Matthias Peter Button Sr, 16071672 (aged 65 years)

Matthias Peter /Button/ Sr
birth name
Given names
Matthias Peter
The Dutchman
Name suffix
Birth about 1607 49 45
Note: In his 1995 profiling of the immigrant, Robert Charles Anderson found no record of Mathias Button at…

In his 1995 profiling of the immigrant, Robert Charles Anderson found no record of Mathias Button at New England prior to 1633. Anderson wrote further of the parentage claimed by the Nyes, saying

"Such a baptism does exist, but there is no other evidence in support of this claim. Furthermore, since our Matthias is called at one point a "Dutchman," he presumably derived from a Germanic-speaking region on the Continent and not from England."

Baptism October 11, 1607 49 45 (aged 0)
Death of a fatherThomas Button
June 23, 1617 (aged 10 years)
Date of entry in original source: June 26, 1617

26 June 1617 death recorded

Quality of data: primary evidence
Death of a brotherThomas Button Jr
June 26, 1617 (aged 10 years)
Burial of a fatherThomas Button
June 26, 1617 (aged 10 years)
Address: Parish Church of St. Peter
Death of a motherJoan Manning
1617 (aged 10 years)

Type: On ship Abigail w/Gov. John Endicott's party
September 6, 1628 (aged 21 years)
Note: Set sail in June 1628
Death of a brotherJohn Button
October 1, 1628 (aged 21 years)
MarriageLettyce View this family
1632 (aged 25 years)
Birth of a daughterMary Button
February 23, 1632 (aged 25 years)
Baptism of a daughterMary Button
February 23, 1633 (aged 26 years)

Baptism of a sonDaniel Button
between February 22, 1634 and February 22, 1635 (aged 28 years)

Death of a wifeLettyce
before 1639 (aged 32 years)
MarriageJoane View this family
about 1639 (aged 32 years)

MarriageAnn TeagleView this family
between 1648 and 1649 (aged 42 years)

Birth of a daughterSarah Button
between 1650 and 1651 (aged 44 years)

Death of a brotherRobert Button
January 1651 (aged 44 years)
Birth of a daughterHannah Button
May 11, 1652 (aged 45 years)

Birth of a sonDaniel Button
April 10, 1654 (aged 47 years)
Birth of a daughterAbigail Button
June 16, 1656 (aged 49 years)

Birth of a sonMatthias Button II
March 17, 1657/58 CE (March 27, 1658) (aged 51 years)
Birth of a sonPeter Button
July 17, 1660 (aged 53 years)
Death of a brotherWilliam Button
November 23, 1660 (aged 53 years)
Death of a wifeAnn Teagle
between February 4, 1662 and February 4, 1663 (aged 56 years)

Birth of a daughterPatience Button
June 1, 1662 (aged 55 years)

Death of a daughterPatience Button
October 30, 1662 (aged 55 years)

MarriageElizabeth WheelerView this family
June 9, 1663 (aged 56 years)

Birth of a grandchildKingsberry
1664 (aged 57 years)

Birth of a daughterElizabeth Button
after 1663 (aged 56 years)

Death of a sisterAnn Button
December 1664 (aged 57 years)
Death of a daughterAbigail Button
April 1667 (aged 60 years)

Birth of a grandsonJohn Kingsberry
July 28, 1667 (aged 60 years)
Birth of a granddaughterElizabeth Kingsberry
August 14, 1669 (aged 62 years)
Death August 13, 1672 (aged 65 years)
Family with parents
Birth: 1558Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
Death: June 23, 1617Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
Birth: 1562Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
Death: 1617
Marriage Marriage1580Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
1 year
elder brother
Birth: 1580 22 18Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
Death: June 26, 1617Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
7 years
elder brother
Birth: 1586 28 24Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
Death: January 1651Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, USA
3 years
elder brother
Birth: 1588 30 26Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
Death: October 1, 1628Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, USA
13 years
elder brother
Birth: November 23, 1600 42 38
Death: November 23, 1660Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
4 years
elder sister
Birth: December 1604 46 42Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
Death: December 1664Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
3 years
A ship similar to the Abigail
Birth: about 1607 49 45Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
Death: August 13, 1672Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Family with Lettyce
A ship similar to the Abigail
Birth: about 1607 49 45Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
Death: August 13, 1672Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Birth: 1594Westminster, Middlesex, England
Death: before 1639Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Marriage Marriage1632Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
2 months
Birth: February 23, 1632 25 38Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Death: 1708Guilford, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
3 years
Baptism: between February 22, 1634 and February 22, 1635 28 41
Family with Joane
A ship similar to the Abigail
Birth: about 1607 49 45Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
Death: August 13, 1672Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Marriage Marriageabout 1639
Family with Ann Teagle
A ship similar to the Abigail
Birth: about 1607 49 45Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
Death: August 13, 1672Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Birth: 1630Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Death: between February 4, 1662 and February 4, 1663
Marriage Marriagebetween 1648 and 1649
4 years
Birth: between 1650 and 1651 44 21
Death: 1690Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
2 years
Birth: May 11, 1652 45 22
Death: 1676
23 months
Bloody Brook Mass Grave
Birth: April 10, 1654 47 24Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Death: September 18, 1675South Deerfield, Franklin, Massachusetts, USA
2 years
Birth: June 16, 1656 49 26
Death: April 1667
22 months
1657/58 CE1725
Birth: March 17, 1657/58 CE (March 27, 1658) 51 28Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Death: 1725Plainfield, Windham, Connecticut, USA
2 years
Birth: July 17, 1660 53 30Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Death: between January 1, 1726 and December 31, 1727Westerly, Washington, Rhode Island, USA
23 months
Birth: June 1, 1662 55 32
Death: October 30, 1662
Family with Elizabeth Wheeler
A ship similar to the Abigail
Birth: about 1607 49 45Harrold, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England
Death: August 13, 1672Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Death: July 16, 1690Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Marriage MarriageJune 9, 1663
7 months
John Thornton + Lettyce
partner’s partner
Birth: 1594Westminster, Middlesex, England
Death: before 1639Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Marriage MarriageNovember 1639
Thomas Duston + Elizabeth Wheeler
partner’s partner
Death: July 16, 1690Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Marriage Marriageabout 1606
BaptismParish records of Harrold
DeathHaverhill town records
Identification numberButton Families of America
Citation details: p.40
NoteList of Ships that Brought Many of our Ancestors to America in the Early 17th Century
NotePassengers on Three Early Ships to New England
NoteThe Abigail and John Endicott
SourceButton Families of America
Citation details: #1, p.23, p.40
SourceBedfordshire Parish Registers
Citation details: p.A1, Baptisms, 1598-1646

