Saturday, March 7, 2015

Surname Saturday ~ Townsend of England, Massachusetts and Maine

My Townsend line is a crumbling brick wall. I am working to find additional primary source evidence confirming the following line.

Norfolk County, England
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The immigrant Townsend ancestor appears to be Thomas Townsend. He was the third son of Henry Townsend and Margaret, baptized at Bracon-Ash, Norfolk County, England, on 8 January 1594/95.

He probably had at least two and possibly three wives.

He was in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts by 1638, when he was granted 60 acres at Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts. He arrived too late to be included in the Great Migration Study Project (which goes through 1635).

He is found in various records in Lynn, serving on a jury, signing various petitions and deeding land to a couple of his sons.

Thomas Townsend married Mary (possibly Newgate) as his second or third wife but it's unclear as to who is the mother of the children:
Thomas (b. about 1636 or about 1640)
Samuel (b. 1638)
John (b. about 1644)
Elizabeth (b. about 1648)

Mary is identified as mother of youngest son Andrew, born in 1654.

(Interestingly, there is also a theory (note: only a theory, no evidence) that he might be the father of Lydia Townsend, who married Lawrence Copeland, the immigrant Copeland ancestor. See Surname Saturday ~ Copeland. And Lawrence and Lydia's first child was named Thomas.)

Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Immigrant Thomas Townsend died in Lynn on December 22, 1677. His wife, Mary, died February 28, 1692/93. I descend from his son Thomas.

This Townsend line seemed to move to a different community in every generation. Following is my Townsend line which includes a series of maps showing Thomas' descendants' westward movement within Massachusetts.

Generation 2:
Thomas Townsend was born in either England or Lynn in about 1636 or 1637, if he was older than Samuel who was born in 1638.

He married Mary Davis, probably at Boston, Massachusetts, in about 1664. They had ten children.

Thomas was a farmer and owned land in Lynn.

Thomas died before July 22, 1700, when his will was proved at Essex County Court.

I descend from their son Hezekiah.

Generation 3:
Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Hezekiah Townsend was born in Boston on April 13, 1685.

He married Sarah (unknown) in Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, on May 8, 1712.

Their first son was born at Concord and their remaining four children (Sarah, Mary, Obediah, and Thomas) were born at Lancaster, Worcester County, Massachusetts.

Hezekiah owned land in Lancaster and can be found in land records there. He died on April 19, 1729, in Lancaster.

I descend from their son Obediah.

Generation 4:
Lancaster, Worcester County, Massachusetts
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Obediah Townsend was born at Lancaster on February 7, 1724/25.

He married Hannah Trask at Lancaster on December 10, 1747. They had at least four children: Isaac, Sarah, Obediah, and John, all baptized at New Salem, Franklin County, Massachusetts.

Obadiah died on October 16, 1798, at New Salem. His wife died on May 7, 1804.

I descend from their son Isaac.

Generation 5:
Isaac Townsend was born in New Salem, Massachusetts in 1752. (He was baptized on July 26 of that year.)

New Salem, Franklin County, Massachusetts
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Although the image here shows New Salem in the dark pink within light pink Franklin County, at the time my Townsends were living there, it was part of Hampshire County. (Franklin County was created in 1811.)

Isaac married Rachel Crosby at New Salem on September 12, 1773. They had at least seven children (recorded in New Salem, Massachusetts, birth records) and very possibly as many as ten or eleven children.

This family is a challenge to trace because they moved from Massachusetts (where there are great records) to New York state (more challenging to find records) and beyond. Using various sources, I believe that my 4th great-grandfather, Amos Townsend, is a son of Isaac Townsend and his wife Rachel.

Early Days of Norridgewock by Henrietta Danforth Wood (Freeport, Maine: The Freeport Press, 1933) has a couple of pages (pp. 64-66) devoted to the Amos Townsend family. She writes that Doctor Amos Townsend "was born in Massachusetts, not far from Boston, about 1780." She notes that he moved to Oneida County, New York, with his family, where he studied medicine. He then settled in Somerset County, Maine by 1809.

Because U.S. Census records list only the head of household, it's challenging to rely on those to confirm where the Townsends were living between 1800 and 1840 because there was more than one Isaac Townsend in upstate New York.

Generation 6: Amos Townsend (1779-1862) married Tryphena Ellis
Generation 7: Julia Elvira Townsend (1808-1868) married Thomas Jefferson Copeland
Generation 8: Henry Clay Copeland (1832-1912) married Sarah Lowell
Generation 9: Lowell Copeland (1862-1935) married Ethel May Greeley
Generation 10: Lowell Townsend Copeland (1900-1974) married Helen Lysle Hunter
Generation 11: My mother
Generation 12: Me

My sources for this line include:

Marcia Wiswall Lindberg, "Thomas Townsend of Lynn and His Descendants for Five Generations". The Essex Genealogist. Vol. 13 (1993); online archives, (

Charles Hervey Townshend, The Townshend Family of Lynn, in Old and New England, Rev. 3rd ed. (New Haven, CT: no date (likely between 1884-1904)); online images, (

Massachusetts Vital Records (for Lynn, Boston, Concord, Lancaster, and New Salem).


  1. Hello, cousin. I am also descended from Obadiah Townsend and Hannah Trask. I see that we have different persons for Obadiah's father. I'm wondering what your research shows. Here is where I got my lineage information, and i suppose it could be wrong: Portrait and Biographical Album of Branch, Michigan pub by Chapman Bros, Chicago, 1888, page 491, link:;view=1up;seq=499 I hope I don't have to disconnect from the fascinating Train family branches. You can see my line on Hopson Eastman Patterson family tree on User name searchmission

    1. I will have to explore your source. This has been a challenging line for me to confirm, so I welcome all suggestions and possible corrections.

      Thanks for your comment.

  2. Part 2. I should have read to the end, where your sources are named. Now there's some work for me to do!

    1. And I have looked at your source, which I have seen before. I believe that there are multiple Townsend families which have been combined in that secondary source - some of the information is true, but some is questionable. My guess is that land records and probate records would help confirm these family groups. Another item on my long "to do" list.