Notes for Gregory Stone: From Gregory Stone Genealogy by J. Gardner Bartlett
Deacon Gregory Stone was born in the parish of Great Bromley, co. Essex, England, and baptized there 19 Apr. 1592, the youngest of the eleven children of David Stone, seven of whom were by a first wife, Elizabeth Hewett, and the four youngest by a second wife, Ursula _______. The ancestors of Dea. Gregory Stone belonged to the best class of the sturdy yoemanry of England whose blood was most largely of the Anglo-Saxon origin; and they resided for at least three centuries, bearing the surname "Stone", in Great Bromley and adjoining parishes where for some ten generations they had tilled lands held by various forms of leases from manorial landlords.
Of the childhood and youth of Dea. Gregory Stone, no memorials have been discovered; but he secured enough education to be able to read and write, accomplishments acquired by only a minority percentage of the yoeman and husbandmen of his time; and presumably he passed his early years in his native parish, learning the arts of husbandry as practiced by his ancestors for many generations. But after his baptism at Great Bromley in 1592, no record has been found of him until twenty-five years later, when he was married in 1617 at Nayland, co. Suffolk (a parish about eight miles northwest of Great Bromley), where he afterwards resided until his emigration to New England in 1635, the registers of Nayland containing the baptisms of seven of his children between 1618 and 1633.
Religious conditions and environment were the main factors in raising Dea. Gregory Stone out of the family obscurity of his ancestors, and making him an historical character as founder of a race in the New World. His emigration resulted from causes which had been developing for over a century and may be briefly summarized. About A.D. 1500, under a general awakening in knowledge in Europe, the Reformation, or revolt from the Church or Rome, was started in Germany by Martin Luther and others, and soon spread to England during the reign of Henry VIII (1509-1547), resulting in the conversion of the majority of the population, the dissolution of the monasteries and confiscation of their estates to the crown, and finally the Act of Supremacy terminating papal authority in England and establishing the Protestant Church of England. During the reign of Philip and Mary (1554-1558) the papal power was temporarily restored and an attempt was made to crush our Protestantism; the dungeons were crowded with victims and nearly three hundred martyrs endured the frightful doom of the stake in their devotion to their belief. But on the accession of Elizabeth in 1558 the Protestant religion was permanently restored to power, the Catholics dwindled in numbers, and an era of great prosperity for England set in.
During the latter half of the reign of Elizabeth (1558-1603) there grew and spread among some of the Protestants a spirit of asceticism and a desire for simpler forms of religious worship: these dissenters became known as Puritans and in spite of persecutions to enforce conformity to the Established Church, the Puritans increased rapidly in numbers, principally among the best element of the great middle class, and particularly in Essex and Suffolk. Under James I (1603-1625) and Charles I (1625-1649) the persecutions of the Puritans became so obnoxious as to induce an emigration, between 1630 and 1643, of some twenty-five thousand of them to the wilds of New England where they might enjoy their religious beliefs unmolested; of these colonists nearly two-thirds were from Suffolk and Essex and the adjoining counties, among them the brothers Dea. Gregory and Dea. Simon Stone, ancestors of the largest part of the Stone families in America. But to secure religious freedom was not the sole cause of this epochal emigration; most of the land in England was owned by a small landed class, descended from the Norman feudal nobility and manorial lords, of whom the yoeman were obliged to take leases at high rentals; a corrupt and incompetent government and profligate court had brought the country to great industrial distress, poverty among the masses, and crushing taxation, including the obnoxious ship-money tax; and the spirit of democracy was rising against the "divine right of kings". So it is certain that many of the founders of New England left their native land, not only for religious liberty, but also with the idea of establishing civil democracy and of eventually securing improvement in material conditions. In 1643 the Puritan party secured control of the English government, their persecution ended, and the ensuing civil war established the English Commonwealth; so general emigration to New England practically ceased in 1643 until after the close of the American Revolution in 1783.
