THE SYMMES MEMORIAL
(Click on any UPPER CASE name within these Trees to view the known details)
The grandchildren of Rev. Zechariah via Captain William:
The grandchildren of Rev. Zechariah via his son Zechariah:
The grandchildren of Rev. Zechariah via his son Timothy:
| Rev Zechariah|
| Timothy|| Timothy|| Elizabeth|| Sarah|
 SARAH SYMMES, daughter of Capt. William Symmes of Charlestown; born 1652; married 7 November 1672 Rev. Moses Fiske, pastor of the church in Braintree, then including the present town of Quincy.
Moses Fiske was born in Wenham, 1643; graduated Harvard College 1662 in the class with the renowned Solomon Stoddard, of Northampton; was ordained at Braintree, now Quincy, 11 September 1672, being the third minister of that place; and was pastor there thirty-six years, till his death 20 August 1708, aged 66.
He appears to have enjoyed and retained the affections of his flock. The following testimony to his worth is given in the Diary of John Marshall, who sat under his ministry and knew him well:
"This excellent person was ordained pastor of the church in Braintree in September 1672, in which sacred employment he continued till his dying day, a diligent, faithful laborer in the harvest of Jesus Christ; studious in the Holy Scriptures, having an extraordinary gift in prayer above many good men; and in preaching equal to the most, inferior to few; zealously diligent for God and the good of men; one who thought no labor, cost or suffering too dear a price for the good of his people. His public preaching was attended with convincing light and clearness, and powerful, affectionate application; and his private oversight was performed with humility and unwearied diligence. He lived till he was near sixty-five years of age, beloved and honored of the most that knew him. On the 18th of July, being the Lord's day, he preached all day in public, but was not well. The distemper continued and proved a malignant fever. Small hope of his recovery being entertained, his church assembled together and earnestly besought the Great Shepherd of the sheep, that they might not be deprived of him. But Heaven had otherwise determined, for on Tuesday, August 10 [equivalent to August 21, New System], he died about one in the afternoon and was with suitable solemnity and great lamentation interred in Braintree, in his own tomb, the 12th day."
The town of Braintree voted June 18, 1672, to give Mr. Fiske, by a town tax, the sum of sixty pounds in money as a yearly salary, with the use of a house to be kept in good repair by the town, and six acres of land to be fenced by them. In 1674 his salary for that year was increased to eighty pounds. During his ministry one hundred and forty-seven members were added to the church. The baptisms were seven hundred and seventy-nine.
Mrs. Sarah (Symmes) Fiske, his first wife, died 2 December 1692 having borne him fourteen children. His second wife, to whom he was married January 7, 1700-1, was Ann (Shepard) Quincy, born 1663, daughter of Rev. Thomas Shepard who has been already mentioned as a colleague of Rev. Zechariah Symmes, of Charlestown. She was the widow of Daniel Quincy, born 1681, son of the second Edmund Quincy, of Braintree. She died July 24, 1708, aged 45, less that three weeks before his own decease.
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 WILLIAM SYMMES, eldest son of Captain William and Mary Symmes, of Charlestown; born 1678; married Ruth Convers 7 December 1704. She was born in Woburn 28 May 1686 and was the eldest daughter of Captain Josiah and Ruth (Marshall) Convers, of that place. Though living in two separate towns, the two families were near neighbors.
Mr. Symmes was a clothier by trade, as we learn from some old papers. He had the whole of his father's large landed property. Some of it came by inheritance, and some by purchase from the other heirs. Until 1754 it was regarded as being in Charlstown; but in that year it was annexed to Medford and is now in Winchester.
The town of Medford had long been straitened for room. Several attempts had been made for an enlargement of its territory. At length a petition, dated 13 December 1753, was signed by a committee of the town appointed for the purpose, asking that a certain tract in Charlestown, lying south of Medford, might be annexed to Medford. The petition says:
"The northerly tract is bounded on the south by the north line of Medford and the southerly bounds of Mr. Symmes's farm, west by the line that divides Mr. Symmes's from Mr. Gardiner's farm, north by the line of Woburn and Stoneham, east by Malden line".
