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Robert Coles Sr. (1598 - bef. 1654)

Robert Coles Sr. aka Cole
Born in Englandmap
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married about 1630 in Englandmap
Husband of — married about 1637 [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died before in Warwick, Kent, Rhode Islandmap
Profile last modified | Created 21 Dec 2010
This page has been accessed 2,576 times.
The Puritan Great Migration.
Robert Coles Sr. migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1620-1640).
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Note: This profile formerly had Sudbury, Suffolk, England place of birth for Robert Coles. Since Anderson in "Great Migration Begins" indicates only "England," that is what is presently in the data.[1]


Robert Coles was born about 1605 (this year is estabilished because of the approximate date of his first marriage) The specific location of his birth in England is not known.[1]

He migrated to New England in 1630 residing first at Roxbury where he was admitted to the church as member #8, "he came with the first company, 1630." He became a freeman of the colony on May 18, 1631. His wife, Mary (whom he married about 1630) was admitted to the Roxbury church as #34 - she was admitted with many other people who arrived in 1632.[1]Their children were:[1]

  1. John who was born about 1630. He deposed that he was about thirty-three years on September 8, 1663, the eldest son of Robert Coles. He married Ann _____ (unknown surname) on January 1, 1683.
  2. Deliverance was born about 1632 and married Richard Townsend about 1652.
  3. Ann was born about 1634 and married Henry Townsend about 1653.

The General Court gave permission to settle Agawam (Ipswich) on April 1, 1633. Robert Coles was one of ten men who moved there.[1]A court at Boston on April 1, 1633 said "It is ordered, that noe p[er]son wtsoeuer shall goe to plant or inhabit Aggawam, without leave from the Court, except those that [have] already gone, v[i]z: Mr. John Winthrop, Junr, Mr. Clerke, Robte Coles, Thomas Howlett, John Biggs, John Gage, Thomas Hardy, Will[ia]m Perkins, Mr. Thornedicke, Will[ia]m Srient [Sargeant].[2]

Court records indicate he was fined several times from 1631 through 1634 for drunkeness and disorderly conduct. It was for this reason he was excommunicated from the church and the Court order him to be disinfranchized and to wear a "D" about his neck made out of red cloth upon a background of white for a was always to be worn when in anyone's company or he would have been fined 40s for the 1st offence, and L5 for the second, thereafter if he should be found not wearing the "D" he could be punished by the court as they desire. This punishment was countermanded on May 14, 1634 following his submission and testimony given of his good behavior. He was reinstated in the church.[1]

He moved to Salem in 1635 where on December 28, 1635 Salem "granted unto Rob[er]t Cole his heirs and assignees three hundred acres of land whereof forty acres is marsh fit to be mowed lying and being about 3 miles from Salem westward upon a freshwater brook called the North Brook" It is assumed that this is the same property in his name in the 1636 town grant. Emanuel Downing purchased this land by July 16, 1638 and by December 25, 1637 "Mr. Cole" was given one acre of marsh and meadow for a household of eight.[1]

In about 1637, following the death of his first wife, Robert Coles married Mary Hawkshurst.[1]MacDonough in his work "The MacDonough-Hackstaff Ancestry" indicates that she was a sister of Christopher Hawkshurst and thus a daughter of Samson Hawshurst, Vicar of Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England. And that this relationship between Mary and Christopher is established by the Jamaica (Long Island) town records where Mary's children call Christopher their uncle.[3]Children of Robert Coles and his 2nd wife Mary:[1]

  1. Daniel was born about 1637 and married Mahershallalhashbaz Gorton, daughter of Samuel Gorton by about 1662.
  2. Nathaniel was born about 1642 and married on August 30, 1667 to Martha Jackson at Warwick.
  3. Robert was born about 1644 and may have married Mercy Wright on January 1, 1670.
  4. Sarah was born about 1646 and may have married Thomas Townsend.

He moved to Providence in 1638; by December 22, 1666 Robert Coles was "one of the principle men" of Providence when at that time Roger Williams sold his Indian deed to the town's inhabitants.[1]He was one of twelve men who, before March 16, 1638/9 founded the Baptist church in America since he was convinced of the need of immersion baptism. Ezekiel Holliman "a man of gifts and piety," was selected to be their minister. Holliman first baptized Roger Williams, who then baptized Mr. Holliman and the ten other men. It is interesting to note the man's changed character for according to MacDonough in his "The MacDonough-Hackstaff Ancestry," "He (Robert Cole) seems to have reformed... and there is certainly nothing in the Providence town records or those of Warwick, where he afterwards resided, to indicate that he did not lead a perfectly correct life in both places."[3]

