Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dear Grandparents,
On a recent trip to Massachusetts to celebrate my sister’s 65th birthday, we had the opportunity to see the home of our 10th great grandfather Jonathan Fairbanks. The cold, wet day could not deter us from walking around the house. We don’t normally expect to find such an old house, still standing.The Fairbanks House is indeed special.

Photograph of the Jonathan Fairbanks house taken from the parking lot.
27 March 2017 from my personal collection

From the website for the house, www.fairbankshouse.org, Aboott Lowell Cummings, former Charles F. Montgomery Professor of American Decorative Arts at Yale University, stated,

“The Jonathan Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts, is one of the most important historic houses now standing in the northeastern part of the United States. Its value to the area and to the nation as a whole lies not so much in its claim to being the oldest house in New England but in its Architectural significance… It may be said quite simply that no other house of the mid-17th century in New England has survived in such unbelievable unspoiled condition. It is extraordinary that so early a structure should preserve such a high percentage of original features. It is a veritable store-house of information concerning the small handful of houses which survive from this early period.”
The center section of the house is the oldest. The east and west wings were added in the eighteenth century. Timbers for the Fairbanks house were sent to England for dendrochronology testing which dated the wood sent at 1641. Family lore says that some of the boards and much of the furniture original to the house was imported from England.
Photograph of Jonathan Fairbanks house taken 27 March 2017
form my personal collection

One of the secrets to its survival, is that the house was passed down and occupied by the Fairbanks family until the early twentieth century. The Fairbanks Family in America still owns the property and opens it for tours Wednesdays thru Sundays from May 3rd to October 29th. Because of the timing of our visit, we were not able to see the inside of the house but we will certainly schedule a return visit at a later date.

So how are we related to the Fairbanks family? It is not a surname that most of our family remembers. Here is our connection to Jonathan and Grace (Smith) Fairbanks. Maiden names are indicated by parentheses.

Cecily (Cone) Kelly13, Charles Newton Cone, Jr.12, Charles Newton Cone12, Frederick Naaman Cone11, William Warner Cone10, Joanna (Warner) Cone9, Thomas Warner8, Eleazer Warner7, Thomas Warner6, Delight (Metcalf) Warner5 , Rev. Joseph Metcalf4, Deacon Jonathan Metcalf³, Mary (Fairbanks)² Metcalf, Jonathan and Grace (Smith) Fairbanks¹

The Fairbanks and allied families are from the West Yorkshire area of England primarily around Halifax. It has been a center of the woolen industry since the 15th century. It is said that Jonathan was a weaver and merchant of woolens.
Map of West Yorkshire, England from www.wikipedia.orgHalifaxWestYorkshireEnglandwikipedia.png

Jonathan and his wife Grace (Smith) arrived in Boston sometime in 1633. No record of his immigration naming the exact date or ship has been discovered. By 1636, he and his family relocated to the newly founded town of Dedham, Massachusetts. The men founding the community were asked to sign the following Covenant:

The Covenant
  1. We whose name ar here unto subscribed doe in the feare and Reverence of our Allmightie God, Mutually: and generally p[ro]mise amongst ourselves and each to other to p[ro]ffesse and practice one trueth according to that most p[er]fect rule, the foundacion where is Everlasting Love:
  2. That we shall by all meanes Laboure to keepe of from us all such as ar[e] contrarye minded. And receaue onely such unto us as be such as may be p[ro]bably of one harte, with us, as that we either knowe or may well and truely be informed to walk in a peaceable conversation with all meekness of spirit for the edification of each other in the knowledg and faith of the Lord Jesus: And the Mutuall encouragem[ent] unto all Temporall comforts in all things, seekeing the good of each other, out of all which may be derived true Peace.
  3. That if at any time difference shall arise between p[ar]ties of our said Towne, that then such p[ar]tie and p[ar]ties shall p[er]sonlly Reserve all such difference unto som[e] one 2 or 3 others of our said Societie to be fully accorded and determined without any further delaye. If it possibly may bee:
  4. That every man that now or at any time heareafter shall have Lotts in our said Towne shall paye his share in all such Rate of money and charges as shall be imposed upon him Rateably in p[ur]portion with other men. As allso become freely subject unto all such orders and constitutions as shall be necesariely had or made now or at any time heere after from this daye fore warde as well for loveing and comfortable Societie in our said Towne as allso for the p[ro]sperous and thriveing condition of our said fellowshipe, especially respecting the feare of God in which we desire to begine and continue. Whatso ever we shall by his Loveing favoure take in hand.
  5. And for the better manefestation of our true resolution heere in every man so received to subscribe heere unto his name, thereby obliegeing both him self and his successors after him for ever as we have done.

According to the Dedham Historical Register Volume II, published in 1889, page 153, Jonathan Fayerbancke was among the signatories to the above covenant. He also received 12 acres of land among those he built his home. It would be interesting if neighbors signed such covenants today.

Sign for the Fairbanks House taken 27 March 2017 from my personal collection.

Jonathan was admitted a free man in Dedham 23 March 1637-38. Certainly the Fairbanks family were Puritans but Jonathan seems to have had some doubts about how the faith was practiced. When he made his declaration of faith, it was noted that he had “long stood off from the church upon some scruples about public profession of faith.” His concerns were resolved when he became a member of the First Church in Dedham 14 June 1646. His faith would have been considered to be Congregationalist.

The death of “Jonath. Fairebanck” was reported as 5 Dec., 1668 in “The Record of Births, Marriages and Deaths, and the intentions of Marriage in the Town of Dedham, Volume 1, page 11. He was buried in the Old Burying Place in Dedham. No headstone survives to this day and it is unknown if there was ever a marker on his grave.
Photograph of the Old Burying Place in Dedham is from Bill Boyington from www.findagrave.com used with permission.

Jonathan Fairbanks left a will that was probated 26 January 1669. He mentioned his wife Grace and children John, George, Jonas, and our 9th great grandmother Mary (Fairbanks) (Metcalf) Smith. His will is marked with an ‘x’ and it is unclear if he was illiterate or just too weak at that moment to sign. I may discover more when I visit the inside of the house!     Love, Cecily

No comments:

Post a Comment