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Blacksmiths



William Bassett (1600-1667)

Ephraim Hunt (1610-1686)

Thomas Chandler (1628-1703)

Oliver Holt (1671-1747)


Blacksmiths made tools, weapons, and household goods out of metal.  They, of course, made horseshoes but also nails, spikes, plows, gun parts, knives, hammers, hoes, and candlesticks.  The tools of the trade were forge, bellow, anvil, hammer, tongs, and vice.

 

These were important craftsmen in the 1600’s and 1700’s.  A lengthy apprenticeship (typically seven years) was required to develop the skills of the trade.  A boy who was being apprenticed typically started at 10-12 years old and received food and lodging during the time of apprenticeship.


At least early on, the blacksmith was likely also a farmer.  As the population grew, the blacksmith might be engaged in his trade full time.  In smaller towns, everyone would know the blacksmith.  A blacksmith in a larger town might need to advertise services such as this ad that appeared in a July 1732 issue of the Boston News-Letter:

 

Blacksmith’s work.  This is to give Notice, that there is one William Bryant, Blacksmith, that now keeps a shop adjoining the Presbyterian Meeting House in Long Lane Boston, who makes and mends Glaziers’ Vises, Cloathers’ Screws, and worsted Combs, and makes, grinds, and setts Cloathers’ Shears; he also makes and mends Smiths’ Vises, Ship Carpenters’, Blockmakers’, Tanners’, Glovers’ and Coopers’ Tools, Braziers’ and Tinsmens’ Shears, and makes House work, and many other things too tedious to mention here. He will make and engage his work to any of his Employers according to the value of them.

 

Several of my direct ancestors were blacksmiths and four of them are featured here.

 

William Bassett (1600-1667) is my 10th great grandfather and one of the early immigrants.  He came on the ship Fortune to Plymouth Colony in 1621.  We know he was a blacksmith as the inventory of his estate begins with a list of blacksmith tools and mentions his blacksmith shop. 

 

William likely married his wife Elizabeth in Plymouth Colony within a year or two after arrival.  They had six children including my ancestor Joseph.  Another of his children, Elizabeth Bassett Burgess, was granted the first divorce in Plymouth Colony on 10 June 1661 on grounds of adultery of her husband Thomas Burgess. Thomas was punished by being whipped and forfeiting one-third of his net worth.  Her husband went on to marry the woman he had the affair with. 

 

Ephraim Hunt (1610-1686) is my 9th great grandfather.  He was born in Buckinghamshire, England and came to New England with his father by about 1640.  Ephraim settled in Weymouth; his father returned to England where he died. Although that does not seem to have been that common, some of the migrants chose to return to England.  Ephraim Hunt used weapons as well as making them as he served as a Colonel in the local militia. 

 

Ephraim was first married to Ann Richards and they had three children including my ancestor Thomas Hunt.  Ann died after the birth of her third child. Thomas remarried and had three children with his second wife.  His son John followed Ephraim in the blacksmith trade and received the blacksmith tools in this will.


Thomas Chandler (1628-1703) is one of my multiple ancestors.  He is my 9th great grandfather by four paths.  Both Arthur Merrill Abbott (my great-grandfather) and his wife Mary Emma Knowles are descendants of Thomas Chandler.  Arthur and Mary Emma were fifth cousins.

 

Thomas was born in Bishop Stortford, Hertfordshire, England.  About age 9 years old, he came with his parents to New England first to Roxbury but settled in Andover.


In addition to being a blacksmith, Thomas owned an iron works.  An early iron works at Saugus started in 1646 is pictured.

 

Oliver Holt (1671-1747) is my 7th great grandfather by three paths.  Again, both Arthur Merrill Abbott and his wife Mary Emma Knowles are direct descendants of Oliver Holt.  Oliver was a second generation American as it was his grandparent who immigrated.  He married Hannah Russell whose father was one of my few Scottish ancestors.  Oliver, his wife, and children lived in what was known as the Scotland district of Andover named so because of his father-in-law.

 

 

Sources:

 

Anderson, Robert Charles. (1995). The Great Migration begins:  Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes 1-3.  Boston, MA: Great Migration Study Project.


Dow, George Francis. (1935/2007). Everyday Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Heritage Books.


Hiam, Katharine W. (1997).  Burgess Genealogy: Descendants of the Four Sons of Thomas Burgess and Dorothy (Waynes) Burgess ... Whose Parents were Settled in Sandwich in 1637.  Boston, MA:  New England Historical and Genealogical Society.

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