5th GGPs Josiah Nute and his wife Rebecca Wentworth were a mystery until I came across her name on the Nute obelisk in Woodstock, Maine, on one of my road trips. I knew they married and had our grandfather, 4th GGF Samuel Nute, in Rochester, New Hampshire, but then they seemed to drop off the face of the earth until Samuel resurfaced in records many years later in Woodstock. Had Josiah and Rebecca died in Rochester and Samuel moved on? Had the family left Rochester together and moved elsewhere? If so, where? The mystery was solved with land deeds.
Now we know Josiah and Rebecca moved the family to Falmouth, Maine, and from there at least Samuel and Rebecca moved to Poland and on to Woodstock where she died, the last of our Wentworth line. Here is our Wentworth family story.
Elder William Wentworth (1613-1696), 9th GGF
William hailed from Alford, Lincolnshire, England, the same area as his cousin, John Wheelwright, and second cousin, Anne Hutchinson. William was baptized in Alford on March 15, 1615, son of William and Susanna Carter Wentworth. His father was a first cousin to Anne. The Wentworth line is traced through his father to King John of Robin Hood and Magna Carta fame, as well as Henry II, King of England and Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, Henry III, and William the Lion, king of Scotland from 1165 to 1214.
William and 9th GGF James Nute I were contemporaries in Dover, New Hampshire, but whereas James arrived in Portsmouth in 1631 and soon to Dover in 1633, William’s religious beliefs and connection with the Reverend John Wheelwright took him on a circuitous route from Boston in 1637 through Exeter and Wells, Maine, before arriving in Dover some 12 years later.
Although Boston has no records of William, it is believed he arrived in July 1637, age 22, along with a contingency of Wheelwright followers from Lincolnshire, including Anne Hutchison’s brother-in-law. Anne and the Reverend John Wheelwright were banned from Boston in late 1637 during the Antinomian controversy. Anne was permitted to stay in Boston through the winter before she went south to Portsmouth, Rhode Island, with a number of our other grandparent ancestors. Wheelwright, on the other hand, was given 14 days to get out of town in the dead of winter. Wheelwright headed for the nearest refuge on the Piscataqua River, now Exeter, New Hampshire, and young William Wentworth followed him “into the wilderness.” William’s signature on the Exeter Combination in 1639 is the first record of him in New England. In 1642, he followed Wheelwright to Wells, Maine, where he lived and owned a small marsh lot until 1649.
Wentworth migration to Dover. William’s final move was to the Cocheco area of Dover in late 1649. He received several land grants in Dover, one of which was on the north side of James Nute’s 12-acre lot granted in 1654. A planter, co-owner in a sawmill, and active in the community, William is best known for holding the position of Ruling Elder in the Dover church for nearly 40 years; hence the title Elder William Wentworth. Although not a clergyman, William was often preaching, not only in Dover, but also in Exeter.
The area of Dover in which William had his sawmill and lumber business was set off to Somersworth in 1729. The lower part where the Wentworths had their homes was set off from Somersworth to Rollinsford in 1849.
No record exists of William’s marriages, but indirect evidence and assumptions support that he married 9th GGM Elizabeth Kenney before 1641 when their first child, Samuel, was born. At some point, Elizabeth died and he married a younger woman, also named Elizabeth. While there is evidence Elder William had nine sons, only indirect evidence exists for at least two daughters.
Children of William Wentworth and the Elizabeths:
Samuel, born abt. 1640, ran a tavern in Portsmouth, m. Mary Benning, d. 1690 of smallpox; his son John was Lt. Gov. of New Hampshire.
John, b. before 1649, m. Martha, moved to York, but the settlement was nearly wiped out in 1692 by Indians and he moved to Dorchester, MA.
Gershom, born abt. 1650, m. Hannah French, d. 1731.
EZEKIEL, b. about 1651, m. Elizabeth Knight, d. 1711. He may have been named after 9th GGF Ezekiel Knight of Wells as William and he seemed to be good buds.
Paul, b. 1655, m. Catherine, lived in Rowley and Newbury, then New London, CT, d. 1750.
Sylvanus, m. Elizabeth Stewart of Rowley.
Timothy, b. before 1673, believed to be the last child of Elder William’s first wife Elizabeth Kenney, m. Sarah Cromwell, d. 1719 in Berwick, Maine.
Elizabeth, m. Richard Tozer of Berwick, d. after 1734.
Sarah, no information.
