The Ancestral Home in England of American Shattucks

by Philip Shaddock

Sheep shearing, depicted in an early 16th-century manuscript

The Shattucks came over to America from England during the great migration of pilgrims to the Massachusetts Bay Colony between 1629 and 1640. The seminal book on English immigration to America, "Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America" by David Hackett Fischer (Oxford University Press, 1989), sets the stage (pp. 16-7). King Charles I tried "to rule England without the parliament and Archbishop William Laud purged the Anglican church of its Puritan members." It was a time of economic depression, epidemic disease, religious strife and constitutional crisis. It was estimated that 21,000 emigrants fled conditions at home for the Massachusetts Bay colony.

Profiling the Shattuck Pilgrims

Fischer argues that it is not persecution that drove people to leave the comfort and continuity of their English villages. It was a desire to serve God's will and be free of temptation, in other words to start fresh in a virgin land. Like modern communes, they wanted a retreat from their motherland where they could create a social environment for their families that was based on their shared Puritan beliefs. This meant that, more than any other group emigrating to America, the Puritans migrated with their whole family. "To a remarkable degree, the founders of Massachusetts traveled in families--more so than any major ethnic group in American history." (Fischer p. 25) This is an extremely important point with regards to the founding of the Shattuck family. Were the three Shattucks who came over in the great migration (widow Damaris, Samuel Shattocke and William Shattocke) from separate families? It seems more likely that they were from a single nuclear family or at most from close Shattocke relatives living in an English village or town or in nearby villages. Fischer p. 25: "The nuclear families that moved to Massachusetts were in many instances related to one another before they left England."

Frederick Cheever Shattuck (1847-1929). He was a prominent physician and professor at Harvard Medical School. "A shrewd and kindly judge of human nature, a whimsically humorous commentator on men and affairs, a wise physician rich in the learning derived from large experience, an impressive and stimulating clinical teacher, a far-sighted, enterprising and generous supporter of important new developments in medicine--these are some of the lasting impressions of Dr. Shattuck that lie deep in the memory of his colleagues in the Harvard Medical School." The Boston Shattucks had many prominent family members.

There is something else we can probably say about the Shattucks who arrived in the Colony. According to Fischer, they belonged to the middle strata of society, not the aristocracy and not the poor or disadvantaged. "The great majority were yeomen, husbandmen, artisans, craftsmen, merchants and traders--the sturdy middle class of England." (p. 30) Most of the immigrants to the Colony paid their own way with the cost of outfitting and moving a family of six about £50, roughly what a middle class Englishman would earn in a year. That would be equivalent to $50,000 to $70,000 in today's dollars. This eliminated the poor and the financially strapped. On top of that, not everybody was allowed into the colony. You needed to qualify.  "The heads of these families tended to be exceptionally literate, highly skilled, and heavily urban in their English origins. There were a people of substance, character, and deep personal piety." (p. 31) Less than a third were involved in agriculture. This is important because it gives us clues as to the identity of the Shattuck immigrant. It also gives us clues about where to find Shattuck ancestors: in villages, not isolated farms. And for other Shattocke family branches, this portrait of the Puritans presents a snapshot of where our ancestors stood in English society, where they lived, and what occupations they pursued in the early 17th century. And a very, very important point to note is that the Shattucks who found a new life in the Massachusetts Bay colony were deeply religious and non-conformists.

You are probably familiar with real crime stories where a forensic profiler develops a detailed description of the likely perpetrator or a crime. In trying to discover the identity of the Massachusetts Shattuck pilgrims, you can think of what I have described so far as a profile of who our Shattocke emigrant to the colony was likely to be.

West Somerset

But where did that immigrant come from? If you read the page I have written about the Somerset Shattocks, you will see that all Shattockes in the world come from Somerset, in the west country of England. In fact, around 1600 all Shattockes lived within thirteen miles of each other in west Somerset, although there was a least one family living in North Molton, on the border of Devon and Somerset, across the Exmoor forest. 

It is almost certain the Shattockes who landed in the Massachusetts Bay colony were from west Somerset. And that narrows our search for their home village down to a matter of a few miles.

Where in west Somerset? A researcher early in the 20th Century, Charles Edward Banks, collected information about early settlers in New England between 1620 and 1650. It was published in 1937 by the Bertram Press in a book titled, "Topographical dictionary of 2885 English emigrants to New England, 1620-1650." He identified two Shattocke immigrants to Massachusetts, William Shattock, who settled in Watertown, just outside of Boston, and Samuel Shattock, who settled in Salem, just to the north. His sources were Charles Henry Pope (The Pioneers of Massachusetts, Boston 1900and Sidney Perley (The History of Salem, Salem 1924-28). 

