Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Very Early Settler in New England – Richard Norman

B. in England
M. about 1610 in England
Wife: unknown
D. after Apr 1653 in (probably) Salem, Massachusetts
Emigrated: before 1626

Richard Norman was born in an unknown place in England in probably the 1580s, but nothing else is known of his origins. He married around 1610 and his wife is not named in any records. He was known to have two sons and five daughters.

It is believed he arrived in Cape Ann, Massachusetts as early as 1623. During the years after the Mayflower, and before the great migration to the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1630, several settlements sprung up in New England. Cape Ann was one of the earliest, being founded by a group calling itself the Dorchester Company. This small band of settlers arrived during 1623-1625, and was said to have consisted of no more than 50 people. Their primary objectives were to develop the area commercially for fishing and to live outside of the "separatist" Plymouth Colony. In the statement of a man in 1680, he claimed he encountered Richard in 1628, and that Richard told him he was a part of the Dorchester Company who had lived at Cape Ann.

In 1626, a group from Plymouth led by Roger Conant joined the settlers from Cape Ann to form a new settlement at what would become Salem, and Richard was definitely living there (some of the Dorchester Company settlers are said to have returned to England). In 1628, a more established settlement was formed with the arrival of Governor Endicott at Salem. In later years, all those who had pre-dated Endicott's arrival were called the "Old Planters." Whether or not Richard was literally a planter isn't known; based on his association with the Dorchester Company and the location of some of his property, he was probably more involved with fishing.

Richard's name turned up in many land transactions during the 1630's and 1640s, evidence that he had land in the Salem area during those years. His wife was recorded as having testified in a Salem court in 1645, but her name wasn't identified. By 1650, Richard owned 10 acres and a house in Marblehead, on the "Darbe Fort side."

Richard died after April 1653. He deeded his house and property to his oldest son.

Famous descendants of Richard Norman include John Kerry.

"The Founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony," Frank A. Gardner, M.D., The Massachusetts Magazine: devoted to Massachusetts history, genealogy, biography, Vol. 1, 1908
"The Old Planters at Salem," Frank A. Gardner, M.D., The Genealogical Magazine, Vol. III, April 1902
A history of the eastern diocese, Calvin Redington Batchelder, 1876
Historical collections of the Essex Institute, Vol. 1, Essex Institute, 1859
The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to NewEngland, 1620-1633, Vol. 1-3, Robert Charles Anderson, 1995
Dorchester Company: Information from
GeneaStar: Famous Family Tree and Genealogy [website]

1 comment:

  1. A diligent search will find more detailed information about family, but all the info about the north shore settlement is very interesting. His wife was named Alford, I think...I am descended from him through his younger daughter