Person:Robert Stetson (1)

Robert Stetson
chr.18 Jun 1615 Modbury, Devon, England
m. 3 Mar 1605
  1. Eleanor Stetson
  2. Ludovicke Stetson1605 - 1658
  3. Anne Stetson1607 -
  4. Hugh Stetson1612 - 1676
  5. Samuel Stetson - 1610/11
  6. Robert Stetson1615 - 1702/03
m. 2 May 1635
  1. Urith Stetson1636 -
  2. Joseph Stetson1639 - Bef 1724
  3. Capt. Benjamin Stetson1641 - 1711
  4. Thomas Stetson1643 - 1729
  5. Samuel Stetson1646 - Aft 1731
  6. Ensign John Stetson1648 - Bef 1690/91
  7. Eunice Stetson1650 - Bef 1724/25
  8. Lois Stetson1651/52 - Bef 1702
  9. Robert Stetson1653/54 - 1743
  10. Timothy Stetson1657 - Bef 1702
m. Aft 1682
Facts and Events
Name Robert Stetson
Gender Male
Christening[2] 18 Jun 1615 Modbury, Devon, England
Immigration[3][6] 1634 "Griffin" From England To Scituate, Massachusetts, United States
Marriage 2 May 1635 Plymouth, Devon, Englandto Honor Tucker
Marriage Aft 1682 to Mary Hiland
Will[1] 4 Sep 1702 Scituate, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
Death[1] 1 Feb 1702/03 Scituate, Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States

Robert Stetson and Honour Tucker were married at St George’s Church, Modbury, in the county of Devon, in England[4]. Their first child was baptised there. In the period of turmoil preceding England's Civil War, Robert and his wife chose to leave Modbury for a life in the new settlement of New England in the colonies rather than live under the oppressive reign of King Charles I. They arrived in Scituate (now Norwell), Plymouth Colony about the year 1634. Robert was deeded a grant of a considerable tract of land by the Colony Court. The 40 acres contained a fresh-water spring, salt meadow, uplands and wooded areas; here is where the original home was established.

Bearing in mind that the English military system was based upon social standing, Robert was able to bear arms in 1643 and was served as Cornet, an ancient term referring to the standard bearer of a light horse, non-artillery military unit. He became a freeman in 1652 and was known as Cornet Robert. He served as a member of the War Board (King Philip's Pequot Indian War) in 1658 or 1659, and as the commanding officer of the Scituate horse troop, a military unit formed in Plymouth Colony. (There were only two other troops in the entire Colony.) He met with the Indians both in warfare and as a commissioner negotiating in the settlement of their differences with the white men.

Cornet Robert apportioned the common lands, laid out the highways, and represented the Colony in establishing the line between the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay settlements. He was one of the surveying party that chopped their way through the virgin forest and swamp land to mark this boundary line. The Angle Tree Stone, near the Rhode Island border, still bears his name and marks the western end of the boundary between Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies. The site where the line crossed the ancient nomadic Sautucket Indian path (that ran from the Indian fishing grounds in Weymouth to their winter camps at Bridgewater) has recently been remarked by the Abington Historical Commission to comply with "an heape of stones" that the surveying party erected in 1664.

In addition to his duties with the colony and town, he was also a business man, and built his first sawmill in 1656, which was later burned by Indians in 1676. He also acquired lands in addition to the original tract, and it is thought that he owned extensive acerage. In 1665, Cornet Stetson was chosen first selectman of the town of Scituate and given authority by the magistrates to execute and enforce his judgment and to try cases involving not over forty shillings. The family lived on the North River and he owned three sawmills in the Scituate area. He was 90 when he died on February 1, 1702. His oldest son, Joseph Stetson, inherited and lived in the homestead until he was 81, and then sold it to Cornet's grandson Robert. This homestead property (known as the Shrine) has been in Stetson ownership continuously through the centuries and is now owned by the Stetson Kindred of America, Inc.