Ephraim, m. 1) Mary Miller of Kittery (sister of Martha who married Ephraim’s nephew John); 2) widow Elizabeth Beard.
Benjamin, m. Sarah Allen, d. 1728 when he and his horse fell into a river while crossing a bridge.
William’s daughter Elizabeth was captured and taken to Canada by Indians three times. Her husband was taken twice, but on seeing the Indians coming the third time, he abandoned her, ran out of the house and across a frozen river, saying he couldn’t bear making the trek again.
The hero of Cocheco. William was sleeping in the Heard garrison about a mile from his house the night of the Cocheco massacre in 1689 while the Heard family was away. Two Indian women asking to sleep for the night were admitted early evening and opened the doors to attacking Indians after others had gone to sleep. Awakened by a barking dog to find Indians entering the compound, William, age 74, was able push the Indians out, shut the garrison doors, and hold the gates closed until others in the garrison came to help. The other four garrisons were not so lucky. All were burned, 23 people were killed, and 29 taken captive.
Elder William went to Exeter to live for a few years after the massacre, but returned to Dover by 1696 where he died a few days after he was “taken speechless with a sudden shivering,” age 81. His second wife, Elizabeth, was still living at the time of his death. His land had already been deeded to his sons. The rail track of the Boston and Maine Railroad was placed directly over the Wentworth burying-place in Dover.
In spite of having substantial land and being high on the tax list, I’m always amazed how simply these folks lived. Inventory at his death included, 1 ox, 1 horse, 4 cows, 1 swine, 2 iron pots, 1 frying pan and warming pan, 4 looking glass, some pewter, 1 candle stick, 2 stone jugs, 2 tablecloths and 10 napkins . . . well, that’s not the entire list but it gives the idea.
For those wondering about a warming pan, here is a photo of my 1800 antique warming pan. The pan would be filled with hot coals and used to warm the sheets before retiring for the night.
|Antique warming pan|
Ezekiel Wentworth (c. 1651-1712), 8th GGF
The birth year of 8th GGF Ezekiel Wentworth is calculated as 1651, assuming he was 21 years-old when he first paid tax in Dover. He inherited the old farm and farmhouse in the area which was incorporated as Somersworth in 1754; a section was incorporated as Salmon Falls Village in 1823 and rolled into Rollinsford when it incorporated in 1849.
Ezekiel married 8th GGM Elizabeth Knight (abt. 1647-1726) of Wells, Maine, in 1670.
The first record of Elizabeth’s father, 9th GGF Ezekiel Knight, (abt. 1612-1689) is a 1645 purchase of a house and conveyance of a tract of marsh in Wells, Maine, from Elder Wentworth’s cousin, Rev. John Wheelwright, to Ezekiel.
Ezekiel was in Salem as early as 1637 and in Braintree in 1641 where his first wife, Elizabeth, died. He migrated to Wells by 1643 and records clearly show that Ezekiel Knight, Elder William Wentworth and his son Ezekiel, and Rev. John Wheelwright were all living in the small settlement of Wells at the same time. One of the first settlers of Wells, he built near the mouth of the Mousam River, and moved to the area of the Webbhannet in 1645.
Knight was commissioner of Wells in 1654, 1662, and 1663, on the grand jury in 1654, and a petitioner to Oliver Cromwell in 1656 that Wells remain under Massachusetts government. He stood in as a Puritan minister in 1661. Ezekiel had four wives. His second wife, Ann, was probably the mother of our 8th GGM Elizabeth Knight. Ezekiel’s 1687 will left one-third of his estate to “daughter (Elizabeth) Wentworth.”
Like his dad, Ezekiel Wentworth was active in community government serving as selectman in 1698 and 1702, tax assessor in 1705, and died while serving a term as Representative in the New Hampshire Province legislature in 1711.
Children of Ezekiel and Elizabeth, in approximate order as no birth records are available:
Thomas, m. Love, d. before 1719; mariner.
COLONEL JOHN, b. 1676, m. Martha Miller of Kittery, farmer and lumber dealer.
Colonel Paul, b. 1678, m. Abra Brown, d. 1747, no children, lived at Salmon Falls, “one of the wealthiest men of the time;” a philanthropist, merchant and lumber dealer with mills at Salmon Falls; his lumber was shipped down river to Portsmouth and out to the rest of the world. He was selectman of Dover for 14 years and member of Province Representatives. Among the many beneficiaries of his will was his nephew, our 6th GGF Richard Wentworth, as well as giving generously to his brother, 7th GGF John. His will clearly shows he had at least three slaves that he bequeathed to his brother Gershom, nephew John, and niece Mary.
