- Robert Latham & Susanna Winslow
Plymouth court records show that Robert Latham who married Susanna, the daughter of John Winslow and his wife Mary Chilton, brutally and willfully mistreated his servant boy, John Walker, thus causing his death. Equally as disturbing, Susanna was found culpable as well--though not prosecuted.
(Stratton, Eugene Aubrey, FASG. Plymouth Colony: Its History and People1620-1691.)
" On 31 January 1655 5 a coroner's jury was called to view the body of Latham's servant boy, John Walker." The jury found:
“that the body of John Walker was blackish and blew, and the skine broken in divers places from the middle to the haire of his head, viz, all his backe with stripes given him by his master, Robert Latham, as Robert himselfe did testify; and also wee found a bruise of his left arme, and one of his left hipp, and one great bruise of his brest; and there was the knuckles of one hand and one of his fingers frozen, and alsoe both his heeles frozen, and one of the heeles the flesh was much broken, and alsoe one of his little toes frozen and very much perished, and one of his great toes frozen, and alsoe the side of his foot frozen; and alsoe,upon the reviewing the body, wee found three gaules like holes in the hames, which wee formerly, the body being frozen, thought they had been holes; and alsoe wee find that the said John was forced to carry a logg which was beyond his strength, which hee indeavoring to doe, the logg fell upon him, and hee, being downe, had a stripe or two, as Joseph Beedle doth testify; and wee find that it was some few daies before his death; and wee find, by the testimony of John Howland and John Adams, that heard Robert Latham say that hee gave John Walker som stripes that morning before his death; and alsoe wee find the flesh much broken of the knees of John Walker, and that he did want sufficient food and clothing and lodging, and that the said John did constantly wett his bedd and his cloathes, lying in them, and so suffered by it, his clothes being frozen about him; and that the said John was put forth in the extremity of cold, though thuse unabled by lamenes and sorenes to performe what was required; and therefore in respect of crewelty and hard usage he died.”
In the Latham-Walker case, the community view can can be seen in the aftermath, when on 4 March 1655 5 Latham was indicted for felonious cruelty to his servant John Walker, age about fourteen, by unreasonable correction, by withholding necessary food and clothing, and by exposing Walker to extremities of the seasons, whereby he died. The trial jury found him guilty of "manslaughter by chaunce medley," and he was sentenced to be burned in the hand and, having no lands, to have all his personal property confiscated. Latham's wife, Susanna was presented by the grand jury for being in great measure guilty with her husband in exercising extreme cruelty toward their late servant John Walker. In her case, however, the presentment continued without trial for three years, until the court on 1 June 1658 ordered that she would be held for trial if anyone wished to prosecute her for the offense, but no one came forth, and the court ordered the presentment erased from the records.
Robert LATHAM of East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, perhaps the brother of Cary LATHAM, lived two years or more (between 1640 - 1642) with the Reverend Thomas Shepard in Cambridge; and then moved to Marshfield, Massachusetts. where he was constable in 1643.
Then he moved to Plymouth, where he married Susanna WINSLOW, the daughter of John WINSLOW, the brother of Governor Edward WINSLOW, and the daughter of the famous Mary CHILTON, the first female to set foot on land at Plymouth Rock from onboard the Mayflower in 1620.
They had Mercy, June 2, 1650.
Robert and his family then moved to East Bridgewater before 1667. His was the 4th family to settle in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Later Robert moved his family into Bridgewater, Massachusetts, where he was a surveyor in 1671, and constable in 1674.
(from "The Pilgrims of Massachusetts" -- Robert Latham when in Marshfield, Propr. 1650, punished for causing the death of his servant, JohnWalker in Jan 1654-5.
In 1657, he became a Freeman and took the oath of fidelity in Marshfield. The ultimate of political participation and power was the individual Freeman. This was a formal status for which all adult householders might directly apply, approval being based on general consideration of character and competence. Unlike the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth set no specific requirements in terms of church membership. Initially, the Freemen themselves composed the General Court, which enacted all necessary, "laws and ordinances," voted rates (taxes) and, after 1640 supervised the distribution of lands.
Robert and his family then moved to East Bridgewater before 1667 and then to Bridgewater, where he was surveyor in 1671 and constable in 1674. On April 9, 1676, during King Philip's War, Robert's dwelling house and barn, directly south of the herring weir, were completely burned by Indians, and he also lost considerable lumber and his mill on the Satucket. He and his family had moved from his dwelling just a few days before the Indian attack.
