William Shattuck of Watertown

How I found the birthplace of William Shattuck (1622-1672) is told on this page: Pilgrims and Strangers.

William Shattuck (1622-1672) was the founder of the Massachusetts Shattuck. He was part of the Puritan migration to New England colony at Massachusetts Bay, although it is not certain he was actually a Puritan before he arrived. He was born in Stogumber, a tiny west Somerset, England village. (For a profile of the village, see Stogumber Shattocks). The relationship of the Massachusetts Shattucks to the rest of the family can be found in this Shattocke Family Tree.

There was another male Shattock pilgrim to the colony at about the same time, Samuel Shattocke (ca. 1620-1689). But it appears he has no direct male living descendants. His story is told on a sub page. There is also a sub-page with a discussion of William Shattuck of Boston who arrived a little later than William and Samuel. He also appears to have no living descendants with the Shattock male Y chromosome. Massachusetts Shattucks migrated south to the Carolinas where the Shattuck surname morphed into "Shaddock." That is told on this page and the South Carolina page.

Note: Shaddock, Shaddick, Shattock, Shattocke and Shatticke are the oldest forms of the family name found in English records dating back to the early 16th century. I use the term "Shattocke" to refer to all the descendants of our common ancestor in England. When I use the term "Shattuck" generically, I am referring to Shattockes who emigrated to New England in the 17th century and are descended from William Shattuck of Watertown.

Shattucks are the most prolific members of the ancient Shattocke family, numbering over 7900 Shattuck descendants out of a total of about 13,000 Shattockes. Almost 2 out of 3 Shattockes are Shattucks.

Lemuel Shattuck (1793-1859), Shattuck family historian and genealogist.

We probably know the most about the Shattuck family because of its most famous descendant, Lemuel Shattuck (1793–1859) from Massachusetts. Lemuel was not only a family historian, he was a professional genealogist who had lasting impact on the field. He has his own Wikipedia web page.

What the Wikipedia entry does not say is that Lemuel Shattuck wrote and published a book called, "Memorials of the Descendants of William Shattuck: the progenitor of the families in America that have borne his name." It was printed in Boston in 1855. It is an exhaustive study of the Shattuck family down to 1855, over 400 pages in total. He not only drew on records, but on the oral history of many Shattucks and their relatives born in the previous century. Apparently he sent out questionnaires to descendants to harvest as much information as possible. Because the Descendants is full of first hand oral and written accounts, we have to treat his book as a very important source for information about Shattuck family history.

There was another book written by Beatrice Marie Larson and published in 1977 called "Shattuck Memorials II." It purports to take up where Lemuel Shattuck left off in 1855. Because it gathers much additional information about Shattuck genealogies it is very useful, but it does contain a lot of errors. You can find it at archive.org.

The title of Lemuel's book suggests that all Shattucks and name variants descend from a single immigrant to New England, William Shattuck, born in 1622 and dead in 1672. He lived in Watertown, an early settlement that is today the Town of Watertown, a part of the Greater Boston area. But Lemuel was not entirely sure there was a single progenitor. He includes other possible immigrants in the appendix of his book, notably a Samuel Shattuck of Salem and a William Shattuck who settled in early Boston. He speculates that there are no surviving descendants of these two men with the Shattuck name or its variants. So far DNA studies of Shattuck, Shadduck and Shaddock descendants have confirmed his theory.

William Shattuck came in the second wave of English immigrants from west Somerset, beginning with the Winthrop fleet in 1630. William would have been only eight in 1630, so I think he arrived in the colony closer to 1640.

Not a pleasant place to visit, but there was a dangerous ocean between their new home and their birth places.

The author of a study of English emigrants from Somerset, H.J. Wickenden, M.A., in his Emigration from Taunton and District to New England 1625-1645, points out that the first wave of Somerset immigrants probably were largely unaware of what they faced in the wilderness around Massachusetts Bay in New England. Although the area had been visited by fishermen and fur traders, and stories abounded about conditions there, the stories were probably heard mostly be people who lived on the coast of Somerset, and never found their way into the interior where the Shattucks lived. However, it is probably true that once the colony was on a steady footing, stories did trickle back to Somerset of the social and economic opportunities in New England.