He seems to have moved to Pawtuxet before September, 1642, and from there to Shawomet (later Warwick)[3]in 1653 where he was granted a share of meadow as a Patuxett (meaning "Little Falls" in the native language[4]) proprietor on October 8, 1638 and paid a tax at Providence on September 2, 1650 of L3 6s. 8d., which indicates he was one of the five wealthiest men in town. He was one of the men who in 1640 and 1642 attempted to bring Pawtuxet under the authority of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. His house and lot were sold on January 3, 1652/3 to Richard Pray. On February 27, 1653/4 "Robert Coles of Warwick by and with the consent of Mary his wife" sold a dwelling house, home land, a parcel of land near the fall and a parcel formerly of Fraunces Weston, and all the land belonging to them in the common near Pawtuxett. He kept only his Mashapauge meadow and an adjoining twenty-four acres. His meadow and twenty-five acres was sold on April 27, 1655 to Vall. Whitman.[1]

Robert Coles died intestate at Warwick between April 27, 1655 and October 25, 1654. The Warwick town council met on October 28, 1654 regarding his estate since an inventory indicated that the estate totalled L501 with debts of L112. His widow Mary was named administrator and the estate was to be distributed as follows: to "his eldest son John Coles" L80 and a mare; to "Nthaniell the third son" L40 when his is twenty-one; to "Robert Coles the fourth son" L40 when he is twenty-one; and to "Sarah Coles" L40 at marriage or at twenty-one; "said children which are under age shall be under the tuition of the said Mary Coles their mother."[1]

His wife, Mary (Hawkshurst) Coles married Matthias Harvye of Warwick and Oyster Bay between April 5, 1656 and February 5, 1656/7[1]and moved to Long Island where she died.[3]

Research Notes

Robert Coles had two wives, both named Mary. We know this because John Coles on December 8, 1655 called his father's widow "my mother-in-law." Her identity is disclosed by Nathaniel Coles on December 18, 1683 when he engaged in a transaction with "my uncle Christopher Hoackshurst (Hawkshurst)." As a result of this information, author Harriet Beach ["Matthias Harvye, A Very Public Man"] concluded that son John, along with daughters Deliverance and Ann were born to Robert Coles 1st wife and the other four children with his 2nd wife.[1]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III. page 435-439. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010), (Originally Published as: New England Historic Genealogical Society. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III, 3 vols., 1995). Sketch of Robert Coles.subscribers$
  2. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1847-. (Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2018.) October 2000. "Thorndikes of Aby in Greenfield, Lincolnshire, and Essex County, Massachusetts" Steward, Scott C. p. 468.subscribers$
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "The MacDonough-Hackstaff Ancestry" MacDonough, Rodney. Press of Samuel Usher 171 Davonshire Street, Boston. 1901. pp 443 -
  4. "Pawtuxet Village History"[1]

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Comments: 7

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Login to post a comment. you seem to have most of this but there were several links including possible link to King Coleof Britain.
posted by Sherry Holston

I created a profile for his 1st wife, per source Anderson in Great Migration Begins. Accordingly I changed the marriage date to his 2nd wife, also per source Anderson in Great Migration Begins. I will divide the children in accordance with GMB and author Beach. John, Deliverance, and Ann with 1st wife. Daniel, Nathaniel, Robert, Sarah with 2nd wife.

I will need to delete the birth place of Sudbury, Suffolk, England and replace it with simply "England." It is sourced from the 1901 NYGBR article, but Anderson in more recently researched article, GMB, says he was born in "England." If he had research indicating Sudbury, he would have included that in his sketch on Robert Coles.

The long extract "Glen Cove Heritage" which mostly deals with Robert Coles Jr. will be deleted since it's also on his profile. Info from the Savage extract is already included in bio, so will be deleted. Both of these sources will be under "see also."

Hello PMs,

I plan to bring this profile up-to-date with the latest research using Anderson's work.

I'll carefully keep all information here presently, as long as it doesn't conflict, and will post here if I plan to change anything controversial.

Liz, looking at Anderson, "Great Migration Begins" no daughter is named "Elizabeth." Children listed with 1st wife are:
  1. John b. abt 1630, m Ann _____.
  2. Deliverance b. abt 1632, m Richard Townsend.
  3. Ann b. abt 1634, m Henry Townsend.

Children listed with 2nd wife are:

  1. Daniel b. abt 1637, m Mahershallalhashbaz Gorton.
  2. Nathaniel b. abt 1642, m Martha Jackson.
  3. Robert b. abt 1644, m Mercy Wright.
  4. Sarah b abt 1646, possibly m. Thomas Townsend.

3 Townsend son-in-laws, but none are John.

Could you check changes made to daughter Elizabeth's husband John Townsend (changed their marriage date, detached his parents & added a different father, changed his birth date/place and made him a Quaker,* marrying Elizabeth Coles first & Elizabeth Pococke second).

I'm hoping they're covered in Anderson?

Thanks! Liz

edit - * I'd assumed Elizabeth wasn't Quaker given Richard as PGM, but text of his profile appears to indicate the Townsends were?

posted by Liz (Noland) Shifflett
Coles-578 and Coles-49 appear to represent the same person because: I will check the child John Coles 1636-1676 to make sure he is the correct son, but Mary Hawkhurst had three Robert Coles husbands.
posted by April Rarick
Coles-698 and Coles-49 appear to represent the same person because: Same person with same wives. I will move Coles info to the Coles-49
posted by April Rarick

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Categories: Puritan Great Migration