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Notes for William Shurtleff

Research Notes:

William Shurtleff apprenticed himself for the term of eleven years to Thomas Clark, carpenter, of Plymouth on 2 September 1634. Savage said he probably was not brought by Clark. The Maine Genealogist says: "It is supposed he came from Yorkshire". William was able to bear arms in Plymouth in 1643. In 1660 he moved to Marshfield, where he was a freeman in 1664. His dwelling burned early in 1666 and the family found asylum in the house of John Phillips. While there, 23 June 1666, during a violent thunderstorm, the house was struck by lightening and Mr. Shurtleff was instantly killed. He was holding one of his boys in his arms at the time, and the child was uninjured. A third son, named Abiel (i.e., God my Father) was born the same month; some traditions say just before, and some just after his father's death. [Evelyn Beran on Ancestry.com]

The name Shurtleff has been spelled many ways, and on 2 September 1634 "William Shetle hath put himselfe an aprentise to Thomas Clarke for the terme of eleven yeares from the 16 of May last" (PCR 1:31). On 5 June 1644 William Shertcliffe was fined five [p.351] shillings for breaking the peace on John Smyth (PCR 2:73), and on 2 October 1650 James Cole was presented for making a battery on Shirtleff, but was cleared (PCR 2:162). Shurtleff was a surveyor of the highway for Plymouth and a member of a coroner's jury in 1656 (PCR 3:100, 109). In 1659 he had a dispute with Thomas Pope about the bounds of their respective lands at Strawberry Hill, or the Reed Pond, in Plymouth township (PCR 3:169). On 7 June 1659 he was proposed as a freeman, and on the same day he was chosen as constable of Plymouth (PCR 3:163). On 27 March 1660 he sold an acre of land in Doten's Meadow, Plymouth, to Gabriel Fallowell, and at that time Shurtleff was described as a resident of Marshfield (MD 14:145). On 6 June 1660 he became a freeman (PCR 3:188). In 1662 he was one of the servants and ancient freemen given land at Saconett (PCR 4:18). In 1664/65 he complained against Thomas Little for taking away timber trees from his land (PCR 4:79). In 1666 the court ordered that he "be accommodated with land amongst the servants neare unto the Bay line" (PCR 4:131).
On 18 October 1655 William Shurtleff married Elizabeth Lettice (PCR 8:17), daughter of Thomas Lettice. He died in 1666 and was buried on 24 June 1666, having been killed by lightning (MSR, p. 248; see documentation in Shurtleff book below, 2:1064). His widow married (2) Jacob Cooke 18 November 1669 (PCR 8:32), and she was in her father's will dated 1678 as Elizabeth Cooke, widow (MD 14:64). She married (3) Hugh Cole on 1 January 1688/89 (MD 13:204). A full-size family history is Benjamin Shurtleff, Descendants of William Shurtleff of Plymouth and Marshfield, Massachusetts, 2 vols. (Revere, 1912; 2nd ed. San Francisco, 1976), which is not sufficiently documented and contains a number of errors (for correction of one major error, see Eugene A. Stratton, "Mary, Wife of Nathaniel Atwood," MQ 48:127). In the first edition, Benjamin Shurtleff has the immigrant William Shurtleff most likely identical with a William Shurtleff said to have been baptized at Hallamshire, Ecclesfield, West Riding, Yorkshire, on 16 May 1624. However, in the second edition, Roy Lothrop Shurtleff states that after extensive checking he was not able to confirm the identification, and must conclude that it is not yet possible to go further back than the immigrant William. William was known to have had three sons, William, Thomas, and Abiel, and has many descendants today through William and Abiel. [1]


[1] Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History and People 1620-1691 (Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry Incorporated, 1986), 350, of 350-1, [GoogleBooks].