The reasons assigned were the contracted limits of Medford, containing only about two thousand acres, surrounded almost wholly by Charlestown, and the fact that the inhabitants of the northerly tract [ the Symmes family, &c. ] were but two miles from the Medford meeting-house where they attended meeting without paying for the privilege; while they were obliged to go seven miles to attend town meetings, training &c., in Charlestown.
The petition was presented to the General Court and granted 17 April 1754. After that date, Mr. Symmes's farm was in Medford till 1850, when it became part of the new town of Winchester. [Brooks's History of Medford, pp. 107-109.]
Tradition reports that the land included in the Symmes farm was formerly the abode of a portion of the tribe of Indians called by the euphonious name of Aberginians. It is said that it contained twenty-seven wigwams. The story is likely to be true, for here were Mystic Pond and the Aberjona River [here known as "Symmes's River"], both very convenient for fishing. Nanepashemit, the sachem of the larger tribe called the Pawtuckets, whose sway extended to the Merrimack River, and who was killed in 1619 in an attack upon his tribe by the Tarratines from the Penobscot River, lived in the near vicinity, somewhere on Mystic or Aberjona River. It was his son, Sagamore John, of Mystic [Medford], who, before his death at Medford on 5 December 1633, wished to go to the God of the Christian people. The widow of Nanepashemit, in 1639, sold to the town of Charlestown all the land on the west of Mystic Pond, bounded north by Increase Nowell's lot (the Gardiner farm), west by Cambridge Common, south by the land of Mr. Cooke. This seems to have included the Symmes farm, for after her death it was claimed on 25 March 1662 by William Symmes, son of Rev. Zechariah. Or rather, the claim was for the land at the upper end of the Pond, which the squaw-sachem had reserved for her use and the use of the Indians, to plant and hunt upon, "and the weare above the Pond for the Indians to use in fishing", during her life. This "weare" must have been in the Symmes farm. [Brook's History of Medford, p. 72 et seq.] It is where the Aberjona River enters the Pond, and we are sure that this river at that place and for some distance north divided the Symmes farm from the lot of Increase Nowell.
Mr.Symmes built a clothing mill on the Aberjona River, near where the railroad bridge now crosses that stream. It was a little north of the spot where, not long ago, Mr. Robert Bacon's dam stood. A little island in the small pond near the railroad bridge shows where the waste-way was. His house was on the left bank, or eastern side of the river, nearly opposite the house of Mr. John Bacon, son of Robert Bacon. He afterwards built a large house on the spot where John Bacon's house now stands. This was on the west side of the river; it was occupied by his sons Timothy and John after him. His grandson John Symmes was born there. The first house built on the farm, where Captain William Symmes probably once lived, was further north on the west side of the river and very near the old line between Charlestown and Woburn.
William Symmes of Charlestown, gentleman, was surety on 24 March 1726 with John Richardson of Medford, for Elizabeth Richardson, widow of Captain James Richardson, late of Woburn.
His papers, still in existence, show him to have been a man of business and of influence. His farm had been reduced to eighty acres at the time of his death. This was caused by his having conveyed portions of it to his sons during his life-time, the deeds not having effect till after his death.
He died May 24, 1764, aged 86. His wife Ruth died March 16, 1758. The gravestones of both are standing in the old cemetery in Woburn.
His will is dated 27 November 1761; proved 16 April 1766; recorded Midd. Prob. Records, xxix. 192. He calls himself William Symmes, of Medford, yeoman. He leaves legacies to his sons Zechariah, Josiah, Timothy, John and William, and his daughter Mary Munroe. To his sons Zechariah, Josiah, Timothy and John he gives his dwelling=house, barn, the mill, and about eighty acres of land; the land to be equally divided among these four sons. The portion of each is particularly described and cannot conveniently be noted here. To his son William he gives the whole expense he, the father, had incurred for his education at school and at college, and £13 6s 8d besides -- equivalent to forty dollars.
