· John and Abigail Benjamin

John and Abigail (Eddy) Benjamin are my 9th great grandparents. The Benjamin family, along with the Bradfords, Newcombs, Clevelands, Ormsbys, and many others, form my English ancestry, through my grandmother, on my dad’s side of the family.

John Benjamin was born about 1584 in Heathfield, Sussex, England. He was a close friend of John Winthrop, the great Puritan leader who began the Great Migration with the Winthrop Fleet of English settlers to New England in 1630. Benjamin met John Winthrop while they were at Cambridge University. It is thought that his friendship with Winthrop played a big part in his decision to leave England and come to America. Also, two of his wife Abigail’s brothers had already come and settled in New England, and that may also have played a part in their decision.

Abigail Eddy was born on October 6, 1601, in Cranbrook, Kent Co., England. She was the daughter of Rev. William Eddye, who was Vicar of St. Duntan’s Church in Cranbrook, and Mary Fosten. She married John there in about 1619. They had eight children together.

John and Abigail sailed from Plymouth, England on June 22, 1632 aboard the ship “Lyon”, captained by Captain William Pierce. John took the oath of allegiance to the King and government of England before he embarked. This group of Puritans were members of Thomas Hooker’s “Braintree Company”. After being at sea for 12 weeks, they landed in Boston Harbor on Sunday evening, September 16, 1632. They brought with them their children John, Abigail, Samuel and Mary. The “Lyon” carried 123 passengers, with 50 being children.

Model of the  "Lyon"

Model of the “Lyon”

This was the last voyage of the “Lyon”. On the following November, while returning to England, it was wrecked on a shoal a few miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake River.

The Benjamins soon settled in Newtowne, Massachusetts.  Newtowne is the original name of the present day Cambridge. On November 6, 1632, he became a Freeman. A Freeman had the right of sufferage, enjoyed advantages in the division of land and, before the representative system started, Freemen were members of the General Court. The principal qualifications of this privilege seem to have been Church membership. John Benjamin was one of the original proprietors of the Freeman of Boston. It is worthy to note that he became a Freeman within two months of his arrival, an unusual honor, and perhaps a record of the high regard the community placed on him.

On May 30, 1633, he was was appointed Constable of Newtowne by the General Court. The Constable in England and in the Colonies was the Chief Executive Officer of the parish or town, hence an office of honor and importance.

On six acres of land in Newtowne, Benjamin built, what Governor John Winthrop described as, a “mansion…unsurpassed in elegance and comfort by all in the vicinity. It was also a mansion of religion and hospitality; visited by the clergy of all denominations and by the literate at home and abroad”. The location of the Benjamin home was on the present site of Harvard University.  The map below shows the home’s location on the present day map of Harvard.

Location of Benjamin Home is Lot 18 (in red) - Click to Enlarge

Location of Benjamin Home in Cambridge is Lot 18 (in red) – Click to Enlarge

It would certainly seem that John Benjamin was both wealthy and well educated. Gov. Winthrop referred to him as “Mr. Benjamin,” a title indicating prominence and used rarely. On April 7, 1636, the Benjamin home in Newtowne was damaged badly by fire. It’s loss was valued at over 100 pounds. John was said to have had a very large library. Many of his books were lost in the fire.

In about 1637, John moved his family to Watertown, Massachusetts. Watertown records of 1642 say that he owned the largest homestall in the town at that time. This lot was bought from the Oldham family and much of his land contains the current site of the Perkins School for the Blind. His homestead in Watertown was 60 acres and was situated east of Dorchester Field and bounded on the south by the Charles River. You can see the location of the Benjamin property on the map of present day Watertown below.

John Benjamin Watertown Home Location in red - Click to Enlarge

John Benjamin Watertown Property Locations shown in red – Click to Enlarge

The following pictures show the view of the Charles River today from the site of the Benjamin homestead in Watertown. Click on each to view a larger version.

Charles1 Charles2

The records do not show that he assumed an active part in the civil affairs of Watertown. Apparently he led a very quiet life there. He was a member of the First Church of Watertown. This church was the second oldest church in the Colony of Massachusetts.

John Benjamin died in Watertown on June 14, 1654. His wife, Abigail, went to Charlestown, MA (now part of Boston) after John’s death, and lived with daughter Abigail and son-in-law Joshua Stubbs. Abigail died in Charlestown on May 20, 1687.

John and Abigail’s 3rd great grandson was Asa Benjamin. You can read more about him at this link.


44 thoughts on “· John and Abigail Benjamin

  1. Pingback: Today’s Tidbit | April 7, 1636 « Tree Rings

  2. Excellent summary, cousin!

    They are my ancestors too, through their son Joseph Benjamin who married Sarah Clarke, then their daughter Hannah Benjamin who married Simon Gates.

