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Descendants of Richard Sisson




Generation No. 1


1. RICHARD1 SISSON1 was born Abt. 1608 in England, and died Bef. February 26, 1683/84 in Portsmouth, Newport Co., Rhode Island. He married MARY1 Abt. 1644 in Portsmouth, Newport Co., Rhode Island1. She was born Abt. 1615 in England, and died September 22, 1692 in Dartmouth, Bristol Co., Massachusetts.

Notes for R
ICHARD 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, 1709 Blagdon Terrace, Washington, DC, 20011. (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."
      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 http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/users/deetz/Plymouth/willsindex00.html).

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. Mary's Will:

From Part 1 page 2 of John L. Martin's "Sisson Family":

Mary died 22 Sep 1692 in Dartmouth, Bristol Co., Massachusetts. 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. By this will she devised as follows:
      ..To Son George, L35
      ..To grandchildren John and Mary, children of son John, L35 to be divided equallyAll beds,             bedding, brass, pewter, iron, linen and woolen, milk vessels, etc. to be divided in             three parts.
      ..To daughter Elizabeth, wife of Caleb Allen, one of said parts, and also L6 5s and a chest and             wheel.
      ..To daughter Ann, wife of Peleg Tripp, one part and L6 10s and a chest and wheel.The other             part to grand-daughter Mary, daughter of George Sisson, and to her L5 5s.

Another source says that George received "L35 plus 'the Bible'." 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."

VI. 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)


      <<<<<<            AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF >>>>>>
      THE OLD SISSON HOUSE IN PORTSMOUTH, RHODE ISLAND

Richard and Mary Sisson are thought to have built a house in Portsmouth, Newport County, Rhode Island, perhaps as early as the 1650s. They lived there at times, and at other - safer - times with their son James at "the Head" of Westport, in Plymouth Colony (later Bristol County, Massachusetts). Richard died in 1684 in Portsmouth, probably in this house. Mary died in 1692 in Dartmouth, Plymouth Colony, not far from son James' home in Westport.

During King Philip's War (1685-1687) between the colonists and the Native Americans of southern New England, many houses were burned on the mainland. However Richard and Mary's house on its island of Aquidneck would have been safe. Portsmouth, Middletown and Newport share the island which is also known as Rhode Island. Maybe you remember that the official name of the colony and (later) the state was and is "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."

Richard and Mary's eldest son George is believed to have built the house that now stands at "Mintwater Brook Farm," in Portsmouth, probably using his father's original foundation. Perhaps George already held the house by the time of King Philip's War. George died in 1718, so the present house must date from very early in the 18th century. George left the house to his son James who also inherited most of George's Portsmouth land.

Carol Sisson Regehr has been attempting to trace the history of the ownership of Mintwater Brook Farm house. It has an address now - 1236 East Main Road, Portsmouth, Rhode Island 01871. It was bought by Roland A. Morgan in 1996 from three siblings: Eloise Driscoll, Harold Phillips, and Adelbert Phillips. How did they come to own the house? Read on.

When the title search was done for the 1996 purchase, it revealed the names of the owners since the mid-19th century. The owner listed first was William B. (7) Sisson. William's ancestral line is Richard 1, George 2, James 3, Joseph 4, James 5, Moses L. 6, William B. 7. His "sketch" appears on page 365 of David and Joan Sisson's "Descendants of Richard and Mary Sisson." (Mary Durfee was William's wife. Her"friendship book" was bought through an eBay auction in June 2000 by Sisson Archivist Carol Sisson Regehr.)

William sold it with six acres to two sisters, his 4th cousins once removed, Susan Eastman Woodman Sisson and Philadelphia Brownell Sisson, daughters of James (7) Sisson, whose line is Richard 1, George 2, Richard 3 (who inherited "some property" from George 2), George 4, Peleg 5, Richard 6, James 7.

In the 1880 census, Susan, Philadelphia, their brother James, and three of his sons including Frederick were all living at the Mintwater Brook Farm house. In 1892 Susan Sisson sold the house to this Frederick Arnold (9) Sisson, James Manning (8) Sisson's son. When cousin Barb Austin visited the house in 1999 she took a picture of Frederick Arnold Sisson and his wife Ella (Sherman) Sisson - or rather of their framed portraits.

In 1921 Frederick willed the property to his two youngest children, Lloyd Sisson and Lillian Sisson (who hadn't been previously known to modern Sisson genealogical study and were not yet entered in the Sisson Genealogy Web Site database until Carol's research found them in the 1920 census!).

In 1984 Frederick's daughter Lillian Sisson Phillips quit claimed the property to her three children: Eloise Driscoll, Harold Phillips, and Adelbert Phillips. We have now made the full circle since Eloise, Harold, and Adelbert are the ones who sold the property to Roland A. Morgan in 1996.