There is a very good chapter on the dangers faced by English settlers in crossing the ocean to the primitive settlements on the shores of New England. In Vexed and Troubled Englishmen 1590-1642, Carl Bridenbaugh devotes the first chapter to the perils they faced: leaky ships, spoiled supplies, the threat of pirates, Spanish war ships, disease, crowded conditions, ships that bounced so much in Atlantic storms that people sometimes died of sea sickness.

And the site of their new homeland, even for the second wave of migrants after 1630 was terrifying (pp. 10-11):

  • The first glimpse of the New World evoked strange sensations in the minds of all of the English, many of them far from favorable. Relief at being once more on terra firma often yielded to dejection, sometimes to despair. Lewis Hughes, a clergyman in Bermuda, informed Sir Nathaniel Rich that "some of the new comers are almost at a stand, and do sigh to see how many trees have to fell and how their hands are blistered." And well they might have sighed, for very few of them knew hot to wield an axe. William Bradford's account of the arrival of the Pilgrims at Cape Cod in late fall is both poignant and touching: "Being thus passed the vast ocean, and a sea of trouble before in their preparation....they had now no friends to welcome them nor inns to entertain or refresh their weatherbeaten bodies; no house or much less towns to repair to, to see for succour....Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men....

Migrants in the 1630s would have found their new home in a pitiable state, nothing like the stone cottages and towering churches of the English villages they had forsaken. Bradford writes about a significant portion of the migrants who turned around and went home.

  • ...when they came there they could see nothing but a few Canvis Boothes and old houses, supposing at the first to have found walled townes, fortifications and corne fields, as if townes could have built themselves...These men, missing of their expectations, returned home and railed against the Country.

What made them become pilgrims in a new land? It is an oversimplification to attribute their motive to religious persecution. In the 16th and 17th century many protestants felt the Church of England had not gone far enough in "purifying" the church of its "Catholic" practices. But they did not want to leave the church, just to reform it. There were other reasons why the dream of a new social order in a far away land was appealing. There was massive upheaval at home. A new middle class was emerging free of the bonds of serfdom and seeking greater freedom to pursue economic opportunity. A population explosion after wars and plagues had created large families with disenfranchised sons who sought land to start their own families. Parliamentarians and Royalists struggled for possession of the levers of government. All these tensions and more erupted into the English civil war between 1842-1851.

Contrary to what you might think most of the settlers in the Massachusetts Bay colony were not farmers. They were tradespeople. This is certainly true of William Shattuck of Watertown, who was a weaver, William Shattuck of Boston, who was a shoemaker, and Samuel Shattuck of Salem, who was a felt-maker and hatter. The pilgrims of New England were part of the emerging middle class in England.

In fact there is an argument to be made that William Shattuck made the perilous journey to New England primarily for economic reasons, although religious reasons might have been a factor. I will go into greater detail later about this, but I will say for now that I think he acquired his small allotment of land in Watertown because he had graduated from his apprenticeship in weaving in England and was offered an opportunity to earn a living in the new colony. In fact Bernard Bailyn in The Barbarous Years argues that the second wave of migrants to the Massachusetts Bay colony were Puritans with a strong economic motive for joining their fellow Puritans in New England. William Shattuck came from a village, Stogumber, undergoing an economic recession because of the collapse of the export cloth market. He grew his small allotment of four acres of land to over eighty acres by the time of his death at age 50. I think this speaks to his entrepreneurial spirit. He had the drive and ambition of a new immigrant to a land of opportunity.

Stogumber in west Somerset. When I visited the village, now deep in the countryside and off the beaten path, I wondered how the Shattocks could have left it. Today it only houses about 700 people, retirees and farmers. That is the reason why. Economics.

Where is the Ancestral Home of Shattucks in England?

There has been a long debate about how the first Shattuck pilgrims in the Massachusetts Bay colony were related and what parish in England they came from. There was a "widow Shattuck" and two children, William (ca. 1622-1672) and Samuel (ca. 1620-1689). The paper trail back to the first years of the colony have not yielded up the mystery of how the three were related. Were the boys children of the widow Shattuck? Were they brothers? Lemuel Shattuck provides no answer to this question and more than a century and a half later, there are no birth or death documents that have yielded a birth place or parents.

