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Richard Masterson, Tenth Great-Grandfather

August 21, 2016 , , , ,

Masterson Coat of Arms

Masterson Coat of Arms

My 10th great-grandfather was a deacon of the church in Leiden, Holland.  He arrived in Plymouth in 1629 and died four years later.

Richard Masterson lived in Sandwich, Kent. He and several others were brought before church courts for criticizing the Church of England and the Book of Common Prayer, as well as for non-attendance at services. He was excommunicated several times. Richard Masterson was in Leiden by 7 Oct 1611. He was a wool comber by occupation. He bought a house on the Uiterstegracht on 2 Jan 1614, the sale of which was the subject of years of negotiation by his wife’s second husband. With four others, he wrote a letter from Leiden to William Bradford in 1625 about their hopes of emigrating to New England. From Michael Paulick’s research, it would seem that Masterson traveled between Leiden and Sandwich. Richard Masterson arrived in New England in 1629 from Leiden. Nathaniel Morton in his history of the Plymouth church described Masterson as a “holy man” and “experienced saint,” “the said Richard Masterson having bin officious with parte of his estate for publick Good; and a man of Abillitie as a second steven to defend the truth by sound argument Grounded on the scriptures of truth…” He died in 1633 in the epidemic of infectious fever and Mary Masterson married Rev. Ralph Smith, the minister for Plymouth until 1636. They moved to Manchester by 1645, and Ipswich by 1652.

Richard Masterson (1590 – 1633)
10th great-grandfather
Sarah Masterson (1612 – 1714)
daughter of Richard Masterson
Margaret Wood (1635 – 1693)
daughter of Sarah Masterson
Elizabeth Manchester (1667 – 1727)
daughter of Margaret Wood
Dr. James Sweet (1686 – 1751)
son of Elizabeth Manchester
Thomas Sweet (1732 – 1813)
son of Dr. James Sweet
Samuel Thomas Sweet (1765 – 1844)
son of Thomas Sweet
Valentine Sweet (1791 – 1858)
son of Samuel Thomas Sweet
Sarah LaVina Sweet (1840 – 1923)
daughter of Valentine Sweet
Jason A Morse (1862 – 1932)
son of Sarah LaVina Sweet
Ernest Abner Morse (1890 – 1965)
son of Jason A Morse
Richard Arden Morse (1920 – 2004)
son of Ernest Abner Morse
Pamela Morse
I am the daughter of Richard Arden Morse

Richard and Mary were among the Puritans in Leyden, Holland, but did not immigrate until 1629 on the second “Mayflower.” Their nephew John Ellis also made the voyage.

!Initial source: Family group sheet in the FGRA collection of the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, submitted by Edith Haddon
Littleford, 330 E 19th St, Idaho Falls, Idaho. Her source: Rec of Jewell David, Rt1 Box 822, Kent, Washington.

In “NEHGR” vol. 119 pg 162 is the extracted record of the marriage, “Archives of Leyden – Banns: the 1st; Nov. 9, 1619 – Richard
Masterson,woolcomber from Sandwich in England, accompanied by Wiliam Talbot and John Ellis, his brother-in-law with Mary Goodall, spinster, from Leiston , in England acc. by Elisabeth Keble and Mary Wing her acquaintnces.” The second banns were published Nov. 16th, the third banns Nov. 23rd and the marriage was performed “before Alpphen and Tetrolde, bailiffs this XXiii November 1619.” There is an article in “NEHGR” vol 144 (1990) pg 24, titled “The Mary Atwood Sampler”. It has an account of Richard and Mary (Goodall) Masterson which says “Richard Masterson, who was in Leyden, Holland, as early as 1611, was a woolcomber from Sandwich, England, according to the record of his marriage in Leyden 23 November 1619 to Mary Goodall, a spinster from ‘Leessen,’ England [perhaps Leiston in Suffolk?] (D. Plooij and J. Rendel Harris, “Leyden Documents Relating to the Pilgrim Fathers” [Leyden, 1920], IX, XL).

Richard died in 1633 when an ‘infectious fever of which many fell very sick and upwards of 20 persons died’ struck the Plymouth settlement (Samuel Eliot Morison, “Of Plymouth Plantation: 1620-1647 by William Bradford” [New York, 1975], 160). Mary (Goodall) Masterson married, second, before 1 July 1633 Rev. Ralph Smith of Plymouth. Mary, who ‘in 1650, according to a note of [Ralph] Smith, was sixty years old, died in 1659’ (D. Plooij, “The Pilgrim Fathers from the Dutch Point of View” [New York, 1932], 116.

