Friday, March 9, 2012

Looking for Freedom in Maine – Edmund Littlefield

B. 1592 in Tichfield, England
M. 16 Oct 1614 in England
Wife: Annis (or Agnes) Austen
D. December 1661 in Wells, Maine
Emigrated: (probably) 26 May 1636

Some Puritans who left England in order to practice their religion, had to then leave Massachusetts when they disagreed with authorities. Edmund Littlefield was one such man and he took his family to live on the outskirts of the English colonies — in southern Maine.

Edmund was born in Tichfield, England in 1592 to Francis and Mary Littlefield. Edmund's parents had five children, then his mother died and his father remarried, having two more sons. On October 16, 1614, Edmund married Annis (or Agnes) Austen. They had ten children born between 1615 and 1635.

Edmund made a living as a clothier. A court record in February 1535 showed that he was sued along with his wife and brother for non-payment on some wool he received. The following year, he sailed to America, probably accompanied by his oldest sons. They are said to have arrived in Boston on May 26, 1636. His wife Annis, the other children and two servants migrated in 1638.

On the ship with Edmund was Reverend John Wheelwright, and Edmund became his follower. Wheelwright was a Puritan, but disagreed with many of the conservative practices in the Massachusetts colony; he believed in freedom of speech and opinion. When a candidate he supported for governor lost to the conservative, Wheelwright was banished from Massachusetts. When he left, 175 others joined him, including Edmund and his family.

The Wheelwright group moved to a region about 50 miles north of Boston and purchased the rights to some land from the Indians. This would become the settlement of Exeter, New Hampshire, which they founded on April 3, 1638. In 1639, Edmund was one of 35 men who signed the "Exeter Combination," a document Wheelwright created to establish their own government. Unfortunately, within a couple of years, the Massachusetts colony claimed territory nearby and forced the settlers to seek a community elsewhere.

So Wheelwright took his followers to Maine. He got permission from the founder of that colony to set up a town on what was the northeastern frontier of English settlement. It was dangerous because both the Indians and the French felt they had the rights to the area. Edmund built a saw mill and grist mill on the Webhannet River in 1641 and also owned mills in Cape Porpoise (Kennebunkport). He was granted land in 1643 and another 200 acres in 1645. He became "the richest man in Wells."

Eventually control of Wells fell back to the Massachusetts colony. Edmund took the oath of allegiance to Massachusetts and the freeman's oath on July 5, 1653, although he still didn't side with Massachusetts religious policy. Edmund served many offices in Wells. He also ran a tavern, and was authorized to "sell wine and strong liquor to the Indians in York County."

Edmund died in Wells in December 1661. He left a will and his estate was valued at £588, a huge amount of money at that time.

Famous descendants of Edmund Littlefield include Millard Fillmore, Robert Frost, Calvin Coolidge and Carlton Fisk.

1. Anne Littlefield – B. about 1616, Tichfield, England; D. 2 Jan 1617, England

2. Edmund Littlefield – B. about 1617, Tichfield, England; D. 13 Jun 1635

3. Francis Littlefield – B. about 1619, Tichfield, England; D. about 1712, Wells, Maine; M. (1) Jane Hill (1620-1646), about 1646, Massachusetts; (2) Rebecca Rust (1630-1685), about 1649, Massachusetts; (3) Mary Wade

4. Anthony Littlefield – B. about 1621, Tichfield, England; D. about 1661, Kennebunkport, Maine; M. Mary Page, about 1652

5. John Littlefield – B. about 1624, Tichfield, England; D. 9 Feb 1697, Wells, Maine; M. Patience Wakefield

6. Elizabeth Littlefield – B. about 1627, Tichfield, England; D. Wells, Maine; M. John Wakefield

7. Mary Littlefield – B. about 1630, England; M. (1) John Barrett (?-1688); (2) Thomas Page

8. Thomas Littlefield – B. about 1633, Tichfield, England; D. about 1689; M. (1) Ruth ______, about 1667; (2) Sarah ______

9. Hannah (or Anne) Littlefield – B. about 1633, Tichfield, England; D. about 1680, Framingham, Massachusetts; M. Peter Cloyes

10. Francis Littlefield – B. about 1636, Tichfield, England; D. 6 Feb 1674, Wells, Maine; M. Meribah Wardwell, about 1658

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]
GeneaStar: Famous Family Tree and Genealogy [website]

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