Wednesday, November 28, 2012
The Three Richard Harts in Early America
My five times great grandfather, Captain Richard Hart, the third in a line of Richard Harts, was born in Little Compton, Rhode Island on December 22, 1704, and died there on July 22, 1792. He was the son of Richard Hart and Hannah Williams Hart. His siblings were Alice, Mary, Sarah, and a half-brother Stephen a and half-sister Comfort. He appears to have been a farmer his whole life. On February 4, 1725, he first married Mary Taber, great granddaughter of John Cooke, Mayflower passenger, and great great granddaughter of Francis Cooke and Richard Warren, Mayflower passengers who signed the Mayflower Compact. She was the daughter of John Taber and Susannah Manchester. Richard and Mary had ten children, John, Hannah, William Phoebe, Richard, Mary, Lombard, Susannah, Jeremiah, and Philip. On June 10, 1744, Richard inherited from his father his “beetle rings, wedges, and five shillings”, despite being the eldest son. His younger half-brother Stephen inherited their father’s land, and his mother, Richard’s stepmother, lived there with him after their father’s death. After Mary’s death, on November 1, 1760, Richard married Abigail Lake on October 18, 1761, at the age of fifty-six. Abigail, age 41, was the widow of John Taber, the son of Mary’s great uncle (i.e. Mary’s first cousin once removed?). Abigail and John had already raised a large family, and it appears that Abigail and Captain Richard had no children together. Richard earned the title of “captain” in the militia during the “Indian Wars”, which I believe is another way of saying the “French and Indian Wars”, the last major conflict in the colonies before the American Revolution. It seems that in Colonial America, these military titles were highly prized, and that once received they were kept.
Captain Richard Hart’s father, Richard Hart II, my six times great grandfather, was born in 1667 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island, and died in Little Compton, Rhode Island, about 1745. His parents were Richard Hart and Hannah (?Anna) Keen. Richard seems to have been the second eldest child in a family of six children. His siblings were Alice, Nicholas, Mary, William and Samuel. Richard, like his son and namesake, appears to have been a farmer. He is thought to have married Hannah Williams in 1693. They had the children listed above. Hannah is another “brick wall” on my family tree. I have not yet been able to determine her parents to my satisfaction, and I have not found enough evidence that the candidates chosen by other researchers are correct, and have excluded another. That is, this Hannah Williams cannot be the daughter of Capt. Isaac Williams and Martha Parke because their daughter was the second wife of John Hyde and died on April 28, 1739. See "History of the early settlement of Newton, county of Middlesex, Massachusets", p. 314 and p. 438 (available in card catalogue of Ancestry.ca). This Hannah apparently had no children, and wrote a famous will leaving everything to her siblings and their children excluding the children of her spouse. After our Hannah’s death before 1708, Richard, at the age of about forty-one married Amey Gibbs, age about twenty, on October 31, 1708. They appear to have had two children, mentioned above, Stephen and Comfort. Amey is said to have long outlived Richard and to have worn a path on the farm to the small graveyard there, where his headstone was among five “plain granite stones”. This path was called the “Amey Hart Path”. Richard’s extant will, to which I have already referred, interestingly refers to his “writings”, which are willed to his son Stephen, along with his farm. Would that his writings were extant, too. If anyone knows anything about them, I would be grateful if you would share this with me.
Richard’s father, Richard Hart the first, my seven times great grandfather, was born about 1640 possibly in Rhode Island. He was the only known child of the first known Hart of this line, and the first known Hart of this line in America, Nicholas Hart, and Joanna Rossiter Hart, the daughter of Governor John Winthrop’s assistant, Edward Rossiter. Richard’s wife is reported to have been Hannah Keen, yet another “brick wall” on my tree. They married about 1663 when Richard was about twenty-three. Many people on Ancestry have Hannah as the daughter of Sarah Dudley, the daughter of Governor Thomas Dudley of Massachusetts, and Benjamin Keayne. However, their daughter Hannah was the wife of Edward Lane and Nicholas Page, and not Richard Hart. This is not to say that there is no connection between the Harts and the Dudleys. There is, and this will be discussed in my next posting, when I will talk about the infamous Nicholas Hart. One marriage record refers to our Hannah as "Mrs. Hannah Keen", therefore Keen may have been her married name. Our Richard and Hannah had the six children listed previously. Richard had been granted eight acres of land in Portsmouth in 1657 at the age of about seventeen, and sold half his land at the age of twenty-two in 1662 before he was married. He was a mariner, and likely lost his life at sea during a gale in January 1695 near Boston harbour at the age of about fifty-five. He had been on the sloop, the “Dragoon”, under Captain Robert Glover. There is another report that he had been aboard the ship, "Elizabeth", when he died, and was on his way back from Barbados. The administration of his estate was granted to his “kinsman” Patrick Keen on February 4, 1694/5. This clue to Hannah’s family has not yet proven fruitful. Could Patrick have been her son from her previous marriage?