During the early manhood of Dea. Gregory Stone, Puritanism became paramount in Essex and Suffolk, and persecution of its adherents resulted in the great Puritan emigration to New England, started in 1630 under the leadership of Gov. John Winthrop of Groton, co. Suffolk, a parish only five miles north of Nayland. That Dea. Gregory Stone was acquainted in England with Gov. Winthrop is apparent from a letter written by the latter at Charlestown, Mass., 23July 1630, to his son John Winthrop junior at Groton, England, in which the Governor directs, "Demand of Stone and Bragg or Neyland, 15 Pounds. You have bond for it." (Winthrop's "History of New England," Vol.1, p.375.)
At the present day, it seems most remarkable that our ancestors should willingly endure any hardships of adherence to their convictions on what now seem unessential points in religious controversies; but the main irreconcilable point of ritual dissension between the Puritans and the authorities of the Church of England was the refusal of the former to receive communion while kneeling before the altar, they demanding that it be administered to them while seated or standing. During the reigns of James I and Charles I, the annual church wardens' presentments to the archdeacons or bishops contain in all thousands of entries against Puritans who refused to conform by kneeling to receive communion. In the Diocesan Registry at Norwich is still preserved the visitation of the Archdeaconry of Sudbury (western Suffolk) for 1629; and the following parishioners of Nayland were then presented for refusing to kneel to receive communion: John Warren, John Firmyn, Christopher Scarlett, John Kent and Gregory Stone: a few years later all of these nonconformists (except Scarlett) are found in New England. From this record it is evident that Dea. Gregory Stone, brought up amid Puritan influences, had embraced with fervid and uncompromising conviction the Puritan faith of the founders of New England; and within a few years he joined the throng who left their beloved ancestral homes and braved the perils of the deep and endured the hardships of a wilderness infested with hostile savages, to establish a nation in the New World.
While records have been preserved showing that Dea. Simon Stone, brother of Dea. Gregory, brought his family to New England in the Ship "Increase" in the Spring of 1635, the name and date of sailing of the vessel which brought Dea. Gregory Stone and his family hither remain unknown. But he came sometime in 1635, bringing his second wife Lydia, six children, John, Daniel, David, Elizabeth, Samuel and Sarah Stone, and two step-children John and Lydia Cooper. At first he located with his brother Simon in Watertown, Mass., where the town records give possessions as follows: GREGORY STONE 1. Three Acres of upland by estimation bounded the North & West w/ William Paine & the South w/ Thomas Hastings, granted to him. 2. Forty Acres of upland by estimation being a great Divident in the first Division and the Eighteen lott, granted to him. 3. Two Acres of Meddow by estimation in Rockmeddow bounded the North w/ Cambridge line the South w/ John Biscoe & the East w/ the brooks, granted to him. 4. Ten Acres of Plowland by estimation in the farther Plaine bounded the East w/ Thomas Brookes the West w/ John Stowers the North w/ Commonland and the South w/ the highway, granted to him. 5. Ten Acres of remote Meddow by estimation in the Seventy eight lott, granted to him. (Watertown Records, Lands, Grants, and possessions, printed Vol. 1, p. 86)
The first "Great Divident" of land in Watertown was made 25 July 1636, among the hundred and twenty "townsmen then inhabiting," in four divisions of thirty each: Gregory Stone drew lot 18, of forty acres, in the first division.
On 28 Feb. 1636/7, grants of plowlands at "Beverbroke Planes" were made to one hundred and six " townsmen then inhabiting"; in this division Gregory Stone drew lot 54, of ten acres.
On 26 June 1637, grants of the "Remote or Westpine Meadows" were made to one hundred and thirteen "townsmen then inhabiting"; Gregory Stone drew lot 78, of ten acres.
This last record in 1637 gives the latest date at which Dea. Gregory Stone is mentioned as "inhabiting" in Watertown, and later in that year he removed to Cambridge (then called Newtowne). On 30 Sept. 1639 he sold his Watertown lands to Nathaniel Sparhawk, agent of Thomas Boyleston to London, whose son Thomas came from England and settled on these lands.
