The World of Grandpa Don

Atherton  / Weeks
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This page looks at our ancestors extending from Maj Gen Humphrey Atherton, his wife, Mary Wales and George Weeks with his wife, Jane Clapp to their family union with the Pomeroy & Cooke Family lines  as well as the Carpenter Family Lines.

These families spread into 3 distinct family lies which merged again to become our ancestors.

Much of the family information on this is derived from Family trees found on Ancestry.com. There is conflicting information in this source but every effort has been made to eliminate errors. Please notify us if any discrepancies are found. Information for Humphrey Atherton was taken from Wikipedia, the On-Line encyclopedia.

This is their story, as I know it.

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For a detailed charts see:
Pedigree Chart for Repent Weeks

Pedigree Chart for Thomas Green

Pedigree Chart  for Renew Weeks

 

In England

Humphrey Atherton's date and place of birth are uncertain. It has been presumed that he was born in Lancashire, England, because the name Atherton is prominent there. The date of 1608 is sometimes given as his date of birth because Edmund Atherton of Wigan Lancashire, England died in 1612 leaving, as his heir, a four-year-old son named Humphrey. However, Duane Hamilton Hurd, in History of Norfolk County, Massachusetts stated that Atherton was 36 years old when he died in 1661. On the other hand, Charles Samuel Hall in Hall Ancestry, pointed out that when Atherton was made freeman and was granted property in 1638, "he must at that time reached his majority."

A descendant of his, Charles H. Atherton, said that Humphrey Atherton, his wife and three young children arrived at the colony in the ship James, August 7, 1635, but there is no record of this. His descendant further said that Atherton and his wife were each about 15 years old when they were married.

There is a record of Nathaniel Wales having voyaged on the James. Wales referred to Humphrey Atherton as his "brother-in-law" in his will, so it has been assumed that Atherton's wife, Mary, was Wales' sister. However, the term may have been used because Atherton's daughter, Isabel, was married to Nathaniel Wales, Jr. The identity of his wife is unknown.

George Weeks is listed as being born at Salcombe Regis, Devon, England 23 Feb 1595. His wife, Jane Clapp was born in 1604 at Salcombe Regis, Devon, England. (One wonders if she was of the same Clapp family as Thomas Clapp who was born at Dorchester, England in 1639 ... see The Fisher/Clapp Family Line ) They had a son William who was born in England on 20 Aug 1628.  

 

In America

 

Humphrey Atherton

Major-General Humphrey Atherton, ( ca.1608 September 16, 1661) an early settler of Dorchester, Massachusetts, held the highest military rank in colonial New England. He first appeared in the records of Dorchester on March 18, 1637 and made freeman May 2, 1638. He became a representative in the General Court in 1638 and 163941. In 1653, he was Speaker of the House, representing Springfield, Massachusetts. He was chosen assistant governor, a member of the lower house of the General Court who also served as magistrate in the judiciary of colonial government, in 1654, and remained as such until his death." He was a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts and held the ranks of lieutenant and captain for several years before rising to the rank of major-general. He also organized the first militia in Massachusetts.

 He was active in the governance of the colony, taking part in the acquisition of Native American lands, the persecution of Quakers, and the apprehension and convictions of heretics. (Witches) His accidental death was seen by the Quakers as a punishment from God for his persecution of them, an idea repeated in a play by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He was one of the most successful land speculators in the New England colonies. He and his wife, Mary, had a number of children and several New England families have traced their ancestry to them. He is interred at Dorchester North Burying Ground, one of the oldest cemeteries in New England.

Atherton had a very active public life having power and taking part in the law making, enforcing and interpreting affairs of the colony. Subsequent to his acceptance as a freeman, in 1638, he was frequently selectman or treasurer, and for several years a member of the Court of Assistants which gave him a say in the appointment of governors as well as judicial power in criminal and civil matters. In 1638 and 163941 he was a governor's assistant in the General Court, and in 1653, he was Speaker of the House, leader of the Court of Deputies, which was the lower house of the General Court, representing Springfield, Massachusetts. He was also "long a justice of the peace, and solemnized many marriages". One of the marriages over which he officiated was that of Myles Standish, Jr. and Sarah Winslow.