Those who attended the 1998 Sisson Gathering had the very great pleasure of being invited by Mr. Morgan to see the house, inside (but only downstairs) and out. Mr. Morgan has been renovating the house lovingly, with the intention of making it an antique shop. His phone number is 401-683-3954 if you'd like to ask how things are going. Carol Sisson Regehr's picture of the house , taken from the north-east corner of the lot in 1998, shows how many of us remember the house. Thanks, Carol.

Cousin Barb Austin recounts how Mr. Morgan gave her guided tour of the house in November 1999 and how she saw some of its gradual refurbishing process. She took all the pictures whose links you see below. (Thanks very much, Barb!)

Barb describes how she stood facing the house from East Main Road . On the left front as she stood facing the house, she saw the window of the parlor, which was by then already refurbished. The main feature of the parlor is the fireplace with its beautiful paneling. Behind the parlor is the kitchen, still pretty much in upheaval, but sporting its grand mantel and hutch over another fireplace. Through the door to the left of the hutch is the bathroom (recent, of course). The far wall in the bathroom has another fireplace, now blocked off and walled over. At the side of the house the main door leads into the kitchen (on the right in this picture). A back door, on the left in that picture, leads into the "long room" along the right side of the house - as seen from the road. It used to be at least two rooms. That's the location of a fourth fireplace, this one with a beehive oven and a new brick hearth (built with old bricks) and antique andirons (not original to the house). Obviously this room was the original 18th century kitchen.

These four fireplaces downstairs, on the four sides of a large chimney, must have afforded George and Sarah a very "modern" house for the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries! I imagine that a well-stoked fire would keep things tolerably warm overnight in the rooms upstairs too.

In the large room downstairs there is an original 18th century window - at the East Main Road end, and on the door between the large room and the parlor is an original hand-carved wooden door-latch .

Upstairs are a bath and two bedrooms, and another kitchen, its walls revealing a small scrap of (probably mid-18th century) wallpaper , The larger bedroom also shows a bit of old wallpaper . One of the windows in the larger bedroom upstairs probably dates from the original structure of the house.

The smaller bedroom had in November 1999 been stripped to its bare wall-boards. Much of the remodeling done by the two sisters, Susan and Philadelphia, is being removed in order to restore the house to its 18th century appearance.

Outdoors Mr. Morgan showed Barb an old well house and a potash stone . Perhaps, like me, you don't see at first glance the significance of a potash stone, though a well house is clear enough. Potash is simply the fireplace ashes, and when we note the circular groove in the stone, we can imagine a bottomless barrel sitting there, into which the potash was cast. Occasionally someone would pour some of the Mintwater to "leach" out the lye of the potash, and soon thereafter the lye would be used to make soap. Here was a self-sufficient farm indeed.

If you plan a drive to see the house, you will need to know of the land-mark - Raymond's Auto - just north of the house. The 1998 Gatherers will remember it as Sousa's Garage.

If you have any "new" facts about the house or have photos to offer, please email me at dsisson2@rochester.rr.com so that I can revise this article. Thank you. And again, thanks to Barb Austin and Carol Sisson Regehr.

David Arne Sisson

     
Children of R
ICHARD SISSON and MARY are:
2. i.   GEORGE2 SISSON, b. Abt. 1645, Burton, Latimer Parish, Northamptonshire, England; d. September 1718, Portsmouth, Newport Co., Rhode Island.
  ii.   ANNE SISSON, b. Abt. 1647.
  iii.   ELIZABETH SISSON, b. April 08, 1650.
  iv.   JAMES SISSON, b. November 02, 1652.
  v.   MARY SISSON, b. Abt. 1654.
  Notes for MARY SISSON:
Mary is reported, probably unreliably, to have been born in 1652, but since that is the year her brother James was born, she may have been born in 1654. Mary and Isaac Lawton have been reported as the parents of Mary Lawton and even more doubtfully of Isabel Lawton. According to John Osborne Austin's "Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island" p 123, Isaac Lawton's first and third wives had no issue. If correct, Mary Sisson Lawton had no issue and Mary Lawton and Isabel Lawton are the daughters of Elizabeth Tallman Lawton, if they existed at all. Most sources say that Mary died in childbirth "of her first child."
      Mary married Isaac LAWTON, son of Thomas LAWTON and Elizabeth SALISBURY, on 3 Mar 1674 in Portsmouth, Newport Co., Rhode Island. Isaac was born 11 Dec 1650 in Portsmouth, Newport Co., Rhode Island. He died 25 Jan 1732 in Portsmouth, Newport Co., Rhode Island.

  vi.   JOHN SISSON, b. Abt. 1658.


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