The earliest mention of Dea. Gregory Stone to be found in Cambridge Records is on 6 Feb. 1636/7, when was granted "Unto Gregorie Stone halfie an ac....." (Cambridge Town Records printed vol., p. 26.) On21 Sept. 1637 he bought of Mr Roger Harlackenden a homestead consisting of a house and "five" acres of land situated on the westerly side of the present Garden Street, opposite the end of the present Shepard Street, whither he soon removed from Watertown. By grant and purchase he later acquired large tracts of land totalling over four hundred acres, particularly on Cambridge Farms (now Lexington and Lincoln) where his two younger sons David and Samuel Stone later settled.
In a list of houses and lands in Cambridge, dated 6 Sept. 1642, his possessions are given as follows: GREGORY STONE Impr. on the Comon one dwelling house wth outhouses and fyve Acr of land more or lesse, Thomas Parrish southeast, An Crosby northwest, Susan Bloget southwest, the Comon northeast. Itm. In the new west field Two Acr more or lesse, Thomas Parrish southeast, John Frendh northwest, Thomas Marret northeast, highway to the great swampe southwest. Itm. In the Oxpasture towards menotamye Eight Acr and halfe more or lesse, Edward Winship south, John Cooper north, Charlestowne lyne east, the highway to menotamye west. Itm. beyond the Freshpond meadow, forty Acr of upland & meadow more or lesse, Nathaneell Sparrowhauke southeast and northwest, Watertowne lyne southwest, Comon swampe northeast. Itm. In the Freshpond meadow, fyve Acr more or lesse, Richard Champnyes northeast, Elisabeth Shervone southwest, the river southeast and northwest. Itm. In the Oxpasture toward menotamy six Acre more or lesse, Edward Winship north, An Crosby south, highway to menotamy west, Charlestowne lyne East. (Proprietors' Records of Cambridge, p. 83)
At this time (1642), Charlestown included the present city of Somerville; so the easterly boundary line of Cambridge was the present line between Cambridge and Somerville. Towards the northwest, Cambridge also included the present towns of Arlington, Lexington, Bedford, and Lincoln, and towards the southwest Brighton and Newton; and two years later Cambridge was granted "Shawshin," which was largely settled by Cambridge families, and in 1655 was established as a new town of Billerica. Part of the lands of Dea. Gregory Stone in Cambridge were bounded southwesterly by lands in Watertown of his brother Dea. Simon Stone.
Under date of 11 Oct. 1647, appears the following grant to Dea. Gregory Stone of two hundred acres at Cambridge Farms (now Lexington and Lincoln). Granted by the Towne of Cambridge unto Grigory Stone a prcell of land about 200 acr more or lesse Abutt uppon the Heade if the (8) mile line towards Concord. It is to run upon a prpendicular line to ye (8) mile line unto a greate Rocke stone being ye Bounds betw Edward Goffe & him, & from thence in a straite line to ye Brooke, & Crossing to Brooke, still to Run allong By Another Brookside, running on ye west side of a plaine, untill he Come to the end of ye Pla, and from thence he is to run along By the further side of the meadows that ly about a great pine Hill, and soe to Continue until he Com to a marked white Oake nere Concord (illegible) from thence a line to be drawn being a paralell (illegible) the other west End opposite unto the same, until he Come unto the eight mile heade line. (Cambridge Town Records, printed vol., p, 63.)
In the division of the "Shawshine Lands" (Bellerica and Bedford), 4 June 1652, "The town do give to Gregory Stone adjoyneing to his Farme one Hundred acres." This was laid out in what is now Lexington and Lincoln, instead of in Bellerica. (Cambridage Town Records, printed vol. p.98) On 12 Feb, 1664/5, he was granted twelve additional acres adjoining the above grant, which had been surveyed by Thomas Danforth and John Fessenden. On 27 Feb. 1664/5 in a division of land and cow commons, Gregory Stone drew lot 48, or thirty-five acres, and four commons. (Cambridge Proprietors' Records, printed vol., p. 146)
Dea. Gregory Stone must have joined the Watertown church soon after his arrival there, as on 25 May 1636 he was admitted a freeman of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and at that time church membership was a requisite to become a freeman. Only freeman could vote and hold office; so it was carefully arranged that only "orthodox" persons should have any part in the government. The earliest church records of Cambridge preserved in print were compiled in Jan. 1658/9, by the third pastor, Rev. Johathan Mitchell, who gives the appended account of Dea. Gregory Stone and his family: "Gregory Stone, Deacon of this Ch; & Lydia his wife in f.C. (full communion) Whose children, John, Daniel, David, Elizabeth, Samuel, Sarah, Also John Cooper Son of the forsaid Lydia and Lydia Fiske her daughter; being all of them through the Rich Grace of Christ come into full Communion with his people; they will be mentioned afterwards in their places, all save, John Stone now joyned member of the Church of Xt at Sudbury, Lydia Fisk now deceased, Elizabeth Stone now Potter living at Ipswich, Sarah Stone now Miriam Joyned to ye Ch at Concord." (Records of the First Church in Cambridge, p.4.)
