Friday, March 16, 2012

Killed By Indians Outside His Home – Robert Bartlett

B. in England
M. (probably) in Massachusetts
Wife: Ann (possibly Warringer)
D. 14 Mar 1676 in Northampton, Massachusetts
Emigrated: 16 Sep 1632 on the ship Lyon

There were three men named Robert Bartlett in the Puritan colonies of New England and sometimes they get confused with one another. This Robert Bartlett was of unknown origins and first appeared in records boarding the ship Lyon in Bristol, England on September 16, 1632. The ship was said to carry 123 passengers who were on the ship for 12 weeks and 8 weeks in crossing the Atlantic. There is speculation that Robert, who had no family with him, may have been a servant to another passenger, but this can't be proven.

Robert has been credited with being one of the original settlers of Hartford, Connecticut; he was granted 8 acres of land there in 1639. He didn't become a freeman until April 10, 1645. Robert married a woman named Ann (possibly Warringer) sometime in the 1630s. They had four children born between about 1636 and 1645. Robert was appointed the job of chimney viewer in Hartford in 1650, which meant he needed to inspect people's chimneys to make sure they were properly cleaned.

In 1653, Robert moved upriver to the new settlement of Northampton, Massachusetts. He was among the 24 petitioners for land which was purchased from the Indians. Ten of the petitioners met in nearby Springfield on October 3rd and agreed that anyone who failed to make a permanent place in the new town by the following spring would forfeit his land. Only eight men followed through and Robert was one of them. The town of Northampton was incorporated in 1654. Robert was the first constable of the town and also helped select the first minister. In 1661, he was on a committee of seven men to start keeping town records.

In 1656, both Robert and his wife Ann testified in the trial of Mary Bliss Parsons. Their testimony was in support of Mary, who had been accused by another woman, Sarah Bridgman, for causing the death of her infant son by use of witchcraft. Ann was a friend of Mary Parsons and told the court that she had seen Sarah Bridgman's infant leading up to its death, and was aware the child was always sickly. Robert told what he knew of Sarah Bridgman being a woman who gossiped. Mary Parsons was acquitted, though oddly would be brought up again in another witchcraft charge by Robert's son Samuel in 1674.

Robert's life came to a tragic end. Northampton was near some of the action in King Philip's War and on March 14, 1676, a band of Indians broke part of the stockade near Robert's home, setting fires and leaving five settlers dead. Robert was one of them, being killed just outside of where he lived. He was buried in the road because at the time, it wasn't safe to move his body to a proper burial place. Later his body was moved to the yard of his house. Robert left an estate valued at £654. Ann died only a few months after Robert on July 3rd.

Famous descendants of Robert Bartlett include Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

1. Abigail Bartlett – B. 6 Sep 1636; D. 15 Jul 1689; M. Jedediah Strong (1637-1733), 19 Dec 1681, Northampton, Massachusetts

2. Samuel Bartlett – B. about 1639, Hartford, Connecticut; D. 26 Feb 1712, Northampton, Massachusetts; M. (1) Mary Bridgeman (~1650-1674), 27 Apr 1672, Northampton, Massachusetts; (2) Sarah Baldwin (1653-1717), 1676, Northampton, Massachusetts

3. Nathaniel Bartlett – B. about 1643, Hartford, Connecticut; D. 8 Dec 1691, Northampton, Massachusetts

4. Deborah Bartlett – B. 14 Mar 1645, Hartford, Connecticut; D. 11 Dec 1711, Hatfield, Massachusetts; M. John Cowls (1641-1711) 

History of Northampton, Massachusetts from its settlement in 1654, James Russell Trumbull, 1898
Genealogical and biographical sketches of the Bartlett family in England and America, Levi Bartlett, 1876
Passengers on the "Lion" From England to Boston, 1632, and five generations of their descendants, Vol. 1, Sandra Sutphin Olney, 1992
GeneaStar: Famous Family Tree and Genealogy [website]

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