John Shattuck of Watertown

The Shattucks of Massachusetts are a major branch of the worldwide Shattocke family. To see where the Massachusetts Shattucks fit in the Shattocke family tree see the Experimental Shattocke Phylogenetic Tree. The Shattucks of Massachusetts have been officially designated a branch of the human family called R-Y19751. Look for that node on the tree.

William Shattuck (ca. 1622-1672) was the pilgrim founder of American Shattucks. The following diagram shows the descendants from his oldest son, John Shattuck (1645-1675). Click on the image to zoom in on it.


I have devoted a page to the origins of the Shattucks in west Somerset, England. William was born in Stogumber in west Somerset where there was significant activity in wool, weaving and cloth making. William was a weaver. William Shattuck came in a second or third wave of English immigrants from west Somerset. He and the other male Shattucks present in the early days of the colony were tradespeople, not farmers. I tell the story of William Shattuck on the page devoted to him.

If the first generation of American Shattucks was embodied in the single founder William Shattuck (ca. 1622-1672), then the second generation consisted of his five sons and five daughters. John Shattuck (1647-1672) was the third living child 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.

It must be remembered that there were already people living in New England when the pilgrims arrived. Unknown to both peoples, they did not arrive on the planet independently, but were actually descendants of a common ancestor in Eurasia many thousands of years earlier. The North American Indians were hunter-gatherers and farmers and used the land quite differently than the English, who were intensive farmers who used advanced technology to maximize the yield from the land. It was inevitable that the two people would come to clash over the land. In fact, long before competition for land put Native Americans at odds with immigrant Americans, there was competition among tribes and frequent, bloody wars.

The first settlers had large families. William had ten children and although he provided for them in his will, the children had to carve out their own destinies under challenging conditions. Eventually the struggle over the diminishing resource between native inhabitants and new transplants led to bloodshed. The armed conflict between the settlers and Indians erupted into what was called King Philip's War between 1675 and 1676. One of the casualties of the war was John Shattuck, William's first born son. Lemuel Shattuck picks up the story here.

"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.

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."

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 dispatched 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.

John Shattuck was in Capt. Beers' company at the Squakeag fight (at present Northfield, MA). He was one of the only 16 survivors, but unfortunately drowned ten days later while crossing on the Charlestown Ferry. John Shattuck's inventory was taken 5 Oct 1675, Watertown, MA, amounting to £42 2s.

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."

P J Maynard provides this additional information about John's wife Ruth Whitney: "Ruth can be traced back to England to Westminster, up to her great grandfather, Thomas Whitney. After that, there are genealogists who dispute her ancestry back to William the Conqueror (1027-1087), various Kings, and further, saying that Thomas Whitney was not of this line, but another. Her grandfather, John Whitney Sr., (born in England, emigrated with children on ship, Elizabeth & Ann 1635) is on the same Founder’s plaque in Watertown – bottom, below William Shattuck. Also included Jeremiah Norcross, Susanna’s second husband, Richard’s, father."

The dangers faced by the settlers did not cease after the conclusion of King Philip's War. In the page devoted to John's first born son, his namesake John Shattuck, Jr. (1666-1709) we read of another casualty of the conflict with the Native Americans. John Shattuck, Jr. died at the hands of the Indians.

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.


Lemuel divides the descendants of John Shattuck (1647-1672) into three branches, named according to where their founders settled. Groton is only four miles (6 km) south of Pepperell in Massachusetts. Marlborough is 19 miles (30 km) south of Groton. Hinsdale is 80 miles (128 km) west of Groton. This area still has a lot of Shattucks living in it. You get an idea of how many Shattucks were in the community from the number of weddings that occurred where both the bride and groom had the surname "Shattuck."

Click on this image to see it full size:

Elder Pepperell Shattucks

See the page devoted to John Shattuck's son John Shattuck (1666-1709).

Groton Shattucks

See the page devoted John Shattuck's son William Shattuck (1670-1743). The Pennsylvania Shadducks are a sub-branch of the Groton Shattucks.

Younger Pepperell Shattucks

See the page devoted to John Shattuck's son Samuel Shattuck (1672-1758).