"1607 Matthias s Tho Button" where 's' stands for "son of" and "Tho" is "Thomas".

Quality of data: primary evidence

In his 1995 profiling of the immigrant, Robert Charles Anderson found no record of Mathias Button at New England prior to 1633. Anderson wrote further of the parentage claimed by the Nyes, saying

"Such a baptism does exist, but there is no other evidence in support of this claim. Furthermore, since our Matthias is called at one point a "Dutchman," he presumably derived from a Germanic-speaking region on the Continent and not from England."


Set sail in June 1628


In 1628 the Abigail arrived at a new community in Massachusetts by the name of Naum Kieg ( She carried with her the first official governor of the Massachusetts Colony Jon Endecott and his wife. She also carried the charter for the colony. When they arrived, they found roughly 30 of the Cape Anne people living there, and essentially took over. The community was renamed to Salem and the Cape Anne folks were ignored. They complained to the king and eventually received their due. Our ancestor Capt. William Traske was amongst this Cape Anne group. The King obviously felt favorable toward them as they were granted permission to continue growing tobacco when the others could not. The Cape Anne folks were not puritans as were the Abigail people. There was friction.


The ship Abigail set sail from Weymouth in Dorsetshire, England, in June of 1628, under Henry Gaudens, master. It arrived at Salem, Massachusetts on Sept. 6. This is the ship that brought Governor John Endicott. In addition to John and his wife, Anna, other ship passengers included:

- Richard and William Brackenbury of Folke/Holnest, Dorset. - John Elford of Chetnold, Dorset. - Charles Gott of Cambridge, England. - Hugh Laskin of Childhay, Dorset, with his wife and a daughter, Edith, age 6. - Lawrence Leach, who probably had lived in Somersetshire. He and wife Elizabeth had sons Robert, John, Ambrose, Richard and Edmund and daughters Margaret and Rachel. His brother, John Leach, also came to New England. It is not clear whether they all came with Lawrence on this crossing of the Abigail; some or all of them may have come at a later date. - Roger Morey of Drimpton, Dorset. - Thomas Puckett of Upcerne, Dorset.


On 20th June 1628 the ship Abigail set sail from Weymouth with many Dorset emigrants bound for New England. Under Henry Gauden, the master, they arrived in Salem, Massachusetts on 6th September. This particular passage was important as it carried the new government for the London Plantation. The governor was John Endicott.

A memorial to two pioneers was unveiled on 2 June 1914 by Mrs Joseph Chamberlain, a direct descendant of John Endicott, in front of a huge crowd.

Passengers known to be on board the Abigail from Weymouth 1628 - John Endicott - Mrs Anna Endicott (wife of John) - Charles Gott of Cambridge, England - Richard Brackenbury of Folke or Holnest, Dorset - William Brackenbury of Folke or Holnest, Dorset - Hugh Laskin of Childhay, Dorset - Mrs Laskin - Edith Laskin - Lawrence Leach, possibly from Ash, Martock, Somerset - Roger Morey of Drimpton, Dorset - John Elford of Chetnole, Dorset - Thomas Pucker of Upcerne, Dorset - Captain Richard Davenport - Mathias Button - Humphrey Woodberry with his father - Ralph Sprague of Upwey (son of Edward) - Richard Sprague (brother of Ralph) - William Sprague (brother of Ralph and Richard)


California Mayflower Society


Endecott was chosen to lead the first expedition, and sailed for the New World aboard the Abigail with fifty or so "planters and servants" on 20 June 1628. The settlement they organized was first called Naumkeag, after the local Indian tribe, but was eventually renamed Salem in 1629. The area was already occupied by settlers of the failed Dorchester Company, some of whose backers also participated in the New England Company. This group of earlier settlers, led by Roger Conant, had migrated from a settlement on Cape Ann (near present-day Gloucester, Massachusetts) after it was abandoned. Endecott was not formally named governor of the new colony until it was issued a royal charter in 1629. At that time, he was appointed governor by the company's council in London, and Matthew Craddock was named the company's governor in London.

