John Balch

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John Balch, whose ancestry is unknown (or not traced here), was born at England, about 1605.1 He died at Salem, Essex Co., Massachusetts, about June 1648.1

John married (1) Margaret (…) between 1629 and 1636;1,2 he married (2) Annis (…) say 1640. The ancestry of both wives is unknown (or not traced here).1,2

John Balch was one of the earliest settlers of Massachusetts, arriving on Cape Ann by the spring of 1624 at the latest. He was a member of one of three groups:
The "Dorchester Company" under Rev. John White,
at Wessaguscus (Weymouth) with Capt Robert Gorges,
or with Thomas Gardner, also with the Dorchester Company.

The barren soil on the Cape, as well as poor fishing that year was leading the settlement to failure. Roger Conant was called to take over management and he soon decided that a better location was the only practical solution. They soon found Naumkeag (Salem), and John White asked Conant not to desert the business. White promised that if Conant and John Woodbury, John Balch and Peter Palfreys, employed by the adventurers (whom White knew to be honest and prudent men), would stay at Naumkeag, White would give them a patent and send them whatever they needed, men, provisions, or goods for trading with the Indians.

John Balch asked for freemanship 19 Oct 1630, and took the oath 18 May 1631. He served as a juryman in October and December 1637, September and December 1638, and July 1647; grand juror in December 1642 and 1644; and selectman of Salem from 1636 to 1642.

January 1635/6, John and four other "Old Planters" finally received their grant of a farm of two hundred acres each at the head of the Bass River in an area that became Beverly.

He was one of eight chosen from Salem to survey the boundary between Salem and Ipswich, and they made their report to the General Court, 27 March 1643. In August 1644, he and four others gave witness against Hugh Laskin and his wife "for hard usage of their late servant in victuals and clothes." John stated he had "dealt with Laskin about clothing and purposed to deal further, but he also stated he had not dealt brotherly with him. He claimed the boy was growing thin."

At one time, the John Balch House in Beverly was thought to be the oldest wood-frame house in the United States, but a recent dendochronology (tree-ring dating) test indicates the oldest part of the house was built around 1679, well after John had died. See further information.3,1

John left a will dated 15 May 1648, and proved 28 Jun 1648 specifying:
to "Annis Balch my loving wife the Room newlie Built with twelve Akers of land of wch 4 akers to be in tilt and 4 Akers of medowe with some pt of the barne to lay in her fruits & halfe of the great fruit trees for & during the life of said Annis"

to "my said wife my best bed with all Convenient furniture there vnto belonging & one fourth pt of all my household goods except the rest of my bedding & also 2 Cowes by name Reddie & Cherie & one yearling heaffer"

and "soe long as my said wife shall live my said sonnes shall sowe or plant 2 Akers of aforesaid 4 Akers for my said wife for the term of 7 years and after that our sonne Beniamin shall doe all him sefe.

to "beniamin Balch my eldest sonne one half of my farm to him and his heirs for ever as alsoe two yoke of oxen 1 cowe one third of my young Cattle & of the mare Colt with one fourth pt of my household goods & halfe of the great fruit trees & after the decease of my said wife my will is that the said Beniamin shall have them all with those he hath planted himself."

"my Corne growing upon the ground shall be equallie Divided into 4 equall pts among my wife & children"

to "John Balch my second sonne one fourth of my farme and one yoke of oxen one third of my young Cattle & mare Cold one fourth of my household goods & half of the young aple trees undispost of and one cow."

to "ffree born Balch my youngest sonne one fourth pt of my ffarme one yoke of oxen & one Cow I bred up for him one third of the young Cattell & one third of the mare & one fourth of my household goods & half the young Apel trees betwixt him & his brother John equallie to be divided.
"loving friends John Proctor & William Woodberrie" to be overseers.4

Family 1

Margaret (…)
  • Benjamin Balch+1 b. 1629, d. aft. Jan 1714/15
  • John Balch1 b. say 1631
  • Freeborn Balch1 b. abt. 1634

Family 2

Annis (…) d. bef. 24 Nov 1657
This person was last edited on10 Jan 2021


  1. [S2281] Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I–III, 3 vols. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995), 1:84-86 (John Balch), further cited as Anderson, GMB.
  2. [S1872] Clarence Almon Torrey, New England Marriages Prior to 1700, 3 vols. (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011), 73, further cited as Torrey, New England Marriages (2011).
  3. [S24] Mary Walton Ferris, Dawes-Gates Ancestral Lines: A Memorial Volume Containing the American Ancestry of Rufus R. Dawes: Volume I: Dawes and Allied Families (n. p., 1943), 1:70-72, further cited as Ferris, Dawes-Gates I.
  4. [S644] Galusha B. Balch, Genealogy of the Balch Families in America (Salem, Massachusetts: Eben Putnam, 1897), 6-7, further cited as Balch, Balch Families in America.