Where There’s a Will – #52Ancestors

Where There’s A Will From 1707, It’s Complicated

#52Ancestors – Week 9

By  Marilyn Sears Lindsey on March 19, 2018


Richard Sears (b abt 1590- d 1676 at 86 years old), also known as Richard the Pilgrim, came from England in 1630 and became one of the founders of Yarmouth, Plymouth Colony (present day Massachusetts) in 1639.  We have searched the ship manifests but don’t know where he came from in England or who his parents were.

His property is marked #4 on the photo below.

1630 Richard & Dorothy Sears' Property.jpg

Dorothy Jones (b 1607- d 1678 at 70 years old) was born in Queen Camel, Somerset, England.  When she was about 25 years old, she lived in Yarmouth, Plymouth Colony and married Richard Sears.  They had 3 children.  Paul Senior (b abt 1635- d 1707 at 72 years old) was the first.  Silas (b 1637 – d 1697 at 59 years old) in Yarmouth, Plymouth Colony, was the middle child and Deborah (b 1639-d 1732 at 92 years old) was the youngest.

Paul Senior and Deborah Willard (b 1640 – d 1721 at 81 years old) had 10 children: Mercy, Bethia (63), Samuel (78), Lydia (82), Paul Jr (69), Mary, Ann (70), John (61), Richard (38) and Daniel (74).  We don’t have a death certificate for Mercy or Mary.

Paul was the first to adopt the present spelling of Sears.  Some of the previous variations were:  Cyr, Sayer, Sayers, Sayre, Sayres, Sear, Seare, Seears, Seere, Seir, Sias, Sier, Siers, Soares, Syar, Syars, Syas, Syer, Syers, Zaher, Zier.

My line is Richard>Captain Paul>Paul>Edmund>Elkanah>William>Elkanah>Leslie Sr>Leslie Jr>Marilyn, Angelica, Ryan.  So I am 10th generation in this country.



Paul’s younger brother, Silas and Anna Bursell (b 1642- d 1726 at 84 years old) married in 1661 in Eastham, Plymouth Colony and they had 8 children: Silas (71), Richard, Richard (54), Hannah, Josiah (52), Joseph (75), Elizabeth and Dorrity.  We don’t have a record of Richard’s, Hannah’s, Elizabeth’s or Dorrity’s deaths.

The baby of the family was Deborah, who was the 1st female, European child born on Cape Cod.  In 1659, she married Zachary Paddock and they had 8 children: Ichabod, Zachariah (53), Elizabeth (24 ), John (48), Robert (64), Joseph (58), Nathaniel (78), Judah (88).  Ichabod’s life remains a mystery.

So there were 26 children in the 3rd generation of my family and most lived to adulthood.  It is easy to see how my family tree grew to more than 10,000 descendants in over 350 years by 1992.


My brother, Leslie Ray Sears III (Ray) wrote: “Paul Senior took the oath of “Fidellyte” in 1657, held a commission as captain in the militia, and made claim for a horse lost in the Narragansett War.  On 30 Oct 1667, he was one of the grand jury in an inquest held on the child of Nicholas Nickerson.  He was also one of the original proprietors of lands in Harwich, Plymouth Colony, between Bound and Stony Brooks, known as ‘Wing’s Purchase.’ As appears by deed of John Wing et als., to Paul sears et als., dated 16 Apr 1677, recorded at Plymouth.”

“He left property valued at 467 pounds 03 shillings and 03 pence to his ‘loving wife Deborah’ and to his sons, Samuel, Paul Jr and John.”

“In the ancient cemetery in Yarmouth lies a stone slab, removed from its place to make room for the granite monument to the Searses, which bears the following inscription, surmounted by a cherub’s head and scroll work:

Here lyes the

Body of Paul

Sears, who

Departed this

Life February ye

20th 1707, in ye 70th year of his age.”

“It is the oldest dated memorial in the cemetery.  His wife was doubtless laid by his side, but there is no stone to her memory.” Page 2.1 Sears Genealogical Catalogue

In the first paragraph of Captain Paul’s will, he wrote: “First, and principally, I comitt my soul to God, most humbly depending upon the gracious Death and merits of Jesus Christ my only Lord and Saviour for Salvation, and to the free pardon of all my sins.  And my Body to the Earth to be buryed in such Decent Christian manner as to my Executors hereafter named shall be thought fitt.” (I used Paul’s original spelling and capitalization here.)  Indeed how fitting that he should commit his soul to God, his creator, who gave him this remarkable life.

After Paul Senior had passed away, his property was inventoried exactly 310 years ago today on March 19, 1708.


