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Matthias Farnsworth (b. 20 July 1612, d. March 1687/88)Matthias Farnsworth (son of Richard F. Farnsworth and Elizabeth Marshe) was born 20 July 1612 in Farnsworth, Lancastershire, England, and died March 1687/88 in Groton, MA.He married Mary Farr, daughter of George Farr and Elizabeth Stowers.
Notes for Matthias Farnsworth:
The Farnsworth family arrived in America about 1628.In 1655 we find Mathias Farnsworth living in Lynne (near Boston).Protestant by religion and weaver by trade he married for a second time to Mary Farr who gave him eight children.Leter moved to Groton, MA, where he was one of the Pioneer settlers and founding fathers of the town.His descendants are numerous in the USA.
Matthias Farnworth, as his name was first written, and in early times
in this country was usually pronounced "Farnoth," first appears at
Lynn, Mass., where he was a resident in 1657; that being the earliest
date in which his name appears in the Lynn records. But he was
probably resident there some years before. When he came to this
country, how, or with what family, is unknown. But that he resided
there, was a farmer, and had a farm near what is now Federal Street,
on which he lived until 1660 or 1661, is very certain. His first
child, Joseph, as appears by the records there, was born 17 Nov. 1657.
He probably moved to Groton in 1660, though it is uncertain when the
first actual settlement of Groton was made. The first petition is
dated 16, 3 mo: 1656, but probably they were not fully established as
a settlement until 1660. The records of the town commence in a very
brief way in 1662, though it is very likely that some of the settlers
had moved there two or three years earlier. Matthias is first
mentioned in the records of Groton at a town meeting held 27 Nov. 1664. He had a child born in Lynn in 1660. He must have moved to Groton soon after, as he had his house built and was a resident there, where he was recognized, and an
If Mary Farr was the mother of all his children, she must have borne them during a period extending over thirty-one years; this is possible but hardly probable. The probabilities are that he had married and lost one wife before he
married Mary Farr. Possibly the reference in his will to some chance
of difficulty with his eldest son, Matthias, Jr., might have with some
of the rest of the family, may have had its origin in the jealousy of
children by different mothers.
George Farr, the father of his wife, Mary Farr, is named in the letter of instructions sent from the company in London to the officials at Salem, as a shipwright sent out by them in that business in 1629. He appears, however, to have given up shipbuilding very early, and to have engaged as a land owner in
farming in Lynn, near the place where Matthias Farnsworth had land. He
had several children who survived him, one of whom married Nicholas
Hutchins, then of Lynn, but who, soon after the settlement of Groton,
moved there, and purchased land adjoining to that owned by Matthias
Farnsworth, and lived upon it. Matthias made a power of attorney in a
case pending in the court at Salem, to one Edward Richards, who was an
early settler at Lynn, in which he calls him his "beloved brother."
This Richards' wife's christian name was Ann, which, so far as any
record goes, was not the name of any of George Farr's daughters. In
what way he came to be "brother," perhaps "brother-in-law," to
Matthias, is a question which, if ever answered, may throw some
further light on the subject.
The birth-place of Matthias in England, and the time of his arrival in America, are yet somewhat enshrouded in mystery. He may have been, and very likely was, very nearly related to Joseph of Dorchester, from the fact of his naming two of his sons "Joseph," he surely was interested in the name, and that he was
possibly a younger brother. The first certain knowledge that we have
of Matthias at Groton, is in the memorandum of the Rev. John Fisk of
Chelmsford, who was a member of the Church Council held at Groton
early in the year 1664, to consider certain dissensions which
probabl6y grew out of the settlement of Rev. Mr. Willard as the
minister of the town.*(Green's Early Records of Groton,p.189.) The
Council consisted of Major Simon Willard and Rev. Joseph Rolandson of
Lancaster, and Rev. John Fisk and John Webb of Chelmsford. This
Council met at Groton, May 10,1664.