A Bi-centennial project was the reconstruction of the saw mill which Robert built on the Satucket River, and which the Indians destroyed with his stock of lumber during King Phillips War. Robert built a dam and used waterpower to operate the mill. It was a so-called whip saw or up and down mill. (Circular saws were not developed until about 1825.)
From 'East Bridgewater Sesquicentennial Book' page 7; "Latham is also of interest because of his wife's direct connection with the original Pilgrim settlers. Susanna Latham was the daughter of John Winslow, brother of the famed Plymouth governor, and Mary Chilton who it is said, was the first female to set foot on the Plymouth shore in 1620."
Continuing on page 8 is a description of an incident from 'King Philip'sWar'. "The war came to this area (East Bridgewater, Ma.) on April 9,1676, when the Indians burned a house and barn. The Reverend James Keith, the first Minister of Bridgewater, described what happened in a letter to a friend: "God hath now begun to pour out upon us the cup of trembling; yet the Lord doth remember us still with mercy, yea very great mercy. The 9th of this instant, being the Lord's Day, as we were assembling in the forenoon, we were alarmed by the shooting of some guns from some of our garrisons upon discovery of a house being on fire, which was Robert Latham's; his dwelling house and barn are wholly consumed. The house was deserted but a few days before. He had considerable loss in lumber. The corn and chief of his goods were saved. There were divers other out-houses rifled at the same time, but no more burnt. There was a horse or two killed; three or four carried away; and some few swine killed. We sent out a party of men on the Lord's Day night upon discovery, who found their trackings.
Our men judged their might be about ten of them. They followed them by their track several miles, but having no provision, they were forced to leave the pursuit. We are in expectation every day of an assault here. The Lord prepare us for our trial."
Robert and his wife are buried in the old graveyard at East Bridgewater adjacent to the old church, but their ages, as given are incorrect. His grave is #1 in the old graveyard and his and Susanna's markers were moved, and presumably, what remained was moved from the very North East corner of the cemetery to an inner location where there are a number of other Latham markers. This was done to permit the straightening of the street which became a main thoroughfare. William Latham, a graduate of Brown University, and a practicing attorney in Bridgewater, erected a white marble monument at the present location of the graves and also there are the head and foot markers for these two graves.
Robert Latham's family may have owned stock in the Virginia Company of London. Records show there was a Robert Latham who came to America on the "George" and was mustered as an inhabitant on Mulberry Island in the James River across from Jamestown in 1624. There is a possibility that he went to New England from Virginia since we have no record of a Robert Latham going direct to New England from Great Britain.
Hannah married Joseph Washburn.
Prior to the marriage, in 1649, of Robert Latham and Susanna Winslow, there seems to be much speculation because of contradictory and presumptive theories surrounding the relationship and origin of Robert and William Latham. One thing in common, and to which all seem to agree,is that no one knows the birth and origin, for certain, of these two individuals.
The records available, by which some idea may be formed, confirm thatWilliam was born in the west of England, although we first hear of him asa boy about fourteen years old, emigrating from London to America with the Carver family, who were part of the group of Separatists onboard theMayflower.
The first we hear about Robert Latham, is in two of the foremost publications on New England history, by Nahum Mitchell and Savage. They advise that Robert lived with the Rev. Thomas Shepard family for two years. They do not specify a date but, from other information given, it would be correct to assume the dates would be around 1640 or1641.
Because of dates and places specified later, the question arises whether or not Robert was actually the son of William. Also, while we have a fairly good account of William’s activities, there is scant information available about his marriage to Mary ?, a servant girl, or his having any children. In Governor Bradford’s "Plimoth Plantation"Journal, no mention is made of it either. In "The Search For Mary ?"1997 by Robert Latham, we are offered proof of a wife; but there doesn't seem to be any proof of children conceived and born during this short marriage.
Regarding the dates involved, William was about fourteen years old in 1620 when the Mayflower arrived in Plymouth. If in 1627 he married at age twenty-one, it is possible that his son Robert at an age around twenty-one could have married Susanna who was about twenty-one years of age in 1649 as show in the lineage chart. The problem is that the records show that, after Robert’s stay at the Rev. Shepard home, he moved to Marshfield in 1643 and became a constable. You will note that this is six years before he was married, and if he were the son of William he would only be about fifteen or sixteen years old.