Shared note

Re: [BDF] Harrold parish registers

Dear Peter:

Your question just hit the spot, so to speak. There is a group of BUTTON researchers who are working together (in the U.S.--I am not sure where you are--England?) on Matthias BUTTON. A few months ago, I wrote St. Peter's Church in Harrold. Below is the answer I received from John Saul, who answers such inquiries for the church. Another BUTTON researcher and I wrote Evelyn Burgess (whose emails are included below) in hopes that she would have more information, but she did not answer either one of us. Perhaps if you email John Saul, he can tell you whether the vital records for Thomas BUTTON and his family are in Latin or English. They were sent to me in English almost 20 years ago by someone in the Bedfordshire County Office. That person said nothing about whether the original record was in English or Latin. John Saul's email address is _johnsaul(a)waitrose.com_ ( . Jayne _perllan987(a)aol.com_ (

From: _johnsaul(a)waitrose.com_ ( Date: July 31, 2010

Dear Jayne

Your enquiry [to St. Peter's church] has been forwarded to me.

The church records confirm the death of Thomas Button in 1617 and the baptisms of his children - but all we have in the church is a typed transcription made in 1946 of the registers kept in the Bedfordshire County Record Office. There is no possibility of going back any earlier than 1598.

You are not the first person to ask us for information about Thomas Button.

In 2003 we were visited by a Russ Button of Alameda, California - he is descended from Thomas Button via Thomas's son Matthias, who emigrated to Massachusetts in the 1630s. ... From what he told me I was able to write a short article for the Harrold village magazine - extract included below.

Then last year we received an enquiry from a Mrs Burgess:

From: _ev burgess_ () To: _janefox_1(a)btinternet.com_ () Sent: Friday, August 14, 2009 3:59 AM Subject: St. Peters and the Buttons

Rev Fox,

I am from Michigan, United States. I am researching my family ancestry with a friend of mine. Three years ago I was fortunate enough to be in Harrold, England, and to visit the church of St. Peters. I had hoped to see my Great Great.....Grandfather's grave. I was only able to wander thru the picturesque cemetery. No one seemed to be about that day, though my family and I were able to enter the church St. Peters. What a thrill!!

My ancestor William Button was buried in St. Peter's approximately 1637. That really is about all I know. Would it be possible to look thru the church archives online? Oh, that would be wonderful!! Is there someone who could give me more information? William's Great Great ..... grandson Albert Augustus Button (my Grandfather) was born in Detroit, Michigan approximately 1881. Some time between the mid 1600s and the mid 1800s the Buttons migrated to Canada/United States. I would be happy to discuss any information with any one who can help me.

Thank you...........I really do hope to get back to Harrold some time, and wander through my history. Evelyn Burgess _evmb65(a)hotmail.com_ ()

To: evmb65(a) CC: janefox_1(a) Subject: The Buttons Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2009 18:21:56 +0100

Dear Mrs Burgess (or may I call you Evelyn).

Revd Fox passed your enquiry to me as I am probably the nearest we have to a church historian.

I am not surprised that you were unable to find any Button memorials in the churchyard. There are no Button entries in the parish registers after the death of his father Thomas Button, so we must assume that the other Button children had all moved away by that time. We believe that the churchyard contains the remains of some 7000 people, and 98% of them would have been interred in unmarked graves - only the wealthiest would have been able to afford a memorial. Also, I am sure that if there were a memorial, erosion by wind and water over 375 years would have obliterated any inscription.

You are not the only descendant of Matthias Button to have made such an enquiry.

In 2003 we were visited by Russ Button (_russ(a)button.com_ () ), his wife and son, from Alameda, California. Later that year, I wrote a piece for our parish magazine about Russ's researches, as follows:

"Matthias Button, Russ’s direct ancestor, was baptised at St Peters Harrold on 11 October 1611, the fourth child of Thomas Button. Russ already knew that Matthias emigrated to the American colonies in the early 1630s, possibly (like the Pilgrim Fathers) via Holland. He may have married his first wife, Lettyce, before he went to America, but no record of this marriage has yet been found. She died young, and he remarried thrice more, in 1639, 1649 and 1663! He first lived in Salem, then moved to Boston where he was one of the very first settlers. He next moved to Ipswich and finally to Haverhill, Massachusetts, where he died in 1672. He accumulated a fair amount of land during his life in Haverhill. The records also show that he incurred the enmity of a certain John Godfrey when he testified at Godfrey’s trial in 1665 on suspicion of witchcraft. Godfrey was charged with ‘not having the fear of God before his eyes, did or have consulted with a familiar spirit and being instigated by the divil have done much hurt and mischief by several acts of witchcraft to the bodyes and goods of several persons’. Testimony at the trial stated that Godfrey passed through locked doors, appeared in two places at once and kept company with a retinue of strange cats and noisy demons. He was found ‘suspiciously guilty’ but not ‘legally guilty’! Four years later, Godfrey was found guilty - of burning down Matthias Button’s house! All this took place only a few years before the infamous trials of the ‘Witches of Salem’. Could Matthias Button’s journey to Massachusetts have been linked with that of Peter Bulkeley, the Rector of Odell, who was dispossessed of his living by Archbishop Laud because of his Puritan views? Peter Bulkeley emigrated to Massachusetts in 1635, where he founded and became the first minister of the town of Concord. Certainly, large numbers of Englishmen and women followed the Pilgrim Fathers to the New World in the 1630s in search of religious freedom. However, Matthias Button is known to have identified himself with the First Church of England in Boston; at least two of his children were baptised there. So he was probably what we would now describe as an economic migrant rather than an asylum seeker." Odell is less than 2 miles from Harrold, so what went on in Odell would have been well known in Harrold. It is believed that Archbishop Laud actually visited Odell to dispossess Bulkeley - indicating that Bulkeley was regarded as a more serious threat to Laud's vision for the Church of England than his humble position at an obscure parish church would indicate. Mrs Burgess replied as follows:

