Descendants of William Besbege

Our Besbege family of Scituate, Sudbury, Duxbury, and Marshfield came from Biddenden, Kent, England which is located about ten miles south southeast of Maidstone, Kent. Six miles southwest of Biddenden is Cranbrook, Kent while Benenden, Kent is but five miles south southwest of Biddenden and finally, Tenterden is but four plus miles south southeast of Biddenden. These relationship of towns is noted to illustrate the mileage closeness of the Biggs, Foster, and Besbege families who had many relationships both in Kent and in New England. 

Our earliest Besbege ancestor is William Besbege (many spelling variations ,i.e.,Bisbee, Byxpitch, Besbeche, Besbridge, Besbeech) who was born ca 152x/153x and died after 23 February 1567, both at Biddenden, Kent. William Besbege married, at Biddenden on 14 May 1551, Mary Anne Cooke, who was born ca 152x/153x and likewise died after 23 February 1567, the date of birth of William Besbege, Jr. Mary Annr Cook’s ancestry is unknown. William Besbege, like his son John was yoeman ,i.e., a farmer who raised crops for harvest and for sale plus nurturing a flock of sheep for producing wool for sale. From the parish records we find that William and Mary Anne Cook Besbege had at least six children, i.e., two daughters and four sons. Daughter Susanna was bp 05 March 1552; son John was born 14 May 1553 to come. Son Thomas was bp 11 March 155; son Roger was born ca 1557/1558 and was buried 17 July 1562. Daughter Agnes was bp 18 September 1554 and son William was bp 23 February1567. Another parish record notes “Thomas Whyte and Dorothy Besbege were married 14 June 1563". It is assumed that this Dorothy was probably the sister of our William Besbege. The parish church was All Saints. In the “Churches of Kent” by Francis Grayling, 1913 we find relative to this church “The tower is an elegant specimen of the Kent type. The plan is regular with the Chancel longer than the aisles. The pillars and towers are of the 13th Century; the windows are of the 14th Century with the chancel pillars and arches being of the 15th Century with the tower being dated 1541". Parish registers were started in 1538

References: NEHGR:V67:34

John Besbege, the second child and first son of William and Mary Anne Cooke Besbege, was born 14 May 1553 and died 28 February 1610, both at Biddenden. His will was written 28 June 1609 and proved 08 March 1610. John married, on 31 October 1586 at Biddenden, Widow Dorothy Austin Foster who was born ca 156x and was buried 01 January 1620, both at Biddenden. Her will was written 27 December 1619 and proved 04 January 1620 at Biddenden. Dorothy Austin, the daughter of Henry and Anne (–) Austin, first married, on 20 January 1581 at Biddenden, Thomas Foster who died prior to 31 October 1586. Thomas and Dorothy Austin Foster had a son Richard who married Patience Bigg, the daughter of John and Rachel Martin Bigg of Tenterden, Kent.

John Besbege, like his father, called himself a yeoman, i.e., a farmer who grew crops for sale and probably raised sheep for wool. But John also had managed to accumulate additional properties. In John’s will, which was proved 08 March 1610, we find “to my son John Besbege and his heirs a messuage and lands in Hedcorne and Biddenden, which I lately purchased of Richard Standon, and my messuage lately purchased of Simon Chittenden in Biddenden at a place called Omenden. To my son Thomas Besbege and his heirs a messuage and land I lately purchased of Robert Taylor of Halle, lying in Frittenden and Hedcorne, and my messuage purchased of Anne White in Frittenden of the den of Bachurst. John also bequeathed a gold ring to eight different people plus cash for his wife and a godson, John Beale. Sons John and Thomas were designated as executors of his will. Dorothy Austin Foster Besbege, John’s wife, who died 01 January 1620, had her will proved 04 January 1620. In this will there were many bequests of various household items plus cash for a variety of relatives and servants.

John and Dorothy Austin Foster Besbege had three children, i.e., two sons and one daughter. They were all born at Biddenden and baptized at All Saints church. Son John, Jr. was bp 08 October 1587 and married Elizabeth Taylor 27 November 1615. They had seven children. Son Thomas bp 03 March 1590 to come. Daughter Sarah was bp 13 August 1592 with no further data.

References:FH30:5-7,23; PH220:V1:265; NEHGR:V67:33-34; NEHGR:V112:312

Thomas Besbege, the second son of John and Dorothy Austin Foster Besbege, was bp 03 March 1590 and died 09 March 1674, age 84, at Sudbury, Ma. Thomas married, at Biddenden on 04 January 1619, Anne Baseden who was born ca 159x probably at Biddeden and died 21 April 1634 at Frittenden, Kent. Her ancestry is unknown.

