This page conforms to the XHTML standard and uses style sheets. If your browser doesn't support these, you may not see the page as designed, but all the text is still accessible to you.

SCHENECTADY DIGITAL HISTORY ARCHIVE

Bringing the heritage of Schenectady County, New York to the world since 1996

You are here: Home » Families » HMGFM Home » Dexter

Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Dexter

Index to All Families | Index to Families by County: Albany, Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren, Washington

Go to previous family: Cuyler | next family: Le Boeuf

[This information is from Vol. IV, pp. 1728-1734 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

The family name of Dexter is derived from the title of the English city, Exeter, in Devonshire, written as though the person came from there, D' Exeter, and then contracted into Dexter. The Dexter arms: Shield: Argent, two chevrons azure, a canton gules. Crest: A tree, pendant therefrom two weights.

Richard de Excester, progenitor of the family in Ireland, and who died in 1269, was governor and lord chief justice of Ireland, and it is believed that he emigrated from Devonshire, for there are good reasons. Other changes in the spelling of the name, leading to the common and more modern form of Dexter, were de Excester, Dexcestre, Dexcester, Dexetir, Decetir, de Exon, de Exonia and de Exeter.

The family traces descent from Richard de Exonia (Exeter), to whom was certified a grant by Edward I., king of England, August 9, 1281, made by Philip de Monte Gomeri (filed "MtGomery"), which reads, in part:

"Know all men both of the present and the future that I Philip de Monte Gomeri have given and granted and by this my present charter confirmed to my Lord Richard de Exonia and his heirs or his assignees one townland in Connaught — which is called Moyletrath which my Lord the King gave to me with all its appurtenances — for him and his heirs or his assignees to have and to hold in chief from my Lord the King — with moors, pastures, waters, and all liberties and free usages pertaining to the said townland; — freely, quietly, happily, peacefully, entirely, honorably and hereditarily forever, and for this, to my Lord the King and his heirs Richard himself and his heirs or his assignees are to give the twentieth part of the service in fief of one soldier for all service, suit in court, collection or demand."

King Edward I. made a grant on June 12, 1304, to Richard de Exonia for an important tract situated in Connaught, Ireland, as follows:

"Be it known that we have given and granted on our own part and that of our heirs to our beloved and faithful Richard de Exonia nine townlands with their appurtenances in Connaught, in Ireland, namely townlands of Dengynmacossen, Conylloscy, Narraghtyn, Corkillebrangyle, Corcropanlistosty, Rathfareth, Tobirnetalpie, Torpan and Monynannan which the same Richard holds in tenancy by the commission of our beloved and faithful John Wogan our Justiciar in Ireland, made for the same Richard under our direction for eighteen pounds delivered to us yearly at our exchequer in Dublin, in accordance with the certification made at our order by the aforesaid Justiciar and returned to us under the seal of the same Justiciar."

Concerning the appointment of Richard de Exonia as Chief Justiciar on the bench in Dublin:

"Be it known that we have appointed our beloved and faithful Richard de Exonia our Chief Justiciar on our bench in Dublin for hearing and deciding pleas on the same bench, together with our other faithful Judiciars assigned to this place according to law and custom of these parts as long as we shall please. In (testimony) of which, etc. Under the hand of the King at Langeleye on the fifth day of June, 1308."

Carrickdexter was long the seat of the chief branch of the Dexter family, until Genet Dexter, its heiress, married into the Rockfort family. Two miles from there, in the year 1585, lived Margaret Dexter, in the Castle of Rathaldon. She married Michael Cusacke. This estate is now in the town of Slane, and is possessed by the Marquis of Conyngham, while upon the property still may be seen the ruins of the house that is called Castle Dexter.

