John Johnson was born in England about 1588 based on date of first marriage.A search of the parish registers of Ware and Great Amwell, Hertfordshire, England did not discover the baptismal record of John Johnson, thus his parentage and place of birth remain unknown.
His 1st wife was Mary Heath; married at Ware, Hertfordshire on September 21, 1613. The couple had 10 children; 4 of whom were buried in England. Of the remaining 6 children, 5 were still living when their father's will was probated in 1659; however according to Richardson in his "Heath Connection" "only 4 have been conclusively identified in New England Records."Mary, John's wife, was a sister of William Heath and Isaac Heath, later of Roxbury, Massachusetts Bay. She died and was buried at Ware in England on May 15, 1629.
John was baptized at Ware End on April 8, 1618; buried at Ware on July 8, 1627.
Elizabeth was baptized at Ware End on August 22, 1619 and died at Roxbury on January 5, 1683/4. She married Robert Pepper at Roxbury on March 14, 1642/3; he died at Roxbury on July 7, 1684. 10 children.
Joseph was baptized at Ware End on April 20, 1622; buried at Ware in May of 1622.
Susan was baptized at Ware End, on July 16, 1623 and buried at Ware on August 16, 1629.
Sarah was baptized at Ware on November 12, 1624. She married (possibly) Hugh Burt by 1647 (or it is possible that he was the husband of Sarah's sister Hannah, see below.) She married (2nd) by July 1653 to William Bartram, as their 1st child was born April 1654.
Joseph was baptized at Ware on March 6, 1626/7; buried at Ware on March 30, 1627.
Hannah was baptized at Ware on March 23, 1627/8. No additional records unless she was the wife of Hugh Burt, (see note above with her sister Sarah.)
John emigrated from Ware, Hertfordshire in 1630, landed at Salem on June 22, 1630, settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts Bay Colony.He sailed as part of the Winthrop Fleet which included ARABELLA, flagship, AMBROSE, TALBOT, JEWEL, CHARLES, MAYFLOWER, WILLIAM AND FRANCIS, HOPEWELL, WHALE, SUCCESS, and TRIAL. The first five ships sailed April 8 from Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, and arrived at Salem June 13 and following days. The other half of the fleet sailed in May and arrived in July at various dates. Altogether they brought about seven hundred passengers; John Johnson was one of the passengers. Others with the surname of Johnson were: Mrs. Margaret Johnson, destination Roxbury; Francis Johnson, Mrs. Joan Johnson of London, destination Salem; Isaac Johnson Lady Arabella Johnson of Clipsham, Rutland destination Boston; Richard Johnson Mrs. Alice Johnson destination Charlestown.
Freemanship, Church Membership
John Johnson was among the first to become a church member at the Roxbury church, occupying the 9th position on the list of their pastor, John Eliot. He requested Freemanship on October 19, 1630 and was admitted on May 18, 1631.
Secondly, by 1633, John Johnson married Margery (_____) surname unknown. She was #90 of John Eliot's church list, "Margery Johnston [sic] the wife of John Johnson" which indicates that she probably came to New England in the spring of 1633. She was buried at Roxbury on June 9, 1655.
Occupation, Community, Organizations
John held the important position of quartermaster at Roxbury. As such he was a senior officer whose duties included supervising and distributing supplies and provisions and armaments. He was assigned the duty of distributing gunpowder to the various towns in Massachusetts Bay on September 8, 1642 since there was a "present danger of each plantation by the desperate plots and conspiracies of the heathen." He was responsible for responding to a request from Richard Davenport, Captain of the Fort of Massachusetts at Castle Island, for "every soldier one sufficient musket, sword, rest and pair of bandilers with two fathom of match for each musket." Along the same lines, he also held the position of Surveyor Generalwhich, according to Wikipedia, is the person in charge of the ordnance, who also was responsible for mapping the fortifications.It was his signature that was affixed to a report of the committee concerning the rebuilding of the castle and batteries on Castle Island on July 20, 1652.
In 1634 a reformation occurred in the General Court whereby freemen from each town elected 2 delegates to be their representatives, instead of all freemen being members of the court. The General Court enacted laws, similar to the Stage Legislature of today, as well as being the judicial court of appeals.John Johnson was one of the two delegates and was titled Deputy for Roxbury to the General Court of Massachusetts Bay. Being one of the first two persons elected, indicates John Johnson's high standing in the community.
Some additional community appointments are as follows:
October 19, 1630 Roxbury constable
November 7, 1632 On a committee to view ground and set bounds for Charlestown and Newton.
August 6, 1633 On a committee to put a cart bridge over Muddy River.
November 4, 1646 On a committee to purchase lands for the Indians "to live in an orderly way amongst us."
October 27, 1647 He was arbiter in Saltonstall vs. Watertown.
