He was born about 1627. This we know from deposition and affidavits on file in the office of the Clerk of Courts. The two earliest of these are dated "21, 12mo. 1666" and 1670 which give his age as 40 and 43 years respectively. Others made a few years later make the date of his birth as late as 1629 or 1630. There is a baptismal record of Samuel Gardner son of Thomas on 18 July 1627 in Sherborne, Dorset, England. 
Samuel is first mentioned in the Town Records of Salem on "the 25th of the second month, 1649: at which time "Its ordered that he, with his brothers George, Thomas and Joseph, shall survey and measure from the meeting howse to a field of medow upon the great river Westerly from Salem and give an account thereof at our next meeting, for which they shall have allowance in pte of the medow for theire paynes if any shalbe found within our bounds where they runne the lyne." 
He was later referred to often in the town records as Samuel Gardner, Senior, to identify him from his nephew Samuel Gardner, who was often referred to as Junior.
Samuel was made a "freeman of this colony" on May 12, 1675.
In 1667, Samuel was appointed along with two others from Salem and four from Lynn to lay out the boundary line between the two tons, known as the Seven Men's Bounds. A heap of stones still stand a little to the south of the Lowell road in West Peabody to mark an angle in the Line.
On Mar. 18, 1671-2, Samuel was appointed one of the surveyors of fences, belonging to the Towne from the meeting house to the Lower End of the Towne." In 1673, he went over the boundary line between Reading and Salem. He was also appointed to lay out the common line to Beverly. In 1677, he was appointed as member of a committee to view and state the bounds between Ipswich and Manchester and in 1679, between Salem and Marblehead. He continued in this capacity until 1688.
Samuel's name also appeared often in the town records as an overseer and appraiser of estates between the years of 1665 and 1689.
He also served on the Jury in trials between 1661 and 1686. County Court Papers, book 46, leaf 139 also report that he acted as County Coroner until 1687.
Samuel served as constable between August 1671 and Dec. 20, 1672.
His name appears first as a selectman of Salem in a meeting held on Mar. 12, 1676. He was chosen again in 1680 and again in 1686, serving for two years.
Samuel was appointed Deputy to the General Court on May 11, 1681 and represented the town at Boston. He held this position until 1685.
In the Town Records dated Jan. 27, 1672, "Mr. Samuel Gardner hath liberty Granted him to build a pew from the middle of the North window to ye stayrs on the East Syde of the North Doer." Samuel was sent with two other to the church at Lynn on Nov. 30, 1674 to oppose the formation of a church there. He was also charged with securing a carpenter to do maintenance on the meeting house and school over a number of years.
Samuel was chosen commissioner in 1680 and the following year, he was appointed along with Lieut. John Putnam "to Arest & fulley prosecute" certain constables who had failed to fully pay to the town money which they had collected.
On Mar. 31, 1684, Samuel, along with his nephew, Samuel Gardner and Thomas Gardner were granted permission to erect wharves at Winter Island.
On Nov. 30, 1687, he was warned along with others by the constable to appear and renew their licenses as inn holders.
On Aug. 13, 1656, he purchased a lot consisting of 3/4 an acre from Joseph Gardner and his wife. Three years later, he purchased the lot next to this on the eastern side.
Upon his death, Samuel willed to his son Jonathan the "dwelling house & twoe thirds of the land... that is to say two-thirds of the front next the street and soe through." For a diagram of the lots, see page 80. To his daughter Hannah, he left "half the third part of the Land that belongs to the homestead which was before reserved & is to be the back part of sd. land next to old Mr. Higginson's dwelling." His son Abel received "half of the third part of the Land of the homestead before Reserved, his part to be next the street." When Jonathan died in 1693, he left part of this to his sister Gedney and the other part to Mary and Joseph Henfield, which included the house. By 1707, it was all sold to his brother-in-law, William Gedney.
One Aug. 22, 1663, Samuel Gardner, John Gardner, Walter Price and Henry Bartholomew were granted permission to build a mill at South River, near Mr. Ruck's. The mill was completed in 1664 and in 1666, the town incorporated the dam into the public travelled way and continued it through the South Fields to the Marblehead road. They were sued on Nov. 11, 1664 by John Pickering for damage caused by the water in the mill-pond.
After the death of his father, Thomas, Samuel purchased nearly all of the real estate which his father had owned. Among the pieces of land acquired was a burial lot that Samuel was obliged to prove title in his suit against John Pudney "For taking downe his fence & goeing into his inclosed land & there digging a grave without his leave as asloe for redigging the same grave when filled by the pit & that contrarye to his express order, when in doeing and then forceably burying theire dead & heare of making return." The court found for the plaintiff 5 shillings damages and 16 shillings, 2d. costs.
Samuel first married Mary White, daughter of John and Elizabeth White. Her father died in England and her mother came to America and married for her second husband, Capt. George Corwin. To this connection, an original paper, bearing Samuel Gardner's signature, is on record. "To ye Honoured County Court held at Ipswich on ye 31 of March 1685, ye claime of Samuel Gardner Senr. to part of ye Estate of Capt. George Corwin deceased dyed possessed of with ye Reasons of his Claim in behalf of five children he have living by Mary one of ye two daughters of Mrs. Elizabeth Corwin deceased which she had by a former husbonn Mr. John White & brought with her to & were brought up by Capt. George Corwin abovesd." The letter goes on to request money that was promised to him by Capt. George Corwin from his estate.
Samuel and Mary's children were; Mary, Elizabeth, Mary, Margaret, Samuel, George, Jonathan, Hannah and Abel. His descendants have been very numerous and prominent in Salem, where many of them were prominent merchants and ship-owners in the era of the town's great maritime prosperity. Many of them had notable records in the wars of the Colony, Province and Commonwealth.
Samuel's wife, Mary, died on Sep. 12, 1675. He then married Mrs. Elizabeth Paine, widow, on Aug. 2, 1680. She evidently died before he did as no mention is made of her in his will.
Samuel made the following bequests;
He appointed his two sons Jonathan and Abel Gardner as his executors and his "loving kinsman," Samuel Gardner his Executor in trust.
The will was signed Oct. 2, 1689 and entered into probate on Oct. 11, 1689.
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