    Cheers — Randy

  3. Thank you so much for this interesting article on John & Abigail Benjamin. John is my 11th Great Grandfather and his son Samuel, my 10th GGrandfather. I have only been able to trace Abigail’s family back to Rev. William Eddy. Do you have ANY information prior to that?
    Susan Aulgur

    • From everything I’ve read, no one really know who William’s parents are. I’m sending you a message on your email.

    • Hi Susan, I have John B. Benjamin’s parents as John Benjamin and Joane Hookes. (John B. husband of Abigail Eddy.) Vicar William Eddye’s parents were Thomas Eddye and Margaret Thomas.

  4. Very nice site, I like the map overlays. Also our ancestors, The last Benjamen in our line was Allen Benjamin born 1765 son of Caleb. He is buried at Warehouse Point CT.

    John, Caleb, John, Caleb, Caleb, Allen.

  5. This is absolutely fascinating history. My cousin Sandy shared this – If I did my math correct, John and Abigail would be my 11th G Grandparents. So this means that I am related to all of you folks- how cool is that?

  6. Thank you very much for the information. Abigail and John Eddye are my husband’s 9th great grandparents through John Benjamin 1620, Sarah Benjamin, through the Hagars to the Rices, and thence to the Dames. It’s been a fun and fascinating educational journey back in time.

  7. My aunt has also done research, and has traced our family back to John
    Benjamin. She had provided us with the direct links, thru the males,
    down to our family.

    Wallace Benjamin

  8. Wow, I love those overlay maps. We visited Harvard this past year; if I had known this information, I would have looked for the homesite of my ninth great-grandfather, John Benjamin.

  9. Like to hear from other American cousins.
    Rod Benjamin. 9th great grandson of John Benjamin & Abigail. My part of the family has made it all the way to Maryland and never left the east coast.

  10. This is a great article and the maps are fantastic! Thank you! I’d love to see the key for the buildings in the overlay. How would I do that? It’s fascinating to me that my Benjamin ancestor and my Olmsted ancestor – different branches of my family – both came to Boston on the Lyon, 1632, and ended up a few blocks from each other. Thanks again for your great work.

  11. all I can say is GREAT WORK I have a lot to add to this as I am great grandson of eli Benjamin ,how do I contact someone to assist in adding a lot of info to the clan ,16th child OF ELIS JOSEPUS BENJAMIN ,THEN THEODORE GORETH BENJAMIN ,MY FATHER BORN 1909 NEW PALTZ DIED 1976 CORNISH NH. B.LLOYDS CEMETARY ,HIGHLAND NY. MYSELF THEODORE (TED) BENJAMIN B 1938 now in florida and I have 3 great grand childen ted

    • I am the oldest son of Theodore Charles Benjamin above and would like to gain more information related to my family ancestry.

  12. I believe my great great-grandmother Laura Benjamin was in the 9th generation before our name change. John, John, Abel, Jonathan, Abel, John, Issac, Samuel, and Laura. Laura Benjamin married Hiram Marshall and they had William Marshall. He had a son Lawrence Eastwood Marshall who had me. Donna Marshall Morin

  13. Pingback: John Benjamin | Miner Descent

  14. John and Abigail Benjamin are my 9th great-grandparents as well. I’m descended from their son Joseph Benjamin Sr, a line that eventually made its way to Connecticut, upstate New York, Detroit, and then Ontario, Canada around the turn of the 20th century. This is an amazing summary, thank you so much!

  15. I share John and Abigail Benjamin with you too. I come through their son Joseph’s line (the first Benjamin born in America). Then three more Josephs and then Judah, Orange, Richard, William, Carroll and Carroll (my father). Thanks so much for the maps, etc. We’ve visited Watertown and walked along “our” land on the river. A beautiful spot indeed.

    • Thank you Janena!

      It is a beautiful spot indeed. We sat by the river and enjoyed a great summer evening!

    • Hi Janena. I am a direct descendent of John Benjamin who arrived in boston in 1632 on the ship Lion. My father was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and had traced the family back to John. So interesting. I live on Long Island and Johns brother Richard left Boston and settled in Southold New York. I came to find out that a member of my church last name Corwin also settled in Southhold and and his descendant, Mathias Corwin married into the Benjamin family. This is all so fascinating! My name is Susan Benjamin Degnan, Benjamin being my maiden name

  16. Hi Dave,

    I am an 11th direct descendent of John and Abilgail Benjamin. I live very near the spot where they lived when they were in Harvard Square. My father and I have been geographically living in their footsteps for decades without knowing about our ancestry. Your blog here is absolutely wonderful and answers some questions I am researching. The map of his properties in Harvard Square and in Watertown were particularly helpful.

