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Featured Story
Francis and John Wyman and Their Beginnings
by Ginny Mucciaccio

Preface
Let me preface this article by noting that much of it is taken from the writings and research done by Rev. Ralph L. Tucker, the original Wyman Family Genealogist. My personal association with the Francis Wyman Association began with an article that I saw in Yankee Magazine some twenty years ago, but deepened when Rev. Tucker asked me if I would be interested in doing some documentation for him. After more than 400 hours of work, delving into the MA Vital Records for births, deaths, and marriages throughout the state, working with 70+ sheets of microfiche to find their origins, I began to realize the thousands of Wymans who sprung from brothers Francis and John. This research reaffirmed what Rev. Tucker had gleaned, corrected dates and places where necessary, and added hundreds of children and their spouses to his already full files. These numbers were again sizably increased when intermarriages between cousins were recognized in the Richardson family by cross- referencing with the Richardson Memorial, a huge tome.

In lineage societies, the word 'documentation' assumes a huge proportion in any application process, and often frustrates persons wishing to confirm their descent from specific ancestors. In my own experience assisting applicants, it becomes a 'dirty' word that stands in their way, and means a lot more work than they dreamed it would require to prove their line. The Wyman family has its own web site:- www.wyman.org - maintained by John Wyman of Ohio. Information is supplied from family members, some of which is not completely documented.

It has been my honor and privilege to be President of the Francis Wyman Association for the past eleven years . Just a commercial plug here- FWA has a wonderful children’s coloring book created by a member and her son depicting various stages of the brothers’ lives, beginning with their departure from Westmill, England. It includes the Family Crest and a picture of Francis’ gravestone (still in existence), and a time line from 1620 to 1899. You will find it for sale on the FWA website.

Ginny Mucciaccio

English Roots
The origins of the Wyman Family of New England are found in the village of Westmill in Hertfordshire, England, which is about nine miles north of the shire town of Hertford, and about thirty-five miles north of London near Buntingford. It is in the parish of Braughing Hundred, located on the river (stream) Rib. There is in Westmill, a pub, St. Marys’ 13th century church, and a few houses gathered about a small village green. Westmill was recently awarded the title of the “most attractive and well-kept village in the county”. The great trunk road from London to Cambridge (A-10) is nearby.

The Wyman surname is very old and comes from the Anglo-Saxon, Wigund, meaning "Man of  War". The Coat of Arms (pictured right) was used by a Knight named Wyman and the motto on the coat of arms, AUDEX ET VIGILANS, translates to"Daring & Vigilant." Francis and John did not personally use this coat of arms. All coat of arms, or armorial bearings, in following with European tradition, belong solely to a particular person and not their descendants. (1) To learn more, about the Wyman Arms and early Wyman History, click here.

Christine E. Jackson, in her study of the English Wyman Family 'The Wyman/Whymans of Hertfordshire', gives the parentage of Francis and John Wyman who came to New England. Her work deals with the Wyman families who remained in England and contains much data on the branches of the family in England, and of the towns where they lived.

In his book 'Fifty Great Migration Colonists to New England', John Brooks Threlfall gives the antecedents of the Wymans, a work that also includes the Duxford family, which is antecedent to Elizabeth (Richardson) Wyman. Quoted within his book, are the wills of Richard Duxford, Alice Duxford, Francis Wyman, and Thomas Richardson.

The Westmill Tithe Book and Parish Register are available (2) which enables us to trace the family back into the 1500s.

The parish records of St. Mary the Virgin in Westmill, Hertfordshire, have been preserved and document relevant data on the Richardson and Wyman families are as follows:

  • 1617 - Francis Wimant and Elizabeth Richardson weare married 1o May
  • 1618 - Thomas ye sonn of francis wymand 5 Aprilis
  • 1619 - ffrancis ye sonn of ffrancis wymant Bap 24 of Febr
  • 1620 - John the sonne of Francis Wimant baptized Feb:3
  • 1623/4 - Richard the sonne of Francis Wymant baptized 14 th of March.
  • 1626 - Elizabeth ye daughter of Francis Wymant bapt. Mar 26
  • 1627 - William the sonne of francis Wymant was Bapt the 31th of Aug.
  • 1630 - Elizabeth ye wife of francis Wymant buryed June ye 22.
  • 1630 - William the sonne of francis Weimant buryed July the xviii.