Banks identifies the ships that carried the first pilgrims to the Massachusetts Bay colony. The "Mary and John" made two trips from Plymouth, England to Massachusetts Bay, one in 1630 and once in 1633-34. According to a book by Ann Natalie Hansen (The English Origins of the 'Mary and John' Passengers, Sign of the Cock, 1985), the passengers came from many towns in Dorset, Devon and Somerset. Charles Edward Banks, in The Planters of The Commonwealth in Massachusetts, 1620-1640, Boston, 1930 (p. 87), wrote: "Mary and John, Thomas Chubb, Master. She sailed from Plymouth, England, March 20 [1630], with one hundred and forty passengers from the counties of Somerset, Dorset, and Devon." 

The town that was established after the first voyage of 1630 was Dorchester, now an historic neighborhood of Boston. Parishes some of the passengers were from were Dorchester (Dorset), Bridgport (Somerset), Crewkerne (Somerset) and Exeter (Devon). According to Banks (The Winthrop Fleet of 1630. Boston, 1930) the settlers in Massachusetts were assembled and sponsored by Reverend John White, Vicar of Dorchester, England, in whose honor Dorchester, Massachusetts was named.



Title page of Captain John Smith's 1616 work A Description of New England. The Puritans who left England might have seen this "ad" encouraging them to emigrate to North America.

The night before sailing must have been a mixture of excitement and chill fear among the strangers who met in the coastal town of Plymouth in the south east of Devon, England. They had no idea of the trials they would be put through, including being dumped in the wilderness by a captain who feared taking his ship up the Charles River. Hardships and disease took their toll, which is the reason I suspect you find "widow Shattuck" in the records and marrying shortly thereafter. A woman who lost her husband and had children was vulnerable, and just as vulnerable as a man who lost his wife and had children. In wills of early settlers you often find a husband leaving property to both his natural children and his children by marriage without prejudice. Marrying your neighbor for mutual support was the norm.

I also think this is the reason why you find that William Shattuck, who was born about 1622 and Samuel Shattuck, born about 1620, seem to be without parents in the records. Their parents and other possible siblings must have died on the way over or shortly after they arrived. The voyage over and the first years in the wilderness took a terrible toll on the immigrants. 

There is an excellent short account of the voyage by Maude Pinney Kuhns in The "Mary and John:" A Story of the Founding of Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1630 (The Tuttle Publishing Company, 1943). An excerpt from the book can be found here. You get a very good idea of the incredible hardships faced by the early settlers seeking their own land and freedom after centuries or millenniums of bondage and finding hostility in the weather, in the native people, and even among their own people.  The story of the Shattocke families in the Massachusetts colony is at the very core and the beginning of the American experience. Shattuck ancestors were among the very first immigrant people to a new land that offered the promise of religious and economic freedom. The central celebration is Thanksgiving every year when American families come together and acknowledge their shared history and their solidarity and mutual support. The Shattockes of New England are among the nation's founders.  

There is no indication that William or Samuel were on the Mary and John. But then the passenger lists for the Mary and John in 1630 and 1630-34 have never been fully reconstructed. We do not find Shattockes on the passenger list, but that probably means nothing since the list is incomplete. And because the two Shattuck boys might not have be on the list because of their ages. I have consulted the latest list maintained by the Winthrop Society, an organization composed of descendants of Winthrop Fleet passengers, and Shattocke or any of its variant spellings are not listed. There are no Shattockes that appear on other passenger ships during this period. 

The best reason why we do not find William and Samuel on the Mary and John passenger lists is that they would be 12 and 14 in 1633-34. Children were not usually listed as passengers. Still, you would expect to see at least a father or fathers for them and Damaris' name. 


"The Landing of the Pilgrims" (1877) by Henry A. Bacon

In the end it probably does not matter if the Shattockes who emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay colony were on the Mary and John. The fact is 
we can be certain that they emigrated from west Somerset. As I show on the page devoted to west Somerset, I establish the area in west Somerset as the origin point for all Shattockes throughout the world. 

