Sunday, January 4, 2015

ETCHED IN OLD STONE: Dolour Davis, 1634 English immigrant to Barnstable, MA

10th GGParents: DOLOUR DAVIS-MARGERY WILLARD/to Hall-Blodgett-Whitney/Darte (Dort)
From East Farleigh, Kent, England to Barnstable, Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts
1560 Geneva Bible
Dolour: a state of great sorrow, grief or distress
"...a good name is as a thread tyed about the finger, to make us mindful of the errand we came into the world to do for our master."
These words of a long-forgotten Puritan minister are often used to justify the naming customs of Massachusett's colonial period.  But, as we see with a number of our earliest immigrant ancestors (i.e. Hezekiah and Epenetus) the "Puritan Naming Revolution" was already underway in late sixteenth century England, inspired through the publication of a new, readily-accessible English translation of the Bible. Viewing  the typical baby names of their time as "too worldly," Puritan parents turned to their annotated scriptures for inspiration.  In an attempt to set themselves apart from their non-Puritan neighbors who typically named their children after family, royal, or political figures, they carefully selected names honoring biblical heroes or denoting virtues and models for Christian living.  But, as with any trend, extremes were inevitable.  Take for instance, Dolour.  What a woeful name to carry through life, serving to remind the owner of the pains of sin.   Fortunately, our ancestor was able to overcome his dreary name, and typically spelled it "Dolar," rhyming it with "dollar." 

It is believed that Dolour (or Dolor) was born in or near the English town of East Farleigh, Kent in the year 1593.  Although little is known about his youth, the biographer Otis dug into early records to provide the following chronology:
  • In 1614, eleven year old Dolour was a servant to Edward Clarke, gentleman, of East Farleigh. Mr. Clarke died that year but made provision for young Dolour in his will:  "I give to my servant Dolor Davis my house and lands in the parish of  Marden."  It is likely that he had to wait until he was 21 to claim his inheritance.
  • On the 29th of March, 1624, Dolour married Margery Willard in East Farleigh.  Margery's family was from nearby Horsemonden.   
  • In May, 1634, Margery's brother Simon Willard emigrated to America with his wife and children.  It is probable that Dolour accompanied them.  
  • On August 4, 1634, both Simon Willard and Dolour Davis were granted lands in the four-year old Puritan community of Newtowne, later named Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • In April, 1635, Margaret Davies (undoubtedly Margery Davis) with children John, Mary, and Elizabeth, sailed from London on board the "Elizabeth" bound for New England. 
  • Davis was granted a house lot in June of that year, just in time for his family's arrival.
  • By 1638 he has moved to Duxbury, helping to found and later establish a residence at  Barnstable in 1643.  
  • On March 24, 1644, daughter Ruth (my 9th GGMother) was born in Barnstable.  She married Capt. Stephen Hall in 1663.
The colonial records show that Dolour moved frequently, from Cambridge to Duxbury, Scituate, Barnstable, Concord, and back to Barnstable.  As a house carpenter by trade, he probably followed the need for his services in emerging communities as the colony grew. 
“Perhaps of all the families which came to New England, not one can be selected more worthy of our esteem, and unqualified approbation than that of Dolor Davis. As a man he was honest, industrious and prudent; as a christian tolerant and exact in the performance of his religious duties; as a neighbor kind, obliging, and ever ready to help those who needed his assistance; and as a father and the head of his family he was constantly solicitous for the welfare of all its members, cultivating those kindly feelings and amenities of life which render home delightful.” (Amos Otis, in Barnstable Families.) 
Otis, Amos. Genealogical Notes of Barnstable Families, a reprint of the Amos Otis Papers originally published in The Barnstable Patriot. Vol. I. Barnstable, MA, 1888.


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