GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2007-07 > 1183682686
Subject: [GENMASSACHUSETTS] Origins of the Garfield families of Watertown
Date: Thu, 5 Jul 2007 20:44:46 EDT
Source: The Life, Speeches & Public Service of James A. Garfield
by Russell Herman Conwell.
The earliest known mention of the Garfield family is in 1587, when it appears
that one James Garfield (or Gearfeldt) was given a tract of land on the
of Wales, near Chester, England, through the influence of Robert Dudley, Earl
of Leicester. A natural inference would be that he had performed some
service on the Continent, under that celebrated favorite of Royalty, or was
some special service to Robert at Kenilworth or London. The estate thus con-
ferred is said to be situated near Oswestry, and not far from the most
and celebrate vale of Llangollen, on the border of Wales.
What was the nationality of James Garfield; whether Welch or English or
or Dutch, does not appear. The most probable conjecture is that he was Welch,
and was a warrior of some note, perhaps a descendant of the old Knights of
Gaerfili Castle. The estate conferred upon him was either released by him or
taken from him, or for some reason his children did not inherit it, and no
mention of them appears, so far as is now known, in any record of the
family until 1630 when Edward Garfield of Chester, England, came to America,
a company of colonists, who embarked with his family under the auspices of
Governor John Winthrop.
The name appears again at Watertown, Massachusetts in 1635, and is probably
same man. He was born in 1575. Of this Edward Garfield (or Gearfield) quite
accounts come down to us, and curious
searchers into the family history claim to have discovered his Coat of Arms.
the following description of the family escutcheon be correct, as claimed by
those who have given the matter study, it goes far to confirm the previous
clusion that the Garfields were a martial family of wealth and influence in
days of Queen Elizabeth, and perhaps in the Crusades. It had three horizontal
bars of red on a field, or background, of gold in the center of the shield,
a red Maltese cross on an ermine canton or corner piece. The crest consisted
a helmet with the visor raised, and an uplifted arm holding a drawn sword.
motto were the words: "In cruce vinco," (by the cross I conquer).
This Edward Garfield, from whom the present large Garfield family in America
descended, appears to have taken no pride in his lineage or lordly titles,
took a personal and laborious share in the manual labor connected with the
ing of his land in Watertown, and left but a meager trace of his armorial
His huse was built on a beautiful spot in Watertown, overlooking the Charles
River, and the site is still pointed out to visitors. In this house he lived
a few years, before he was able to purchase a much larger estate in the
part of Watertown, near the present location of the Waltham town line. On
land he erected a capacious mansion, and surrounded himself with all the
and elegance of the "gentleman" of that period; and the estate now known as
place," still holds its position as one of the most beautiful and valuable
estates in Massachusetts. Edward Garfield, Sr., had two sons, viz.
1. Edward Garfield, Jr.
2. Samuel Garfield.
Samuel Garfield lived a bachelor's life, but Edward Garfield, Jr. was a
man three years and married a lady of Newton, Mass., who died April 16,
She had, however, before her death, given birth to three sons and two
1. Samuel Garfield - the date of whose birth we cannot ascertain but who died
Nov. 20, 1684.
2. Joseph Garfield b. Aug 14, 1631.
3. Rebecca Garfield b. Mar 10, 1640.
4. Benjamin Garfield b. 1643; d. Nov 28, 1717.
5. Abigail Garfield, b. June 29, 1646.
Benjamin Garfield, the 4th child of Edward Garfield, Jr., remained at home
old mansion and married Mehitable Hawkins in 1673. After the birth of two
children, viz., Benjamin Garfield & Benoni Garfield, she died, Dec. 9, 1675
and her gravestone is still standing in the cemetery at Watertown. Benjamin
Garfield m. Elizabeth Bridge of Watertown as his second wife, Jan. 17, 1677.
By this second marriage there were born to him:
1. Elizabeth Garfield b. June 30, 1679.
2. Thomas Garfield b. Dec 12, 1680, who died at Weston, Mass. February, 1752.
3. Anne Garfield b. June 2, 1683.
4. Abigail Garfield b. July 13, 1685.
5. Mehitable Garfield b. Dec 7, 1687.
6. Samuel Garfield b. Sept 3, 1690
7. Mary Garfield b. Oct 2, 1695.
Captain Benjamin Garfield, the father, was a distinguished citizen of
and was given a
captain's commission by the Governor, in the Colonial militia. He held
town offices and was elected nine times to the Colonial Legislature. He was a
stout, broad-shouldered man, with an open, cheerful countenance, and most
and kind in his manners. His light complextion and especially the light hair,
appear to have descended to the present generation.
