Patricia Craig Johnson --- Searching for My Ancestors --- Sharing My Life Stories

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

John Holman and Ann Bishop and Family Dynamics In 1652

I have many ancestors that came to New England in the early 1600's.  One of my favorites is John Holman.  He is my 9th great-grandfather.  He was baptized in Swyre, Dorset, England on 27 January 1602.  His parents were Morgan Holman and Alice Odbeere.  As a young man, on 25 March 1622, age 20, John Holman became an apprentice to William Jolliffe as a "wollendraper."  I believe that this occupation was being a dealer in woolen cloth.  Probably as a middle man between the growers of wool and the manufacturers of wool cloth.  He served in this position until he left for New England.

In 1630 John Holman came alone to New England on the ship "Mary and John."  There were no other Holmans listed with him, but there were probably plenty of neighbors and friends on board from Dorset, England.  These trips were usually undertaken by groups of people from the same area.

John Holman married a lady named Anna about 1635.  They had two children, John Holman, Jr. and Mary.  When Mary was an infant, Anna died.  John then married my ancestress, Ann Bishop in about 1640.  Ann was the daughter of Thomas Bishop and Avis Abbott.  Ann was baptised at Bridport, Dorset, England on 22 October 1616.  She came to New England as a maidservant to her brother-in-law, Henry Crogan and they sailed from Weymouth, Dorset, England in April 1637, on board the ship "Speedwell."  Henry Crogan had married her sister, Abigail one month before the family group sailed from England.

When Ann Bishop married John Holman, his oldest son was age 3 and little Mary was "newly taken from the breast."  Ann fell immediately into motherhood, and then had six children of her own.  Her oldest son is my ancestor, Thomas Holman.  The household of John and Ann was not always peaceful. John Holman, Jr. was very disrespectful to his father and his stepmother.  John, Sr. was away on business a great deal of the time and it invited disobedience and stubbornness in the oldest son.

When John Holman died about 1652 in Dorchester, Massachusetts his will stated that "despite the law of the court to grant a double portion to eldest sons, he granted his eldest son, John Jr., only 50 pounds, to be paid when he became 20.  John Holman's estate was large and amounted to over 700 pounds.  In 1656, when John Jr.  became age 20 he brought a suit against his father's will.  He claimed in court that he was the eldest son and had been deprived of his inheritance due to his stepmother's influence on his father.  He claimed to have been an obedient son, "excepting what by reason of folly and vanity among us children did now and then fall out as is incident unto such families where children of several mothers are as the condition of the Godly Jacob's family and of his grandfather, Abraham."  The court agreed to look further into the matter of John Holman's will.

By this time, Ann had remarried, but she testified before the court about the family dynamics in the Holman household.  After several descriptions of John, Jr.'s insolent behavior, the court ruled to let the will stand as written.  This meant that my ancestor, Thomas Holman, received one-quarter of his father's estate and John, Jr. received 50 pounds.

I find this family story interesting because it illustrates that problems between children and parents is nothing new.  It could happen in those Puritan days just as well as today.  I am sure John Holman died a sad man with the knowledge that his son was not being dutiful and living up to his expectations.

Ann Bishop Holman married Reverend Henry Butler 9 March 1654 and returned to England with her husband.  She died before 4 August 1674 in England.

John Holman and Ann Bishop were pioneers of the bravest sort.  To leave family and home and sail off to another continent took a special courage, determination, and spirit of adventure.  Three generations later a great granddaughter, Mary Holman married Ephraim Cary and this joined two of my early American lines.

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