This corroborates the remarks above regarding contradictions and presumptive information on their relationship. In Governor Bradford’s Journal he made a statement that William returned to England around twenty years after coming to America, yet in the historical publications William is shown to be in Marshfield from 1643 to 1648.
In spite of these inconsistencies, the lineage chart and biographies of these men are based on the most popular theory of relationship,etc. We have done this because other information concerning their activities and where-abouts seem to partially agree in Plymouth, and elsewhere in NewEngland.
Further investigation into the Robert Latham situation discloses that in 1620 a Robert Latham arrived in Virginia on the ship, "George". He was twenty years old, and was mustered as an inhabitant on Mulberry Island in the James River, opposite Jamestown. Because he went to Virginia, Robert Latham’s family might have owned stock in the Virginia Company of London. There is no record of another Robert Latham coming to America between 1620 and 1650. It was impossible to check further the records for that period, because those records were burned in Richmond during the Civil War just prior to the surrender of the Confederacy.
There is a possibility that Robert Latham went to New England from Virginia. Rev. Shepard was a Separatist Minister from Scrooby, England, and was know to be persuading his followers to come to America, and many did. It is possible Robert Latham knew him in England and, for that reason, was invited to stay with the family until he could get situated in the colony.
This Robert Latham was six years older than William and he about twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old when William ís alleged son might have been born. It could have been possible Robert was forty-eight or forty-nine years old when he married Susanna Winslow.
It appears no one will ever know the facts, but this information is given for readers to make their own decision on what appeared obvious in publications of many years ago.
Roots Research states that he was an emigrant, and he lived 1st inCambridge. He later moved to Plymouth, then to Marshfield and finally with his wife Susanna Winslow to East Bridgwater. Also see REF about his possible father, William in "The English Ancestry
And Homes Of The Pilgrim Fathers." Roots Research disputes that William was his father.
In all of the sources that do claim that Robert and Carye Latham are brothers, it should be noted that Robert is always listed as the older brother.
Robert lived with the Rev. Thomas Shepard in Cambridge for two years,prior to 12 Nov. 1646, then moved to Plymouth, later to Marshfield by 165where he was constable in 1653. Although all his property was confiscated by the court in 1655, he was accepted as a freeman two years later; and after he and Susanna removed to E. Bridgewater about 1660, they evidently moved up the economic ladder, for after his death his children sold land originally belonging to him.
Although the record-book copy of the will of John Winslow (#7) datedOctober 1683 mentions "the two sons of my sister Susanna Latham decd",three sons were then alive, and Susanna would acknowledge a deed in Nov.1685. The disappearance of the original will is a matter of regret!
No probate records exist for either Robert or Susanna Latham. But on 28Feb. 1689 Joseph Latham of Bridgewater sold land bought by my fatherRobert Latham late of Bridgewater, dec'd. On 13 Aug. 1714 Joseph WashburnSr., of Bridgewater (husband of Hannah Latham) surrendered rights to land"of my father-in-law Robert Latham dec'd"; and on 18 April 1715 JamesLatham of Bridgewater quitclaimed to his brother Chilton Latham rights to land "of our father Robert Latham." In addition the will of Mary (Chilton) Winslow names three grandchildren in the order Mercy Harris, Mary Pollard and Susanna Latham - - the only record of Mary, and aside from a mention in John Winslow's will, the only record of Susanna. Since Mary Pollard's name occurs between those of Mercy Harris and Susanna Latham, both daughters of Robert and Susanna, it is possible, although far from certain, that Mary was also theirs.
Although no birth, probate or land records substantiates a daughter Elizabeth, Mr. Bowman's acceptance of her, a marriage record of an otherwise unplaced Elizabeth Latham, and the names Robert and Susanna given to her firstborn children - - all warrant her inclusion in this family. On the other hand, no proof was found to substantiate the claim by Mitchell and by Savage for a daughter Sarah Latham. The daughter Sarah is here replaced by Susanna, based on Williams Latham's suggestion in "Bridgewater Corrections" and reasoning offered in “Mary Chilton's TitleTo Celebrity".,,, [3, 4]