Can we find the specific village in west Somerset?  In the list of Somerset parishs listed by Banks, there are three parishs where we find Shattockes in the emigration time frame: Yeovil, Tolland and Wedmore are villages that show Shattocke residents. We can probably eliminate Yeovil right away. It was some distance from where the majority of Shattockes lived, and it only shows a William and Mary Shattocke dying there in 1624. They apparently had no parents or children there. For the same reason we can probably eliminate Wedmore. It shows a Joannis Shattocke and Johannam Nurfeilde marrying in Wedmore in 1584 and having a daughter Grace. But again, Wedmore is some distance from where most Shattockes lived. And there were not other Shattockes in the parish record or in nearby villages.

The most likely town is Tolland. If you read the research I have done on west Somerset (here), you will see that Tolland is very near one of the multi-generational Shattocke villages, West Bagborough. And there is a clear link between Shattockes in the area and one of the Puritan pilgrims from Tolland who emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay colony. Alexander Shattuck is a beneficiary in the will of John Wolcott c. 1547-1623 of Tolland, a miller, in a will dated 1623, “7 pence each to Richard Locke and Alexander Shattuck.” In fact this is Alexander Shattock who married Agnes Sealy Jan. 15, 1605. The marriage was recorded in Tolland.


House at Coleford Water. The hamlet of Coleford Water consists of three or four houses. The lanes leading to it are single track with hardly any passing places. Picture from Wikepedia Commons.

If you look at the beginning of the list on this page from the Banks Topographical Dictionary, you will see the name Henry Wolcott from Tolland. He emigrated to New England in 1630 aboard the Mary and John. He was granted 100 acres in Dorchester, the original landing place of the Mary and John immigrants, only twelve miles from Watertown. 
Was there a family connection between the Wolcotts and the Shattucks? There is an interesting paper written by Philip Ashford, "The West Somerset Woolen Trade 1500-1714" that has a section on the Wolcotts of Tolland and mentions the emigration of a member of the family to New England. Tolland is just over 4 miles (7 km) from West Bagborough. The Wolcotts had been living in Tolland since at least the late 15th century because Thomas Wolcott was born there at that time. He was a tucker, meaning he operated a water driven mill that gave woolen cloth its final processing, by soaking and beating to remove impurities.  Note that William Shattuck of Watertown, one of the three Shattocke Puritans who emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay colony, came from a family that were weavers. He either imported or built a loom that he passed on to his son William.

Guess who the Wolcott family historians make the father of Henry Wolcott, our Puritan immigrant to the Massachusetts Bay colony? It is John Wolcott, the very same John Wolcott who made Alexander Shattock a beneficiary in his will in 1623. This links Henry Wolcott of the Massachusetts Bay colony to the Shattockes in nearby Watertown and Salem. Henry's father had a very close relationship with Alexander Shattocke and that bond was forged in Tolland, Somerset. What gives this connection additional credence is the fact William Shattuck, founder of Shattucks in America, was a weaver. And Samuel Shattuck of Salem has been described as a dyer of cloth. These two Shattucks were children of Shattucks involved in the woolen business. I think the Shattockes in Tolland and West Bagborough might have been suppliers of wool and cloth to the Wolcott mill in Tolland. At least they might have been part of the local woolen trade. 

In correspondence with a Wolcott descendant and family historian, John Wolcott, he had this to say: "Another possible connection is that John Wolcott, who left a bequest to Alexander Shattock in his 1623 will, was married in 1579 to Agnes Crosse. William Shattock was married to Mary Crosse in 1595. We think that Agnes was probably the daughter of John Crosse who was the parish priest at Tolland as we have found no other Crosses at Tolland."

William Shattock married Mary Crosse in Combe Florey, which is half-way between Tolland and West Bagborough. It is intriguing to think this William may have been the grandfather of William Shattuck (ca. 1622-1672). But that is pure speculation at this point. At the very least this evidence strengthens the ties between Tolland families and the Shattocks. 

The Wolcotts of Tolland were likely related to the Wolcotts of Devonshire, an interesting origin given that Shattockes are found in North Molton, Devonshire, in the first parish records in the early 16th century. What it shows is that the wool industry may have drawn people across the moor from Devon to Somerset or vice versa. 

The Wolcotts in Tolland date from the early 16th century. According to a history of the Wolcott family by John Wolcott, "William Wolcott who was at Tolland from 1525 to 1539 may have been the William Wolcott who appears on the 1524 tax roll at Bovey Tracy and is missing from the 1525 roll." John Wolcott goes on to list Tolland Wolcotts who were fullers, and clothiers. (See http://www.wolcottfamily.com/somerset.html.) As clothiers Wolcotts would farm out wool for weaving, which may have been the connection to Shattocks.

