Nathaniel Singletary

1644 - 1689

Nathaniel Singletary
Susanna Singletary
Susanna Singletary
1681 - 1761

Story "The Singletary Family"

The Singletary Family
The Singletary Family:

First Generation

1. Richard Singletary1 was born in 1585–1599 in England.1 He died on 25 Oct 1687 at the age of 102 in Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.1–2 A possible 14 year range in the birth of Richard Singletary is just the tip of the iceberg in a very unusual story. There are two versions of the origin of Richard Singletary.
The first version is relatively simple and standard. Richard was the son of Francis Singletary, labourer, [b. c 1559 England - d. April 1617, buried 21 April 1617 Surfleet, Lincolnshire, England] and his wife Agnes [b. c 1563 England - d. October 1617, buried 8 October 1617 Surfleet, Lincolnshire, England]. Documented children of Francis and Agnes: Raphe [b. 1592 Gobertson], Joan [b. 1594], William [b. 1599] and Theophilus [buried 1602]. The latter three recorded at Surfleet. There is, unfortunately, no record of Richard in Surfleet. It is possible he was born before Francis and Agnes settled in Surfleet.
The second version of the Richard Singletary saga is plausible, undocumented, unproven and fascinating!

Richard's eldest known son Jonathan was recorded as "Dunham alias Singletary" and eventually dropped the Singletary altogether. The family legend [or myth, if you chose] is that, during the latter part of the 16th century, Richard was the surviving male heir to the elder branch of the Dunham or Donham family. His nursemaid was hired by a member of the family to murder the child. The nursemaid had a change of heart and, with the child, hid from pursuers. She then made her way to a ship and took young Richard to America [one version says to New York], left him in the care of the ship's captain, who adopted him, and returned to England. She gave Richard the surname Single-tarry because he alone and would remain alone in the New World. The woman confessed her deed on her deathbed. Detectives were sent to America and found a man about the right age with the name Singletary. He could recall very little of his beginnings and the sea captain was long dead. There was not sufficient evidence to satisfy the English court, so Richard was not named a Dunham/Donham heir.
If young Richard was transported to America, it was definitely not to New York! What was to become New York, was settled by the Dutch in 1625. The first attempted English settlement at Roanoke Island [NC] was in 1585, the earliest proposed year of birth for the youngster. The next was the ill-fated "Lost Colony" settlement in 1587. The 1590 trip was to discover that the earlier settlement had been abandoned. Richard would have had to have been part of the "Lost Colony" and survived to find his way to Massachusetts by 1637. What are the odds? []

Several sources cite the Haverhill, Massachusetts Vital Records as showing Richard Singletary's age at death in 1687 being 102 years, thus born in 1585. [] At least one on-line transcription shows his age as 100, born in 1587. [] In separate court cases in 1662, Richard gave his age suggesting somewhat later birth. On 24 January he stated that he was "aged about seventy years" [born about 1592]. Then on 22 November he was "aged about sixty-three years" [born about 1599]. It is also interesting to note that both of Richard's wives were 17-32 years his junior. This would suggest that he may have married before or that his age was again in error. He became a freeman in 1638, suggesting the possibility of a birth as late as 1617.

The Dunham mystery could be solved if a candidate for Richard's first wife were to be proven and the Salisbury birth records were incorrect concerning Jonathan's mother. Some researchers believe that Richard's first wife may have been Humility Dunham, daughter of Deacon John Dunham and his first wife, Susanna Kaino, born about 1617, probably in Leyden, Holland. [see Billiou chapter, p. 269-270 in Vol. I for information on John Dunham.] There has been no death record located for Humility. If Richard and Humility were married, they may have had the following children: Susan[na], William and Jonathan. The death records for Newbury, Essex Co., Massachusetts show the death of a "Goodwife Singletary"1638 or 1639. Unfortunately her first name is not given.[]

The catch here is that the exact marriage date of Richard to Susanna Cooke have not been located. Most sources state that Susanna was the mother of all of Richard's children.

Richard Singletary was in Salem in 1637 when he received a land grant. By October of that year he removed to Newbury. He took the oath of a freeman there on 7 September 1638. Within the next few months, Richard's first wife, Goodwife Singletary passed away. [If she was Jonathan's mother, she may have died in childbirth. Jonathan's birth is shown as 17 d. 11 m. (January) 1639. The question is, was this 1638/9 or 1639/40?] Sometime during 1639 Richard was married to Susanna Cooke. The Salisbury records list five children born to this couple between January 1639 [1638/9 or 1639/40] and April 1651. The eldest of those children is Jonathan. If his mother was Susanna, then she and Richard were probably married by April 1639.