(I) Richard Dexter, progenitor of the familv in America, was born about the year 1606. He came from within ten miles of the town of Slane, in county Meath, Ireland, where lived the descendants of Richard de Excester, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. When the great Irish massacre of the Protestants began, October 27, 1641, Richard Dexter took his wife, Bridget, together with three or more children, and fled to England. He remained there only a brief time, for he was residing in Boston, Massachusetts, prior to February 28, 1642, as on that day he was admitted a "Townsman" of that place. Upon what vessel he sailed is unknown. He signed a petition as an inhabitant of Charlestown, Mystic side, May 16, 1648, and he resided there until he purchased a farm in Malden, Massachusetts, December 7, 1663; but from January, 1677-78, until his death, he probably lived with either his daughter Elizabeth or Ann. He and his wife were members of the church at Malden, and in 1650 she signed a petition from that church to the general court. He signed a remonstrance to the general court, May 16, 1643, with the inhabitants of Mystic side, against a proposed highway from Winnisimmet to Reading, as the Malden records state. He received a deed from Edward Lane, of Boston, December 7, 1663, of a farm containing forty acres, in Malden, and the same property, later increased to two hundred acres, was occupied several centuries by his descendants in direct line. He also received a deed as early as 1650, from Robert Long, and still others, at subsequent periods, In 1666-67, he gave a deed of some of his property to "James Melins," who "hath married my daughter Elizabeth, — mariner, of Charlestown," and who was supposed to have been lost at sea practicing his vocation. In a deed of January, 1677, he speaks of his deceased son-in-law as "the late James Mealings."

By a deed dated February 24, 1674, evidently looking to the closing of his estate before his death, he made provision as follows:

"to my sonne John, of Charlestown, of all my farm-houses and lands, and appurtenances belonging, which I have in Malden, and which I bought formerly of Mr. Edward Lane; and half of my land and wood near Spot Pond, being part of the lot given me by the town of Charlestown — excepting one acre of marsh land near Blanchard's farm, and about four acres my dwelling house stands upon, for my daughter Ann Pratt's use, where her house now standeth — John to pay him 10 pounds a year during his life — 5 pounds in Indian corn and pork, at prices current, and 12 loads of wood, to be delivered at his dweelling house in Charlestown, with half of the apples."

It is set forth in the records of those times that Richard Dexter was a tythingman, probably of Boston, and according to the records of the Middlesex court he was styled "Constable." According to his testimony in that court in 1666, he was that year sixty-eight years of age. In 1652 he was residing in Misticke, as then written, according to a document of September 22 of that year. His wife, who was born about 1612, died about 1675, and he died at Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1680.

Children:

  1. Alice, died between November 25, 1681, and August 22, 1682; married, about 1653, Benjamin Muzzy, and had
    1. Benjamin, born April 16, 1657;
    2. Joseph, born March 1, 1658-59, and
    3. Sarah.
  2. Elizabeth, died about October, 1693; married (first) James Mellins, a mariner; by whom:
    1. Elizabeth, born September 4, 1659;
    2. Mary, July 8, 1661;
    3. James, April 14, 1663;
    4. Mary, 1664;
    5. Richard, April 24, 1665;
    6. John, September 17, 1666;
    7. Sarah, November 27, 1668;
    8. Thomas, May 11, 1670;
    9. William, August 22, 1671;

    she married (second), May 14, 1680, Stephen Barrett.

  3. John, born in 1639, see forward.
  4. Ann, married John Pratt.
  5. Sarah, born at Charlestown, November 1, 1644; married, 1666, Edward Pinson.

(II) John, third child of Richard and Bridget Dexter, was born in 1639, died at Malden, Massachusetts, December 8, 1677. The farm upon which he lived was transferred to him by his father, February 24, 1674-75; but reserving to himself for life a free rental. At this time his residence was stated as Charlestown, where his daughter was born. He was fatally shot in the back by Captain Samuel Hunting, surviving the accident four days. He married Sarah, who afterwards married (before April 2, 1684) William Boardman, and possibly had a third husband, Daniel Hitchins, of Lynn, Massachusetts. Boardman was admitted freeman of Malden, March 12, 1689-90, and was elected constable of Rumney Marsh. Children:

  1. John, born August 21, 1671, see forward.
  2. Sarah, born Charlestown, Massachusetts, June 11, 1674; married, Reading, May 19, 1697, John Brown.
  3. Richard, born Cambridge, Massachusetts, November 6, 1676, died at Malden, April 21, 1747.

