Robert Seaver, Immigrant to Roxbury MA in 1634


© Randall J. Seaver, Chula Vista CA, 18 May 2005


This report contains biographical and genealogical information on the family of Robert Seaver, who immigrated from England in 1634 on the “Mary and John” and settled in Roxbury in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Information was gleaned from published sources and research in probate records, land records, court records, church records, town records, etc. 


Some of the descendants of Robert and Elizabeth (Ballard) Seaver are listed in 8 generation descendants reports at the web site   There is one report for each of the four sons – Shubael, Caleb, Joshua and Nathaniel.


Please provide the author with updated information via email at




Generation No. 1


      1.  Robert1 Seaver was born About 1608 in ,,ENGLAND, and died 13 May 1683 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 635).  He married (1) Elizabeth Ballard 10 December 1634 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 360).  She was born Bef. 1616 in ,,ENGLAND, and died 06 June 1657 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 635 ).  He married (2) Sarah Burrell 04 March 1661/62 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA.  She died 18 December 1669 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 634, burial).  He married (3) Unknown Bef. 1683 in prob. MA. 


Notes for Robert Seaver:


Robert Seaver's origins in England are not known.  There were Seaver families living in several counties of England during the 16th and 17th centuries - including Berkshire, Kent, Yorkshire, Essex and Oxfordshire.  There was also a large Seaver family in Northern Ireland during the 17th century and onward.


The history of Robert Seaver in Roxbury and the early generations of his descendants were summarized by William B. Trask in "The Seaver Family," in the New England Historic Genealogical Register, Volume 26, pages 303-323, April 1872 (hereafter, "Trask"). 


Many early Roxbury town records mention Robert Seaver, and were transcribed from "Minutes of the Town Records of Roxbury, 1648-1846," Boston [LDS Microfilm 0,478,562].   The town records were published by Robert J. Dunkle and Ann S. Lainhart in "The Town Records of Roxbury, Massachusetts 1647 to 1730", Boston, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1997 (hereafter "Roxbury TR").  Since this book is more readily available to most readers, the page numbers from the latter will be referenced.


Robert Seaver embarked on the ship "Mary and John" out of London, Robert Sayres, master, on 24 March 1633/4.  He took the oaths of supremacy and allegiance to pass to New England.  The ship landed in Boston, and Robert Seaver was living in Roxbury MA by June 1634.  [Trask, 303]


Robert Seaver married Elizabeth Ballard, whose family history and passage to New England are unknown.  The Roxbury Town Records give Elizabeth's surname as 'Allard", [Roxbury Vital Records, 360] but the Church Records, in the early list of admissions, has the following:


 "Elizabeth Ballard, a maide servant - she came in the year 1633, and soone after joined to the church - she was afterwards married to Robert Sever of this church, where she led a godly conversation." [Walter Edward Thwing, "History of the First Church in Roxbury MA, 1630-1904," published Boston, 1908 (hereafter "Roxbury CR")].


In 1635, the General Court stated that "noe dwelling howse shall be built above halfe a myle from the meeteing howse, in any newe plantacion without leave from the Court (except myll howses & Ferme howses of such as have their dwelling howses in some towne)."  This was confirmed the next year, with an addition to the order, that it should extend to all towns within their jurisdiction.  The above statement explains the following grant of the court to Robert Seaver and others, dated 23 May 1639: 


"Jasper Gun, Robert Seaver, Abraham Howe, John Tatman and Robert Sary, upon their petition, had leave granted them to continue in the houses which they have built, and do dwell in, though they bee above  halfe a myle from their meeting house."  This "halfe a myle law" was repealed in 1640. [Massachusetts Bay Colony Records (hereafter "MBCR") 1:257]


Robert Seaver was made a freeman on 18 April, 1637 [MBCR 1:373]. 


The name is written on the town and church records as Seaver, Sever, Seavers, Civer, etc.  Robert apparently wrote his name "Seaver" on a petition to the General Court dated 31 May 1647, signed by 64 freemen and soldiers of Roxbury, praying the confirmation by the court of Hugh Pritchard as captain of a military company in Roxbury, having been chosen by these persons to act as their commanding officer. (Trask, 303]


Robert Seaver's homestead was located in Roxbury at what is now (approximately) the intersection of Center and Amory Streets.  His property list, taken from the Roxbury town records ["Minutes of the town records of Roxbury, 1648-1846, Record of houses and lands, 1659-1716", Boston, LDS Microfilm 0,478,573] about 1652, includes:


