Searle Family History

THE FIRST AMERICAN SEARLES.

INTO THE NEW WORLD.

This article first appeared in a newsletter "SERLO" edited and written by Chris Searle of Fareham Hampshire in January 1988 and was compiled from information in "The Genealogy of Descendants of John Searle" by Hester Geraldine Lester Searl and edited by Coralyn Ann Searle all of whom I fully acknowledge authorship. I publish the entire article here because of its historical and family history significance and hope the authors and editors of the aforesaid articles will consider this is a suitable site for this work.

Keith Searle

Historical note: The first attempt at the colonisation of the New World, Sir Walter Raleigh's Virginia colony of Roanoke in 1585, came to nothing. From the beginning of the 17th century, successful settlements were made in Virginia, and in 1620 the Pilgrim Fathers of the Mayflower began the colonisation of Massachusetts. From 1629, large numbers began to migrate to the colony from England

John Searle was born in Warwick, England, and baptised in 1610. The names of his parents are not yet known, but he had a sister, Joanna, who accompanied him to Massachusetts. They are said to have landed in Boston in 1634.

The earliest New World record of John Searle is in the Town Records of Springfield, Mass., but the date of his arrival there is not certain He was not one of the eight signatories to the agreement to found the settlement in May 1636, nor did he sign the agreement with the Indians for the purchase of the land. John Searle was, however, the small town's first constable.

On March 20th 1637 John Searle and Richard Everitt were ordered to measure out 54 acres of ground for Mr William Pymcheon, and on September 3rd 1638 the inhabitants granted a house lot to John Searle himself. This lot was where the Union Depot is now.

On March 19th 1639, John Searle married Sarah Baldwin. She had come from Cholesbury, Buckinghamshire, with her brothers to settle in Milford, Connecticut. This was the first marriage entry in the Springfield Records. The couple had one child, John, born May 3rd 1641, who was only a few months old when his father died on August 11th 1641.

In his Will, written after the birth of his son, John Searle mentions being "very sicke in body" - many of the early settlers died of unspecified illnesses aggravated by the hardships. He bequeathed all his estate to be divided equally between his wife and his infant son, except for his "beste coate and my cullord hatt" which he left to "my brother in law William Warrener" (who had married John's sister, Joanna, in Springfield July 31st 1639). Warrener also owed "betwixt three and fower poundes", which John Searle was content to remit to £2. An inventory was taken and showed property worth £l0l-14s-Od, including the house lot.

There was in this Will a clause to allow John's widow, Sarah, to have use of his son's portion until the latter reached the age of 20. However, she was required to give security if she married again, which she did in April 1642. In the marriage agreement, drawn up by Sarah and her new husband, Alexander Edwards, she gave security of £50 and he of £100 in the event of her early death.

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Sarah had eight children by Alexander Edwards; in 1655 the family, including John Searle junior, now aged 14, moved to Northampton, Mass., where John's descendants continued the family name.

.John Searle's son, also John, was raised in Northampton, Mass., by his mother, Sarah, and stepfather Alexander Edwards. His late father had provided for John in his Will, and in the marriage agreement which Sarah was required to draw up.

It is not until John(2) reached adulthood that he appears in the records. He was made a Freeman in Northampton in 1668, and took the Oath of Allegiance there in 1678. In 1667 he married Ruth Janes, and they had four children, only one of whom survived, and Ruth also died in the fourth child's birth. Of the surviving children, John(3) more follows later, but first, more is known of John(2).

After Ruth's death in 1672, John(2) married Mary North (in 1675). They had seven children: James, Mary, Ebenezer, Ruth, Sarah, Nathaniel, and Lydia. The three sons all had issue, 5, 7, and 12 children respectively, spreading the Searle population of the Colony. In 1700, John(2) moved his family to Pascommuck, Mass., a place which was shortly to have painful memories for him. He made his Will in 1712, leaving property to James and Nathaniel, and £5 to the latter, "providing he donít marry with Priscilla Webb". Less than a year later, Nathaniel married Priscilla, and John(2) came to an agreement about his estate. He died in 1718.

Amongst the first settlers in Pascommuck (now Easthampton), were John(2) Searle and his second wife, Mary, with their large family. The only surviving son of his first marriage, John(3), was now thirty, married to Abigail (Pomeroy), and had a family.

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At daybreak on the 13th May, 1704, a combined attack was made on Pascommuck by the French and their Indian allies. There was no watch at the garrison, and although the house of Benoni Jones was fortified, the Indians were able to creep up, put their guns through the port-holes, and fire on the sleeping inhabitants. In the ensuing massacre, John(3) Searle and three of his four children (Abigail, 6; John, 4; and Caleb, l8months) were killed. John's wife, Abigail was dragged off, but when the Indians discovered that she was pregnant, and would not survive the journey to Canada, they knocked her on the head, and left her for dead. Fortunately, she was not scalped (as was another survivor!) but was rescued and four months later gave birth to John's fifth child, a girl named Submit.

The remaining child of John(3) and Abigail, nine-year-old Elisha, also survived the Massacre, but was captured by the Indians. Seeing that the Indians were systematically murdering the children, Elisha grabbed a pack, and ran off. At this, the Indians decided he might be useful, and recaptured him and took him off to Canada, where he was adopted by a French family, and brought up as a Catholic.

Years later Elisha Searle returned to Pascommuck to claim his inheritance but not intending to stay. With him came an Indian guide, but the local people persuaded Elisha to remain in Pascommuck, and after some months the Indian returned to Canada alone. Elisha married a local girl, Rebecca Danks, and had six children, one of whom he called Catherine, in remembrance of a French girl, his "Katreen", who he had left behind in Canada.

In Easthampton, Mass. (formerly Pascommuck), there stands a boulder (at least, in 1965 it did) recording the 1704 Massacre, in which 19 of the 33 people there were killed. From this account it must be assumed that John (2) Searle, and the rest of his family escaped the attack, or were outside the area chosen by the attackers. Through them, and Elisha "The Captive "came many of the Searles of the future United States of America.

Source:,

Compiled from information in "The Genealogy of the Descendants of John Searle" by Hester Geraldine Lester Searl, edited by Coralyn Ann Searl Ramos, California, USA.

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©Keith Searle 2004