Inventory of his estate -- Real, £490 3s 4d; Personal, £33 16s 1d.
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 TIMOTHY SYMMES, brother of the preceding and second son of Captain William Symmes, of Charlestown; born about 1683; married Elizabeth (Collamore) Rose, July 31, 1710, widow of Jeremiah Rose and daughter of Captain Anthony Collamore, of Scituate.
Weymouth, which was the home of his mother and his home for many years, is but a few miles from Scituate. We are not surprised, therefore, at finding him there in 1707, nor at the fact that he spent the remainder of his life there.
I have before me a letter from him to his brother William, dated Scituate 28 June 1707. He sympathizes with him on the loss they had lately sustained (the death of their step-father, Rev. Samuel Torrey of Weymouth, who died 21 April 1707) and proceeds: "My heart's desire and prayer to God is that he would make us sensible of our sins against him, which provoke him to .... remove him who was so eminently serviceable for Christ and his kingdom. We all have great cause to say, 'Against Thee, Thee only have we sinned', &c. Let us fly to Christ for mercy and pardon. He has promised that he will hearken to our cries and pardon our iniquities, though great". He then reverts to his temporal affairs, speaks of working at a trade, and of his master as exceedingly kind, and loth to part with him, but as not wishing to hinder him in any plans he may make for his own advantage. "For reasonable terms", he says, "I shall depart". He then proposes that his brother meet him on the ensuing Wednesday, to talk over his plans for the future. He thinks of going to Woburn to settle in three or four weeks. At the close he says: "Give my duty unto uncle and aunt, and my kind salutations to the lady of my best affections, Miss R.B."
The uncle and aunt probably were his mother's brother and sister. The "Miss R.B." he did not marry, as it seems.
He at length settled on a farm near the centre of South Scituate, Mass., on the Boston road, where his grandson John Cleves Symmes visited him in 1762. He died in 1765, aged 82.
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 ZECHARIAH SYMMES, brother of the preceding and third son of Captain William Symmes of Charlestown; born 168... Unmarried.
About all we know of him is derived from a letter written by him to his brother William Symmes and wife, dated 21 January 1706 which is Old Style and is equivalent to 1 February 1707, New Style. From this letter it appears that about three weeks previously he had sailed from Boston in a vessel commanded by Captain Mears, with a cargo of farm produce, such as onions, cranberries, &c., suited to a West India market. The vessel could not have been of large size, since he mentions as officers only Captain Mears and a mate, a brother of the captain. Some days after sailing, a conspiracy was discovered to take possession of the vessel after first taking the lives of Captain Mears, his brother, and young Symmes. There were, he says, three blood-thirsty men who had this design, two of them Frenchmen and the third a runaway, a deserter from the navy. The design having been discovered, Captain Mears, his brother and young Symmes armed themselves, took possession of all the ammunition, drove the conspirators below, and kept them prisoners under the hatches eight or nine days, until they came under the guns of a fort in Jamaica, when they delivered them to a British man-of-war, receiving better men in their room. He ascribes his deliverance to the mercy of God. The letter breathes the language of ardent affection for his brothers and sisters, and for his "honoured parents", who at this time were Mr. and Mrs. Torrey of Weymouth. He says nothing about a wife, and it is probable he had none.
His home was in Boston. He died, either during this voyage or soon after his return , 19 June 1707. His brother William was administrator, cum testamento annexo, and rendered an inventory on 28 October 1708. Among the items are money received which was due from the two-thirds of their father's estate, £47 3s 9d; money in reversion expected from one-third of the father's estate upon the death of Mary Torrey, widow (the mother), £23 11s 10d; "Mem. Logwood in the Bay of Campeachy, belonging to the deceased, not received". [Suff. Prob., xvi. 48]
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 NATHANIEL SYMMES, brother of the preceding and youngest son of Captain William Symmes; born about 1690. His mother, in a petition to the Probate Court in March 1692-3, prays that she may be appointed guardian to her youngest child, Nathaniel, in order that she may have legal power to improve the mill stream given to said child, by making lease of the same till said child becomes of age. The mill privilege seems, however, never to have come into his immediate possession. His brother William bought it.
