|Birth: ||Sep. 16, 1610|
|Death: ||Mar. 5, 1690|
Captain Richard Brackett was one of the first of the name in America. With certainty it is known that he was in the colony of Massachusetts Bay as early as 1630. Richard Brackett died March 5, 1690' "after an eminently useful, active and pious life." He is buried in the north precinct of Braintree; now Quincy. On the stone you can read:
"Here lyeth buried
ye body of
Cap. Richard Brackett
Aged 80 years
Decd March 5
His wife, Alice(Blower) Brackett, was his lifelong companion from the time of their marriage. Her death occurred in 1690. No stone marks her place of burial but it is presumed that it is near Richard's grave. This appears to be part of the original stone but appears to have been set in cement or affixed to another stone. His son James is also set next to his.
In the year 1629, the year they probably came to America, Richard was only seventeen years old. There is his oath of affidavit on July 2, 1668 that he is 56 years old. If this is true he was born in 1612. His tombstone reads: "Died March 1690 80 Years Old"; if this is true he was born in 1610. This is important as it bears on the question of whether or not he was accompanied to America by a guardian. It is believed that Peter was his elder brother and his guardian.
Captain Richard enjoyed the confidences of the ruling, Puritan, power of the colony at an early age. He agreed with them on all matters pertaining to religion and politics. He took a decided stand with a large majority of the people of Braintree. His life can be described as typical in quite all particulars pertaining to his conduct as a man and a religionist. The mundane rewards, which were his to enjoy, seem to have been quite all the honors and favors that fall to one who followed rather than led. He followed closely on the heels of those who led. He seems to have gotten his fair share of those favors the colonists had to divide amongst themselves. He seems to have been very successful in his undertakings and to have possessed a good mind at the time of his death.
On August 27, 1630, he was among the colonists that were instrumental in and with whom Governor Winthrop organized the First Church of Boston, the instrument is dated at Charlestown. Mr. Jeffery Richardson, a descendant of Captain Richard, wrote in his Brackett Genealogy, in 1860, that the church structure "was at first a low thatched-roofed building which was soon removed and one was built where Brazier's building is". Captain Richard remained with this church for twelve years; he then removed to Braintree. Under the date of September 8, 1635 one can read in the church records that "Alice; wife, of our brother Richard Brackett, signed the Covenant.
He was but twenty-three years old in 1635 and had probably been with the Church for a short time when his wife joined the Church. They were married, in St. Katherine by the Tower, in London in 1633/34. His wife's maiden name was Alice Blower. He was admitted freeman in Boston May 25, 1636 and on November 23, 1636 he became a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. Prior to March 21, 1636 he was granted a lot upon which to build. His choice was limited to lots "not being built upon (and) is free to be otherwise disposed of". He made the selection of a lot now on Washington Street (1860), nearly midway between the present West and Boylston Streets. He erected a house about which was a garden and there resided until about November 20, 1637. He was then appointed by the General Court to be the keeper of the prison. His salary and prerequisites were thirteen pounds and six pence, increasing to twenty pounds June 6, 1639. He was also given the use of a dwelling house. The following year he sold his property on Washington Street. In volume one, page twenty-five, of the Boston Town Proceedings, it is recorded:
"Granted to our Brother Richard Brackett to sell
his howes and yarding, June 11, 1638".
The property was sold to a Mr. Jacob Leger."
The town proceedings give some information as to Captain Richard's occupation. Prior to his removal to Braintree, under the date of February 12, 1639, it is recorded that leave was granted "to our Brother Richard Brackett to mowe the marsch lying in the newfield which he hath usually mowen, for the next summer time." It is clear that he had something to do in addition to his duties as jailer. He had an eye open for municipal windfalls and a yearning for agriculture.
He had a strong desire to lead the life of a husbandman, in preference to the other calling so many of his fellow compatriots followed; fishing. Many acquired a great deal of wealth as fishermen. Richard decided to turn his attention to farming. To accomplish this he would need to leave Boston.
