Meet the Planters – Coy

Meet Richard Coy

The name of this family appears in the records variously spelled Coy, Coye, and sometimes Coe. The correct identification of the bearers of the name can usually be made by association with other facts.

The ancestor of the brothers Coy who were to become the forefathers of the family in America is not known to us, but he was most likely of Boston, Lincolnshire, England and it is quite probable that this was the birth place of Mary, Matthew and Richard Coy. Mary was born about 1612, Matthew about 1623, and Richard about 1625.

In relation to the story of Quaboag, we need only be concerned with the youngest of the trio, Richard, but in passing we will mention briefly something of the other two.

Mary was a resident of Boston in New England, where she married John Lake and spent most of her life. Matthew was also a resident of Boston, where he married Elizabeth Roberts on August 29, 1654. He had four children, all born at Boston: Matthew born September 5, 1656; Richard born September 6, 1658; John born September 2, 1666; and Samuel born February 19, 1666/7.

Richard the subject of our biography of Boston in Old England, who brought him over from that country in 1638. Beginning in 1645, and for a term of some years, he was a servant to a Mr. Hubbard of Ipswich. After completion of his time of service with the latter master, he likely removed to Boston and may have lived in the home of his brother or sister until 1650 when he removed to Salisbury. The following locates him precisely at the time: “Also at the same meeting it was ordered that all who’s names are here ;underwritten shall, be accompted townsmen and commoners, and none but them, to this present, that is to say.” This record is dated may 12, 1650 and contained the name of Richard Coy.

The next mention of his name appears on an affidavit dated March 1651 at Ipswich, certifying that his future mother-in-law has an estate valued at 200 pounds in an alleged case of illegal wearing of silk or “excess in apparel” as it was legally called. Perhaps this put him in the good graces of Richard Haffield, but in any case, he married his daughter Martha, aged about 24 years, sometime before December 20, 1651. Martha was from Sudbury, Suffolk, and had come over with her father on the “Planter” which arrived at Boston on June 7, 1635. She was then listed at eight years of age.

Apparently, Richard was well acquainted with legal procedure, although probably having no formal education in that field. That he was a resident of Ipswich at least for a short time, would seem to be a fair deduction from the following court proceedings. “Martha Coy witnessed power of attorney form Samuel Heyford of Ipswich December 20, 1651, to Richard Coy of Ipswich, who sold the house for a School House which was in possession of Ezekiel Cheever form 1652, as belonging to the School. Samuel Heyford went to England”. (Essex County court files; vol. 2; page 4; September tern, 1660). Further in the same case: “September 20, 1660, Richard Coy, attorney to Samuel Heifer brought a suit against Mr. Ezekiel Cheever, in an action of trespass upon the case, for taking and keeping possession of a house, which was left in his the said Richard’s possession by the said Samuel Heifer. This was the house that Robert Payne had given to the school. The jury found for the defendant and Coy appealed to the Court of Assistants”. The case must have been settled out of court since no further action appears in the record.

Hammatt does not list him in “The Early Inhabitants of Ipswich.”, an authoritative treatise on the subject. He was very likely still in residence at Ipswich when his eldest on Richard Jr. was born in 1656, but was soon to remove from the place.

By the time of the birth of his second son, John, in 1658, he is found at Wenham: “We find in a quarterly court record that in 1658 Richard Coy was licensed to keep an ordinary and draw wine and strong water in Wenham: and “Richard Coy was on the road to Manchester, near the pond which today bears his name.”

On March 11, 1659/60 appears the following in the Wenham Town Records: “Richard Coye and Thomas Fiske are chosen to take an accompt of our neighbors what they will allow to our ministers maintenance and to collect his said maintenance for this year.”

On March 24, 1659/60, he is appointed a fence viewer for the town. In 1660, his contribution to the maintenance of the minister amounted to two pounds and ten shillings, a relatively large sum. In November of the same year, “Richard Kimball and Richard Coye are chosen to join the selectmen to put out the new meetinghouse to the building and to make a rate for the said house.” To this purpose he gave ten shillings. On February 8, 1660/61, he was appointed to a committee to adjust a tax formerly voted and also to see that the minister received his just due.

During their residence at Wenham, two more boys were born to Richard and Martha Coy, Jabez on June 15, 1660 and Haffield in 1663. Soon after this, the family removed to Boston, where was born Caleb on August 16, 1666. Their stay in that town must have been abbreviated, because before May 15, 1667, Richard Coy had moved his family to Quaboag, as indicated by his appointment on that date to the Prudential Committee to administer the affairs of the Plantation.

