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View Tree for Richard SissonRichard Sisson (b. 1608, d. February 26, 1683/84)

Richard Sisson was born 1608 in England, and died February 26, 1683/84 in Portsmouth, Newport Co., Rhode Island.

 Includes NotesNotes for Richard Sisson:
I. Speculation about Richard's English origins:
A. Discussion during the Sisson Gathering of June 4 to 6, 1998, suggested that Richard and Mary were probably Quakers and, if so, could not legally leave England. If so, no records of their departure from England or arrival in New England would have been made. However, once they were in the New World, they left many records in the free atmosphere of Rhode Island where people of diverse religious persuasions were tolerated.

B. In a note to me, June 19, 1999, David and Joan Sisson say they "have heard that Richard came to America on the ship 'Anne,' and they also wonder about the George Sisson supposedly here earlier than Richard. "Could he be Richard's father, especially reasonable since Richard's (first?) son was named George? We haven't found a reference for either idea, however."

C. In a phone call July 30, 2000, David Sisson of Livermore, California, told me, David Arne Sisson of Rochester, that Paula Wisher Mason wrote to tell him, David of Livermore, that she had found a record in the microfilmed "Torrey Collection" of early New England marriages at her local library in Peoria, Illinois, which has also been published as "New England Marriages Before 1700." Paula quoted this entry from the Torrey Collection in her letter to David of Livermore
-- "SISSON, Richard (1608-1684) & Mary ? (-1692); b 1644; Portsmouth, RI/Dartmouth." Many researches want to see the actual record, but David said that this record tentatively seems to "settle several things" including these issues --

1) We no longer need to wonder about the marriage of "a Richard Sissons of Elmeshall [who] married Mary Atkinson of Heck in the town of Snaith [Yorkshire] February 14, 1632."

2) Richard and Mary were in Rhode Island by 1644 and perhaps earlier. (Students of English history will want to review the events of the early 1640s, when the English Civil Wars were brewing.)

3) Richard and Mary's *first* child was George [or at least their first child in New England was George - DAS].

These suppositions suggest that Richard's father's name might well have been George since first sons were traditionally named for their paternal grandfathers, and that Mary's father's name might well have been James since second sons were traditionally named for their maternal grandfathers.

D. On the introductory page x of their "Descendants of Richard and Mary Sisson," (published in 1999), David and Joan Sisson say that "records of a Richard Sisson in the town of Greystoke, Cumbria, England, were found in the early 17th century, among other Sissons in the Penrith area." There are many other records of late 16th or early 17th century Sisson families in England, one of which may turn out to be connected to "our" Richard Sisson.

E. The 2000 Sisson Gathering in Florence, Kentucky, has named two genealogical researchers to try to determine the origins of Richard and Mary in England. Contributions toward that search may be sent to Dr. David S. Martin, 10 Colonial Farm Circle, Marstons Mills, MA 02648. (Thank you very much!) Reports on the progress of that research will be made to all subscribers of the Sisson List and to the Sisson Newsletter.

F. A little review of English history might be in order: In the 1640's, England was embroiled in a civil war between King Charles I and his loyalist supporters on one hand and the Puritan-controlled Parliament and its army under Oliver Cromwell on the other. Neither the Established Church of England, of which Charles was Head, nor the Puritans tolerated Quakers. If indeed Richard and Mary were Quakers (a rather shaky theory since The Society of Friends was not formally organized until the 1650s), they might very well have wanted to flee England. Indeed, after the capture, trial, and execution of Charles in 1649, the persecution of Quakers increased under the new Commonwealth of England. Whether they were Quakers (a very new movement in the mid-17th century), they were certainly Protestants of some sort, and not in agreement with the Church of England or even its Puritan wing. Not for many decades was the existence of Quakers legal in England, and they were hanged both in old England and in Massachusetts, which probably explains why Richard and Mary came to Rhode Island where the Baptist church under Roger Williams, remembering its own persecution in Massachusetts, was prepared to welcome Quakers.

II. Immigration:
A. It has been reported that Richard came to Portsmouth, RI, in 1639, but it has never been confirmed, nor has evidence been found yet for the birth places of the first three children: George, Anne, and Elizabeth. A man needed to be a resident in good standing for two years before he could be declared a freeman. Apparently Richard and his family did come to Dartmouth, Plymouth Colony (now Massachusetts) in 1651, since Richard was mentioned in Dartmouth town records in 1651 and became a freeman there on May 17, 1653. As shown above Richard and Mary may have brought three children with them when they immigrated but only one of them was a son (George). We doubt that other children would have immigrated with the family without being recorded.

