A distant cousin provided some information the other day that conflicted with my research so I decided to double check my work and in the process I made a few bewitching discoveries. I’m pleased to report that my initial research appears to be correct and that the distant cousin’s information lead me down a curious path.
According to this new information we are directly related to telegraph inventor Samuel F.D. Morse and through a different line than I had noted. The Morse line is on my maternal side when I go back to my 4th great grandmother, Sarah Turner nee Morse (see relationship chart at right).
So, I began reconstructing my past research on the Morse line.
It turns out that Anthony Morse (1616-1686) is my 10th great grandfather. If the research on OneWorldTree is correct then Samuel F.D. Morse, Lizzie Borden and Gerald Ford and I all have Anthony Morse of Newbury, Massachusetts as our common ancestor.
But that’s not all I learned. Here are some more fascinating tidbits:
First, I found Anthony’s will. It’s hard to read but holds quite a bit of good information.
Anthony Morse of Newbury, Mass., came from Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, and settled in Newbury in 1635. With his brother William, both registering as shoemakers, he sailed in the ship James from London, April 5, 1635. He built a house about half a mile south of the old cemetery, in what is now called Newbury Old Town, on a slight eminence in a field which was later owned by Michael Little, and which is still called Morse’s field; traces of his house are still visible a few rods from the road. His will is on file at Salem, Essex County, Mass, and is as follows:
“The last will and Testament of Anthony Morse of Newbury, Mass. I anthony Morse of Newbury in the name of god amen I being sensible of my own frality and mortality being of parfit memory due make this as my last Will and testament cominding my sole to god that gaue it and my body to the dust in hope of a joyful rasurixtion and as for my wourly goods I dispose of as foloeith,
“I gue and bequeath to my son Joshua Morse making him my lawful eaire all my housing and lands both upland and meddow alweais provided that if the toen of Newbury dou divide any part of the common lands that then the on half part of the land which belongth to me which cometh by uartu of my freehould shall be the lawful inheritance of my son benieman morse all so I geue to my son Joshua more all my cattell an horsis and sheep swuine and all my toules for the shumaking trade as allso my carte wheles dung pot plow harrow youkes chains houes forkes shovel spad grin stone yt as allso on father bed which he lieth on with a boulster and pillow and a pair of blinkets and courlitt and tou pair of shetes a bed sted and mat a pot and a brass cetell the best of tou cettles and a belmetell scillet and tou platars and a paringer and a drinking pot and tou spoons and the water pails and barils and tobes all these about named I geue to my son Joshua and his eaires of his own body begoten lawfully than then all aboue geuen to my son Joshua shall Return to the Rest of my children upon the peayment on good peay to my sons widow besides what estates she att any time brought to her husband she the said widdo shall injoy the houl estate on half year before she shall surrender – also I geue to my son Robard Morse Eighteen pounds or his children to my son Peter morse or children £3. to my son Anthony morse children I geue £3 to my son Joseph morses children I geue £12 to my son Benieman Morse or children I geue £12 to my dafter Stickney or children I geue £12 to my dafter Newman children I geue £12. to my dafter Smith or children I gieu £12. to my grand son Richard Thorlo I geue an sheep to my grandson Robard Homes I gieu fieu pounds allso I geue the Remainder of my housall which is not in partikelar geuen to my son Joshua in the former part of this my will to all my children equally to be devided between them and my grand children hous parents are dead, namely anthonys children, Josephs children hanahs children, allso I dou by this my last will allow and geur loberty to my son Joshua morse hou is my Eaire to make sail and dispose of that land by the pine swamp which I had of Benieman lacon of the pece of land by John Akisons hous if he see Resan to do so. Allso I du by this will apoynt my son Joshua morse to be my sole executor to peay all debtes and legacies by this will geuen and to Receuve all debtes allso I dou apoynt my louing and crisian frinds Cap danil Pears and Tristram Coffin and thomas noyes to be oversers of this my last Will Allso I dou apoynt my Exicutor to peay my son Robard and son peter within on yeare after my death on the other to be peaid within three years the plas of peayment to be newbury my will is that my son benieman shal haue the on half of all common lands when devided as aboue said in witnes thereof I anthony morse have hearunto set my hand and seall this 28 Aprell, 1680.
“Anthony Morse (seal)
“Sinid selid and onid in the presence of us
that whereas I anthony morse in this my will abou said have geuen on half of all comon lands if devided to my sonn benieman mors; my meaning iss that my sonn benieman shall haeu the on half of my proportion of lands when devided but my sonn Joshua to haeu all my Rights in the lower comon this is my mind and will as witness my seall this 20 of aprell 1680.
“Anthony Morse (seal)
“Witness to this part of my Will
“Joshua Morse is allowed Exer to this will.”1
Second, I found that in 1679 Anthony’s sister-in-law Elizabeth Morse was accused of being a witch. She was condemned three times to die, but was reprieved and spent her last years in her home, at what is now Market square in Newburyport. There is much information about her trial and here is Anthony’s testimony at her trial.
Third, I found that in 1649 Anthony dug a pit and apparently did not fill it in a timely fashion and a man drowned in it. I’m sure there’s more to that story.2 Anthony was one of the first settlers in Newbury apparently owning land there before 1649.3
Fourth, I found that Anthony’s name is on the Morse Memorial Monument in Medfield, Massachusetts. It was erected on April 27, 1858 at Vine Lake Cemetery, Medfield, MA and the center inscription reads “To the memory of Seven Puritans Who Emigrated from England To America in 1635-9.” A short history of the monument is located on the Morse Society website as well.
Fifth, I found Peter’s will but that’s another story for later. There seems to be some confusion if Peter was Anthony’s son or grandson.
- Ancestry.com. Morse genealogy : comprising the descendants of Samuel Anthony, William, and Joseph Morse and John Moss : being a revision of [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data: Morse, J. Howard. Morse genealogy : comprising the descendants of Samuel Anthony, William, and Joseph Morse and John Moss : being a revision of the Memorial of the Morses published by Rev. Abner Morse in 1850. New York: unknown, 1903.
- Coffin, Joshua, A sketch of the history of Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury from 1635 to 1845 [internet archive] / by Joshua Coffin S.G. Drake, Boston : 1845
- The Sons & Daughters of the First Settlers of Newbury, Mass. website
Anthony Morse (abt. 1607 – 1686)– has images of the probate and will that includes Anthony’s signature
Historic homes and institutions and genealogical and personal memoirs of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, Volume 1 edited by William Richard Cutter, Lewis historical publishing company, 1908.
Memorial of the Morses: containing the history of seven persons of the name, who settled in America in the seventeenth century. With a catalogue of ten thousand of their descendants…by Abner Morse, W. Veazie, 1850, 225 pages
Samuel F. B. Morse Papers at the Library of Congress — has his family tree