Ware Family Origins
Robert Ware of Dedham, Massachusetts
by Emily Osborn

Robert Ware, an immigrant from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony sometime before 1642, is the Ware progenitor of many lines of descendants. We have no verified information as to his parents in England. (If you happen to have any information about his parentage, please contact Ann Tindall or Emily Osborn.)

Robert Ware’s origins are elusive. We know when and where he first appears in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. We know that he married Margaret Hunting (or Huntinge), joined the Dedham Church at the time of the baptism of their first child in 1646, and in Dedham records is referred as a joiner (carpenter).

Emma Forbes Ware, an early Ware family genealogist, states in the preface to her first published pamphlet about the Ware family that her principal source of information about the Wares were Town Registers, which she obtained from the clerks of forty towns in Massachusetts. She found the marriage of the first Robert Ware and the births of all of his children in the Dedham Town Registers. She noted that the descendants of his five sons can be followed for many years in an unbroken line in the records of Wrentham, Needham, and Franklin, Massachusetts.

Emma Forbes Ware’s second edition of the Ware genealogy begins with this information: “ROBERT WARE,” as he signed his name, though called in public records by several different forms of the name, came from his English home to the colony of Massachusetts Bay some time before the autumn of 1642. The earliest date at which the name in any form occurs on the Dedham Records, is Nov. 25, 1642, when “Robert Weares is admitted to the purchase of Thomas Eames his house lott and three acres of land.” Printed below is a copy of another document signed December 6, 1642, granting Ware an additional plot of land.

Before his purchase of the house and lots owned by Thomas Eames, Robert Ware had likely resided in the Massachusetts Bay Colony area for a few years, perhaps living in Watertown. So many settlers had moved into Watertown by the late 1630’s that settlers there sought grants of land to establish new towns. The crowding of the first towns in the Colony by 1640 was not surprising because approximately 20,000-25,000 immigrants from England settled in the area between 1630 and 1640.

Unlike Eames, who moved several times before settling down, Robert Ware made Dedham his permanent home. He accumulated wealth, as indicated by his standing third on the tax rolls in his later years. Three years after Robert purchased the land from Eames, he married Margaret Hunting, daughter of John and Esther (or Hester) Seaborn Hunting. According to Robert Brand Hanson’s history, Dedham, Massachusetts 1635-1890, John Hunting had been a wandering evangelist in England. After some political-religious skirmishes in the formation of the first church in Dedham and the selection of the first pastor (John Allin), Hunting became the first Ruling Elder of the Dedham church. John’s daughter, Margaret, was probably born in England.

Robert and Margaret Ware had ten children:

  1. John, born October 6, 1646
  2. Nathaniel, born October 7, 1648
  3. Margaret, born February 14, 1650/51
  4. Robert, born August 1, 1653
  5. Esther, born September 28, 1655 (married Samuel Mann)
  6. Samuel, born Sept. 30, 1657
  7. Ephraim, born November 5, 1659
  8. Elizabeth, born November 19, 1661
  9. Joseph, born Sept. 8, 1663
  10. Ebenezer, born Oct. 28, 1667.

Margaret Hunting Ware died in 1670, survived by her parents. When her mother, Esther Hunting, died five years later (her Will dated January 4, 1675), she left a one-fourth share of fifteen pounds to the children of her “daughter Ware deceased.”

Six years after Margaret’s death, Robert, then about 51 years of age, married Hannah Jones, born 1636, the daughter of Thomas Jones of Dorchester. Robert and Hannah lived long lives for their time. He became known as Robert Ware “the Aged.” He died in Dedham on April 19, 1699, at 74 years of age, leaving an estate of more than 250 pounds. Hannah died on April 20, 1721, at age 85.

Robert Ware’s Will, published in Emma Forbes Ware’s Genealogy, gives us some idea of the scope of his life. He owned a house large enough to leave the “East end” for the use of his wife Hannah, along with portions of his barn, orchard, pasture land, planting field, a fenced lot, and a broad meadow. He also left for her use “one horse beast” and as much of the household stuff as she should stand in need of, and “Twenty pounds of money.”  He further stated that his son Samuel, who with his own family would be living in the west end of the house, would provide all the firewood Hannah would need and that, in return, Samuel should be paid “what is just” from his estate for this duty. The remainder of the barn and other buildings, and portions of the orchard and pasture land and lots were also left to Samuel. Other lands were left to his sons Ephraim and Ebenezer, both of whom died in Needham, and smaller amounts of land to “my children at Wrentham.”

Note: Robert Ware of Dedham, Massachusetts, 1642-1699, by Emma Forbes Ware was published first by the New England Historical and Genealogical Register for January 1887. It was reprinted in Boston in 1887 by the Press of David Clapp & Son. Miss Forbes worked on a second edition of the book, adding new generations of descendants until her death in 1898. Many Ware descendants in the U.S. purchased the 1901 second edition and handed it down within their families.

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