Friday, March 16, 2012

A Long Life in Early Maine – Francis Littlefield

B. (probably) 1619 in Titchfield, England
M. (1) before 1646 in Woburn, Massachusetts
Wife: Jane Hill
M. (2) 1649
Wife: Rebecca (last name unknown)
M. (3) after 1674 in (probably) Wells, Maine
Wife: Mary Wade Symonds
D. about 1712 in Wells, Maine
Emigrated: (probably) 1636

Francis Littlefield was sometimes called called "Francis the elder," because of the odd circumstances that he had a younger brother also named Francis. He was born in probably 1619 to Edmund Littlefield and Annis Austen in Titchfield, England (he was baptized June 17th), and he was one of ten children. The story sometimes given for the fact there were two boys named Francis is that the older Francis disappeared as a child and was thought to be dead, then was reunited with the family many years later. There seems to be no evidence of this, though.

Francis' father Edmund is said to have traveled to Boston in 1636 and it's likely that Francis was with him. Most of the rest of the family came in 1638. The Littlefields were followers of Reverend Wheelwright, who was banished from the Massachusetts colony in 1638, and the family moved with him to Exeter, New Hampshire, then to Wells, Maine. Francis may have been with his family in Exeter, but appears to have gone his own way for a few years before rejoining them in Wells by 1643, where he was granted 50 acres of land. Then he married his first wife Jane Hill, probably in Woburn, Massachusetts. They had a daughter Mary born in Woburn on December 14, 1646, but Jane died within a week after the baby was born.

Francis moved around quite a bit during this time. After Woburn, he next turned up in Dover, New Hampshire in 1648, then back in Wells in 1650, but bought a house in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1653. In 1649, he married a woman named Rebecca, and between 1649 and 1674, they had 11 children. After Rebecca died, he married a third wife, Mary Wade Symonds.

Francis finally settled in Wells where he held many offices. During the 1660s and in 1675-76, he was a representative. He served on the Grand Jury and was county treasurer. He also became an inn keeper and was licensed to sell alcohol. The sessions of the general court were held in his house. It was said that Francis was a supporter of "the claims of Massachusetts" (Massachusetts took over control of Maine in 1652).

Wells was on the outskirts of the English colonies and vulnerable to attacks from Indians. In May of 1690, an attack occurred in Wells where the Indians burned several houses and killed two settlers, including Francis' 32 year-old son James. Another attack on July 4, 1697 took the life of Francis' daughter Phoebe. This happened in Kittery, Maine where she lived with her husband and children. Phoebe and her husband John Heard were returning from church with a group of friends and Indians ambushed them near a large rock on the side of the road. Two others were killed; one was Major Charles Frost, who was a well-known Indian fighter. It was said that Phoebe's husband tried to put his wife on a horse, but she insisted he leave her there to die in order to make sure their children were safe at home. The site of the attack later became known as Ambush Rock.

Francis lived out his years in Wells dying in 1712 at the age of 93 (his estate was inventoried on January 15, 1713). His son Dependence described that he cared for his father during his final years by "transporting my dear father twice from the westward to Wells."

Famous descendants of Francis Littlefield include Millard Fillmore and Robert Frost.

Children by Jane Hill:
1. Mary Littlefield – B. 14 Dec 1646, Woburn, Massachusetts; D. 9 Oct 1719, Billerica, Massachusetts; M. (1) John Kittredge (~1630-1676), 2 Nov 1664, Wells, Maine; (2) John French (1635-1712), 16 Jan1678, Billerica, Massachusetts

Children by Rebecca:
1. Sarah Littlefield – B. 15 Nov 1649, Wells, Maine; D. 1734; M. (1) John Wells; (2) William Sawyer, Nov 1677

2. Hannah Littlefield – B. 6 Jan 1653, Wells, Maine; D. 1692

3. Deliverance Littlefield – B. 5 Jul 1655, Wells, Maine; D. 17 May 1690; M. Abraham Tilton

4. James Littlefield – B. 2 Oct 1657, Wells, Maine; D. 16 May 1690; M. Katharine Hurd

5. Isaac Littlefield – B. 1660, Wells, Maine; D. 1676

6. Abigail Littlefield – B. 26 Mar 1661, Wells, Maine; M. John Elbridge

7. Daniel Littlefield – B. 1662; D. 1718; M. Mehitable Dodd

8. Dorcas Littlefield – B. 4 Oct 1664, Wells, Maine

9. Phoebe Littlefield – B. 1670; D. 4 Jul 1697, Maine; M. John Heard, 27 Apr 1690

10. Dependence Littlefield – B. 1671; D. 1757; M. (1) Hannah Snell; (2) Elizabeth Batson, 5 Dec 1718, Boston, Massachusetts

11. Rachel Littlefield – B. 1674; M. William Frost, 6 Dec 1694

Sources:
Genealogy and family history of the state of Maine, Henry Sweetser Burrage and Albert Roscoe Stubbs, 1909
The History of Wells and Kennebunk from the earliest settlement to the year 1820, Edward Emmerson Bourne, 1875
The Morris Clan [website]
Munson, Underwood, Horn, Farfield and Allied Families – Francis Littlefield Sr. [web page]
GeneaStar: Famous Family Tree and Genealogy [website]

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