It's just this little chromium switch, here... (derspatchel) wrote,
It's just this little chromium switch, here...

my illustrious New England ancestry

The surname Noyes comes from the French village Noyers and with it, a noble family who went by the surname De Noyers. The family split apart during the Hundred Years' War. Those family members who sided with the English eventually left France for England, changing their surname to "de Noyes", which eventually became just Noyes.

In 1634, two brothers, Nicholas and James Noyes, of Cholderton, Wiltshire, England, embarked from Southampton on the ship Mary and John bound for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. They landed at Nantasket (present-day Hull, Massachusetts) in May of that year. From there they moved to Ipswich and, in the spring of 1635, travelled a little bit further up the North Shore to help settle the town of Neweberry (now known as Newbury Old Town.) Tradition has it that Nicholas was the first to disembark when they landed on the north shore of the Parker River, near the present-day Route 1A bridge between Rowley and Newbury Old Town. (Apparently there is a marker near there commemorating the landing; some day I shall have to go out and see if I can find it.)

In 1637, Nicholas Noyes walked from Newbury to Cambridge to take the Freeman's Oath, thereby becoming a full citizen of the colony. He then exercised his new rights as a citizen to vote for Governor John Winthrop, first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in what was one of Winthrop's many re-elections.

Nicholas' wife, Mary, was brought before the court in 1652 in violation of the Sumptuary Law of 1651, an Elizabethan mandate which restricted the "sumptuousness of dress" -- obstensibly to ensure that private fortunes were not squandered on frivolous goods, but more importantly to reassert and reinforce the class differences that society considered so vitally important in maintaining the status quo. (Translation: If you were poor, you were forbidden to look as if you were rich.) Mary stood accused of wearing a silk hood and scarf, but was acquitted on proof that her husband was worth at least £200.

Nicholas was a hardy and busy fellow: he managed the town of Newbury's move from the banks of the Parker River to a site up north closer to the Merrimac (where it still stands today), he was sworn clerk of the Newbury market, built the first schoolhouse, served as the Commissioner to End Small Causes (basically a local justice) as well as deputy to the General Court. He died at the ripe old age of 86 with a legacy, his son wrote, "...of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren above one hundred."

Of his thirteen named children, nine lived well into their sixties, with three living into their eighties. Only one (or two) died in infancy. The first was named and lived to be almost two; records show an fourteenth unnamed child born in 1667, but with no further mentions. Presumably this child died before it could be baptized -- you'll often find family plots in the older New England cemetaries with small headstones marked simply "SON" or "DAUGHTER".

His most famous child was his son, the Reverend Nicholas Noyes. This Nicholas graduated from Harvard in 1667, became minister of Salem in 1682, and played quite an active role in the prosecution of those accused during the Salem Witchcraft Trials. On July 19, 1692, five women were hanged in Salem; one of them, Sarah Good, not only refused to confess, but also refused to pray for the forgiveness of the accusers. When the Reverend Noyes implored her to confess, saying he knew she was a witch, Sarah replied "I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink."

Although Rev. Noyes would later recant, repent and regret his participation in the persecutions, he died in 1717 of a massive hemmorhage -- choking, legend has it, on his own blood.
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