Elizabeth, m. Nathaniel Brown; Nathaniel’s sister Abra married Elizabeth’s brother, Paul.
Tamsin, b. 1687, m. 1) James Chesley, d. 1707, killed by Indians; 2) John Hayes, d. 1753.
Gershom, m. Sarah, perhaps a Twombly, d. about 1759.
Captain Benjamin, b. abt. 1691, m. Elizabeth Leighton, d. abt. 1731. Benjamin was one of the Committee of Proprietors for Rochester in 1722 where our Wentworth and Nute ancestors would settle later in the century.
The various military titles for John, Paul, and Benjamin come from their participation in local militia organized for defense against the constant Indian threat. Numerous offspring of Ezekiel have served in the New Hampshire Provincial, Massachusetts, and Maine legislatures, and Continental Congress.
The historic circa 1701 Colonel Paul Wentworth’s house at 47 Water Street, Rollinsford, has been nicely restored. It is open for visits, and hosts living history events, hearth-cooked dinners, and special activities.
|1701 Colonel Paul Wentworth House in Rollinsford, from the CPW Facebook page|
John Wentworth (1679-1719), 7th GGF
John was early in the sibling order but, again, no birth records are available. He married 7th GGM Martha Miller (1684-1755), daughter of Richard and Grace Miller of Kittery, in 1703. John had land at Salmon Falls and lived in that part of Dover known as Sligo, today called Somersworth. He held several town positions, including surveyor of highways and constable. Little else is known of John other than he was a farmer and lumberman.
8th GGPs Richard Miller (abt 1649-1692) and Grace had at least three offspring - Samuel, Mary who married John’s uncle Ephraim, and Martha who married our John. The family resided in Kittery, Maine, but their origins are unknown. Grace had him “bound” for good behavior and proper maintenance in 1672, and the court warned her “to be more careful of appearances and attend to her family.” Both daughters Mary and Martha were under 12 when their father died in 1692 at age 44, and mother remarried Christopher Banfield.
Children of John Wentworth and Martha Miller
RICHARD, b. 1708, m. Rebecca Nock, d. 1796 in Rochester. Richard was named for his maternal grandfather.
Ezekiel, b. abt 1710, m. Martha Lord, d. after 1755 He lived and died on land in Berwick, Maine, inherited from his uncle, Paul Wentworth. Ezekiel’s son, Paul, was in the Continental Army at West Point at the time of capture of Major Andre.
Thomas, b. unknown, m. Mary Nock, sister to Richard’s Rebecca, lived in Somersworth, d. 1758.
Demaris, m. a Mr. Brock, birth and death unknown.
Mercy, m. Captain Moses Butler who commanded a company during the siege and capture of Fortress of Louisberg in 1744, d. after 1759. Their son, Moses Butler, Jr., was the first permanent settler of Franklin, Maine.
John was 40 years old when he died, leaving Martha, 33, with five young children. Martha likely raised the children on the family property with assistance from the extended Wentworth family. She didn’t remarry and died at age 71 in the area of the Wentworth farm.
Richard Wentworth (1708-1796), 6th GGF
Richard was 11 years old and the eldest of the five children when his dad died in 1719. Richard, Ezekiel, Thomas, and Demaris and mother, Martha, were baptized at the First Church in Dover the same year as John’s death.
The first meetinghouse of the First Parish Church was built of mud and logs at Dover Point soon after the first colonists settled in 1634. This first site is now covered by the Spauling Turnpike. The second meetinghouse, on the US National Register of Historic Places, was built on Nutter’s Hill further north and is one of the few colonial church sites known to be fortified against Indian attacks, with a log palisade and earthworks. A new meetinghouse was built in 1712 at Pine Hill located in present day Dover center by wealthy men from Cocheco who objected to traveling down to Nutter’s Hill. The Wentworths were likely in this group of men and the third meetinghouse likely where Martha and the children were baptized. The current Federal Style First Parish Church at 218 Central Avenue was built in 1825.
In 1729, twenty one year-old Richard and his future father-in-law 7th GGF Deacon Thomas Nock (1685-1754) both signed a petition to the Governor to separate from Dover and establish the parish of Somersworth.
