Friday, June 24, 2011

Dr. James Stimson Sr. (c.1620 – ) and Dr. James Stimson Jr. (1640-90)

Typical 17th Century Doctor, Jamestown, Virginia

Dr. James Stimson Sr. was Aubrey Stimson’s 6th great grandfather.  Here's the lineage:

Solomon Stimson (1681 - 1726) - Son of James Jr.
Jeremiah Stimson (1725 - 1777) - Son of Elizabeth
Erasmus Benjamin Stimson (1762 - 1838) - Son of Jeremiah
Erasmus Benjamin Stimson (1781 - 1833) - Son of Erasmus Benjamin
Logan Wesley Stimson (1816 - 1872) - Son of Erasmus Benjamin
Wiley Fort Stimson (1856 -1920) - Son of Logan Wesley
Aubrey Vaughn Stimson (1900 - 1983) - Son of Wiley Fort

Dr. James Stimson Sr. was the first of our direct paternal line (with the surname Stimson) to live in North America. A couple of online genealogies trace his roots through John Stimson and Susanna Phillips of Norfolk, but upon examination, these sources seem to have gotten him confused with the family of a minister who settled in nearby Watertown in 1630.  Based upon the few facts available, the following seems to be the most reliable narrative:

Port of King's Lynn, Norfolk
At some point between 1620 and 1640, Dr. James Stimson boarded a passenger ship in the English port city of King’s Lynn, Norfolk and sailed to Massachusetts, most likely arriving in Boston, Lynn, or Salem.  The passage would’ve taken approximately 65 days.  James was almost certainly seeking refuge from the persecution of English puritans by King Charles I.  At some point James married a woman named Naomi, and in 1640 their son, James Jr., was born. 

The couple settled in Reading.  This village was part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (a puritan settlement in direct competition with the pilgrims of Plymouth).  Originally known as “Lynn Village”, Reading was founded on the south shore of Lake Quannapowitt after a few citizens from Lynn petitioned Governor Winthrop for a “place for an inland plantation” in 1639. Since their son James Jr. was born in Reading in 1640, it’s reasonable to assume that James Sr. and Naomi were part of this group that founded the town.

The long winters were harsh and summers were dedicated to hard work.  A colonial male spent most of his day on subsistence farming, hunting and fishing, while his wife tended to domestic duties and crop gardens.  On Sunday Puritans dedicated their entire day to worship, prayer and hymns.  The experience was so intense that Saturday evenings were often spent mentally preparing for the Sabbath.
1630's Home, Plymouth

Their son, James Jr., learned medicine from his father and also took it up as a career.  Seventeenth Century doctors had some pretty strange beliefs about the human body.  There were four fluids or 'humours' in the body (blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile). Illness resulted when you had too much of one humour; hence, all the bloodletting and fluid examination.  Doctors frequently doubled as barber/surgeons.  I’ll bet they spent a lot of time sharpening blades!

1630 Salem Village Puritan Homes
In 1661 James Jr. married Mary Leffingwell in Reading.  He was 22 years old and she was nineteen.  Their first child, Thomas, died soon after birth, but four healthy children followed.  James Jr. and Mary lived the rest of their lives in Reading.  Mary passed in 1681, and Dr. James Stimson Jr. died nine years later at the age of 50.

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