Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Portsmouth Corey Family

William Corey (1634-1682) immigrated from Bristol, Somerset, England with his widowed father, grandmother Agnes Wauker (1582-1670), and step-grandfather John Roome.  William’s widowed father, John, may have settled in Portsmouth.  The only mention of a John in Portsmouth records was a suspicion of felony in Newport in 1643.  No further action was taken so it's unclear whether William’s father died soon thereafter or had to leave town as his charge was slandering William Coddington, one of the head guys.  In any event, William was raised mostly by his grandparents.

The family’s immigration date to Boston is unknown, but certainly by 1637.  John Roome signed the Portsmouth Compact with his mark, along with grandparent ancestors Philip Shearman and John Walker, and moved the family to Portsmouth with the original Hutchinson settlers in 1638.  A house carpenter and miller, John Roome would have brought skills needed in the new colony and William followed in his footsteps.

The first mention of William is in 1657 at age 23 when he was granted eight acres from his step-grandfather and given freeman status by the town.  As a journeyman carpenter, he could have built himself a pretty nice house.  He was also granted a license to operate a “videling house,” or mom and pop kitchen in the 1660’s.  Evidently, town meetings were held in his great room and attendees could get their dinner at the same time.  According to online information, anyone descended from a colonial innkeeper is eligible to join the Flagens Trenchers Association of Colonial Tavernkeepers. 

William held several community offices and was a lieutenant and captain in the local militia.  He and buddy William Earle built a windmill for Portsmouth in 1668.  In 1676, he and three others moved a barrel of gunpowder and set up cannons to defend the island, one of them on John Borden's land.

In 1667, the two Williams traveled together back to England to claim deeds from the estate of John Roome.  These deeds conveyed title to two mansion houses in Bristol that had been passed on to William by grandmother Agnes.  The letter he carried from Agnes acknowledged him as the son of John Corey, deceased of Bristol, so his dad had certainly died by this time.

Along with all the close buddy stuff the two Williams did, Corey married Earle’s sister, Mary Earle (1631-1717) in 1657.  In 1670, William Earle bought 2000 acres in Dartmouth, MA, and sold a third of it to our William Corey.  Remember William Earle married Mary Walker, so these four grandparent ancestors - two Williams and Marys - were best buddies and had land next to each other in Dartmouth/Tiverton. 

William and Mary Corey had 10 children together.  The first eight were born in Portsmouth, and the birthplace for the last two was Tiverton.  William had purchased land in Tiverton just a few years before he died, and it is possible they lived on the land for a while.  Their oldest son, John, married the daughter of a Narragansett Indian chief.  Her name wasMinnetinka, and she went by the English name Elizabeth.  One of the younger sons, Caleb, settled on the Dartmouth land.  Sons William and Thomas took over the Tiverton land and purchased substantial additional land there.

William was indeed a jack-of-all trades - builder, landowner, farmer, tavern keeper, militia man - but he, his wife and likely his children were illiterate.

William died in 1682 at age 47 in Portsmouth.  A fourteen year old daughter died the same year. Mary, widowed at 51, took a second husband, Joseph Timberlake, the following year and lived to the age of 86.  Their burial sites and those of Agnes and John are unknown.

William and Mary’s fifth child, Mary Corey (1662-1743) grew up in Tiverton after age eight and married Thomas Cooke (1667-1726) some time between 1692-1697.    At 30, this was considered a late age for a woman to marry in those days.  She, nevertheless, bore six children.  Her husband Thomas died at age 58; Mary lived to the age of 81 without remarriage.  With this union, the Corey line joins the Cooke line.

William Corey was our 9th great grandfather and Mary our 8th great grandmother.

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