m. ABT 1586
m. 4 Oct 1614
Facts and Events
DR. COMFORT STARR (1589-1660)
The Starr story begins with this venturesome dissenter, Dr. Comfort Starr. He was baptized on July 16, 1589, in St. Dunstan's Anglican Church in Cranbrook, County of Kent. After establishing his practice of medicine, be became a parishioner of the Church of the Virgin of St. Mary in nearby Ashford, where he served as warden from 1631 to 1632. But in 1634, increasingly disturbed by the "papal elements" remaining in the Anglican Church, he sailed from Sandwich to seek a more congenial spiritual climate in the New World.
It seems likely that his wife, having just given birth to twin girls Ruth and Liddia about two weeks before their sailing date, followed sometime later with young Hannah and the newborns, perhaps with Comfort's brothers Joyful and Jehosahat, though a record of their crossing has not been found.
Comfort Starre of Ashford in Kent Chirurgeon [surgeon]" appears on a passenger list in Yearbooks C and D of Sandwich, Kent County, England, 1608-1642. He and his family along with three servants sailed on the 200 ton Hercules of Sandwich in the spring of 1634 with John Witherly as shipmaster. Only three children are listed: Thomas, Comfort, and Mary. The servants were: Saml Duncan, John Turvey or Turbey, and Truth shall prevail Starre. In order to obtain passage, Dr. Starr presented a certificate of his "conversacion and Conformity to the orders and discipline of the Church" signed by Edmund Hayes, Vicar of Asford, 21 March 1634 and another signed by John Honnywood and Thomas Godfrey, Justices. They sailed to the Plantation of New England. Eventually, all the family (except Hannah) came to America.
Dr. Starr was forty-six years of age when he and his family arrived at the infant Massachusetts Bay Colony. A man of medicine was most welcome to a community beset by manifold ailments, and soon he was "settled in the northerly part of the town called Boston" and permitted "to cut hey [sic] on the grounds of Captain Standish and William Alden."
After his arrival, he established his practice in Cambridge in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He purchased land in Duxbury from Jonathan Brewster in 1638. The subsequent deed for his son, John, (witnessed by Capt. Myles Standish) is framed and hanging in Plymouth Hall in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He farmed this and other land for Captain Standish and John Alden of Plymouth Colony. He moved to North Boston near the Charlestown Ferry. He had a large professional business, and the original inventory of his estate is on file in the Boston Probate office. The list of items is extensive and extremely interesting.
Some nine years later he moved his practice into the city, where his name appeared frequently as a witness on wills and as the administrator of estates. When he died at the age of seventy on January 2, 1659, his own estate marked him a man of means who served well as the worthy founder of the Starr line in America. In his honor, the baptismal font in the Chapel-in-the-Woods at the Commonwealth is an exact replica of the one at St. Dunstan's in England.
The Starr name also figured prominently in the annals of early colonial education. On a memorial plaque in St. Dunstan's Church in England, dedicated on July 15, 1909, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Comfort Starr is cited as "One of the earliest Benefactors of Harvard, the first College in America." Moreover, his son and namesake is listed at Harvard as "one of seven Incorporators" of that institution. Upon the occasion of the Commonwealth's 40th anniversary in 1953, the Secretary to Harvard University, David M. Little, addressed a congratulatory letter to Floyd Starr in which he commented:
On July 15, 1909, the Archbishop of Canterbury dedicated an artistic tablet in County Kent, England in Memoriam Dr. Comfort Starr (1589-1659), eminent English-American surgeon three centuries ago. The tablet was designed by W.D. Caroe of Westminster, an English architect, and erected with contributions of American descendants of Dr. Comfort Starr.
The archbishop on that occasion reminded the distinguished gathering present that "our English rights and history, which we value and cherish, are shared by our American cousins as well", and that our English instiutions were "founded by their ancestors as well as our."
When Harvard, the first college in New England was established in 1638 on Dr. Comfort Starr's homestead in Cambridge, English friends were generous benefactors to the struggling college.
