CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: "Willyam Dennyn servant to our brother Willyam Brenton" was admitted to Boston church 23 March 1633/4 [BChR 17]. FREEMAN: 9 March 1636/7 (as "Will: Dinny") [MBCR 1:373]. EDUCATION: The inventory includes "one bible" valued at 6s. ESTATE: On 12 December 1636 "William Deninge" was one of five servants of William Brenton ordered to have their Great Allotments at Muddy River [BTR 14]. (Pope claims that Denning was proprietor on 14 December 1635; this is the date on which most Boston proprietors were awarded these allotments, but Denning and others were an afterthought a year later.) On 8 January 1637/8 the grants were laid out, and "William Denning" received ten acres [BTR 26]. In the Boston Book of Possessions "William Deming [sic]" held a house and lot bounded by Captain Keayne north, Maudit English west, Benjamin Gillam east, and the lane southeast [BBOP 37]. On 5 January 1651/2 "William Deming" and Maudit English complained about hindrance of access to their garden by the owners of the windmill, and were given relief by the town [BTR 107]. In his will, dated 18 January 1653/4 and proved 31 January 1653/4, "William Denning" gave to his wife Ann Dening the use of his estate for life; after her decease, if his son Obediah come over into New England then one-half the estate to be his, otherwise 20s.; the remainder, together with the other half, to my kinswoman Mary Powell, provided she remain with my wife during her life; friends and brethren Edward Fletcher and John Hull overseers, they to have power to sell about half an acre below my garden, bounded with the highway on one side, Maudit English on the west, and Deacon Marshall and Captain Robert Keayne on the north, to pay debts; witnesses Gamaliel Waite and Benjamin Negus [SPR 1:95]. The inventory was taken 18 January 1653/4 [sic] by Richard Gridley and Gamaliel Waite, and presented 31 January 1653/4 by Edward Fletcher and John Hull; the estate totalled £80 7s., of which £60 was real estate: "one house & lot adjoining unto it & two house lots joining to them ... consisting of about two acres ... with sundry fruit trees" [SPR 2:138].
BIRTH: By about 1616 based on date of freemanship (and probably somewhat earlier if he did have an adult son by the time of his death). DEATH: Boston 20 February 1653/4 [BVR 43]. MARRIAGE: By an uncertain date Ann _____; no record of her seen other than in her husband's will. CHILD:
iOBEDIAH, not in New England at the date of his father's will, 18 January 1653/4; if he was already of full age by this time, as seems to be implied by the language of the will, he must have been born in England prior to the family's migration to New England. (Pope says Obadiah was in England, but the will only says he was not in New England.)
ASSOCIATIONS: The Mary Powell named as kinswoman in the will of William Denning remains unidentified. She was not a daughter of Michael Powell of Dedham and Boston [NEHGR 131:173-74]. William Powell of Charlestown did have a daughter Mary in 1637, the right age to be a servant in the Denning household in 1653, and her fate is unknown [Wyman 768]. On 27 May 1657 Edward Wright married a Mary Powell in Boston [BVR 63]. She could be the same as Mary, daughter of William Powell of Charlestown, or she could be a separate individual. Either could be the woman named in William Denning's will, but proof is lacking.
COMMENTS: For what seems to be a relatively simple surname, William appears under many different guises in the records. The instances of "Deming" are fairly straightforward, since the descriptions of land match those found in the will. The record of freemanship ("Dinny") is identified as this William because it falls in a group of mostly Boston men in the list, and there is no other William Dennis or Denny or anything similar; Pope says the freeman of 9 March 1636/7 was William Dennis of Scituate, but all records for him are in Plymouth Colony and not Massachusetts. On 4 September 1638 "George Horne is fined 10s. for distemper with drink, which his master, Willi: Denne, undertook to see satisfied" [MBCR 1:234]. Since the William Dennyn of this sketch was himself a servant only two years before this record, this may well refer to some other man. There is not, however, anyone else in Massachusetts Bay at the time with a similar name.
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