He became of age about 1710 or 1711. We infer this from some receipts before us of money paid by William Symmes in November 1712 to Israel Walker and Oliver Noyes, who had supplied Nathaniel with goods out of their stores in Boston.
He was a cordwainer in Boston and was living in 1720 when his mother, Mrs. Mary Torrey, in her will made him her executor and residuary legatee. We have no further information respecting him. It is not known whether he had a family.
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 ZECHARIAH SYMMES, eldest son of  Rev. Zechariah Symmes of Bradford, and grandson of  Rev. Zechariah Symmes of Charlestown; born in Bradford 13 March 1674; married Dorcas Brackenbury 28 November 1700.
He was of Charlestown and died between 1709 and 1713. His widow Dorcas signed a deed on 4 March 1712-13. [Brief details of their son  Zechariah appear under "Fourth Generation". Their other children were  Dorcas,  John Brackenbury, and  William].
It is altogether probable that there are, or have been, descendants of this family. I have not found them, except they be found in the following schedule, which I make out from the Malden records, as copied in the New England Genealogical Register, vol. xi. pp. 129, 130, 211, 213.
[Probable Fifth Generation] Children of John Brackenbury Symmes and Elizabeth ..., born in Malden:
I am fully persuaded that 'John Simms' of Malden, the father of these children, is identical with John Brackenbury Symmes, second son of  Zechariah Symmes and Dorcas Brackenbury.
-  Elizabeth, born 22 May 1721
-  John, born 13 August 1722
-  Mary, born 16 August 1724
-  Sarah, born 11 March 1727-8
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 Rev. THOMAS SYMMES, brother of the preceding and second son of  Zechariah Symmes of Bradford; born there 1 February 1677-8; married first Elizabeth Blowers of Cambridge, a sister of the Rev. Thomas Blowers of Beverly. She died 6 April 1714. He married second, Hannah Pike 28 March 1715, daughter of Rev. John Pike of Dover, N.H. She died in childbed 1 February 1718-19. He married third, Eleanor (Thompson) Moody, 19 January 1720-1. She was born 9 November 1679 and was daughter of Benjamin Thompson, and granddaughter of Rev. William Thompson, first minister of Braintree, and widow of Eleazar Moody of Dedham. She survived her second husband.
He was instructed in the rudiments of the Latin language by his father. His preparation for college was completed at Charlestown under the able tuition of Mr. Emerson, a distinguished teacher. He was admitted to Harvard College in 1694 and graduated there in 1698, decidedly the first scholar in his class. He remained two years longer at Cambridge to perfect his education, through aid received from Mr. Brattle and other benefactors. He was ordained 30 December 1702, the first minister of Boxford. During his pastorate there of only six years, seventy-two persons were added to that church. He met with difficulties, however, the nature of which is not known; but they greatly tried his patience and led him in 1706 to think of a removal.
By the death of his father, March 1707-8, the way was opened for his resettlement in Bradford, a town joining Boxford, and he was installed there December 1708. His salary was one hundred pounds, paid in a depreciated currency. The smallness of his salary subjected him to great embarrassments, so that he could not bring up any of his sons to college as he wished, though they possessed promising talents.
He was a minister at Bradford nearly seventeen years and during that time two hundred and thirty persons were added to that church. At one time, 11 June 1723, two hundred and thirty-four persons united in the communion. In the year 1720, fifty-nine persons were admitted, forty-six of them in three months and twenty-five in one day. At the time of his death there were but one hundred and twenty families in the town.
