Lemuel Shattuck's Account of the Life of William Shattuck (1622-1672)

Pages 57-61 of the Descendants of William Shattuck

WILLIAM SHATTUCK was the most remote ancestor with whom we have been enabled to connect ourselves, in our history, upon satisfactory evidence ; and we begin with his, in our classification, as the first, or earliest known generation. From him, as their common progenitor, have descended nearly all, if not every one, of those who now bear his name in America. He was born in England in 1621 or 2, and died in Watertown, Massachusetts, August 14, 1672, aged 50 years. His exact origin and early history are involved in obscurity. Neither the place of his birth, nor the year in which he came to this country, nor the names of his parents, are certainly known. There is no doubt, however, that his immediate ancestors and connections were residents of England ; and they were probably among those already mentioned in our introductory observations, either of Lancastershire, Somersetshire, or Berkshire, but we are unable to specify the particular persons or locality. He must have emigrated when in or near his minority. It has been conjectured that his father might have died on his passage or soon after his arrival; and also that he might have been the son of widow Damaris Shattuck, who was admitted to the church in Salem, in 1641, and a brother of Samuel Shattuck, noticed in the Appendix to these Memorials ; and their ages, the prevalence of similar names in their respective families, and other circumstances, give some probability to these conjectures. But of such a connection, if indeed one existed, we have as yet obtained no conclusive proof. If not a brother he was probably a near relative of Samuel Shattuck.


Massachusetts was first colonized by the English Puritan emigrants, in Boston and its vicinity, in 1630. Watertown was settled in the same year,—ten years later than the founding of Plymouth. This town is in Middlesex County, from four to seven miles westerly of Boston, and has Cambridge, easterly, intervening between the two places. It originally included "the present town of Waltham, incorporated separately in 1737. It is thus one of the most ancient, and it was early one of the most important, towns in the Province. The General Court and the Provincial Congress held several sessions in this town. Mr. Shattuck's name appears in an old list of the proprietors of Watertown, made about 1642, twelve years after its first settlement, although

he was then only twenty years of age. The first lot of land granted to him is described upon the records as follows :

" William Chattuck.

" 1. An Homstall of one acre, by estimation, bounded souwest with Ccmmonland, ye east wth John Clough and ye west wth William Perry in his possession.

" 2. Three acres of upland, by estimation, bounded the north wth Joseph Morse, the south wth William Perry, the east wth John Clough &. ye west wlh Commonland in his possession."

To this estate he made large additions by subsequent grants and purchases. Among other parcels of land the records state that on the 4th July, 1654, he bought of his neighbor John Clough, his house, garden, and thirty acres of land, situated on Common Hill, near his own estate, bounded east by William Payne and E. Goffe, west by the highway, north by Joseph Morse and "south by the highway to the pond;" probably lying in the corner easterly and northerly of the intersection of the two roads, now called Common street and Washington street. Also twenty-five acres of upland ; three acres of swamp land and one third part of twelve acres of meadow land. He also bought a farm at Stony Brook, near the present bounds of Weston, and four acres of meadow in Pond Meadow, which he bequeathed at his death, in equal shares, to his sons, Philip and William. He also bought a dwelling-house and a large farm of Edward Sanderson ; but a question having arisen as to his title to some parts of it, the town voted, December 27, 1664, that "William Shattuck shall enjoy the land he bought of Sanders, provided he pay to Sanders twenty bushels of good merchantable Indian corn to spend in his house."

We have found it difficult to ascertain the exact place where Mr. Shattuck resided. It was, however, undoubtedly on Common Hill, near " King's Common" so called—the Common land reserved and owned by the town. This locality was northerly of the celebrated residence of J. P. dishing, Esq. ; southerly of the Wellington Hill Station on the Fitchburg Railroad ; and easterly of Common street, leading from that station southerly to Watertown village. Permission was frequently given by the town to make bricks "at the clay pitts near William Shattucks." This bed of clay was then considered a rarity ; and it was reserved by the town as a public place for brick making. It was on the hill northerly and near Washington street, then an ancient highway leading from Common street to Fresh Pond, and in the vicinity westerly of the residences of Mr. Chenery and Mr. Stone, as laid down on Shield's Map of Boston and Vicinity, published in 1852. And Mr. Shattuck's dwelling-house was on the hill, somewhere on the north side of this highway. The Watertown records, in describing a piece of common land sold by the town, in 1743, to Ebenezer Chenery, " lying above the clay pitts," say the bounds run " on a line to a rock at said Chenery's fence, above or west of a spring (commonly called Shattuck's Spring.)" The residences on this hill command a fine view of Fresh Pond , near by, and of Boston and its vicinity in the distance ; and are among the most delightful in Watertown. Successors bearing the name of Shattuck occupied the estate for about one hundred years, but for the last hundred years it has been in the possession of others.

