George Martin Jr. (b. 1648, Salisbury Mass.)--did he really die young?

+6 votes
George Martin who was born in 1648, Salisbury, Massachusetts ( ) has long been written off as having died a young man simply because he is not mentioned in his father's will.  I'm am not convinced that this is the case.

His older brother Richard would have inherited the family farm, so I believe that George Martin Jr. left Salisbury when he was about 18 years old (1666), which is the year that records stop calling his father "Sr."   George Martin Jr. could have simply followed others in the area who had joined the Macy family in Martha's Vineyard.  He would have been too poor to own land for some time, but finally acquires his own land in 1681 (at the age of 33) and married wife Abigail about that time.

My question, is whether there is any evidence that would negate this hypothesis. The usual argument is that his father didn't name him in his 1684 will, but they could have been estranged or his father perhaps didn't know if his son was alive or dead.
WikiTree profile: George Martin
asked in Genealogy Help by Kenneth Kinman G2G6 Mach 4 (45.8k points)

Or the rule of primogeniture, took precedence, First son inherits everything.


I note that findagrave memorial 182190067 includes links to the graves of both Elizabeth Durkee & Hannah Green, as wives of George Martin of Chebacco. Hannah Green Martin's memorial lists George's children as hers.

I'm not surew when these memorials were posted. I don't remember them being there when I last researched this George.(

Roger Hatch-3516

3 Answers

+4 votes
I'm convinced, based on the published scholarship of prominent genealogist David L. Greene. See and

Note that the will of the senior George Martin mentions 7 children (all of his recorded children except George) and a grandchild. Six of the children were to receive just 5 shillings; the youngest son William was to receive the residue of the estate after the death or remarriage of his mother. In discussing the interpretation of the will, David Greene commented: "All experienced genealogists have seen wills that omit a living child or living children., almost always because they had already received their full portions. Such was not the case in the above will, for clearly all the living children except William had received their portions. There is no other way to interpret the token sum of five shillings..." Based on that, there is no reason to imagine that son George was still alive and had moved away from the local area.
answered by Ellen Smith G2G6 Pilot (913k points)
edited by Ellen Smith
+2 votes
Hi Ellen,

         I certainly agree with Greene that George Martin of Ipswich was a different man. But I do not agree that just because George Martin Jr. wasn't named in the will of George Martin Sr., that the George Martin of Edgartown wasn't the George Jr. born at Salisbury in 1648.  

         I don't think Greene considered the several connections of Salisbury families with Martha's Vineyard, such as Macy, Cottle, and Codman. An 18-year-old George Martin Jr. could have been convinced by any of them to come work with them as a settler of that island.

         Furthermore, there is George Martin Sr.'s writ in 1669 against Thomas Sargent for saying that his son George Jr. was a "bastard". If there had been rumors circulating in the late 1660s concerning the paternity of George Jr., that alone may have convinced him to move well away from Salisbury (and to join people he knew in Martha's Vineyard).  

      And with the passage of time, George Martin Sr. may not have known in 1684 whether his son George Jr. was dead or alive.  If so, he may have considered it pointless to include him (while all of his other children were still close to home and therefore mentioned).

 Or perhaps he even suspected that the rumors might be true (that George Jr. may have been another man's child).  There are a lot of interesting things going on that might explain why George Jr. was not named in the will.
answered by Kenneth Kinman G2G6 Mach 4 (45.8k points)

Well, I know nothing of George Martin of Edgartown. I do see an account of him in a 1911 History of Martha's Vineyard, at this GoogleBooks link, wherein it was speculated that he might have been the son of George Martin of Salisbury or the George Martain who immigrated in 1679. But that's purely speculation, with zero substantiation. I've seen wills of this time period that provided for a legacy to a child whose status was apparently not known, to be paid if that child was still living, and given that travel by sea was easier than travel by land in the late 1700s, it's not obvious that Edgartown was so remote as to prevent communication.

What other records of George Martin of Edgartown have you seen? Does he have a profile here?

Additionally, I don't see why you firmly reject the idea that George Martin of Ipswich was the son of George of Salisbury, but at the same time want to make George of Edgartown be the son of George of Salisbury. The main reason why George of Ipswich was identified with George of Salisbury is that the man in Ipswich was born in the same year as the son of George of Salisbury. And the main reason why that connection is rejected is the omission of son George from the will of the father in Salisbury. It appears to me that the reasoning for connecting Edgartown George with Salisbury George is weaker than the reasoning for connecting Ipswich George with Salisbury George (since there's apparently no evidence of a birthdate for Edgartown George), so if anything the rationale for rejecting a connection should be stronger for Edgartown George than it is for Ipswich George.

