Person:Mary Pillsbury (8)

m. Bet 1686 and 1701
  1. Mary PillsburyAbt 1693 - 1756
  • HJoseph French1689/90 - 1761
  • WMary PillsburyAbt 1693 - 1756
m. 19 Aug 1714
  1. Sarah French1715 -
  2. Joanna French1718 -
  3. Moses French1720 -
  4. Joseph French1726 -
  5. Enoch French1731 -
Facts and Events
Name Mary Pillsbury
Gender Female
Birth[2] Abt 1693 Newbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
Marriage 19 Aug 1714 Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United Statesto Joseph French
Death[1] 17 Feb 1756 Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States

Uncertain Lineage

There is no birth record for Mary, so no direct evidence of who her mother is. Her father's will was written before Mary was married so only names her as Mary Pillsbery. It does not help that there appears to be no death record for her father's first wife Susanna, nor marriage record with his second wife Priscilla, meaning no clear demarcation between the two wives. Susannah was named in the birth record for Mary's sister Hannah in 1686, so alive then, and Priscilla was named in the father's will in 1701. So the second marriage could be almost anywhere in a range of 12-15 years. Mary's birth certainly falls within that range.

There are two competing marriages on the books involving a Mary Pillsbury that have been suggested as this Mary: Joseph French in 1714 (Salisbury VRs, p. 461) and Timothy Wells in 1725 (Newbury VRs, p. 397). Which marriage is favored by various researchers tends to drive most of the assumptions about birth date and identity of the mother of Mary.

The family of Moses Pillsbury is covered by Source:Holman, Mary Lovering. Ancestry of Charles Stinson Pillsbury and John Sargent Pillsbury, and it shows Mary as a child of the second wife, b. abt. 1700, and "probably" marrying Timothy Wells and then Thomas Colby (p. 11). "Probably" here is presumed to mean there is no evidence except that matching names, and unfortunately, it is not explained what makes it the probable arrangement. The marriage to Timothy Wells requires a late birth since Timothy himself was born 1704, and so would be an unlikely match for a woman born in the early 1690s. Thus Mary Holman has estimated the birth about 1700 and this would clearly make Mary appear to belong to the second wife. An older work, Source:Pilsbury, David B. Pillsbury Family, also covers Moses' family, also showing Mary as a daughter of the second wife, but gives no birth date, no marriage, nor any other details. But interestingly, this source pairs Timothy Wells with a different Mary (d/o William Pillsbury and Mary Kenny, b. 1702, p. 10). Mary Holman did not cover this line of the Pillsburys, so we don't know her disposition for this other Mary Pillsbury. David Pillsbury does not mention the 1714 marriage to Joseph French or attribute it to any one.

An article in Source:New England Historical and Genealogical Register, "Notes"[2] addresses this issue. The interesting thing about this article is that it was written by Winifred Lovering Holman, daughter of the Mary Holman who wrote the Pillsbury Genealogy cited above. Presumably, the daughter had access to the notes of the mother, and possibly even collaborated with her mother when the mother was still alive. In this article, Winifred Holman argues that, after careful searching, she had reached the opposite conclusion. Largely based on Joseph and Mary French naming a son Moses (Newbury VRs, p. 110), she believes that this Mary Pillsbury married Joseph French, not Timothy Wells. The marriage date of 1714 to Joseph French implies that Mary's birth date was between 1690-1695 instead of the 1700 estimated by earlier sources. Since we don't know when the second marriage of Mary's father occurred, we can't tell if this changes who her mother is, but it makes it possible that her mother was Susannah. [It may or may not be important that her father's will in 1701 delays her inheritance until 6 years after his decease. One could wildly speculate that this suggests she was about 12 at the time, since she needed to be 18 to receive her inheritance, hence born as early as 1689. It certainly seems to confirm that she was the youngest child since her delay is the longest.]

In review, we don't know when the father's first wife died, when he married the second wife, which wife was the mother of Mary, when Mary was born, or who she married. It appears that naming a son Moses is the strongest argument presented so far, favoring a marriage to Joseph French, but of course this is very circumstantial. The assumption of this marriage implies a birth closer to 1690 than 1700, and making it more probable, but still very unclear, that she was a child of the first wife instead of the second. In any event, the birth and death dates on this page have been adjusted to reflect a marriage to Joseph French. She has been left with Priscilla as her mother, since we don't know any better, and it could be possible. That is certainly where people will expect to find Mary if they are relying on any of the older, more traditional sources.

  1. Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States. Vital Records of Salisbury, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849. (Topsfield, Massachusetts: Topsfield Historical Society, 1915)

    French, Mary, w. Joseph, [died] Feb. 17, 1756.

  2. 2.0 2.1 "Notes", in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society)

    Based on marriage to Joseph French in 1714, birth would probably be 1690-1695.