Mr. Shattuck is sometimes denominated a weaver ; an humble but honorable handicraft of considerable importance in his day, when all articles of clothing were the product of household manufacture. And it is not improbable that he combined his mechanical with other occupations, and wrought in his loom as well as on his farm; for at his death he actually bequeathed his "loom and its appurtenances" to his son William. Agriculture seems, however, to have been his principal employment, as it has been that of the larger part of his posterity. His example of uniting the labors of the farmer and mechanic in one person has been followed by many of his descendants. He resided in Watertown about thirty years ; and by his sagacity, industry and economy, though dying in the full vigor of manhood, he acquired, for the times in which he lived, a large property, the inventory of which amounted at his death to £434 19s. ll\d. sterling, of which £200 was in real estate, and £234 19s. 11 \d. in personal estate, including £103 17s. l\d. in money. He appears, so far as can be ascertained from contemporary records, to have sustained the character of a sagacious, energetic, and successful business man; of an honest, upright, and worthy citizen ; and of a good and, peaceable neighbor. He held a respectable social position among his fellow townsmen ; and his family and the families to whom they were allied by marriage were highly respected, and among the most wealthy and influential in Watertown. He was interred in the ancient burying-ground situated on the old road leading from Cambridge to Watertown, a short distance westerly of Mount Auburn. A simple but substantial marble tablet, resting in a granite base, has recently been erected near the northwesterly corner of this ground, at the turn of the road to Brighton, bearing the following inscription :--

"To perpetuate the memory of


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,


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."

William Shattuck was married about 1642, when he was twenty years of age. The christian name of his wife was SUSANNA; but neither her surname, nor her parentage, nor the exact date or place of her birth or marriage, has been ascertained. She remained a widow about fifteen months after his death, and married, Nov. 18, 1673, Mr. Richard Norcross, who survived her. She died in Watertown, Dec. 11, 1686, fourteen years after the death of her first husband.

In his will Mr. Shattuck mentions "his ten younger children," as if he had others, but it does not appear that he had more than that number. The births of the second, third and tenth only are entered upon the Watertown records. The remainder are ascertained

from other authentic evidence.


1. Susanna, b. 1643 ; m. 1, J. Morse ; 2, J. Fay, 2

2. Mary, b. Aug. 25, 1645; m. Jonathan Brown, , 3

3. John, b. Feb. 11, 1647; m. Ruth Whitney, 4

4. Philip, b. 1648 ; m. 1, D. Barstow ; 2, R. Chamberlain, . . 5

5. Joanna, b. d. April 4, 1673, unmarried.

6. William, b. 1653 ; m. Susanna Randal], 6.

7. Rebecca, b. 1655; m. Samuel Church, 7

8. Abigail, b. 1657 ; m. 1, J. Morse ; 2, J. Parker, 8

9. Benjamin, b. d. in his 20th year.

10. Samuel, b. Feb. 28, 1666 ; m. Abigail , 9

A petition, dated June 19, 1683, purporting to be from Philip Shattuck, is on the court files of Middlesex County, in which it is said,—" Our two youngest brothers, Benjamin and Samuel, were left to the care and government of our honored mother, unto whom our honored father did bequeath the most considerable part of his estate ; but after our mother did marry againe, she thought it would be beneficial for our youngest brothers to have trades ; and she accordingly put them out,—Benjamin to my brother William, and Samuel to myself. But before Benjamin came of age, God was pleased to visit him with a long and lingering sickness, of which he died, being in his 20th year; and by reason of the long time of his sickness, the charges of the. doctor,

his attendance, and the funeral charges, were considerable." And he prays that they may be paid out of the estate that was bequeathed to him, which was probably done.