But it turns out we can narrow down the birthplaces of the male Shattucks to a very small area. It is in west Somerset, where all Shattockes in the world come from. DNA studies have shown the Massachusetts Shattucks share a common ancestor with London and Australian Shattocks with the Y19751 SNP, who originally migrated from a village west of Taunton in west Somerset. My friend and 17th cousin John Shattock discovered that William Shattuck (1622-1672) discovered his baptism record in St. Mary church in Stogumber in west Somerset. In the page on the Shattuck origins, I present evidence that Samuel Shattuck of Salem may also have been born in the nearby village of West Bagborough. In fact we have found the probable baptism entry in the Stogumber, Somerset parish records for William Shattuck of Watertown and the likely baptism record for Samuel of Salem in nearby West Bagborough. The identification of their birth places is based on a book written about emigrants from west Somerset, DNA studies and studies of early Somerset parishes and other documents like wills and land taxes (see the English Heritage page).

I have devoted a page to the migration of Shattocks to the English colony in Massachusetts Bay: "Pilgrims and Strangers."

Although the paper trail from the American Shattuck pioneers to the their ancestors in the tiny villages in England may be lost, the first Shattucks were actually carrying with them a biological record of where they came from. It was in their DNA, which was preserved by being passed down to their descendants. The final word is the DNA evidence.

Notice that the men are carrying rifles, showing how precarious life was in the early years when native populations fought the encroachment of their traditional territories.

Meanwhile, back in America... Lemuel Shattuck picks up the story of the Shattucks and details their descendants up to 1855 when his Descendants book was published.

His book listing descendants is huge. There are reasons why so many Shattucks abound in America. The climate was favorable to northern Europeans, reducing the impact of disease on population growth. New lands meant there were resources available to support rapid family expansion. According to Fischer , that original founding Massachusetts Bay population of about 21,000 pilgrims had grown to almost 16 million by the time he published his book in 1989.

What do we know about the first Shattocke pilgrims to New England? We know the approximate ages of the boys, Samuel and William. In his 1689 will Samuel says he is 69 years old. That means he was born in 1620. In a court document William's age is rendered as 1622.

We do not know the name of the husband of "widow Damaris Shattuck." Presumably her husband died on the voyage over or soon after they arrived in the colony. She is recorded as being admitted to the church in 1641.

Lemuel in his Descendants book places William Shattuck of Boston in the appendix and he does not appear to be the patriarch of any other Shattuck in Lemuel's records. In fact he says he has found no male descendants of William of Boston with the surname Shattuck or its variants. He lived in Boston between 1650 and 1658, before moving on to New Jersey to escape religious persecution. We do not know when this William Shattuck emigrated to the colony, but I would not be surprised if he followed family members over from England.

It should not escape your notice that the Shattocks seem to arrive in the Massachusetts colony with a trade. William Shattock of Watertown did some farming but he owned a loom and made a living from weaving. William of Boston was a shoemaker. And Samuel Shattock of Salem was a felt maker or hatter. While these were cottage industries, I think these facts tip the balance to a scenario where the Shattucks of Massachusetts came from villages in Somerset. They were not farmers. And they seem to have prospered subsequently in trade.

It appears that there were at least two families of Shattockes that were living in the Massachusetts colony by 1653 and as early as 1641, the Shattockes of Watertown and the Shattockes of Salem. I think there might have been more. If it is true that William of Boston was a son of the widow Damaris, then William of Watertown might have been his cousin or more distant relative. It seems likely Samuel of Salem was the son of Damaris because she and he lived in Salem. That would make William of Watertown a cousin. Again, what I have discovered in written records of west Somerset about the Stogumber Area Shattocks supports this theory.

What DNA Tests Tell Us About Shattucks

There a record of our family's ancient tribal wanderings that is preserved and passed intact from one generation to the next. It is the record in our DNA, particularly the Y-DNA passed on from father to son. The DNA record does not record names and dates. What it does do is tell you how two people are related by identifying the date of a common ancestor and the genetic distance from relatives. The more recent the common ancestor, the more matches you find in the markers found in their DNA.