"Robert Seaver, his house and lot, one accre more or lesse.  Butting upon John Bowels west, upon the highway and the river east, north and south; and two accres and a halfe, more or lesse, upon Phillip Elliot south and east, upon John Bowles north; and ten acres more or lesse upon John Bowles north and upon a highway south, and upon Muddy River northwest.  And four accres and a halfe more or lesse upon Muddy River northwest, upon a highway east, upon William Lewis south and upon William Heath's heires north; and four and twenty accres and a halfe lying in the first and third allotments of the last division, being the nine and twenty acre lott betweene Griffin Craft and Mr. Hugh Prichard and fourteen acres within the thousand accres at Deddam and four acres of salt marsh more or less lying in the iland lately Capt. Hugh Prichard's, abutting upon the land of William Curtiss east, upon Daniell Ainsworth and George Brand north and upon the river south and west;  and three accres more or lesse, abutting upon the land of Robert Pepper north, upon William Curtisse east, upon John Ruggles Junior south and upon the highway toward the great pond Northwest."


"Robt Seaber" and others purchased a parcel of marsh land, being an island by reason of the creek running through it, in Roxbury from the estate of Captain Hugh Pritchard on 25 June 1651. Robert Seaver received one eighth part of the marsh land lying on the south of William Lyon and John Mayes.  [Suffolk County Deeds, 1:144, LDS Microfilm 0,493,932].


“Robert Sever” was a constable during 1655.  His account was filed on 23 12th month 1655 for a country rate of 34 pounds, 11 shillings, 3 pence.  On 11 February 1661, Robert Seaver and Griffin Crafts signed a notice that they found no highway to Braintree.  [Roxbury TR, 15].


The Roxbury Church Records record Elizabeth (Ballard) Seaver's death:  "1657, buryed, mo. 4, day 9, Sister Seaver, ye wife of Robert Seaver." [Roxbury VR, 635]


On 11 February 1661, “Robert Seauer,” with four others, signed a notice that they found no highway to Braintree. [Roxbury TR, 32]


Robert Seaver married Sarah Burrell on 4 March 1662, but she was buried on 18 December 1669. Sarah was the widow of John Burrell [Suffolk County Deeds 6:194, LDS Microfilm 0,493,933].  They had no children. 


“Robert Sever” was chosen as a "bayly" for a year on 18 January 1663, with his orders to be given him by the selectmen. [Roxbury TR, 40]


Robert Seaver was chosen as one of the five selectmen of Roxbury on 15 January 1665. [Roxbury TR, 53] 


On 29 January 1666, the Treasurer of the county was ordered by the selectmen of Roxbury to pay him 34 shillings for the repair of the county bridges leading to Dedham and Cambridge. [Roxbury TR, 252]


On 9 April 1672 Robert Sever was paid 3 shillings for carting [Roxbury TR, 64].  On 12 February 1673, he was paid one pound for three loads of wood for the military watch, candles and his own powder distributed for the town's use.  [Roxbury TR, 84]


Two interesting and potentially tragic incidents concerning Robert Seaver's property occurred, as reported in the Roxbury church records.  On 28 October 1667, about the break of day, thunder and lightning occurred which fired a haycock of four loads of hay and burned [Roxbury CR, 203].  On 7 October 1673, about 9 o'clock at night, the house of Robert Seaver was fired through the carelessness of a maid who went into the chamber to order the cheeses, her light fired the thatch and the house was burned down, but much of the belongings were saved, as was the barn. [Roxbury CR, 211]


He was apparently a soldier in King Phillip's War in 1675/6. 


He signed a petition that students of Harvard should not wear long hair.


Robert Seaver died 13 May 1683, aged about 75 according to the Roxbury town records.  The Roxbury Church records say:  "1683, mo. 4, day 6, Robert Seaver an aged Christian, buryed." [Roxbury VR, 635]  The inventory for Robert Seaver says he died 5 June  1683.


Robert Seaver made his will on 16 January 1681, and it was proved 3 July 1683.  It was recorded at the Suffolk County Probate Office [Suffolk County Probate Records, 6:416, LDS Microfilm 0,584,128].  The will reads:


"I, Robert Seavers of Roxbury, in the County of Suffolk, sick and weake of body, yet of good and perfect memory.  My will is that after my decease my wide [widow] shall have halfe my Estate during her life, after the legacies hereafter mentioned are disposed out of the whole, and also my will is as long as my wife shall remain my widow she shall have liberty to continue in my house and make use of such goods as are convenient for her, and also shee shall have a quarter part of the Orchard and the use of two Cowes and the garden as long as shee shall continue in the house and remain my widow;  that when shee marrieth or see good to depart from the same shee shall halfe the income of my estate paid her, legacies first disposed of, the use of my house, goods cows, garden, and quarter part of the Orchard to my wife for her use as Superfluity besides half the income of my estate as long as shee continueth, and also my will is that my wife shall have the moveables shee brought with her.