See the page on the North Molton Shattockes. At the time of this writing I am not entirely sure if the Shattockes moved from Devon to Somerset or vice versa, although I favour a migration from Somerset to North Devon.

There is another family connection between the Wolcotts and the Shattocks according to John Wolcott. "Abraham, son of George and Florence Woolcott, b. 1660 Nettlecombe; m. Joan Shattock of North Petherton 1690 at North Petherton; she d. 1714 North Petherton."

Henry Wolcott was born Dec. 1, 1578 and baptized five days later in Lydeard St. Lawrence, a tiny village 1 1/2 miles from Tolland. Like his ancestor Thomas Wolcott he was a miller. He married Elizabeth Saunders in Lydeard St. Lawrence in 1607. When she had a child just 30 weeks later, he found himself in trouble with the Diocesan Court for the crime of "incontinence." To escape persecution he moved to Ash Priors, another village 3 miles away where he fell under the influence of Master Edward Elton, a Puritan, and went through a radical conversion. He ultimately decided to move to the New World to practice his new found religion. He was only in Dorchester, Massachusetts for five years before moving on to Connecticut in 1635. (Tolland in Connecticut is named after Tolland in Somerset.) We know he probably knew Shattockes in the tiny communities of Tolland and Lydeard St. Lawrence.  

The Wolcotts became a prominent family in America, which included Oliver Wolcott who signed the United States Declaration of Independence. 

This is a second major reason why I think Tolland and West Bagborough are likely origin points for the Shattocke pilgrim immigrants. There as a very active Puritan community in the neighborhood. 

There were Shattockes in Tolland and villages nearby. In looking at the Christian names of Shattocks in this area, you do come across many William and Samuel Shattocks. William Shattocke married Marye (sic) Crosse in Combe Florey Nov. 29, 1595, a village only one and half miles from Tolland.  He baptized a daughter, Johanne Shattocke Apr. 19, 1598.  In 1653 a different William Shattocke, his wife and children, destitute, are ordered by the court to be removed from Tolland back to Crocombe, about 5 miles away. Presumably Crocombe was their native parish. There was a Shattocke family living in the area from which Henry Wolcott emigrated. Can we find a Samuel Shattocke in Tolland? Yes we do. The reference comes from Lemuel Shattuck's Descendants.  Lemuel Shattuck in his Memorials (p. 13) says: "In the year 1525 Samuel Shattocke and Alice Shattocke of Tolland, in Somersetshire, appear upon the Rolls which contain Assessments of the Subsidies granted by Parliament." 

West Bagborough is on the edge of the Quantock Hills, up the valley from Taunton at a distance of 22 miles, on the way to Minehead, which was a major shipping point for wool and cloth. It is a very, very small parish, with a population of 348 people in 2014. In 1894 the population was only 107. We happen to know the population of the village in the 14th century. When the plague ravished the village its population was reduced to 64 people over the age of 14. The residents were so traumatized by the plague that they did not return to their homes around the manor house, choosing instead to build new homes away from the infected area. The parish records begin in 1558 and a Shattock child, Johanne Shattock, is baptized at the church April 15, 1560. Her parents, John and Johanne, have six children in West Bagborough. I have records of the family that show continuous habitation into the late 18th century.


Tolland church, St. John the Baptist

The name "Alexander Shattocke" is associated with Tolland in another document. Alexander Shattock (in “The American Genealogist” Vol. 81 p. 40) is listed as one of a group of 5 people contributing 20s for repair of church of Tolland. The name is also associated with West Bagborough. There is an Alexander Shattock whose will Lemuel Shattuck cites. He was buried in West Bagborough in May 1588 and his will was probated that year

Notice that name "John." That was the name of the first born son of William Shattuck (ca. 1622-1672), founder of the Massachusetts Shattucks. The convention was to name the first born male after his grandfather, and indeed we find a John Shattock born in West Bagborough in 1561, old enough to be William's grandfather. 

Other names found in the West Bagborough parish registers are Johanna and William, which are names found among William Shattuck's children. Was he remembering his close relatives back home? 

There is an Alexander Shattocke in West Bagborough, who married a "Susan," and "Susanna" is the name of William's first born female child. 

"Samuel" was a very rare christian name among early Shattockes. Plus it has a biblical origin, making it a very popular name in Puritan families (According to George R. Stewart, author of American Given Names, New York, Oxford University Press, 1979).  It appears to be a given name popular in the area of Tolland and West Bagborough at the time. But it is not a popular name among Shattocks in other areas of Somerset at this time. There is a Samuel born in 1662 in Taunton. But the only places where we find Samuel Shattockes before that date are a Samuel Shattocke, who was assessed for land in Tolland in 1525 (according to Lemuel Shattuck in his Descendants) and a Samuel Shattick born in West Bagborough in 1575. 


