In 1667, after a day spent in military training, Robert Cross Jr, his cousin John Andrews, jr., and a few other young men, probably under the influence of too much “sack,” or aqua-vitae, committed what the court with some justice termed a “barbarous and inhuman act.” They opened the grave of the Indian Sagamore of Agawam, who had been a constant friend of the first settlers of Ipswich, scattered his bones and carried his skull on a pole. Cross was apparently the ring-leader, and he was sentenced to jail until the next lecture day when he was to sit in the stocks for an hour after meeting, then to be taken back to prison to remain until he had paid a fine of L6: 13:4. After his release he was bound to good behavior and obliged to bury the sagamore’s bones and erect a cover of stones two feet high on the grave. The case naturally caused a great sensation, the mildest comment being that the fines and imprisonment punished the culprits’ parents, who had to find the money and replace their labor, more than it did them. Drink was Robert Cross’s curse. He owned that he drank excessively in 1670, he was “much in drink” in Gloucester in September, 1671, again in Salem in 1673, and was fined for breach of the peace in 1677.
Cross seems to have been in the coasting trade, dealing in lumber. In 1673 he had sold 2000 feet of sawed boards to Ezekiel Needham of Lynn and sued for payment of L3 in goods and a pair of shoes, winning the case. His brother Stephen CROSS, who testified against him, had guaranteed Needham against loss and damage and acknowledged a judgment which Needham obtained in 1676.
Robert won another case against Hugh March in 1677, receiving payment of 16,000 feet of merchantable pine boards which he had twice gone to Exeter to fetch. John Lee sued him in 1680 for not delivering 3,160 feet of pine boards which he was to obtain at Lamperill river and deliver in Boston.
1680: Cross leased land on “the little neck” and engaged in a continuous feud with the fishermen who were accustomed to use the beach there. There also, in 1686, he broke open the hut of an old shepherd, Capt. John Ayres, who kept the flock on the neck, and brutally assaulted him.
29 Aug 1694:He released to his brother Stephen all of his interest in the paternal farm at Chebacco, Stephen promising to acquit him of all obligations toward their father. (Essex Deeds, 10:49)
3 Jun 1707: Robert Cross deeded his son Ralph Cross all his housing on “the little neck,”
3 Jun 1707: Robert Cross deeded his son Ralph Cross all his housing on “the little neck,” on the south side of Jeffrey’s neck where the grantor was then living, Ralph to enjoy two-thirds and to pay the grantor’s son Nathaniel Cross one-third. (Essex Deeds, 19:172)
Administration on the estate of Robert Cross of Ipswich was granted to Martha Cross, his widow, and Nathaniel Cross, his only son, Abraham Foster and James Foster being their sureties, on June 27, 1713. The small property was valued at L79 by Simon Wood and Thomas Hodgkins on July 3, 1713. (Essex Probate, No.6644.
Depositions in court at various times, calculate to his birth about 1642, quite probably in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts.
Robert’s wife Martha Treadwell was born 16 Mar 1641/42 Essex, Mass. Her parents were Thomas Treadwell and Mary Taylor. Martha died 3 Mar 1737/38 at the age of 95.
Note: there are probate documents dated Dec 4 1710, that could be deciphered.
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