According to one Patrice ofthe Guild of One Name Studies 3026
Society of Genealogists UK:
The FARNSWORTH One-Name Study has been checking parish registers in Eccles, Lancashire. They are in poor condition and so we have also checked the facts with a transcript made in 1932.Even in that year there was a problem with
the writing, page deterioration and fugitive ink.
We confirmed the entries that agree Richard was father of Matthias 1 and
found various other entries about siblings and the wider family.
We made notes on the priests in charge on the occasions of Farnworth weddings
and baptisms(name., dates of his incumbency etc.).
We took particular note of the oldest Farnworth entries in the registers and
can now advise:
a) The father of Richard Farnworth, grandfather of Matthias, is confirmed as
Elizeius, baptised January 1561/2 at Eccles Parish Church, Lancashire.
b)The mother of Richard Farnworth was named Margreta, but her surname was
indecipherable even under a strong magnifying glass and infra-red lamp.
There is an entry for baptism of a Margretha Ba........ ( which presumably
was the same as it is such an unusual Christian name) during the summer of
c)Elizeius(Elijah) and Margreta married in September 1582 in Eccles
The two researchers came back filled with admiration for those who
transcribed the whole registers in the 1930's - an appallingly difficult task
because of their condition and the crabbed handwriting, they said.The task
wasn't helped by two of the vicars insisting on using Latin in the registers,
Subject: Groton Garrisons In 1692
Source:Groton Historical Series, Vol II No. XIII by Dr. Samuel Abbott
Mathew (Matthias) FARNSWORTH
Widdow FARNSWORTH (Mary Farr)
The garrisons were places of rendezvous during times of danger, but they could not have well accommodated the whole population of the town, which at that time
(1691/2) was probably between 300 and 350 inhabitants. Many of the families mentioned in this list, afterward suffered severely, at different times from the attacks of the Indians.
Subject: Captivity of Matthias Farnsworth
Source:Groton Historical Series by Dr. Samuel A. Green Vol II 1890
p. 364MATTHIAS FARNSWORTH'S CAPTIVITY
Among the Massachusetts Archives (LXXI.761) at the State House is a
list of prisoners held by the French and Indians in Canada on March 5,
1710-11, wherein the name of Matthias Farnsworth appears.There is a
reference to this list in "Groton during the Indian Wars" (p.109),
where the statement is made that "it is unknown when Matthias Farnsworth was
captured, and this entry appears to be the only record
of the fact."Within a few days, through the kindness of Miss C. Alice
Baker of Cambridge, I have learned the date of his capture as well as
some facts about his family.Miss Baker obtained them from the early
parish records of Montreal, and she has placed them at my disposal.
The account is as follows:
"On January 10, 1706, was baptized Mathias Farnet, born at Groton, New
England, in the year 1680 [1690?].He was a son of Mathias Farnet,
weaver, and of his wife, Sara Nutting, and was captured in August 1704;
at the time of baptism he was living at the Mission of Notre Dame de
Lorette on the island of Montreal.His godfather was Claude de Ramezay
and his godmother was Elizabeth, wife of Charles Le Moyne, Baron of
Longueuil.In a list of English and Dutch captives who ask for
naturalization papers dated May, 1710, the name of Mathieu Claude farnet"
appears.The middle name was taken from the godfather.In
another list of English captives who had taken out naturalization
papers dated May 1710, the name of "Mathias Claude Farnet," is given.
By the conditions of the process those who received the papers could
NOT return to live in New England, without permission of the French
king.In fact they obtained all the privileges of Canadian born sub-
jects, - they could inherit property and dispose of it, but HAD to be
This account lays in neatly with the very few facts known about the
Matthias Farnsworth family.Matthias Farnsworth Sr. was a weaver and
it seems natural that Matthias Farnsworth Jr., the boys father, should
have learned the same trade.The account gives also the maiden name
of the mother, which until now has been unknown to the present genera-
tion; while the given name corresponds with that in the town-records.
