William Towne (1599-1685)

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William Towne was born 1598 in St. Nicholas Church, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England to John Towne (c1565-) and Ann Denton (c1565-) and died 1673 in Topsfield, Essex County, Massachusetts of unspecified causes. He married Joanna Blessing (1595-1682) 25 April 1620 in St. Nicholas Church, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England.

William Towne (1599-1685) was a devout Puritan that immigrated to America in 1637.

Vital Statistics

Son of John Towne and Elizabeth Clarke (Note: Many Archives list Ann Denton as the mother?)

1599-Mar-15 : Birth at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England

1620-Mar-25 : Marriage to Joanna Blessing (1595-1682) at St Nicholas Church, Yarmouth, Norfolk, England

1637-Apr : Immigration to America with wife and six children aboard the Rose of Yarmouth.

1685-Apr-30 : Death at Topsfield, Essex Co, Massachusetts Colony


English Childhood

William Towne, son of John Towne, was baptized in the church at St. Nicholas, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England on March 18, 1598/9. He married Joanna Blessing/Blyssyne on April 25, 1620 in the same church in England.

John Towne married Elizabeth Clarke on September 20, 1597. Their marriage is recorded in the Blundeston/Fixton Parish Register. William Towne was born circa 1598, as the son of John Towne and Elizabeth Clarke of Yarmouth, Norfolk County, England. He was baptized in the St. Nicholas Parish Church, Great Yarmouth, England, on March 18, 1568/9.  

Immigration to America

Although there is no known record of immigration, it is believed by Savage and Virkus that the family came to America in 1635.

The first record of William Towne in America appears in the town book of Salem some time between 1635 and 1640 (undated) when he received a land grant "a littleneck of Land right over against his house on the other side of the River" in the area called North Fields.

Topsfield Settlement

In 1651, he purchased land in the neighboring town of Topsfield from William Paine, which consisted of forty acres, part plow land, meadow, and unplowed land. He sold his Salem property to Henry Bullock in 1652 and bought additional land at Topsfield in 1656. He was made a commoner in Topsfield in 1664. When his son Joseph married Phebe Perkins, he deeded 2/3 of his property to Joseph.

The family moved from Salem to a settle a farm in Topsfield purchased by William in 1652.

Later, three of the daughters would be accused of witchcraft and two would be persecuted in the Salem Witch Trials.

Estate Probate

Administration was granted April 24, 1673 to "Johana" Towne on the estate of William Towne. The estate of William Towne of Topsfield appears on Essex Probate Docket #27923

Admitted Jan. 17, 1682. Petition for settlement of the estate of William Towne who died 10 years before leaving no will, but left his estate in the hands of their mother which remained unsettled until her death. Now they desire that it be divided equally between the three sons: Edmund, Jacob and Joseph; and the moveables equally to the three daughters: Rebecka, Mary and Sarah. Signed by Mary, relict of Edmund Towne, Jacob Town, Joseph Towne, Francis "Nurs" consort of Rebeka, Mary Esty, and Sarah Bridges.

Marriage & Family

Joanna Blessing (1595-1682) married William Towne and they were Rebecca's parents. Joanna was born in Great Yarmouth and died in Topsfield, Essex county, Massachusetts. The couple had eight children, Rebecca, Edmond, Jacob, Joseph, Mary, Sarah, John and Susannah.

All but Sarah and Joseph were born in England.William Towne and Joanna Blessing possibly left England on the ship "Rose of Yarmouth" in April 1637.  The exact date they left England and name of the ship used is not known for sure. He was a puritan and apparently left England because of religious persecution like most of the people who left England for Massachusetts at that time.

The couple had eight children, Rebecca, Edmond, Jacob, Joseph, Mary, Sarah, John and Susannah.

  1. Rebecca Towne (1621-1692) - Daughter that Married Francis Nurse and died in Salem Witch Trials
  2. John Towne (1622-1672) - was baptized February 16, 1622 in Great Yarmouth, England. He was listed as an apprentice in England at age 13. John married Phebe Lawson, and he died in 1672 [at age 49].
  3. Suzanna Towne (1625-1672) - was born October 20, 1625 in Great Yarmouth, England. Suzanna was baptized on October 26, 1625. Suzanna was named after her aunt. Suzanna died in July 29, 1672 [at age 47]. Suzanna was spared her sister's anquish and pain. She was not targeted as a witch.
  4. Edmund Towne (1628-1678) - was born on June 22, 1628 and was baptized on July 28, 1628, in Great Yarmouth. He died in Topsfield, MA 23 May 1678. Edmund apprenticed to Henry Skerry of Great Yarmouth. He sailed on either the Rose of Great Yarmouth, or the Henry and Dorothy of Ipswich. Both ships were commanded by William Andrews and his son, William. Skerry and his family settled in Salem, MA. Edmund married Mary Browning in 1652 [at age 24]. Their children were: ..... Abigail Towne married Thomas Perley..... Samuel Towne married Elizabeth Knight [her line goes to U.S. President Calvin Coolidge].....Elizabeth Towne married (2) Elisha Perkins (1654-1791) of Topsfield in 1715.
  5. Jacob Towne (1632-1704)- was baptized on March 11, 1632. Jacob married Catherine Symonds, daughter of Samuel Symonds (1693-1772) and Elizabeth Andrews, on June 26, 1657. He died November 22, 1704, in Topsfield, MA. [at age 72]. Their son: ..... John Towne married Mary Smith......Katherine Towne (1662-1714) married Elisha Perkins in 1680.
  6. Mary Towne (1634-1692) - was baptized August 24, 1634. She married Isaac Estey/Eastie. Mary was hanged on September 22, 1692, during the Salem witch trials [at age 58]. Their son was: ..... Isaac Estey, Jr. married Abigail Kimball.
  7. Joseph Towne (1639-1713) - born on September 3, 1639, in Salem, MA. Joseph married Phebe Perkins in 1665 in Topsfield, MA. He died in Topsfield 21 Feb 1713. Their children were: ..... Joseph Towne, Jr. married Margaret Case...... Susanna Towne married John Cummings..... Martha Towne married Isaac Larrabee.
  8. Sarah Towne (1637-1713) - born 03 Sep 1637, in Salem, MA. She married (1) Edmund Bridges (2) Peter Cloyce. Sarah Cloyce was accused of witchcraft, in 1692 and put into prison, and later released. She pressed charges for her unlawful arrest and that of her sisters. She received three gold sovereigns for each of them. The movie, Three Sovereigns For Sister Sarah is about this event. Her daughter was: ..... Hepzibah Cloyce, married Ebenezer Harrington.


Offspring of William Towne and Joanna Blessing (1595-1682)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Rebecca Towne (1621-1692) 21 February 1621 Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom 19 July 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, United States Francis Nurse (1618-1695)

John Towne (1622-1672)
Suzanna Towne (1625-1672)
Edmund Towne (1628-1678)
Jacob Towne (1632-1704)
Mary Towne (1634-1692) 12 August 1634 Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom 22 September 1692 Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States Isaac Esty (1627-1712)

Joseph Towne (1639-1713) 1639 Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts 21 February 1713 Topsfield, Essex County, Massachusetts Phebe Perkins (1644-1715)

Sarah Towne (1642-1703)



Sources and notes



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