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Theophilus Curtis (1647 - 1712)

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Theophilus Curtis
Born [location unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married 31 Dec 1673 in Braintree, MAmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Braintree, Massachusettsmap
Profile last modified 1 Mar 2019 | Created 1 Apr 2013
This page has been accessed 1,061 times.
This profile is part of the Curtis Name Study.


Theophilus was a son of Henry Curtis and his wife Jane. He is "said to have been born Oct. 24, 1647"..[1]

He was married on December 1673 at Braintree to Hannah Payne, daughter of Stephen & Hannah (Bass) Payne.

He died at Braintree, Massachusetts, on about 1 October 1712.[2]

Theophilus was a blacksmith. He bought a 35 acre homestead in Braintree in 1678 from Joseph Penniman. In 1949, some of his descendants still lived in that house. He became a freeman and joined the church in 1684.

From Records from the Town of Braintree:

  1. 1692. At this period, or somewhat over a half century after the town was incorporated, the inhabitants seem to have settled into fair working order, as this year we find for the first time recorded a full list of town officers, including: " Tithingmen, — Caleb Huborff, Thomas White, Martin Sanders, Samuel Savill, Theopilus Curtis.
  2. 1693: At a Publick Towne meeting the inhabitants of the Towne of Brantrey being convened for the chois of Towne ofisers they then chos first a Towne dark Samuell Tompson Senior for Selectmen they chos: Theophilus Curtis one of 14 names. [From the year before:] It was further voted that the present selectmen are impowered by the Town to make order for the Town for the year 1693, for the making up of fencis, fetering horsis, and hogs kind, yoaking and wringing of swine, and by making orders to restrain sheep by putting them to a keeper or keepers." [some of these jobs later were given to other specific individuals, which is probably why in following years the number of selectmen went down from 14 to 4]
  3. March the 4th . 1695. John Rugles Senior Wiliam veasey and theophilus curtis are a comittee chosen to lett & set all the Towns lands and medow comonly caled the scool lands not exceeding twelv years as they shall see meet ofering it first to any of the Town and not to admitt of the cutting of any wood, this is to be understood that the land in Mr . fisks [their pastor] improvment is not included hearin and the rest of it is to bee to the use of the Town and its not to be tilled above half at oust.
  4. August 2 1697 : Voted at the same time to Samuel Belchar for looking after the boyes at Meeting : 10 shilling John Bass : The. Curtis : Sam. Tompson : dissented. [meaning they voiced their dislike of the idea]
  5. March 7, 1699: They then chose Theophilus Curtis, William Savel Joseph Adams John Webb and Joseph Neale Selectmen. —
  6. November 24 1699. Ther also voted by ye Inhabitants of Braintree that Whereas at a Town meeting March 4th 1694: John Ruggle William Veasey and Theophilus Curtis were apointed a Committe to lett & sett all the Towns lands & meadows comanly called ye School lands as they should se meet not xseeding Twelve yeares and the rent of it to the use of the Town that the rent of the Lands aforesaid should be paid unto ye Town Treasor for the use of the present School
  7. March 4 th 1700. The Inhabitants of Braintree aforesaid chose Deacon Nathanael Wales L Samuel Penniman Theophilus Curtis John Webb & Joseph Neale, Selectmen
  8. March ye first 1703 Selectmen Were. L' Samuel Pennyman James Brackit Theophilus Curtis Joseph Neall Dependance French
  9. Braintrey ye 26 November 1703. The warrant was as followeth: To Richard Thayer, Constable of Braintree. Whereas there has been some dissatisfaction and disturbance in the Town respecting m r . Fisks maintenance, thei'e being some of our neighbours who think that that vote which settles 90 Pound p annum upon him was not so legal & orderly made & to prevent any further Trouble in the Town thereabout we think it needfull that y e Town should meet — these are therefore to require you in her maj ties name to warn all y e Freeholders & other Inhabitants of this Town qualified as y e Law directs to voate in Town affaires to meet at y e meeting house on fryday the 26 of this instant novem- ber at Ten of y e clock in the forenoon to consider of this matter & to agree upon a sum for mr . Fisks maintenance for this present year the greatest part of which allready past and to settle a sal- lary for him for the futar ify e Town shall so agree when they come together, given under our hands this 11 th day of novcmb r . 1703. Samuel Penniman ") Theophilns Curtis Dependance French Selectmen.
  10. March ye . 6 th 1704. — Then voted by ye Inhabitants of Braintrey Regulerly assembled. That the Reverend mr . Moses Fiske should have eighty Pounds for his Labours in the worke of the minestrey for y e year Last past, in money or in Indian corn at Two shillings & six pence per bushel and barley molt at Two Shillings and six pence per bushel or in other good merchantable pay at money price. — The warrant for ye meeting aforesaid as it was delivered To Constable Thayer by y c selectmen therein being was as follows : — To Richard Thayer constable of Braintrey. These are in Her majties name to require you to warn all the freeholders and other inhabitants of this Town contained in your list of Rates Qualified according to Law to vote in Town affairs to meet at y e meeting house in Braintry on munday ye 6 th day of march next, at eight a clock to choos Town officers for ye year ensueing & to take care & provide for ye Reverend m r . Fiske for his Labours in ye ministrey : to set a sum for the defraying charges for ye year ensueing and to doe any other town buiseness need fill to be done at said meeting given under our hands this 19 February 1704. Samuel Penniman Theophilus Curtis Joseph neall Dependance French Selectment.
  11. August 22. 1705. Assessors were John Ruggle senior Theophilus Curtis Cornet Jos. Allin. —
  12. March y e 24 th . 1707. Then Voted that Coll Edmund Quinsey, Ensign William Veasey and Mr. Theophilus Curtis be a Committee to set & Let y e Towns School Lands, as they se meet not exceeding Twelve years.

