RJO’s Ancestors in American Colonial Wars, 1637–1763
On the obscure strife where men died by tens or by scores hung questions of as deep import for posterity as on those mighty contests of national adolescence where carnage is reckoned by thousands.
This is the first of a series of genealogical pages on my ancestors who served in early American wars, including the Pequot War (1637–1638), King Philip’s War (1675–1676), King William’s War (1689–1698), Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713), Dummer’s War (1723–1726) and King George’s War (1744–1745), the French and Indian War (1754–1763), the American Revolution (1775–1781), and Shays’ Rebellion (1786–1787). Ancestors who belonged to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts (1637– ) are also noted, and an additonal page presents a special essay on Lexington and Concord and the Nineteenth of April.
The Pequot War (1637–1638)
The Pequot War was the first major conflict between the English colonists in New England and the native population. The Pequots, who lived in coastal Connecticut, had angered the English by offering sanctuary to Indians who had killed a disreputable English trader. Their neighbors, the Narragansetts, had often been in conflict with the Pequots as well. In response to these and other disputes, an English force, along with Narragansett allies, brutally destroyed an entire Pequot village near modern Mystic, Connecticut, on 26 May 1637, killing more than 400 men, women, and children. For several months following, the remaining Pequots were hunted down by English and Indian forces and were either killed or reassigned to other tribes. The Treaty of Hartford (21 September 1638) ended the war, not so much by ceasing hostilities as by dissolving the Pequot tribe. Cave’s The Pequot War is a helpful survey of the conflict.
- BARNABAS DAVIS (about 1599–Nov 1685) — 10G Grandfather
Barnabas Davis was conscripted into the Pequot War while conducting business for his English employer in Connecticut [Lechford 367–369]:
Barnabas Davis1 sheweth that about 2 years before the Pequid warre he was reteyned by Mr. Willm Woodcocke to come over into New England to looke to his affaires heere that he landed at Boston and after that wthin ten dayes went on foot to Connecticott where Francis Stiles was to build a house for Mr. Woodcocke & impale him 400 acres of ground that this was in the beginning of the plantation there whereby this Accountant indured much hardship When this accountant come there the said Stiles was gone for England having before built himself a sufficient house at Connecticott Then by Mr. Hookers advise this Accountant returned to England again wth letters from Mr. Hooker to both my Lord Say & to Mr. Woodcocke of the estate of Mr. Woodcockes affaires to the intent Stiles might be dealt withall in England that this accountant as soon as he could get shipping tooke his voyage back into England wth Mr. Bable and landed at Portsmouth and thence he rode to London and delivered his letters Whereupon Francis Styles was againe dealt wth to goe on with Mr. Woodcockes plantation there and sold him his said house bearing him in hand that the Towne would accommodate Mr. Woodcocke wth 400 acres of land thereunto The said Styles wthin a moneth after came away again for N E and Mr. Woodcocke reteyned this accountant still to goe in the next ship after him to see the said Styles to performe the worke and this accountant was but to goe from London to his wife at Teuxbury and to returne againe to London to take shipping wch this accountant did and came into New England the second time and landed at Boston in the yeare of the Pequid warres and wthin ten dayes after went in a pinnace to Connecticott to follow Mr. Woodcockes business and delivered my Lord Says letter and Mr. Woodcockes letter to Mr. Hooker who was pleased to goe wth this accountant from Mr. Hookers house to the sayd Styles house being 6 myles about treaty wth the said Styles when it was dangerous travelling in regard of the Pequids that Mr. Warham and divers others wth Mr. Hooker treating the cause determined that Styles had dealt ill wth Mr. Woodcocke in not procuring the 400 acres of land to be layd to the said house & impaling it as he undertooke whereupon this accountant was by Mr. Hookers direccon to returne wth his letters thereof into England againe to certify my Lord Say and Mr. Woodcocke of Styles miscarriage of the businesse but in the meane while before this Accountant could get shipping he was taken a Souldier against the Pequids and before he could thence returne & get shipping in the sea neare upon a yeare was spent from his last landing That he returned wth Mr. Cutter at the time Mr. vane returned landed at Deale and thence went to London on foote and delivered the letters to Mr. Woodcocke & a letter to my Lord Say
1 Of Barnabas Davis, whose suit against John Woodcocke occupies many pages in the Note-book, nothing seems to be known except that he came in the “Blessing” in 1636 to Charlestown, and that he afterwards was a tallow-chandler by trade.
Cave  quotes a brief account by Underhill  describing the actions of “one Sargeant Davis” who may or may not be this Barnabas Davis.
- Cave, Alfred A. 1996. The Pequot War. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.
- Lechford, Thomas. 1988. Note-book kept by Thomas Lechford, Esq., Lawyer, in Boston, Massachusetts Bay, from June 27, 1638, to July 29, 1641. Camden, Maine: Picton Press. [Reprinted with a new introduction and index from the 1885 edition published by John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, and edited by Edward Everett Hale, Jr.]
- Underhill, John. 1638. Newes from America; or, New and Experimentall Discoverie of New England. [Not seen; quoted in Cave.]
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