She was the daughter of John and Sarah Nutting, born at Groton on May
29, 1663. I think, however, that there is a mistake in the date of the
boy's birth, as a contemporaneous entry in the County records at East
Cambridge says that he was born on August 6, 1690 and there is no
reason to doubt its accuracy.It would be very easy to confound the
figure 9 with an 8.According to the record found in Canada, Matthias
was captured in August 1704, during the early part of which month the
town of Groton suffered somewhat from the depredation of the Indians.
Samuel Penhallow, in "The History of the Wars of New-England" Boston,
1726, thus refers to this attack:
"They afterwards fell on Lancaster and Groaton, where they did some
Spoil, but not what they expected, for that these Towns were seasonably
strengthened - and yet a little while after they fell on Groaton and
Nashaway [Lancaster], where they kill'd Lieut Wyler [Wilder], and
several more." (Pages 24, 25.)
In the library of the Massachusetts Historical Society is a manuscript
diary of John Marshall of Braintree, which has the following entry:
"The begining of this month of august  the indians did mischeif
at Lancaster - Killed 3 or 4 persons - burnt their meeting house: and
did some harm allso at Groton.the same Week Killed one or more: about
200 men went out after them who weer gone 20 days under major Taylor,
but Returned Without doing any spoill on them."
The attack on Lancaster was on July 31, and that on Groton, probably
within a day or two of the same time.According to John Shepley's
petition, printed in "Groton during the Indian Wars" (pages 68, 69)
"three or four men were either killed or carried away from Groton in
the summer of 1704; and perhaps Matthias Farnsworth was one of this
number.They were in a field at the time, some reaping and others
on guard, when they were attacked".
The first volume of a Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families (in
French), by the Abbe Cyprien Tanguay, was published in the year 1871
and since then four other volumes have appeared. This work gives some
interesting particulars about many of the captives taken in New England
who afterward were naturalized in Canada; and it refers by name to Lydia
Longley (I.9,396) and to Matthias Farneth [Farnsworth] (IV.9),
who both were of Groton.In early times the use of a particular form
of a surname, even in the same family, was not always uniform; and it
is easy to see, therefore how Farnworth which was the common way of
writing the name in the beginning of the last century, should have be-
come Farnet or Farneth in Canada.It is said that Matthias married;
and if so, there may be now in that Province representatives both of
his name and family.His wife without doubt was a French woman.
Twelve years ago at St. Regis I saw descendants of the two Tarbell boys
who were carried off by the Indians on June 20, 1707.These children
assimilated in their mode of life with the captors and afterward they
married squaws and when they died they left a large posterity.The
physical resemblance between some members of the family that I saw
and their collateral kindred in Groton was very marked.
Note p. 15 of the Farnsworth Memorial, Moses Farnsworth says:
"All the immigrants of that name to this country in the seventeenth
century wrote it in the same or substantially the same way [Farnworth].
But as the writers and recorders of those times were not well instructed in
orthography, they were not at all uniform in their spell-
ing of this name.Thus we find Farneworth, Fernworth, Farnot, Farnoth
Fearnoth and many other forms.The pronounciation in early times in
this country was probably as if spelled Farnoth, as it is spelled in
some of the records."Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth
More About Matthias Farnsworth:
Children of Matthias Farnsworth and Mary Farr are:
- +Jonathan Farnsworth, b. 01 June 1675, Groton, Middlesex, MA, d. 1748.
- Sarah Farnsworth, b. 29 May 1663.
- Joseph Farnsworth, b. 11 April 1676.
- Abigail Farnsworth, b. 17 January 1670/71.
- +Samuel Farnsworth, b. 08 October 1669.
- Benjamin Farnsworth, b. 1667.
- Mary Farnsworth, b. 11 October 1660.
- Joseph Farnsworth, b. 17 November 1657.
- John Farnsworth, b. 01 June 1751.