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"Grandmother of Braintree"

Rachel Brackett Saunders (ca 1590-1651)

Rachel Brackett Saunders is my 11th great grandmother by this path:  RWA → Fred Pemberton Abbott → Emma Knowles Abbott → Mary West Knowles → James H. West → Relief Kingman West → James Kingman → Susanna Copeland Kingman → Samuel Copeland → Ruth Newcomb Copeland → John Newcomb → Rachel Brackett Newcomb → Rachel Brackett Saunders

Rachel Brackett Saunders’s maiden name and place of origin are unknown.  She was born around 1590 in England.  She married Peter Brackett (1585-1616) of Sudbury, Suffolk, England and had four children with him, one of whom died in infancy.  After the death of Peter, Rachel married Martin Saunders.  Rachel had seven more children with Martin, and one of those children died very young. 

In April 1635, Rachel and Martin loaded up their minor children on the ship Planter and headed to Boston.  Also with them were Rachel’s adult daughter and her husband.  Her two oldest children, Richard and Peter Brackett, made the trip in 1632. Rachel and Martin were in Boston for a few years prior to settling in 1639 in what would become Braintree.  At the time they settled there, it was called Mount Woolaston after an earlier settler who left the area in 1625.  Braintree was not controlled by the Pilgrims and was known to have a more liberal lifestyle.  Of course, that did not prevent those Puritans from trying to interfere.  In 1627, they became upset with the wild ways of settler Thomas Morton who erected a Maypole to dance around.  The Puritans had Morton arrested and expelled from the colony, even though they had no authority over that settlement.

Rachel and Martin Saunders were among the first permanent settlers in Braintree.  In 1639 the General Court at Boston gave permission to a Martin Saunders to "keepe a house of intertainement at Mount Woolaston." The next year Saunders was "alowed" to "draw wine" there.  So, it seems he ran a pub. 

Rachel’s nine living children (Brackett and Saunders) all settled in the area of Braintree.  By 1800, many of the residents of Braintree were her descendants which lead to her being considered the grandmother of Braintree.  Rachel died in Braintree on September 15, 1651. Two of the children of Peter and Rachel Brackett are my ancestors, Richard Brackett (1610-1690) and Rachel Brackett (1614-1684).

Family information for Rachel Brackett Saunders:


Anderson, Robert Charles. 1999-2011. The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England 1634-1635. Boston, MA: Great Migration Study Project.



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