John Irish - Story and Biography
Born in America 1641 – 1st Generation
John Irish Jr. was born in Duxbury, Plymouth Colony in 1641 on land that his father had acquired by trade with a William Hiller. The farm is still standing on a corner lot with the road (now known as King’s Highway) running down to Duxbury Bay. John was the second chid born to John Irish “The Immigrant” and Elizabeth Risley. He grew up with neighbor’s whose names are associated with the names of the leaders and founders of the Colonies. John Alden’s farm (SEE FOUNDING FATHERS) was to the rear of his father’s property with Rowland Leichton and Maurice Truant on either side of them. As a youth John Jr. was listed as a servant of Myles Standish and was mentioned in the captain’s will.
The last will and testament of Captain Myles Standish exhibited before the court held in Plymouth on the 4th of May 1657 on the oath of Captain James Cudworth and ordered to be recorded exactly as follows:
“Given under my hand this March the 7th 1655 Witnesseth these prsents that I Myles Standish senir of Duxburrow being in prfect memory yett Deseased in my body and knowing the fraile estate of man in his best estate I Doe make this to bee my last will and Testament in manor and form” Page 38 reads: “Further my will is that my servant John Irish Junir have forty shillings more then his Convenant which will appear upon the towne booke alwaies provided that hee continew till the time hee convenanted bee expired in the service of my exequitors or any of them with Joynt Concent March 7th 1655 By mee Myles Standish.”
At age 31 John Irish Jr. married Elizabeth Thurston and became the Constable of Middleboro for only one year. At that time Middleboro (Incorporated in 1669) and Taunton was one in the same town, and was also where his brother Elias lived. John Jr. was the owner of much land as one of the original proprietors of “The Shilling Purchase,” in Middleboro (lot #48.) He also signed “One of the Eight Men Purchase,” 900 acres of land in Middleboro (Lot#7.) John Jr. was a carpenter by trade and in 1673 he removed himself with his wife to the Plymouth territory of Saconnett where he built a home on land that was deeded to him by his father. In 1677, John Jr. along with his older brother, Elias inherited the rest of the land allotted to their father, John Irish “The Immigrant” for his indenture and military service.
In 1678, John Irish Jr. was appointed Constable of Saconnett, Puncateset, Pocassett and as far away as Fall River with the oath of office administered by Captain Benjamin Church. Saconnett was incorporated by the Plymouth Colony and renamed Little Compton in 1682. In 1683 John’s occupation was listed as surveyor of highways. In 1691 he purchased with John Woodman a piece of salt marsh for 34 pounds sterling.
John Jr. and his wife Elizabeth Thurston had a total of twelve children. He remained living in Little Compton for the remainder of his life and married Priscilla Southworth the year after Elizabeth’s death. He died in 1717 and in his will left his second wife land in Duxbury that he said “Was formerly my fathers’ which I have been wronged and abused about.” He is buried in the northeast corner of his old farm house in Little Compton, Rhode Island next to Elizabeth. When John died, Little Compton was still part of Massachusetts and did not become part of Rhode Island until 1747.
SIDE NOTE: During the Revolutionary War John Irish Jr.’s Block House was one of 5 houses in Little Compton used as a Watch House. This house still stands on lot#16 and is located about one and one half miles northwest of the village of Little Compton. The Old farm is situated directly across the street from the Old Friends Meeting House with a plaque that reads:
“HOME OF JOHN IRISH 2nd SETTLER OF LITTLE COMPTON, RHODE ISLAND BLOCK HOUSE”
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