He was a man of earnest piety. His walk was close with God, as appears from documents now in existence. He was very conscientious and punctual in the duty of secret prayer - considering this, with the daily reading of the Bible, an eminent means of security from temptations. In all his difficulties and straits he had recourse to a prayer-hearing God. He had faith in the covenant of grace. In one place he says: "I found much comfort and encouragement in pleading the covenant with God, urging the prayers laid up for me in heaven, offered by my godly ancestors. My dear children! if you ever see this, remember that you are children of many prayers. But trust not to that: pray for yourselves". May his posterity remember this! With prayer he united fasting, observing sometimes stated and sometimes occasional seasons for seeking the divine direction and blessing.
In sacred music he took great delight and was himself a good singer. To this exercise he attended in his own family, on the morning and evening of every Sabbath; and in the latter part of his life, every day. He did what he could to reform the practice of singing in public worship, which had been very low. He introduced many new tunes and preached on the subject. He published, in 1722, a "Joco-Serious Dialogue concerning Regular Singing". It is full of wit and sarcasm and was designed to ridicule the opposers of what he calls "regular singing", that is, singing by rule or "singing by note" which he strongly advocated in preference to the old method of "lining out the hymns" and singing by impulse. It is a tract of sixty or more pages, and he informs us that he wrote it in a single day, adding a few quotations afterward.
He also printed a sermon entitled "The Brave Lovewell Lamented", prefixed to which is an account of the "Fight at Pigwacket" which is said to be the most authentic record of that sanguinary affair. *
* The fight took place in the present town of Fryeburg, Maine, 8 May 1725 Old Style, answering to 19 May New Style. Captain John Lovewell, with thirty-three men, encountered a much superior force of Indians under the noted Paugus. The Indians took them in front and rear. The action lasted from ten A.M. till sunset, or about ten hours. Notwithstanding the great disparity of force the Indians had the worst of it and retired from the field soon after sunset. Of our thirty-three men only twelve lived to return home. Captain Lovewell and twelve of his men lay dead on the field. --[Symmes's Memoir; Sewall's History of Woburn].
His other published works were:
He was a man of much intellectual ability, diligently cultivated by close study. His library contained many of the books of his father and grandfather, and for those days was somewhat large. He usually reviewed his classical studies once a year. In his family he sometimes fluently rendered the Hebrew Bible into English.
- "A Legacy of Advice to the Church of Bradford"
- "A Monitor for Delaying Sinners"
- "An Artillery Election Sermon, 1720"
- "A Sermon at the Ordination of Rev. Joseph Emerson at Malden, 1721"
- "A Funeral Sermon for Rev. Thomas Barnard, 1718"
- "Against Prejudice
In religious sentiment he was thoroughly Calvinistic. He was diligent in visiting his people, especially the sick - always aiming to give the conversation a religious direction. He loved to preach and embraced every opportunity for performing this service. In the pulpit his manner was animated and impressive.
His constitution was naturally vigorous and he seemed to enjoy almost perfect health till his last sickness, which lasted only ten days. He often expressed a desire that he might not live to be old, nor outlive his usefulness. His wish was granted. He preached the last Sabbath but one before he died, though in much weakness and suffering. He died of bleeding profusely at the nose, which rapidly reduced his strength. He fell asleep in Jesus, October 6, 1725, in the 48th year of his age.*
* This account is largely derived from a memoir of Mr. Symmes by his nearest neighbor, Rev. John Brown of Haverhill, printed in 1726, re-printed 1816.
"He was a public blessing, highly esteemed in his life, much lamented at his death". [Boston News Letter, October 1725]
"The name of Mr. Symmes", says Rev. James T McCollom, pastor in Bradford from 1845 to 1865, now pastor in Medford near Boston, who succeeded him in the ministry, "is fragrant to this day in this vicinity. Perhaps no one in the region was more useful in the ministry". He was much beloved by his people. [Details of his children  Thomas,  Andrew,  John,  Elizabeth and  Zechariah appear under "Fourth Generation"].
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 WILLIAM SYMMES, brother of the preceding; born in Bradford 7 January 1679-80; married Elizabeth Langdon of Boston 13 June 1706. They lived in Boston and had  Elizabeth born 20 March 1706-7.