- Born: 1640, <., Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts>
- Married: Abt 1662, , Middlesex, Mass.
Ancestral File Number: WVKK-10.
Matthias Farnworth (his name was first written and pronounced "Farnoth") first
appeared at Lynn, Mass., where he was a resident in 1657. (This is the earliest date his
name appears in the Lynn records.) When he came to America and how or with what
families is unknown. But, that he resided there as a farmer near what is now Federal
Street in very certain. He lived until 1660 or 1661. According to the records, his son
Joseph was born there 17 November 1657.
As far as we can learn from the records, Matthias Farnsworth had only one wife,
Mary Farr. If Mary Farr was the mother of all of Matthias' children, she must have borne
them during a period extending over thirty-one years. (Mary Farr was the daughter of
George Farr of Lynn, Mass.). There is a probability that Matthias Farnsworth had married
and lost one wife before he married Mary Farr and that his first three children were by his
first wife. Mary Farr writes "To my well beloved son, Benjamin", her first bequest to her
son who probably was her first born living son at that time.
The birth place of Matthias Farnsworth (born in 1612) was probably in or near
Farnworth, Lancastershire, England. He likely was related to Joseph of Dorchester, as he
named two sons Joseph. He was interested in that name and there was a possibility that
Joseph was his younger brother.
The record spells his name as Matthias Farmouth. He was the member of the
church and no doubt, brought up his children in the fear of the Lord. His children all
became communicants of the church (at least all of his dons did and probably all of his
Matthias Farnsworth brought none of the titles of rank from England that are so
attractive to vanity. He came to America with a sturdy independence, a rugged integrity
and a due regard for morality and a simple faith. He was respected and honored by those
with whom his lot was cast. He was honored for the brave, true and manly qualities he
possessed. It was such as he that made the Puritan stock the peer.
Matthias and his wife Mary brought nine children to the age of maturity. As far as
can be discerned from the records, only two children died.
Matthias probably moved to Groton in 1660, though it is uncertain when the
settlement of Groton was made. The records of the town commenced in a very brief way
in 1662, but likely some of the settlers had moved there two or three years before. They
lived far from the sea coast and far away from markets. All the clothing and food for the
family was the product of the land they had cleared and was a result of their continued
labor. The clothes they wore were spun woven and made by the women. Sheep furnished
the wool and flax and was made into linen. These materials came from the farm.
Matthias was admitted as a free man of the colony, May 16, 1670. He was a
weaver by occupation.
In the year 1675, King Phillip's War broke out between the Indians and the New
England settlers. These were frightening, disheartening times. The Indians hit Groton
with all their savage furry when the inhabitants were on their way to Concord. The only
possessions save were the clothes on their backs and what things could be loaded in carts.
The Indians were all around them. Their houses were burned. The product of fifteen
years of hard labor in the wilderness had to be abandoned. At this time his wife, Mary, his
daughter Sarah (about fourteen years old), his son Samuel (six years old), his daughter
Abigail (nearly five) and his son Jonathan (an infant under a year) were with Matthias.
Also with him were three of his sons who were in the armed guard. His daughter, Mary
had been sent to her mother's relation because of the danger in Lynn and they feared for
her safety. His son, Joseph, had been sent there for the same reason, but he died there.
What hardships and suffering Matthias and his family endured in that forced
emigration! They and all the rest of the Groton settlers stayed at Concord for two years.
How they lived during that time we can only conjecture. It is not recorded. However,
many heart aches and disappointments were evident.
The loss of their baby boy, Jonathan, to the thieving savages was one great
experience they had to bare. Jonathan grew up among the Indians. Because of his
knowledge of their ways and because he was known by the Indians, he was able to make
peace between the Indian people and the white people before he left to rejoin his family.
This must have been a happy day for Matthias and his wife Mary. There were other hard
times in store for the family as there was a drought and Jonathan's undecided mind was
difficult to contend with.
In the spring of 1678 the danger from the Indian rifles and the tomahawks was
over. The inhabitants of Gorton thought they could try their fortunes in the wilderness
again. Some of the original settlers had given up their interest in the settlement, but
Matthias and his family and his three adult sons went back to the old clearing where the
ashes of their old homestead were still visible. They commenced anew the work of life
with the few household things they had, the farm tools and stock they were able to save
and their hands. They were able to save and rebuild their home. They carried on their
work under constant fear of the merciless Indians. (Who some sixteen years later again
fell upon the exposed settlement and murdered many of the settlers.)
Matthias filled many offices in the town. The most important position being
Constable and Selectman. The office of Constable seems to have been singularly different
in its duties form the office at present. The principal duty was the collection of taxes for
the settlement. The last time he held the office was in 1689 when he was 72 years old. He
lived far from the center part of town, therefore, duties of the town office must have been
very difficult for him. He seemed to have been one of those men who naturally drew
others to him. This is our ancestor and there are many of his descendants scattered
throughout the United States.
Matthias was not a learned man, None of the pioneers of Groton were, but he had
as much education as the people of his time and of the middle class usually had. It is
shown that he signed his will with a mark. His will was evidently made only a short time
before his death when his eyes were disabled by sickness.
There are records and returns still in existence made and signed by him, as he filled
the office of Constable for several years and was ax collector. By virtue of his office he
must necessarily have been able to write sufficiently to keep the accounts.
On January 12, 1688-9, feeling his days were drawing to a close, he dictated his
will. His wife survived him many years. She died between the years 1716-1717. In her
will she mentioned her great bible which she gave to her son as her blessing. This gives a
view of her simple faith that should be appreciated by her descendants.