  1. 1.0 1.1 Savage, James. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England: Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692, on the Basis of Farmer's Register. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co, 1860-1862)

    ROBERT, Scituate 1634, came, as reasonab. tradit. says from Co. Kent, perhaps in the yr. preced. aged a. 20, by first w. of whose name is no report, he had Joseph, b. June 1639; Benjamin, Aug. 1641; and Thomas, 11 Dec. 1643; all bapt. 6 Oct. 1645; Samuel, June, bapt. 12 July 1647; John, Apr. 1648; Eunice, 28 Apr. bapt. 19 May 1650; Lois, Feb. 1652, prob. d. young; Robert, 29 Jan. bapt. 26 Feb. 1654; and Timothy, bapt. 11 Oct. 1657, prob. d. young. He was a man of gr. public spirit, cornet of the first body of horse in Plymouth Col. was rep. 1654-62, and oft. aft. in 1664 a commissnr. for sett. bounds betw. the Cols. of Mass. and Plymouth; in perilous time, of the counc. of war, bef. and aft. the gr. danagers of Philip's hostil. dur. wh. his serv. was active; made his will 4 Sept. 1702, pro. 1 Mar. foll. in wh. his w. is call. Mary, presum. to have been tak. aft. 1682, and wid. of John Bryant. In it he provides for d. Eunice Rogers, and Abigail, wid. of s. John, and d. 1 Feb. 1703, aged 90.

  2. Modbury Parish Records

    Stitson Robert m[ale] [baptized] Jun 18 1615 F[ather]:Thomas M[other]:Argent

  3. Stetson, Oscar Frank. Descendants of Cornet Robert Stetson of Scituate, Massachusetts, Sixteen Hundred and Thirty-Four. (Stetson Kindred of America, 1933-1956)

    "Mr. Deane, who wrote the History of Scituate, states on what seems to be excellent authority, that Rev. John Lothrop, "the first regularly settled minister of Scituate", with about thirty of his people arrived in Scituate on the ship Griffin in 1634, and that Samuel House was one of his company. As Robert Stetson, aged about twenty-one years, arrived this same year, and received, as it seems from the above, a grant adjoining that of Mr. Lothrop and Samuel House, it is a reasonable conjecture that he also was a member of Mr. Lothrop's company."
    [Except that church records made by Mr. Lothrop (Source:NEHGR, p. 9:279) do not list Robert Stetson as an original member, or as joining the church later on. In fact, his children weren't baptized until the Second Church was founded and then all three were baptized at once. Combined with other conflicts with his supposed arrival in 1634N1, this strongly suggests he did not come over on the Griffin.]

  4. Stetson kindred of America
  5.   Deane, Samuel. History of Scituate [Massachusetts]. (Boston: J. Loring, 1831)
    pp. 340-1.

    "Cornet Robert Stetson received a grant of a considerable tract of land 1634, from the Colony Court, on the North River, which constituted his farm. His house was on a beautiful plain near the river. An unfailing and valuable spring, out of which eight generations of the family have been supplied, marks the spot. 'Cornet's Rocks,' in the river east of his farm, are well known to those who navigate the river. He was posessed of considerable wealth, an enterprising and valuable man in th plantation, a deputy to Court, a Cornet of the first light horse corps raised in the Colony, a member of the Council of war, a Colony commissioner for selling the patent line–in short, he lived long and left a good name at last. ... In 1660, and several years subsequent, 'Cornet Stetson was Commissioner to act for the country in all matters relating to the trade at Kennebec.' Also, 1665, for his services he had granted to him '200 acres south of Mr. Hathaerly's grant, above Accord pond.' Colony Record"
    [Since Deane seems to be the source of much of the controversy over when Robert Stetson arrived in New EnglandN1, a comment on this passage may be in order. On p. 7, Deane says that in 1636 a committee led by Mr. Hatherly and Mr. Lothrop complained that "they had such small portion of landes allotted to them, that they could not subsist upon them", and as a result, a grant was made in early 1637 of "all the lands between the north and south rivers". The acreages of the early lots is not well-known, but Mr. Lothrop had 20 acres, the others given by Deane had less. On p. 12, the court granted "the greate lottes" where were "principally upon the N. River", in 1636. Thus, the description of Robert Stetson's lot is consistent with the grants of 1636/7, not with those of 1634.]

  6. The presence of Robert Stetson in Scituate in 1634 is in conflict with, and made doubtful by, a marriage in England in 1635 and a child baptized there in Apr 1636. (Robert's wife name is unique enough, that one would doubt that the marriage would refer to different people?) Robert is not recognized by Great Migration as present in the colonies by 1635. Stetson Kindred Website says he arrived in 1636 (note: despite the fact that the narrative on this page is largely copied from this website, and says 1634, the website does say 1636). Source:Barry, John Stetson. Genealogical and Biographical Sketch of the Name and Family of Stetson, p. 5, seems to accept that Robert Stetson settled in Scituate in 1634, citing Deane's History of ScituateS5, but adds in a footnote: "The record of this grant, if contained in the volumes deposited in the State House, in Boston, must have escaped my notice when I examined them."