The origins of this family line trace back to John Booth, a servant to either Governor Edward Winslow or his son Josiah Winslow, both of whom lived in Marshfield, Plymouth Co., MA. He is one of at least 7 early New England Booth families that have been identified. While it is possible that they may somehow be related prior to their arrival in America, there is at present no 'scintilla of evidence to bear this out' as noted in Mac Young's definitive article on the John Booth family in the 2005 NEHGR article cited below. |
It was the early practice of many more affluent families in New England to bring young men and women along with them to perform many of their household and other chores. The family of Governor Edward Winslow was among them. There are Marshfield MA town records indicata a typical arrangement in such circumstances; namely, that the servants would be granted a sizeable amount of property by the town at the 'expiration of their time' (apparently about 10 years, when they would have reached their adulthood). Since John Booth was awarded such a land grant on 18 May 1655 by Marshfield, the record also noting that he had been the servant of Josiah Winslow (the son of Governor Edward Winslow), one can estimate (based on the fact that he was then of age) he was probably born about 1634. Since Governor Winslow had made periodic trips back to England over the years, including in 1644 and 1646, the evidence strongly suggests that Booth was of English origins. That is, Winslow probably recruited Booth in England shortly before Winslow's 1644 or 1646 return trip back to Marshfield.
The descendants of John Booth are also fortunate that he married well. His only wife, Elizabeth Granger, was the daughter of two earlier servants to America who arrived on the ship 'Hercules' in 1637 along with their 3 children. The Grangers lived in Scituate, Plymouth Co., MA and did well, becoming the owners of several properties before the father's death in 1643 and the mother's death in 1648. As the Granger's two sons had earlier died (Thomas being hanged in 1642 for buggery - an outlandish sentence - and John in 1655 from apparently natural causes), their daughter Elizabeth became the heiress of the family's properties following the death of her brother. In the following year, John Booth married Elizabeth Granger, probably in November 1656 in Marshfield.
John and Elizabeth had 8 surviving children - four boys and four girls. Son Joseph moved to Delaware shortly after fathering an illegitimate child in Scituate, and produced several sons and daughters from whom many later Booths are descended. Benjamin married the mother of Joseph's illegitimate child and had numerous offspring including several boys from whom all later Massachusetts Booth's in this line are descended. The remaining 2 Booth sons (John and Abraham) and three of the four daughters (Mary, Grace and Judith) also had families with descendants, while daughter Elizabeth apparently never married.
The early Booths lived in Scituate and Middleborough. While the original Booth homestead apparently no longer remains, they are remembered still by the name of where they lived for a great many years. Any traveler to Scituate can still find Booth's Hill, best memorialized by the road which still bears their name - Booth Hill Road.
As the number of Booth descendants grew and the availability of good Plymouth and Bristol County property became expensive and scarce, the descendants of John and Elizabeth Booth moved west along with the tide of many other early New England families. But before many of them did, they remained in the Massachusetts area long enough for many of the Booth and other surname descendants to be recorded as soldiers in the Revolutionary War.