FIRST RESIDENCE: Winnissimmet
REMOVES: Charlestown 1637
OCCUPATION: Yeoman. Brewer.
CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: Admission to some Massachusetts Bay church before 11 June 1633 implied by freemanship, but he does not appear as a member of Boston or Charlestown churches. Elected and ordained deacon at Charlestown, 1659 .
FREEMAN: 11 June 1633 (as "Willm Stilson") .
EDUCATION: Both he and his wife Mary could sign their names, although he made his mark to his will. His inventory included "books" valued at £2 3s. and "seaman's instruments & books" valued at £2 2s.
OFFICES: Deputy for Charlestown to General Court, 15 May 1667, 29 April 1668, 19 May 1669, 11 May 1670 and 31 May 1671 .
Appointed clerk of the market (at Boston), 4 November 1646 . Committee to establish town of Mendon, 16 October 1660 . Committee "to repair the court or townhouse" at Boston, 31 May 1671 .
Admitted to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in 1648 .
ESTATE: On 1 July 1636 "Goodman Stittson" was granted 6 haylots in Charlestown "if he come into the town or to go with his house" . On 23 July 1637 "Goodman Wm Stitson to have 6 cow's hay allowed to his house which is building in this town, & also 5 acres on Mystic Side of the ten formerly laid out if he continues in this town" . On 30 December 1638 he had four cow commons in the stinted common .
In the 1638 Charlestown Book of Possessions "Will Stidson" held six parcels: "two acres of arable land ... in the East Field ... with a dwelling house upon it"; four acres and a half in the East Field; four milk cow commons (annotated "one of these commons sold to Augustin Lyndon"); three acres of meadow in Mystic Marshes; fifteen acres of woodland in Mystic Field; and thirty-five acres in Water Field .
On 22 May 1649 William Stilson of Charltowne sold to Richard Harrington of the same two acres of meadow and a piece of upland at Hadlock's point . On 1 July 1650 William Stitson of Charlestown, yeoman, sold to John Founell of Charlestown, miller or millwright, "one-eighth part of Charlestowne tide mill"; his wife Elizabeth acknowledged the deed, making her mark .
On 3 February 1656 William "Stitson" was granted one common, which he sold to "Lyndon" . He received lot 103 and received fifty-four wooded acres and 9 and a half acres of common .
On 9 April 1670 William Stitson of Charlestown sold to Thomas Russell of Charlestown a parcel of land in Charlestown, six feet by four hundred feet . On 15 March 1670 John Dudley of Charlestown sold to "Deacon William Stitson of Charlestowne ... all my right, title and interest in a woodlot with two cow commons & a half, the said woodlot containing fourteen acres ... on the backside of Mr. Cradock's farm on Mystic Side" . On 1 October 1671 "William Stetson" of Charlestown, yeoman, sold to Thomas Rand of Charlestown, husbandman, five hay lots and a half near Mystic River; this deed was ac~knowledged by his wife, "Marie Stitson," who also signed her name .
On 6 February 1671 "William Stitson of Charlestowne ..., yeoman, and Mary my wife" sold to Richard Russell of Charlestown, gent., "two cow commons lying in Charlestowne stinted common on the south side of Mystic River" . On the same day "William Stitson of Charlestowne in New England, yeoman, and Mary my wife" sold to Thomas Danforth of Cambridge "three cow commons lying in Charlestowne stinted common on the south side of Mystic River" .
On 27 November 1672 "Deborah Hill of Charlestowne ... widow and administratrix to the estate of my husband Zachariah Hill late of Charlstowne deceased" sold to "my father-in-law Mr. William Stitson of Charlestown ... one dwelling house with about six pole of land" . On 20 February 1672 William Stitson of Charlestown, yeoman, sold to James Russell of Charlestown, merchant, three and three-quarters acres and eleven poles "within the enclosed field within the neck of Charlstowne" .
On 19 May 1677 William Stitson, deacon, of Charlestown sold to Samuel Ballatt of Charlestown, shipwright, "two acres of pasture land lying in Charlestown" . On 20 January 1677 "Mary Stitson alias relict widow & administratrix of Capt. Fra Norton deceased" sold to Solomon Phips of Charlestown, yeoman, "one cow common ... in Charlestowne stinted common on the south side of Mystic River" .
On 2 September 1681 William Stitson of Charlestown, brewer, sold to Mathew Soley of Charlestown, mariner, an irregularly shaped parcel of land in Charlestown . On 12 September 1681 "Wm Stilson of Charlstown" sold to "Zachrie Long" of Charlestown, mariner, four acres of upland and meadow . On 5 September 1682 "Wm Stilson" of Charlestown, yeoman, sold to Zech Long of Charlestown, mariner, four acres in "Moltin's Point Field" .
On 27 May 1685 "William Stilson" of Charlestown sold to Jonathan Tufts of Medford one woodlot of twenty-seven acres, Lot #103, on the north side of Mystic River . On 22 March 1688/9 William Stitson of Charlestown, yeoman, sold to Andrew Belcher of Charlestown, mariner, three acres and twelve rods of pasture near Moulton's Point; Elias Stone acknowledged as attorney to the grantor . On 13 October 1690 William Stitson of Charlestown, yeoman, sold to Elias Stone of Charlestown, mariner, "all that his brewhouse & a parcel of land to the same adjoining ... in the said Wm Stitson's orchard, near his dwelling house" .