Atherton was a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery and he organized the first trained band (militia) in Dorchester. As Major-General in the Suffolk Regiment, he was the senior military officer in New England. which included the responsibilities of subduing and controlling Native Americans and apprehending criminals, such as those accused of heresy.

In 1644 he [Atherton] was sent, with Captains Johnson and Cook, to Narragansett to arrest and try Samuel Gorton for heresy. It is hoped that Gorton's complaint of his treatment was exaggerated, for he said, in passing through Dorchester. 'A large concourse of persons assembled with several ministers to witness the passage of the troops, and the prisoners were stationed apart and volleys of musketry fired over their heads in token of victory.' "

Harlow Elliot Woodword, in Epitaphs from the Old Burying Ground in Dorchester, said that Atherton had believed in witches and "felt it to be a duty which he owed to God and to his Country to mete out to the poor creatures, against whom accusations were brought, the punishment, which, in his opinion, they so richly merited."  Woodward said that, in his capacity as assistant, Atherton had been instrumental in bringing about the execution of Mrs. Ann Hibbins, a wealthy widow, who was executed for witchcraft on June 19, 1656. Hibbins was later fictionalized in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. In that book she was depicted as the sister of Governor Bellingham.

Atherton was involved in the persecution of Quakers and there are two incidents in particular that the Quakers wrote about in relationship to Atherton. First, the case of Mary Dyer, a Quaker who was executed in 1660 after returning to Boston despite banishment. Atherton was assistant governor at the time, and at her hanging he was said to have remarked, "She hangs there like a flag." The Quakers understood this comment to be an insulting boast.

Secondly, there was the case of Wenlock Christison, a Quaker who had repeatedly returned to Massachusetts despite banishment, whose trial in May, 1661 put an end to the execution of Quakers. He was sentenced to death, but the law was changed soon after, and he was not executed. He was the last Quaker to be sentenced to death in Massachusetts. The Quakers believed that during an altercation between the accused and Atherton at the trial, Christison prophesied the outcome of his trial as well as the circumstances of Atherton's untimely death. Quaker writer George Bishop wrote, "Yea, Wenlock Christison, though they did not put him to death, yet they sentenced him to die, so that their cruel purposes were nevertheless. I cannot forbear to mention what he spoke, being so prophetical, not only as to the judgment of God coming on Major-general Adderton, but as to their putting any more Quakers to death after they had passed sentence on him." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow recreated the Christison trial in his play John Endicott which included the damnation of Atherton by the accused.

Humphrey Atherton was a successful land speculator. The land he owned in Dorchester included a large portion of South Boston. He also owned a share in what became Milton, Massachusetts. The General Court awarded 500 acres to him for his public service, but because some of it impeded the town on Hadley, Massachusetts, he was given a new grant that had an additional 200 acres. Since he had represented Springfield in the General Court, he probably owned land in Springfield as well. When he died, his estate was worth 900 pounds, not including much of his land.

Atherton "played a key role in fighting and removing Indians from land he later owned." In 1659, he and some friends, including Connecticut Governor, John Winthrop, Jr., made some illegal purchases of land from Native Americans in Rhode Island. The group, referred to as the Atherton Company, circumvented the law by making the purchases appear to be gifts.

In 1660, commissioners of the Four Colonies, of whom John Winthrop, Jr. was one, transferred ownership of the mortgage of Pessicus's land to the Atherton Company for 735 fathoms of wampum. The Company then foreclosed on the mortgage. The land included the Narragansett property within the bounds of Rhode Island. Rhode Island found this transference of land to be illegal and prevented the sale of the land for several years. The company, which changed its name to "Proprietors of the Narragansett Country," eventually did sell 5,000 acres of the land to Huguenot immigrants who began a colony there called Frenchtown. The Huguenots lost the land when, in 1688, a Royal Commission determined the Atherton claim to be illegal.

Also see Relationship with Native Americans

Humphrey Atherton died, September 16, 1661, from head injuries sustained in a fall from his horse. He was traveling through Boston Common, on his way home after drilling his troops when his mount collided with a cow.

