McMurray Family (Click for Family Tree)
Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony had been difficult for the “Black Sheep” John Sales and his little daughter, Phebe Sales. They are not related to us, but this is an interesting story that tells us a bit about what life was like in the early colonies, where some of our ancestors lived too.
In our previous posts we left John and Phebe on 6 June 1637, ‘bound out’ and “troublesome,” with an unknown fate to be decided by two men and the court.
Apparently, they were released from their indenture, as John and Phebe went to New Netherland, a Dutch colony that is now New York, New Jersey, Delaware, etc. The Dutch were much more tolerant of religious differences, women had more rights, and John and Phebe could be rid of the Puritans and their bad experiences in Massachusetts Bay Colony. John changed his name to be Dutch-sounding- he went by “Jan Celes,” and lived in Manhattan. (It was a lot less pricey in those days.)
Jan Celes was recorded in New Amsterdam, the capital, on 21 August 1644 when he married a widow named Maria Sloofs, called “Marritjen [Mary] Roberts” in his will. (The Dutch used a woman’s maiden name for all official records, thus ‘Roberts’ how Mary was recorded.)
Jan’s will was dated just eight months later, on 17 April 1645, and he was “…wounded and lying sick abed”- in fact, he was so ill that he could not write, thus gave his last wishes verbally with at least two witnesses.
Phebe Sales, his daughter, had already married, on 11 February 1640, to Theunis Nyssen, in New Amsterdam. In 1645, her father willed half his estate to Theunis, and half to his wife Marritjen, whose portion was to revert to Theunis upon her death or remarriage. Thus Phebe and any heirs would have the benefit of almost all of his estate eventually. Jan did allow in his will that Marritjen could have, if she did not remarry, 200 guilders to will to whomever she wished. John also listed his name as “John Seals” as well as “Jan Celes”; he combined the English and Dutch names when he wrote his signature as, “Jan Seles.”
John died sometime between when his will was given on 17 April 1645, and 9 August 1645, when John’s widow “Mary Robbertszen” married Thomas Grydy (Greedy) in New York. Interestingly, Thomas was a convicted felon, as had been John Sales. Mary probably died by 13 October 1658 when Thomas made his will, as no wife was mentioned.
Theunis likely died before Phebe, as her second husband was Jan Cornelison Buys; they married in Middelwout (now Flatbush) on 24 August 1663, and she may have had one child with him. She was died and buried as “Femmetje Jans on 13 December 1666, in the Flatbush Church Cemetery.
Hopefully, John Sales, a “Black Sheep” in 1633 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and his daughter Phebe, had a better life in New Netherland.
Notes, Sources, and References:
- Pioneers of Massachusetts by Charles Henry Pope, 1900, via Archive.org.
- John Sale is listed on page 2 of “Boston Church Records” The Records of the Churches of Boston. CD-ROM. Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2002. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008 .)
- Entry for John Sales: The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III. (Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010), (Originally Published as: New England Historic Genealogical Society. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III, 3 vols., 1995). He is listed on p. 407-8 in a footnote in the profile of John Coggeshall, page 1616-1618 in his own profile as John Sales.
- “&c” means “and etc.”
- Double or dual dating is often used during this time period because of the change from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar. See the article on dual dating at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_dating and http://www.usgenweb.org/research/calendar.shtml.
- The followup on the lives of John Sales and Phebe Sales is a lesson in good genealogy. There was another “John Sales” who was found in Providence, Rhode Island, in the late 1630s- many thought these two were one and the same. An excellent article by Gwenn Epperson proved that they were not. See”The True Identity of John Sales alias Jan Celes of Manhattan” was printed in the New York Genealogical & Biographical Record (NTGBR 123:65-73), and the story was added to in 1994 by Harry Macy (NYGBR 124:226-27).
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