(III) John (2), eldest child of John (1) and Sarah Dexter, was born August 21, 1671, died at Malden, Massachusetts, November 14, 1722. In deeds he was styled a weaver, and possessed the farm at Malden, receiving a deed for one-fourth of it from his brother, Richard, May 19, 1703, in consideration of sixty pounds, and one-fourth from his sister, Sarah, of Boston, May 6, 1697, for a like amount, and as his father made no will, he probably acquired the half of it as being the oldest son and so entitled by the law of that period. He was a deacon in Malden church; selectman in years 1709-10-16-17-21; moderator of a town meeting in 1722. Captain John Dexter was in command of a company of foot under George I. The commission issued to him is of interest, and it reads: "To John Dexter, Gentleman, Greeting: "By vertue of the Power and Authority, in and by His Majesty's Royal Commission to Me granted, to be Captain-General, &c. over His Majestry's Province of the Massachusetts Bay, aforesaid; I do (by these Present) reposing especial Trust and Confidence in your Loyalty, Courage and good conduct, constitute and appoint you, the said John Dexter (to) be Captain of the Company of Foot in Malden in the Regim. of Militia whereof the Honorable Spencer Phipps, Esq. is Colonel. You are therefore carefully and diligently, to discharge the Duty of a Captain in Leading, Ordering and Exercising said Foot Company in Arms, both Inferior Officers and Souldiers, and to keep them in good Order and Discipline; hereby commanding them to Obey you as their Captain." This was dated September 16, 1717, and was signed by Samuel Shute. He left all his estate to his wife for his children, with the conditional understanding that if she remarried, John and Richard were to pay her twelve pounds yearly.

Captain John Dexter married Winnefred Sprague, born at Malden, December 31, 1673, died there December 5, 1752, daughter of Samuel Sprague (baptized June 3, 1632) and Rebecca (Crawford) Sprague, who were married at Boston, August 23, 1655. Children:

  1. John, born at Malden (as were all the others), January 3, 1696-97, died there March 4, 1696-97.
  2. Winnefred, March 30, 1698, died there June 30, 1698.
  3. Samuel, October 23, 1700, see forward.
  4. John, April 10, 1702, died at Malden, July 4, 1705.
  5. Timothy, July 28, 1703, died at Malden, November 30, 1703.
  6. Timothy, July 28, 1704, died at Malden, October 17, 1704.
  7. John, December 19, 1705, died at Malden, May 17, 1790.
  8. Richard, June 15, 1713, died Topsfield, November 25, 1783.

(IV) Rev. Samuel Dexter, third child of Captain John (2) Dexter and Winnefred (Sprague) Dexter, was born at Malden, Massachuetts, October 23, 1700, died at Dedham, Massachusetts, January 29, 1755. He received from his father by will one hundred pounds, being a smaller sum than was bequeathed to his brothers, with one hundred and fifty pounds to be added after his mother's death, and for this extra allowance he waited long, for she lived a widow thirty years. However, when his father made the distribution of his property while alive, he recorded the fact that he had given to Samuel both learning and books. He was of unusual studious qualities, and was sent to Harvard, graduating in 1720. He was admitted to the church May 1, 1720, ordained May 6, 1724, as the fourth minister of the First Church of Dedham, and continued as such until his death, at that time under the charge of Rev. Alvan Lamson. He had kept school previously at Taunton, for six months, and commenced a school at Lynn, February, 1721, where he continued for one year, and then engaged in teaching in Malden, continuing for six months. From that time he improved himself in preaching. He received an unanimous call to be rector, with, an offer of one hundred and fifty pounds yearly salary. His reply shows the sincerity of the man, and in its quaintness is of interest, commencing as follows:

"Honored and Beloved: Seeing that the Sovereign Jehovah, in whose hands are the hearts of all men, hath so far united the affections of the church and congregation in this place, that they have elected me (who am less than the least of all saints) to the work of the evangelical ministry among you, and hath inclined your hearts freely to offer, of your temporal good things so far as you have done for my support, I do therefore hereby declare (though with trembling, do I engage in so great a work, for who is sufficient for these things?) that I freely embrace your invitation, because I believe it to be my incumbent duty, and thankfully accept your offers."

He married, Boston, Massachusetts, July 9, 1724, Catherine Mears, born at Boston, September 25, 1701, died at Dedham, June 10, 1797, daughter of Samuel Mears (born May 22, 1671, died May 10, 1727) and Maria Catherine (Smith) Mears, daughter of Captain Thomas Smith, mariner, whose portrait is in the Hall of American Antiquities at Worcester, Massachusetts. Mrs. Samuel Dexter married, when a widow, Samuel Barnard, of Salem, Massachusetts.