B. From page 2 of "Descendants of Richard and Mary Sisson" (1999) by David and Joan Sisson: "There are two schools of thought on the immigration of Richard to New England. The first is that he immigrated to Dartmouth, Massachusetts, in 1639 and later to Rhode Island. The second is that he immigrated directly to Rhode Island before 1653. In either case Richard was received as inhabitant of Portsmouth June 16, 1651, admitted as a freeman in Dartmouth May 17, 1653 ("age 45") and admitted as a freeman in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in 1655. Whether he arrived in Portsmouth from Massachusetts or England is not stated in the record. If Richard immigrated in 1639, then probably his marriage and the birth of all his children occurred in New England. To the best of our knowledge, no records exist indicating Richard's presence in New England prior to 1651. This seems unusual in view of the many records that exist after 1653. If on the other hand, the family immigrated in 1651, his marriage and the birth of his first three children would have occurred in England."

III. Records in New England:
A. When first found in Dartmouth, Richard was recorded as 45 years of age. According to John Locke Martin's "The Sisson Family in 4 Parts: Compiled during the 1930's by John Locke Martin (1876-1942)" (Washington, DC: David S. Martin, 1991) (Part 1, page 1): "At a town meeting held in Portsmouth [RI] June 16, 1651 'Richard Sisson is received inhabitant amongst us and hath given his engagement'. . . . He was enrolled a freeman on May 17th, 1653, and in the same year 'Goodman Sisson' was chosen Constable, an office in which he must have been efficient, since he was repeatedly re-elected."

At a "Meeting of the Inhabitants of portsm:o [i.e., Portsmouth, Rhode Island] November 30th, 1657" it was ordered that the following ten men should be given planting land on Hog Island (in Mount Hope Bay between Portsmouth and Bristol) for seven years: "Edward ffisher, Richard Sison [sic], John Tripp [Richard and Mary's daughter's father-in-law], John Anthony, ffrancis Brayton, Thomas Ginings, Ralph Earll junr:, John Archar [sic], Samuell [sic] Wilson, & John Baslie." [13]

Quoting Footnote 13 -
Brigham, "Early Records of Portsmouth [note 9], 80. The reference to the Hog Island planting land is found on p. 85 of the original Portsmouth Records, Book I, in the Rhode Island State Archives.

These quotations are from the "New England Historical and Genealogical Register," Volume 157, April 2003, page 103.

Further records show that in August 1653, Richard served as a juror. On July 6, 1658, he bought 1/300th of Quonaquett Island and 1/300th of Dutch Island. In 1660 he sold both and an additional 1/300th to Peleg Sanford. John L. Martin says "About 1667 he moved to Dartmouth, Mass., as in that year [June 5, 1667] he was chosen on the Grand Jury, and thereafter his name appears occasionally on the Dartmouth records, although he held no office. Richard Sisson had a large farm on the west bank of the Coakset River [Dartmouth] at the 'Head.' His house was probably near what is now the corner of the road leading southerly from the Head of Westport to South Westport, and the 'Rhode Island Way' leading westerly between Sandy Pond and Stafford Pond to the Sakonnet River. The location was known as 'Sisson's,' and James Sisson, his son, kept a tavern in the old homestead, which was so used for nearly two centuries. . . . This part of Dartmouth became a part of the town of Westport in 1787. At a town meeting on June 5th, 1671, Richard Sisson was elected [Portsmouth, RI] town surveyor of highways, and no further records of him are found, till his death in 1684."

Martin continues (part 1, page 2): "On May 27th, 1668, Richard Sisson being 60 or thereabouts, gave the following testimony: 'John Archer, being at my house did speak as followeth, and said the deed of gift made by Namumpan to John Sanford and himself was a cheat, and the intent thereof was to deceive Namumpan, squaw Sachem of her land: and they were to have both corn and peague to secure her land from Wamsutta or Peter Tallman, and was to resign up the deed at her demand.' 'And I, Mary Sisson, do testify that I heard the same words at the same time, and further, when my husband was gone out of the house, I heard them both say they were troubled in conscience they had concealed it so long, and did refuse to take part of the gratification.' The above was attested upon oath before John Cooke. On June 3rd, 1668 Richard Sisson was sworn to this testimony before John Alden. The event occurred probably in Portsmouth, before he moved from that place to Dartmouth. John Archer and John Sanford were both residents of Portsmouth."

"The will of Richard Sisson was dated October 18th, 1683, and was proved in Dartmouth February 26th 1684. The executor was his son James." In politics he was reported as Huguenot [which is a term used of French Protestants, not a political term - DAS]. He was a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers). We have never found any indication of a formal occupation. Some have called Richard a surveyor, but he held that title as an appointee of the town of Dartmouth, and it is unlikely that he did much actual surveying as a profession.