Woodward, aforementioned author of Epitaphs from the Old Burying Ground in Dorchester, said that because of Atherton's persecution of the Quakers, "they believed his horrible death to be God's visitation of wrath."  Woodword credits Joseph Besse, a Quaker author, with the following account of Atherton's death:

"'Humfray Adderton, who at the trial of Wenlock Christison, did, as it were, bid defiance to Heaven, by saying to Wenlock, 'You pronounce Woes and Judgements, and those that are gone before you pronounced Woes and Judgements; but the Judgements of the Lord God are not upon us yet,' was suddenly surprised: having been, on a certain day, exercising his men with much pomp and ostentation, he was returning home in the evening, near the place where they usually loosed the Quakers from the cart, after they had whipped them, his horse, suddenly affrighted, threw him with such violence, that he instantly died; his eyes being dashed out of his head, and his brains coming out of his nose, his tongue hanging out at his mouth, and the blood running out at his ears: Being taken up and brought into the Courthouse, the place where he had been active in sentencing the innocent to death, his blood ran through the floor, exhibiting to the spectators a shocking instance of the Divine vengeance against a daring and hardened persecutor; that made a fearful example of that divine judgment, which, when forewarned of, he had openly despised, and treated with disdain.' "

Longfellow repeated this sentiment in his account of Atherton's death in the final scene of John Endicott. In the scene Governor Endicott, while speaking to Richard Bellingham, asks if it is true that Humphrey Atherton is dead. Bellingham confirms that he is and adds, "His horse took fright, and threw him to the ground, so that his brains were dashed about the street."  Endicott responds, "I am not superstitions, Bellingham, and yet I tremble lest it may have been a judgment on him."

Humphrey Atherton, whose wife, Mary died in 1672. is interred at the Dorchester North Burying Place in Boston. Engraved upon his tombstone are the following words:

Here lies our Captain & Major of Suffolk was withall;
A godly magistrate was he, and Major General;
Two troop horse with him here comes, such worth his love did crave
Two companies of foot also mourning march to his grave,
Let all that read be sure to keep the faith as he has done
With Christ he lives now crowned, his name was Humphrey Atherton.

Humphrey Atherton and his wife, Mary, had twelve children.

  1.  Jonathan was their first born and was probably born in England,

  2.  as was Isabel, who married Nathaniel Wales, Jr.

  3. Elizabeth was married to Timothy Mather and William Weeks

  4. Margaret was married to James Trowbridge.

  5. Rest was born 1639 and married Obadiah Swift.

  6. Increase was baptized February, 1641 and died at sea.

  7. Thankful was born 1644 and married Thomas Bird of Dorchester.

  8.  Their son, Hope, was born 1646. He was minister of Hadley, Massachusetts and married Sarah Hollister.

  9. Their son, Consider, married Ann Anibal.

  10. Watching, who was born 1651, married Elizabeth Rigbee.

  11. Patience, born in 1654, married Issac Humphrey.

  12. Mary was married to Joseph Weeks.

Among the family genealogies that the Humphrey Atherton family are included in are The History of the Dorchester Pope Family: 16341888, by Charles Henry Pope and Hall Ancestry, by Charles Samuel Hall. George Caster Martin traced his ancestry to Atherton in his article Humphrey Atherton: Founder of the Atherton Family of New England in National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 1, Issue 4. In the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 60, some of Humphrey Atherton's descendants are included in the Belcher Genealogy. In the same volume, Samuel Edward Atherton's ancestry was traced to Humphrey Atherton. William B. Task claimed descent from Atherton in the 1899 New England Historical Genealogical Register.

 

George Weeks

George Weeks arrived at Dorchester, MA about 1630, possibly on the ship Mary & John. He brought with him from England his son William and his wife, Jane Clapp. They would have been some of the earliest settlers of Dorchester, now a part of Boston.

There were at least two children born to them at Dorchester; Ammiel born in 1633 and Joseph born 07 May 1635. George died at Dorchester, on 27 Oct 1659. Jane died at the same place on 02 Aug 1668. They were my 8th great grandparents.