We keep reading about people holding the following positions in New England town governments, but we need some help in understanding what they mean. Here’s a list of definitions from the Free Dictionary Online and Wikipedia, with those we know of our family who acted in these positions in the Braintree churches (Theophilus, his grandfather-in-law Samuel Bass, his son Moses, his son Edward’s father-in-law Benjamin Hayward]: Assessor: An official who evaluates property for taxation. [Theophilus was an assessor for 1 year]

Constable: A peace officer with less authority and smaller jurisdiction than a sheriff, empowered to serve writs and warrants and make arrests. [Moses was a Constable twice and Benjamin Hayward once]

Deacon: Most deacons took care giving in the church. Directly in front of the high pulpit with its overhanging sounding-board was a broad bench known as the deacons’ seat. The aged deacons were accustomed to protect their heads from drafts by wearing bright colored flannel caps; and sitting in full gaze of the congregation, they presented a most imposing and venerable appearance. It was their duty to “line the hymn” which they did by reading two lines of a stanza, after which the congregation joined them in singing the same. Then two more lines were read and sung in like manner, and this was continued to the end of the hymn. [Samuel Bass was the deacon of Braintree until 1695] Fence Viewer: From “The Geology of Colonial New England Stone Walls” by Corey

Schweitzer: The stone walls that are found throughout New England are some of the most important and beautiful walls ever built. These walls were used for anything from animal pounds, to boundary lines to animal fencing. In the nineteenth century, when a stone wall was finished it needed to be inspected by a fence viewer. A fence viewer was a municipal worker that would inspect fences to make sure that they are structurally sound. If a stone wall was deemed sound, then the owner was not liable for damage done to his crops by other farmer's animals. [Moses acted as fence viewer a few years]

Selectman: One of a board of town officers chosen annually in New England communities to manage local affairs. The board of selectmen is commonly the executive arm of the government of New England towns in the United States. The board typically consists of three or five members, with or without staggered terms. In most New England towns, the adult voting population gathered annually in a town meeting to act as the local legislature, approving budgets and laws. Day-to-day operations were originally left to individual oversight, but when towns became too large for individuals to handle such work loads, they would elect an executive board of, literally, select(ed) men to run things for them. These men had charge of the day-to-day operations; selectmen were important in legislating policies central to a community's police force, highway supervisors, poundkeepers, field drivers, and other officials. However, the larger towns grew, the more power would be distributed among other elected boards, such as fire wardens, and police departments. For example, population increases led to the need for actual police departments, of which selectmen typically became the commissioners. [Theophilus and Samuel Bass were both Selectmen many times]

Surveyor: One who determines the boundaries, area, or elevations of (land or structures on the earth's surface). In Braintree it was mostly planning out roads (“highways”). [Theophilus and Benjamin Hayward acted as surveyors]

