Wednesday, April 30, 2014

#52Ancestors Week 17: William Chase

Once again I'm too late making my entry to get into this week's 52 Ancestors: Weekly Recap.  But since I don't want to lose my momentum, I'd better write something, right?

When I wrote about Barnabas Chase, my missing link to my previously unknown Massachusetts ancestors, I embedded a book that recorded many of his ancestors in America. I want to talk about William Chase, whose descendants are recorded in that book.  I've recently received information that takes his ancestry back a few generations.  His line is the longest in my family tree; he was my 10th g-grandfather!

William and his family came to America with John Winthrop in 1630, making me and his other descendants eligible for  membership in the Winthrop Society.  I have never tried applying for any of the hereditary societies that I might be entitled to join, so I don't know what kind of documentation might be required.  For more information see their website.

Something I find interesting about William Chase is that he was a signer of the Freeman's Oath.  The book embedded below defines those men as:


A Freeman of this colony was a member of the body politic and as such entitled to exercise the right of suffrage and to hold office.

As early as 1631, in order to become a freeman, it was required that the applicant produce evidence that he was a member of the Congregational church. But this regulation was modified in 1664. Freemen were admitted by the General Court of the colony.

The Winthrop Society page lists the original signers HERE with this description:

Redacted and introduced by Marcia Stewart,
Chairperson of The Winthrop Society

A primary goal of The Winthrop Society is to determine the identities of the first settlers of Massachusetts Bay Commonwealth. There are no firmer grounds for establishing an early settler among the founders of the Commonwealth than the lists of the first Freemen --- those who applied for that estate in Boston in October, 1630, and those so sworn thereafter.  The Freemen were the only colonists who were franchised to vote, and the franchise was not offered to all. One generally had to be a mature male church-member, and must have experienced a transforming spiritual experience by God's grace, as attested by himself and confirmed by church leaders. Therefore, the list of names below represents just a small percentage of the population. And apparently, a number of qualifying church-members would not take the oath because they had problems with the wording. An oath in those times was taken very seriously, as though it were a promise made directly to the Almighty with ones soul forfeit in the breach. Numerous persons who are on church and court records of 1630-1632 did not take the oath until 1634, when the oath was shortened and modified to replace the persons of the Governor etc. to whom obedience was due with the impersonal "common weale." Others, such as those who later became Quakers, objected strongly to oaths in general. One can understand all their reservations when one reads this "mother of all American loyalty oaths," below.

The Oath of a Freeman, or of a Man to be made free.

I, A B, etc., being, by the Almighty's most wise disposition, become a member of this body, consisting of the Governor, Deputy Governor, Assistants and a commonalty of the Massachusetts in New England, do freely and sincerely acknowledge that I am justly and lawfully subject to the government of the same, and do accordingly submit my person and estate to be protected, ordered, and governed by the laws and constitutions thereof, and do faithfully promise to be from time to time obedient and conformable thereunto, and to the authority of the said Governor and Assistants and their successors, and to all such laws, orders, sentences, and decrees as shall be lawfully made and published by them or their successors; and I will always endeavor (as in duty I am bound) to advance the peace and welfare of this body or commonwealth to my utmost skill and ability; and I will, to my best power and means, seek to divert and prevent whatsoever may tend to the ruin or damage thereof, or of any the said Governor, Deputy Governor, or Assistants, or any of them or their successors, and will give speedy notice to them, or some of them, of any sedition, violence, treachery, or other hurt or evil which I shall know, hear, or vehemently suspect to be plotted or intended against the said commonwealth, or the said government established; and I will not at any time suffer or give consent to any counsel or attempt that shall be done, given, or attempted for the impeachment of the said government, or making any change alteration of the same,contrary to the laws and ordinances thereof, but shall do my utmost endeavor to discover, oppose, and hinder all and every such counsel and attempt.  So help me God.

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