Friday, March 16, 2012

Her Sons Made Trouble in Church — Lydia Fairbanks

B. in England
M. (1) 1637 in Boston, Massachusetts
Husband: Edward Bates
M. (2) 7 Oct 1645 in Concord, Massachusetts
Husband: William Fletcher
D. 12 Oct 1704 in Chelmsford, Massachusetts

Lydia Fairbanks faced the challenge of raising disobedient boys in a society where little was tolerated. Lydia was born in England of an uncertain background, but there is a good case to make that she was the daughter of Richard Fairbanks and Elizabeth Daulton. It's speculated that they had as many as six children born in Boston, England. The family was believed to have migrated to America on the ship Griffin, which also carried several noted religious leaders including Anne Hutchinson.

The supposed parents of Lydia settled in Boston, Massachusetts where Richard Fairbanks became an inn keeper. They definitely had two children born in about 1636 and 1639. Richard was a follower of Anne Hutchinson, and in 1637, was one of many who was ordered to "give up his arms" when Hutchinson was banished from the colony. Richard regained his standing in the community, though, and within two years he had the distinction of being named postmaster of Boston, the first man in that position in all of America. His job was to intercept letters coming off of ships and get them delivered to the proper recipients.

The earliest record of Lydia was when she married Edward Bates in Boston in 1637. He was a passenger on the Griffin and had also supported Anne Hutchinson, and was excommunicated from the church for it. He was branded a "heretic" and allowed no rights in the colony. He recanted and was allowed back into the church. So the similarity between Lydia's known husband and supposed father shows that they probably had dealings with each other. Also to suggest that Richard only fathered the two children born in the colony doesn't seem likely since he wasn't a young man when he arrived. (But it's important to note there is no hard evidence that Lydia was Richard's daughter.)

Lydia and Edward had one child, a son named John, born in 1641. Not long after this, Edward must have died, because Lydia married William Fletcher of Concord on October 7, 1645. They had eight children together, although their exact birth dates are unknown. In 1653, the family became some of the first settlers of Chelmsford, Massachusetts and lived in what was said to be the first frame house in town.

Two of Lydia's sons were known to be trouble makers. John from her first marriage and Joshua from her second marriage refused to go to church and "created disturbances without showing proper contrition." This was frowned upon in the rigid Puritan society. Lydia referred to her sons as being "rogue, rascal and hell-bound," a statement that got her reprimanded. With son John, the church officials took it a step further by excommunicating him. The boy later recovered his standing and served as a lieutenant in King Philip's War.

Lydia's second husband William died on November 6, 1677, and she passed away on October 12, 1704. She was buried in Forefathers' Burial Ground in Chelmsford.

Famous descendants of Lydia Fairbanks include Franklin Pierce, George W. Bush, Barbara Bush, Dick Cheney and actor Orson Bean.

Children by Edward Bates:
1. John Bates – B. 1641, Massachusetts; M. Mary Farwell, 1668, Massachusetts

Children by William Fletcher:
1. Lydia Fletcher – B. 30 Jan 1647, Concord, Massachusetts; M. John Fiske

2. Joshua Fletcher – B. 20 Mar 1648, Concord, Massachusetts; D. 21 Nov 1713; M. (1) Grissies Jewell (?-1682), 4 May 1668; (2) Sarah Willey, 18 Jul 1682

3. Paul Fletcher – M. Deliverance Stevens, 12 Apr 1705

4. Sarah Fletcher

5. William Fletcher – B. 21 Feb 1657, Chelmsford, Massachusetts; D. 23 May 1712, Chelmsford, Massachusetts; M. Sarah Richardson (1660-1748), 6 Sep 1677, Massachusetts

6. Mary Fletcher – B. 4 Oct 1658, Chelmsford, Massachusetts

7. Esther Fletcher – B. 12 Apr 1660, Chelmsford, Massachusetts

8. Samuel Fletcher – B. 23 Jul 1664

Genealogy of the Fairbanks Family in America, 1633-1897, Lorenzo Sayles Fairbanks, 1897
"Edward of Boston and His Descendants: Free-Thinkers, Heretics, Patriots," Mary Jean Evans, The Bates Bulletin, Series VII, Volume II, Spring/Summer 1995
History of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Wilson Waters and Henry Spaulding Perham, 1917
Historic homes and places and genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, William Richard Cutter, 1908
Historic homes and institutions and genealogical and personal memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts, Ellery Bicknell Crane, 1907
Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-33, Robert Charles Anderson, 1995
GeneaStar: Famous Family Tree and Genealogy [website]

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