Someone I am close to recently told me they were related to Margaret Scott.

Since I’ve lived in Massachusetts for most of my life and am a genealogist/history fanatic, I should know more about her. But at the time this was told to me, I didn’t even know who she was. This is embarrassing. Please, don’t out me.

Margaret Kinsey Stephenson was born in or around the year 1616. It is believed that her birth roots are in Scotland and that she came to the US sometime during the Great Migration, most likely with her parents, and settled in the new colony of Massachusetts. Some sources claim she settled first in the town of Braintree, however I am unable to substantiate this claim for now, though she did birth seven children in Braintree later on. Margaret also had three more children once arriving in the settlement of Rowley. Rowley is one of the earlier settlements in Massachusetts from 1639. It is 16 miles north of Boston and almost the same distance to Salem.

The Scott family was from Essex County, England. Benjamin Scott (1612-1671) arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1640, according to Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s, William P. Filby, ed. In 1642 on the 28th of July, Scott married Margaret Stephenson. Maybe.

Their first child born was Hannah Scott, probably born in Braintree. Most records list Hannah with a birth date of 20 or 30 December, 16…..30! This is where genealogy can get tricky. The country wasn’t yet formed at this time and remained so for over 100 years. While settlements were fast turning into incorporated towns, and inhabitants were building their civil system, there were no rules in place for vital record keeping. There were also no “states” yet therefore any secure record keeping system from these early years remained disorganized at best. Most records would be hand written and probably by different people a lot of the time, until a town clerk was appointed. Though what was the system for when the clerk was unavailable? Also due to the arbitrary ladder of community significance, many people from the past weren’t recorded at all. There are a few things I derive from Hannah’s evidence of birth:

  1. Hannah was born out of wedlock
  2. Hannah was not born in 1630
  3. Margaret and Benjamin did not marry in 1642
  4. Hannah is not the child of Margaret and Benjamin
  5. The record date of the marriage between Margaret and Benjamin is incorrect.

We might substantiate Hannah’s birth parents if we locate a marriage record for her. Since Benjamin is on the passenger manifest in 1640, my guess is we could rely on the record being most accurate. Men matter(ed). Notes from Roots Web’s “Ancestors and Cousins from Mayflower to 2010” by Linda state: “Hannah was born circa 1635, thought by some to be the daughter of Benjamin Scott & Margaret Scott; …I believe this to be untrue, and that she is really the daughter of Benjamin & Hannah Scott of Braintree, there being several men by the name Benjamin in Massachusetts around that time. Marriage ceremony performed by Captain William Torrey of Weymouth. From Braintree Town records, ?Mrs Hannah Webb, widow of Mr Christopher Webb died the 30th Day of December in the 83d year of her age 1718.?”

But the OTHER thing is, Margaret and Benjamin supposedly lived in Braintree. They had seven kids there. Maybe. One of their kids was named Hannah. We know this because there is a reason why I’m writing about Margaret. And there is a reason why I want Hannah to be their daughter. But she’s probably not.

In 1654 Hannah married the Honorable Christopher Webb of Braintree. The Honorable Christopher Webb was so named because he honorably held an important position in the town of Braintree for 17 years. Guess what it was. He was the TOWN CLERK! He hand wrote marriage, birth and death records and was tasked with their protection in the town of Braintree! I’m not even kidding.

Aside from that, Margaret and Benjamin had 4 children in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Joseph b.1644, Benjamin b.1646, John b.1648, Elizabeth b.1650, and then in Rowley; Mary b.1651/1652, Samuel b.1654/1655 and Sarah b.1656//1657.  So, probably no Hannah which is a bummer because she is related to Samuel Adams and I really wanted to write about him here. I once thought that he was the 2nd great-grandson of Margaret Scott. (Sad trombone)

I can find no record of employment for Benjamin Scott. What I can locate are accounts that the Scotts were pretty broke. In 1664, the town of Rowley gave Scott a parcel of farmland. Yet the following year, someone of the same name in Rowley was convicted of the crime of theft. It’s gotta be him. Benjamin cleaned up his act; became a member of the church, a pillar of the community and was then able to take the Oath of the Freeman thus granting him property ownership rights. As K. David Goss writes “Five years after this accomplishment, Benjamin Scott was dead”.