Friday, March 2, 2012

Over 40 Years Serving his Town – Timothy Wheeler

B. about 1604 in Cranfield, England
M. (1) 30 Apr 1632 in Cranfield, England
Wife: Susanna Knight
M. (2) after 1637
Wife: Jane (last name unknown)
M. (3) about 1655 in Concord, Massachusetts
Wife: Mary Brooks
D. 30 Jul 1687 in Concord, Massachusetts
Emigrated: about 1639

Timothy Wheeler probably brought money when he came to America, because he purchased property in several settlements of the Massachusetts Bay colony. He was born in Cranfield, England, which is in Befordshire, in about 1604. His baptismal record is dated December 28th of that year. His parents were Thomas Wheeler and Rebecca Sayre and he was one of eight children.

Timothy's father died in 1627, and as his oldest son, he inherited a good portion of the estate and was named sole executor. On April 30, 1632, Timothy married Susanna Knight in Cranfield. It is thought that they had a daughter together and Susanna died not long after.

In about 1639, Timothy migrated to America with his younger brothers, Joseph and Ephraim. Timothy and his brothers settled first at Concord, where Timothy married a woman named Jane with whom he had a daughter. Jane died on February 12, 1643.

On September 7, 1643, Timothy signed a petition of settlers to the General Court requesting better land in Concord: "Your petitioners having been brought up in husbandry, of children, finding the lands about the town very barren, and the meadows very wet and unuseful, especially those we now have interest in; and knowing it is your desire the lands might be subdued, have taken pains to search out a place on the north west of our town, where we do desire some reasonable quantitie of land may be granted unto us, which we hope may in time be joined to the farms already laid out there to make a village." It isn't known what happened after the petition was filed.

Timothy served many offices in Concord. On May 6, 1646, he became ensign in the town militia. In January 1654, he was appointed "overseer of the East Quarter" after Concord was divided into three districts. He was Deputy to the General Court in various years from 1663 to 1672 and selectman from 1671 to 1673.

In about 1655, Timothy married a third wife, Mary Brooks. They had three daughters born between 1657 and about 1666. Mary's father Thomas was his neighbor, and in 1640, they together bought 400 acres at Medford including "a house and artifacts." Timothy also made a major purchase with his brother George of "a large amount of land in the center of [Concord]." And on September 1, 1657, he bought a house and several lots from the estate of Dr. Richard Paulsgrave of Charlestown. Of the Medford property, it would be passed down in his wife's family for nearly 300 years.

Timothy continued to be called upon to serve the community. In May 1666, he was on a committee to review preparations for the defense of Boston. He was also appointed to help resolve a boundary dispute between the towns of Billerica and Woburn. During King Philip's War, he was assigned the job of finding and hiring a gunsmith, who could take care of the arms for Concord. And in 1684, he negotiated with the Indians to buy 1,000 acres of land for the town.

Timothy died at Concord on July 30, 1687. He left a will which along with bequests for his family, also left three acres in Concord for use of the school, and 40 acres of woodland to help the ministry of the church. He was buried in the Old Hill Burying Ground in Concord. His tombstone reads:

Here lyes ye Body
Of Capt. Timothy
Wheler Aged
About 86 years
Died the 30 of
July 1687
"The Memory of the Just is Blessed"


Children by Jane:
1. Sarah Wheeler – B. 22 Jun 1640, Concord, Massachusetts; D. 23 May 1662, Concord, Massachusetts

Children by Mary Brooks:
1. Mary Wheeler – B. 3 Oct 1657, Concord, Massachusetts; D. 7 Oct 1660, Concord, Massachusetts

2. Elizabeth Wheeler – B. 6 Oct 1661, Concord, Massachusetts; D. 11 Oct 1683, Concord, Massachusetts

3. Rebecca Wheeler – B. about 1666; D. 23 Sep 1734, Concord, Massachusetts; M. James Minot (1653-1735), about 1684

Sources:
The genealogical and encyclopedic history of the Wheeler family in America, Albert Gallatin Wheeler, 1914
Tributaries – Captain Timothy Wheeler [website]
Tombstone inscription of Timothy Wheeler, Old Hill Burying Ground, Concord Massachusetts

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