John Saul, oh my goodness, what a wealth of information you passed on! I am grateful....thank you so much. I am going to meet with a cousin next month and will share this information with him. I am amazed the St. Peter's cemetery holds so many people. I was told that the grave stones that were very old and had fallen, were used to fence in the cemetery and to make room for new graves.

The story of Matthias is very intriguing. I was told by my cousin that we are direct descendants of Matthias, but we have no stories of the witchcraft trials. The only thing my grandfather told me about ancestors still in England, is that one man (no name, no date) was hung for hunting deer on the kings' land.

I also did run across, in some of my ancestry searches, some of the family tree line of Matthias, that was the first I'd seen references to Matthias and Thomas being brothers.

Again, thank you so much, Mr. Saul, for sharing this information. I really do hope to visit England again and stay several days in Harrold. My husband's grandmother was born in Dufton, Scotland. Looks like a wonderful visit to the past for us.

............sincerely, Evelyn Burgess

I find family history research highly intriguing - I have traced the Saul line back to 1637, and one maternal line to the 1580s.

Let me know if there is anything else that I might be able to help you with.


John Saul

In a message dated 1/5/2011 6:00:50 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, ynad93(a) writes:

Would anyone have easy access to the Harrold parish register transcripts? I am interested in the entry for the baptism of Matthias son of Thomas Button on 11 October 1607. I would like to know whether the original entry was written in Latin or in English. Thanks if someone can help. Peter Jones

The List Guidelines

The Bedfordshire Surnames List


Will Information

He died in testate and the inventory of his estate March 9, 1673 was only 99 pds., 11s., 1d exclusive of the 80 acres of land given to his wife, Elizabeth.

Norfolk County Court, following the death of Matthias

Captain Nathaniel Saltonstall informed this court, yt Matthias Button Sr. died intestate, and yt none doth appear to this Court to seek administration to ye estate of ye sd Matthias Button. Oct. 8, 1672. (Norfolk County Records) The Clarke of ye writts of Haverhill giving notis to ye Court yt Matthias Button died intestate, and yt none yt hee heard of did intend to take out letters of administration, the Court ordered yt ye sd' Clarke of ye writts make inquiry after ye sd estate and secure it what hee can and make report of what he shall doe on it; and of ye inventory which hee shall take to ye next Court at Salisbury, Oct. 8, 1672. Ibid.)

It is ordered yt Captain Nathaniel Saltonstall be administrator to Matthias Button's estate protempore and until yt hee deliver his account and desire his discharge. Who hath power granted unto him to pay all debts yt are cleare and without exception, and is appointed to bring in inventory at next Hampton Court, and to use all lawful means to seize ye estate and recover it into his own hands, and to attend ye orders of Court that may be made in order yt ye disposal or division of ye estate.

This Court doth declare yt ye widow Button having land made over to her as a dowrie from Matthias Button, hath no right to her portion of ye estate which otherwise by law she might have. She also in court refusing to relinquish her sd joynture or dowrie. April 29, 1673. (Ibid)

This Court doth order yt ye administrator of ye estate of Matthias Button shall improve ye sd estate according to his discretion by letting it out, or changing it to other specia, taking sufficient securities for ye preservation of it. Oct. 14, 1673. (Ibid)

Upon ye motion of ye administrator of ye estate of Matthias Button, yt a division of ye estate may be made, this Court orders ye administrator to compute ye estate, and to divide ye remainder into five equal sums, for each child a part, and to deliver as soon as hee can ye shares belonging to ye two daughters, to their sd, husbands, taking their receipts for ye sums, and ye other shares to ye other children, when they come to age, or are married, unless other orders intervene. Nov. 14, 1676. (Ibid.)

The estate of Matthias Button Sr. was inventoried by Henry Kingsbury and Robert Swan, March 9, 1673 at o99:11s:8d. (Norfolk County Deeds, Vol. 2, page 491.)

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Note: Unveiled 2 June 1914 by Mrs Joseph Chamberlain in Weymouth-Dorset, UK

Unveiled 2 June 1914 by Mrs Joseph Chamberlain in Weymouth-Dorset, UK

It was originally sited by Weymouth Pavilion, The Ritz, which was destroyed by fire in 1954. It was later moved to the Alexandra Gardens nearby. In 1999 the Weymouth Civic Society launched an appeal to raise money for it to re-sited by the harbour. It is now positioned by the harbour steps to greet passengers alighting from the ferries. A memorial bench has been sited with it in memory of Eric Ricketts, a well known and respected Weymouth historian who has published many works of Weymouth's history.

