This is an exploration to discover who may have been the father of the Abraham Carley baptized in Marlborough on 23 Oct 1715. Using all the information we can find will allow us to narrow down the possibilities, but may only lead us a temporary decision rather than a definitive conclusion. Some of the contenders will be eliminated, but while a most likely candidate will be identified, we will also find others who should inspire us to further research.
According to Marlborough Vital Records this Abraham Carley was baptized with James, Job, Richard, and Sarah, assumed to be siblings, on 23 Oct 1715. The Vital Records list the children alphabetically, so the order of their birth cannot be determined. Unfortunately, neither parent is recorded. An examination of these birth records shows that the parents were often not recorded in church records, which these were. Thus, the absence of recorded parents is not necessarily significant, but it is certainly inconvenient. The only other multiple baptisms noted were twins. I am assuming these five children were not quintuplets – a major event even now and certainly something which would have been of historical significance at the time. (These records are available online at – http://dunhamwilcox.net/ma/0-index_marlborough.htmhttp://dunhamwilcox.net/ma/0-index_marlborough.htm. Several sites have these records, but this one is easy to search and has great links through its Index.)
These children obviously had parents and their surname was Carley, so we will examine the male Carleys known to be about the right age and living in the right location. As always, we look at the records (such as they are). We will examine both Kerley and Carley men as the name had begun its transition (at least in the North) as early as 1652 but was not complete until at after 1790. The baptism of all five children on the same day begs the question – why? The answer to that question seems most likely to identify who was their father.
The following ten men have been found among various sources and at least seven of them can be found in family trees or family histories as the father of the five children baptized on 23 Oct 1715 in Marlborough. My survey (perhaps not exhaustive) of such trees and histories revealed that only Peter and the two Josephs have not been chosen as the possible father.
The ten are:
Abraham Carley – married Mary French in Charlestown on 28 Mar 1706
Bartholomew Carley, Sr. – born in 1660, married Hannah
Bartholomew Carley, Jr. – born between 1691 and 1697
Henry Kerley, Jr. – born 11 Nov 1657
Henry Kerley, Jr. – born in the 1680s
James Carley – born 24 May 1686, married Ruth Ayers in 1706
Joseph Kerbey – born 4 Jan 1680
Joseph Carley – born about 1690
Peter Carley – born about 1690, married Mary Chadwick
William Carley – married Mary Bowden in Boston on 7 May 1703
At first glance the Marlborough Vital Records suggest that Bartholomew Carley, born around 1660, was the father of the five “Carlye” children baptized there in 1715, as well as the two baptized in 1717 and 1719 (whose father is identified as Bartholomew). Also, other records place Bartholomew in Marlborough around this time. However, Bartholomew and his wife Hannah appear (as “Carlile”) in the Sudbury Vital Records as the parents of two children born there - James 24 May 1686 and Hannah 25 Dec 1687 – a full generation earlier. That means that if Bartholomew and Hannah were the parents of both sets of children, Hannah would have been at least fifty in 1715 and fifty-five in 1719. Her advanced age makes her unlikely to have been the mother of these seven. On the other hand, Hannah may have died and Bartholomew Carley could have married again. Even so, since he was living in Marlborough why not baptize the children as they were born - why wait and baptize five on the same day?
We know from a 1711 garrison assignment that Bartholomew Carley was living in Marlborough. The garrison assignments can be found in several sources. He appears as ‘Carly’ in History of the Town of Marlborough, Middlesex County, Massachusetts by Charles Hudson, and as ‘Curly’ in Topographical and Historical Sketches of the Town of Northborough, with the Early History of Marlborough by Rev. Joseph Allen. The fact that the names were interpreted differently suggests the authors had seen the original documents. Allen provides an exact date for the garrison assignment – 11 Dec 1711.
All the various sources of these garrison assignments agree that Bartholomew Carley was identified as “Senior”. “B--- Carly, Sen.” indicates that there was also a “B--- Carly, Jun.” The most logical explanation is that Junior was the son of Senior. (There are other possibilities, but experience shows the simplest explanation most often corresponds with the facts. Research is difficult enough without challenging the odds. We are trying to reconstruct history – not write an Agatha Christie mystery.)
The presence of Bartholomew Junior now seems to make the baptisms of the five Carley siblings make more sense – especially since Bartholomew is also identified in the same records as the father of William and Mary baptized in 1717 and 1719, respectively. Problem solved, case closed. Time to brew a pot of tea. Or is it?
Could Bartholomew Junior have been the father of the five? Carefully examining his timeline makes it look very unlikely. Why? Because in 1711 he was not yet the head of a household or he too would have been assigned to a garrison. That means he was too young to have fathered the five. (It does, however, mean that he was almost certainly the father of William, born 29 Sep 1717, and Mary, born 19 Sep 1919, as identified in the Vital Records.) However, since he was living in Marlborough, if he intended to baptize his children, why not simply baptize all of them as they were born?
James Carley seems to be the next most likely to have been the father. He is one of the few of this era for whom we have a birth date, 24 May 1686. We also know that he married Ruth Ayers in Marlborough in 1706. He also appears as an adult on the garrison list of 1711. So he was old enough and he was living in Marlborough. There is also the very strong link that one of the children was named ‘James’. But the same question is again pertinent, if he was already living in Marlborough and he intended to have his children baptized, why would he wait until 1715?
