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John Wilson Sr. (abt. 1629 - 1687)

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John Wilson Sr.
Born about in Englandmap
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married about in Englandmap [uncertain]
Descendants descendants
Died in Woburn, Middlesex, Massachusettsmap
Profile last modified | Created 29 Dec 2010 | Last significant change: 16 Jun 2019
16:34: S (Hill) Willson edited a message from S (Hill) Willson on the page for John Wilson Sr. (abt.1629-1687). [Thank S for this]
This page has been accessed 2,810 times.


John Wilson is believed to have been born in the late 1620s in England although no record of his birth or his parentage has been found. His parents are unknown at this time per all reputable sources. [Kindly do not add parents to this record without consulting with the profile managers.]

The research of Ken Stevens (see citation and link below) indicates that John and his family arrived in Salem, Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1652. Their son John, believed to be the infant who came from England with his parents, died 1 February 1735, age 84. This places the family in England in February 1652 and they are proven, through property records, to be in New England thirteen months later.

As with no birth record having been found for John Wilson, there has been no marriage record located with his wife, Hannah James, leaving a marriage date an educated guess. There does not appear to be a documented record of Hannah’s maiden name being James. However it is known from various records that her husband after the death of John Wilson was Thomas Fuller (though no marriage document has been found).

In March 1653, John Wilson purchased two acres of land with a house in Salem for 16 pounds. This was sold in July 1657.

The Wilson family first appears in Woburn town records in 1661 (via a grant of four acres of meadowland) although their move date from Salem is not known with certainty. Woburn was not founded until 1640 (Hannah’s last husband Thomas Fuller was an original subscriber of Woburn in 1640) so the several genealogies placing this Wilson family in Woburn prior to this date are in error. Stevens believes the birth entry for son Samuel in Woburn town records as 1658 was in fact entered in the town record several years later and is thus not indicative of residence there in that year.

The Wilson farm was near North Woburn located in what is now Bedford. In the Woburn Record of Marriages it is noted that they were associated with those of the “Schismatical assembly of Anabaptists.” This association appears to have brought about social challenges for the family and even John Proctor for associating with his mother-in-law in her later years.

John Wilson died 2 July 1687 in Woburn, Massachusetts. There is no record of Hannah’s death.

John Wilson is a 5th great grandfather of US President Grover Cleveland.

The children of John Wilson and Hannah (James) Wilson:

  1. John born about 1652 (calculated)
  2. Sarah born about 1653 (see Stevens for a discussion of the possibility she is the first child)
  3. Unknown Daughter born about 1655 and killed by lightning.
  4. Dorcas born 29 Jan 1657
  5. Samuel born 29 Dec 1658
  6. Francis born about 1660
  7. James born about 1663
  8. Abigail born 8 Aug 1666
  9. Elizabeth born 6 Aug 1668
  10. Benjamin born 15 Oct 1670
  11. Hannah born 31 May 1672

It should be noted that there has been extensive misinformation of this Wilson family published and repeated since the work of S.C. Newman in 1867. The research of Ken Stevens appears to be the most complete and documented to date and may be found at

Research Notes

There is misinformation about this John Wilson posted in various places from various sources dating back to the 1860s.

Perhaps the best discussion on the topic is found in Ken Steven's 1991 book Descendants of John Wilson of Woburn, Massachusetts. The e-book is available on free loan at this location (create an account for free if you do not have one):


Please note that Source references without documentation have been removed from the Source listing. There are certain sources listed below which do contain information that has later been proven incorrect.

