West, said West became bound unto plaintiff in the penal sum of £80 to pay unto plaintiff the sum of £40 in case his (West's) wife should happen to die and he (West) should marry again and so cause his tenement lying at Burton, co. Somerset, to be withheld from plaintiff and his wife, she having an estate therein expectant on the death of said West. West's wife died, and West thereupon married Elizabeth a second wife. West died, and Elizabeth his then wife, coming into all his real and personal estate, withholdin the copyhold tenement at Burton from plaintiff and his wife and denies to give any satisfaction in respect of the £40 secured to plaintiff by West her husband. Moreover Robert White and Robert Hall and his wife, i.e. Elizabeth West combining and confederate-together, do pretentt themselves witnesses one for the other to make good their plots against plaintiff.
Writin a cause between John White v.Robert White and Robert Hall and his wife, dated 12 May 1649

Answer of Robert White one of the defendants, sworn at Ilminster 26 May 1649:-Defendant sayteth that true it is that on or near about the month of February 1638 this defendant did agree to pay unto plaintiff £430 in consideration of a surrender to be made of some copyhold estate which plaintiff had for his own life and the lives of Thomas White and Josias Whte his brethren and for the lives of every of them longest living, of and in a messuage, tenement, orchard and 20 acres 3 roods of land meadow and pasture lying in the Manor of Southarpe in the parish of Southpetherton, to the end that this defendant Robert White might have an estate of the same for the lives of such three persons as this defendant should name. And this defendant confesseth that plaintiff, according to agreement, did afterwards, at a court holden for the said Manor in the said month of February, surrender his said estate, and that immediately upon the surrender, at the same Court, a copyhold estate of the said premises was granted to this defendant Robert White for life and the lives of Robert White the younger and William White this defendant's sons and the life of every of them longest living, and that thereupon at the same Court, this defendant was admitted to the said premises. And this defendant further sayeth that upon and after the said surrender this defendant at divers times before the month of May, then next following did satisfy and pay unto plaintiff divers sums of money amounting in all £235.2s.6d and he further sayeth that plaintiff being indebted unto divers persons in divers sums, did appoint and direct defendant to pay the same, and that he this defendant, in or before the month of May, did pay as directed the sums following: To Johan Peirce alias Moren widow £40, to John Moore, £6 13s. 4d.' to Roger Baylye and son £5 6s. 8d; to Thomas White £75; to William Meriam £8 12s. 8d; to (Joscelyn?) Gardner £10 16s. 0d; to Roger Gawder £5 12s. 0d; to John Woomington £3; to John Legg £11 and to William - £10, in all £192 17s. 11d. Afterwards in or about the said month of May, 1639, plaintiff departed out of this Kingdom of England and sailed into New England and there remained by the space of divers years, after, and in the month of February 1647-8, plaintiff, being returned out of New England, did come unto this Kingdom of England, since which time defendant hath delivered unto plaintiff so much corn and malt as amounteth in all to £6 9s 3d., and one steer for £4, and did pay unto William Gould 8s. 4d. Defendant has also paid out to or for plaintiff, the sum of £439 10s., by which it appears that he hath not only fully satisfied plaintiff of his debt, but that plaintiff is indebted to this defendant in the sum of £9 10s. 0d. Concerning the other matters in plaintiff's bill contained, and laid to the charge of the other defendants Katherine Harvord alias Harvye, Thomas Harvord alias Harvye and Robert Hall and Elizabeth his wife, defendant sayeth that he is a mere stranger to all and every of them and therefore cannot say anything material touching concerning them or any of them or any part or parcel of them or any them.

Answer of Thomas Harvord alias Harvye one of the defendants, sworn at Ilminster 7 April 1649:-Defendant sayeth that he hath heard by the relation of William Stourton that in or about May 1638 there was an accompt made with the consent of John Harvye alias Harvord this defendant's father, since deceased, between the said William Stourton and plaintiff. Touching moneys which plaintiff did them owe as well to the said John Harvord as to the said William Stourton, for the rent of certain grounds called Paddocks and stretes, situate in Eronshill, co. Somerset, which John Harvord and William Stourton had letten unto plaintiff and for the herbage and grass growing in the field called Metsorland (or Metforland) in the parish of Ilbrwers, wherof John Harvord and William Stourton were then oweners. On that accompt, plaintiff was found arrears, viz.: to William Stourton £6, and to John Harvord £8 5s. 0d. He believes that plaintiff, for the more sure payment of the £8 5s. 0d. to John Harvord owing, did by bill obligatory bearing date 21 May 1638 acknowledge the debt and become bounden in the penal sum of £16 10s. 0d. to pay the same on the 21st of May ensuing. He hath heard William Sourton confess that plaintiff had paid or given to him (Stourton) satisifaction for the money due to him upon the said accmpt. Plaintiff after he had entered into the aforesaid bond did depart of this Kingdom of England and sailed for New Egland, where he remained divers years after. John Harvord meanwhile died intestate, and letters of administration of his goods were committed to Katherine harvord his late wife, who having some intelligence that plaintiff was returned out of New England, and being an aged and week woman and not well able to travel about her affairs, did entreat this defendant being her son, to go about obtaining of the said debt and to cause the said bill to be put in suit at the common law against plaintiff.

