Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Killed By Accident at His Mill – Henry Woodward

B. about 1601 in Much Woolton, England
M. 4 Sep 1638 in Dorchester, Massachusetts
Wife: Elizabeth Mather
D. 7 Apr 1683 in Northampton, Massachusetts
Emigrated: (probably) 23 May 1635 on the ship James

Henry Woodward was born in about 1601 to Thomas and Elizabeth Woodward in Much Woolton, England and baptized on March 22, 1607 at Childwall. These places are a part of present-day Liverpool. Henry was one of seven children.

Henry is believed to have migrated to America on the ship James, arriving in the Massachusetts Bay colony on August 17, 1635. Another passenger on the ship was Reverend Richard Mather, who would become the father of Increase Mather and grandfather to Cotton Mather. On September 4, 1638, Henry married Elizabeth Mather, who was believed to be Richard's sister. Between 1643 and 1649, they had three daughters and one son, the girls being given the Puritan names of Experience, Freedom and Thankful (the son was named John).

The Woodward family lived in Dorchester. In some early records, Henry was referred to as a physician, but it isn't clear how much he actually practiced medicine because no details exist in the records. He was an early member of the Dorchester church and a freeman. In 1657, he was named constable; he also "frequently served on committees."

In 1659, Henry and his family moved to the new settlement of Northampton, Massachusetts. It has been suggested that Reverend Mather induced "three Dorchester men" to settle there and Henry was one of them. He received a grant of 12 acres to build his house and 100 acres of meadowland.

Henry was an important man in the early years of Northampton. In 1660, he was chosen a selectman and "Commissioner to end Small Causes" in 1660. The following year, he served as a member of the jury at the first court held in that town. Henry served as surveyor of highways in 1664. He was also among the group of eight persons who founded the First Church in 1661; he and Elizabeth were signers of the Church Covenant (since Henry signed documents with an X, it's believed that he was illiterate).

In 1665, Henry was licensed to run a tavern; he maintained that business until 1681. It is said that court sessions were sometimes held in Henry's tavern. He was also involved in farming and had a corn mill.

On April 7, 1683, Henry was killed at the corn mill, either being struck by the mill wheel, or when the mill was struck by lightning.

Famous descendants of Henry Woodward include Nathan Hale, 19th century fur trader Jedediah Strong Smith, First Lady Lucy Hayes, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, Dorothy Gish, Lillian Gish, Helen Hunt, Mike Huckabee and Princess Diana.

1. Freedom Woodward – B. about 1642 ; D. 17 May 1681, Northampton, Massachusetts; M. Jedediah Strong (1637-1733), 18 Nov 1662, Northampton, Massachusetts

2. Experience Woodward – B. 10 Nov 1643, Dorchester, Massachusetts; D. 8 Jun 1686, Northampton, Massachusetts; M. Medad Pomeroy (1638-1716), 21 Nov 1661, Northampton, Massachusetts

3. Thankful Woodward – B. about 1646, Dorchester, Massachusetts; D. about 1724, Norwalk, Connecticut; M. John Taylor (1641-1704), 18 Dec 1662, Northampton, Massachusetts

4. John Woodward – B. 28 Mar 1649, Dorchester, Massachusetts; D. 5 Oct 1724, Lebanon, Connecticut; M. Ann Dewey (~1643-1706), 18 May 1671, Dorchester, Massachusetts

The history of the descendants of Elder John Strong of Northampton, Mass., Benjamin Woodbridge Dwight, 1871
Genealogical notes on the founding of New England, Ernest Flagg, 1926
History of Northampton, Massachusetts from its settlement in 1654, James Russell Trumbull, 1898
Notes on Henry and Elizabeth Woodward of Massachusetts and Some Ancestors [website], Clyde M. Senger, information compiled 1984-2005
GeneaStar: Famous Family Tree and Genealogy [website]

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