Benjamin Child III - 1656-1724 (67 Years Old)
Benjamin Child III was born on March 7, 1656 in the village of Jamaica Plains, Roxbury Township, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Benjamin III was the second of twelve children born to Benjamin II and Mary Bowen Child, thus making him the second member of the Child family to be born in America from this direct lineage. It is most likely that Benjamin III was born in a log cabin that was built by his father in the wooded region of Roxbury's northwestern boundary, which was considered as the frontier of the civilized region of Boston during this time period. As a result, the Child homestead of Benjamin III was slowly being cleared of its wooded areas, only to be replaced by crops for cultivation.
Benjamin's older brother Ephraim and his younger brother Joshua were born within a few years of each other, which signifies that these brothers would have shared similar experiences. Because the father of Benjamin III had just migrated to New England with no possessions or money, the early years of these brothers must have been very primitive and filled with long hours of hard work. Nonetheless, Benjamin III and his brothers were raised in an educated home where schooling was of the utmost importance, especially that of a Puritan religious nature. These brothers all attended Congregational services with their father at the First Church of Roxbury, where they were all christened in 1659 by the pastor of the church, Reverend John Eliot.
|Pilgrims making peace with Massasoit|
Father of Metacomet (King Philip)
Because the homestead of the Child family was initially settled on the frontier region of the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the last half of the 17th century, precautions were taken to defend against any hostile Indians. Many of the hostilities between the English settlers and Native Americans could have been avoided if it were not for the majority of the second generation of Puritans who had lost sight of why the first generation had originally come to the New World. When the first generation of Puritans arrived in New England during the first half of the 17th century, their religious zeal was the primary motive for making peace with the Native Americans. In particular, is the peace accord between the Wampanoag Indians and the Pilgrims after they had established the Plymouth Colony in 1620. The fact that the Wampanoag Indians helped the starving Pilgrims survive their first winter by teaching them how to cultivate corn, beans and squash, speaks volumes about their compassion and tolerance for these foreign intruders. By the following spring, the "head sachem" of the Wampanoag tribe, formally known as Massasoit, signed a peace accord with Governor John Carver, who was the Pilgrim leader of the Plymouth Colony. This alliance gave the Pilgrims permission to utilize about 12,000 acres of land for the Plymouth Plantation, where in return, the English would help defend the interests of the Wampanoag Indians against the oppression of neighboring Indian tribes.
|Indian Tribal Territories of Southern New England|
during 17th Century
While the establishment of the Pilgrims for the Plymouth Colony was based on a peace accord with Native Americans, the founding of the Puritans for the Massachusetts Bay Colony originated on different circumstances. When European traders and fishing vessels sailed along the upper shores of New England during the early 17th century, their contact with Native Americans brought epidemics that wiped out approximately ninety percent of coastal populations. In particular, were the Massachusetts Indians, where an European-introduced plague devastated this tribe between 1616-1619. By the time that Governor John Winthrop had arrived with the Puritans in Boston harbor in 1630, there were hardly any Native Americans left in this region, thus resulting in the free settlement of the entire region of the Massachusetts Bay.
Within the next two decades, more that 20,000 Puritans sailed from England and settled in the surrounding vicinity of Boston harbor. These English settlements expanded inland until they eventually came into contact with the Native American settlements of the Nipmuck tribe. As more Puritan settlers encroached upon Indian Territory, skirmishes became more frequent between the two sides. Consequently, Reverend John Eliot of Roxbury stepped forward with the proposal to convert the Native Americans to Christianity, which resulted in passing the Act for the Propagation of the Gospel amongst the Indians by the General Court of Massachusetts in 1646.
By autumn of 1646, Reverend John Eliot had preached his first sermon to the Indians, where he gained his initial converts. Shortly after, Reverend Eliot converted the chief at Natick, which resulted in transforming the village into a gathering place where other Native American converts could settle. By 1649, Eliot's success swayed Parliament in England to form a corporation that would raise funds for the purpose of establishing centers of Puritan learning for the Native Americans throughout New England.
Translated the Bible and Preached to Native Americans
Another outcome that resulted from the Indian Acts of the 1640s was the creation of "Praying Towns" throughout New England. These centers were planned towns where converted Indians could move to and govern themselves as Christian societies. The only condition that was required was renouncing their previous religion (beliefs, rituals, etc.), thus adhering to the Puritan form of Christianity. During the lifetime of Reverend John Eliot, he established at least fourteen praying towns among the Nipmuck Indians.
|Map of Indian Praying Towns in New England|
during the 17th Century
The reason that the establishment of praying towns was necessary was based on the fact that converted Indians were rejected by their own tribesmen and viewed as traitors for accepting the white man's religion. In addition, because settlers encroached more and more upon Indian Territory, which resulted in an ever-increasing escalation of skirmishes between the two sides, the Puritans were suspicious of the Indian converts and did not fully accept them. Hence, the irony of this precarious situation had come full circle by the 1670s, when the Indian converts who had accepted Christianity were now caught in the middle of a war where they would become the primary victims.
Because many of the second generation of Puritans had forgotten why the first generation had come to the New World, there was a dramatic decline in religious zeal during the latter half of the 17th century. It appears that numerous Puritans were seduced by land and material goods, which brought about the transition from a communal society centered on God, to an individualistic society based on capitalism. Consequently, the first half of the 18th century witnessed the replacement of the Puritan by the Yankee, where the precursor to this transition was manifested in King Philip's War during the 1670s.
