An Inheritance of Ghosts

Nicholas March and Martha —–

Posted in Martha (-----) March, Martha -----, Nicholas March by Gregg Mattocks on 2 August 2009

Nicholas March [1026]

Father: perhaps John March [2052]

Mother: perhaps Rebecca —– [2053]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry

Martha —– [1027]

Father: unknown [2054]

Mother: unknown [2055]

Mattocks Family Heritage entry


Nicholas March [1026] reportedly came to America from Stepney Parish (Shadwell), county Middlesex, England.  He was perhaps related to John March of Charlestown, Massachusetts, and might possibly have been his son.  However, John March died by 17 (11) 1665 [17 January 1666] when his will was proved, and he made no mention of Nicholas March or his family in his will.  Nonetheless, it should be noted that John March’s homelot was on the same small “block” in Charlestown as the homelot of William Dady. William Dady was the second husband of Martha March, Nicholas’s widow. Further, John March hailed from Stepney, county Middlesex. Nicholas March is said to have come from Stepney, and Nicholas’s son William was at Stepney when he wrote his will. If not Nicholas’s father, the evidence points to John having been a near relative.

Nicholas married, probably in England, as her first husband, by about 1659, Martha —— [1027].  Martha was born about 1632.  Nicholas and Martha settled at Charlestown, Massachusetts.  Martha was admitted to the church at Charlestown, Massachusetts, 22 March 1668.

Nicholas died by June 1670 and Martha was left a widow.

In an article for the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Anne Borden Harding speculated about the identity of the widow, “cousin March,” mentioned in the will of Francis Willoughby, Deputy Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Willoughby’s will was written 4 June 1670 and proved 10 April 1671.  William Sheafe, on 4 September 1683, purchased the house “in which he now dwells” from Lawrence Hammond, executor and “cousin” of Francis Willoughby.  The property was described as the house and “3 ft. land the whole breadth of house at S W end of the lane behind house—N E, Z.L. [Zachariah Long]; N W, highway; S E, W.J. [W. Jamison]; land from highway to W.J. is 18 ft. broad; S W, Hammond’s wharf.”  In 1684, Hammond sold to Sheafe “3 ft. added to former lot, whole breadth of west end of dwelling house towards little Dock.”  This house was the same as that mentioned in the Deputy Governor’s will: “To cousin March—liberty, during her widowhood, to live in and make use of the house in which she now dwells, rent free.”  Since William Sheafe came into possession of this house, Harding theorized that the widow March became the second wife of William Sheafe, whose given name was known to be Mary.

Harding stated that the only widow March known to exist in Charlestown at this time was Anna, widow of John.  But our Martha March was widowed of her first husband by at least 29 June 1670, when she remarried. It seems likely that she would have been a widow a mere 25 days earlier when Francis Willoughby composed his will.  Nicholas and Martha March’s son, William, was to be found in the parish of Stepney, county Middlesex, when he wrote his will 29 October 1694.  John March, possibly the father of Nicholas March, was known to have come to Charlestown from Stepney.  Stepney is the ancestral home of the Willoughby family.  William March was involved in the shipping industry.  Maritime occupations were common in the Willoughby family.  William March’s will was witnessed by a Jane Willoughby, as yet unidentified.  William’s sister Marah married mariner Thomas Jenner.  About 1677, Captain Jenner’s ship, on its way to America, had as a passenger Francis Willoughby, son of Deputy Governor Willoughby.  Young Francis died aboard the ship.

Martha married second, as his second wife, 29 June 1670, at Charlestown, William Dady. William Dady, butcher, was born about 1605. In England, William was a resident of Wanstead, county Essex. He may have come to New England with the Winthrop Fleet. He was admitted as an inhabitant of Charlestown in 1630. William was one of the original members of the Boston church. On 14 October 1632, he was dismissed to participate in the organization of the Charlestown church, and was admitted as a founding member of that church on 2 November 1632. In 1632, William “did help to dig sod & carry it to build the fort at Charlstowne.” On 1 April 1633, he became a freeman at Charlestown.

William had married first, perhaps early in 1633, Dorothy ——. Dorothy was admitted to the Charlestown church on 31 (6) 1633 [31 August 1633]. William and Dorothy had three children. William appeared on lists of inhabitants of Charlestown on 9 January 1633/4 and in January 1635/6.

In 1635, William was granted Lot 49, between Thomas Squire and George Felch, a half-acre of meadow at Mystic Field. In that year, William was one of those who surrendered five acres of their ten-acre grant on Mystic Side. Also in that year, William was granted two hay lots. On 22 June 1635, William “was consented to have a houseplot next Goo[dman] Brackenboro.” On 6 March 1636/7, William was granted land in the “First Division of lands on Mistickeside.” In 1637, William owned ten acres “lot no. 20, Mystic side.” In that year, William was granted a “common for two milch cows.” On 23 April 1638, William received a grant of land from Charlestown on the north side of Mystic River, called at this time Mystic Side, later to become Malden and parts of other towns. William received Lot 51, containing five acres on Mystic Side, and thirty acres “above the Ponds.” The grant indicated that he had previously received a five-acre grant (on 6 March 1636/7).

The 1638 Charlestown Book of Possessions showed William with several lots of land, including a house at Charlestown on the east side of Mill Hill, two lots of two acres each at Eastfield on Charlestown Neck, two cow commons, half an acre of meadow on the North River, five acres of woods on the South River, another five acres of woods, and 35 acres at Waterfield.

In 1651, William bought lots of T. Allen. In the same year, William bought, of R. Trerice, two hay-lots on Mystic River. Before 17 March 1656, William served as one of the attorneys of Mrs. Palsgrave. William’s first wife Dorothy died 8 April 1670.