Tithingman: A parish officer elected annually to preserve good order in the church during divine service, to make complaint of any disorderly conduct, and to enforce the observance of the Sabbath. From “Colonial Life in New Hampshire”: An official whose duties would be considered strange at the present day was the tithing-man. It was his place to see that the Sabbath was respected by all people; that on that day there should be no work, travel or amusements of any kind, no loafing around the tavern or other unseemly conduct. On Sunday, while service was being held, he was provided with a “black staff ten feet in length, tipped at one end with brass or with pewter” and armed with this implement, he quietly touched a slumbering elder or punched a mischievous boy. [Theophilus was once a surveyor; Benjamin Hayward several times]

  1. From “A History of Old Braintree and Quincy” (William Samuel Pattee, 1878)

" We whose names are here unto subscribed, being of the North part of Braintree, do hereby signify that we have consented, and still do consent that the people of the South end of our town, should be a congregation by themselves. Braintree, Nov. 19th, 1707. Joseph Adams, Eleazer Benjamin Neale, John Baxter, Sen., Peter Adams, Samuel Savill, Clemant Cock, Nathaniel Wales, John Bass, Jr., Nathaniel Owen, John Bass, John Webb, Joseph Haydon, Thomas Lamb, Samuel Bass, John March, Joseph Beall, John Penniman, Samuel Tompson, Samuel Speare, Theophilus Curtis, William Rawson, Joseph Bass, Samuel Howard. (Mass. Arch., Vol. IT., p. 240)

Sixty-seven years after the First Church was organized, the settlement along the quiet banks of the Monatiquot river had increased to seventy-one families, or within one of as many as there were in the North Precinct. These settlers, desiring a more convenient place of worship, (they having to travel a long distance over bad roads to the usual place of service,) after a bitter and angry controversy on the subject, finally succeeded, in 1706, in getting a vote of the town to establish a church in the South Precinct, which is now called North Braintree. It was not, however, until Nov. 9th, 1708, that the question was definitely settled, and the division line established between the two parishes, viz: — "9th Nov., 1708, the inhabitants of Braintree being lawfully assembled, it was then voted, that there should be two distinct precincts or societies in this town, for the more regular and convenient upholding of the Worship of God. It was then voted by the inhabitants aforesaid, that Colonel Edmund Quincy, Esq., and Serg. Nehemiah Hayden, be a committee in the name of the whole town [it became Quincy], to address the Great and General Court or Assembly now sitting, for their approving and confirming the line by them agreed upon between the said societies. They then voted that the line for the distinction of precincts between the North and South Societies should run as followeth : — That said line begin at the head of the hill cove by John Newcomb's, Senior, taking in his living to the south end, and so run from the head of said cove to the common, to the line between John Penniman's, Jr., and Samuel Veasey's ; and then running upon the line between Theophilus Curtis's and Francis Legaree's [this lets us know who some of Theophilus’ neighbors were], as also running upon the line between Serg. Samuel Payne's and James Penniman's, to the common… [we now get some names that don’t pertain to us]… and so by said Blue Hill river to Dorchester, upon the Blue Hill line." This has been an important line ; first serving as the line between the two military companies of the town, and at the establishment of the Church at Braintree it formed the boundary line between the two parishes.

Theophilus became a member of the new church at present Braintree when it was established in 1706-7. The first church in Quincy was known as the Braintree Church. Rev. Mr. Moses Fisk was the pastor here during Theophilus’ time at the church. In a diary kept by Mr. John Marshall, he says: “ This excellent person was ordained pastor of the church in Braintree, in September, 1672, in which sacred employment lie continued till his dying day [in 1708], a diligent, faithful laborer in the harvest of Jesus Christ ; studious in the Holy Scriptures, having an extraordinary gift in prayer above many good men, and in preaching equal to the most, inferior to few…” It remained a Puritan church until 1750 when it became Unitarian. John Adams and John Quincy Adams were members of this church, and John Hancock was baptized here.