NEHGR, Vol 9, July 1855, Abstracts From the Earliest Wills on Record in the County of Suffolk, Mass; William B. Trask, p 223
Comfort Starr - 22 Aprill 1659. Will. My body to be burryed with ye vsuall place of buriall in Boston, so neere my late wife as may be possible with conveniency. I giue vnto Samuell Starre, my large book of Martyrs, with ye frame belonging therevnto; vnto Euery one of my Grand Children, 12d apiece, in English money; vnto ye fiue daus of my dau. Maynard (deceased) £10. apiece, to be payd to either of them, as they come to ye age of 16 yeare; vnto my sonne Thomas Starre, (deceased) his children, £10 apiece, to be payd vnto each as they either of them come vnto 18 yeares of age; vnto my sonne Thoms, his fower youngest, one Mare to be desposed & equally devided at ye discretion of my Supervisors; if they thinke meete, ye Mare to be sold, then my will is, eithe of them Children should have one quarter pt of what said Mare is sold for; vnto my grand Child, Symon Eire, £6. p. Annuy to pe payd him yearly, vntill he come unto ye age of 18 yeares; it being so giuen by me vnto him for ye Advancement, helpe & furthering him in Learneing. For ye assurance of ye due paymt of ye said £6 yearely, I Engage my now dwelling house, That he, or his Guardian, or those who have he oversight of him, shall and may lawfully enter into ye said house, and distreine for euery defect so much as shall satisfy ye said sume yt is not paid, & ye charge or charges yet ariseth by reason of such distress for ye non paymt of ye said £6 yearely, ye overplus to be returned. My minde & will is, That if ye said Symon Eire desist goeing forward in Learneing, yt is yt he doe not goe vnto some Gramar Schoole & to some Academia, or to be with some godly Minister whereby he may be instructed in ye Toungs, Arts & Sciences, then ye said Annuall paymt of ye said £6 shall cease. My mine is, yt ye said Symon Eire should enjoy his house & land yr vnto belonging wch apptaineth vnto him, of right, by inheritance, And also, yt my Executor shall pay vnto him yt wch I am Engaged vnto him by ye Honored Court, yt is, about £60, wch is as much as I haue receiued of his, by my Administing of his moveable goods after ye death of his prents. My sonne John to be my executor. The reast of my Estate in New England I giue to my sonne John Starr, and unto my dau. Elizabeth Ferniside, equally to be devide between them; then yt my sonne John shall devide his share into three pts; one third of it shalbe given vnto his Children, vnto Euery one a equall share, [The portion of Elizabeth to be divided in the same manner.] If my dau. Hannah Starr shall come to New England, my mind is, yt [she] shall haue my siluer guilt double salt Celler. I giue vnto my dau. Hannah Starr, alll my debts due me in old England. I giue vnto said Hannah, £50 sterling to be payd vnto her, out of ye Rent, as it ariseth of my house & land wch I have in Eshitisford, in Kent, in old England. I giue unto my sonne, Comfort Starr, my before mentioned house & land in Eshitisford, pvided my said dau. Hannah to be payd ye aforesaid £50; And also provided, yt my sonne Comfort Cause to be payd at Boston, for ye vse of my Grand Children, for my Executor, to distribute to Euery one of my Grand-Children in good Kersy & Peniston & Cotton to ye worth of 40s a peece, to be payd within 4 years after my decease. Vnto my dau. Elizabeth, all my Right of yt Land wherevpon her now dwelling house is built, & also ye Land adjoyneing, from ye highway before theire house, downe backward, vnto ye mill pond. I appointe my beloved Brothrs in Law, Mr. John Morley & Faithful Rouse my Supervisors, vnto either of wch I will, 20s a peece. I giue vnto my dau-in-law ye late wife of my sonne Thomas Starr, one siluer bossed wine Cupp. It is my mind (in regard of ye scarcitie of money in this Countrey) yt my Executor shall pay my Legacies, if he Can Conveniently, with shop pay, but if he Can-not so suite or fitt them, then he shall pay them in such Comodities as this Countrey brings forths, except such legacies yt is Expressed to be payd in money or siluer. Comfort Starr