Joseph Cummings Shattuck (1835-1921) is the great grandfather of Donald McKeown Shattuck, a Shattuck descendant who has been DNA tested. This family is descended from William Shattuck's son John Shattuck (1642-1675).

Immigration to the New England colony occurred over a century and a half, between the middle of the 17th century and the late 18th century, before the door was closed when the U.S. won independence from England. DNA testing is beginning to sort out the basic question: how many Shattockes landed in the Massachusetts colonies in the early to late 17th century? The value of DNA testing is it can give you an actual measurement of how closely related two people are (genetic distance) and with advanced DNA testing you can get an approximate date when the common ancestor lived.

As I am writing this there are a number of DNA tests underway that are going to help resolve the central issue of Shattuck genealogical research. Are all Shattucks descended from a single individual or did an extended family come over from England?

The DNA Story So Far

I have compiled the DNA results of Shattucks in an Excel spreadsheet (along with Shattocke relatives). I have also written a page that provides information on how to read and understand the spreadsheet. Contact me if you are interested in viewing the spreadsheet. I have developed a graphic that gives you a visual interpretation of the DNA results.

What the graphic shows is that the Massachusetts Shattucks are a unique branch of the Shattocke family who share a common ancestor with other Shattockes. That is in fact consistent with the genealogical data. The Shattocke family is not that old and Shattucks are one of its oldest branches. The split from other Shattockes to form a new branch appears to have occurred sometime between the common ancestor (14th century) and the 16th century, at a time when the Shattocke family was rebounding from a bout with the black plague.

The Shattucks belong to a branch of the family called Y19751, shown in red text at the top of the Shattuck branch of the Shattocke tree. DNA testing found two more branches, Y24059 and Y23841, shown in the diagram also in red.

There is something pretty amazing in the genealogical record, which is that the descendants of John Shattuck appear to be by far the most numerous of all William Shattuck descendants. Even Lemuel Shattuck was a descendant of John Shattuck.

Of the Shattucks I have tested so far, all of them have the Y19751 SNP mutation that defines the Shattuck branch of the family. It would have been convenient to the research if I could identify William Shattuck (abt. 1622-1672) as the progenitor with that mutation. But we discovered the same SNP mutation in a Shattock in Australia, which means the mutation arose further up the tree from William. When you look at the STR mutations you see that the Australian Shattock shares 4 of the 7 defining STR mutations of the Shattucks.

The Pennsylvania Shadducks

A version of the Shattuck name appears to be "Shadduck." Indeed a study of a major Shadduck branch, the Pennsylvania Shadducks has shown to be closely related to Shattucks. The fact is the name occurs virtually exclusively in the U.S. The Onomaps study shows there were 885 people with this name variant in the U.S. in 2005 and a small handful in Germany (3 or 4!).

Watertown, Salem and Boston Shattucks

I am now going to discuss the three Shattucks found in Lemuel's descendants, William of Watertown, Samuel of Salem and William of Boston.

William Shattuck of Watertown (ca. 1622-1672)

Lemuel Shattuck's biography of William Shattuck of Watertown is still the best that I have found. You can read a complete excerpt from The Descendants here.

For William Shattuck's birthplace in England, Stogumber in west Somerset, see the Stogumber Shattocks page. There are no passenger lists that reveal when William traveled to Massachusetts Bay from Stogumber.

We know that William was a landowner in Watertown by 1639 when the first inventory was taken. I have a suspicion that was also the year he landed in the colony, a skilled weaver in demand by colonists. That would make his age about 17 when he acquired "an Homstall of one acre and three acres of upland." Legally he could purchase land at the age of seventeen, but it was common practice to have the transaction pass through a guardian because under common law minors could repudiate legal transactions when they reached the age of majority (21). This makes it unlikely that William purchased the land as a minor. Either he received it as a grant or inherited it. In fact we do not know when he actually acquired the land because the document was an inventory of land ownership in 1642 when he was twenty. So the question becomes, did he inherit the land from his father or was he granted land for some reason? It does not seem likely his father would pass on such a small parcel of land, and there is no other record of a Shattuck in Watertown. Possibly his father was a weaver, and used the land primarily for feeding his family not growing food for market. But since there are no records of other Shattucks in Watertown, this seems unlikely.