Final Will and Testament of Paul Sears 1637-1707 

  • BIRTH: 20 FEB 1637/1638, Marblehead,,Plymouth Colony
  • DEATH: 20 FEB 1707/1708, Yarmouth, Barnstable, Province of Massachusetts Bay

I, Paul Sears, Senr. of yarmouth, in ye County of Barnstable, in New England, being at this time ill and weak in body but of Disposing mind and memory, Praised be God, Do make, Constitute, ordain and Declare this my Last Will and Testament, in manner and form following: First, and principally. I Comitt my soul to God, most humbly depending upon the gracious Death and merits of Jesus Christ my only Lord and Saviour for Salvation, and to the free pardon of all my sins. And my Body to the Earth to be buryed in such Decent Christian manner as to my Executors hereafter named shall be thought fitt. And as for my outward Estate, as Lands, Chattels and Goods, I do order Give and Dispose in manner and form following;

First, – I will that all those Debts and Duties that I owe in Right or Conscience To any perosn whatsoever shall be truly paid in convenient time, after my Decease by my Executors hereafter named, out of my movable Estate. Item,- I do give and bequeeath to my eldest son Samuel Sears, all that my land and meadow in the township of Harwich upon part whereof his house now stands as is comprehended within and between the boundaries now following: (that is to say ,) bounded on the east by Kenelm Winslows Land at ye known and accustomed bounds and on the west side beginning at a remarkable rock, (lying about four Rods eastward from Yarmouth bound Rock at bound brook,) and from the sd Remarkable Rock the line runs Southerly over the Swamp and up ye hill to a great Pine tree marked in sd Yarmouth line: and thence up ye same straight line Southerly to the highway: and thence eastward as the way runs to ye said Winslows Land, (the sd highway being the bounds on ye south side) And the beginning again att ye sd Remarkable Rock the line runs norhterly to a stone sett in ye ground: and thence easterly to the edge of ye marsh by a straight line to another stone sett in to the ground, and so bounded by the marsh to another stone sett in the ground northerly on a straight line to a bend of ye main Creek at a stone sett in the Maresh, and on the north side tis bounded by tyhe known and accustomed bounds and of my interest in the undivided lands in sd Harwich, viz.: that is my sd son Saml. shall sixteen acres to himself in ye next Division(ye proprietors make of the undivided Lands) and the one half of all the rest of my interest there. All which sd Lands and Meadows shall be to my sd son Samuel Sears, and to his heirs and assigns forever, he yielding to his mother, my wife, one third part of ye proffits thereof during her natural life, and also paying to his two brothers Richard and Daniel, forty and two pounds in money towards the paying their purchase at Manamoy. I do give him my Try pott and Kettle. It.- I do give and bequeath to my son Paul Sears and to his heirs and assigns forever, one piece of fresh meadow called the Green Meadow which lyeth on the north side of my old house and is bounded eastward at ye Well or Spring, then westward taking in all ye Marsh or ground to ye old cartway (which leads into ye neck) on Joseph Sears fence: thence northeastward as the old sd cartway and fence runs to Zachariah Paddocks fence or line which is ye bounds on ye north side to bound brook, the sd bound brook and well or spring being the bounds on the east side, and also one quarter part of my interest of the undivided Lands in sd Harwich (besides the above sd Sixteen acres given to my son Samuel,) and for the rest of my son Pauls land is in ye neck where he now dwells, and by me confirmed by Deed of Gift formerly, and my Will is that he shall yield to his mother, my wife, one third of the proffits or income of all I have given him, during her natural life, and that he shall pay to his two brothers Richard and Daniel, forty and four pounds in money towards the paying their purchases att Manamoy. My will further is that the Ditch which hath been the accustomed bounds in the in the marsh betwixt my son Paul, and my kinsman Josiah Sears shall remain for- ever; beginning southerly att ye upland and running straight northerly to the Creek which did run on ye north side of ye island, which creek shall be the north bounds: And my Will is, and I do give all that slip of meadow on the West side of ye sd ditch unto the said Josiah Sears, his heirs and assigns forever. It.- I do give and bequeath unto my son John Sears, and to his heirs and as- signs forever, all the rest of my Homestead, both housings, lands and meadows, also one quarter part of all my interest in the undivided lands in ye sd Harwich, excepting the sixteen acres before given to my son Saml.-he my sd son John allowing and yielding to his mother, my wife, the one third part of my Housing, and the third of the proffits of ye lands during her natural life, and he paying to his two brothers Richard and Daniel, forty and four pounds in mon- ey towards their purchase att Manamoy. It.- I do give and bequeath all my movable Estate as Cattle, sheep, horses, swine and household stuff &c, unto my loving wife Deborah, (my Debts and Funerall charges being first paid.) She shall have the rest for her comfort while she lives: and what she leaves at her death to be equally divided amongst my daughters to whom I have each of them given such parts or portions as I was able or thought fitt. Lastly,- I do nominate and appoint my sd son Saml Sears and my Loving Wife Deborah executors to this my last will and testament. In witness whereof, I have hereunto sett my hand and seal ye day and year in ye other side forst above written.

