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First Fulling Mill


John Pearson (1610-1693) and Dorcas Pickard (1621-1703)


John Pearson and Dorcas Pickard are my 9th great-grandparents by this path: RWA → Fred Abbott → Arthur Abbott → Justin Abbott → Rebecca Boynton Abbott → Thomas Boynton → Thomas Boynton → Mary Stickney Boynton → Mary Palmer Stickney → Mary Pearson Palmer → John Pearson and Dorcas Pickard


John and Dorcas were both born in England, likely in Yorkshire. It is not certain where they married, but they may have married in England prior to emigrating. Dorcas’s siblings and her widowed mother also made the trip. The family was in Massachusetts by 1643, first in Ipswich briefly and then in Rowley where they remained. They were married fifty years and were parents of thirteen children. The birth of their oldest child is recorded in Rowley 26 May 1643.


 Although John Pearson is most often described as a carpenter, he is credited with building the first fulling mill in the English colonies having brought the needed machinery with him from England (a typical fulling mills is pictured on the right). Rowley was known for its weaving. Fulling mills were used to clean and thicken the roughly woven cloth. John Pearson built his mill in 1643 and it was the only fulling mill in eastern Massachusetts for about fifty years. His business ledgers for the fulling mill contain accounts for 618 separate individuals. He was successful and in 1660 had the second highest tax bill of all the inhabitants of Rowley.


John Pearson was also a respected member of the community. He served as selectman and assessor and for nine sessions was the deputy (representative) from Rowley to the Great and General Court of Boston. He was also involved in protesting what was viewed as the tyranny of Governor Edmund Andros. For this activity in 1687, John was called before the General Court and received a fine and spent “nearly two weeks” in prison in Boston. Governor Andros was overthrown in 1689 by a popular uprising.





Blodgette, George Brainard. 1933. Early Settlers of Rowley, Massachusetts: A Genealogical Record of the Families Who Settled in Rowley Before 1700, with Several Generations of Their Descendants. Rowley, MA: Town of Rowley.

Wheatland, H. (Ed.). 1878. Standard History of Essex County, Massachusetts, Embracing a History of the County from its First Settlement to the Present Time, with a History and Description of its Towns and Cities. Boston, MA: C. F. Jewett.



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