The Nock family line was in Dover by 1657 when 9th GGF Thomas Nock (1617-1666) bought 20 acres “upland on the north side of the Cocheco River called by the name of the Gulf.” 7th GGF Deacon Thomas Nock, originally from Dover, moved to Newbury for a few years and returned to Dover around the time of his father’s death in 1716. He and the family lived in that part of Dover that was set off to Somersworth in 1729, the same area of Dover as the Wentworth land. Deacon Thomas gave land toward settling the Somersworth minister in 1729, and served as Deacon of the church from that year until his death. Hence, he was known as Deacon* Thomas Nock. Thomas was a carpenter by occupation. 6th GGM Rebecca Nock was born around 1712 in Newbury, Massachusetts. She was the second of eight children, six of them girls.
*In the early Colonial church, everyone had to be silent for the minister’s one-hour prayer and two to four-hour sermon. The church deacon enforced the rule by poking people who talked with a stick.
Rebecca’s father, the Deacon Thomas Nock, was an original proprietor for Rochester in 1722 along with several other Nock family members, but never moved onto the property he owned. The move may have been deterred after one of the Nock family was killed by Indians in the Rochester area - shot off his horse and scalped - while returning on horseback from setting beaver traps.
The Wentworth family migration to Rochester, New Hampshire. Rochester, north of Dover, was incorporated in 1722, but serious settlement was delayed until 1729 due to fear of Indian attacks. The Wentworths, including Ezekiel and Martha’s sons Capt. Benjamin, Capt. Paul, Ephraim, and Gershom, invested heavily buying whole shares as proprietors in 1722. Being along in years, none settled Rochester and left that task to their young and hardy descendants.
Present day Rochester sits on the border of New Hampshire and Maine, bordered on the northeast by Lebanon, Maine; on the northwest by Farmington, NH; on the southeast by Somersworth; and on the southwest by Barrington, NH. Milton lies due north and was set off from Rochester in 1802.
|For those who need a visual|
Richard and his brother Thomas were named as Rochester pioneers in a verse from a lengthy poem “A Tribute to the Memory of the Departed Heroes of Methodism, both Ministers and Laymen, of Rochester, New Hampshire,” written by Rev. Samuel Norris for the dedication of a new church in 1868.
We note the Wentworth Family,
Thomas and Richard, Pioneers,
They loved salvation full and free,
And went to rest in ripened years.
We know Richard was in Rochester by 1735 as he signed a petition for the town to elect officers. Sixty families had settled in Rochester by that time. He was admitted to the church in Rochester in October 1737, and his first child, Daniel, was born a few months later. By age 30, in 1738, he was already becoming involved in the town’s administration when chosen commissioner to examine the Selectman accounts.
Richard held the offices of town assessor for the years 1743, ’48, ’54, and ’57 and selectman in 1740, ’46,’51,’ and ’62.
In 1744, Ricard built a garrison on the main road, “made of thick planks dove-tailed together at the corners like a chest, without any frame except a few braces.” Although the Indian wars had receded and the Abenaki and Pennacook were close to extinction in New Hampshire, the new settlement of Rochester continued to live in fear. Hatchets were found embedded in garrison doors. In 1746, four men were murdered in sight of a garrison.
Richard had extensive land holdings in Rochester, some of which were along the Cocheco River. In the early years, Rochester was heavily engaged in the lumber business and Richard’s land on the Cocheco suggests he was probably in the lumber as well as agricultural business.
In 1748, Richard received a nice gift of 20 pounds from his childless, but wealthy, Uncle Paul Wentworth (above).
Richard and other Rochester Wentworth’s, including sons Josiah, John and Isaac, signed the Rochester Association Test in 1776, affirming their loyalty and support to the Revolution. The only Wentworth who refused to sign the Oath was Stephen who owned the tavern in town.
Records show Richard purchased a pew on the floor level at the new Meetinghouse in December 1780.
Children of Richard Wentworth and Rebecca Nock, all born in Rochester
Thomas, bpt. 1745, drowned as a boy.
Daniel, bpt. 1738, unmarried, died before father’s death from drinking cold water to excess.
Mercy, b. abt. 1740, m. Peter Horne of Rochester, d. in Rochester, date unknown.
Sarah, b. abt. 1742, m. Richard Walker of Milton, d. 1811 in Milton.
John, b. 1744, m. 1) Hannah Hodgdon, and 2) Ann Blazo, d. 1806 in Parsonsfield, ME
Josiah, b. 1745, m. Abiah Cook d. 1800 in Falmouth, Maine.