The Rev. Samuel Dexter had all the temerity of the timid lover of the stage or novel when approaching the subject of selecting and winning a life partner. In his diary he made record on November 22, 1723:

"This day was very cold. I communicated something of my mind to the young lady — which I hope (and I think I have reason to hope), may, through the smiles of indulgent Providence be the Person in whom I may find the good thing, and obtain favor of the Lord. I think I have not been rash in my proceedings, she is as far as I can find, a Woman of Merit, a woman of good temper, and of prudent conduct and conversation, and oh! Lord I would humbly wait upon thee for so signal a Blessing."

He was evidently successful in his hopes and surmises, for he wrote in his diary, under date of October 23, 1724, this quaintly worded sentence:

"My companion is a kind, tender, and virtuous person, and I hope I have in her a good thing, which is from the Lord God, make her so to me."

Her father kept a public house, as then termed, called the "George Tavern," located on the line between Boston and Duxbury, which was burned July 31, 1775, and he then conducted the Sun Tavern in Cock-court, Dock Square, and after that the "Governor Hancock." When Samuel Mears died, Rev. Mr. Dexter wrote of him:

"He was in general, a just, honest man and very charitable for one of his capacity; had a very hard death, and I hope has exchanged earth for heaven. My wife has lost a tender, loving father, and I have lost a very kind, bountiful friend."

Children of Rev. Samuel Dexter and Catherine Mears, all born at Dedham, were:

  1. Samuel, born March 18, 1725; baptized March 21, died at Dedham, April 9, 1725.
  2. Samuel, born March 16, 1725-26; baptized March 20; died at Mendon, June 10, 1810.
  3. John, born January 30, 1727-28; baptized February 4; died at Dedham, November 5, 1731.
  4. Ebenezer, born October 17, 1729, see forward.
  5. William, born September 12, 1731; baptized September 19; died at Dedham, May 26, 1736.
  6. Catharina, born September 28, 1733; baptized September 30; died at Dedham, February 2, 1734-35.
  7. John, born August 12, 1735; baptized August 17; died at Marlborough, February 7, 1800.
  8. Catharina, born November 21, 1737; baptized November 27; died August 30, 1814.
  9. Rebecca, born October 4, 1739; baptized October 7; died May 31, 1823.
  10. William, born July 17, 1741; baptized July 19; died at Dedham, June 9, 1749.
  11. Mary, born October 12, 1743; baptized October 13; died May 13, 1775.

(V) Dr. Ebenezer Dexter, fourth child of Rev. Samuel and Catherine (Mears) Dexter, was born at Dedham, Massachusetts, October 17, 1729, baptized October 19, died at Marlborough, Massachusetts, May 4, 1769. He was a physician, practicing at Marlborough. He married, Marlborough, February 7, 1754, Lydia Woods, born at Marlborough, October 17, 1736, died there December 24, 1774, daughter of Colonel Benjamin Woods, born Marlborough, June 5, 1691, died in 1740, married, August 8, 1717, Elizabeth Morse, born January 4, 1699, daughter of Joseph and Grace (Warren) Morse. After the death of Dr. Dexter, she married, Marlborough, June 30, 1771, Dr. Samuel Curtis. All their children were born at Marlborough, Massachusetts. Children:

  1. William, born April 17, 1755, died at Marlborough, December 4, 1785.
  2. Samuel, November 14, 1756, see forward.
  3. John, December 10, 1758, died at Boston, October 31, 1807.
  4. Jason Haven, June 25, 1762, died at Marlborough, August 25, 1770.

(VI) Samuel (2), second child of Dr. Ebenezer and Lydia (Woods) Dexter, was born at Marlborough, Massachusetts, November 14, 1756, died at Albany, New York, August 29, 1825. He was an apothecary, and took up his residence in Albany at the end of the eighteenth century. He married, Northampton, Massachusetts, May 29, 1790, Elizabeth Province, born at Northampton, July 4, 1763, died at Albany, October 18, 1846, at the residence of her son, James, on the north side of Beaver street, opposite where stood the "Middle" Dutch Church. She was the daughter of John Province (son of John Province and Margaret Jer), born at Glasgow, Scotland, in 1719, came to America, May 10, 1740, settling in Boston, died July 6, 1792; he married, May 9, 1748, Sarah, daughter of Captain Joseph and Mary (Townsend) Prince, born in 1730, died March 11, 1810, and was buried in the Prince family tomb in the Granary burial-ground at Boston, Massachusetts.