The oldest brother, Thomas, became the inheritor of his father’s property, which most likely led to his younger brothers’ departure for “greener pastures.” (3)

Early New England Settlers
The two Wyman brothers, Francis and John (nephews of the three Richardson brothers who were also founders of Woburn) were seventeen and fourteen in 1636, so it is probable they emigrated with their older uncles, Samuel and Thomas Richardson. The first definite record that we find of the Wyman brothers in New England is signatures by Francis and John upon Town Orders of Charlestown Village (Woburn) Massachusetts, in 1640. By that date, they were 21 and 18. John was made a freeman 26 May 1647 at age 25, and Francis a freeman in 1657 at age 38.

Francis and John became tanners in Woburn, having learned their craft before leaving Buntingford, which was a tanning center. By 1641 they were granted lots for 6d per acre near the center of Woburn at the present Main and Wyman Streets near Central Square. Francis’ house has not been recorded, but John’s house was a two story frame house 34x26 feet with 13 windows (!!) having 40 rods of land adjoining. Nearby on Wymans’ Lane were the tanning vats, a barn, tan house, currying shop, and sheds. Their tanning business brought them great wealth, and carried on until 1768 when it was sold to David Cummings. By 1666 they had also built country farms a few miles north in what is now Burlington at the Billerica boundary. Francis’ home still stands and is owned by the FWA (see photographs lower right).

It is interesting to note that Francis Wyman Sr., died in Westmill, Herts in 1658 and his will instructs “I do give and bequeth unto my two sons Francis Wyman and John Wyman which are beyond the sea ten pounds a piece of Lawful English money to be paid unto them by mine executor if they be in want and come over to demand same.” (4)

A grant of 500 acres in what became the town of Billerica, Massachusetts was made in 1648 to the Rev. Henry Dunster, first president of Harvard College. This, he sold in 1655 to Francis and John Wyman for 100 pounds sterling. Because of Dunster’s Baptist leanings, he was removed at Harvard and apparently needed some cash. After some political maneuvering the pending town of Billerica was persuaded to lay out the grant which was entirely within the new town. The grant was on the border of Woburn, adjacent to where the Wymans already had land.

In 1657, the Woburn selectmen agreed to exchange 94 acres of land the Wymans already possessed in the town for an equal amount “adjoining to their land at Billerica….” Again, in 1661, Francis exchanged with “the town of Woburn..a parcel of land lying in the treasury…(for land at)…his farm next Billerica.” (5) That same year Billerica granted 70 acres in the same general area to the Wyman brothers, which was laid out- the return was made in 1663.

In 1665, the Wymans purchased for the sum of 50 pounds, the Coytmore grant of 500 acres which was to be laid out in Woburn. The Woburn Selectmen attempted to have the grant laid out elsewhere, but the General Court in 1666 had it laid out at this time when the Woburn-Billerica boundary was being settled. It was stated that the grant was to be laid out “…in Woobourne bounds next adjoining to the land and houses of the said Waymens, apprehending it to be most convenient and profitable for them so to lye.” (6) Interestingly, the deed of sale is witnessed by Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck - a Martha’s Vineyard Indian who was the solitary Indian to have graduated from Harvard College at this time.

In 1667, Francis, John, and eleven other citizens of Woburn were hauled before the County Court for publicly manifesting contempt for the ordinance of baptism and for attending illegal assemblies of the Anabaptists. Nothing much happened and both were later active in the local (Congregational) church. Francis, in his will however, did leave small bequests to two elders of the Baptist Church of Boston.

An early map of the Daniel's farm in Billerica dated 1668 shows two Wyman houses on land in Woburn at the present site, although it must be admitted that the map leaves much to be desired in the way of scale; nonetheless, the houses of Francis Wyman and John Wyman appear approximately the correct location in Woburn (now Burlington). By 1669 the Wyman farm had developed to the point that Billerica says a boundary dispute that what they were really after was the tax on the "great farme which the Wymans bought & (amounting to) 8 or 9 pounds p. annum." The same year reference is made to Francis Wyman's present habitation " & neere the line &" and to the fact that Wyman paid tax to both Billerica and Woburn. 

As early as 1672 reference is made to Francis' "old" house in Woburn center, and in the rates for 1674 and 1675 Woburn lists separately his farm, as well as his house and estate near the center of town. 

In 1675 during the King Philip's War, Francis removed to his house near the center of Woburn. At this time, he leased the farm to Edward Farmer (7). The three year lease is extant and mentions a sizable estate consisting of a dwelling house, barn, outhouse, cornfields, orchards, gardens, pastures, yards, and fences together with 3 cows, 2 oxen, 35 sheep, a mare, one servant and a "hair cloth for the kell." By this time the orchard apparently bore fruit for arrangements were made for the disposition of the fruit. At the expiration of the lease in 1679, lawsuirs arose over the condition of the property and mention is made of the crops of corn, barley, hops, and 6 or 7 acres of rye, as well as 700 poles of fences in a "ruinous condition" which three years earlier had been "sufficient." 