Isaac, b. 1752, m. Abigail Nutter, d. 1807, signed Rochester Association Test; Revolutionary war soldier as a private with New Hampshire Minute Men militia in 1775 and with the Continental Army, 2nd New Hampshire. Isaac inherited the homestead at Rochester.
At the time of Richard’s will, signed in June 1796, wife Rebecca and sons Josiah, Isaac, and John and daughters Mercy and Sarah were still living. Richard died at the old age of 88; Rebecca survived him, but there is no record of her death.
Josiah Wentworth (1745-after 1800), 5th GGF
Our 5th GGF Josiah Wentworth was one of six sons born to Richard and Rebecca in Rochester. Josiah married 5th GGM Abiah Cook, daughter of Abraham Cook and Jean Richards, before 1772 when their first child was born. No marriage record has been located.
Abiah’s 2nd GGF, Thomas Cook, was our immigrant through Boston, probably in the mid-1600’s with the wave of Quakers that was beginning to come to the colonies. The family was in Dover by about 1660 when her GGF, John Cooke, was born. He married 8th GGM Mary Downes, and their son, 7th GGF Peter Downs Cook (1694-1762), had a 1/3 proprietor share in Rochester. As with most proprietors who purchased the 1722 shares, Peter did not move to Rochester, but left this task/privilege to his son, Abraham, Abiah’s father. His son, Abiah’s brother Daniel, was a solider in the Revolution, serving in Captain John Drew’s company at Ticonderoga in 1776, and continuing to serve through 1779.
Josiah, along with this father, brother Isaac, and father-in-law Abraham Cook, signed the 1776 Rochester Loyalty Oath.
Josiah was a blacksmith with a shop in Rochester from 1780 to 1800 “where now is the Dodge’s building on Central Square. He lived in a small house opposite.” (History of Rochester, McDuffee).
The current Central Square is where Wakefield, North Main and South Main Streets intersect. The Square was the center of stagecoach travel in the early 1800’s, with the Dodge Hotel serving travelers. The hotel burned in 1908 and the Dodge block left in ruins. Where the current Citizen’s Bank now stands may be close to the location of Josiah’s little house and blacksmith business.
Children of Josiah Wentworth and Abiah Cook
Rebecca, b. abt. 1772, m. Josiah Nute of Milton, NH, d. 1828 in Woodstock, ME.
Jane, b. abt. 1774, m. Daniel Hoyt of Rochester in 1796.
Abigail, b. abt. 1776, m. Stephen Nutter of Milton, NH in 1796.
Phebe, b. abt. 1778, unmarried, d. 1825 in Rochester.
Josiah Jr., b. 1780, m. Rosannah Horne of Rochester in 1802, d. 1855 in New Durham.
Stephen, b. 1782.
Richard’s 1796 will left Josiah with land “on the northeast side of Cocheco River near Norway Plain Mills and one of right of land in the third division of lots." This third division comprised of a narrow strip of land at the head of the present towns of Milton and Farmington, the same area Samuel and Jotham Nute settled in 1784, is likely how Josiah Nute and Rebecca Wentworth hooked up.
The last record we have for Josiah and Abiah shows a household in Rochester in 1800 with two males between 16 and 25 (Josiah, Stephen), and one female between 10 and 15 (Phebe) in addition to Josiah and Abiah. Josiah is not in the 1810 census.
Rebecca Wentworth (abt. 1772-1828), 4th GGM
Rebecca was born in Rochester, New Hampshire, in 1772, the eldest of six children, the first four of whom were girls. Her parents may have lived in or moved to that part of Rochester that was set off to Milton in 1802 and bequeathed to Josiah by his father, Richard. Several Wentworths lived in Milton in those days. Today, a gated residential development “in a most desirable area,” has been built at Wentworth Farms in Milton.
Rebecca married our 4th GGF Josiah Nute in the fall of 1792 and they likely resided on Nute Ridge in what became Milton in 1802.Their first child, our 3rd GGF Samuel Nute was born in November 1792, two months after the marriage, and was their only child. The small family moved to Falmouth, Maine, in 1805, and Rebecca was widowed in 1820 at the age of 48.
Young Samuel bought land in Poland from his father, Josiah, and married a young woman, 3rd GGM Betsey Fickett, there in 1816. Newly widowed Rebecca was living with the family in Poland in 1820 and moved with them to Woodstock in 1821. She would have been a mainstay for the family when Betsey died in 1826, leaving Samuel with four young children.
Rebecca died in Woodstock in 1828, age 56, and is buried in the Nute Stevens cemetery, the last of our Wentworth family.