Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wests in Essex County, Massachusetts

Wests in Essex County, Massachusetts:

Compiled by Joy Ikelman, 2014. Disclaimers apply. Note: The use of double dating, such as 1630/1631, reflects the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars.

Background: Judah West (b. 11 Sep 1765; d. 9 Apr 1825) was added to West DNA Family Group #5 in 2007. [1] He is a descendant of Thomas West (b. 1630/1631; d. 23 Dec 1720). Thomas West had a brother, Henry West (b. 1629; d. Sep 1703). Therefore Henry West is also part of FG#5. These two men lived in Essex County, Massachusetts in the 1600s. This is the first in a series of articles about this line of the FG#5 West families.

Currently (February 2014) Henry West and Thomas West are the earliest documented members of Family Group #5.

Essex County, Massachusetts in the 1600s
The Massachusetts Bay Colony included “much of present-day central New England, including portions of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.” [2] In the 1630s, more than 20,000 people migrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This is sometimes called New England’s Great Migration. Only about a third of these people are documented by ship manifests or other lists.

In 1643, Essex County was created by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was named after the county of Essex in England, and included the towns of Salem, Lynn, Wenham, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, Gloucester, and Andover. [3]

West researchers have worked diligently over the last 100 years (not kidding) hoping to prove that the Essex County Wests of the 1600s were related to each other. These researchers used old paper archives, and later, microfilm, to do this work. Today, most of the early court records of Essex County, MA, are in the public domain, free, and on-line. [4] There are many opportunities for research. The possibilities of West family DNA matches are also exciting.

An Abundance of Wests
Three “Thomas Wests” lived in Essex County in the late 1600s. Three “John Wests” were also alive at that time. [5] In order to follow the FG#5 Thomas West (b. 1630/1631), data needed to be sorted out. Past errors have occurred because of one publication.  In 1908, Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts was published. [6] The information about Thomas West has generally been accepted without question. This is a mistake. William Richard Cutter wrote:

                Thomas West, immigrant ancestor, was born in England about 1600 and came to Massachusetts Bay colony in the ship Mary and John, sailing March 24, 1633-34. He settled at Salem where he had a grant of land in 1640. His descendants are numerous in Beverly, Massachusetts. He is the progenitor of the Chester, New Hampshire family. His sons Henry and Thomas, and Henry’s wife Elizabeth were admitted to the Salem church, January 4, 1665-66.

Cutter (1908) has mixed up three separate West families within his opening paragraph. Here is some clarification:

      1. Thomas West (b. ca 1600) lived in Ipswich and Salem, MA. He came to the Massachusetts Colony on the ship Mary and John [7]. He received a land grant in 1640 as part of the Phillips Company. [8] I found no known wife or children.  This Thomas West is not known to be DNA related (as of February 2014).

      2. John West (b. ca 1615) lived in Ipswich and Beverly, MA. His son, Thomas West (b. ca 1640 to 1642) of Beverly was the first of many descendants in Beverly, MA and Chester, NH. [9] This John West is not known to be DNA-related (as of February 2014).

      3. Henry West (b. 1629) of Salem, and Thomas West (b. 1630/1631) of Salem and Bradford, MA, were brothers.  We do not know their parents or their place of origin, although there has been some research about this.  The brothers and their wives were members of First Church, Salem, and baptized their first children on 25:1:1665 (Julian calendar). Henry West’s descendants stayed in Salem for at least six generations. [10] Thomas West’s descendants moved to Connecticut and New York. [11] These two men are FG#5 DNA-related.

In sorting through the court records, I found a great deal of information about Thomas West (b. ca 1600) and John West (b. ca 1615). I will be sharing a bit about their histories. They are currently not known to be a part of FG#5.

Why should I include the stories of non-DNA Wests of Essex County, MA? Won’t this confuse West Family researchers? I hope not! I believe that it is important to review the history of these men in order to add to the record of the West name. The related Wests and the non-related Wests are often mixed up because they lived in Essex County at the same time. DNA project participation may eventually link some of these Wests together.

