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An American Family History

The Curtis Family

  also spelled Curtice  
Essex County, Massachusetts was created on May 10, 1643 by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, when it ordered "that the whole plantation within this jurisdiction be divided into four sheires."

Zacheus Curtis was born about 1619 in England.

He arrived in Boston on April 5, 1635 on the ship James.

His wife was named Joanna. Their children probably included:

Zacheus Curtis (1646, married Mary Blake),
John Curtis ( 1649, married Mary Looke),
Zachariah Curtis (1651),
Sarah Curtis (1654, married James Scales),
Mar Curtis (1659 in Gloucester, married John Heard),
Ephraim Curtis (Elizabeth Kilburn), and
Abigail Curtis (1663).

On March 11, 1644 at the Salem Court

Zaccheus Curtis fined 20s. for rash and unadvised "cuming in and to have sworne falcelie." (from Records and files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County)

and the same day

Zaccheus Curtis fined for rash and unadvised cursing and swearing. (from The Essex Antiquarian)

Zacheus Curtis, the elder, and Zacheus Curtice, the younger, and Zachariah Curtice, Abraham Redington, jr., and John Everitt, being complained of for smoking tobacco in the meeting house at Topsfield, in the time when most of the people were met on a Lord's day, to the great offence of the assembly, were admonished and ordered to pay the witnesses, Ed. Bridges and John How. Bill of cost, against "ould cortis and his sonns," (from The Historical Collections of the Topsfield Historical Society)

Complaint, dated Topesfeld, 12 : 1 : 1671-2 of Willam (his mark) Nickles, John (his mark) Nickles, Zachery (his mark) Curtis, sr., of Rowley:

for want of the hiewaye at bever dam wich is there waye to salam to the in Joyeing godes ordenences to the mill & to the market:

the bridg being part of it Careyed out of the Place the water being Rased neare a foote above the timber that is left:

the water being Rased in the hiewaye neare twelve fete together except upone on banke wich is a verey great damag unto them in there busines & might be a great damag to there Cattel & there one persones if they should venter over wich they dare not do:

there fore they humbly sue for relefe it being both a toune & Cuntry hiewaye.

This complaint was received, 20 : 1 : 1671-2, by Wm. Hathorne, assistant. Summons, dated 20 : 1 : 1671-2, to Joseph and John Hutchinson, signed by Wm. Hathorne, assistant. (from Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County)

Zacheus died in 1683 in Topsfield, Essex County, Massachusetts.

The settlement of New Meadows was incorporated as the Town of Topsfield in 1650. The church "gathered" on November 4, 1663. The third Meeting House was built in 1703 with Rev. Joseph Capen as pastor.

 
 
 

Zacheus Curtis was born about 1646, in Massachusetts.

In A Rabble in Arms, Kyle F. Zelner said that the Curtis family were "known troublemakers in town." He continues saying that Zacheus

...had a long and troublesome criminal record....In May 1663, at seventeen years of age, he was presented for publishing a false intention of marriage of a couple in town, against their will and without their knowledge. He was sentenced to stand in the church door and wear a sign on his hat reading, "For setting up a false purpose of marriage."

In March 1664, he was in more serious trouble. He was sentenced to be whipped and pay a fine for abusing Mary Hadley. ... A secondary note explains that Curtis was being presented for whipping and abusing several children. This physical abuse (and possible attempted rape) was shocking to the tiny town. It was not, however, Curtis's last bout of trouble. In 1672, there was the smoking in the meeting house incident and in 1675, Zacheus Curtis was sought as a witness in the fire that destroyed the Saugus ironworks.

Mary Curtis (1673/74-1674),
Sarah Curtis(1675, married James Scales),
Mary Curtis (1677-1683),
Zacheus Curtis (1679/80-1683),
James Curtis (1681),
Abigail Curtis (1683),

Mary Curtis (1684-5)
Ruth Curtis (1686, married James Mackcarwethy),
Zachariah Curtis (1688),
Prudence Curtis (1689, married Joseph Dwinnell),
Joseph Curtis (1692),
Mercy Curtis (1694, married Joseph Killam),
Debrah Curtis (1696, married John Martin)


In 1688, during the Glorious Revolution, the Protestant king and queen,William and Mary, took the English throne from Catholic King James II. The bloodless revolution profoundly impacted the American colonies.

 
 
Old Style Calendar
Before 1752 the year began on Lady Day, March 25th,. Dates between January 1st and March 24th were at the end of the year. Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are used to indicate whether the year has been adjusted. Often both dates are used.

In early New England towns policy was set by a board of 3 to 5 selectmen. They oversaw public responsibilities such as the policing, roads, and fences.

John Curtis was born about 1649 in in Topsfield, Essex County, Massachusetts.

He married Mary Looke. 

John Curtis (1673, married Priscilla Gould),
Sarah Curtis (1675/6, married Samuel Smith),
Mary Curtis (1677, married Henry Kenney),
Elizabeth Curtis (1679, married Zaccheus Gould
Thomas Curtis (1681)
Abigail Curtis (1683, married Joseph Towne),
Hannah Curtis (1685/6) 
Rebecca Curtis (1687/8, married Samuel Smith),
Phebe Curtis (1689/90, married Nathan Towne), 
Ephraim Curtis (1692) 
Hepsibah Curtis (1694, married Daniel Felch) 
Samuel Curtis (1698, married Hannah Dodge). 

The lived in Topsfield.

He was elected tythingman in 1680, 1695 and 1704.

Mary joined the Topsfield church in 1685.

He was on the jury in 1692/3 and 1696/7.

In 1690 he became corporal of the local militia.

In 1698 he was constable.

He was a selectman in 1703 and 1706.

He became sergeant in the militia about 1711.

In 1711 and 1715 he was a grand juryman.

He joined the Topsfield church in 1714. 

John made his will on March 19, 1717/18, and it was admitted to probate on April 16 1718.

Mary Curtis died on August 12, 1745 when she was 98 years old.

 
A tythingman was responsible for the moral behavior of a group of neighbors. He had the authority to bring problems to the court.
A militia is a military unit composed of citizens who are called up in time of need.
     
 

 
     
 

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