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Note: The inscription: In memory of Richard Clark captain and pilot of Weymouth, who in 1583 sailed thence…

The inscription: In memory of Richard Clark captain and pilot of Weymouth, who in 1583 sailed thence to join Sir Humphrey Gilbert's voyage of discovery to Newfoundland, and of John Endicott who on June 20, 1628, set forth from Weymouth in the ship "Abigail" on the expedition which led to the establishment of the plantation at Salem, Massachusetts.

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Note: who came to America with governor John Endicott, landing at Salem, Mass., September 6, 1628. Compile…

who came to America with governor John Endicott, landing at Salem, Mass., September 6, 1628. Compiled from authentic sources by Button, A. (Alphonso), b. 1834

Matthias Button life story

He came as an immigrant to America from England with Governor John Endicott (also spelled Endecott), on ship Abigail, landing at Salem, MA September 6, 1628.

Some early writer recorded Matthias as a Dutchman. This is evidently an error; the man does not indicate a Holland nativity, and the foregoing records show his baptism in England, and probable English birth. He may have gone to Holland just previous to coming to America, and possibly married his first wife Lettyce there; we do not find any record of his first marriage. He must have been about 20 when he landed in America. His stay in Salem was brief; he soon removed to Boston, where he is found among the earliest settlers. He identified himself with the First Church of England sometime previous to 1633, and there at least two of his children were baptized. He removed thence to Ipswich, where he was a commoner in 1641 and thence in 1646 to Haverhill, where he died.

Mr. Button evidently inherited the spirit of adventure as history tells us that those who came with Governor John Endicott were gentlemen and their families who came to better their impaired fortunes, and enjoy the peace of religious liberty. Mr. Button was a very young man when he landed on this continent (he must have been about 20 when he landed), and it is not known whether he brought his wife Lettyce with him or not. As no record of their marriage has been found, it is presumed that shecame with him.

They group that arrived in Salem were in an exhausted condition when they landed. Many were sick and weak of limb. They brought with them cannon and small arms for their protection from savages. While some of them were acting as scouts in the wilderness, they overheard or observed some savages planning for the entire destruction of the colonists. They prepared to meet them and with great effort got out and planted their cannon so as to command their projected approach. When the main body ofthe savages was located, they fired the cannon and frightened the Indians so they scattered like sheep. Matthias Button is spoken of in this incident of the first landing as one of the few colonists who were able to get and man the big gun, so nearly exhausted were they from sickness and from want of food. He was spoken of as a hale and hearty man.

His stay in Salem was brief; he soon removed to Boston in 1633, where he is found amoung the earliest settlers. He identified himself with the First Church of England and was admitted with wife January 26, 1633, and there at least two of his children were baptized. He then moved to Ipswich, MA prior to 1639, where he was a commoner in 1641 and then, in 1646, to Haverhill, MA, where he resided until his death. Rev. Cobbett says Mr. Button died at Haverhill in 1672 at a great age. According toour records, if he was baptized in infancy, as was customary, he was about 65 years of age when he died. He doubtless appeared much older, due to sickness, anxiety, and hardships endured.

After a voyage of months in one of the frail vessels of that day, across a practically untracked and uncharted ocean, he passed through the trails, hardships, privations, and dangers of pioneer life in early New England. Wild beasts, and far more dangerous wild and savage men who roamed the wilderness night and day, made it necessary for the settlers tobe constantly on their guard against these dangers. Even on the Sabbath, when attending church, they were constantly in danger of the deadlytomahawk or scalping knife, expending at any moment to hear on the hideous warwhoops of the bloodthirsty savages.

In 1650, Mr. Button's estate was assessed at £60. This does not show him to have been wealthy, nor yet poor. Land property those days was not valued very high, and very few of the early settlers of New England were considered rich. Even the Vanderbilts and Guolds of early New York were men of moderate property.

Mr. Button had a long siege of sickness in his family. He lost children and his first three wives died. The last died from fright and exposure while sick in bed due to the burning of their dwelling by an implacable and unrelenting personal enemy who casued him no end of trouble for several years.

Probably the chief cause of the emnity of this man, John Godfrey, was due to the fact that Mr. Button, with Edward Yeomans and others, were witnesses against him when he was arrested on complaint of Job Tyler and John Remington on suspicion of Witchcraft and tried in the court of Boston in March, 1665.

In the Essex County Court Records, we find "Matthias Button, Haverhill vs. John Godfrey; For the burning of my house, and my goods that was in it and the cause of my wife's death, and running away as soon as he had done it June 10, 1669." The juryfind for the plaintiff £238.2s damages and costs.

Mr. Button had several grants of land in and near Haverhill, as shown by the public records. He had many hindrances in his acquisition of property; he had a prolonged siege of sickness himself, besides the here-in-before mentioned sickness and death of children, and the sickness of his third wife and her death following the burning of his dwelling by John Godfrey and the litigation that followed.

From court records we learn that a thatched house belonging to Matthias Button in 1671, and situated near the present home of Thomas West, one mile north east of the village of Haverhill was burned; this is of interest in showing the style of roofthat was used on some of the housed in those days.

The estate of Matthias Button Sr was inventoried by Henry Kingsbury andRobert Swan, March 9, 1673 at £99:11s:8d.