For more than forty years, the peace between the "great sachem" Massasoit and the colonies remained relatively constant until his death in 1661. After his eldest son Wamsutta (King Alexander) succeeded Massasoit, he suddenly died under suspicious circumstances following a visit with the English at the Plymouth Court. The following year, Massasoit's second son Metacomet (King Philip) became the "great sachem" of the Wampanoag, where soon after, the English demanded more and more land from him. By 1671, the English also insisted that the Indians surrender their firearms, which ultimately drove Metacomet to ally himself with many of the other Indian tribes that had lost lands to the white settlers as well. As a result, King Philip's War broke out in the summer of 1675 when the Indian tribes attacked many of the colonists who lived on or around the fringes of their lands. These unexpected attacks devastated the white settlers with a relentless slaughter, where women and children were not even spared. Of the 90 English settlements, the allied Indians attacked 52, where many communities were burned to the ground.
The fact that the competing Indian tribes had finally allied themselves together and carried out surprise attacks on the English settlers caused immense fear and panic throughout New England. As a response, a colonial army was raised to deal with the insurrection which affected the family of Benjamin Child(e) II. His eldest son Ephraim, who was twenty-one years old at the time, was enlisted in Captain Beers' company, which consisted of 36 mounted men and two-man ox team. The company was ordered to respond to the Indian attacks that were occurring on the upper Connecticut River around the settlement of Northfield, Massachusetts.
|King Philip's War where Ephraim Child died |
Eldest son of Benjamin II
Throughout the ensuring winter, the united Indian tribes continued to maintain the upper hand in King Philip's War by carrying out surprise raids that decimated many settlements. However, by the spring of 1676, the tide had changed for the Colonists when they used a numerical advantage through a war of attrition to sweep across the land and eliminate many of the Indian raiding parties. By the summer of 1676, the Indian tribes were no longer united, which resulted in various tribes abandoning the fight all together. The great sachem Metacomet (King Philip) was eventually betrayed by his own people, where he was hunted down in a "miery swamp" near the bay of Mt. Hope, Rhode Island and killed on August 12, 1676.
|Promises for Praying Indians that were Forsaken|
|Benjamin Child (e) II Homestead of 1665|
Additions by Benjamin III
|Benjamin Child III Homestead|
with addition of Horse Stables
|Joshua Child's Land in Brookline|
next to the Land of Benjamin Child III
|Child Street Sign in Jamaica Plains Village|
Roxbury Township, Massachusetts
|Jamaica Plains Church built in 1717|
Roxbury Township, Massachusetts
|Benjamin III Tombstone at Central Burying Ground|
Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts
The children of Benjamin and Grace Child are listed in the Roxbury Parish Register partly under Childe and the last three under Child. Benjamin Child dropped the English spelling of Childe with "e" and the descendants since that time left the "e" off. Some later generations added the "s" but most spell the name Child.
Benjamin was one of the great and noble early settlers of New England. He took an active part in church and civic and state political affairs. Benjamin was elected a selectman of Roxbury from 1677 to 1684. A great honor came when he was elected a member and Representative of the General Court of Massachusetts. He was also one of the Colonial Auditors.
found on childgenealogy.org
Benjamin Child, second child of Benjamin and Mary (Bowen) Child, born 1656, the next progenitor, was given the seniority of his father's family, through the death of his elder brother Ephraim, and the British laws of Primogeniture being then in force in the colonies, he was thereby the inheritor of the large share of his father's property. He remained at the homestead, and felt constrained to follow in all good ways the example of his parents. Moved by the charms of a fair young maiden, he asked her hand in marriage, and on the 7 March 1683, he was united in holy wedlock to Grace Morris, who was born 17 February 1661, daughter of Deacon Edward and Grace (Bett) Morris. They were also the parents of twelve children. This union so complete, was broken by death, and for an exceedingly brief period. Mrs. Grace Morris Child died 10 December 1723, and her husband joined her 24 January 1724. (Ref. Child Family History, and Roxbury Vital Records)
Benjamin, second son and child of Benjamin and Mary Child of Roxbury, was born in Roxbury, in 1656. the death of his elder brother, Ephraim Child, gave him the seniority in his father's family, and the British laws of primogeniture being then in force in the colonies, he was thereby the inheritor of the larger share of his father's property, or the Benjamic "double portion."
He remained at the homestead, and we believe felt constrained to follow in all good ways the example of his parents. Moved by the charms of a fair young maiden, he asked her hand in marriage, and on the 7th of March, 1683, he was united in holy wedlock to Grace Morris, who was born February 17, 1661, a daughter of Deacon Edward and Grace Bett Morris. "Deacon Morris was one of the projectors and early settlers of the town of Woodstock, Connecticut. From 1677 to 1684, he was one of the selectmen of Roxbury, and during the same period was also a deputy from that town to the General Court of Massachusetts, and during part of the time Colonial Auditor. Grace Morris was admitted to the church June 21, 1681." The goodly number of twelve sons and daughters again made cheery the Puritan's demure household. Deed of sale of the property of his brother Ephraim, is on record in the name of Benjamin Child, who acted for the heirs. We give the quaint document accompanying--wherein he settles with brothers and sisters in the partition of the paternal heritage, as many will be interested to look in this way into the past. This union, so complete, was broken by death, but for an exceedingly brief period. Mrs. Grace Morris Child died on 10th of December 1723, and her husband joined her on 24th of January, 1724.
Histories of Child, Rawson, Coffin and Holtzclaw Families
Compiled, written, and published by Fern Roberts Morgan
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