The answer of Robert and Elizabeth Hall does not appear.

A year later, "The bill of Complaint of John White of South Petherton, co. Somerset, Yeoman, dated 28 May 1650:"

Robert White, plaintiff's father deceased, was in his life time by purchase seized of and a copyhold tenement or lands lying within the Manor and parish Meriott, co. Somerset, called Middions, worth £10 yearly, which he held by copy of Court Roll for the term of his life with the remainder therein to plaintiff and Robert White, plaintiff's younger brother for the term of their lives and the life of the longer liver of them with a certain rent charge thereupon reserved. Plaintiff's father and brother being so seized of the said lands, his father fell into treaty with Mr. Hooper, now deceased, then Lord of the said Manor, for the purchase of the fee simple and inheritance of the said lands, whereupon it was agree between them that said Hooper should convey to plaintiff's father the fee simple and inheritance of the said lands to the use of said plaintiff's father during his life and after that to the plaintiff during his life. Hooper did further convey unto Robert White your Orator's brother, the said lands from and after the determination of the aforesaid Copyhold Estate. Plaintiff's father Robert White died about ten years since, seized of the said copyhold Estate without having at any time during his life legally extinguishing the same. Plaintiff, to whom the said land then fell, ought immediately to have come, being at that time and until about three years sithence, beyond the seas in New England.

Plaintiff's brother, Robert White entered into the said lands and ever since hath enjoyed the same and thereof taken the rents and profits to his own use and hath burnt the copy of the Court Roll, the better to avoid plaintiff from his just claim in the lands. The Court Rolls of the aforesaid Manor are also lost and the Manor itself dismembered and no Courts have been held for the same for divers years past. Plaintiff therefore have recourse to the common law, hence his appeal to this Court.

THE ANSWER OF ROBERT WHITE, defendant to the Bill of Complaint of John White, taken at Ilminster, co. Somerset, June 22, 1650, before Thomas Collins and John Baker.

Defendant believes it to be true that Robert White the father, about the second year of the late King James (1605) did purchase by copy of Court Roll, an estate to himself, to the Complainant, and to this defendant, for their lives successively, according to the custom of the Manor of Meriot, said lands being called Great Middons, and being of the yearly value of £6 or £7. Robert the father and this complainant being so seized of the said premises, Henry Hooper and William Chubb of Crewkerne, co. Somerset, gent. (Chub being a feofee in trust for said Hooper), did by deed bearing date May 2, 4 James I, (1607) for the sum of £25 to them by the said Robert White in hand paid, sell unto this defendant the said lands to have and to hold to this defendant forever. But this defendant confesseth that in the deed of feoffment the above mentioned copyhold premises are excepted. Afterwards Robert White, the father, and plaintiff, by deed dated Mar. 3, 6 Charles I, (1631) did surrender unto this defendant all the said Copy hold estate, and this defendant by deed dated Mar. 7, 6 Charles I, did grant unto Robert White, the father, one annuity of £5 out of the same lands during the life of the said Robert and Joan his then wife and the longer liver of them, the father, died about eight years since.6

Not long after his return from England, in 1653, John White moved to Lancaster, where, on 1 May, he and several others subscribed to the "Rules for Proportion Meadow." He had twenty acres of land allotted to him for a house lot on the Neck, between the lots of James Atherton on the south and John Lewis on the north. On 20 November 1653, he signed a petition for the building of a "corne Mill" in Lancaster, and in 1654 he drew land proportioned to £380 00s. 02d. In 1655 he drew 20 lots; on 26 Jun 1658 he was granted seven acres "neare the still river;" and 5 February 1659 was granted lot No. 33.

His house stood on the "Neck," at the east end of the lot.7

John left a will dated 10 March 1672/73, and proved 28 May 1673:
Those present witnesseth the Last will and testament of John White of lancaster in the countie of Middlesex in New England yeoman, being under the sensible decayes of nature and weake and low in Respect of the outward man, and the sensible symptoms of an approaching change togather with the advise of frends hath moved thereunto to the setting his house in order to the dispossing of those outward blessings the Lord in mercy hath betrusted him with amongst his surviving children, for ye mutial Good & future peace.

And first in order to this his last will he hath & hereby doth commit & commend his soul to Amighty God that gave it him & his body to the common burying place here in Lancaster & after his body being ordly and decently intered and the charge thereof defrayed together with all due debts as also the following legasies which are to be discharged out of the movable Estate; the housing and lands and Rest of the movable goods to be as followeth:—first, it is his will that his daughter Hanna have one hundred acres of his second devision of upland and part of it lying neare Ealsabet River, and all that part of his second devision of meadow that lyeth at Wataquadoke togather with commons and common Right due to one hundred pound Estate on the Town booke. and the house and barne and other out housing togather with all the Rest of the lands, meadows commons common Rights within the bounds of Lancaster, both first and second devision aforementioned to be as aforesaid to his son Josiah, and his daughter Hanna, their heires and assignes forever.