Did John Godfrey Burnt Down Matthias Button's House?

Ancestory Chain: 1 JR/ 2 Lark / 3 Camilla SMITH 4 / 5 Harriet Camilla ENSIGN / 6 Martin Luther ENSIGN / 7 Horace Datus ENSIGN / 8 Isaac ENSIGN / 9 Datus ENSIGN / 10 Sarah MOODY / 11 Sarah EVARTS / 12 Mary FRENCH / 13 Mary BUTTON / 14 Matthias BUTTON / 15 Thomas BUTTON.
ORIGIN: Unknown



REMOVES: Ipswich 1636, Haverhill 1652


CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: There is no evidence that Matthias Button was ever a church member, but at least one of his wives was, and perhaps more.

EDUCATION: Signed deeds and bonds by mark.

ESTATE: Matthias Button sold one half acre houselot in Ipswich to William Symmons of Ipswich, it "having been granted to John Thornton, deceased, and falling into hands of the grantor by marriage with Joane, widow of said Thornton, who is living," entered 16 November 1639 [Essex Ant 8:3]. On 14 June 1644 Matthias Button of Ipswich sold to Thomas Welles of Ipswich two parcels given to Button by the town, one of meadow, the other upland, thirteen acres [ILR 1:155].

On 18 March 1658[/9?] "Matthias Button and Tegell his wife of Haverhill" sold to John Hazeltine of Rowley six acres of planting land, three acres of meadow at Hawke's Meadow and three commonages with all privileges belonging thereto [NLR 1:104-06].

On 14 February 1664[/5?] "Matthias Button of Haverhill" mortgaged to Mr. John Ward of Haverhill "my mansion or dwelling house and a parcel of land belonging to me"; Elizabeth ac~knowledged the deed and made her mark [NLR 2:23]. On 11 April 1665 "Matthias Butten of Haverhill" granted to "my brother-in-law George Wheelar for the use of my wife Elizabeth Butten" fourscore acres of upland, part of his third division [NLR 2:24]. Elizabeth sold thirty of the eighty acres almost immediately to son-in-law John Kingsbury, 28 December 1670 [ELR 33:229]. On 7 December 1673 she deeded twenty acres near Hawk's meadow to "Peter Green my son-in-law" [NLR 3:107].
Button brought in an account of what he had lost in the fire "when John Godfrey burnt his house," which totalled œ111 1s., and included "the house itself with the cellar and leanto," "a musket with a firelock," "a sword and a pair of bandoliers, 2 pound of powder," "16 pound of lead," "a great brewing tubb" and "the loss of his owne time and which is the most damage to his estate the death of his wife occassioned hereby, œ20" [EQC 4:373-5]. His daughter Sarah refused to swear to the inventory, saying that her father had sold the butter he was claiming to the merchant for hats, and that the amount of linen in the house was much overstated. The bedding had been seen since the house was burned. Button angrily told Abraham Whitaker that if he swore against the inventory, he would strike him, and that if there were some things in the inventory which should not be there, there were some things left out which should have been in, so they might set one against the other [29 August 1670, for June Term, 1671, EQC 4:375].

The clerk of the writs at the October Term, 1672, was ordered to inquire after the estate left by Matthias Button and to bring an inventory to the next Salisbury court [EQC 5:104]. Captain Nathaniel Saltonstall was appointed administrator pro tempore at the April Term, 1673, and the court addressed the fact that widow Elizabeth Button refused to relinquish her dower right as the court directed, despite having received land from her husband in his lifetime [EQC 5:153]. Saltonstall ac~knowledged a judgment to Daniel Ela from Button's estate at the April Term, 1674 [EQC 5:297].

The estate of Matthias Button was inventoried in four installments. On 2 December 1672 six swine were appraised at œ3. On 5 April 1673 a collection of moveables was valued at 14s. 6d. On 7 October 1673 a second collection of moveables was valued at œ2 1s. 6d. And finally an inventory of the remainder of his estate, taken on 9 March 1673/4, totalled œ99 11s. 8d., of which œ35 wasreal estate: "3 acres Duck meadow, 8li.; Spiggot meadow 3 acres, 8li., Strong water meadow 3 acres, 5li.; land about the house 7 acres, 14li.," the latter appeared to have a mortgage [EPR 2:300; NLR 2:2:325].

At court 14 November 1676, it was ordered that the estate be divided into five equal sums, "a part for each child, and that the share to the two daughters be delivered to their husbands as soon as possible and the other shares at age or marriage" [EPR 3:101].

BIRTH: By 1610 based on approximated date of first marriage.

DEATH: Haverhill 13 August 1672 "Husband of Elizabeth".

MARRIAGE: (1) By 1633 Lettice _____; "Lettyse Button the wife of Mathew [sic] Button" admitted to Boston church 26 January 1633/4 [BChR 18]; died after 1635 and before 1639.
(2) By 16 November 1639 Joan (_____) Thornton, widow of John Thornton of Ipswich [Essex Ant 8:3]; died by about 1650.
(3) By about 1650 Teagle _____; died Haverhill 4 February 1662[/3] as a result of the firing of their house by John Godfrey (see COMMENTS below).
(4) Haverhill 9 June 1663 Elizabeth (Wheeler) Duston, born about 1622 (deposed aged forty-seven 29 June 1669 [EQC 4:154-55]), daughter of John Wheeler, and widow of Thomas Duston [Pillsbury Anc 1107-09]; died Haverhill 16 July 1690.

