by: Patricia Abbott
Nicholas (1585-1646) and Amy (1590-1668) Stowers and their four oldest children, including our ancestor Joanna (1624-1689), traveled from England in 1629 and settled in Charlestown. Joanna's future husband, John Burrage (1617-1685), made the trip by 1637. The English origin of the Stowers family is unknown but was possibly Dorsetshire; John Burrage was from Norton Subcourse, Norfolk. Norton Subcourse is a very small village which currently has a population of about 300.
So what leads a couple in their mid-40's with young children hop on a boat and make the perilous trip to an unknown place? In the case of Nicholas and Amy Stowers, this was likely religious freedom as they were immediately active in the church and were first founders of the church in Charlestown in 1631. Dorsestshire was also a central point for the organization of a separatist church group that constituted the Winthrop Fleet in 1630.
Nicholas Stowers had some education as indicated by his signing his name on petitions and the inventory of his estate including several books.
He owned land parcels along the Mystic River. His main role in the community seems to have been caring for the cows in the cow commons. In 1630, he received payment from others for keeping their cattle and in 1633 was named the Charlestown cowherd.
Nicholas and Amy had three more children after arriving in Charlestown although the youngest child died in infancy. Six of their seven children lived to adulthood, married, and had families.
Nicholas died in 1646. Amy lived until 1668. Nicholas's will is a little unusual for the time as he left Amy not only the house but some of his property including all his arable land in Charlestown neck and four of his cow commons. After his death, the lands given to Amy were to go to his youngest son Joseph providing Joseph continued to live with his mother while she lived. . . or at least until he reached 21. As she lived 20 more years, perhaps he just stayed until he was 21.
John Burrage was from Norton Subcourse, Norfolk. He was one of seven children and both his parents died when he was about 16. About age 20, he made the trip to New England and was in Charlestown by 1637. He acquired property in 1638 that bordered the Charles River.
From this location on the Charles River, John began a ferry business around 1650. He had a partner, Frances Hudson, on the Boston side of the river. In addition to running the ferry, John was "clerk of the market." The Charlestown market was a central area near the water with the market surrounded by a ring of houses. The church was located within the market area. In 1650, there were about 150 houses in Charlestown.
John first married a woman named Mary whose last name is unknown. They had four children; Mary died some time after the birth of their fourth child. John next married Joanna Stowers, the daughter of Nicholas and Amy. John and Joanna has seven children including our ancestor Thomas Burrage (1663-1718).
John's later life was complicated. About 1672, he suffered a fall from a horse resulting in a head injury. Although he somewhat recovered, he seemed to have aftereffects from the brain injury. He became confused easily and lost his temper. In 1678 for reasons that were not clear, he signed over all his property to his middle son William. It is thought that William manipulated his father. After John's death in 1685, the other children contested the deed and eventually won their case.
John and Joanna's son Thomas is our ancestor (and two of his children are our direct ancestors). He relocated to Lynn where he was a prominent member of the community. One little bit of trivia: In 1697, there was a blackbird problem in Lynn. On 8 March 1697, the town voted that by 15 May every household had to kill at least 12 blackbirds and bring the heads of the birds to one of several people, one of those people being our ancestor Thomas Burrage.
Family group sheet for Nicholas and Amy Stowers: http://sites.rootsmagic.com/colonialgenealogy/family.php?f=1009
Family group sheet for John Burrage and Joanna Stowers: http://sites.rootsmagic.com/colonialgenealogy/family.php?f=1004