The West Record in the Salem Area
Salem town records and quarterly court records begin in 1636. The “West record” in Salem and surrounding areas begins in 1640.  NOTE: Thomas West (b. ca.1600), John West, Mathew West, Lanclet West and Twiford West do not have any documented evidence or DNA results connecting them to FG#5 as of February 2014.

Launslot or Lanclet West, is the first West in the court records (1640). He testified “in the matter of hogs in the corn” and spoke about suspicious turnips and cabbages. [12] This is all we know about this West.

Thomas West* (b. ca 1600) was granted 20 acres of land in 1639/1640. [13] The story of how he ended up with this land reflects the history of early Salem.

John West* had his cow appraised in 1641. [14] This was his first recorded interaction with the bureaucracy. Through the years, John West was very active in his community. The land boundaries and geographic names changed during his lifetime. Part of his land in Beverly, MA, became “West Beach”—a recreational area that is still in use. He has descendants living today.

*I will present John West’s and Thomas West's stories, even though their y-DNA has not been connected to Family Group #5 as of February 2014.

Mathew West was recorded as a juror in 1643. [15] He lived in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts from about 1636 to 1646. He moved to Newport, Rhode Island where he was a freeman in 1655. His oldest son was Nathaniel West, and his grandson was also Nathaniel West. [16] He has descendants living today. He is not DNA-related (as of February 2014).

Twiford (Twyford) West (1616-1684) has a very visible presence in Essex County, MA, court records and local histories. He arrived at Plymouth Colony on the ship Hopewell in 1635, at the age of 19. [17] He was an indentured servant in Plymouth. [18] He married Mary Cross in about 1651, and lived in Ipswich and Rowley, MA. Their children were possibly Elizabeth, Mary, Hannah, John, and Nathaniel. He was a land owner and a cordwainer [19]—he created fine leather shoes and other luxury items. His son John West (b. 1661) married (1) Sarah Tenney in 1687 and (2) Elizabeth, widow of Thomas Atwood.  Sarah Tenney was the sister of Mary Tenney, the second wife of “our” FG#5 Thomas West (b. 1630/1631). [20] This is an interesting coincidence but does not mean this line of Wests is related to FG#5. There are descendants living today. Twiford West is not DNA-related (as of February 2014).

Isabel West was the first West cited in an estate settlement. The inventory of her estate was examined in 1644. It appears from the list of items that she was a widow. She lived in North Field, Salem. [21] We do not know her husband’s name. Other women appear in very early Salem records—they were usually in court for misdemeanors.

Neighbors and Parishioners
It is likely that many of the Wests knew each other from church, meetings, or business. As an example, the final record verified for the oldest Thomas West of the time (b. ca 1600) is a petition dated 30 Jun 1668. [22] The petition requests attention to the property of Reverend John Higginson, pastor of First Church, Salem. The petitioners ask the court to take care of repairs, as “any sad in convenyencies may follow to the dishonor of God, the discouragement of the ministry & dishonor of ye people heare.”

The petition was signed in this order:

            William Lord, Sr., Hillyard Veren, Benjamin Felton, Thomas (his mark) West, Henry West, John Rucke, Henery Skerry, Sr., John Massey, Samuell Williams, John Williames, John (his mark) Neal, and Francis Skerry.

The elder Thomas West (b. ca 1600) signed his mark, and then Henry West (b. 1629, the DNA FG#5 ancestor) signed his name. The two men may not be related, but they knew each other. Thomas West was a long-time friend to John Higginson, and Henry West was a member of First Church, Salem.

Next: Wests in Essex County, Massachusetts: Henry West and Thomas West of West DNA Family Group #5