By Jonathan Billinger, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13410647

The Samuel with land in Tolland was married to "Alice," also the name of the wife of the pilgrim Samuel who settled in Salem, Massachusetts. 

It is quite possible the reason we are missing the birth records for the Massachusetts pilgrims is because they were not baptized in the Anglican church. They were Puritans or Quakers. (Thanks to John Shattock for pointing this out.) In fact the Tolland parish records don't begin until 1700 and there are no Shattockes in the Tolland parish record. Did they all emigrate from Tolland?

Given these facts, it is possible that Samuel Shattuck of Salem, Massachusetts is a direct descendant of this Samuel and Alice Shattocke of Tolland. And the William Shattockes of West Bagborough might have supplied the name for the other Shattuck pilgrim, William Shattocke or Shattuck, who settled in Watertown.

Samuel Shattock of Tolland owned enough property for it to be taxed. Certainly the fact that the Shattockes of Tolland appear to a relatively wealthy family fits within the scenario Fischer describes for New England pilgrims. The Shattockes of Tolland were able to afford emigration to the Massachusetts Bay colony.  William Shattuck of Watertown was a teenager when he set up his farm, indicating he had the means to do so. Samuel Shattuck in Salem owned a shop. 

The Shattockes of Tolland and the Wolcotts of Tolland were neighbors and the John Wolcott will. This suggests they were intimate, if not connected by marriage. It was a tiny community. Today the population of Tolland is only 81 people

Ashford mentions the role of Quakers in the woolen trade. (See the section I have written about this connection between the Shattockes of North Molton, the Shattucks of New England and the woolen trade in West Somerset.) I think that Tolland and West Bagborough are very strong candidates for the home villages of the Shattockes of Massachusetts.

We know that William Shattuck (ca. 1622-1672) of Watertown, Massachusetts, one of the first Shattockes in the Massachusetts Bay colony was a weaver because he left his loom to one of his sons. And we know that in Taunton, Somerset was a major woolen industry center and the woolen industry was dominated by Dissenters who separated from the Church of England to return to a more fundamentalist interpretation of the bible. So it is not surprising to find William Shattuck both a weaver and a Puritan Dissenter. 

Given these facts, it is possible the Shattucks of America are descended from the Shattockes of Tolland and perhaps the neighboring village of West Bagborough.

The DNA Evidence


Frances Kitteridge Shattuck (1824-1898) was yet another John Shattuck (1642-1675) descendant. Perhaps this is the most prolific branch of the Shattuck family. F. K. Shattuck built the famous Shattuck Hotel in Berkeley, California. On a page on Berkeley landmarks, the historian has this to say about F.K. Shattuck and his hotel: "If Berkeley has a heart, it must be located on the 2200 block of Shattuck Avenue between Kittredge Street and Allston Way. This is the site that Berkeley’s founder, Francis Kittredge Shattuck, chose as his homestead. Although the Gold Rush lured him to California, Shattuck (1824–1898) made his fortune by other means. In 1852, he teamed up with George Blake, William Hillegass, and James Leonard to file a claim on a square mile in what is now central Berkeley."

The Shattocke family tree I developed is derived from DNA data. It shows the Shattucks of America and the Shattocks of west Somerset are genetically linked. All descendants of William Shattuck of Watertown (ca. 1622-1672) have an SNP mutation called Y19751. All descendants of the west Somerset branch of the Shattocke family I call the Southwark, London Shattocks share that mutation with Shattucks. They have a common ancestor who lived in west Somerset. According to Bob Shattock, a descendant of the London Shattocks in Melbourne, family oral history has their founder born in a village outside Taunton in west Somerset. (See the page devoted to the Southwark, London Shattocks.) This is compelling evidence that the Shattucks of America are descended from Shattocks who lived in a village west of Taunton in west Somerset.

We do not know if William and Samuel Shattuck were from the same family. There are no records of them together in Massachusetts and they seem to have lived in separate towns (Watertown and Salem). The widow Damaris lived in Salem, so there is a possibility she was the mother of Samuel. A best guess is that Samuel and the widow Damaris were from a Shattock family in Tolland and William Shattuck was from a closely related family in West Bagborough. Will we ever know the truth? Probably not, because the Samuel Shattuck lineage apparently has no male descendants. DNA testing will not help us here.

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