In relating the period of his life when he is about to change his place of residence, to take leave of Boston, it is proper to mention the reference to Richard Brackett by S.G. Drake, in his History and Antiquities of Boston. It occurs in his picture of Spring Lane, at it's conclusion, as he recalls the first settlers visiting the spring, he wrote these words:
"And grim Richard Brackett, the jailer, may have laid down his halbred to quaff a morning draught."
The quote's briefness tells how pressed for data pertaining to those early days and the settler's activities the author was. It is known that he had only those few words to present relating to "Grim Richard". Mr. Jeffery Richardson had heard it stated that the jailer in Hawthorne's Scarlett Letter was grim Richard. It seems certain that the description is not of the individual (Richard) nor that the author had in mind any particular individual as he wrote.
Mr. Jeffery Richardson mentions that Captain Richard was jailer for many years. It is certain that he held the position to the time of his removal to Braintree. Whether he held it subsequently to this move, there is no evidence. The "marsch lying in the newfield which he hath usually mowen" and which Richard was granted to mow February 12, 1639 was at Mount Wollaston where Thomas Morton; some seventeen years earlier, had set up his business, much to the annoyance of the Plymouth Colony. Morton's Maypole exercises were of the merriest kind and these and other doings brought the merrymakers such ill repute that they were driven out of the county by enraged saints. Braintree was incorporated in 1640. Captain Richard was associated with it's incorporation. He moved to Braintree perhaps in 1641 or 1642. The time is fixed by the date of his dismissal by the church in Boston. There is some uncertainty about this date. In some publications it is December 5, 1641 and in others May 8, 1642. Under the latter date, the records of the First Church of Boston read:
"Our Brother Richard Brackett was granted by the church
to be dismissed to ye church at Braintree at their desire
with ye office of Deacon amongst you."
The saints of the First Church of Boston entertained a high opinion of the integrity of the young Deacon and this opinion was shared by the Boston town authorities. The church in Boston appears to have exercised a parental care over the new church in Braintree and insured it's well being by patronizing it with one of it's model members as a Deacon. He was ordained Deacon July 21, 1642. This office was held by Richard in the church at Braintree until he died.
There were tracts of land in Braintree that were owned or claimed by the town of Boston. Boston appointed Captain Richard to oversee these tracts of land as it's agent:
"Agreed with Captain Richard Brackett of Braintree
that he should in the town's behalf, take care that noe
wast or strip of wood or timber be in the land belong-
inge to this town lyinge nere theier towne; but do his
utmost to prevent it or give information to the Selectmen.
In consideration whereof he hath libertie to cutt out of
the wood already fallen to the value of 40 cord.
25 December 1676."
Another time Captain Richard was granted by the town of Boston:
"Libertie to cut soe much tymber upon the common land
of Braintree as may serve for ye buildinge of 1/4 pte of
a vessel of 25 tun. Inconsideration of his care of the tymber
Volume 6 page 237 of the Suffolk County Deeds reads:
"Richard Brackett of Braintree, husbandman, sells 30 acres
of woodland in the township of Braintree but belonging to
Boston, and abt 25 years past by sd town of Boston gtd and
laid out to other men as by record of said town appeareth,
25 Oct 1660".
There was another tract of considerable extent in Braintree, which Boston claimed. A large part of that tract was purchased from an Indian Chief. It was the desire of a great portion of the people of Braintree to commence action to recover that tract from Boston. This was opposed by a few in the town, notably Richard Brackett and Edmund Quincy. They and Samuel Thompson, in March 1682, were appointed to a committee to meet with the town of Boston. The contest was a prolonged one and as late as 1687 Richard was still opposing the proceedings against Boston. A committee secured for Braintree what is known as a six-hundred-acre log.
