Tag: Connecticut River

Daniel Bagg’s Will

This is the sixth in a series of posts about four generations of my ancestors in colonial Massachusetts and Connecticut. It includes the Bagg, Burt, Phelps, Moseley, Stanley and other related families between 1635 and 1795.

When I revised my will last year, although it expressed my wishes, its legal language felt impersonal. Reading Daniel Bagg’s will, written in 1737, was a very different experience: it gave a real glimpse of his character, revealing his love for his wife, his trust in his sons, and his generosity to his daughters.

Daniel’s will also acknowledged that God had blessed him in this life, which was a very Puritan thing to say. The Puritans of New England attributed everything that happened to them to God’s will.

Daniel Bagg (1668-1738) was a farmer in Westfield, a small town founded in 1669 on the western frontier of Massachusetts. He and the town’s other residents lived in a tightly knit community, centered around the building that doubled as the town meeting house and the Congregational church. 

Daniel would have attended meetings and church services in a building similar to this one in nearby Deerfield, MA.

Agricultural fields were spread out across the surrounding areas. The hills, plains and riverside meadows of the Westfield area had fertile soil and provided growing conditions for a variety of crops, including corn, wheat and flax.

Most of Westfield’s early residents had come from either Springfield, Massachusetts or Windsor, Connecticut, and Daniel was no exception. He was born in Springfield in 1668, one of 10 children born to John Bagg and Hannah Burt.1

Daniel’s mother died when he was 12 years old, and his father died three years later. It is not clear who raised him and his eight surviving brothers and sisters after that. His father’s probate records show that Sam Marshfield was to be a guardian to sons John and James, and to Abilene, the youngest child, but there was no mention of Daniel or the other children.2 Perhaps their mother’s family cared for them.

When they became adults, John and Jonathan Bagg (James had died young), settled in West Springfield, on the west bank of the Connecticut River, where their father had owned land.

Daniel probably moved to Westfield around the time he married, in January 1693/94.3 His wife was Hannah Phelps, born in 1675 to Isaac Phelps and Ann Gaylord. Isaac Phelps had been a founding resident of Westfield and was a community leader there. Perhaps this connection to the Phelps family helped Daniel become a prominent citizen of Westfield.

In land deeds and court documents, Daniel was described as a farmer and wheelwright and, in the later part of his life, as a merchant or trader. Perhaps Daniel’s activities as a merchant brought good income, although his name appeared in several lawsuits, primarily because he either owed money or money was owed to him.4

Daniel served as a selectman (town official) of Westfield in 1718 and 1723. He represented the town in the Massachusetts legislature for a year5 and he was involved in several committees at Westfield’s Church of Christ.6

Daniel and Hannah, who were my six-times great-grandparents, had 11 children: three boys, one of whom died as an infant, and eight girls. Their youngest son, David, was my direct ancestor.

I am not sure whether the girls’ marriages are correct in the following list; Daniel did not mention any of their husbands in his will. The couple’s 10 surviving children were: Hannah, b. 1695, m. ?; Daniel Jr.,  b. 1697, m. Abigail Dewey; Ebenezer b/d 1700; Rachel, b. 1702, m. Aaron Phelps; Ann, b. 1704, m. John Field; Abigail, b. 1707, m. Isaac Dewey; Ruth, b. 1709, m. Daniel Dickason; Margaret, b. 1712; Sarah, b. 1714, m. ?; David, b. 1716/1717, m. Elizabeth Moseley.7 Following Elizabeth’s death in 1759, David married two more times.

Daniel prepared his will in 1737 and signed it with his mark, suggesting that, although he may have known how to read, he could not write. He died Aug. 18, 1738, age 70.8

An ox cart in Westfield

He left to his “dearly beloved wife during her natural life” one end of “my dwelling house and part of the cellar with the one half of the garden, as also one quarter of the orchard by the house and one quarter of the land by the house that was called the homestead, being two acres and a half.”

Daniel left all his farmland in Westfield to his two sons, Daniel Jr. and David, to share equally. Daniel Jr. was to have the new house and David the old house and barn, and Daniel was to give David 60 pounds to enable him to make improvements. David was also to have the team of oxen.

To each of his daughters, Daniel left “100 pounds with what she has already had.” He showed special concern for daughter Abigail, who was married to Isaac Dewey, and her children, leaving them extra money. He gave Daniel and David a deadline to make sure his daughters received their bequests – and extra time to come up with the funds if there was not enough in his personal estate.