The inventory was dated Nov. 15, 1683 (see

B. Houses
A house was built by Richard and Mary's son George, or possibly by George's son Richard who inherited the land in Portsmouth. The house perhaps included or superseded remains of Richard and Mary's house. It can be seen at 1236 East Main Road, Portsmouth, Rhode Island. It was purchased (about 1998) by Roland A. Morgan, a trained archaeologist, who planned in 1998 to open an antique shop there. Richard and Mary's house was perhaps built in the 1650s. In the 1660s they lived with or near their second son, James, in Westport, now in Bristol County, Massachusetts, then in Plymouth Colony. He owned a large piece of land there. Richard and Mary returned to Portsmouth, probably before King Philip's War in the mid-1680's, and Richard died there, hough later Mary returned to Dartmouth and died there.

John L. Martin's "The Sisson Family" part 1 page 4: "From an address by Henry B. Worth at Westport "Old Home Week" 8/24/1908: Before the King Philip War [1685-6] it would have been venturesome to think of settling eight miles from the seashore, and so far as is known only one made the attempt. If the information furnished by the records is complete, the first man to locate at the head of the Noquochoke River was Richard Sisson, and he was bold and hardy enough to locate his home as early as 1671 on the west side of the river and on the south side of the highway, for in that year he was elected surveyor of the Town Roads."

IV. Richard's will
From Part 1 page 2 of John L. Martin's "Sisson Family": "To wife Mary, my dwelling house and movables during her life, and twelve pounds sterling yearly rent; with firewood, orchard fruit, land for garden, liberty to keep poultry for her use, and also a horse to be maintained and kept at her command to ride on, also 2 oxen and two cows that I bought with my money; all debts due me I give to my wife. She shall have a milch cow maintained for her use, with winter shelter and summer pasture during live and two parts of all my swine. Also she shall have her corn carried to the mill and the meal brought home again sufficient for use during life, and 10 bushels of Indian corn, 3 of Rye and half of my wheat and barley. To son James, all my housing and land in Dartmouth, excepting land near Pongansett Pond and reservations to wife as aforesaid. To daughter Ann Tripp and her husband Peleg, tract of land near Pongansett Pond, and to daughter Tripp and her husband Peleg Tripp's children, all those sheep he is keeping. To son John, all my house and land in Portsmouth. To son George, five pounds in money. To daughter Elizabeth Allen, wife of Caleb Allen, five pounds. To Indian servant Samuel, a two-year-old mare. To grandchild Mary Sisson, daughter of George, three cows and one bed, etc., on the day of her marriage, and one pewter flagon and brass kettle which were her Aunt Mary's."

Martin, part 1 page 3, continues:
"The inventory of the estate was L600/19s . viz:
House & lands in Dartmouth L240
[ditto] Rhode Island L60
Cattle and horse kind L113/15s
Swine L30
Sheep L14/10s
Beds, etc. L50
New cloth, wool yarn, hemp & flax L13
One Negro servant L28
One Indian [ditto] L10
Money L12"

V. References:
Useful references for Richard and his descendants are:
* Rhodes, ed. "Colonial Families of the United States," Vol. II (D&J #4)
* Austin, John O. "160 Allied Families" (Salem, Mass.) pages 120, 208-12 (D&J #5)
* Munsell et al. "American Ancestry," (1899) Vol. 12 (D&J #6)
* Arnold, James N. "Rhode Island Vital Records" (D&J #7)
* Welling, B. "They Were Here, Too" (Greenwich, Washington County, NY: New York Historical Society, 1963-71) (D&J #8)
* Paige, Lucius R. "List of Freemen of Massachusetts, 1630-1691" (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1978) (D&J #9)
* Austin, John O. "The Genealogical Dictionary of RI," (Albany, 1887), p. 181 (D&J #10)
* Martin, John L. "Sisson Family" (New Bedford, Mass.: typescript, 1930s; indexed by David S. Martin, 1991) Vol I, pp 10-4, 7, 17 (D&J #11)
* Rhode Island Historical Society. "The Early Records of the Town of Portsmouth." (Freeman and Sons, 1901) (D&J #392)

Richard married Mary about 1644 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Mary was born about 1615. She died 22 Sep 1692 in Dartmouth, Bristol Co., Massachusetts.

John L. Martin's "The Sisson Family" part 1 page 3: "The wife of Richard Sisson was Mary . . . . . The date of her birth and marriage are not known, but she died in 1692. Her will dated April 15th, 1690 was proved in Dartmouth on December 1st, 1692, her son James being executor, and the witnesses were Joseph Tripp, George Cadman, and John Anthony."

Text of will and following notes:
From the New England Historic and Genealogical Register, vol. 62
(1908), p 182.