Matthias Farnsworth's and Mary Farr's children were second generation in America. They
are as follows:
1. Elizabeth, born in 1647, probably in England. Possibly in Lynn, Mass. Married
16 Jan 1667 to James Robertson or Robinson. He was born in 1632. He died
8 DEC 1720. She died 22 DEC 1720, age 82.
2. Matthias Farnsworth Jr. First son and second child. He was born 1649 and
married 1681 to Sarah Nutting, daughter of John and Sarah Nutting. John died
a little before 8 Nov 1693. She married John Stone at Concord, 1698.
Matthias Jr. did not live long enough to display his personal qualities, but
he held several town offices and appeared to have been a man of ability. He
served under Major Willard in King Phillips' War in 1675 in an expedition to
Brookfield.He had six children as follows:
1. Joseph, born 17 Jan 1683; Died Feb. 1682.
2. Ebenezer, born about 1684; Married 17 APR 1707 Elizabeth
Whitney, daughter of Joshua and Abigail (Tarball) Whitney.
3. Josiah, born 24 Feb 1687; Married Mar 1719 or 20, Mary Pierce,
daughter of Ephriam Pierce. She was born 9 August 1696. He died
Seep. 1744. It is said he married (2) 1 JUN 1710, Mary Green, widow
of Jonathan Nutting, who had no children.
4. Sarah, born 1688. Married Jonathan Shedd. He married 13 APR 1722
to Sarah Barron. Sarah Farnsworth must have been his first wife.
5. Matthias (Jonathan) born 6 AUG 1690. About 1704 probably in
that year, he was taken prisoner by the Indians and carried into Canada
where he was delivered to the French. He was long supposed to be
dead, but after a time his name appeared in a list of prisoners in the
hands of the French in Canada. The name Farnet is the approximate
spelling by the French authorities. He was baptized into the Roman
Catholic Church there. Married Catherine Charpentier, by whom he
had nine children. As these children were baptized and married, spelling
the name as each fancied (Farnet, Frnef, Pharnef and Phaneuf). Some
of them are found among the French-Canadian emigrants into the U.S.
6. Rebecca who drowned in the well at Watertown on 19 May 1692. She
had been sent to her Aunt Thatcher for safety during the Indian raids at
3. John Farnsworth, the second son and the third child born, 1641-2. He was the
most prominent of Matthias's sons. He married 8 DEC 1686 to Hannah Aldis,
born 4 JUL 1666 in Dedham, Mass., daughter of John and Sarah (Eliot) Aldis.
He had 16 children which were: Abigail, John, Daniel, Joseph, Abigail, Uriah,
Amos, Eunice, Sarah, Hannah, John, Jeremiah, Hannah, Rachel, Sarah. It is
remarkable that though John Farnsworth had five sons (three of whom lived to
be married), he had but only one grandson, and he died in childhood, so there
are no living descendants of his bearing the name of Farnsworth.
4. Benjamin Farnsworth, the third son and fourth child was born about 1667. He
married Mary Loker) Prescott. she died 28 Oct 1735. He had eleven children:
Mary, Martha, Benjamin, Isaac, Ezra, Mos, Lydia, Aaron, Martha, Jonas, Deborah
5. Joseph Farnsworth, born 16 Nov 1657, Lynn, Mass. Died 31 Oct 1674
6. Mary Farnsworth, sixth child born 2 Oct 1660 in Lynn, Mass. Married 2 APR
1676 to Samuel Thatcher. He was born 20 Oct 1648 and died Oct 1726. She
died 17 AUG 1725. They had ten children: Mary, Samuel, John, Anna, Mary,
Hannah, Abigail, Mercy, Sarah, Ebenezer.
7. Sarah, the seventh child born 1663 in Groton, Mass. and married about
1684-5 to Simon Stone Jr. of Watertown, Mass. He was born 8 SEP 1656 and
died 20 DEC 1741 at the age of 85. She died 16 SEP 1731. In the 68th year
of her age, Simon was 1st born of Simon & Mary Whipple Stone.
8. Samuel Farnsworth, the eight child born 8 Oct 1669 in Groton, Mass. He
married 12 DEC 1706 to Mary Whitcomb, daughter of Josiah of Lancaster and
widow of Simon Willard (who was accidentally shot and killed by a soldier that
was trying to shoot an Indian who was trying to take him captive. Through a
false aim or sudden motion just at the time, Samuel came into the line of
fire), David, Abigail, Stephen, Joshua (never married and died on expedition 1745).
9. Abigail Farnsworth, the ninth child, born 17 Jan 1671 in Groton, Mass. She
married her cousin, John Hutchins (son of Nicholas, whose wife Elizabeth Farr
was sister to her mother Mary). Five children were born to her: John, Joshua,
Abigail, Elizabeth and Benjamin. Hutchings are around in abundance in Maine,
New Hampshire, Massachusetts and other states.
**10. Jonathan Farnsworth, the sixth son and tenth child was born 1 JUN 1675 in
Groton, Mass., in an exceedingly troubled time. He was abducted by the
Indians and raised by them. (for more information read his history). He
married in 1698 to Ruth Shattuck, daughter of John and Ruth Whitney
Shattuck of Watertown. She was born 24 JUN 1678.
Mathias married Mary Farr, daughter of George Farr and Elizabeth Stowers, about 1662 in , Middlesex, Mass. (Mary Farr was born on 6 Jan 1644 in ., Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, christened on 6 Jan 1644 in ., Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, died on 7 Jan 1717 in ., Groton, Middlesex, Massachusetts and was buried in ., Groton, Middlesex, Massachusetts.)