Meet the Planters – John Warner, Sr.

The Planters

John Warner, and his son Samuel

Meet John Warner

John Warner, the “Father of Quaboag”, sold his property in Ipswich consisting of “his dwelling, barn, orchard, and 7 acres of upland” on August 6, 1665, and was probably the first to come over the narrow Bay Path to the banks of the Quaboag River for permanent settlement. He brought with him his wife Priscilla, a 21 year-old unmarried son, John Jr. and six minor children.

The biography of the Warners’ of Quaboag begins with the coming to America of William Warner in 1635. The progenitor of the family in America came from Boxstead, Essex County, England. He was baptized on March 10, 1585/6 at Great Horkesley near Boxstead. No record of his marriage has been found, but evidence indicates that his wife’s maiden surname was Baker. Since she did not come to America, it is supposed that she died in England sometime before 1635, when William, his daughter Abigail and sons John and Daniel come to Ipswich to settle. The ship on which they made the trip was the Increase, Robert Lea, Master, which left England on April 15, 1635.

William was granted a tract of land at Ipswich in 1637 and was elected a freeman soon after his arrival (5/2/1638) at Ipswich, where he was called “a planter”. He was a man of considerable means, a church member and respected member and respected member of the community. William died, probably at Ipswich, about 1648, since as of that time, his name disappears from the tax list.

His children were: 1). John, baptized at Boxstead, September 9, 1612; died young. 2). Abigail, baptized at Boxstead, June 2, 1614, married Thomas Wells in England and eventually settled at Ipswich, had eight children, and died soon after 7/22/1671, the date of her will. 3). John, born about 1615, who’s biography is found below. 4). Daniel born about 1618, prominent at Ipswich, freeman of the colony 6/2/1641, and constable at Ipswich. Married three times and had seven children. Died at Ipswich September 9, 1688.

John Warner, the third child of William, was to become the “Father of Quaboag”. He was born about 1615 in Boxstead, and came to America with his father in 1635. He lost no time in acquiring land at Ipswich and by the time of his marriage to Priscilla Symonds, had also acquired the title of “Squire”. In 1639, he married Priscilla Symonds, daughter of Mark and Johanna Symonds, prominent inhabitants at Ipswich. She was born in England about 1620 and was to become the mother of 11 children, all born at Ipswich. Her sister Suzanna, was to become the wife of John Ayres, also a pioneer settler at Quaboag, making John Warner and John Ayres brothers-in-law at the time of their arrival at Quaboag.

John Warner is found frequently mentioned in the records of the town of Ipswich, especially in relation to real estate transactions. Apparently, he was a large land owner and gradually sold off most of his property. This culminated with the sale on August 6, 1665, to John Woodham of the remainder of his real estate at Ipswich, consisting of his dwelling house, barn, orchard and 7 acres of upland, which he said “was part of my father Warner’s meadow”. Prior to his last mentioned real estate transfer, we find him as a signatory, along with his brother Daniel, of a petition presented at the Salem court, on June 5, 1658, protesting the continuation of a certain tavern at Ipswich.

As previously indicated, John Warner was probably the first to establish a homestead at Quaboag and the first to settle his family there. At the time of his removal to Quaboag, he was about 49 years old and probably the eldest of the original settlers. Of his activities while at Quaboag, we can say little. There is no evidence that at any time did he hold a town office, became a member of a town committee or ever appeared in court. His name does appear on the petition of 1675 for incorporation of the town, but he was not a petitioner in 1670 for expansion of the Plantation, nor was he appointed a member of the Prudential Committee in the Re-grant of 1667.

Proof of his providing for himself and his family is found in his accounts with John Pynchon, wherein we find that he expended 1 Li. 5 s. for the purchase of his land at Quaboag. This would indicate that he owned a single house lot with its accompanying meadow and plow land. The entries begin on December 7, 1666, but this first entry contains reference to a balance of 1 pound 11 shillings and 8 pence brought forward form an earlier account book. The accounts extend to May 7, 1685, and are unusual in that they contain only a single entry on the credit side of the ledger. This latter entry was dated May 1, 1682 and was for one barrel of pork. Most accounts of the other planters contain many credits entries for materials and services provided in exchange for items purchased from Mr. Pynchon, but not that of John Warner. He apparently was one of the few who paid in cash for the necessities of his household.

After the burning of Brookfield in August, 1675, John Warner removed to Hadley, where his sons John and Mark had previously settled. He was apparently not in good health and felt unable to keep up with his military responsibilities. The following is quoted in its entirety in order to give us a bit of direct evidence concerning the location and condition of the subject of our biography. It is found in the Records of Massachusetts Bay, dated 9 May, 1678. “In answer to the Peticon of Jno Warner of Hadley, humbly declaring his being debilitated as to nature and estate, aged, unable to beare the burden of watchings, wardings, and traynings, desiring the Court’s favor for his exemption there from for time to come, the Court grants his request.”

Apparently John, now a man of 62 felt unable to keep up with the requirements of the law of that day and acquired exemption from military duties in the only way possible – by order of the General Court.

In 1680, he received a grant in Hadley of 20 acres of land in Partrigg’s Swamp, at the same time that his son Mark received 12 acres in the same place. On November 11, 1691, he sold his house lot in Brookfield.

His will was dated May 17, 1692 and he probably died shortly thereafter, leaving his real estate to his sons Mark, Nathaniel, and Eleazer. No mention of a legacy to his wife is found, although we know that she survived him. Evidence for this is found in an entry in the account books indicating that she worked for John Pynchon, apparently as a domestic in his household, form April 20, 1695 to march 24, 1695/6 and was paid 2 pounds 3 shillings for her year’s service. This is the last record of Priscilla Warner which has been discovered to date, and since she was about 75 years old, we can assume that she spent the remaining years of her life at Hadley with her sons. Her date of death has not been ascertained.