“Abstracts from the first book of Bristol County [Massachusetts] Records”

Mary Sison of Dartmouth widow, made her will "the fifteenth day of the second month Caled aprill" 1690, "being uery ill in body.”

- To my loving son Georg Sison L35 in money and a Bible. [L=pound sign]
- To my two grandchildren John and Mary Sison, children of my son John Sison L35 in money to be divided equally between them, to be paid to my son George Sison for the use of said two grandchildren.
- All my brass, pewter, iron, linen and woolen, milk vessels and pails shall be divided into three equal parts.
+ One part I give to my daughter Elizabeth wife of Caleb Allin, also
L5.. 10 [shillings] in money, one chest and a wheel.
+ Another part I give to my daughter Ann wife of Peleg Tripp, also L5..10 in money, a chest and a wheel.
+ The other part I give to my granddaughter Mary Sison daughter of my
son George Sison, also L5 in money.
- I hereby acknowledge that I have received of my son James Sison in
full for all estate left me by my husband Richard Sison in his will, and acquit him of the same. Said son James to be sole executor.

Witnessed by Joseph Tripp, George Cadman, and Jnđ Anthony, of whom the first two made oath at Bristol Dec. 1, 1692 before John Saffin. Attest
Stephen Burton Registr.

Entered Sept: 1693 by John Cary Registr.

The receipts for the bequests were signed and witnessed:

New England Historic and Genealogical Register, vol. 62 (1908), p 233 “Abstracts from the first book of Bristol County [Massachusetts] Records”

Georg Sison "of Road Island in the Collony of Road Island and prouidence plantations" has received of my brother James Sison of Dartmuth the money and goods given me by my mother Mary Sison by her will. Dated “the feuenteeth of ye 10th mth Cald December 1692", and witnessed by Valentine Hudelstun and Richard Allen. Entered Oct. 10, 1693 by John Cary Registr.

George Sisson of Road Island gave receipt to my brother James Sisson of Dartmouth for L35 in money that my mother Mary Sisson gave by will my brother John Sisson's two children. Dated Dec. 17, 1692, and witnessed by Valentine Hudelstun and Richard Allen. Entered Oct. 10, 1693 by John Cary Registr.

Elizabeth Allen wife of Caleb Allen of Sandwich, Barnstable Co., has
received of my brother James Sisson of Dartmouth the money and goods
given me by my mother Mary Sisson in her will.Dated Dec. 17, 1692, and witnessed by Vallentine Hudlestun and Deliverance Smith. Entered Oct.10, 1693 by John Cary Registr.

Ann Tripp wife of Peleg Tripp "of the Colleny of Road Island and
prouidence plantations" has received of my brother James Sisson of
Dartmouth, the money and goods given me by my mother Mary Sisson in her will. Dated Dec. 17, 1692 and witnessed by Vallentine Hudlestun and Richard Allen.

Mary Sisson daughter of George Sisson “of Road Island Colleny &
providence plantations" has received of my uncle James Sisson of
Dartmouth all the money and goods given me by my grandmother Mary Sisson her will. Dated Dec. 17, 1692 and witnessed by Valentine Hudlestun and Deliverance Smith.

The house Mary lived in probably already had been transferred to James. Mary's inventory was L190: "L120 in silver money, plus 29 cheeses, etc."

Some sources called Richard's wife Mary Freeman, born in 1619. We have found no documentation of this. There is speculation about a Richard Sissons (note the final S) of Elmeshall who married a Mary Atkinson of Heck in the town of Snaith, England, February 14, 1632. There is no way of knowing from this information whether this Richard and Mary (Atkinson) Sissons are related in any way to the Richard and Mary Sisson who were in New England. Research is on-going to find Richard and Mary's marriage record in England.

More About Richard Sisson and <Unnamed>:
Marriage: 1644, Portsmouth, Newport Co., Rhode Island.

Children of Richard Sisson are:
  1. +George Sisson, b. 1645, Burton, Latimer parish, in Northamptonshire, England8, d. September 07, 1718, Portsmouth, Newport Co., Rhode Island.
  2. +Anne Sisson, b. Bet. 1647 - 1648, d. Aft. 1718, Dartmouth, Bristol Co., Massachusetts.
  3. +Elizabeth Sisson, b. April 08, 1650, d. 1740, Dartmouth, Bristol Co., Massachusetts.
  4. +James Sisson, b. November 02, 1652, d. December 1734, Dartmouth, Bristol Co., Massachusetts.
  5. Mary Sisson, b. Bet. 1653 - 1654, Dartmouth, Bristol Co., Massachusetts, d. 1674, Dartmouth,Bristol Co.,Massachusetts.
  6. John Sisson, b. 1658, d. June 24, 1687.
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