Peter Carley identified Bartholomew Carley as his father in a 1736 Leicester, Massachusetts, property deed. (Historic Homes and Places and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Middlesex, Massachusetts by Cutter, page 1710.) Peter had a son Joseph, born 7 Feb 1718 in Leicester, meaning the Bartholomew in question had to have been Bartholomew Senior. Peter’s estimated date of birth is 1690. To father five children by 1715 he should have been born earlier, which is a possibility. Peter cannot be ruled out as the father of the five Carley children baptized in 1715, but he provides no explanation as to why they were all baptized on the same day.
Joseph Carley showed up in Connecticut (land records) in the 1720s, along with James and John, who may have been his brothers, or cousins, or one of each. Since we seem to lose track of Abraham and his siblings between 1715 and 1742 (when Abraham’s own children begin to be born in Marlborough) is it possible that Joseph was their father and took them to Connecticut? After all, it was a Joseph Carley who first showed up in Nobletown, New York, soon to be followed by Abraham and his family. However, a Joseph, Jr., also shows up in Nobletown at this time. Were the Josephs father and son? If so, why wasn’t Joseph, Jr. also baptized in 1715? Was he born later? So, just like Peter, Joseph cannot be ruled out as the father of the five, but he also cannot provide us with a reason that they were all baptized on the same day.
Joseph Kerbey was born 4 Jan 1680 in Boston to parents Henry and Elizabeth Kerbey. (Records Relating to the Early History of Boston, A Report Containing Boston Births, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths, 1630-1699) Were these three actually ‘Kerleys’ but indexed as Kerbey because the writing was difficult to read? Not this time. Henry Kerbey (or Kerby) led a separate existence from Henry Kerley. Henry Kerbey was a soldier from Boston in the company of Captain James Oliver during King Philip’s War. (Soldiers in King Philip’s War, Chapter 12.) Henry Kerbey married Elizabeth in Boston in 1680. (New England Marriages Prior to 1700 by Torrey) There are two other Kerbey males (Richard and Samuel) in the records of the era and area but were born too late to require examination.
Henry Kerley, Junior, was identified as the father of the Job baptized on 23 Oct 1715. (History of the Town of Berlin, Worcester County, Massachusetts, from 1784 to 1895 by Houghton, page 17.) If true, this would also make him the father of the other four children baptized on that date. Houghton places Henry Jr., and Job on a homestead in Marlborough, tracing the land back from Silas to Job to Henry. But again, if there was such a continuity of living in the area, why wait to baptize five children on the same day?
(The possibilities presented by Henry Kerley, Jr. are quite complex – there are at least four possible explanations of his birth – and potentially very significant for our study of the Kerley/Carley family, but he does not seem to offer a very strong solution to the question at hand. Houghton appears to be as confused about Henry Kerley and his family as anyone. Henry Kerley, Jr. will be the subject of a separate exploration.)
William Carley married Mary Bowden on 7 May 1703 in Boston. Cotton Mather performed the wedding ceremony. (Boston, MA Marriages 1646 – 1751) He may have fathered a son John in 1706 in Boston. (Has anyone found a record of the birth or the baptism of John?) William is found in Boston records as a mariner. The question to ask is, if he was the father of John and of the five, and if he intended to baptize his children, why did he have the five baptized in Marlborough but not John, who would have been about 9 years old in 1715? If he had already had John baptized in Boston, then why not the other five? This inconsistency seems to eliminate William. His case is also weakened as his presence in Boston records contrasts with his absence from Marlborough records. Also, and somewhat strange in any Carley family, none of the children bear the name William or Mary.
Abraham Carley married Mary French, both residents of Concord, in Charlestown (now a part of Boston) on 28 Mar 1706. (Vital Records of Charlestown, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850 compiled and edited by Joslyn.) After marriage they resided in Charlestown. (Charlestown Genealogy and Estates by Wyman). Charlestown was a maritime center, so perhaps Abraham was a mariner or engaged in ship construction or repair. Abraham must have died as a young man because the widow Mary French Carley married her second husband, William Hunt, and their son William Hunt, Jr. was born in 20 Mar 1715/6. (Vital Records of Concord, Massachusetts)
(Many family trees show a Simon Hunt born to William and Mary Hunt in 1711, but more refined research on the Hunt family shows that this was a clumsy ‘attachment’ to try to include the comparatively famous Simon. This has been discredited. See "The Hunt for Simon Hunt Of Concord” in The American Genealogist, Volume 75. Several family trees and histories also show Mary French marrying William Hunt on 28 Mar 1706, but this is clearly a mistake. The problem with such blunders is that once they are published they spread like a virus and infect many other family trees and histories.)
Abraham Carley and Mary French had nearly nine years prior to 1715 to have parented the five Carley children baptized on 23 Oct 1715 in Marlborough. Mary was widowed and remarried by 1715. Although Abraham and Mary lived in Charlestown, William and Mary lived in Concord, where their children were baptized. Keeping in mind the original boundaries of Marlborough and Concord (when the names identified rural townships rather than modern towns), people living in different ‘towns’ could have been neighbors, or at least lived within relatively easy visiting distance. If William Hunt did not want the five Carley children in his household, Mary could have sent her children to live with a nearby Carley relative. Living with a Carley family would explain why they were baptized in Marlborough and not in Concord. The early demise of Abraham and the sudden change in living arrangement for his children would also explain why they were baptized at the same time.
Abraham Carley as the father of the five Carley children baptized on the same day in 1715 perhaps provides the best explanation possible given what is currently known. It is not a definitive explanation but it will serve until more documents are discovered.