Monday, February 15, 2016

A February 14th marriage - John and Mercy (Prence) Freeman

Dear Grandparents,

     Happy Valentine's Day. This is a day when we celebrate our loved ones. Michele Simmons Lewis offered a "Tip of the Day" for those of us who use Legacy Family Tree Software to keep track of our family history research. She wanted to help us find any couples in our family tree who married on February 14th. I wasn't sure that there would be such a marriage in my data base but following Michele's directions I discovered that my ninth great grandparents John and Mercy (Prence) Freeman married 14 February 1649 in Eastham, Barnstable County, Massachusetts. I am certain there were no red heart shaped boxes of candy or flowers associated with this ceremony. Interestingly, 14 February 1649 was a Sunday just like today.[1] 
     John is the son of Edmund and Bennett (Hodsoll) Freeman. They were married 16 June 1617 in Cowfold, Sussex, England. He is their fifth child born 28 January 1626/27. His mother was buried at Pulborough, England 12 April 1630. His father remarried sometime before 1635 to Elizabeth (who's surname is unknown). The family left London on the Abigail which sailed about 1 July 1635 for Plymouth.
     Mercy is the daughter of Thomas and Patience (Brewster) Prence. Thomas immigrated on the Fortune in 1621. He served as governor of the Plymouth Colony for 16 years. Thomas and Patience were married 5 August 1624. Patience was the daughter of Pilgrim William Brewster who was one of the passengers of the Mayflower. Patience was born about 1607 in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England. She fled with her family to Holland. She was left behind when her parents left for the new world on the Mayflower. She joined them in Plymouth in July 1623 arriving on the Anne.

John and Mercy Freeman made their home in Eastham, shown in red,
image from
     Regarded as one of the fathers of Eastham, John served as Deputy for 8 years beginning in 1654, as Selectman from 1663 for ten years, Assistant to the Governor for several years and late in life, on December 7, 1692 was appointed to the Bench of the Court of Common Pleas. He was also Deacon of the Eastham Church. Appointed Ensign, then Captain and finally Major he worked to protect the colony and fought in King Phillip's War.    
     John and Mercy enjoyed more than sixty-two years of marriage before Mercy's death 28 September 1711 at age 80. John lived another seven years dying 28 October 1719. Together they were the parents of eleven children. At least nine of their children lived to adulthood.
Major John Freeman Headstone
Inscription reads "Here Lyes the Body Of
Major John Freeman Dec. October 28, 1719
in the 98 year of his age"
Old Cove Burying Ground, Eastham, Barnstable County, Massachusetts
Find A Grave Memorial #7301580
Photograph by Jennifer W. Hanson used with permission
Mercy Prence Freeman Headstone
Inscription reads " Here Lyes Buried Ye Body of Marcy Freeman
Wife to Major John Freeman Aged 80 years
Dec'd Sept Ye 28th 1711"
Old Cove Burying Ground, Eastham, Barnstable County, Massachusetts
Find A Grave Memorial #6032848
Photograph by Julie Nathanson used with permission.
      Most of the information on the Freeman Family is from the Great Migration 1634-1635, C-F. (Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008.) Originally published as: The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume II, C-F, by Robert Charles Anderson, George F. Sanborn, Jr., and Melinde Lutz Sanborn. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001.
    I was surprised to find that two of my many times great grandparents had married on February 14th, especially so long ago. My family is lucky to have many lines that go back to Colonial New England and to England itself. However, we do have several lines that dead end about 1830.

    My descent from John and Mercy (Prence) Freeman is:
Cecily13, Charles12, Charles11, Frederick10, William9 Cone, Joanna8 Warner, Rhoda7, Elisha6, Nathaniel5, Nathaniel4 Hopkins, Mercy3 Mayo, Hannah2,John1 and Mercy1 (Prence) Freeman


[1] February 14, 1649 was the 45th day of the year 1649 in the Gregorian calendar. The day of the week was Sunday.

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