Richard Brackett was one of the town's early officials, was it's first town clerk and held that office for some years. In 1652, he was chosen selectman and again in 1670 and 1672. The highest office his townsmen should bestow upon him was that of Deputy to the General Court. He was first selected to that position in 1643, again in 1655 and 1665.
In 1665, the colony had need of the services of it's ablest men in it's contest over the Province of Maine with the heir of Georges'. It required the counsel of such men as Richard to successfully steer the ship of state during the stormy period of restoration.
Again in 1667, Captain Richard was Braintree's Deputy to the General Court and also in 1671. In the year 1675 King Philip's War commenced and continued into the following year. The war ended but there was no lasting peace with the Indians until 1679. Richard once again represented the General Court in 1680.
Richard served his people in a military as well as a civil and religious way. He was chosen Sergeant of the organization of the train-band in Braintree and held that rank for a few years. He was promoted to Lieutenant and was the second to hold that position in the company. About 1654 Richard was promoted to be the Captain of the company, the third person to be so honored. This is where the title Captain Richard Brackett is derived from. For promotion to this office it was necessary that the approval of the candidate should be made by the General Court; himself being a member of the court.
Judging from the propriety he exercised in his own and the town's affairs and the regularity he observed in all his business transactions, it is believed that there was not a better drilled and more thoroughly capable Train-Band in the province. Though Braintree was near Boston, it did not escape the battles of King Philip's War. On February 25, 1675 the Indians raided Braintree and killed four persons. In March 1676 another person was killed. Richard's men responded to these and other alarms. They collected the women and children, scouts were dispatched to observe the enemy, messages were sent to neighboring towns to give them warning and summon aid and an energetic pursuit was organized. It is regretted that hardly a scrap has been preserved of the part taken in this war by Captain Richard and his men. The only record that has been handed down to us is:
The raids by the Indians caused the colony to establish a garrison on or near the line between the towns of Braintree and Bridgewater. The military committee of the General Court appointed Richard Thayer to take charge. This Thayer was ambitious to earn his wages and a name for vigilance. He raised an alarm on the most meager of rumors, stalked all phantoms of the wilderness and stampeded at the approach of a horse or a cow of any color. Night and day he had the people afraid of an immediate prospect of being swooped down upon by the braves. He had Richard Brackett stirred up and his anger thoroughly aroused and his men were worn out by keeping constant vigil and Watch. At last what Thayer had prayed for took place. One of King Philip's men, "John George, a poor half starved wretch, on his knees went through the snow to the garrison house and surrendered. He was too weak to walk. He was the only Indian that was seen by Thayer and his garrison". Thayer took advantage of the situation to proclaim his vigilance. He kept John George in the garrison house for five weeks at the expense of the town. Richard was sorely strained but he had to put up with it all as Thayer was also a General Court's man. The old jailer thought the jail was a good place to keep the Indian and took him from his keeper. Thayer protested and said he had a grievance and that all his bills had not been paid by the town. Richard had already prepared the evidence of his men in support of the course he had taken, which was approved by the men in authority.
The General Court took it upon themselves to banish the poor Indian (John George) from the county and it's records read that he was sold into slavery. It is to be regretted that Richard did not turn the poor Indian loose.
In Braintree Captain Richard Brackett was among the first in it's church, military and civil affairs. He was held in high esteem in Boston and other adjoining towns to Braintree. In all of these towns he had an extensive acquaintance of men of prominence, of residents and by some he was appointed to administer their wills and estates. He was nominated by the court to administer the estates of many people. Upon petition of members of their respective families his name is frequently mentioned. His selection for such trusts attests to his high standing in the community.
There is another position the Captain Richard filled, of which mention should be made, and that is of schoolmaster. Mr. Jeffery Richardson is authority that Richard was one who taught school in Braintree.
As he advanced in years he sought to disburden himself of the offices whose duties were too cumbersome and brought him little or no returns. He looked after positions where pay was attached for his services. He could disclaim all sinister motives for this action as he had frequently devoted the best years of his life to the common cause.
