Notes on Simon Willard

Will of Richard Willard

Will of Richard Willard of Horsemondon Extracted from the Registry of the Consistory Court of the Lord Bishop of Rochester. Dated Feb 1616 To the Poor of Horsemondon 20 shillings, to my wife Joan - 6 pewter porringers - 6 pewter saucers 1 pewter plate - salt sellers - cups and spoons. (This was his third wife. Simons mother being Margary having died Dec 12 1608)

To Simon all the rest of the lands when he shall become of the age of 22. It is my will and mind that my executor shall place Simon with some honest man where he will learn a good trade and whereby he may get the point of his lineage and allow him that may be his master some portion that he may be better instructed.

This will shows that Richard was a man of very good landed estate. He gave all the real estate to the children by his second marriage. It was the clear intention to preserve the estate at Horsemondon to Simon and his heirs. This was broken when Simon came to the New World.

Taken from The Willard Family

Simon Willard came from Horsemondon County Kent to Cambridge in 1~34. He moved the next year to the new settlement of Concord. After 1658, he moved to Lancaster. He must have had some military experience in England for he was made a Lieutenant as early as 1637, a Captain in 1646, a major, the highest rank at that time in 1655. He was a Representative 1636 1649, chosen Assist 1657 to his death 24 Apr 1676. Before the Indians destroyed Groton in 1676, to where he had moved a few years earlier, he hadestablished his retreat at Salem, but died at Charlestown during a Court of Assistants. For his services many years before, the Government had granted him 1000 acres which he had never taken up but gave to his daughter Elizabeth on her marriage, but his widow Mary was compelled to petition for it in the year of his death. Savage IV

Simon Willards mother died before he reached the age of 4. Simon Willard came to America with his wife and children in 1634. He was entitled to " Merchant " by Gov. Winthrop in 1635. Soon after his arrival he established himself with his brother in law at Cambridge - 100 acres. He traded with the Indians. He negotiated with the Indians for the sale of lands. He helped to buy the lands of Concord. Upon the organization of the town, he was chosen Town Clerk. He organized a Military Company at Concord. He was called "a Kentish soldier". He set out the plans for Sudbury. An invitation was sent to Willard on July 12 1659 for home to come to live at Lancaster. They needed him for the organization of the town and they offered him land. He sold his house and lands at Concord and moved in the fall of 1660. He built a fortified house that was a garrison during King Phillips War. He brought the town to a good condition of peace and order. When he died, he had a Military funeral with several hundred soldiers. He had large holdings, including 2000 acres in Concord as one of its original members. Another 500 acres granted by the General Court in what is now Stowe. 500 acres between Lancaster and Groton because of his dealings with the Indians. He died in possession of 1800 acres plus woods and commons not laid out.

Excerpts from The Willard Family

 

 

OF all the names that stand upon the pages of New England history, none are more honored than that of Major Simon Willard. His biography has been written in the "Willard Memoir," and therefore only a brief outline will be necessary here. He was born at Hors-monden. County of Kent, England, baptized April 7, 1605. He was the son of Richard and his second wife Margery. Simon married in England Mary Sharpe, of Horsmonden, who bore him before leaving England (probably) three children, and six in New England. He married for a second wife Elizabeth Dunster,"* who died six months after her marriage: and a third wife, Mary Dunster, who bore him eight children, between the years 1649 and 1669. Simon Willard arrived in Boston in May, 1634, and settled soon after at Cambridge. He was an enterprising merchant, and dealt extensively in furs with the various Indian tribes, and was the " chiefe instrument in settling the towne " of Concord, whither he removed at its first settlement in 1635—6, and remained for many years a principal inhabitant of that town. On the organization of the town he was chosen to the office of cleric, which he held by annual election for nineteen years. It is said upon respectable authority that he had held the rank of captain before leaving England, and in Johnson's "Wonder Working Providences," he is referred to ae " Captain Simon Willard being a Kentish Soldier." In 1637 he was commissioned as the Lieutenant-Commandant of the first military company in Concord. At the first election, December, 1636, he was chosen the town's representative to the General Court, and was relected and sensed constantly in that office till 1654, except three years. In that year he was reelected, but was called to other more pressing duties ; and afterwards to his death was Assistant of the Colony. In 1641 he was appointed superintendent of the company formed in the colony for promoting trade in furs with the Indians, and held thereafter many other positions of trust, cither by the election of freemen or the appointment of the Court, too many to admit of separate mention here. In 1646 he was chosen Captain of the military company which, as- Sergeant and Lieutenant,

* This is questioned by some aurothities. It is fully discussed in the " Memoir," and sea .also register, vol. iv. p. 309; also Dr. Faige's " History" of Cambridge," under Henry Dunster.