May 6, 1657 On a committee to properly supply ministers.
May 14, 1645 On a committee to settle people who were unable to help themselves and had no residence.
In 1638 a charter was granted by the General Court of Massachusetts Bay to form a volunteer militia company to train officers enrolled in the local militia companies.It was called "The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company" of which John Johnson had the high honor of being one of those admitted that first year and serving as the clerk of the company.
In appreciation "for his service done for the country diverse years past" John Johnson was granted L40 on May 14, 1645.
In about 1642 Roxbury undertook a list of it's inhabitants which included a valuation of each person's property. John Johnson's property was valued as one of the highest in the town at L15 12s. and L6 8s. By 1650 he held 13 parcels, 6 of which were granted to him by the town with the additional land purchased from several different people. On October 7, 1646 he and others petitioned for land formerly granted them between Dedham, Watertown and Sudbury. On October 18, 1648 he and others were to receive lands previously granted between Andover and Redding,so he had a considerable amount of property amassed.
On May 6, 1657, "Mr. John Johnson having been long serviceable to the country in the place of surveyor general, for which he hath never had any satisfaction, which this Court considering of, think meet to grant him 300 acres in any place where he can find it." In the next year, John Johnson had sold this land to Mr. William Parks.
In March of 1645 a great setback and calamity occurred to the John Johnson family personally and to the entire town of Roxbury. The Johnson's house, (where a significant amount of the colony's gunpowder was stored) caught fire, blew up and was burned to the ground.
Two quotes from "Great Migration Begins" follow: "Many diarists of the time recorded the event like this:"
"John Johnson, the surveyor general of ammunition, a very industrious and faithful man in his place, having built a fair house in the midst of the town, with diverse barns and other outhouses, it fell on fire in the daytime, no man knowing by what occasion, and there being in it seventeen barrels of the country's powder and many arms, all was suddenly burnt and blown up, to the value of four or five hundred pounds, wherein a special providence of God appeared, for he, being from home, the people came together to help and many were in the house, no man thinking of the powder till one of the company put them in mind of it, whereupon they all withdrew, and soon after the powder took fire and blew up all about it, and shook the houses in Boston and Cambridge, so as men thought it had been an earthquake."
The pastor, John Eliot remarked:
"In this fire were strange preservations of God's providence to the neighbors & town, for the wind at first stood to carry the fire to other houses, but suddenly turned & carried it from all other houses, only carrying it to the barns and outhousing thereby, & it was a fierce wind, & thereby drove the vehement heat from the neighbor houses."
Thirdly, John Johnson married by 1656 to Grace (Negus) Fawer, the widow of Barnabas Fawer. John and Eleazer Fawer were directed by the General Court to equally divide the estate of Barnabus Fawer so that Grace and her son Eleazer would each receive half. She died after she made her will on December 21, 1671 and before it was probated on December 29, 1671. In her will, her brothers Jonathan and Benjamin each received half of her estate, since they were helpful to her in her sickness.
Character and Abilities
John Johnson was an advisor and counselor to many powerful men of the Massachusetts Bay area, including Governor Thomas Dudley who bequeathed L5 to John Johnson "one of his beloved friends." John evidently was a dependable and capable person, giving attention to detail as he developed the defenses, the armament stockpile and distribution. Anderson in "Great Migration Begins" says, he "was involved as an overseer, attorney, witness and appraiser in the affairs of many of his neighbors... with all these advantages, he kept a low profile in his personal life and never achieved a consistent rank of 'Mr.'"
Estate, Will, Death
John Johnson made his will on September 30, 1659 and it was proved October 15, 1659.
to my beloved wife...
my five children...
my two grandchildren who have lived with me, Elizabeth Johnson and Mehitabel Johnson...
my sons Isaak Johnson & Robert Pepper
my dear brethren Elder Heath and Deacon Park
Inventory of the property totaled L623 1s. 6d; with more that L350 in real estate and was presented October 15, 1659.
He died in Roxbury on September 30, 1659."John Johnson, Surveyor General of all the arms, died and was buried the day following."
He was buried 30 Sep 1659 at the Eliot Burying Ground, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, formerly known as Old Roxbury Burying Ground; and Eustis Street Burying Ground need additional source.
FOLLOWING ARE NOT HIS PARENTS:Gerald Garth Johnson's The biography and genealogy of Captain John Johnson from Roxbury, Massachusetts, (Heritage Books, Inc., Bowie, Maryland, 2000. ISBN: 0-7884-1678-2; available at: www.OpenLibrary.org with free account), soundly disproves various theories for John Johnson's parentages; see in particular chapter 8, page 60ff:
He could not have been the son of Isaac Johnson and Lady Arbella Fiennes of Lincolnshire; this couple was of the same generation as John, therefore, too young to be his parents; 3 sources speculate that they may have been kinsmen.