In the records of the General Court read:
"On request of Captain Richard Brackett being 73 years
of age and the infirmities of age upon him; having formerly
desired and now again today, to lay down his place of Chief
Military Commander in Braintree, the Court granted the
request and appointed Lieut. Edmund Quincy to succeed
At the time he had been connected with the company for upwards of forty-three years and was it's Captain. On the petition of the inhabitants of Braintree he was appointed in October 1679 to perform marriages and to take oaths in civil cases.
In Braintree his pursuit of farming is recorded as in deeds and other records he is described as a husbandman. He had his choice of the best land in the town and acquired a considerable estate for that time period. When the town of Billerica was incorporated he became a freeholder there and two of his sons and two of his daughters settled in Billerica. His years following his move to Braintree and until his mid-life were devoted to the breaking and clearing of his farm. Once this was done he had time for other pursuits such as teaching school, administering estates and performing other services of a semi-clerical and professional nature. At whatever age, he was busy and had his daily duties in one or another capacity. At all times he was a highly honored and respected person in Braintree. He attained such positions as he could along all lines; military, civil and religious.
About 1610 Richard Brackett was born to Peter and Rachel Brackett in Sudbury, Suffolk County, England. About 1630 Richard and his older brother, Peter, came to New England and settled in what was to become Boston. Richard returned to England briefly, as on 06 June 1633 in St. Katherine by the Tower, London, Richard married Alice Blower. They came back to live in New England in Boston and later Braintree. Alice died 03 November 1690 and Richard 05 March 1691 in Braintree.
Richard and Alice Brackett's Children were:
1. Hannah, bapt. 4 June 1634 in Boston, mar. 1st Samuel Kingsley, who died 21 May 1662 in Billerica, Mass. Mar. 2nd Deacon John Blanchard who died in Duntable in 1693. She survived her husbands and was killed by Indians in Dunstable 3 July 1706.
2. John, bapt. 7 May 1637 in Boston, mar. 1st 6 Sept. 1661 Hannah French, who died 9 May 1674. Mar. 2nd 31 May 1675 Ruth Ellice. John Brackett in Billerica was allotted land, in 1660, which adjoined the land allotted to his brother Peter. After the death of his wife, he and his four children went to Dedham to live.
3. Peter, bapt. 7 May 1637 in Boston, was a twin with John. Mar. 7 Aug.1661 Elizabeth Bosworth, who died 30 Nov. 1686. Mar. 2nd 30 March 1687 Sarah Foster (nee) Parker, who died 8 Apr. 1718. Peter lived in Billerica and was a farmer.
4. Rachael, bapt. 3 Nov. 1639; in Boston, mar. 15 July 1659 Simon Crosby of Billerica.
5. Mary born 12 May 1641; mar. 1 Feb. 1662 Joseph Thompson.
6. James born about 1645 in Braintree, mar. Sarah Marsh in 1674.
7. Sarah mar. 1 June 1689 Joseph Crosby who died 26 Nov. 1695.
8. Josiah bapt. 8 May 1652 in Braintree, mar. 4 Feb. 1673 Elizabeth Waldo. They had two daughters; Sarah and Elizabeth (mentioned in Richard's will).
Richard was the son of Peter and Rachel Brackett of Sudbury, Suffolk County, England. After Peter died Rachel married 2nd to Martin Saunders and they immigrated to America. Some Saunders researchers give Rachel's maiden name as Wheatley.
Peter Brackett (1585 - 1616)
Rachel Brackett Saunders (____ - 1651)
Alice Blower Brackett (1615 - 1690)*
Hannah Brackett Blanchard (1634 - 1706)*
Rachel Brackett Crosby (1639 - 1748)*
James Brackett (1645 - 1718)*
Here lyeth Buried ye Body of Cap. Richard Brackett, Deacon, aged 80 Years, Decd March 5, 1690.
Maintained by: William Brackett
Originally Created by: Dan Silva
Record added: Aug 14, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 11534942