With first wife
i MARY, bp. Boston 23 February 1633/4 [BChR 278]; m. Haverhill 6 December 1652 Edward Yeomans.
ii DANIEL, bp. Boston 22 February 1634/5 [BChR 279]; no further record; presumably died without issue before 10 April 1654, when his half-brother of the same name was born.
With third wife
iii SARAH, b. say 1650 [possibly daughter with second wife]; m. Haverhill 6 January 1673[/4] James Kingsbury.
iv HANNAH, b. Haverhill 11 May 1652; presented for fornication in 1673, thus unmarried at that date [EQC 5:233]; probably still alive on 14 November 1676, as otherwise there would not be five children to receive the distribution of their father's estate.
v DANIEL, b. Haverhill 10 April 1654; apprentice to John Dresser Sr. April 1672 [EQC 5:40]; slain at Muddy-Brook Bridge 18 September 1675 with Capt. Lathrop [Bodge 136]; his 1677 estate was divided among his brothers and sisters, indicating he was unmarried [EPR 3:124].
vi ABIGAIL, b. Haverhill 16 June 1656; deceased before the division of her father's estate in November 1676.
vii MATTHIAS, b. Haverhill 17 March 1657/8; m. Haverhill 16 or 24 November 1686 Mary Neff.
viii PETER, b. Haverhill 17 July 1660; m. by about 1690 Mary Lanphear, daughter of George Lanphear [NEHGR 153:139-40].
ix PATIENCE, b. Haverhill 1 June 1662; d. Haverhill 30 October 1662.
ASSOCIATIONS: "Thomas Davis, constable of Haverhill, according to the Governor's warrant, brought in Stephen Kent, Matthias Button, Dutchman, and John Mackcalamy, Scotchman" [EQC 1:278, March Term, 1653].

COMMENTS: R. Glen Nye and Katherine (Watson) Nye identify Matthias Button as "a son of Thomas Button of Harrold, Bedford Co., England. He was baptized there October 11, 1607" [Button Gen 23]. Such a baptism does exist, but there is no other evidence in support of this claim. Furthermore, since our Matthias is called at one point a "Dutchman," he presumably derived from a Germanic-speaking region on the Continent and not from England.

In a letter [undated but circa April 1636] to her mother, Margaret Winthrop, Mary Dudley asks that her mother send her "a child's chair for I can get none made here and goodman Button's Boat shall call for it a fortnight hence" [WP 3:242].

Matthias Button sued Thomas Boreman for an undisclosed offence at the December Term, 1641, probably relating to the sale of land in Ipswich [EQC 1:38, 7:86]. In relation to a retrospective case about this land, Daniel Hovey deposed in September 1678, aged sixty years, that "living in the house of Goodman Buton at the time of the earthquake in June forty years since and being at that time at work with him in his planting lot at the place called Button's point..." [EQC 7:87]. Isaac Cummings and Thomas Newman recognized Button's stray swine at March Term, 1647 [EQC 1:113]. Thomas Perkins sued Matthias Button, Abraham Wear and Robert Beacham for debt at September Term, 1647, implying that the three defendants may have been connected in business in some way [EQC 1:125].
Matthias Button acknowledged judgment to William Marston, Sr., of Hampton at the April Term, 1664 [EQC 3:147, 199]. At March Term, 1665, "Matthias Button acknowledged judgment in open court to Mr. Jewett's executors, Mr. Philip Nelson and Jeremiah Jewett, in corn and cattle" [EQC 3:241].

Matthias Button had the poor judgment to deal with the notorious John Godfrey. Owing him a bond dated 12 January 1663[/4], at June Term, 1668, Button was sued by Godfrey for debt and the jury found for Button. The court disagreed and set the verdict aside. In this case John Hutchins and Abraham Whitaker deposed that four years before, Godfrey had them accompany him to Button's to demand the cattle valued to œ12 that Button owed him.

Butten said, "I will now look up my cattle and pay thee." Godfrey told him to bring them to town to Goodman Kent's before twelve o'clock where they would be appraised, and he would give up the bond. Godfrey chose Stephen Kent for his appraiser and Button chose Bartholomew Heath. The cattle were brought before the time and appraised, but Godfrey would not come to receive them, although deponents remained till almost night [EQC 4:29].

Even with the verdict set aside by the court, Godfrey evidently harbored a grudge. At the April Term, 1669, less than a year later, Button sued him for "firing his chimney which caused his house to burn and the goods therein, also the death of his wife, and for running away as soon as he had done it." The court, which did not have the power to rule in a case of wrongful death, brought a verdict anyway, and awarded Button œ238 2s. [EQC 4:130-31].