An article, “The Sandwich Separatists”, by Michael R. Paulick, published in”NEHGR” vol 154 pg 353-369, names, on page 355, the wife of John Ellis, who was called brother-in-law in the Leiden marriage record of Richard Masterson. It quotes the parish register of St. Peter’s, Sandwich, Kent, England, giving the marriage of John Ellys and Blandyna Maistersonne. However, it says no baptismal record has been found for either of them but the baptisms of six of their children were listed. This article gives more detail about the separatist” movement in Sandwich and some of the activities of Richard Masterson. It quotes a 1977 history of Kent by Peter Clark that “by 1600 there was a signigicant group of vociferous left-wing radicals and separatists standing outside the mainstream of Kentish Puritanism.”

On page 358 is a quote from the records of the Sandwich Deanery: “To the 2 and 3 article wee presente Thomas Allen and Thomas Baker and
Richard Masterson for affirming that the forme of gods worshipp in the Churche of England established by lawe and contained in the booke of Common Prayer and administracion of the sacraments is a corrupt & unlawfull worshipp and repugnant to the scriptures and that the rites and ceremonyes in the Churche of England by lawe established are wicked anechristin & superstitious and suche as religiows godlie menn cannott neather maye with good conscience use or approve of. To the 65 article wee presente the saide Thomas Allen Thomas Baker
Richard Masterson & Abigaell Atkins for not frequenting there parishe churche one sondayes to heere divine service.

To the 66 (article) wee presente the saide Thomas Allen Thomas Baker & Richard Masterson & Abigaell Atkins for recusants which forebears to come to churche to common prayer & to heere gods word preached.” The article goes on to say “Richard Masterson was summoned but failed
to appear on 2 and 26 July, 22 October, 3 and 13 December 1613, and was excommunicated 17 January 1613/14 along with Allen, Baker, and
Atkins, the sentence delivered 13 February 1613[/14] by Harimus White, minister. [“Comperta and Detecta Book,” Sandwich Deanery, f59v,
ff59v-60r, f60v, f61r.]”

“The Book of Common Prayer established the form of Protestant worship and was enforced by the 1559 Act for the Uniformity of Common Prayer and Divine Service. This Act required ‘strict church attendance and rigid adherence to the Book of Common Prayer.’ All ministers of any parish were required to follow the written order of service for matins (morning service), evensong, and the administration of the sacraments. Substantial fines were imposed on any citizen who declared or spoke ‘anything in the derogation, depraving, or despising of the same book…’ or who refused to attend church services. [David Cressy and Lori Anne Ferrell, “Religion & Society in Early Modern England” (…1996), 56-59.] Separatists held the view that only services that were contained in the scriptures should be followed and all other forms of worship of man’s invention were ‘antechristin’.”

It quotes a letter written by the rector of St. Peter’s and other Sandwich ministers in 1613 to the Privy Council of James I, which said “many notablesectes and heresies” were being spread among the people “by such as have recourse unto the towns of Amsterdam, and other partes beyond the seaes” and among the “chiefest sowers” were “Richard Masterson the ellder and Richard Masterson the younger, Thomas Allen and John Ellis”

The article says “The reference to two Richard Mastersons is puzzling; so far, examination of the parish registers of Sandwich shows no trace of a Richard Masterson elder or younger. These terms were commonly – but by no means always – used for father and son or uncle and Nephew. Richard Masterson of St. Peter’s appears only in the ecclesiatical court records. Richard of Leiden was unmarried until 1619 so he had no children to baptize.[36] The note indicated by this number says “It should be noted that the St. Peter’s and St. Mary’s registers are particularly difficult to read, illegible in some areas. A John Maisterson is named in St. Peter’s parish register but his will of 1620 does not indicate any connection with Richard or Blandyna …” “It is possible that the Privy Council confused a Richard Marston with Richard Masterson. The pronunciation of both names with an English long ‘a’ might have sounded similar and perhaps led to a mix-up. Marston apparently had a Separatist reputation….”