See also:

Janice Hamilton, “John Bagg of Springfield, Massachusetts,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Feb. 22, 2018, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2018/02/john-bagg-of-springfield-massachusetts.html

Janice Hamilton, “Isaac Phelps and His Blended Families,” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 3, 2018, https://www.writinguptheancestors.ca/2018/05/isaac-phelps-and-his-blended-families.html


  1. Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016).https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/r/1320087835
  2. Hampshire County, Massachusetts probate records 1660-1916. index, 1660-1971 [microform]
  3. New England Marriages to 1700. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008.) Originally published as: New England Marriages Prior to 1700. Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015. https://www.americanancestors.org/DB1568/i/21174/65/426875386
  4. Debrett, “The Bagg Family of Massachusetts, America and of Montreal, Canada. Research for Mrs. J.D. Hamilton, July, 1980.”
  5. Massachusetts: Legislators of the General Court, 1691-1780 (Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2002), (Orig. Pub. by Northeastern University Press , Boston, MA. John A. Schutz, Legislators of the Massachusetts General Court 1691–1780 A Biographical Dictionary, 1997.) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB142/r/5875254
  6. Rev. John H. Lockwood, Westfield and its Historic Influences 1669-1919: The Life of an Early Town (Springfield, 1922, Printed and sold by the author), p. 147, 310, https://archive.org/stream/westfieldandits00lockgoog#page/n174/mode/2up, accessed May 19, 2018
  7. Daniel’s and Hannah’s girls and boys are listed separately in the Massachusetts Vital Records 1620-1850. For example, the girls’ births in Westfield are in vol. 1, page 50; the boys are on page 3. Females births: Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13250/50/253012007 Males births: Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13250/3/253010247 Females marriages: Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13251/81/253016859 Males marriages: Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016).https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13251/4/253014174
  8. Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016), https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13250/91/253013579
  9. Hampshire County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1660-1889. Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2016, 2017. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives and the Hampshire County Court. Digitized images provided by FamilySearch.org) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB1653/i/33925/7-17-co3/0

Considering Consider Moseley

This is the fifth in a series of posts about four generations of my ancestors in colonial Massachusetts and Connecticut. It includes the Bagg, Burt, Phelps, Moseley, Stanley and other related families between 1635 and 1795.

Consider Moseley (1675-1755), of Westfield, Massachusetts had an unusual name. In Puritan New England, where he was born, people normally named their children after close relatives1 or gave them Biblical names, but the origin of Consider’s name is a mystery. Maybe his parents had good imaginations: they called one of his brothers Comfort.

Whatever the meaning and origin of his name, my six-times great-grandfather was born in Windsor, Connecticut, the fifth child of Lieut. John Maudsley (an earlier spelling of the last name) and his wife Mary Newberry. He had five younger siblings, all of them born after the family relocated to Westfield, Massachusetts2 around 1675.

The Ashley House, built in Deerfield, MA in 1734, may have been similar to Consider Moseley’s home.

John Maudsley came to New England in 1638 and settled in Dorchester, Mass.3 He married Mary Newberry in 1664 and the couple moved to Windsor. It had been established on the banks of the Connecticut River almost 30 years earlier, and the founding settlers had received land grants but, as a relative latecomer, John purchased his land.

John sold that property in 1677 and moved to Westfield4 where he purchased a house and store. According to Westfield chronicler Chester Stiles, “Mr. Moseley had already proved his valor in battles with the followers of King Philip. [King Philip’s War, 1675-1676, was fought between some of the indigenous people and the colonists.] Hence, he was warmly welcomed to the stockaded hamlet and chosen lieutenant of the little company of defenders. He was also recorded as one of the seven original members, or “foundation men,” of the [Congregational] church first organized under Rev. Edward Taylor in 1677.” 5

John still owned a mill in Windsor, and he died there in 1690. Mary then married her Westfield neighbour, widower Isaac Phelps.6 Consider was 15 at the time of his father’s death and, as one of the older boys in the family, he would likely have been responsible for many chores on the family farm.

Consider was still a young man in 1700 when he was called upon to assist the whole community. Officially, this was peace time, but there was only a lull between two wars between England and France, King William’s War and Queen Ann’s War. Even in peace time, the people of Westfield were worried that the indigenous people who were allied with the French would come from New France (Quebec) and attack them.7

The town residents agreed that several houses should be securely fortified, and Consider’s house was one of the buildings chosen. Teams of neighbours helped with the work. Consider eventually became a lieutenant in the Westfield militia.

Eight Children Including Twins

In 1709, at age 34, Consider married Elizabeth Bancroft.8 The couple had eight children, including twins Elizabeth and Daniel. (Daughter Elizabeth Moseley grew up to marry David Bagg, and they are my direct ancestors.9)  Consider’s wife died and, in 1731, he married Rebecka (Williams) Dewey, the widow of Jedediah Dewey II.10 Rebecka had nine children of her own at the time, ranging in age from five to 26.

When Consider died in September, 1755, at age 80, he was described as “one of the wealthiest and most influential men of the town.”11 He may or may not have considered wealth important. Puritans valued hard work, but wasting their money on frivolous things was frowned upon.

Wealth was tied to influence, however. Wealthier residents were usually elected to their town’s most important offices and, every Sunday when the people of New England went to church, where they sat depended on their social status.12

Lieut. Consider Moseley’s grave in Westfield’s Old Burying Ground

Many Puritans believed that God ordained all that happened, so an individual’s prosperity was a sign of God’s approval for a commitment to godly living. In his will, Consider noted that, “it has pleased God to bless me in this life.”