Of the remarkably fine character of Mrs. Samuel Dexter, it was said:

"Seldom has death during the last half century bereaved us of one leaving such records of goodness as the late Mrs. Samuel Dexter. So well was her kindly heart known and appreciated, that when strangers in former times made this city their temporary residence, often disheartened and afflicted, they were reminded that one hospitable door was open to them, where they could meet a cordial welcome, and find all the delights of home, in which word is centered most that is dear to us. In her dwelling was seen all that taste and ingenuity could dictate. So entirely free was she from all selfishness, that no enjoyment was prized unless shared with others. If truth showed frailities in members of the community, she never censured them. The poor had experienced her kindness so long, that they relied as confidently upon the stores set apart for them as if in their own possession, and her contributions were bestowed in so kind a manner that the wretched never lost their self-respect."

Children:

  1. Eliza Hunt, born March 25, 1791, died May 7, 1799.
  2. Frederick Samuel, January 25, 1793, died June 30, 1793.
  3. James, born at Albany, New York, January 17, 1795, died there August 14, 1867, unmarried; graduated at Union College, 1813; was admitted to the bar by the New York supreme court, January 17, 1823, and was one of Albany's leading practitioners.
  4. Elizabeth Ann, born at Albany, March 24, 1797, died there August 30, 1840; married, Albany, May 6, 1823, Marcus Tullius Reynolds, who was born in Minaville, Florida township, Montgomery county, New York, December 29, 1788, died in Albany, July 11, 1864, son of Dr. Stephen and Lydia (Bartlett) Reynolds.
  5. George, see forward.

(VII) George, son of Samuel (2) and Elizabeth (Province) Dexter, was born at Albany, New York, July 2, 1799, died there July 21, 1883. After being given an elementary education in the city schools, he was sent, at the age of sixteen, to Union College, from which he graduated with full honors. He studied law, was admitted, but never practiced. In his early life he manifested those traits of self-reliance and energy which enabled him subsequently to be the architect of his own fortune. About 1827, when he married, he engaged in business with Henry Rawles and James Archibald McClure in the drug business, locating on the south side of State street, which firm became one of great prominence, as its business spread, until it eventually vied with those in the metropolis. After a time he withdrew and went into business on his own account at No. 57 State street, and his place was known as "Apothecaries' Hall." In 1850 he formed a partnership with Joseph Nellegar, and acquired the property at the northeast corner of State and Pearl streets, the most prominent intersection of streets in Albany's business section. This partnership continued for eighteen years when, having secured a comfortable fortune by the application of the rule of absolutely fair dealing, he retired.

In 1839 and 1840 he yielded to solicitations of friends to enter political life, and was chosen to represent the old fifth ward in the board of supervisors, and he was elected in 1848 and 1849 to represent the sixth ward in the common council. He was actively concerned in the founding of the Albany Medical College, and for a number of years was a trustee. For a very long time he was a vestryman of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, and on his death was senior warden. The rector, Rev. Dr. Walton W. Battershall, paid his memory the following tribute:

"His life of eighty-three years was to a singular degree identified with the history of the parish. From his baptism in the little, stone church that stood underneath the fort in the middle of State street, the first Episcopal church west of the Hudson river in all America — what a host of memories concerning the history of this city and this parish were gathered up in his life. He represented much that was best in its type of character and life. The courtesy of the old days, the simple tastes, the spotless integrity, the faith and reverence, the serenity and content and freedom from the push and rush of these more recent days — all these were conspicuous traits of his character, and entered into the kindly, genial flow of his life. He was a man who won your trust and love, and he never betrayed them. The world, the church, the life of the household, and friendship, and business, has need of such men — men whose fidelity you can lean on as an oaken staff. They are the moral salt of a community, and their memories are a precious inheritance and an inspiration to gentle and true and loyal living."

The vestry of St. Peter's made record, in part, as follows:

"He was a man of great beauty of character, whose kind and genial nature made his life rich in friendships, and who sustained all the trusts and relations of life with a rare courtesy, dignity and fidelity. He was for many years a member of the vestry, giving to it his judicious counsel and unwearied labors. We order the chancel drapes with the customary badge of mourning."

