- Sgt. John Fitch (ca. 16211698) m. Mary Sutton (16251703); Rehoboth, Mass.
- Mary Fitch (ca. 1647aft. 1716) m. 1667 Thomas Ormsbee (16451716); Rehoboth, Mass.
The basic sources are John and Mary (Sutton) Fitchs wills, abstracts of which are found in H. L. Peter Rounds, Abstracts of Bristol County, Massachusetts Probate Records, 16871745 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1987), 17, 32. A few additional chronological details are supplied by James N. Arnold, Vital Record of Rehoboth, 16421896: Marriages, Intentions, Births, Deaths (Providence: Narragansett Historical Publishing Company, 1897), 823.
Comment: Sgt. John Fitch and Zachary Fitch of Reading
For nearly ten years, from June 2003 to February 2013, I was inclined to accept the widely circulated argument that Sergeant John Fitch of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, was the son of Deacon Zachary Fitch of Reading. No American documentation directly connects them; the argument is based on circumstantial evidence:
- Zacharys will mentions a son John, who received a bequest in money rather than land. Ezra S. Stearns took this to imply that John, like Zacharys known sons Jeremiah and Thomas, who also received money bequests, had moved away from Reading.
- Soon afterward, Zacharys English origin was discovered, and it was found that he had a son John, baptized in 1621.
- A baptismal date in 1621 is appropriate for a man whose eldest daughter was married in 1667.
- Apparently John also had a son named Jeremiah, who was buried on 15 October 1676. This person would seem to present a namesake for another of Zacharys sons, and Zacharys brother as well.
- No evidence appeared to contradict the placement. Richard LeBaron Bowen had maintained that he was the
same John Fitch who, at a quarter court session held at Boston on 5 March 1638/9, was
discharged wth an admonition not to adventure too many into any boate. On its face, the document appeared to apply to a person born earlier than 1621 and with no evident connection to Rehoboth.
Scholarly studies of the Fitch and Sutton families lend no credence to this proposal, however. Under the auspices of the Great Migration Study Project, it was noted that the court record could be assigned to a John Fitch who was enrolled at London 18 July 1635 for passage to New England on the Defence, aged 14 years, on the same ship as James Fitch and his wife Alice. Thus his birth can also be dated to about 1621. Unlike Bowen, The Great Migration, 16341635 did not credit this John Fitch with any further documentation in New England. In a more recent article, Eugene Cole Zubrinsky renews Bowens claim and points out that one of the other men named in the same order was a resident of Weymouth, one of the principal sources of early settlers in Rehoboth. Given that Zacharys relatives lived at Boston and Reading, not Weymouth, it is exceedingly unlikely that John belonged to the same group. The Great Migration, 16341635 naturally presumes that John was a relative of James, but Zacharys family includes no known men by that name either in his own generation or that of his sons. For these reasons, I now regard the parentage of John Fitch as unproven.
1 Ezra S. Stearns,
The Descendants of Dea. Zachary Fitch of Reading, New England Historical and Genealogical Register 55 (1901): 288-94 at 288-9. The will is fully transcribed in Robert H. Rodgers, Middlesex County in the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay: Records of Probate and Administration, March 1660/61December 1670 (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001), 86-8.
2 J. Gardner Bartlett,
New England Colonists from St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England, New England Historical and Genealogical Register 57 (1903): 415-6 at 416; J. Gardner Bartlett,
Fitch, New England Historical and Genealogical Register 69 (1915): 88-9.
3 The names and birth order of John and Mary (Sutton) Fitchs four surviving daughters are shown in the parents wills, abstracted in H. L. Peter Rounds, Abstracts of Bristol County, Massachusetts Probate Records, 16871745 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1987), 17, 32. Married names are given only by Mary, and the marriage record of the eldest daughter appears in Vital Records of Taunton, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849, 3 vols. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1929), 2:24.
4 James N. Arnold, Vital Record of Rehoboth, 16421896: Marriages, Intentions, Births, Deaths (Providence: Narragansett Historical Publishing Company, 1897), 823. The suggestion of kinship is due to Richard LeBaron Bowen, Early Rehoboth: Documented Historical Studies of Families and Events in This Plymouth Colony Township, 4 vols. (Rehoboth, Mass.: Privately published, 194550), 1:135.
Colonists from St. Albans, 415.
6 Bowen, Early Rehoboth, 3:117 and n. .
7 Howard Dakin French,
Sutton Family, New England Historical and Genealogical Register 91 (1937): 61-8; Eugene Cole Zubrinsky,
Julian Adcocke, Wife of John1 Sutton of Hingham and Rehoboth, Massachusetts, and Their Family, New England Historical and Genealogical Register 167 (2013): 7-14, at 12-3.
8 Robert Charles Anderson, George F. Sanborn Jr., and Melinde Lutz Sanborn, The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 16341635, 7 vols. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 19992011), 2:533.
Julian Adcocke, Wife of John1 Sutton, 13.
Colonists from St. Albans, 415-6.
Austin W. Spencer | email: firstname.lastname@example.org