I favor Greene's suggestion that George Martine who arrived with his wife at Salem is the George Martin who started having children the following year at nearby Ipswich.  The chronology and geography both fit perfectly.  I put more faith in those facts, but not much faith in him actually being 86 years old at death (such ages often being exaggerations back then).

      There is also nothing to link that George (of Ipswich) with Salisbury.  But George of Martha's Vineyard lived with families who did come from Salisbury.  And from what I've read, he would have had plenty of reasons to leave Salisbury, especially if there were rumors about who his father was. And there were probably rumors going around about his mother even before she was first accused of witchcraft in 1669.

      Anyway, there is a Wikitree profile for George Martin (Martyn, Martain) of Martha's Vineyard.  There wasn't much there, but I have begun adding a biography for him and hope to add more tomorrow at:

Looks to me like you are aiming to write historical fiction, not good genealogy.
Hi Ellen,

      I am trying to be careful as I can, and that is why I have not connected George of Martha's Vineyard as a son of George Sr. of Salisbury.  And it is also why I posted to G2G for help in finding more sources.   

      If I don't consider all the possibilities which could lead to more evidence and sources, then it would never get resolved (one way or the other).  This case doesn't seem to be your average Massachusetts family (especially with the son accused of being a bastard and the mother accused of witchcraft).

      Therefore, I wouldn't assume that the father's will could be trusted to tell the whole story, and why I question Greene's conclusion based on that will.  I think it cries out for further investigation, and that is why I am considering all kinds of possibilities.  


Well, when you start with the a priori assumption that available records are surely wrong (i.e., the will of George Martin of Salisbury doesn't mean what it appears to mean, and the recorded age at death of George Martin of Ipswich is wrong), and that your own purely hypothetical alternative version of events is more credible than the story that has been developed from interpretation the records, you are well on your way to "proving" the improbable, if not also the impossible.

I did not say that the recorded age at death of George Martin of Ipswich was wrong, it could very well be correct.  What I said was that I placed a lot more faith in the 1679 arrival date and the 1680 date of their child's birth in Ipswich.  The years of those events are almost certainly correct, while the age of 86 years is an estimation which cannot be corroborated (and therefore I have less faith in that).  I think that Greene would agree with that, given his conclusion.  The short distance between Salem and Ipswich is also a known fact, and thus the geography also supports his conclusion concerning George Martine.

     And likewise, I did not say that the will (the actual record) was wrong. Simply that Greene's interpretation could well be wrong (that George Jr. died before George Sr. made his will). It seems to me that it was Greene who was making an a priori assumption that this was a typical will for a typical family of that time and place.  I never made that assumption because this does not seem to be a typical family.  

      And I am not saying that my alternative version is necessarily more credible.  However, it is credible enough to be given consideration, and that it potentially could have more sources supporting it (if we look for them) than the single source (the will) used by Greene as if his interpretation is the most credible.  

      Therefore, I submit that I am being open-minded about it. Who knows, I might even be able to convince Greene to reconsider his conclusion (based on connections of families in both Salisbury and Martha's Vineyard, but I won't know until I finish looking for more information and have even more confidence that the will (or at least the interpretation of its meaning) is somewhat misleading.
I'm a descendant of the senior George of Salisbury; while the younger would have been a multiply-great granduncle, not a direct forebear, I've read this exchange with interest.  My observation is that in the will, George père uses the word "natural" -- legitimate -- to define the children to whom he is leaving a legacy.  While this does not absolutely imply that there were any "unnatural" offspring, in the context of this family and the hint, at least, of an illegitimate son, it is an interesting choice of wording.

I don't have any new insight into whether George of Edgartown may have been a son of George of Salisbury, but I do agree that the possibility is intriguing, and merits further research -- perhaps on the Vineyard -- and I might make that suggestion to the genealogist at the Martha's Vineyard Museum, with whom I have occasional contact.
Count on the human imagination to fill a void with rampant speculation.
Absolutely.  And then we count on people with your perspective to ensure that the rampant speculation leads to reasonably-proven conclusions, not to rampant fabrication of results.   :o)
0 votes
I have a copy of:  Massachusetts Town & Vital Records for Ipswich 1620-1988  for George Martin of Chebacco Apr. 14, 1734, age 86 yrs.

pg  632 ......

Evelyn Murray McKelvey

answered by Evelyn McKelvey G2G6 Mach 1 (11.4k points)

Thanks, Evelyn. That information is included in the profile for George Martin of Ipswich.

Thank you.....  I will respond further shortly ......  Evelyn

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