John Shattuck (1647-1672)

by Philip Shaddock

Tablet erected by the nineteenth century genealogist and Shattuck family historian Lemuel Shattuck, honouring his ancestors. It is found on the road to the town William Shattuck settled in, Watertown, Massachusetts, now part of greater Boston. The inscription reads:  "To perpetuate the memory of WILLIAM SHATTUCK, who died in Watertown, Aug. 14, 1672, aged 50; The progenitor of the families that have borne his name in America. And of his son, JOHN SHATTUCK, who was drowned in Charlestown Ferry, Sept. 14, 1675, aged 28. This simple memorial was erected in 1853, by Lemuel Shattuck, who holds in grateful veneration the character of the Puritan Fathers of New England."


John Shattuck was the third child (a fourth died in the same year of birth) and first male child of William Shattuck (ca. 1622-1672). As of this date, the majority of Shattucks we have DNA tested are descendants of John, despite the fact he died at the young age of twenty-five in Philip's War fought against the indigenous peoples of the fledgling Massachusetts Bay colony.  (He was buried in the same grave as his father.) A biography of his life is provided by the Shattuck family historian, Lemuel Shattuck (1793-1859), who was himself descended from John Shattuck. His book, "Memorials of the Descendants of William Shattuck" (1855) provides this biography of John.

Lemuel provides an account of John's life in his "Memorials of Descendants:

"John Shattuck, son of William, was born in Watertown, Feb. 11, 1647; and, according to the records of that town, was drowned as he was passing over Charlestown Ferry, the 14th Sept. 1675, ae. 28 y. 7 m. 3 d. He had lands granted to him in Groton in 1664, but it does not appear that he was an inhabitant of that town for any great length of time, if at all. He was a carpenter, and resided principally in the Middle District—the present village of Watertown; where he was employed by the town, in 1669 and subsequently, to keep the town mill, then situated near the present bridge leading to Newton Corner. 

The year 1675 is well known in history as the commencement of the most disastrous war with the Indians that ever occurred in New England. It has been entitled "Philip's" war, from the name given to the notorious Metacom, the principal leader of the different tribes. It was undoubtedly the intention of King Philip to destroy all the white inhabitants; and at one time fears were entertained that he would carry his designs into execution. Many of the frontier towns were burned and deserted by the new settlers. Among other places early attacked were the remote settlements on Connecticut River. As a means of protection a military company was organized under Capt. Richard Beers, a distinguished citizen of Watertown, of which young John Shattuck was appointed sergeant, and proceeded to Hadley.

Hearing that Squawkeague, now Northfield, had been attacked, they marched, on the 4th of September, 1675, to its relief; and while on their route a large force of Indians who lay concealed, suddenly rose and fell upon them with overpowering fury. Of thirty-six men of whom the company was composed, sixteen only escaped death. Capt. Beers was killed. Sergeant Shattuck, one of the sixteen whose lives were preserved, was immediately despatched as a messenger to the Governor of the Colony to announce the result of the expedition. On the 14th of September, ten days after the battle, as he was crossing the ferry between Charlestown and Boston, he was drowned. Gookin, (Trans. Am. Antiquarian Society, Vol. II., p. 466,) describes this event as follows :

About this time a person named Shattuck, of Watertown, that was a sergeant under Capt. Beers, when the said Beers was slain near Squakeage, had escaped very narrowly but a few days before ; and being newly returned home, this man being at Charlestown, in Mr. Long's porch, at the sign of the Three Cranes, divers persons of quality being present, particularly Capt. Lawrence Hammond, the Captain of the town, and others, this Shattuck was heard to say to this effect: ' I hear the Marlborough Indians, in Boston in prison, and upon trial for their lives, are likely to be cleared by the court; for my part,' said he, ' I have been lately abroad in the country's service, and have ventured my life for them, and escaped very narrowly; but if they clear these Indians, they shall hang me up by the neck before I ever serve them again.' Within a quarter of an hour after these words were spoken, this man was passing the ferry between Charlestown and Boston ; the ferry boat being loaded with horses and the wind high, the boat sunk; and though there were several other men in the boat and several horses, yet all escaped with life, but this man only. I might mention several other things of remark here that happened to other persons, that were filled with displeasure and animosity against the poor Christian Indians, but shall forbear, lest any be offended."

It is proper to remark, in explanation of this narrative, that a painful suspicion was entertained at the time that some of the half christianized Indians in the settlements were privy to and partners in the conspiracy of Philip. Gookin did not share this suspicion, and he therefore opposed the war and those engaged in it. He had acted as counsel for the Indians then on trial ; and he considered it criminal in any one to speak against them, notwithstanding some of them were convicted and were afterwards executed for murder. Whether Mr. Shattuck made the remarks, in "effect," as here given, or whether they were a mere hearsay report, is uncertain ; but Gookin seems to have considered his accidental drowning a special Providence, executed upon him as a punishment for his honest but fearless expression of opinions on subjects which he had just discussed with "divers persons of quality"!

This judgment, however, if indeed it was one, did not occur alone ; others happened to other persons for similar acts. Mr. Shattuck, as an honest, independent young man, having opinions of his own, and not afraid to express them on a proper occasion, would not be very likely to speak in the most mild and friendly terms of an enemy that had, only ten days before, betrayed and killed twenty out of thirty-six of his companions in arms ; and he is to be commended for his conduct, and for this exhibition of a characteristic trait of the family.

He married June 20, 1664, in his eighteenth year, Ruth Whitney, born in Watertown, April 15, 1645, daughter of John Whitney. On the 6th March, 1677, eighteen months after the death of Mr. Shattuck, she married Enock (or Enosh as often written) Lawrence, b. March 5, 1649, son of John Lawrence; and, in 1678, they removed to Groton, with several of his relatives, at the resettlement of that town, taking with him the four young children by her first husband ; and they probably occupied the land granted to Mr. Shattuck, in 1664. From this family the Shattucks in Groton and Pepperell originated. Mr. Lawrence died in Groton, Sept. 28, 1744, ae. 95 years 6 m. 23 d. The date of her death has not been ascertained."

DNA Research

The John Shattuck (1647-1672) branch of the Massachusetts Shattucks is the best studied branch in terms of DNA. Many of the descendants I have studied arrived on this site without a clear paper trail to the past. The DNA results that came back helped me to find and validate their paper trails all the way back to William Shattuck of Watertown, the founder. It has allowed me to build a family tree that shows how they are related to other Shattucks. 
Below is a graphic of the family tree for John Shattuck, showing the first few generations in some cases. I have also shown living descendants who have participated in our DNA studies. If you wish to participate in these DNA studies, contact me.  If you find errors in the genealogy shown here, please contact me.

Son: William Shattuck (1670-1743)

I have listed the descendants of John Shattuck's son William Shattuck (1670-1743) on this subpage

Son: Samuel Shattuck (1672-1758) 

I have listed the descendants of John Shattuck's son Samuel Shattuck (1672-1758) on this subpage.

Download the image or click on the image to see the whole graphic.