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Edmund Freeman Notes

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Edmund Freeman Jr. (1596-bef.1682)

Two sections of largely unsourced biographical material were moved here from Edmund's profile.

Biographical Notes 1

Edmund Freeman gathered nine independent-minded men from the Saugus Plantation, men who did not want to be members of an intolerant society. These men pooled their funds, and the Ten Men of Saugus purchased a tract of land on Cape Cod under the jurisdiction the Plymouth Colony. Attracted by the meadows of sea grass that they planned to harvest to feed their farm animals, they named their settlement Sandwich. Sixty families accompanied the Ten Men. It was a propitious beginning, full of promise. Between 1640 and1645, Edmund Freeman was elected to six terms as the assistant governor of Plymouth Colony. During Freeman’s last term, a colonist named Capt. William Vassal asked the Plymouth Court to legalize religious tolerance and to extend citizen status to every man of every religious belief who would “preserve the peace and submit to government.” The court was evenly divided. Freeman voted in favor of tolerance, but the conservative Gov. Bradford opposed Vassal’s petition. In an astute political move, the conservatives obtained a delay for further consideration, and the matter was never considered again... Shortly after the Puritans of Boston hanged two Quakers, Mr. Freeman traveled to the Plymouth Court to prevent the imprisonment of a Quaker neighbor, a Sandwich resident named Thomas Greenfield. [1]

Styvesant Fish in his Anton Genealogy had this to say:[2]

"Edmund was a prominent man of good business habits, liberal in politics, and tolerant in his religious opinions. He was a member of the Sandwich church - the most bigoted and intolerant in the colony - yet he did not imbibe the persecuting spirit which has condemned to everlasting infamy many of his brethren.
"In his intercourse with his neighbors and associates, he was affable and obliging, and to his kindred and intimate friends, he was ever kind and affectionate. He rested from his labors at Sandwich in 1682, at the ripe old age of 92 years. His wife died Feb. 14, 1676, aged 76. She was buried on a rising ground on his own farm. He was then 86, and had lived 59 years in the married state. Some little time after her decease he summoned together his sons and his grandsons, they placed a large flat rock resembling a pillion, over the grave of the wife. He then placed another, resembling in shape a saddle, beside it, and addressing his sons, he said: 'when I die, place my body under that stone, your mother and I have travelled many long years together in this world, and I desire that our bodies rest here till the resurrection, and I charge you to keep this spot sacred, and that you enjoin it upon your children and your children's children, that they never desecrate this spot.'
"A substantial wall was built around these simple but suggestive monuments, and his descendants to this day with pious hands protect them from desecration. Many of them regard this spot as their Mecca, which it is their duty to visit at least once in their lives."

He is the son of Edmund Freeman 1572–1623 and Alice Coles Freeman 1576–1652.

Robert Charles Anderson gives in his "The Great Migration", Vol. 2, page 577, the date of this baptism. The death date is also deceptive. He wrote his will on 21 June 1682 and it was probated on 2 Nov 1682; so he died between those 2 dates.

He was married 2 times.

  1. First in Cowfold, Sussex, England to Bennett Hodsoll or sometimes spelled Hodsell, on 16 June 1617.
  2. Second in Shipley, Sussex, England to Elizabeth whose maiden name is unknown on 10 Aug 1632. (There is no proof at all that her maiden name was Rayner.)

He was the assistant to Gov. Bradford 1640-1647 and the principle founder of the town of Sandwich, Barnstable, MA in 1637.