After retiring from business, he continued to occupy an office on the ground floor of the same building, where he was wont to meet with his friends daily for the sole purpose of continuing the intimate companionship of a large circle of acquaintances, and was a most entertaining conversationalist, for his recollections comprised a varied lot of most interesting local history, dating back to the time when he made the trip, in company with his father, upon the first journey of Robert Fulton's famous steamboat, the "Clermont." He could also vividly describe the visit of Lafayette, September 17, 1824, when given a rousing, public reception by the city.

He was in his nature strongly conservative, always honest, sincere and upright in his purposes and conduct. He was a staunch adherent of the old Whig party, as long as it lasted, and he then became an earnest supporter of the Republicans. He was a liberal contributor to all the public charities and benevolent enterprises. He was a trustee of the Albany Savings Bank for many years, until his death.

Bishop William Croswell Doane made this tribute in his address before the convention of the Episcopal Church, in 1884.

"A very prominent figure has passed away from Albany in the death of Mr. George Dexter, for many years one of the most active and useful members of the vestry of St. Peter's church, and at the time of his death, its senior warden. I miss his kindly greeting, which was almost a daily pleasure in my life upon the street, and the whole town misses him, as one of the few left of the old-fashioned gentlemen of Albany, 'a serene and genial old friend, who, without being garrulous, took pleasure in stirring up his old-time reminiscences of people and things in the Albany of a former day. He loved to talk,' I quote from the same graceful notice of him by my dear friend, Mr. Orlando Meads, 'of the school and schoolmistresses of his early years, of the clergymen, and especially of the old rectors of St. Peter's, their habits, peculiarities and the many interesting facts connected with them. All these things made him a centre of loving interest to his friends. His was a beautiful, serene old age, tempered by time; strengthened by a firm and quiet religious faith; but ever preserving its interest in the happiness and welfare of those about him, and thus it came gently and peacefully to its close, leaving us pleasant remembrances of a good and useful and benignant life.'"

He was buried in the Albany Rural cemetery, and in the nave of St. Peter's Church a window of beautiful, artistic execution was placed to his memory as its warden.

George Dexter married, at Albany, New York, April 5, 1827, Mary Magdalen Cuyler, born at Fort Johnson, Johnstown, New York, the historic place of Sir William Johnson, February 3, 1810, died at Albany, October, 1847, daughter of John Cornelius and Hannah (Maley) Cuyler. Children, born at Albany:

  1. Anna Augusta, July 16, 1833, see forward.
  2. Catherine Cuyler, March 4, 1837, unmarried.
  3. Cynthia Reynolds, October 14, 1839, died at Albany, November 23, 1893, unmarried.
  4. Mary, June 27, 1845, died there, February 7, 1848.

(VIII) Anna Augusta, eldest child of George and Mary Magdalen (Cuyler) Dexter, was born at Albany, New York, July 16, 1833. She married (first), in St. Peter's Church, Albany, April 6, 1858, William James Noyes, who died at Old Lyme, Connecticut, January 31, 1860, without issue. She married (second), in St. Peter's Church, Albany, October 25, 1866, William Henry Bradford. He was born at New York, New York, September 22, 1812, died at his home in that city, December 30, 1895, son of William and Eliza (Price) Bradford. In the latter years of his life, he bought property at Lenox, Massachusetts, where his family was living in 1911.

Mr. Bradford was eighth in direct descent from William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony. The line of descent reaches to William Bradford, of Austerfield, a small village on the southern border of Yorkshire, England, who held the rank of "Yeoman," and was one of the only two persons of property then in that place. His son, William, was born in 1561, died in 1591; married Alice Hanson, in 1584. Their third child (first son), William, was born in Austerfield, March, 1590; was placed in care of his grandfather, being left an infant, and when he died, was brought up by an uncle. When twelve years old, he was deeply impressed by listening to the reading of the Scriptures, and later joined the band of worshipers known as Separatists, who were accustomed to assemble in the house of William Brewster, in Scrooby, an adjacent village. Religious persecution followed, and James I. declared he would "harry them out of the land, or worse." Under such conditions, they removed to Holland, where they could worship freely in their own way. They were about to start from Boston, England, when the king, through the treachery of the captain of the vessel, confined seven of them in prison. Bradford, being youthful, was released sooner than the others, and proceeded to Zealand, Holland, where he was accused of being an English fugitive; but, on explaining his cause, was allowed to go, and joined his friends at Amsterdam, where he became a silk dyer.