VOL. XXXVIII. 20

 

he had commanded from its organization. For many years he was a celebrated survey-or, and in 1653 was appointed on. the commission sent to establish the northern bound of Massachusetts, at the head of Merrimac River, and the letters S W upon the famous Bound-Rock (discovered many years ago near Lake Winnepeaau-kee) were doubtless his initials, cut at that time (reg. i. p. 311). In 1653 he was chosen Sergeant-Major, the highest military officer of Middlesex County.

In October, 1654, Major Willard was appointed commander-inchief of the military expedition against Ninigret, Sachem of the Ny-antickg, fur the details of Which see the " Willard Memoir," Page 193 and onward. In the settlement of the town of Lancaster Major Willard had been of great service to the inhabitants, and their appreciation was shown when, in 1658, the selectmen wrote him an earnest invitation to come and settle among them, offering a generous Share in their lands as inducement. This invitation he accepted, sold his large estate in Concord, and removed to Lancaster, probably in 1659, and thence to a large farm he had acquired in Groton, about 1671, at a place called Nonacoicus.

At the opening of ^Philip's War," .Major Willard, as chief military officer of Middlesex County, was in a station of great responsibility, and was very active in the organization of the colonial forces. His first actual participation in that war was in the defence of Brookfield, the particulars of which have been noted. We must admire this grand old man of seventy, mounting"' to the saddle at the call of the Court, and riding forth at the head of a frontier force for the protection of their towns. On August 4th he marched out from Lancaster with Capt. Parker and his company of forty-six men, "to look after some Indians to the westward of Lancaster and G-roton " (Major Willard's home was in Groton at this time), and receiving the message of the distressed garrison at Brookfield promptly hastened thither to their relief, which he accomplished, as we have seen in a former article. Upon the alarm of the disaster at Brookfield, a considerable force soon gathered there from various quarters. Two companies were sent up by the Council at Boston, under Captains Thomas Lathrop of Beverly and Richard Beers of Watertown, and arrived at Brookfield on the 7th. Capt. Mosely, also, who was at Mendon with sixty dragoons, marched with that force, and most of Capt. Henchman's company (just off the pursuit of Philip from Pocasset), and arrived at Brookfield probably about August 12th (see (title, vol. xxxvii. page 177). From Springfield came a Connecticut company of forty dragoons under Capt. Thomas Watte, of Hartford, with twenty-seven dragoons and ten Springfield Indiana under Lieut. Thomas Cooper, of Springfield. These forces for several weeks scouted the surrounding country under Major Willard; the details of which service belong properly to the accounts of the several Captains. In addition to these were forty " River Indians " from the vicinity of Hartford, and thirty of Uncas's Indians under his son Joshua, who scouted with the other forces. The Nipmucks could not be found, and it was afterward learned from the Indian guide, George Mcmecho, captured by the Nipmucks in Wheeler's Fight, that on their retreat from Brookfield on August 5th, Philip, with about forty warriors and many more women and children, had met them in a swamp six miles beyond the battle ground, and by presents to their Sachems and otherwise, had engaged them further in his interest; and all probably hastened away towards Northfield and joined the Pocomptucks, and thence began to threaten the plantations on the Connecticut River. After several days diligent searching, on August 16th. Captain Lathrop's and Beers's companies, the latter reinforced by twenty-six men from Capt. Mosely, together with most of the Connecticut, Springfield and Indian forces, marched towards Hadley and the neighboring towns, while Mosely went towards Lancaster and Chelmsford. Major Willard remained for several weeks at the garrison. Mr. Hubbard and Capt. Wheeler make this statement, and further relate that he soon after went up to Hadley on the service of the country. I think the visit to Hadley was after August 24th, as on that date I find a letter from Secretary Rawson to him, enclosing one to Major Pynchon, and advising him to ride up to Springfield and visit Major Pynchon " for the encouragement of him and his people." The writer of the " Wil-lard Memoir " states that he was in command of the forces about Hadley for some time in the absence of Major Pynchon, but I have been unable to find any confirmation of this, unless it may be the inference drawn from Hubbard, who states that when Major Willard " returned back to his own place to order the affairs of his own regiment, much needing his Presence," he left " the Forces about Hadley under the Command of the Major of that Regiment." The letter above contained directions about the disposal of his forces, ., which would naturally take several weeks to accomplish, and although the precise date of Major Willard's return from Brookfield is not given, some inference may be drawn from circumstances noted further on.

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