1807 Land Deed - Widow Selling Land - Antique Manuscript
Benjamin Massay died in or around 1805 leaving a widow, Susanna, with 8 children - one of which was only 5 years old. Benjamin was a blacksmith according to this deed and was only 42-43 years old when he died. He died 'testate' which means he did leave a will but was in debt for at least $360.00 which is equivalent to $7744.98 in 2019.
Susanna had to sell enough of their property to pay Benjamin's debts and this piece of land that was listed as four acres of meadow land in the town of Ipswich was sold for $31.00 on order of the Justices of the Court of Common Pleas. I am sure this is just part of the land and/or belongings that were sold to pay just a portion of the debts owed by Benjamin.
Not only did Susanna have to deal with the heavy weight of finding enough money to pay off her husband's debts but she was doing this alone as a 46 year old widow. There is no evidence that she married again and in the years after signing this deed, she lost her daughter, Jane, to typhus on October 11, 1814 at the age of 18, unmarried and her daughter, Sarah (Massay) Farrington, who died a young bride at the age of 20 also due to typhus on July 14, 1814.
Susanna Norwood, who signed this deed as a witness, was the daughter of Benjamin and Susanna Massay.
Susanna died in Roxbury, MA in 1840 at the age of 80.
The Massay (Massey) family were important people in Lynn with Benjamin's father a soldier in the Revolutionary War and a member of the local Lynn government who was a 'Wood Sealer' in 1765, on the 'Fish Committee' and again a 'Wood Sealer' in 1766. These were important roles in the local government to keep the community safe and the area in good shape.
Land deeds like this one are sometimes the only information available to us about life during the 18th and early 19th centuries. From this type of document, we learn where people lived, their status in life, the amount of land they owned, who their neighbors were, and the names of their wives and children. Many times a child or wife's name will appear in these deeds that has been omitted from the genealogical records of our ancestors. To find the true story of your ancestors, land deeds and other contemporaneous documents are the most important documents to use.
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