Signed, sealed & declared in The mark and seal of presence of Paul (=) Sears, Senr. (seal) John Thacher Zachariah Paddock Samuel Howes

Barnstable, ss. April 14, 1883. A true copy of the record, Attest, Freeman H. Lothrop, Register of Probate Court

A true inventory of all and Singular ye Goods, Chattels, Housing, Lands and Credits of Paul Sears, yeoman, deceased, prised at Yarmouth, ye 19th day of March 1708: By Peter Thacher & Kenelm Winslow, as followeth: L s d Impr. –

[Money was written in this order: pounds, shillings and pence.  So these first 3 numbers mean he had 1 pound note, 17 shillings and 6 pence in cash.  In shorthand, it’s written L1, 17s & 6d.  The 2017 value of this money would have been 200.59 British pounds or USD 281.31]

his money L1 17 6
his apparel of all sorts 11 18 6
It.- Two feather beds, two other beds, bedstead, curtains and valence with bolsters, pillows, and all ye coverlids and sheets 21 13 6
It.- Table and chairs 1 4 0 andirons, trammels iron potts & pot hooks …………………………………………. 03 08 06
Tongs, & fire flue, iron kettles, skillets, frying pans …….. 03 02 06
It.- Brass kettle, warming pan, hitchell, stillyards, chest & boxes 02 06 00
It.- Spinning wheels 10s pewter platter, plates cups & potts … 01 17 00
It.- Koolers, pails, trays, trenches & spoons, table linen & towels ………………………………………. 01 02 00
It.- his saddle, bridle, pilyon, & cloth, flax & linen yarn …. 02 00 00
It.- Cash, candlestick, lamp, draving knife axes, sickle & hoes 00 17 00
A sifting trough, wool, five washing tubs knife, scissors, looking glass …………………………………………. 00 09 00
It.- Salt & feathers, and iron wedge, ye iron belonging to ye cart, and plows and spade a staple and cap ring, & caps & ring 02 19 00
It.- 4 bushels Rye, 24 of Indian, 3 of Wheat and 1/2 his books 05 00 00
Tobacco, 10s
pitchforks, powder horn, bullets, and sword ….. 00 17 00
Grindstone, and tin ware, 2 oxen, 5 cows, 2 steers ……….. 23 05 00
It.- 2 yearlings, a bull and one horse, 3 swine, 25 sheep …. 11 05 00
It.- his housing, lands, and meadows at 350 ……………… 350 00 00
more about 3 acres of English corn upon ye ground not prised.______________
The total ………………. 445 07 09

[So L445, 7s & 9 p would be L47,649.02 in 2017 British pounds or USD 66,829 which is a sizeable estate.]
now due to ye Estate about …………………………… 21 15 06

This took some studying on my part before I could understand such an old will with so many unfamiliar terms.  I’d never heard of trammels, stillyards or bushels of Indian.  So it was off to Bing.com to find photos and meanings for these inventory items.


Trammel from 1700s-antique-fireplace-trammel-hand_1_aa3641548e25dfe8e2b53689430f
A trammel is a sawtooth metal device to hang a cooking pot on.  This one is obviously handmade because the teeth are all slightly different sizes.


When a colonist wanted to weigh the turkey or butchered animal, a stillyard (steelyard) was used.  This one could weigh up to 150 pounds of meat.


A quarter of Indian was simply a bushel of multi-colored corn.

Captain Paul made sure his debts would be paid first.  Then his eldest son, Samuel, inherited his land and the meadow in Harwich where Samuel’s house was and then gives very specific landmarks to make sure everyone knew what Samuel had inherited.

Paul made sure to take care of his wife, Deborah, by instructing Samuel to give her one-third of the profits from his farm.  Samuel also had to pay his younger brothers, Richard and Daniel 42 English pounds (cash) which would equal 4,493.30 British pounds in 2017 figures.


Deborah = 1/3 of Samuel’s profits + 1/3 of Paul Jr’s profits + 1/3 of John’s profits

= all moveable estate (cattle, sheep, horses, swine and household stuff

(When Deborah died, her daughters inherited her property.)

Samuel =   Current residence and land in Harwich (16 acres)        An acre of land in Harwich in 2017 equals approximately $100,000.

=  1 Try pott and kettle

Paul Jr = Green Meadow property

John = ¼ interest in undivided lands in Harwich

Richard & Daniel = 42 pounds*                                                 4,493.30 British pounds (2017)

44 pounds**                                             4,707.27 British pounds (2017)

44 pounds**                                              4,707.27 British pounds (2017)

*4,493.30 pounds could have bought 7 horses, 10 cows, 70 stones of wool, 21 quarters of wheat and 466 days’ wages in the 1700s.

** 4,707.27 pounds could have bought 8 horses, 10 cows, 73 stones of wool, 22 quarters of wheat and 488 days’ wages x 2 (From Paul and John) =

16 horses, 20 cows, 146 stones of wool, 44 quarters of wheat and 976 days’ wages.

For a grand total of 23 horses, 30 cows, 216 stones (3,024 pounds) of wool, 65 quarters (520 bushels) of wheat and 1442 days’ wages (almost 4 years’ wages).

Captain Paul Sears was a wealthy man indeed to be able to leave all of the above to his family.

Ray traced the headstones in the Ancient Sears Cemetery and charted each one.  Paul Junior is #10 on the list.  His grave is at the bottom of the photo on the next page.02.17.1940 Paul Sears died 1739 or 1740.jpg

1724 Ancient Sears Cemetery, Brewster, Mass.jpg
I wonder how much Richard and Dorothy’s grandchildren’s estates were worth by the time the next generation had had a chance to work the land.  But that’s another story…

2 thoughts on “Where There’s a Will – #52Ancestors

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