At the end of three years Bradford came into possession of his inheritance, which he converted into cash, and established himself in business. In 1609 the colony removed to Leyden, staying there about ten years, when he was one of those agitating for moving elsewhere. They proceeded to England. With others, he engaged in purchasing the sailing vessels "Speedwell" and "Mayflower." The former proving unseaworthy, they embarked aboard the latter, and, although intending to settle near the Hudson river, they entered Cape Cod harbor on the morning of November 11, 1620, and just before passing in, drew up a compact which they signed.

In the explorations to select the most proper place to locate, Bradford was one of the prime movers. While away on one of these hazardous trips, likely to come across savages and wild beasts, his wife was accidentally drowned. On December 21, 1620, the band landed at Plymouth. It was a forlorn party of courageous souls, and their struggle that winter was severe, for six of them died in December, eight in January, seventeen in February and thirteen in March. The following month, the "Mayflower" sailed back to England, and they were left to their own resources, cut entirely loose from home and all assistance or supplies. Shortly thereafter, Carver, their leader, died, and William Bradford was chosen governor. He ruled wisely, holding this office for the long period of thirty-seven years, with the exception of the three-year term of Edward Winslow and the two-year term of Mr. Prince.

He won the unbounded respect of all in the colony. Understanding the character of the Indians thoroughly, his tact and bravery counted for much at several critical periods. A new and larger patent was granted them in 1629, in the name of "William Bradford, his heirs, associates and assigns." Bradford displayed judicious management and lessened their extreme misery as time went on. Despite his meagre opportunity in youth to acquire more than a fair education, he was by natural bent able to improve himself, and he studied the languages that he might, as he put it, "see with his own eyes the ancient oracles of God in their native beauty." In this manner he became familiar with Greek, Hebrew, Latin and Dutch, at the same time reading much of history, philosophy and religion. He was unusually active with his pen, as was discovered after his death, and his writings have been published, but only one appearing in print while he lived.

Governor William Bradford married, in 1623, the widow, Alice (Carpenter) Southworth, for his second wife, who died at New Plymouth, Massachusetts, March 26, 1670, aged eighty years, and he died May 9, 1657. By his first marriage he had a son named John, who was a deputy to the court at Plymouth, from Duxbury, in 1651, and from Marshfield, in 1653. No record of his marriage has ever been learned. By his second wife, he had William, Mercy and Joseph. The eldest of these, Major William Bradford, was born June 17, 1624, died February 20, 1704, and married successively Alice Richards, of Weymouth; the Widow Wiswall, and Mary (Atwood) Holmes, widow of Rev. John Holmes, the first minister of Duxbury and daughter of Deacon John Atwood, of Plymouth. The Bradford arms: Shield: Gules, on a fesse azure, three stags' heads erased, argent. Crest: A stag's head erased.

Children of William Henry Bradford and Anna Augusta Dexter:

  1. Grace, born at New York, New York, September 2, 1868; married, at New York City, February 14, 1889, Lindsay Fairfax. He was born at "Oak Hill," Aldie, Loudoun county, Virginia, May 5, 1857, son of John Walter and Mary Jane (Rogers) Fairfax, by whom:
    1. Bradford Lindsay, born in New York City, February 11, 1893, and
    2. Grace Lindsay, born at Eastbourne, England, April 21, 1898.
  2. William Henry, born at New York City, March 19, 1872; married, at New York City, February 8, 1892, Mary Kingsland Jones, born at New York City, October 4, 1870, daughter of Herman LeRoy and Augusta (Kingsland) Jones, by whom:
    1. William, born at Babylon, Long Island, November 20, 1893, died at New York City, March 20, 1900, and
    2. George Dexter, born at New York City, June 12, 1897.
  3. George Dexter, born in New York, New York, May 11, 1873, died there, November 24, 1894, unmarried; he was educated by tutors and also attended St. Paul's School, at Concord, New Hampshire.

Go to top of page | previous family: Cuyler | next family: Le Boeuf

You are here: Home » Families » HMGFM Home » Dexter

http://www.schenectadyhistory.org/families/hmgfm/dexter.html updated July 30, 2009

Copyright 2009 Schenectady Digital History Archive — a service of the Schenectady County Public Library