4 Hall Cousins... reflecting on the past

Did Edward Hall leave the Colony a debtor in 1652?

by C Hall ~ March 30th, 2009. Filed under: Edward Hall, Immigrant Ancestor.

Before moving on to Edward Hall’s family and later years, I’d like to take a look at the statement that Edward Hall left the Colony a debtor in 1652, as written in Winsor’s History of the town of Duxbury, Massachusetts, published in 1849.  This has carried over into other publications about Edward Hall.

The entry appears in the genealogical section of Winsor’s book (full view on Google Books) on page 263, as follows:

“1. Edward, Dux., 1638, permitted to build in Dux.; 1637, 10 acres at G.H. path; 1638, sold his house to Wm. Wetherill; 1641, he appears of Taunton; 1642, had a house at Hounds Ditch; 1645, prop. of Bridgew.; 1652, left the colony a debtor.”

Clearly, this entry seems to indicate that these events are from the life of one individual and not just random findings in the records on various Edward Halls of the time.  There are no source citations for these entries, although all of the above can be found in the Plymouth Colony Records except for Edward Hall being of Taunton in 1641.  I have not yet found where that information came from.

Considered the primary source for seventeenth century research in the Colony, the Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England (volume 3), edited by Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, shed some light on where this statement likely originated.

The first entry of interest is dated  7 December 1652 wherein the Court speaks of a “beast tendered from the estate” (my emphasis) of Edward Hall and attached until the next Court session (in March).  Constant Southworth was ordered by the court to winter the beast and it was ordered that any charge for loss or wintering would be payable from the estate of said Hall (PCR 3:21).  The next page contains another entry regarding the estate of Edward Hall, this being at a Court session the first of March 1652/53 and begins:  “Whereas Edward Hall is departed the government endebted unto divers men much more than his estate (again, my emphasis) will amount unto and satisfy….”  It goes on to say that all creditors should show full proof of what is owing them by the first of May next (PCR 3:22).  The last entry is dated 7 June 1653 wherein the Court found that a debt was due a Captain Willett and a Mr. Paddy, from Edward Hall, in the amount of 4 pound and 4s and the Court ordered that it be paid out of the estate (PCR 3:34).

According to the above this was another Edward Hall who had lived in the Colony and had died sometime previous to the first Court Order dated 7 December 1652.  All entries mention the estate of Edward Hall, thereby confirming that this Edward Hall was deceased.  This particular Edward Hall appeared to not have a large enough estate to pay off his indebtedness. The language in the entry dated March 1, 1652/53, describing the deceased Edward Hall as departed the government and indebted for much more than his estate is worth, is what I believe was picked up and published in Winsor’s History of the town of Duxbury, Massachusetts as well as in other subsequent publications and carried over into a few genealogies.

The problem as I see it is that it was quickly assumed that this was Edward Hall of Duxbury, late of Henbury, and that he left the Colony a debtor in 1652.  However, the keyword here is estate.  Clearly that should have been a clue to Mr. Winsor that those particular Plymouth Colony Records entries pertained to a different, and a deceased, Edward Hall.

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