William and Martha Dady had two children, William and Abigail.  On 6 October 1676, William sold to Benjamin Switzer, “two parcels of upland and meadow in Charlestown containing about fifteen and a half acres.”  In 1676, William purchased of Mary Founell, one-eighth interest in a mill.  In 1677, William was instructed to build 9¼ poles of fence.  On 18 January 1677/8, William sold to John Greenland, five acres at Malden, Massachusetts.  On 30 April 1679, William and Martha sold to Joses Bucknam “a parcel of marsh or meadow lying on Mysticside in Charlestown.”  William, aged 74, testified before the legislature on 11 August 1679 that he had aided in 1632 in the construction of the Charlestown fort.

On 4 February 1679/80, “William Daudy and Martha his wife, & John Drinker, in behalf of their sons: and Sarah Mirick in behalf of her husband, all of Charlestowne,” petitioned the General Court in behalf of their “relations [who] were taken by the Algerines the last year.”  The captive relation was undoubtedly William March, Martha’s child by her first marriage.  On 26 February 1679/80, William and Martha sold land at Charlestown on Back Street to Martha’s son-in-law, John George.  On 24 May 1680, Martha petitioned the legislature again, without her husband, she “having one son in captivity with the Turks these eighteen months past … there being many others with him in the like bondage and that of New England birth, and your poor petitioner’s son fatherless.”  The Court declined to act in the matter.  On 6 April 1681, William and Martha Dady sold a cow common on Menotomy River to Thomas Lord. In that year, William received a grant of seven commons.  Also in 1681, William drew lot 37, comprising ten acres.

Under the heading of “Offices,” William was listed as “const. surveyor clerk of the market.”

William Dady of Charlestown, butcher, wrote his will 3 February 1681/2.  He bequeathed to “my beloved wife Martha Dady” his entire estate for life, but if she remarry her thirds only; after wife’s decease or marriage, to “my son W[illia]m Dady the new dwelling house wherein I now live and three acres of ground in the field, two acres of the said land … being between the land of Zacariah Johnson and John Cuttler Junior and one acre more … being on the hill which I bought of Dannell Sheperson and also the salt marsh that lyeth by Georg Blanchard’s and five cow commons in the stinted common on this side Mistick Bridge and half of my eighth part in the mill and the half of both my woodlots on the other side Mistick Bridge with the ground belonging to the said house & barn”; to “my daughter Abigall Dady the little house in which now John Melven liveth with the ground as it is now fenced running down to John George’s ground and the other half of my eighth part of the mill and two cows commons in the foresaid stinted common on this side Mistick Bridge and the other half of the woodlots on the other side Mistick Bridge and also I do give her the use of the pump and to have liberty for water”; to “all my wife’s children by her former husband all the goods that she brought with her”; to “my beloved wife Martha Dady” a parcel of land which she may sell, and if there be £10 left in wife’s hands at her decease “I give it unto my daughter-in-law Mara March”; if either son William or daughter Abigail dies without issue, then entire estate to go to the other, and if both die without issue, then estate to be divided equally among wife’s children by former husband; wife Martha Dady executor and John Whitman and William Clough to be overseers.

William died 10 April 1682, aged 77. His will was proved 20 June 1682. The inventory of William’s estate, taken 26 April 1682, included:

the thirty-two part of the Sea Adventer, valued at £20
real estate valued at £532 18s.
the dwelling house and ground and barn £150
the dwelling house now rented £55
land one acre on the hill £20
more or less two acres in the field £40 5s.
an acre and a half of land in the field £20 5s.
seven cow commons £35 8s.
the new division land in the common £50
seven acres of salt marsh by Blancher’s £42
an eighth part of the tide mill £100
the two woodlots £20

On 29 May 1682, Martha sold to Peter Tufts “ten acres and a half in Charlestown.”  On 10 March 1683, she sold to Joseph and Samuel Kettle “one and a half acres in the East Field in Charlestown.”  In 1684, Martha agreed with D. Edmands to divide the land between their houses. In 1685, she was granted 24½ acres. Martha then sold several more parcels of land to Peter Tuft. In 1685, Martha sold to Peter, three commons on the east side of Menotomy River. In 1687, Martha sold to Peter, for the purpose of rebuilding an old mill belonging to her children, three acres of their land[?]. In 1687, Martha, with her children William and Abigail Dady, sold to Peter, two more acres. In 1691, Martha, William, and Abigail Dady sold to Peter, four cow commons, comprising two acres. Martha was granted administration of the estate of her son William March, probably by 12 September 1695, when the inventory of his estate was returned. In 1699, Martha, William Dady, Jr., his wife Sarah, and Abigail sold to E. Bateman, 22 acres. In 1700/1, Martha, William, and Abigail sold to W. Jamison and Samuel Phipps, one-eighth of mills.

Martha died 13 January 1708/9 at Charlestown, aged 76.

Children of Nicholas and Martha (——) March:

  • 1026.1. Elizabeth, born about 1659.
  • 1026.2. William, born about 1662.
  • 1026.3. Ann [513], born about 1663.
  • 1026.4. Mariah, born 22 October 1666.
  • 1026.5. Martha, born about 1668.

Children of William and Dorothy (——) Dady:

  • a. Benjamin, baptized 24 (1) 1635 [24 March 1635].
  • b. Nathaniel, baptized 22 (11) 1636 [22 January 1637].
  • c. Zachariah, born 16 (3) 1644 [16 May 1644].

Children of William and Martha (—–) Dady:

  • 1027.a.  William, born 10 April 1671. 
  • 1027.b.  Abigail, born 31 October 1672.


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