The Spencer line in America began with four brothers who, along with one sister and her husband, immigrated to America in about 1630. The brother my family descends from is Michael, of whom the least is known. I’m not sure why so little is known about my ancestor, but I have decided to start a journey to find out…along with the journeys of so many others I’m working on. I hope not to hit a dead end. My sister, Cheryl Masterson inspired this new tangent I have set out on, when she asked me which line we came from. She and I are both members of the Spencer Historical and Genealogical Society’s Facebook group. Her thought was to see if there were other members who come from Michael Spencer’s line, but to date, there are not. Michael’s line is a bit of a mystery at this point. While we know that we and a number of other family members come from that line, we are not a group large in number.
So, let us begin. About five years after his arrival in America, that is, in or about 1635, Michael and his brother Gerard moved to Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts, where Gerard reportedly appears as a journeyman in Lynn in 1635. Then we see that after the death of his brother Michael, Gerard was appointed administrator of his brother’s estate in 1653. So, what happened to Michael between 1635 and 1653. Michael married Isabel West in 1636, the year after his move to Lynn, Massachusetts. Isabel married a second time about a year after Michael’s passing, to a man named Thomas Robbins. Michael and Isabel were the parents of five children, John, Hannah, Susannah, Michael, and William.
On September 1, 1634, Michael was granted four acres on the west side of the river in Cambridge. It was also recorded on October 10, 1635, that he owned one parcel on the south side of the river, also about four acres. And in the 1638 division of land at Lynn, Massachusetts he received thirty acres. Still, since he passed away at the very young age of just 42 years, I have to wonder if he was somewhat sickly. It’s possible that his sons worked the land in his stead. I have not found any indication of him being in poor health, but I also have not found any job that he held within the community either, so it makes me wonder.
On November 29, 1653, Michael’s brother Gerard was appointed administrator of Michael’s estate, and charged with the task of disposing of the estate for the needs of his children. The documentation states that the estate was small, and so it was necessary to sell it to help pay for the upbringing of his children. Bringing up five children is no inexpensive task…and at the time of Michael’s passing, none of the children were married yet. The older children might have been out of the home already, however, because on November 30, 1654 the court, with Gerard’s consent and agreement gave some of the estate to Thomas Robbins, because he was raising one of the children, Michael, who was six years old. This was because Thomas had married Isabel.
That is about the extent of Michael Spencer’s story. His life was too short to have done very much with it, but he does hold as a claim to fame, the fact that he was indeed one of the original four Spencer brothers who was responsible for most of the Spencer line in America today. I can tell you that his children and other descendants faired nicely, however…because, my sisters and I are five of them. And there are many more, just in my grandparents family alone family alone…even if our total number is small.
In trying to connect the Stanton side that exists through my dad’s half brother, Norman Willis Spencer, to the Stanton side that exists in Bob’s family through his grandma, Nettie Noyes Knox, I have come up with some interesting information. While I have not made the connection that I’m almost certain exists between the two sides, I did find out that within the Noyes side of the family, there is a Stanton family member who was of some significance to America too. His name was Thomas Stanton, and he was Bob’s 7th great grandfather. There are many ways for a person to have a degree of influence on American history, or history of any nation. Some people become kings or presidents. Others might have been great warriors, while still others might have made some great discovery.
Thomas Stanton was a trader and an accomplished Indian interpreter and negotiator in the colony of Connecticut. He is first noted in historical records as an interpreter for John Winthrop Jr in 1636. He fought in the Pequot War, which took place between 1634 and 1638. He nearly lost his life in the Fairfield Swamp Fight in 1637. In 1638 he was a delegate at the Treaty of Hartford, which ended the war. In 1643, the United Colonies of New England appointed Stanton as Indian Interpreter.
He began a close alliance with the Thomas Lord family, who may have been friends from England and who had recently emigrated from Towcester, England. He married Thomas Lord’s daughter, Anna Lord, about 1636 and went into a merchant business alliance with Richard Lord. Some of Thomas’ land transactions involved serious difficulties, because people often sold and resold land without obtaining a clear title. An Indian sachem gave Quonochontaug to Stanton, but did the chief really own all of this land? A Stanton tract might overlap a tract claimed by another settler. These and other transactions like them, resulted in lengthy and costly litigation. Questions about the ownership of some of Stanton’s land and ambiguities in the will led to years of family and legal fighting.
But, probably the biggest claim to fame that Thomas Stanton had was that he was one of the four founders of Stonington, Connecticut, and one of the first settlers of Hartford, Connecticut. The present territory of Stonington was part of lands that had belonged to the Pequot people, who referred to the areas making up Stonington as Pawcatuck and Mistack. It was named “Souther Towne” or Southerton by Massachusetts in 1658. It became part of Connecticut in 1662 when Connecticut received its royal charter. Southerton was renamed “Mistick” in 1665 and again renamed Stonington in 1666. Thomas Miner, Walter Palmer, William Chesebrough and Thomas Stanton were its four founders.
Upon Thomas death on Dec 2,1677, his will could not be located, and legal battles concerning the distribution of his property continued for years. When his wife, Anna died 11 years later, his estate was still unsettled. At some point, when going through some papers belonging to the city of Hartford, Connecticut, someone found the will, but that would not bring the estate to the point of being settled. The estate remained unsettled for a total of 40 years before the will was accepted and the estate settled. That is the kind of thing that can happen when money and land are involved.
Most of us can trace our roots back to certain people and even certain regions, but not everyone can trace their roots back to a certain house that our ancestor owned in 1628. I can’t say if Johann Schulenberg built the home on the farm, as did my ancestor in the case of, my cousin Princess Diana’s family’s home, Althorpe in England, which has been owned by her family since it was built by Robert Spencer the 2nd Earl of Sunderland in 1688.
The Schulenberg family owned a large farm near Schorlingborstel, Bassum, Germany. When I say a large farm, I mean that the land they owned was bigger than many of the surrounding towns at that time in history, and probably many still today. I’m not sure what they have farmed over the years, but I do know that the farm was large enough to need its own Firehouse. I also know over the centuries, the buildings have been so well kept that they are still in use today, and look fantastic.
It is very strange to think about the fact that over the years, many of our family’s Schulenberg ancestors have lived in those buildings, and worked in those fields. The farm has a large barn and a garage for the farm equipment, as well as a bakery, which I found strange, but I’m sure it was necessary at that time. My guess would also be that there were a number of servants and hired hands over the centuries, so the bakery was probably very busy keeping the household and all the workers in bread. I have to think that the Schulenberg farm was a very large operation. I would love to have seen it when it was in full swing back then.
I don’t know if the farm is used for farming today or if it is simply a very large estate home, but it is still in beautiful condition, and I really like the traditional German design of the siding on the buildings. I also don’t know if the family that lives there now are related for sure or not, but I can say that they have a home that is filled with so much of the history of days gone by. It seems to me, that all that history would literally emanate the property, but maybe that’s just me.