On the new (2nd) church in Braintree, which Theophilus helped found: By 1706, 71 families living in Monatiquot decided it was too far to travel to Mount Wollaston for church and Town Meeting and to form their own Parish Meeting House. A site was chosen on what was known as "Thayer’s Corner" near the home of settler Thomas Thayer on a high grassy knoll at the intersection of the County Highway (present Washington Street) and the Iron Forge Road (present Elm and Middle Streets). On September 10th, 1707 the Second Parish Church of Braintree, also known as the Middle Parish Meeting House was founded. While the exact size is unknown early map diagrams indicate it was a crude structure about 30 feet long by 30 feet wide of rough hewn boards, two stories high with galleries (the second floor gallery was finished in 1713) and glass windows on both levels. The front of the Meeting House faced west onto the County Highway and a side entrance opened on the Iron Forge Road to the south. Outbuildings and stalls for carriages would be built behind the Meeting House to the north. By 1713 the Meeting House had a bell and a bell steeple was built in 1723. The Meeting House sides were finished with clapboards in 1740. In 1765 this church was the first to raise voices of freedom, against British taxation. Theophilus’ pastors here: “ As soon as this new church had been gathered — Sept. 10th, 1707 — an invitation was tended to Rev. Hugh Adams, who accepted the call. Mr. Adams was an eccentric person, and complained a great deal about his salary. Mr. Adams administered to the wants of this parish about three years, when he was succeeded by the Rev. Samuel Niles, who was ordained May 23d, 1711. Mr. Niles was a worthy clergyman, and by his learned treatise on original sin (1757, over 300 pages), he established a character of an able and powerful controversialist. His fragmentary history of the Indian and French wars, compiled by him in 1760, has been published in the Massachusetts Historical Collections. He died May 1st, 1762, aged 88 years, still as pastor of the Quincy church.

Will of Theophilus Curtis dated 1710, proved Oct.28,1712 mentions wife Hannah. Son Moses; sons Samuel & John to have the homestead at wife's decease, daughters Hannah Curtis, Mary Hayden, Margaret Thayer, Elizabeth Curtis, grandson Theophilus Curtis. In 1708 the division line between two precincts was run between the farms of Theophilus Curtis and and Francis Legaree. In 1739, 17 years after Theophilus died, Hannah apparently was living with her brothers and sisters. Rev. John Hancock in his Century Sermons, p.20 (published 1739) states - "I think it is worthy of Notice that 7 Brethren and Sisters, children of the late Mr. Stephen Paine and grand children of Deacon Bass, are now living together, the youngest whereof is 68, and the eldest died since the writing this, viz, on Dec.10,1739, 86 years old."


  1. HANNAH CURTIS Born AFT 1673 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Death: 20 JUL 1726 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma probably eldest child, died single.
  2. MARY CURTIS Birth: AFT 1673 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Death: 8 FEB 1719/20 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Marriage 1 Nehemiah Hayden , Jr. b: 16 MAY 1680 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Married: 31 OCT 1705 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma He was elected surveyor of highways 1709, fenceviewer 1711,1712, surveyor 1717,1718, fenceviewer 1724, surveyor 1741,1743,1745. Resided on his father's homestead, Washington St., Braintree. Children James Hayden b: AFT 1705 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Mary Hayden b: 1 SEP 1707 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Nehemiah Hayden , Jr. b: 16 APR 1709 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Elijah Hayden b: ABT 1711 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Daniel Hayden b: ABT 1713 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma
  3. MOSES CURTIS (see III/)
  4. SARAH CURTIS Birth: 1 FEB 1680/81 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Death: 16 NOV 1698 in Braintree.
  5. MARGARET CURTIS Birth: 22 FEB 1685/86 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma alive in 1753 Marriage 1 Benjamin Thayer b: 4 OCT 1683 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Married: 17 AUG 1704 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Resided on present Middle St., Braintree near his father.
  6. SAMUEL CURTIS Birth: DEC 1688 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Death: ABT 1774 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma baptized Dec.16,1688 Marriage 1 Grace French b: 22 FEB 1691/92 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Married: 3 OCT 1722 in Boston, Suffolk, MaThey were admitted to Middle Parish Church Oct.26,1735.
  7. JOHN CURTIS Birth: 5 JUL 1692 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Death: AFT 1771 Marriage 1 Zipporah Belcher b: 27 AUG 1704 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Married: 7 JAN 1723/24 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma
  8. ELIZABETH CURTIS Birth: 5 APR 1695 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Death: 12 NOV 1733 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Marriage 1 Zachariah Thayer b: 16 MAR 1686/87 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma Married: 4 FEB 1717/18 in Braintree, Norfolk, Ma


  1. Sprague, #1265R
  2. Sprague, #1265R

For notes, see sources listed in the biographical section.


  • Thank you to DavaLynn Joy for creating WikiTree profile Curtis-2550 through the import of Bonewell-Dyer.ged on Mar 31, 2013. Click to the Changes page for the details of edits by DavaLynn and others.

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Theophilus by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Theophilus:

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Theophilus is 20 degrees from Michael Cayley, 23 degrees from Rick Rescorla and 11 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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Categories: Braintree, Massachusetts | Massachusetts, Curtis Name Study