    Dave, I have some research about them to share with you too but I prefer to not go public with my name on this blog at this time. Please reply to my alternative email at: Peter987artist@gmail.com

  17. My generation is the 10th in the line from John and Abigail Benjamin. I appreciate your blog and will watch for future additions. Sally Benjamin

  18. Hi Sally,

    Thank you for the nice note re: Ancestry.com. I have been subscribing to it for 3 years and only started using is last weekend. I promised Dave I would send him a different map I have of the Benjamin Homestead. I am an 11th direct descendent and i live just across the Charles River from his former property. I will try to get you these documents as soon as I can but I have been really busy at work finishing a movie on the Transcendentalists of Concord , Massachusetts, especially Thoreau, The Alcotts, Margaret Fuller, Hawthorne and Emerson.

    Best, Peter Benjamin

  19. Very happy to find this article, after inheriting some documents my grandmother had been working on and through the wonderful world of the internet I find that I am related to this John Benjamin, he is my 10th great grandfather. We descend from his son Joseph and the next 2 Joseph’s then his son Elijah and the next 2 Elijah’s then his son Pulaski and his daughter Mary Florence who is my great great grandmother (She married Richard Liptrott so this where the Benjamin name ends in our family). Thank you so much for this interesting information about my ancestors!

  20. I am the 14th generation from John Benjamin. It goes John, John, Richard, Richard,David, Jonathan, David, Ezekiel, Jefferson, John, William, Lawrence, Raymond and then me, Rose. Your research has been very informative. I appreciation any information I can find. It’s like a mystery unfolding.

  21. Thank you so much for this lovely and informative piece. I have been doing research on my line, with which I have had many frustrations. I have had significantly more success with tracing my husband’s family, which has lead me to this line of Benjamins. John and Abigail are his 10x great grandparents. I am thrilled to find and be able to inform him, and our children, about their long history in this country. I look forward to reading more and discovering more.

  22. My wife’s maiden name is also Benjamin and we have traced our common ancestors to John and Abigail Benjamin. They are our 9th Great-Grandparents. It has been interesting to trace our history. Her Benjamin line moved to Connecticut and became silversmiths and mine moved to New York until moving to Wisconsin in the Mid 19th century. Thanks for the early history.

  23. Hi, John and Abigail Benjamin are my 13th. G. Grandparents. Their daughter, Abigail and husband, Joshua Stubbs are my 12th. G. Grandparents. What a lovely article written above.

  24. this is a great article i believe that John and Abigail are my 14th G. Grandparents
    i have trying to find out my family history my dad , grandfather, great grand father my great great grandfather and my great great great grandfather were all from around Dunkirk and Rochester area my 4 x great grandfather was born in Vermont and i can not connect him and his father who i believe was born in New Jersey if anyone can help that would be awesome
    thanks so much

  25. I can’t figure why people aren’t concerned with their heritage?!? Genealogy is fascinating! Now to John and Abigail. John > Joseph Sr > Joseph Jr > Obadiah Sr > Abel > Samuel > William C > Samuel S > Byron L > Earl B > Robert E> ME! 10th great grandparents! Great to find more relatives, even if distant! “Life is short, do Genealogy first!”

    • Hi Gary,
      I am Peter Benjamin from Wellesley, MA.
      I just got an email with your ancestry in it re: the Benjamin side of your family.
      Very interesting
      I am the great grandson of Lorenzo Byron Benjamin of Framingham.
      My grandfather grew up there on the family farm. I visited it a couple of times when I was little.
      My Father was Elmer Francis Benjamin. He would be the grandson of Lorenzo Byron Benjamin.

      Nice meeting you on here

  26. I am 12th in a line of 14 generations from John1 who was my 9th great grandfather and my lineage goes as follows: John1, John2, Abel3, Jonathan4, Joshua5, ?Abiezer6, Isaac7, Herbert8, Marshall9, Audrey (Benjamin) Monahan, Cleona (Monahan) Matter, Jill (Matter) Cohen, sons, grandkids. Abiezer6 has a question mark in the book, The Benjamin Family in America. If anyone else has information about Abiezer6, I would be delighted to connect.

  27. Thank you for sharing this well-written article. I descend through Able and his wife Abigail Stimson.
    Tami Benjamin Crandall

    • Hi Tami,

      I am described below. Peter Benjamin from Wellesley.
      I live near the places where John and Abigail Benjamin lived in Harvard Square.
      Several relatives from this site have visited me and I would be happy to take you to see the properties that John and Abigail owned. Best, Peter

      • Thank you for your kind offer. I would love to visit someday. I will certainly contact you when that happens. Tami

  28. Hi Peter, Could you please contact me? My daughter is in Boston for the next few weeks and I would love for her to see the location where John and Abigail lived. tamicrandall@yahoo.com Thank you, Tami Benjamin Crandall

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