It appears, from the old records, that Captain Garfield's house and barn were
burned on the night of March 29, 168_, by his negro servant, Joshua, and on
night of April 9th, Joshua was discovered with his throat cut, a knife
in his hand. He had, perhaps, committed suicide out of remorse. In 1684 the
Captain's fence was burned by Christopher Thompson, who was ordered to be
into a neighboring colony. Both of these were probably slaves.
His eldest son by his 2nd wife, Lieutenant Thomas Garfield, was married to
Mercy Bigelow, daughter of Joshua & Elizabeth (Flagg) Bigelow, Jan. 2, 1706,
and he also made his home at the old homestead. He appears to have inherited
may of his father's natural qualities, and to have won for himself the esteem
and friendhship of the people of his town. He was commissioned a Lieutenant
the Militia, and saw active service in a campaign against the Indians. His
died Feb. 28, 1744. He died Feb. 4, 1752. They had twelve children:
1. Elizabeth Garfield b. Aut 10, 1708
2. Eunice Garfield b. Aug 23, 1710
3. Thomas Garfield, Jr. b. March 1713, and who
died January 3, 1774.
4. Thankful Garfield b. Feb 15, 1715.
5. Isaac Garfield b. Feb 19, 1716.
6. John Garfield b. Dec. 3, 1718.
7. Samuel Garfield b. April 11, 1720.
8. Mercy Garfield b. June 17, 1722.
9. Ann Garfield b. June 1, 1724.
10. Lucy Garfield b. Oct 5, 1725.
11. Elisha Garfield b. Nov 11, 1728.
12. Enoch Garfield b. June 23, 1730.
Thomas Garfield, Jr. m. Rebecca Johnson, dau. of Samuel & Rebecca Johnson of
Lunenburg, Mass. and moved to Weston, Mass. and afterwards to Lincoln, Mass.,
where he owned a large farm and where he died Jan. 3, 1774. Their children:
1. Solomon Garfield b. July 18, 1743.
2. Rebecca Garfield b. Sept 23, 1745.
3. Abraham Garfield b. Apr 3, 1748.
4. Hannah Garfield b. Aug 15, 1750.
5. Lucy Garfield b. Mar 3, 1754.
Solomon Garfield, the eldest son of Thomas Garfield, Jr. m. Sarah Stimson of
Sudbury May 20, 1766, and soon after his marriage moved to Worcester, Otsego
County, N.Y. where he purchased a farm. He was accidentally killed by falling
from a beam in his barn in 1806. His children were:
1. Thomas Garfield
2. Solomon Garfield
3. Rebecca Garfield
4. Hannah Garfield
5. Lucy Garfield.
Solomon Garfield's brother Abraham Garfield was an earnest devotee of
independence and lived in Lincoln, Mass., when the Revolutionary War began.
was one of the first volunteers who enlisted in defense of the Colonies, and
in the fight at Concord and was side by side with the ancestors of many
illustrious Americans, including Judge E. Rockwood Hoar of Massachusetts.
The signature of Judge Hoar's great-grandfather, John Hoar and Abraham Gar-
are still preserved, and the curious document they signed was an important
in its time.
At the beginning of the Revolution, separation from England was not generally
meditated, and it was deemed important to endeavor to fix the responsibility
for the beginning of the conflict, showing which side struck the first blow,
in the event of a settlement of the troubles. Therefore the affidavits of
many persons concerned were secured and preserved. Their deposition showing
how the attack on Concord Bridge began was as follows:
Lexington, April 23, 1775.
We, John Hoar, John Whithead, Abraham Garfield, Benjamin Munroe, Isaac
William Hosmer, John Adams, Gregory Stone - all of Lincoln, in the County of
Middlesex, Massachusetts Bay, all of lawful age, do testify and say that , on
Wednesday last, we were assembled at Concord, in the morning of said day, in
consequence of information received that a brigade of regular troops were on
their march to the said town of Concord, who had killed six men at the town
Lexington; about an hour afterwards we saw them approaching, to the number,
we apprehended, of about 1,200, on which we retreated to a hill about 80 rods
back, and the said troops then took possession of the hill where we were
posted; presently after this, we saw the troops moving toward the north
about one mile from the said Concord meeting-house, we then immediately went
before them and passed the bridge, just before a party of them, to the
200, arrived; they then left about one-half of their 200 at
the bridge and proceeded with the rest, toward Colonel Barrett's, about two
from the said bridge; and the troops that were stationed there, observing our
approach, marched back over the bridge and then took up some of the planks;
then hastened our march toward the bridge and when we had got near the
they fired on our men, firss, three guns, one after the other, and then a
considerable number more; and then, and not before (having orders from our
commanding officer not to fire till we were fired upon), we fired upon the
regulars and they retreated. On their retreat through the town of Lexington
to Charlestown they ravaged and destroyed property and burnt three houses,
one barn and one shop. ................Signed by each of the above
Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth.
This full book is online with Google Books Online.
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