The article went on to quote a warning letter to the mayor and stated that the law prohibited these activities and that those accused were fortunate in receiving only an “admonishon and reprehension”. However, “Richard Masterson was summoned 4 and 14 November 1614, and
excommunicated on 28 November 1614.” Still he continued and “had soon returned from Leiden as a professed Brownist or Separatist.” He
was summoned again 10 June 1616 with the following: “To the 2 article wee have one Richard Masterson whoe refuseth to come to our church
traduceth our service and ceremonyes ys a professed Brownest or Separest and hathe formerlye ben often presented and stubbornelye hath stood longe excommunicated and continuallye endeavoreth to infecte others with the same leavin soe that we are greived that the
performaunce of our duetyes herein hat noe better effecte.” He was excommunicated again on the 28th, and yet again on 20 December.
Further in the article it says “When Richard Masterson died in 1633 he was described by Bradford as one of the ‘ancient friends which have lived in Holland.’ If there was a single Richard Masterson, there is evidence that he might have been moving between Leiden and Sandwich. He is recorded in both locations at various times as follows:
7 Oct. 1611 betrothat in Leiden; called acquaintance of Isaac Allerton
2 July 1613 excommunicated in Sandwich with Allen, Baker, and Atkins
4 Nov. 1614 At Sandwich, ‘Lyeinge at Mr. Varall’s,’ excommunicated
22 Jan 1614/15 Leiden, various lawsuits 1612-1615 [Register 143:206]

Jan. 1615 Leiden, purchased house from Roger Wilson 10 Jun 1616 Sandwich, excommunicated as ‘Brownist or Separatist’ Dec. 1616 Sandwich, excommunicated with Mary Plofer for slander 4 Sept. 1618 Letter from Sabin Staresmore in London to John Carver March 1619 Leiden, certificate of good behavior includes Roger Wilson Perhaps his master, Christopher Verrall, who was wealthy and had powerful connections in Sandwich, had actually ‘underhand may[n]teyned and protected the offendors,’ as the Privy Council had accused him of doing. If Richard Masterson was not working with Verrall’s permission it is difficult to understand how he could maintain employment as a servant and travel back and forth between Sandwich and Leiden before Verral’s death in 1615. It is unlikely that any of those who had ‘recourse’ to Leiden made the trip between the two countries without the full knowledge of the other Leiden Separatists.”

The will of Christopher Verral is included in “Appendix” at the end of the article. It is long and difficult to understand but one sentence says “I do forgive my man Richard Masterson all the money which he oweth me and I give him 20s. to make him a ring in token of my good will.”

Letter sent to William Bradford and William Brewster by Richard Masterson and others
To our most dear, and entirely beloved bretheren, Mr. William Bradford and Mr. William Brewster, grace mercy and true peace be multiplied, from God our Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Most dear christian friends and brethren, as it is no small grief Unto you, so is it no less unto us, that we are constrained to live thus disunited each from other, especially considering our affections each unto other, for the mutual edifying and comfort of both, in these evil days wherein we live: if it pleased the Lord to bring us again together, than which as no outward thing could be more comfortable unto us, or is more desired of us, if the Lord see it good; so see we no hope of means of accomplishing the same, except it come from you, and therefore, must with patience rest in the work and will of God, performing our duties to him and you assunder; whom we are not any way able to help, but by our continual prayers to him for you, and sympathy of affections with you, for the troubles which befal you; till it please the Lord to reunite us again. But our dearly beloved brethren, concerning your kind and respective letter, howsoever written by one of you, yet as we continue with the consent (at least in afection) of you both, although we cannot answer your desire and expectation, by reason it hath pleased the Lord to take to himself out of this miserable world our dearly beloved pastor, yet for ourselves we are minded as formerly, to come unto you, when and as the Lord affordeth means, though we see little hope thereof at present, as being unable of ourselves, and that our friends will help us we see little hope. And now, brethren, what shall we say further unto you; our desires and prayers to God, is (if such were his good will and pleasure) we might be reunited for the edifying and mutual comfort of both, which, when he sees fit, he will accomplish. In the mean time, we commit you unto him and to the word of his grace; whom we beseech to guide and direct both you and us, in all his ways, according to that, his word, and to bless all our lawful endeavours, for the glory of his name and good of his people. Salute, we pray you, all the church and brethren with you to whom we would have sent this letter. If we knew it could not be prejudicial unto you, as we hope it cannot; yet fearing the worst, we thought fit either to direct it to you, our two beloved brethen, leaving it to your goodly wisdom and discretion, to manifest our mind to the rest of our loving friends and brethren, as you see most convenient. And thus intreating you to remember us in your prayers, as we also do you; we for this time command you and all your affairs to the direction and protection of the Almighty, and rest,

Your assured loving friends

And brethren in the Lord,






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Your 10th great grandfather lead a very colorfu and eventful life . He sounds like an interesting man!


Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

August 22, 2016

That is also my tenth great-grandfather!


Bethany Ericson

December 14, 2017

Thanks for visiting cousin


Pamela Morse

December 14, 2017

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