 

Joseph Weeks

Joseph Weeks, son of George Weeks and Jane Clapp was born at Dorchester on 07 May 1635. On 09 Feb 1667,he married Mary Atherton, born 30 Apr 1636 at Dorchester, the daughter of Maj Gen Humphrey Atherton and his wife Mary. She may have had a previous marriage with either with William Billing or Deacon James Trowbridge. There is conflicting information in this regard.

Joseph and Mary were the parents of:
Mary, Joseph, Mindwell, Repent and possibly others.

The parents died at Dorchester, Joseph on 13 Oct 1690 and Mary on Sept. 17, 1692. She is buried at Dorchester North Burying Ground, MA. They were my 7th great grandparents.

Elizabeth Atherton

Elizabeth Atherton, was born 28 Sep 1628 at  daughter of   Maj Gen Humphrey Atherton and his wife Mary was born at Winwick, Lancashire, England, on 28 Sep 1628. She came to Massachusetts with her parents and there in 1650, married William Weeks ,son of George Weeks and Jane Clapp. William was the brother-in-law of her sister Mary.

There is a claim that she was also married to a Timothy Mather but it would be impossible for her to be married to the two men at the same time.

Elizabeth and William were the parents of William, Elizabeth, John, Richard, Mary, Abigail George, Renew & Jane..

Both parents died at Dorchester, William on 13 Dec 1677 and Elizabeth on 15 May 1678. They were my 8th great grandparents.
 
     
 
Repent Weeks

Repent Weeks was born in Stoughton, Norfolk, Massachusetts on 22 Feb 1675. She was the daughter of Joseph Weeks and Mary Atherton. On 04 Feb 1708 at Dorchester, she married Joshua Pomeroy.

For a continuation of this line see The Pomeroy Family Line. This couple were my 6th great grandparents.
Mary Weeks

Mary Weeks was born in Dorchester on 11 Oct 1656, the daughter of Elizabeth Atherton and William Weeks. She married Thomas Green, date unknown.
Thomas was born on 04 Jan 1653 at Malden,Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Green and Rebecca Hills.

Thomas and Mary may have had 8 or 9 children. The first two are listed as being born on 22 Nov 1676 at Salem, Essex, so they may have been twins but their death dates are listed as identical which would have been highly unlikely. Other children were John, Mary, Thomas, Ebenezer, Martha, Elizabeth and Sarah.

Thomas died on 15 Apr 1694 at Malden,Massachusetts, but Mary's date of death is unknown. They were my 7th great grandparents.
Renew Weeks

Renew Weeks was born in Dorchester on 12 Aug 1660, the daughter of Elizabeth Atherton and William Weeks. She married Benjamin Carpenter, date unknown.
Benjamin was born 19 Jan 1658 at Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph Carpenter and Margaret Sutton.

There were 12 children; Benjamin, Jotham, Renew, Elizabeth, Hannah, Jane, John, Submit, Job, Heziah, Hezekiah, & Edward .

These were my 7th great grandparents.

For a continuation of this line see The Carpenter Family Line.

     
     
  Thomas Green

Thomas Green, son of Thomas Green and Mary Weeks was born at Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, in 1685. He married Martha Moulton in 1710. She was born at Salem in 1685, the daughter of Robert who's wife is unknown.
Thomas and Martha were my 6th great grandparents. For a continuation of this line see The Cooke Family Line.
 
     
These three lines of ancestors merge back into one as can bee seen in the following charts.
Relationship
Donald James Plefka
to Thomas Green
Relationship
Donald James Plefka
to Repent Weeks
Relationship
Donald James Plefka
to Renew Weeks
* * *
Jennie Marcia Thayer
Married
Harvey Lewis Copeland
My Grandparents
Elizabeth Clapp
Married
David Copeland
4th Great Grandparents
Allice Harriet Bingham
Married
James Harvey Copeland
My Great Grandparents

 

Major-General Humphrey Atherton was obviously an important early settler in America, a man of influence, power and wealth. However, I can not subscribe to nor condone some of his beliefs and actions. He was, however, my ancestor and I accept him as such. (I have no choice in this matter.) I would hope, and do believe, that the good genes of others have diluted those of his that I would deny for myself.

Grandpa Don Plefka
aka Harry Ronald Cecora
 Dec 11, 2013
Corrections Jan 22, 2015

 

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