More detail about this case is seen in the June Term, 1669, when Godfrey sued Matthias Button for "unjust molestation." Button won, but the court again set the verdict aside. From the deposition of Edward Clark, we learn that Button gave Godfrey an acquittance (9 January 166[2]/3), before the burning of his house [EQC 4:152]. Godfrey was accused, in the course of testimony, of being in two places at once, and appearing suspiciously the day after Goody Archer was buried, among other trappings of witchcraft. Matthias's fourth wife, Elizabeth Button, deposed aged about forty-seven years,...that on a rainy day, she and her daughter Saray laid in a bed by the fireside about twelve or one o'clock there was a great noise about the house which this deponent took to be the cattle, but when she was awake she saw a shape of a man and [it] sat in a great chair and being a great fire near the bed and near the chair within a yard and a half I saw Godfrey sitting and I would faine have struck him but could not put forth my hand and I did what I could to wake the maid that was in bed with me but could not for I could neither speak nor stir and thus he continued for the space of two hours and I see him three or four times but as soon as I had come to settle myself in the bed he vanished away to my apprehension for he went strangely out and the door was fast and when I rose in the morning I went to the dore and it was fast bolted [sworn 22 June 1669, EQC 4:154-5].

Godfrey was found legally not guilty of witchcraft by the Court of Assistants, but was found "suspiciously guilty." By the next term, he was back in court, unsuccessfully suing the deputy, Daniel Ela, for extortion [EQC 4:179]. The case would not go away. Ela sued Godfrey for "willful firing and burning of the dwelling house of Matthias Button, which was the cause of the death of said Button's wife." Godfrey replied, "Why should I bely myself; there be the witness: and asked whether he should go and execute himself; ... protested that he was cleared of firing the house and knew not of it: and that he went to Corlis his house, and there remained until Button came with his family" [EQC 4:185]. In a calmer deposition, Godfrey "acknowledged that he was at Button's house the day before the house was burned and went about ten or eleven o'clock to Corlis' house; that he said to Goody Button, lying upon the bed, `Woman weigh me out some meat,' and she arose and gave him meat and brought in water; also that he made a little fire of small wood upon the hearth" [EQC 4:186].
Button apparently paid Ela for his services as deputy and attorney, and the court found Ela's charges to be excessive. During testimony at November Term, 1669, it was revealed that Button had agreed to give Ela one third of all he "should return of John Godfray for the burning of my house and goods" [EQC 4:199].
Godfrey sued Matthias Button again at the June Term, 1671, trying to overturn the conviction for burning Button's house.

The humble request of Matthias Button: that having been sued by John Godfrey `and I lying very sick and weak for this great while so that I am not able to do anything nor to come to the court the hand of God have been and is still so upon me that I humbly beseech the honored court to consider how unjustly Godfrey sues me out of my own county contrary to law as I conceive because it will appear by evidence that Godfrey belongs to one town and County therefore if he find himself aggrieved he should try in the same county where we both live, therefore I humbly beseech the Court that your poor petitioner may have justice in the case as the Lord shall direct you [EQC 4:373].

As late as 29 June 1671, the court was still ordering Godfrey to pay Button in this case and Godfrey was still countersuing Ela [EQC 4:450, 5:51]. Button sued Godfrey one last time, and the case being called at the October Term, 1672, Button did not appear, and Godfrey was discharged [EQC 5:102]. Button had died the preceding August.
At the June Term, 1673, Godfrey sued Edward Clark, claiming that Clark had fraudulently prevented him from receiving even one penny of a œ138 judgment Button was to pay Godfrey pursuant to a Court of Assistants' decision dated 13 March 1671/2 [EQC 5:182]. (For copies of these and other papers in the disputes involving Button, Godfrey and Ela, see RCA 3:151-61, 212-13.)

Note: John Godfrey Was Tried 3 Times For Witchcraft - 1659,1665 & 1669.

1. The Essex Antiquarian, Volume 1 through 13, Sidney Perley, ed. (Salem 1897-1909).
2. Ipswich Land Records, manuscript, Essex County Courthouse, Salem, Massachusetts.
3. (Old) Norfolk County, Massachusetts, Deeds.
4. Essex County, Massachusetts, Deeds, microfilm copies.
5. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, 1636-1686, 9 volumes (Salem 1911-1975).
6. The Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts, 1635-1681, 3 volumes (Salem 1916-1920; rpt. Newburyport, Massachusetts, 1988). Citations to the unpublished probate records are to case numbers, or to register volumes (which begin with volume 301).
7. The Records of the First Church in Boston, 1630-1868, Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Volumes 39, 40 and 41, Richard D. Pierce, ed. (Boston 1961).
8. The Essex Antiquarian, Volume 1 through 13, Sidney Perley, ed. (Salem 1897-1909).
9. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, 1636-1686, 9 volumes (Salem 1911-1975).
10. Mary Lovering Holman, Ancestry of Charles Stinson Pillsbury and John Sargent Pillsbury ... 2 vols. (Concord, 1938).
11. George Madison Bodge, Soldiers in King Philip's War being A Critical Account of That War with A Concise History of the Indian Wars of New England From 1620-1677 (Leominster, Massachusetts, 1896; rpt. Baltimore 1967).
12. The Probate Records of Essex County, Massachusetts, 1635-1681, 3 volumes (Salem 1916-1920; rpt. Newburyport, Massachusetts, 1988). Citations to the unpublished probate records are to case numbers, or to register volumes (which begin with volume 301).
13. New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 1 through present (1847+).
14. R. Glen Nye, Button Families of America (n.p. 1971).
15. Winthrop Papers, 1498-1654, 6 volumes, various editors (Boston 1925-1992).
16. Records of the Court of Assistants, 3 volumes (Boston 1901-1928).

This history from:
"The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633."