In his will, dated 12 April 1688 and proved 21 November 1692, "William Stitson of Charlestowne, ... yeoman," bequeathed to "John Harris, Thomas Harris, William Harris, Daniel Harris and Anna Maverick relict widow of Elias Maverick, deceased, the children of my first wife," five shillings apiece; to "Sarah Johnson who now dwells with me" twenty shillings; to "my negro Sambo" his freedom "six months after my decease"; to "Sarah Norton, the daughter of my late wife Mary," since she is unable to care for herself, provisions for her maintenance for life; to "Deborah Griffen the wife of Mathew Griffen Senior all the right, title and interest that I have in the house now in the tenure of the Widow Spencer," and after Deborah's decease to "Zechariah Hill and Abraham Hill, the two sons of the said Deborah which she had by her former husband Zechariah Hill, deceased"; to "my kinsman Elias Stone and his wife Abigail" the residue, which after their death is to be "the proper inheritance of the children of the said Elias and Abigail by them lawfully begotten forever"; Elias Stone to be executor; "loving friends Deacon John Cutler and Thomas White Senior" to be overseers .
The inventory of the estate of "Deacon William Stitson" totalled £503 9s. 8d., of which £392 was real estate: "one dwelling house and garden with the orchard and a cattle house on it," £180; "one warehouse and wharf," £50; "one barn, wharf, two acres of marsh," £38; "two acres of pasture land more or less," £34; "one-eighth part of Charlestown mill," £60; and "one hundred & fifteen acres woodland," £30 .
BIRTH: By about 1601 based on age at death (which may be somewhat exaggerated).
DEATH: Charlestown 11 April 1691, "about 91" (as "Deacon William Stillson") .
MARRIAGE: (1) By about 1634 Elizabeth () Harris, widow of THOMAS HARRIS . Her death is given as 16 February 1669/70, aged 93 ; she was more likely a decade younger.
(2) Charlestown 22 August 1670 Mary () Norton , widow of Capt. Francis Norton . She died after 20 January 1677, when she signed a deed with her husband , and probably before 2 September 1681, as she did not acknowledge a deed made by William Stitson on that date , or any of his later deeds.
CHILDREN: None recorded.
ASSOCIATIONS: The legatees named in the will of William Stitson may be arranged in four groups: 1) the children of his first wife by her first husband, THOMAS HARRIS (the four Harris brothers and Anna Maverick); 2) the children of his second wife by her first husband, Francis Norton (Sarah Norton and Deborah Griffin); 3) his servants (Sarah Johnson and Sambo); and 4) his kinsman Elias Stone and Abigail, wife of Elias.
The only one of these persons who is related to William Stitson by blood is Elias Stone. Stone had married in Charlestown in 1686 Abigail Long , and there is no evident way in which she could be related to Stitson. Elias Stone does not appear to belong to any of the Stone families who arrived early in New England, and the terms of the bequest to him indicate that he is the closest relative that William Stitson had in New England.
Examination of the IGI (followed by inspection of the appropriate parish registers) led to an immediate answer with regard to the origin of Elias Stone, and a strong suggestion as to the origin of William Stitson. In the parish of Holbeton, Devonshire, "Ellias Stone of Charlstone & Jone Stidston" were married on 29 December 1648, and between 1651 and 1666 this couple had seven children baptized in that parish, including a son Elias who was baptized on 14 April 1660, without doubt the immigrant to New England. (At first glance the marriage record for the parents of the immigrant looks especially enticing, with the suggestion that the elder Elias had already travelled to New England and was considered a resident of Charlestown when he married Joan. There is, however, no evidence that the elder Elias was ever in New England, and there is a parish named Charleton in Devonshire, just a few miles southeast of Holbeton, and this is where the earlier history of the Stone family should be sought.)
Just a year after the marriage of Elias, another couple, "Fraunces Stidson & Mary Pomry," were married in Holbeton. The only earlier Stitson entry in the Holbeton register, which begins in 1620, is the burial on 28 July 1643 of "Margery Stidston," wife of John. Both Elias Stone and Francis Stitson named daughters Agnes.
The surname Stitson (with its many variants) is very common in this corner of Devonshire, but very rare elsewhere in England. In the adjacent parish of Modbury, Devonshire, whose registers begin in 1601, the surname is very common, and we find there "John Stitson & Tomasin Wylling" who were married on 15 November 1606 and had two children baptized: William, on 6 December 1608, and Agnes, on 9 August 1612. This William could be the immigrant to New England, but the evidence is far from sufficient, especially considering the loss of Devonshire wills in 1942.
We may say with some confidence, however, that the Elias Stone named in the will of William Stitson was baptized at Holbeton, Devonshire, in 1660, that William Stitson himself was a member of the Stitson family in this part of Devonshire, and that William Stitson was perhaps greatuncle of Elias.
COMMENTS: On 3 September 1633 "dministration granted to Willm Stitson of the goods & chattels of Richard Arnoll of Wenetsemt, deceased" .
This immigrant's surname appears in a wide variety of spellings, including Stetson, Stilson and Stiltson. Stitson has been chosen as the "standard" spelling because that is how he signed his name on several documents, in a very clear Italic hand. This is, furthermore, the most common spelling of the name in its area of heaviest occurrence in Devonshire.