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Electious and Mary (Pease) Reynolds of Salem and Middleboro, MA

Susan E. Clement

Unfortunately, nothing is known for sure of the early history of our ancestor Electious Reynolds. Many theories have been proposed; that he was related to Henry Reynolds of Salem MA, or Dr. John Reynolds of Isle of Shoals NH, or William Reynolds of Cape Porpoise ME, or Robert Reynolds of Boston. He was perhaps French or French-Canadian or Huguenot. He may have been Gaelic, from Wales or Ireland or Scotland, or from England. I think we all have our favorite. But, sadly, the truth is that to this time, no one has been able to provide any shred of evidence for any one of these guesses.

So, if we can't know his history, we can at least look at what we do know of his life. There are many documents that tell us something of the man that Electious was, and of the relationships he had with his family and neighbors.

The first record of Electious is perhaps that in Manchester MA where "Elodius Reynolds" appears on a list of early residents in 1674 in that town. If this is indeed Electious, he would have been just 21 years old, based on other records we have. He fought in King Philip's War, being mustered in December 1675 "on what was called Dedham Plain to march against the Narragansett Fort."

The next records of Electious are in Salem MA. In 1678 he took the Oath of Allegiance there, being recorded as Alexis Renolds. That same year he was a court witness to a boundary dispute at Salem Village, Alexius Reinolds, age 25 years. On 18 April 1682 Eleckieas (also Alexius) Ronalls, aged about 25 years, gave a sworn statement in a case in Salem Quarterly Court. He made a deposition in 1683 (Alexius Reynolds; Alixious Reenolds). On 19 Sep 1683 Elec Renalds was abated 12 shillings. In 1683 Allextius Rennalds appeared on a tax list, county rate 1s.8d. On 12 Dec 1684 Eleck Ranals, abated, mony 0.04 6. The name Elisha Reynolds appears on a resident list for Manchester in 1684, and it seems likely that this is the same person as Elodius in 1674 and probably our Electious.

There are no records of any deeds for Electious in Salem during this time period. He was, however, paying taxes. It is interesting that the clerk(s) had such a difficult time with his given name. These are all obvious attempts at a phonetic spelling. Some theories propose that his name was actually Alexander. However, since Alexander was a relatively common English name, it is unlikely that clerks would have tried to make it into something more difficult. It seems more likely that faced with something that sounded like "Alexius," clerks may have felt that Alexander was the easier way out, or the more acceptable Anglicized version.

On 16 July 1686 Electious married Mary Pease in Salem, recorded there. His marriage record gives his name as Allexander Renalds. The birth of their oldest child, James, was recorded in Manchester 15 Jan 1687 (probably old style), to Eleksha Renals and Mary. No other children are recorded in Manchester, and none were recorded in Salem.

In 1691 the name Electius Ranals appeared on a list of "Persons gon out of Towne since October, 1689." It has often been proposed that Electious moved his young family away from the Salem area because of the witch trials. Both of Mary's parents were arrested and imprisoned for practicing witchcraft, but they were later released. There is no record of where Electious and Mary may have gone after they left the Salem area.

It is interesting to note that one of the early settlers of Middleboro was John Haskell, ancestor of the Middleboro Haskells. John was born in Beverly MA, but left the Salem area before 1680. John's brother was known as "Witchcraft Mark." Family tradition is that Mark Haskell was drawn for jury duty to try the so-called witches. He wanted nothing to do with the proceedings, and the night before the trial he packed up and rode away. He supposedly travelled as far as possible without stopping, finally camping on the shores of Lake Assawampsett in Middleboro. He went to his brother who was already living there, and finally settled in Rochester. There is no indication that Electious had any close relations with the Haskell family in Salem, but some acquaintance may have been one reason that Electious chose to move his family to the southeastern Massachusetts area.

There are no records of the births of Isaac and Charles. Perhaps they were born in Manchester or Salem. The first child to have a birth recorded in Middleboro was Mary who was born 20 Sep 1699. Her brother Benjamin's birthdate of 4 Aug 1693 was recorded immediately following hers. It does not indicate whether he was born in Middleboro or not. The births of Hannah on 13 Oct 1702, Ephraim on 14 Feb 1704/5 and Electious on 21 Feb 1706/7 were also recorded in Middleboro, in appropriate chronological order. These births in Middleboro state only that the child was "of Electious Renolds," with no mention of the mother's name, but Electious' name was spelled the same way in each of the five records. There is no record in Middleboro of any other children, e.g. the Jacob and Timothy that are sometimes placed in this family.

Electious lived in the part of Middleboro that later became Lakeville in 1853. Mary is never mentioned in any of the Middleboro records, and she did not sign any of the deeds with Electious, although she was apparently still living 1 Apr 1730. There is no record of the fate of either James or Benjamin. It has always been thought that they had died young, but there are no records to support this. In fact, new research has brought to light the fact that James was alive at age 33, when he appeared to acknowledge a deed in Middlesex County MA.