John Collins, Richd Taylor, William Read
2 Feb 1659, Richd Taylor & Wm Read deposed Inventory of the Goods & Chattells of Mr. Comfort Starr Deceased 2d Jan 1659, prized by John Chickering, Edward Burth, 3 Feb 1659, when John Starr deposed. Sume totall, £613.02. More apprized 8: 1: 59-60. £32.14.11
Debts due the deceased from John Carrey, Faithfull Rouse, Samll Bryant, James Vahan, Johannah Mills, Wm. Wenborne, Alexander Waits, James Luxford, John Borne, Georg Clarke, John Rogers, Joseph Ramsden, John Howard, Francis Weston, Hen. Sampson, William Spowell, Rebecca Taylor, John Harding, Edward Hall, Phillip de La Nee, Margaret Vassall, Job Howkins, Bourne , of Muddy River; Edmund Weston, Jonathan Brewster, junior; Joseph Gallop, Evan Thomas, Pate Field, Joseph Pryor, Edward Page, Joseph Harding, Thomas Wheeler, George Wheeler, Symon tuttell, Mr. John Cutts, Boson Russell, Will Edmonds, Mathew Grosse, Jno. Holloway, Arthur Keayne, Mr. Westmerland, John Hanmore, Good. Wheat, Good. Wooley, Tho. Walker, John Matson, Doman Mathewes, Good. Felt, Tho. Call, Mr. George Broome, Anthony Dodson, Georg Turner, Tho. Fox, Will Hartwell. George Howard, John Hill, Zachary Phillips, Humphrey Turner, John Tuckerman, Daniell Aleborne, Cornelius Wright, George Dobson, David Faulkner, Good. Pecke, Mr. Auldine, senior; Good. Baker, Wm. Dickerman, Samll Norden, Vrsilla Batten, Wm. Read, Mr. Euerill, for John Fris; Wm. Clarke, Joseph Bettle, John Coles, of Lovells Island; Edw. Bruffe, Charitie an old maide; John Aymes &c.
On September 21, 2006 Pat Starr, the ninth great grand-daughter, her husband, Harvey Newquist, son, Edward Starr Newquist, and grand-daughter, Jessica Starr Folger visited Ashford and Cranbrook to view the historic sites of Comfort Starr, including the following :
Commerative Plaque; 15 Jul 1909; Cranbrook, Kent, ENG 15. Placed in St. Dunstan's church:
St. Mary the virgin is another Marsh church with Norman origins. Smaller than some others, this church is nevertheless oversize for what must have been a tiny hamlet. Notice the enormous buttresses which support the tower on the soft marsh soil. The authoress Edith Nesbitt (The Railway Children) is buried in the churchyard.
The Star Inn stands in a field opposite the church. It is a family inn and the building dates back to 1476. Once a next-door neighbour was Sir Noel Coward. Since the second World War a row of council houses have been built in what is now called Rectory Road.
In the Domesday Book survey compiled by the Normans in 1086, Ashford is entered as having a church and two mills.
By 1600 Ashford was well established as an important and flourishing market town. Ashford was aided in this by its location, with roads to the port of Faversham and to Canterbury, Hythe, Romney Marsh and the Weald. Just as important was the number of large estates in the district owned by the nobility.
The town consisted of a small mediaeval gathering of buildings with the Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin at its centre. Close by was the Six Bells, the Chequers and the Court House, a number of ale houses, shops, craftsmen’s premises and cottages. The present Middle Row was known as The Shambles and provided markets for fish, corn, meat, butter and livestock.
Down by the river stood the mill and the tannery. New Rents and St. John’s Lane were narrow ways out of the town and can still be seen today. The countless Tudor buildings made Ashford one of the most picturesque towns in the county and this little jewel was set in water meadows surrounded by ancient woodlands.
Cranbrook is only a little disguised from its original meaning, of a ‘brook frequented by cranes or herons’. The roots are Old English cran ‘crane, heron’ and broc ‘brook’. It first appears on record in the eleventh century as Cranebroca. The River Crane is a back-formation from the place-name