And in Reference to his farm at Wenham, it is his will hereby declared that his daughter-in-law Ruth White sometime wife to his late deseased son Thomas White, shall have and enhoy the said farme during the time of her natural life (one half of it) and the other halfe until her son Thomas White com to the age of twentie one years, and then he to enter possession of one halfe, and at the death of the said widow, the two daughters are to enter possession of the other half, to be to the said widow her son and daughters as aforesaid, theire heires and assignes forever. Provided always that if the said Widow change her condition by marriage, then the said farme to be the said childrens in proportion as aforesaid—Yet not withstanding it his will hereby declared that they have everie one twentie shillings.

Hanna, his youngest daughter who hath lived with him from her childhood and been a nurse to him in his old age, it is hereby declared to be his will that she have the bed shee useth, togather with all the furniture belonging to it.

The debts and Legasies aforesaid being fully discharged out of the movables estate as aforesaid by the aforesaid Josiah White, who is hereby willed and declared to be sole Executor, of this last will of his aforesaid father, to see this his Father's will truly & faithfully performed in all due parts of it, the remainder of the afores'd moveables to be the s'd Josiah's. The afores'd John White, nothwithstanding his great weakness, yet being of a competant measure of understanding & sound memory doeth hereby declare this to be his last will and Testament. And in witness hereof hath hereunto put his hand & seale this tenth day of March one thousand six hundred seventie two-three.
John X White seale

Sealed, signed and delivered
In the presence of
Roger Sumner
Ralph Houghton

Roger Sumner & Ralph Houghton being witnesses of this Instrument deposed before me this 28 day of May 1673; that they saw John White deceased signe seale & declare this to be his last Will & Testatment & that he was of deposing mind when he did the same & that they know of no other Will.

The inventory included:
Land and property at Lancaster, £100
Livestock, £40
Grain, £16 08s. 06d.
Tools, £7 10s. 00d.
Household goods, £23 09s. 00d.
Ironware, 13s. 06d.
Wooden chairs, chests, stools, tables, etc., £1 00s. 04d.
All totalling at Lancaster, £189 11s. 10d. plus £200 in upland, meadow and buildings at Wenham.8


Joane West b. 16 Apr 1606, d. 18 May 1654
  • John White9 b. 1 Jun 1628
  • Thomas White10 b. 30 Jun 1630, d. 1 Oct 1672
  • Joan White9 b. 24 Feb 1633, d. bef. 1695
  • Elizabeth White10 b. 29 Jul 1635, d. 10 Feb 1675/76
  • Mary White10 b. abt. 1637
  • Josiah White+10 b. abt. 1638, d. 11 Nov 1714
  • Sarah White10 b. bef. 9 Apr 1643
  • Hannah White10 b. abt. 1646
This person was last edited on12 Jul 2015


  1. [S1887] Almira Larkin White, Ancestry of John Barber White and of His Descendants (Kansas City, Missouri: John Barber White, 1913), 25, further cited as White, Ancestry of John Barber White.
  2. [S907] Henry Stedman Nourse, The Birth, Marriage, and Death Register, Church Records and Epitaphs of Lancaster, Massachusetts, 1643-1850, two vols. (Clinton, Massachusetts: W. J. Cooper, Printer, 1890), 1:19, further cited as Nourse, Vital Records of Lancaster.
  3. [S1546] H. Quinn, Find A Grave memorial #51588696, added 25 Apr 2010, online, accessed 25 Aug 2012, further cited as Find A Grave. The marker is not contemporary to their deaths: "In Memory of John White / Native of England / Settled first in / Salem (Wenham) 1638. / An Incorporator of the / Town of Lancaster. 1653 / Died 1673. / And of his beloved wife / Joane / Died 1654. / Erected by their descendants 1907.".
  4. [S1872] Clarence Almon Torrey, New England Marriages Prior to 1700, 3 vols. (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011), 1648, further cited as Torrey, New England Marriages (2011).
  5. [S1887] White, Ancestry of John Barber White, 25-26.
  6. [S1887] White, Ancestry of John Barber White, 18-24.
  7. [S1887] White, Ancestry of John Barber White, 25-29.
  8. [S1887] White, Ancestry of John Barber White, 29-33.
  9. [S909] Almira Larkin White, Genealogy of the Descendants of John White of Wenham and Lancaster, Massachusetts: 1638-1900 (Haverhill, Massachusetts: Chase Brothers, 1900), 9-16, further cited as White, Genealogy of the Descendants of John White.
  10. [S909] White, Genealogy of the Descendants of John White, 16-24.