Thomas Besbege of Ashford, Kent was given a Certificate of Conformity ( a document needed to allow a person to legally leave to go to New England) in March 1635 by Thomas Warren of Sandwich and Thomas Harmon, Vicar of Headcorn. This “paperwork” was part of the preparation needed for sailing to New England on the ship Hercules, JohnWitherly, Master. Going with Thomas were his two daughters, Mary and Alice, plus four other children, Elizabeth, Jane, Sarah, and John Egelden. The Egelden family was a well respected Kent family and evidently the Egelden children were being sent to New England under the care of Thomas Besbege. There were also three servants of Thomas on the ship, i.e., Thomas Nueley, Joseph Pachuery, and Agnes Love. This would indicate that Thomas was a person of some means to be able to afford the cost associated with bringing three servants with him. These servants were probably “indentured” to the extent that, in exchange for passage fare and care, they, the servants agreed to work for Thomas Besbege for a mutually agreed upon period of time.

Thomas Besbege and his family first settled in Cambridge, Ma. They removed to Scituate where they joined the church on 30 April 1637. The town name Scituate was derived from the Indian word Satuit or Cold Brook. The town was settled in 1634 along the “Road of the Men of Kent”. Thomas was invested as a Deacon on 22 February 1638. Thomas was admitted as a freeman of Plymouth Colony on 02 January 1638. In 1639 Thomas with his family removed to Duxbury; in 1647 they were living in Sudbury and then in 1658 they were in Marshfield and then finally they came back to Sudbury in 1672. Thomas was Deputy for Duxbury to the Plymouth General Court in June 1643. He was a member of the Plymouth Petit Jury in January and March 1638 and a member of the Grand Jury in September 1638 and March 1642. On 07 June 1642, Mr. Thomas Besbege was fined five shillings for “departing the court without license”. Thomas Besbege was also involved in many real estate transactions. He had a house in Cambridge, Ma. in February 1636. Thomas sold, in March to John Page of Watertown, ten acres of meadow in Rocky Meadow. On 22 January 1639, Mr Thomas Besbege was at the head of a list of eight Sciuate men who received from Plymouth Court a “grant of a plantation called Seppekann (Barnstable), and the lands thereabout, for the seating of a township for a congregation”. However, our Thomas went to Duxbury though he might have sold his interest in this developing plantation. In 1639 he sold to William Cutter one house, which he had bought of William Lewes, in the town with backside about half a rood. On 19 July 1639, “Mr Thomas Besbege of Duxbury” sold to “Edmund Chaundlor of the same” one acre of land to the north side of the lands of Thomas Besbege. The addressing of our Thomas as “Mr.” indicates that he had achieved a bit higher social status. On 03 May 1642, Plymouth Court appointed a committee “to set the ancient bounds right betwixt the lands of Mr. Thomas Besbege and John Washbourne”. And on 02 April 1647, “Mr. Thomas Besbege of Sudbury” sold to Mr. John Reiner of Plymouth all of his house and housing and sixty acres of upland excepting one acre sold unto Edmund Chandler of Duxbury plus three acres of meadow more or less adjacent.

Thomas and Anne Baseden Besbege had three children, all daughters who were baptized at Frittenden, Kent. Daughter Mary was bp 23 January 1620 and married William Brown of Sudbury on 15 November 1641. Daughter Sarah was bp06 January 1621 and was buried at Frittenden on 16 June 1628. Daughter Alice bp 29 June 1624 to come. Thomas Besbege’s will was dated 25 November 1672 and was proved 07 April 1674. Daughters Mary and Alice, the two surviving daughters, were the primary beneficiaries. While there was not a detailed inventory, the various noted land holdings, in England and New England, had a valuation of over 900L which would indicate that the total valuation was in excess of 1000L which was a sizable amount for that time period. Our Thomas Besbege had done well with his investments.

References:FH7:1stV3:753; FH30:5-7,11-13,15-16; PH7:71; PH17:V1:171-172; PH22:220; PH97:47; PH152:227; PH197:51-52; PH220:V1:263-266; NEHGR:V67:34; NEHGR:V75:224; NEHGR:V112:312

Alice Besbege, the second surviving daughter of Thomas and Anne Baseden Besbege, was bp on 29 June 1624 and died 07 May 1686 at Marshfield, Ma. Alice married , on 18 July 1645 at Marshfield, Ma. John Bourne who was born 1622 +/- at Frittenden, Kent and died 06 December 1684 at Marshfield. John was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Bassenden Bourne of Frittenden, Kent and Marshfield, Ma.

References:FH7:1stV3:753; FH30:11-13,16; FH32:387; PH7:85; PH17:V1:172; PH76:7; PH88:177-179; PH97:47; PH152:227; PH220:V1:265; NEHGR:V6:347 NEHGR:V67:34