Biographical Notes 2

I) Edmund Freeman, immigrant ancestor, was born in England in 1590, and came in the ship "Abigail" in July, 1635, with wife Elizabeth and children Alice, Edmund, Elizabeth, John. He settled first in Lynn, Massachusetts, early in 1636. Lewis says in his history of Lynn: "This year (1636) many new inhabitants appear in Lynn and among them worthy of note Mr. Edmund Freeman, who presented to the colony twenty corslets or pieces of plate armor." He was subsequently of the Plymouth Colony and with nine associates was soon recognized by the government as a suitable person to originate a new settlement. He was admitted a freeman, January 2, 1637, at Plymouth, and after being a short time a resident of Duxbury, settled in what was incorporated later as the town of Sandwich. Most of the grantees of that town were formerly of Lynn. Freeman had the largest grant and was evidently the foremost man in the enterprise. He was elected an assistant to the governor and commissioner to hear and determine causes within the several contiguous townships. He was one of the first judges of the select court of Plymouth county. During the persecution of the Quakers, he opposed the course of the government and was once fined ten shillings for refusing to aid in the baiting of Friends under pretence of the law. "Preeminently respected, always fixed in principle, and decisive in action, nevertheless quiet and unobtrusive, a counsellor and leader without ambitious ends in view of uncompromising integrity and of sound judgment, the symmetry of his entire character furnished an example that is a rich legacy to his descendants." He died in 1682 at the advanced age of ninety-two. His will is dated June 21, 1682, and was offered for probate, November 2, 1682. He was buried on his own land on the hill in the rear of his dwelling house at Sandwich. It is the oldest burial place in the town. His grave and that of his wife are marked by two boulders which he himself placed in position after his wife died, and they are called from a fancied resemblance "the saddle and pillion." His home was a mile and a quarter west of the town hall and near the junction of the old and new county roads" to the Cape. He married Elizabeth Beauchamp born 1600 and died February 14, 1675-6 Children: Alice, married Deacon William Paddy; Edmund, married Rebecca Prence; Elizabeth, born 1625; John married Mercy Prence, Mary, married Edward Perry.Sarah married John Butterfield [Sarah was born in MA]. NOTES: On the roster of the ship Abigail which sailed from Plymouth, England to Boston arriving c.Oct. 8, 1635 with smallpox aboard. Richard Hackwell, Master: Edmund Freeman, 34, gentleman, Pulborough, Lynn Co., Sussex; Mrs. Elizabeth Freeman; Alice Freeman; Edward Freeman 15; Elizabeth Freeman 12; John Freeman 8.

Sandwich A Cape Cod Town by R.A. Lovell, Jr, Town of Sandwich Massachusetts Archives and Historical Center, 1984, Second Printing, 1987 p 3 "The Ten Men of Saugus: The first information of the settling of Sandwich is in an item in Plymouth Colony Records dated April 3, 1637 reading as follows: "It is also agreed by the Court that those ten men of Saugust, viz Edmond Freeman, Henry Feake, Thomas Dexter, Edward Dillingham, William Wood, John Carman, Richard Chadwell, William Almey, Thomas Tupper & George Knott shall have liberty to view a place to sit down & have sufficient lands for three score famylies, upon the conditions propounded to them by the Governor and Mr. Winslow." p 4 The Lynn historian Alonzo Lewis wrote of the migration down to Cape Cod: "This year (1637) a large number of people removed from Lynn and commenced a new settlement at Sandwich. The grant of the town was made on the third of April by the Colony of Plymouth...Thomas-Dexter did not remove, but the rest of the above named went with forty six other men from Lynn." p 4 Those Who Went to Sandwich "The impetus for founding a new town on Cape Cod originated from a dedicated and persuasive leader, Edmund' Freeman of Pulborough, Sussex (England). Edmond Freeman BIRTH 25 Jul 1590 Pulborough, Horsham District, West Sussex, England DEATH 21 Jun 1682 (aged 91) Sandwich, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, USA BURIAL Saddle and Pillion Cemetery, Sagamore, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, USA MEMORIAL ID Find A Grave: Memorial #6127309 Has a photo of gravestone.


  1. https://www.capecodtimes.com/article/20140915/OPINION/409120364
  2. Styvesant Fish, [https://archive.org/details/anthongenealogyb00fish/page/56 Anthon Genealogy, (N.Y.: s.n., 1930), p. 57.

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