In 1703 Electious of Middleboro bought a parcel of meadow from Greenfield Hannaver of Taunton. In March 1711/12 he bought 80 acres, the eighth and ninth lots in the first division of the Sixteen Shilling Purchase in Middleboro from Ephraim Little of Marshfield. In July 1712 he sold half of the land purchased from Ephraim Little to Thomas Palmer, "together with the house now standing where my son Isaac now liveth." In April 1713 Electious sold Thomas Palmer the remainder of the land he had bought of Ephraim Little, "being the two lots on which I now dwell."

After selling his property to Palmer, Electious removed from Middleboro to Littleton MA, where his eldest son James was apparently already living. On 18 May 1713, "Elixious Renolds of Middleborough in the County of Plymouth" bought two parcels of land in Nashoba [Littleton] for thirty pounds each, one parcel from Isaac Powers and one from Walter Powers, both of Concord MA. On 1 March 1716 "Elixius Reynolds of Littleton, husbandman" sold a fifty acre tract of Upland Swamp to Samuel Dudley for thirty pounds. This deed was signed by both Electious and Mary. On 24 Sep 1719 Electious, still of Littleton, sold for ten pounds to Jonathan Prescott a two acre parcel of meadow which "lyeth in a meadow... a little distant from my house where I now live," bounded by "my own meadow."

It appears at this time that Electious moved back to Middleboro. His son James remained living on the land in Littleton until it was sold on 2 Nov 1719. In a deed dated December 1719, Electious "of Littleton" bought from John Jones Junr. of Marshfield, all of Jones' right and title to a parcel of land in Middleboro in the Sixteen Shilling Purchase.

On 12 Oct 1725 the Congregational Church in the West Precinct of Middleboro was formed. The list of the first members contains the names of twelve men, including that of Electious Reynolds.

There are no other deeds recorded in Plymouth County until 1 April 1730 when land was deeded by Electious for love and affection to his son Ephraim "for that he hath by bond obliged himself to support me & my wife comfortably & honorably during our natural lives..." In this deed Electious gives Ephraim two lots of land in Middleboro in the Sixteen Shilling Purchase which were laid out to John Jones, the 22nd and 54th lots, the land bought of Jones in 1719. The 22nd lot was at a place called Mad Mare's Neck.

Also on the same day Electious gave his son Electious for love and affection, one tract of land in the Sixteen Shilling Purchase and one half of his right to the undivided land in the Purchase.

On 13 Feb 1730/31 Electious sold to Jacob Green, the third l ot in the third allotment in the Sixteen Shilling Purchase. On 25 Feb 1731 Electious bought from Lemuel Bosworth of Hull, all of the 76th lot of land in the third allotment of the Sixteen Shilling Purchase. This lot was later sold by Electious Jr. in 1779. It was located between the western shore of Long Pond and the County road on the east.

In 1734 the lands owed to the soldiers having fought in King Philip's war were granted in Narragansett Township, Greenwich MA. The list for Middleboro includes "Ellexander Reynolds (Rynge), (?) alive." This is a rather cryptic entry, but its intent is lost at this point.

On 21 Apr 1735 Electious executed a deed on behalf of his son Charles. Charles had sold land that his father had given him in the 25th lot in the third allotment in the Sixteen Shilling Purchase to James Reed. In 1735 Reed was deceased, and, the original deed having been lost and never recorded, Electious executed a deed giving the land to heirs of Reed. This land was originally laid out in the right of John Jones, who had sold all rights to Electious in the deed in 1719.

The deeds signed by Electious are signed with his mark, a stylized upper case "R". This mark consistently appears in the recorded deeds. In all of the deeds Electious is called either a yeoman or husbandman.

Electious died 19 June 1738 in his 85th year, his death being recorded in Middleboro records. He was probably buried on the property near Long Pond where Electious Jr. lived at the time. There is no probate recorded in Plymouth County for Electious; any records that might have existed were probably lost. There is no record of Mary's death.

One final note is of a deed dated 26 Feb 1752. Isaac and Charles Reynolds both of Middleboro, quit their full right and claim of the third share in the fourth lot in the Assonet Cedar Swamp to Ephraim and Electious Reynolds... "which right originally belonged to John Jones and which our honoured father Electius Reynolds gave to his four sons, Isaac Reynolds, Charles Reynolds, Ephraim Reynolds and Electious Reynolds..."

References: Middleboro MA Vital Records; Manchester MA Vital Records; Salem MA Vital Records; History of Middleboro, by Thomas Weston; History of Lakeville, by Grace DeMaranville Vigers; History of Salem, by Sidney Perley; History of Manchester, by Rev. D.F. Lamson; Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Mass., Essex Institute; Salem Town Records, Essex Institute; Plymouth County MA Probate Records; Plymouth County MA Deeds and Land Records; Middlesex County MA Deeds and Land Records. [See also various issues Reynolds Recollections and the RFA Centennial Collection.]

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