The actual removal likely occurred before that since the following item appeared on December 7. 1666. It is found on the credit side of the account of John Younglove and reads as follows: “By money per Corporal Coy 00 10 00”. This certainly places him at Quaboag Plantation as of that date. His own account with John Pynchon begins in February 1666/7 with a reference to a previous balance in another book.

On April 30, 1667, he received payment of one pound from Edward Bernard, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but unfortunately without specifics as to the reason for the fee. We could theorize that this represented recompense for some special service performed for the Colony.

Although Richard Coy had earned his living as a Tavernier prior to his coming to Quaboag, it is known that that license was granted to John Ayres at Quaboag. He seems to have been engaged in farming as were all other planters, in addition to whatever special services they may have offered.

The purchase price of his lot (3 Li 15s) indicated that his grant was triple that of the average grantee. With the help of his five sons, he no doubt conducted a profitable farm.

On August 22, 1667, he made a contract with John Pynchon to break in and train a pair of steers. In May of 1669, he purchased a pair of sheep shears from Mr. Pynchon for three shillings and six pence. These, plus several other similar entries in the account books, would seen to indicate that Richard Coy was engaged in husbandry in addition to his multiple civic functions.

On April 24, 1668, he was sworn in as Constable of Quaboag. On November 26, 1669, he is found in the role of messenger for Mr. Pynchon, delivering beaver pelts to Boston for him for which he received payment of 1 pound.

Richard Coy was also instrumental in the establishment and erection of the grist mill at Quaboag. That he was investor in the project and a participant in its construction is shown by the following: “November 3, 1670. By work for me about the Quaboag Mill and your one-eight part of that mill, and all your share and interest in the land belonging to it, having bought him out both of the mill and his share of the land to it for 34-00-00.”

The amount of the purchase price certainly indicated that Coy owned a substantial portion of the land and had performed a large portion of the work of erecting the mill. On December 8, 1670, he was paid 10 shillings by John Pynchon for measuring out more than 50 acres of land, probably the land about the mill above mentioned.

There are other references to land measurements by Corporal Coy, surveying apparently being another of his talents. At the time of incorporation of Brookfield he was appointed Town Measurer to lay out grants.

That he was also a good marksman is suggested by his having received bounty payments for having killed 14 wolves in 2 years.

Construction of the “Hadley Path” was completed in 1674. one of the difficulties of this highway was the location of the crossing of “a brook that runs by Corporal Coy’s”. This problem was solved with the assistance of Coy, and he was reimbursed in the amount of 2 shillings and 9 pence on February 25, 1673/4, for his services to the county.

In the last two years of his life, Richard Coy was to be active in the Hampshire County Court. At both the Northampton and Springfield sessions of the court in 1674, he appeared in court in a different capacity, this time as a witness for the prosecution in the presentment of Thomas Wilson of Quaboag for “reveling curfew”, and “reviling speeches to Samuel Kent.” He testified as to the latter crime, for which Wilson was convicted.

On December 1, 1674, Richard Coy Jr. marred Sarah Kent of Brookfield. In the previous chapter, the inference has been made that this couple was likely the parents of one of the sets of twin boys born during the siege of Brookfield.

Richard Coy, as Corporal of Militia in Brookfield was destined to be a member of the mediation party sent to treat with the Indians at the head of Wickaboag Pond on that infamous day of August 2, 1675. He fell in the line of duty along with First Sergeant John Ayres, and Second Sergeant William Prichard at the ambuscade in New Braintree. The remainder of the family survived the siege and remained at Brookfield for a short time after the cessation of the battle.

On August 18, 1675, two weeks later, Richard Jr. paid a visit to Springfield where he purchased a quart of rum, and no doubt settled the account of his father with John Pynchon. Probably soon after this, he headed the journey back to Boston of Widow Martha Coy, her four younger sons, and his own wife Sarah and her newborn twin infants. Evidence would seem to indicate that these latter infants did not survive beyond their infancy.

In 1682, Martha Coy received a bequest of 3 pounds from a benefactor in England, who had ordered a large sum of money to be distributed among the victims of the Indian Wars in the Colonies.

The final transaction in the relationship of the Coys and Quaboag Plantation came in 1699, when: “John Coy of Wenham with wife Elizabeth sold to Thomas Barnes all his farm in Brookfield together with the rights granted to his father, Richard Coy, Sr.”

None of the members of this family returned to settle at Brookfield. Richard Coy, Sr. was born about 1625, probably at Boston, Lincolnshire, England and died at Brookfield August 2, 1675. He married Martha Haffield of Ipswich, before December 20, 1651. She died at Boston on August 14, 1694.