"After my decease, my son Shuball all my salt marsh in the land, to them and their heirs forever, and also my sons shall have no power to sell or alienate any of said marsh from their heires;  and my will is that they shall change their parts every year as it is divided by a small creeke, because one part is better than the other.  That after my sone Caleb shall have that pasture land against his house upon the great hill that my son Samuel Crafts after my decease shall have the piece of swamp land that runneth from widow Heath's land straight over to the upland to the other side butting west upon the Brooks.  That my executors pay to John Seavers, my grandchild, six pounds at his marriage day, but if he lives not to marry then the same to be equally divided between my four children mentioned;  that the other halfe of the estate be equally divided between my four children, and after my wife's decease that all my lands and moveables bee also divided between my four children.


"Son Samuel Crafts and son Caleb Seavers Executors.  Wm. Carey and Joseph Grigges, Overseers,  Jan. 16 1681.


                                                                                                      Robert Seaver


"In the presence of us, Phillip Searles -- John Craft, Acknowledged July 5, 1683."


The inventory of Robert Seaver's estate totaled 430 pounds, 5 shillings, 8 pence, including 300 pounds in real estate [Suffolk County Probate Records, 9:130, LDS Microfilm 0,584,129].


*     housing, orchard, barn and garden (90 pounds)

*    16 acres of pasture land or thereabout lying in Roxbury known by the name of Huckleberry Hill (40 pounds)

*     24 acres of land in Roxbury called the further lot (100 pounds)

*     6 acres of pasture land lying on the south side the great hill in Roxbury (24 pounds)

*     4 acres salt marsh lying in the island in Roxbury (38 pounds)

*     2 acres of fresh meadow lying at Bear Marsh in Roxbury  (8 pounds)


The four children referred to in the will are his sons Shubael, Caleb and Joshua, and his daughter Elizabeth, who was married to Samuel Crafts.  Grandson John was the son of Nathaniel Seaver, who was killed by the Indians at Sudbury in 1676 during King Phillip's War. 


Notes for Elizabeth Ballard:


The parents of Elizabeth Ballard have not been positively identified.  Since she arrived in New England in about 1633 and married in 1634, she must have been at least 18 in 1634, indicating a birth year of 1616 or earlier.


Several online databases indicate that she was the daughter of Hugh and Maria (Prosser) Ballard, who married in 1622 in St. Martin-in-the-Field in London, England.  They did have a daughter Elizabeth, who was christened in 1628.  The LDS Ancestral File ascribes a birth year of 1613 to this Elizabeth, which means that Hugh Ballard was about 16 years old and Maria Prosser about 12 years old.  It is evident that the Elizabeth, daughter of Hugh and Maria (Prosser) Ballard, is NOT the Elizabeth who married Robert Seaver in Roxbury MA in 1634.


Children of Robert Seaver and Elizabeth Ballard are:


        2                  i.    Shubael2 Seaver, born 31 January 1639/40 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 315); died 18 January 1729/30 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 636).  He married Hannah Wilson 07 February 1667/68 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 358); born Bef. 02 May 1647 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (baptism, VR); died 13 February 1721/22 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 635).


        3                 ii.    Caleb Seaver, born 30 August 1641 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 314); died 06 March 1712/13 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 635).  He married Sarah Inglesby 15 December 1671 in Charlestown, Suffolk County, MA (in Roxbury VR, 354); born About 1651 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA; died 31 January 1707/08 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 635).


        4               iii.    Joshua Seaver, born 30 August 1641 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 314); died 27 March 1730 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 633).  He married Mary May 28 February 1676/77 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 360); born Bef. 07 November 1657 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (christening).


        5                iv.    Elizabeth Seaver, born 19 November 1643 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 310); died 09 December 1731 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA.  She married Samuel Crafts 16 October 1661 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 360); born 12 December 1637 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA; died 23 March 1700/01 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA.


        6                 v.    Nathaniel Seaver, born 08 January 1644/45 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 315,  baptism); died 21 April 1676 in at Sudbury, Middlesex County, MA (in Roxbury VR, 635).  He married Sarah Bef. 1671 in prob. Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA.


        7                vi.    Hannah Seaver, born 14 February 1646/47 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 314); died 03 June 1647 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 635 ).


        8               vii.    Hannah Seaver, born 13 October 1650 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, MA (VR, 314); died 03 March 1652/53 in Roxbury, SuffolkCounty, MA (VR, 635 ).