He was not the son of John Johnson of Wilmington, Kent; there is also no record of a John Johnson born in Herne or Herne Hill parish, Kent, England.
While Edward Johnson of Woburn, MA WAS from Herne Hill, there is no evidence that Edward and John were related. In fact, Edward gave an account of the importance of John Johnson of Roxbury and no where included reference to being related to him
He was not the son of John Johnson and Hannah Throckmorton-- work submitted to the IGI without any supporting documentation. The 1588 birth date in Langton, Lincolnshire is not listed in any of the Lincolnshire parish records.
CANDIDATES FOR PARENTS BUT NO RECORDS: From the "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975" there is a general possibility, but no original records that John's parents might be one of the following:
Willfred Johnson who had a John baptized 24 Jun 1604 in Great Amwell, Hertford, Eng.;
William Johnson who had a son John baptized 27 Nov 1608, Christening Place: SAINT PETER,SAINT ALBANS,HERTFORD,ENGLAND;
John Johnson whose son was christened:11 February 1609 WARE,HERTFORD,ENG.;
Willm. Johnson with son John's christening: 15 December 1588,ST MARYS,WATFORD, HERTFORD, Eng.
PLEASE DO NOT ADD parents to John Johnson unless you communicate with the Puritan Great Migration Project, the above are merely possibilities at the present time.
WHICH DAUGHTER MARRIED HUGH BURT? While there is no doubt that one of the five children named by John Johnson in his will was at one time the wife of Hugh Burt it is not certain which daughter, Sarah or Hannah, she might have been. Sarah is the more likely candidate, and if it was she, then she went on to marry William Bartram. This difficult and unsolved problem has been discussed by Helen S. Ullmann and by Dean Crawford Smith and Melinde Lutz Sanborn [TEG 6:178-84; Angel Anc 390; see also NEHGR 149:230-39].
NO SON NAMED JOHN: A son named John is often attributed to John, although there is no historical evidence for a surviving child, John. See Gerald Garth Johnson's The Biography and Genealogy of Captain John Johnson from Roxbury, Massachusetts (Heritage Books, 2000). Some Internet genealogies have a John John I and John Johnson II. This is incorrect. To repeat, John Johnson's parents are unknown. He did not have a son named John who lived.
TWO ABIGAILS: Confusion about the two Abigails. Humphrey Johnson married the widow, Abigail Stansfield May. Humphrey's son, Nathaniel, married the daughter of Abigail May and her first husband, also named Abigail.
2ND WIFE MIGRATED LATER: It is often mistakenly reported that John Johnson married his 2nd wife in England and they migrated together. In fact, according to "Great Migration" Margery migrated in 1633. Her name was not "Scudder," according to Gerald Garth Johnson.
↑ 1.001.011.021.031.041.051.061.071.081.091.101.184.108.40.206.151.16 The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III. (Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, 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). pp 1105 - 1110. Featured Sketch of John Johnson.link for subscribers$
↑ 2.02.12.22.32.42.5 The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1847-. (Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2018.) "The Heath Connection: English Origins of Isaac and William Heath of Roxbury, Massachusetts, John Johnson, Edward Morris, and Elizabeth (Morris) Catwright" by Douglas Richardson. Vol. 146, pp 270 - 275.for subscribers
↑ Banks, Charles Edward. "The Planters of the Commonwealth; a study of the emigrants and emigration in colonial times
↑ 12.012.1 Johnson, Gerald Garth. "The Biography and Genealogy of Captain John Johnson from Roxbury, Massachusetts." pub. Heritage Books, Inc. Bowie Maryland. 2000. pp 101, 102.borrow from archive.org
↑ Gerald Garth Johnson's The biography and genealogy of Captain John Johnson from Roxbury, Massachusetts, (Heritage Books, Inc., Bowie, Maryland, 2000. ISBN: 0-7884-1678-2; available at: www.OpenLibrary.org with free account)
Angell Ancestry p. 377 - 391.
Church of England Parish Registers, 1538-1812. London, England: London Metropolitan Archives. Images produced by permission of the City of London Corporation Libraries
Filby, P. William, ed. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s. Farmington Hills, MI, USA: Gale Research, 2010.
Holman, Mary Lovering, Stevens-Miller, p. 318 - 322.
Johnson, Paul Franklin,. Genealogy of Captain John Johnson of Roxbury, Massachusetts, generations i to xiv. unknown: unknown, 1951. Generations ix to xiv, compiled by P.F. Johnson. "Authorities" cited p. 3.
Paige, Lucius R.. List of Freemen of Massachusetts. Boston, MA, USA: New England Historical and Genealogical Society, 1849.