References and Additional Notes
1. West Family Group #5 results at
2. Wikipedia, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Accessed 3 February 2014.
3. Wikipedia, Essex County, Massachusetts. Accessed 4 February 2014.,_Massachusetts
4. University of Virginia:
5. The three Thomas Wests were: (1) Thomas West, b. circa 1600; (2) Thomas West, b. 1630/1631; and, (3) Thomas West, b. about 1740, son of John West. The three John Wests were: (1) John West, b. ca 1615; (2) John West, b. 1661, son of Twiford West; and (3) John West, b. 1667, son of Thomas West (b. 1630/1631).
6. William Richard Cutter, 1908: Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts, Volume I. Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York, p. 559.
7. Anne Stevens, 2012: Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's; Over 7100 Families and 250 Ships. It is very likely that Thomas West (b. ca 1600) is the person listed on the ship Mary and John. My theory is in the article about Thomas West (b. ca 1600). This West is not DNA-related to FG#5 (as of February 2014).
8. Essex Institute, 1868: Town Records of Salem, Massachusetts, Volume I, 1634-1659, Salem, Massachusetts, p. 98. Referenced as “Salem Town Records, Vol. 1.” The original members of the Reverend John Phillips Company (sometimes called the Phillips-Yonges Company) were a group of travelers from Wrentham, England. They may have organized in their parish to come to New England and invested money in the venture. My research shows that Thomas West was not a part of the original Wrentham company. He arrived in New England several years prior to the others. He signed on with the project after the group arrived. Several others did this as well. I do not believe that Thomas West came from Wrentham, England. My analysis is in the article about Thomas West (b. ca 1600). This West is not DNA-related to FG#5 (as of February 2014).
9. Topsfield Historical Society, 1906: Vital Records of Beverly, Massachusetts to the End of the Year, 1849, Topsfield, Massachusetts, p. 598 and various other pages.
10. Harry Irwin West, Jr., 1997: Descendants of Henry West (1629-1703) of Salem, Massachusetts with Some Collateral Lines of Interest. Anundsen Publishing Co., Decorah, Iowa, p. 2A, 15A.
11. Benjamin West and Joseph West, sons of Thomas West (b.  1630/1631), were the first of this line to have land in Connecticut.
12.  George Francis Dow, editor, 1911: Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Volume 1. Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts, p. 24. This is also referenced as EIQC:1:24. “Lanclet West” is not found in records after this.
13. Salem Town Records, Vol. 1, p. 98.
14. EIQC:1:38.
15: EIQC:1:42.
16. W.F. Donnelly, 1997: The Wests of Duck Creek. Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD., p. 262-263.
17. John Camden Hotten, 1874: The Original Lists of Persons of Quality; Emigrants; Religious Exiles; Political Rebels; Serving Men Sold for a Term of Years; Apprentices; Children Stolen; Maidens Pressed; and Others Who Went from Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700. First edition, London. Reprinted by Empire State Book Co., New York, p. 130.
18. Alison Games, 1999: Migration and the Origins of the English Atlantic World, Harvard University Press, Massachusetts, p. 91. She writes: “Particularly brave or dissatisfied servants could eschew legal action by negotiating directly with their masters. Twiford West traveled from London in 1635 and first appeared in the New England records as a servant in 1636. He was apprenticed to Edward Winslow for six years, but Winslow assigned West to Nicholas Snow. West “(after some trial) disliking to be with ye said Nicolas Snow,” implored Winslow to let him serve Winslow himself. In order to acquire this new position, however, West had to agree to serve one extra year in his indenture.”
19. Robert Charles Anderson, 1995: The Great Migration Begins, 1620-1635. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts, p. 156, 466.
20. M.J. Tenney, 1891: The Tenney Family, or the Descendants of Thomas Tenney, of Rowley, Massachusetts, 1638-1890, American Printing and Engraving Company, Boston, p. 337-338. Deacon William Tenney and his wife Katherine provided 67 acres of land to Mary Tenney (b. 1646) and Thomas West (b. 1630/1631) in 1677. Sarah Tenney (b. 1656) and John West (b. 1661; son of Twiford West) received land in 1688.
21. EIQC:1:76.
22. EIQC:4:44-45. Thomas West (b. ca 1600) could not sign his name. Thomas West (b. 1630/1631), Henry’s brother, could sign his name. The third Thomas West (b. about 1640) could also sign his name. This information helps to identify the various Thomas Wests in Essex County, MA, during the 1600s.


  1. I believe Thomas West is my 6th great grandfather . Beverly mass. 1707 . death 1745 . His son John West was born in Tryon N.C. 1732 Death 1776 .I think they migrated to N.C. I am The Great Grandson of William Jefferson West 1862-1949 . Home was in West Mills N.C.

  2. My research found that Thomas West was granted land and also "West Beach which later was given back to someone . That is where my research stopped .