Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sailing Ahead of the Winthrop Fleet – William Dixey

B. about 1607 in England
M. about 1634 in Massachusetts
Wife: Hannah
D. 1690 in Beverly, Massachusetts

Before the hundreds of Puritans could arrive in New England, adventurous men had to scout for good places to settle, and William Dixey was one of those men.

It's unknown where William was born in 1607, only that he was from England. But it would seem likely that he came from Linconshire because of his association with Isaac Johnson, one of the richest men in that county. In 1629, William was hired by Johnson as one of many laborers to help set up a new settlement in America. Isaac Johnson was married to Lady Arabella Clinton-Fiennes, the daughter of the 3rd Earl of Lincoln. He was also the primary financial backer of the Massachusetts Bay Company headed by John Winthrop, and he was to be part of the group that governed the colony. The colonists needed to find where they could settle and Johnson sent over two ships the year before the main fleet.

William Dixey was one of 140 men in the expedition. He later described the 1629 scouting venture, which included meeting with the Indians living along the coast. They sailed into the areas north of where Boston would be, a place known as Saugus (later Lynn, Massachusetts):

"…we went to Saugus, now Lynn, and there we met with Sagamore James and some other Indians, who did give me and the rest leave to dwell there or thereabouts. Whereupon I and the rest of my master's company did cut grass for our cattle, and kept them upon Nahant [peninsula] for some space of time, for the Indian James Sagamore and the rest did give me and the rest in behalf of my master Johnson, what land we would. Whereupon we set down in Saugus, and had quiet possession of it by the abovesaid Indians, and kept our cattle in Nahant the summer following."

"When we came to dwell here, the Indians bid us welcome, and showed themselves very glad that we came to dwell among them. And I understood they had kindly entertained the English that came hither before we came. The English and the Indians had a field in common fenced in together. The Indians fled to shelter themselves under the English, ofttimes saying they were afraid of their enemy Indians in the country."

Isaac Johnson migrated to the colony in 1630 on a ship named for his wife Arabella, which was the flagship of the Winthrop fleet; John Winthrop was another passenger on the ship. Unfortunately, both Isaac and Arabella died within the first few months of the colony, and presumably, this left William Dixey on his own.

William settled in Salem, Massachusetts, eventually in the section called "Cape Ann side," which was later incorporated as Beverly. In about 1634, he married a woman named Hannah. Between 1634 and 1643, they had six children, five of them girls. William joined the militia and was called sergeant as early as 1636. In 1645, when the Salem military company was formed, he was made its ensign, holding that rank until 1662 when he was made "Lieutenant of the Foot Company," and some time before 1677, he was made its captain. The ferry between Salem and Cape Ann side was put in his charge in 1639; he was living on Bass River and keeping the ferry as late as 1645.

William died in Beverly in 1690 at the age of 82. He left a will naming his five daughters and two granddaughters by his son as his heirs. His estate was valued at over £113.

Famous descendants of William Dixey include John Kerry.

1. Mary Dixey – B. about 1634, Massachusetts; M. Hugh Woodbury (1624-?), Dec 1650, Salem, Massachusetts

2. Abigail Dixey – B. about 1636, Massachusetts; M. John Stone (~1622-?), about 1652

3. Anna Dixey – B. about 1638, Massachusetts; D. 27 Jan 1706, Gloucester, Massachusetts; M. (1) Nehemiah Hayward (?-1665), 11 Aug 1657, Salem, Massachusetts; (2) Thomas Judkin (?-1695), 25 Nov 1665, Gloucester, Massachusetts

4. John Dixey – B. about 1639, Massachusetts; D. 1673; M. Elizabeth Allen, 6 Nov 1668, Swansea, Massachusetts

5. Elizabeth Dixey – B. about 1641, Massachusetts; D. 24 Feb 1690, Beverly, Massachusetts; M. Samuel Morgan (1638-1698), 15 Dec 1658, Salem, Massachusetts

6. Sarah Dixey – B. about 1643, Massachusetts; M. Edmund Gale

The ancestry of Sarah Stone: wife of James Patten of Arundel (Kennebunkport) Maine, 1930
The Building of Essex Bridge, Robert S. Rantoul, 1893
Municipal History of Essex County in Massachusetts, Benjamin F. Arrington, 1922
Wikipedia articles on the ship Arabella and Isaac Johnson
GeneaStar: Famous Family Tree and Genealogy [website]

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