In fact we know that one acre of land was insufficient to provide sustenance and income for a family. In Carl Bridenbaugh's history of the period ("Vexed and Troubled Englishmen 1590-1642") he tells us five acres was "insufficient to support themselves and their families without additional outside income. (p. 205) In fact 30 acres was required to properly sustain a family and a farming business. This makes it almost certain that William relied on weaving to support his family and the acre of arable land would not provide enough food or meat and dairy from animals to sustain his family. But the three acres of upland, used as a pasture for sheep, would supply him with the raw wool he needed to keep his loom humming, or at least provide him with part of his wool supply.

The theory that he was invited to settle in New England is supported by evidence. In Bernard Bailyn's The Barbarous Years he writes (p. 479):

  • In 1640 the General Court of Massachusetts offered a bounty on every shilling's worth of linen and woolen and cotton cloth spun and woven by the settlers, and required all servants and children to use their free time working on hemp and flax, which Connecticut ordered all families to plant. But it was wool that had the greatest promise, especially with the growing flocks of sheep in various areas of the region. But if there was enough wool, there were not enough cloth workers. And so Massachusetts prohibited all exports of sheep and lambs and ordered the town to count up the number of spinners each family had available and ordered the designated spinners to turn out three pounds of linen, cotton, or wool threads every week for thirty weeks each year.

Note that the bounty was offered about the time William acquired his land. The General Court did this to create a export trade that would help them reduce the colony's debt. The plan failed, but you can see how William and his distant cousin Samuel in Salem would profit nicely from the demand for the product of their looms.

Nancy Shattuck, who is a descendant of the Elder Pepperell Shattucks, has tracked down the original land grants for William Shattuck. You get a good idea of where William lived and how his personal wealth expanded over the years. Apparently he began as a weaver and used the money he earned to buy additional land. This is reminiscent of how the Milverton Shattocks (who were also weavers) used their earnings from weaving to expand their wealth and income through purchasing farm land. You can view the actual map of his lands. In a photograph Nancy shows a view of Boston from the hill on William's property. Planning a visit? Use the map and the photo to find the original Shattuck household and stand where your ancestor stood. I have added Nancy's work in a sub-page.

William probably married in the new world as his first child was born in 1643, four years after he acquired his land. We do not know the last name of his wife Susannah. In Lemuel Shattuck's The Descendants a picture emerges of a respectable, skilled, creative man who founded a family dynasty in Massachusetts that was prominent and influential.

William Shattuck's name appears as Wm. Shattocke in the will of Thomas Olliver of Boston dated 13 March 1652. He apparently owed the estate money.

Susannah survived William and remarried to Richard Norcross in 1873, in the year following William's death.

William had ten children. His children and children's children would have very large families. Major branches of the family emanating from the first generation have the surnames Church, Morse and Brown. In the first century and a half they largely stayed in New England and then subsequently spread to other parts of the the U.S.

As you will see if you read the South Carolina Shaddocks page, one long lost branch of the William of Watertown may be one of his grandsons.

Samuel Shattock of Salem

I am going to follow Lemuel's example and assign Samuel Shattuck of Salem to a subpage: here. Lemuel believed that this family died out.

William Shattuck of Boston and New Jersey

Following Lemuel's lead again, I am going to assign William Shattuck to a sub-page of this one. Apparently there were no sons who carried on the name.

William Shattuck of Watertown Descendants' Family History

In this section of the page I include the lineages for the Shattucks that have been Y-DNA tested. As more Shattucks are tested we will be able to determine through genetic analysis how precisely they are related. We will eventually be able to get clear answers to Shattuck questions. Are all Shattucks who trace their ancestry back to the Puritan immigrants to the Massachusetts colony descendants of William Shattuck (1622-1672) or was there more than one Shattuck immigrant? Where in England did the Shattucks emigrate from?

As it turns out DNA analysis promises to bridge over the gaps in the historical records, finally revealing the answers to the most fundamental questions you can ask about the Massachusetts Shattucks and bringing us ever closer to finding the parish or parishs they left in England to populate and become major players in the history of the U.S.

Genealogy of the Massachusetts Shattucks

Please see the branches of the Massachusetts Shattucks on the Branches page.

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