Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Benjamin Church Family

  Benjamin Church, Sr.

       Born 8 Oct, 1704, Bristol, R. I., son of Captain Edward Church and Martha Burton. Captain Church served as militia captain in his father Col Benjamin Church's fifth expedition in King William's War. His wife's will characterizes him as a mariner. Edward Church died in late 1706, leaving his widow with a three year old daughter and a two year old son.
       Graduated Harvard, 1727, standing 6th in a class of 39, classmate of Gov Thomas Hutchinson.
       Upon his  graduation from Harvard, Benjamin returned to Bristol, R.I.
       Benjamin married Elizabeth Viall, daughter of Samuel Viall and Susanna Flint, of Bristol R.I, on Oct 26, 1726/7.  She died on Apr 9, 1730 at Bristol, R.I. at age 23, perhaps because of complications from childbirth. This marriage produced two children:
             Martha, born Oct 25, 1728 in Bristol, R.I., twice married; first to John Chaloner, Oct 12, 1746, Newport,R.I.; second to James Cunningham, circa 1773, Boston, Mass. She died on Mar 28, 2774, in Dedham, Mass.Her father's will mentions her as living in Medford, MA.
             Samuel, born 1730, in Bristol, R. I., married Mary Ann Davis in the Congregational Church, Bristol, R.I. on May 23, 1756. He died in 1794 or 1797, presumably in Bristol, R.I.
                    I can find no occupation for Samuel. His grandfather Samuel Viall's will, probated on June 12, 1749  left him  1/2/part of his lands, and 1/2 part of his housing during his life, and  "after his dicease, to be divided among his children according to the law of the Province."  He, as well as his mother, is buried on the East Burial Grounds in Bristol, R.I.    
                    Granddaughter, Martha Church, received 1/8th part of her grandfather's lands.
        On March 6, 1731, Benjamin Sr married Hannah Dyer of Boston in Boston. They were married by Dr Benjamin Colman, presumably at the Brattle Street Church where Dr Colman, a most prominent clergyman of his time, was pastor. This marriage apparently produced eight children:
               Benjamin, Jr. born Aug 24, 1734, Newport, R.I.
               Hannah, birth date unknown but believed to be in Newport, R.I.. She married Edward Weld on 7 April, 1757 in Boston, MA. Edward Weld was the son of a joiner and listed his occupation in 1760 as a "shopjoyner" (housewright) but later became a prosperous Boston merchant.
               Giles, birthdate and place unknown. We do know that he studied medicine and later moved to Georgia (Savannah?), a move for which I could find no apparent reason, but perhaps for his health, and died there. He is probably the Giles Church who is listed as marrying Rebbecca Miller on Nov 3, 1766 in Bridgewater, MA. It should be noted that his brother Benjamin purchased a home and land in Bridgewater that was listed in court records in January 1767, but the actual transaction probably occurred in late 1766. (see my August 10, 2010 post) Is there a connection? If so, it further weakens the "elegant mansion" story. Also, a Boston newspaper reports that Benjamin Jr made a visit to Georgia in February 1769 to visit his brother Giles. A journey from Boston to Georgia was not undertaken lightly in 1769 and may imply a closeness between the brothers. Could Giles have been so ill that his brother thought it necessary to visit him on behalf of the family? Obviously, only supposition. Giles' children are mentioned in both Benjamin Sr and his wife Hannah's wills.
               Edward, born 12 Sep 1740, Azores. (I will devote a separate post to this rather fascinating younger brother.)
                Mary, born June 18, 1743. Married to Samuel Cookson, on Dec 25, 1769 in Boston by the Rev Mather Byles of the Brattle Street Church. Hannah's will mentions Mary's two sons, Samuel and John Waldo.
                 Alice, birth date unknown, but most likely in Boston. married John Fleeming. ( see my April 2011 posts on John Fleeming.)
                 Abigail, birth date unknown, but most likely in Boston, married on Apr 5, 1780 to Captain Turner Philips. Her intention reads "Nabby."  The marriage was performed by Rev Simeon Howard, a prominent Boston clergyman, whose "A sermon preached to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in Boston" in 1773 is often cited by those advocating Second Amendment Rights on firearms.
                 Sarah, birthdate unknown, baptised Mar 31, 1745, died young.

     I find it intriguing that although Benjamin Sr and his wife Hannah's father and grandfather were Harvard graduates, neither Samuel nor Giles attended Harvard; yet both Benjamin Jr and Edward graduated from there.

   My next post will be a sketch of Benjamin Sr's life. That will be followed by a post on his son Edward.

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