At just what time Gregory Stone became deacon is not known; but he is mentioned as deacon as early as 1643 and held the office at least thirty years, until his death on 30 Nov. 1672.
On 6 Sept. 1638 Gregory Stone appears as one of the three deputies for Cambridge to the Massachusetts General Court; it was at the previous session of 2 May 1638 that the name of the town was changed from Newtowne to Cambridge. (Massachusetts Colony Records, vol. 1, pp. 236 and 228.) This seems to have been the only reagular civil town or colony office ever held by Dea. Gregory Stone; but from his first settlement in Cambridge to almost the very close of his life, a period of thirty-five years, he was continually elected and served on numerous committees appointed to manage special town affairs. The following two instances were in his old age: On 16 Jan. 1670/1, Deacon Stone and Edwards Oakes were assigned "for the Cattichising of the youth at the farmes"; this would indicate he was then living there with one of his sons; also on 29 May 1671, Deacon Stone was appointed on a committee to make a contract for the building of a stone wall on the Watertown line. (Cambridge Town Records, printed vol., pp 188 and 195.) The clear common sense of the deacon and his wife appears from the fact that they were among the signers of a certificaate in behalf of Winifred Holman, accused of witchcraft, stating that they "never knew anything in her life concerning witchery." ("History of Cambridge," p.364)
But the most noteworthy committee on which Dea. Gregory Stone served was in 1664, when he and three other cambridge men presented to the General Court a memorial signed by them and about one hundred and forty other residents of Cambridge, protesting against the then proposed government of New England by a Royal Commission, as an arbitraty government of a Council or Parliament in which they were not represented, and contrary to the intent of the original patent of the Colony. This was the first muttering of the spirit which over a century later was heard in full tones in the Declaration of Independence of 1776. The Colony Records thus describe this occurrence: "19 Oct. 1664. The Court being mett together & informed that severall persons, inhabitants of Cambridge, were at the doore, & desiring liberty to make knowne theire errand, were called in, & Mr. Edward Jackson, Mr. Richard Jackson, Mr. Edw: Oakes, and Deacon Stone coming before the Court, presented a peticon from the inhabitants of Cambridge, which was subscribed by very many hands," etc., viz: "To the honoured Generall Court of Massachusetts Colonie. The humble representation of the inhabitants of the towne of Cambridg. For as much as we have heard that theire have been representations made unto his Majesty conserning divisions among us and dissatisfactions about the present government of this colonie; we whose names are under written, the inhabitants and householders of the towne above mentioned, doe hearby testify our unanimous satisfaction in and adhearing to the present government so long and orderly established, and our earnest desire of the continuance theirof and of all the liberties and privileges pertaining theirunto which are contained in the charter granted by King James and King Charles the First of famous memory, under the encouredgment and security of which charter we or our fathers ventered over the ocean into this wildernesse through great hazards, charges, and difficulties; and we humbly desire our honored General Court would addresse themselves by humble petition to his Majesty for his royall favour in the continuance of the present estableshment and of all the previleges theirof, and that we may not be subjected to the arbitrary power of any who are not chosen by this people according to their patent. Cambridg the 17th or the 8:1664. Charles Chauncy, Edward Oakes, Samll Andrewe, Elijah Corlett, Richard Champny, Edmond Frost, Gregory Stone" (The names of one hundred and thirty more signers follow.)
Children of Gregory Stone and Margaret Garrad are:
+John Stone, b. 1618, Nayland, Co. Suffolk, England, d. date unknown.