John Wattles

John Wattles

Death 1676 (aged 44–45)
Chelmsford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Canton, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Memorial ID 54698137 · View Source
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"In order to vidualize clearly the conditons under which our forefathers founded the New England colonies, let us roll back the curtain of time and glance at the closing years of the Tudor dynasty of England and the rise of the house of Stuart in its stead....

The death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603 brought to a close the Tudor reign, and James VI of Scotland, of the house of Stuart, as heir of Elizabeth, became James I of England. Thus were united England and Scotland, and their banners - the red field of England bearing the white cross of St George, and the blue banner of Scotland with the white cross of St Andrew - were incorporated into one.

While England, during Elizabeth's reign, adopted a middle course in religious matters, Scotland, under James VI, abolished the Catholic Church and established the Presbyterian form of faith and church government. James VI, now became James I (ruler of both England and Scotland), made open claims to autocracy; this as resented by the British people. While the opposition to the king was mainly a political one, distinct religious issues were also involved in the struggle.

The king, abandoning his Presbyterian faith, favored the High Church of the Protestant party, which advocated certain Catholic beliefs; while the Low Church party (or Puritans) demanded a reformation in the Church. The Presbyterians, largely in Scotland, went further, and insisted that their system of church government should be introduced. The Separatists, or Independents, claimed that each religious community should organize itself independently with a "congregational" form of worship. In order to enjoy religious freedom, many of the Separatists fled to Holland, where, in 1620, the Mayflower with passengers called the "Pilgrim Fathers" sailed for the New World, and there founded the Plymouth colony. Such was the religious condition of affairs in England and Scotland upon the death of James I, in 1625.

With the accession of his son, Charles I, the situation became acute. In 1638 the king tried to extend to Scotland the half-Protestant, half-Catholic religion of the Church of England. Scotland revolted! In England there was a Puritan revolution. With the fight for religious freedom, the English fought also to defend their rights under the Magna Charta. Oliver Cromwell became the leader in the political rebellion which in 1649 ended in the capture and execution of Charles I and the flight to France of his son, Charles II.

Cromwell was now in power. He derived his main support from the Independents (i.e. Separatists.) The Presbyterians of Scotland were on the side of the exiled Charles II. In 1650, Charles landed in Scotland, and upon his espousal of the Presbyterian faith, all Scotland was ready to give him its support. The "Fiery Cross," used from time immemorial as a summons to fight for God and country - was carried from chieftain to chieftain as a signal to rally to the defense of the Stuart king. When the command came to young JOHN WATTLES, he responded to the call, leaving behind, forever, friends and home, most dear. On September 3, 1650, Cromwell shattered the royalist army at the battle of Dunbar, where 4,000 were slain and 10,000 were made prisoners, and soon after, at the battle of Worcester, where many more were slain or taken prisoners, the downfall of the army under Charles II was complete.

The following correspondence shows that many of these prisoners were transported to New England, where Puritans of England had established a colony.... Next in the report is the list of passengers (272) of the ship "John & Sara", in which are recorded the names of John Woodall and John Wodell. Whether these were two passengers or different spellings of one passenger, we do not know; probably the latter supposition is correct, as the ENGLISH clerks who prepared the lists seemed to have great difficulty in spelling correctly the names!

The above correspondence shows that the Scotch prisoners on the "John & Sara" were granted amnesty by an act of Parliament dated 20th October, 1651, with the provision that they be transported at their own expense to British colonies beyond the sea. As the prisoners who had arrived in Boston earlier in the year had been taken at the battle of Dunbar, these of a later date were probably taken at the battle of Worcester. The ship sailed from London, was inspected at Gravesend, and then put out to sea. The prisoners were soon "sold" by Mr Thomas Kemble to whom they had been consigned. Mr Samuel Richardson, one of the original proprietors of Woburn, "bought" John Woodall. In 1658, Mr Richardson died. As a rule these Scots were sold for 20 pounds for a term of eight years. If John Wattles entered the service of Mr Richardson in 1652, his time in 1658, at this rate, would be worth five pounds, and he would be released from service in 1660.

Upon receiving his freedom, John Wattles settled in the fronier town of Chelmsford, a few miles from Woburn, where he was granted 15 acres of land, upon the condition that he build and settle on the same - and pay town taxes! On Christmas day, 1666, John Waddell and Mare Goole (Chelmsford vital records) were united in marriage.

Indian troubles throughout the New England colony culminated in an open conflict known as "King Philip's War". Chelmsford was attacked in February, March, and April 1676. Homes were burned and people were tortured and slain. John Wattles was numbered among the fallen! John Wattles died as he had lived - in the defense of his country. When, in the homeland, he responded to the ancient message, it called him not alone to battle but to exile and death. That response has burned like an unquenchable fire down through the centuries of descent - every heir being ready to carry on the symbol of courage and patriotism!

(Autobiography of Gurdon Wallace Wattles, 1922)

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  • Created by: Sue McDuffe:)
  • Added: 9 Jul 2010
  • Find a Grave Memorial 54698137
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Wattles (1631–1676), Find a Grave Memorial no. 54698137, citing Canton Corner Cemetery, Canton, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Sue McDuffe:) (contributor 47122067) .