  • Savage, James, A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, showing three generations of those who came before 1692 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1860-62.), 4:585
  • Source: S331 Title: The Snow-Estes Ancestry, Format: 2 vols. Abbreviation: Snow-Estes Anc. Author: Snow, Nora E. Publication: the author, Hillburn, N.Y., 1939
  • Source: S861 Title: The Richard Snow Family, Informant Address: Long Beach, Calif., Format:typescript Abbreviation: Richard Snow Family Author: Snow, George Burwell Publication: c.1923 Repository: #R2 Call Number: 929.273Sn61sg &2055208/22
  • Repository: R2 Name: Family History Library Address: City: Salt Lake City State: Utah Country: -United States
  • Ken Stevens: Descendants of John Wilson of Woburn, Massachusetts. Volume J of Wilsons From New England, A genealogical record of some descendants from our colonial ancestors.
  • Source: S1466606274 Repository: #R1450954418 North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000 Publication: Operations, Inc.
  • Source: S1466627653 Repository: #R1450954418 Family Data Collection - Deaths Edmund West, comp. Publication: Operations Inc

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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with John 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 John:

Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.


On 16 Jun 2019 at 16:33 GMT S (Hill) Willson wrote:

Wilson-59777 and Wilson-1990 do not represent the same person because: Wilson-59777 was in Connecticut, not Massachusetts. No sources found support a wife Hannah James, or the children shown with -1990.

On 2 Feb 2019 at 20:17 GMT S (Hill) Willson wrote:

It looks like - from the Stevens source - that attached children Joseph, Thomas and David don't belong with this family. I've ensured the parents are marked uncertain on their respective profiles.

On 30 Jul 2018 at 14:08 GMT T Stanton wrote:

Thanks to Michael for his note below and two other PMs for Thank Yous on the clean-up offer. After cleaning up the biography and sources, I think it would be good to attach copies (those without copyright or can be used under fair use) of various documents that do exist such as the property records. I also notice there are more children in the top of the profile than are documented but I have not gone through to see which need additional discussion.

Additional suggestions on the clean-up copy are most welcome.

On 29 Jul 2018 at 16:15 GMT Michael Thomas wrote:

Speaking strictly for myself, T Stanton's offer is very welcome. As I looked through the profile again, there is a lot of "blither" to wade through, and needs more than a simple re-formatting. Good luck! If you need anything from me, just let me know.

On 29 Jul 2018 at 15:40 GMT T Stanton wrote:

If the other PMs for this profile are amenable, I am willing to do some clean-up on the biography, other information, and sources. It appears that several merges have left information and sources in the profile which are known to be incorrect or without documentation. Based on my reading I believe the Stevens book is the most thoroughly researched and contemporary source. Savage (1860) and later anthologies used incorrect information. There are also "sources" listed which are undocumented and should probably be removed to prevent them being incorrectly copied elsewhere.

On 22 Jul 2018 at 12:50 GMT T Stanton wrote:

Gillby, it seems there are some records for a perhaps different William Wilson b 1609 vs the William Wilson b 1588. Was there no first wife for Wilson-2749? It seems somewhat improbable for him to have first married at age 46 but perhaps a first wife died or there were no children in a first marriage. I also wonder about the marriage date 6 Oct 1634 in Boston Lincolnshire and then church admittance 6 Sep 1635/36 in Boston Mass. While there is a lot of unsourced information floating around, I wonder if we are perhaps looking at both father and son named William one of 1588 and one of 1609. That would seem to more fit some of the information I have looked at. Has anyone looked back to the sources Savage used in 1860?

On 10 May 2018 at 17:33 GMT T Stanton wrote:

Wilson-1990 and Wilson-53332 appear to represent the same person because: Wilson-1990 did not appear during GEDCOMpare process. Found it via another avenue after creating Wilson-53332. These appear to be the same person. Wilson-53332 has information on birth location and that sourcing can be better than what the Gedcom generated after merge.

On 27 Apr 2018 at 13:16 GMT Anne B wrote:

Wilson-28966 and Wilson-1990 appear to represent the same person because: SAme death date same wife.

On 30 Jan 2018 at 00:51 GMT Chris Ferraiolo wrote:

Parents removed until further notice. Sources have shown that the previous parents, John Wilson and Elizabeth Mansfield were not the right parents. Plus the family had a John who lived a long, full life.

On 30 Jan 2018 at 00:27 GMT Chris Ferraiolo wrote:

Are you sure John Wilson and Elizabeth Mansfield are the right parents for this guy? Research has been telling me that they aren't. I may make a thread about this in g2g.

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