In brief, the evidence indicates that the Wymans had many acres of land to farm as early as 1655. This, together with the several significant town grants as well as the 500 additional acres of the 1665 Coytmore grant indicate considerable activity in developing the land, enough to account for each brother to build a house. These houses are referred to in 1666. Prior to 1675 Woburn had no significant Indian trouble which would cause settlers to fear to live on the outskirts of the town.

The country house of Francis, built sometime before 1666, stood on the site now owned by the FWA. The present structure is an eight room, two story, center-chimney house with attic and half-cellar, that is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. While some believe the house to date to 1666, few vestiges of that era remain, and the replacement house dates more nearly to 1710-1730.

Nearby in Billerica, just beyond the property line of the Francis Wyman house, is the cellar hole of the Amos Wyman house, originally John’s farm.

Samuel Adams and John Hancock, two of America's forefathers, fled to this home from Lexington, on 17 April 1775 ahead of the British troops. Elizabeth (Pierce) Wyman, wife of Amos, is said to have fed her visitors, and Hancock is reported to have sent a cow to his hostess at a later date in appreciation of her hospitality.

After Francis died in 1699, his son William (my/our ancestor) occupied the country house with his wife Prudence Putnam of Salem. She was the daughter of Lt. Thomas Putnam and Ann (Holyoke)- two other very interesting lines. A copy of the 1699, handwritten, and later typed, 'Last Will & Testament' of Francis Wyman - with the settlement of his vast lands and estate, may be viewed here.

The Wyman Story continues
The Wyman descendants dispersed and became the founding members of many towns- North Yarmouth, Maine; Townsend, Mass.; Skowhegan, Maine; Union, Conn.; Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; Hallowell, Maine; MacArthur, Ohio; Sycamore, Illinois; Ontario, Canada; and one line moved on to South Carolina. In my documentation to 1850, I found most families in Maine and New Hampshire, a few in Vermont and Connecticut, but none in Rhode Island. There were Wyman men in all the Colonial Wars- Queen Anne’s, French and Indian, King Phillip’s etc.; many in the Revolutionary War, and many in the Civil War.

Our line on the web is Francis; William; Joshua; Capt. William of Roxbury; Betsy Wyman (last appearance of Wyman surname in this line) who married John Pratt, whose line goes back to the Mayflower. You may view our Francis Wyman Descendant Tree here.

My genealogical journey began with my Great Aunt Bessie Woods Pierce’s 1929 DAR application through Capt. William Wyman, with only bare bones information. Back then proofs, through vital records, were not required, so in 1960, my first challenge was to acquire documentation to join on this line. And, since then, I have been providing such “docs” for the many lines you will find on www.treesinthewoods.com.

Click on images to enlarge.


Village Green - Westmill,
Hertfordshire, England


Pilgrims Row - Westmill,
Hertfordshire, England


St. Mary The Virgin Parish Church - Westmill,
Hertfordshire, England


St. Mary The Virgin Parish Church - Westmill,
Hertfordshire, England


Wyman Coat of Arms


2008 - Village Green - Westmill, Hertfordshire


2008 - St. Mary The Virgin Parish Church - Westmill


2008 - St. Mary The Virgin Parish Church - Westmill

Click here to read Caroline's account of her 2008 visit to Westmill, England.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Francis Wyman House


Francis Wyman House
Preservation Works


Francis Wyman House


Francis Wyman Gravestone

****************

This months featured story, images & charts was submitted by:
Ginny Mucciaccio, read more about Ginny here

Recommended websites:
Westmill England
Wyman Family Website

Sources used in the compilation of this presentation:
1) Wikipedia.com
2) County Library, Westmill, Hertfordshire, UK
3) The parish records of St. Mary the Virgin, County Library, Westmill, Hertfordshire, UK
4) Francis Wyman Sr.'s will, Westmill, Hertfordshire, UK
5)Woburn Town Records
6) Ibid.
(7) Edward Farmer b 1645; died Billerica 1727; his daughter Sarah Farmer married Thomas Pollard; their daughter Mary Pollard married Joshua Wyman, grandson of Francis, and son of the William who occupied the house after his father Francis.

Photographs:
Historic Westmill, Hertfordshire, England Photographs courtesy of Jonell Day Kenagy
Francis Wyman House - 2006 - Burlington, MA photographs courtesy of Rick Devin
Francis Wyman Gravestone photograph courtesy of Ralph Tucker
2008 Westmill, Hertfordshire, England Photographs courtesy of Caroline Miller

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