Theophilus was a son of Henry Curtis and his wife Jane. He is "said to have been born Oct. 24, 1647"..
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.
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:
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]
" 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."
For notes, see sources listed in the biographical section.
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