When Consider wrote his will in January, 1754, he noted that he was “infirm and weak in body, yet of perfect mind and memory.” Indeed, this four-page document shows how well organized he was. He owned numerous tracts of pasture land and farmland around Westfield, and he identified each one according to its geographic location, neighbouring lot owners or the individual from whom he had purchased it.

He had already signed deeds of conveyance giving the titles of several properties to his sons. He split the land between his two sons, Daniel and Israel, and the sons of his late son Benjamin. Each of his five daughters, and Benjamin’s daughter, received relatively small sums of money and a share of his furniture and household goods.

As for his beloved wife Rebecka, his bequest to her was five shillings “in consideration of the articles of agreement concluded between us at our marriage.” He did not describe that agreement,13  but her children probably looked after her for the rest of her life.

Photos by Janice Hamilton


Children of John Maudsley and Mary Newberry:  

Born in Windsor: Benjamin, b. 1666, m. Mary Sackett; Margaret, b. 1668/69, d. 1678; Joseph, b. 1670, m. Abigail Root; Mary, b. 1673, m. Isaac Phelps Jr.; Consider, b. 1675, m. 1, Elizabeth Bancroft, 2, widow Rebecca Dewey.

Born in Westfield: John, b. 1678, d. c. 1690; Comfort, b. 1680, d. 1711; Margaret b. 1683, m. Samuel Taylor; Elizabeth, b. 1685; Hannah, b. 1690, d. 1707.

Source: Henry R. Stiles, The History of Ancient Windsor vol. II, p. 508.

The Bancroft Family:

Immigrant John Bancroft brought his wife and children to New England in 1632 and settled in Lynn, Massachusetts. After he died in 1637, his wife may have remarried and moved to Windsor, Connecticut.

In 1650, John Bancroft Jr. married Hanna Duper in Windsor. John Jr. and Hanna had five children, including Nathaniel, born 1653. After John Jr. died in 1662, Hanna remarried and moved to Westfield.

Nathaniel Bancroft married Hannah Williams in 1677. They had five children, with Elizabeth, born 1682, being the second-youngest. Elizabeth Bancroft married Consider Moseley in 1709.


Henry R. Stiles, The History of Ancient Windsor vol. II, p. 40-41.

Children of Consider Moseley and Elizabeth Bancroft:

Rhoda, b. 1710, m. Nathaniel Weller; Israel, b. 1711, Daniel, b. 1714, m. Ann Abbott; Elizabeth, b. 1714, m. Daniel Bagg; Lydia, b. 1716, m. Israel Dewey; Ruth, b. 1717, m. Thomas Root; Mercy, b. 1722, m. Aaron King; Benjamin?, m. Hannah?

Source: Henry R. Stiles, The History of Ancient Windsor, p. 509.


  1. David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, New York, Oxford University Press, 1898, p 23.
  2. Henry R. Stiles. The History of Ancient Windsor, Vol. II, a facsimile of the 1892 edition, Somersworth: New Hampshire Publishing Co., 1976. p. 508, https://archive.org/stream/historygenealogi02stil#page/508/mode/2up accessed April 10, 2018.
  3. Robert Charles Anderson, Great Migration Directory: Immigrants of New England, 1620-1640, a Concise Compendium. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015.
  4. Henry R. Stiles, The History of Ancient Windsor, p. 508.
  5. Chester D. Stiles, A History of the Town of Westfield, compiled for public schools from Greenough’s History of Westfield in the Annals of Hampden County and other sources, Westfield: J.D. Cadle & Company, 1919, p. 22. https://archive.org/stream/historyoftownofw00stil#page/22/mode/2up  accessed April 14, 2018.
  6. The American Genealogist. New Haven, CT: D. L. Jacobus, 1937-. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009 – .) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB283/i/12963/239/24672606, accessed April 7, 2018.
  7. Rev. John H. Lockwood. Westfield and its Historic Influences, 1669-1919: the life of an early town. Springfield, MA, printed and sold by the author, 1922, p. 295, https://archive.org/stream/westfieldandits00lockgoog#page/n324/mode/2up  accessed April 10, 2018.
  8. Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016), https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13251/47/253015607 accessed April 14, 2018.
  9. Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850(Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/r/253018268, accessed April 10, 2018.
  10. Joann River, River-Hopkins, Saemann-Nickel and Related Families (website), Jedediah Dewey II #8003, http://josfamilyhistory.com/htm/nickel/griffin/sheldon/noble/noble-dewey.htm#jed3, accessed April 15, 2018.
  11. Lockwood, Westfield and its Historic Influences, p. 386.  https://archive.org/stream/westfieldandits00lockgoog#page/n414/mode/2up, accessed April 10, 2018.
  12. Virginia DeJohn Anderson, New England’s Generation: The Great Migration and the Formation of Society and Culture in the Seventeenth Century, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991, p.175.
  13. Westfield, Hampden, Massachusetts, Probate Record of the estate of Consider Moseley, 1755. Case Number 102-30, Hampshire Box 102, 1755, page 102-30:1. (Consider’s will is missing from the NEHGS online database of court, land and probate records, however, it is on available on microfilm at the NEHGS in Boston.)