Richard and others had been granted permission to build a plantation at Merrimac and a site was chosen in the spring of 1639. He received a grant of land at Colchester [renamed Salisbury] in 1640, but did not build a home there until 1645. The Singletarys moved to Haverhill in 1652.

Susanna died in Haverhill in 1682 and Richard in 1687. He was, possibly, aged 102, 100, 95, 88 or ........
Richard Singletary and Susanna Cooke were married circa 1639 in Newbury, Essex Co., Massachusetts.1 Susanna Cooke was born circa 1616 in England.1 She died on 11 Apr 1682 at the age of 66 in Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.1–2

Richard Singletary and Susanna Cooke had the following children:

i. Jonathan Singletary was born on 17 Jan 1639/40 in Salisbury, Essex Co., Massachusetts.3 He was also known as Jonathan Dunham alis Singletary circa 1665.4
ii. Eunice Singletary was born on 7 Jan 1641/2 in Salisbury, Essex Co., Massachusetts.3
2 iii. Nathaniel Singletary, born 28 Oct 1644, Salisbury, Essex Co., Massachusetts; married Sarah Belknap/Beltoft, 22 Dec 1673, Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts; died 13 Aug 1689, Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.
iv. Lidia Singletary was born on 30 Apr 1648 in Salisbury, Essex Co., Massachusetts.3
v. Amos Singletary was born in Apr 1651 in Salisbury, Essex Co., Massachusetts.3
vi. Benjamin Singletary was born on 4 Apr 1656 in Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.2

Second Generation

2. Nathaniel Singletary5–6 (Richard-1) was born on 28 Oct 1644 in Salisbury, Essex Co., Massachusetts.5,7 He died killed by Indians on 13 Aug 1689 at the age of 44 in Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.2,5 Nathaniel was born in Salisbury, Massachusetts in 1644. He moved with his parents and siblings to Haverhill about 1652. Nathaniel was dismissed from training due to lameness in 1662. He married Sarah Belknap in 1673.
On 13 August 1689, Nathaniel and his eldest son John were working their farm when Indians attacked them. Nathaniel was shot and killed instantly and scalped. John was taken captive and escaped later in the day.

Nathaniel Singletary and Sarah Belknap/Beltoft were married on 22 Dec 1673 in Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.2,5,7 Sarah Belknap/Beltoft8–9, daughter of Samuel Belknap/Beltoft and Sarah Jones, was born on 14 Oct 1656 in North Weald, Essex, England.10 She died on 3 Jan 1756 at the age of 99 in Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.8 A recording error in the Salem births has caused some confusion concerning Sarah and her elder sister Mary. Mary's birth is recorded as 17 August 1653. There is a second birth entry for Mary on 14 October 1656, which coincides with Sarah's birth date. No entries otherwise exist for the birth of Sarah in the Salem records. The marriages for both girls appear in the Haverhill records.
Sarah survived her husband. Nathaniel's estate was administered on 25 March 1690 and was divided in November 1696. His widow, Sarah, was named administrator.* Presumably she was still living at the time of the division of the estate.

*The Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts, David Webster Hoyt, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1982, p. 317

Nathaniel Singletary and Sarah Belknap/Beltoft had the following children:

3 i. John Singletary, born 7 May 1675, Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts; married Mary Greele/Greeley, 17 Dec 1700, Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts; married Mary Curtis, 15 Jul 1735, Sutton, Worcester Co., Massachusetts; died aft 1747, Sutton, Worcester Co., Massachusetts.
ii. Mary Singletary was born on 11 Mar 1676/7 in Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.2
iii. Jonathan Singletary was born on 18 Nov 1678 in Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.2 He died on 24 Nov 1678 at the age of 0 in Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.2
iv. Sarah Singletary was born on 23 Oct 1679 in Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.2
v. Susanna Singletary was born on 19 Sep 1681 in Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.2
vi. Richard Singletary was born on 5 Aug 1683 in Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.2
vii. Hannah Singletary was born on 23 May 1685 in Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.2
viii. Ebenezer Singletary was born on 18 Jun 1687 in Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.2
ix. Martha Singletary2 was born on 20 Aug 1689 in Haverhill, Essex Co., Massachusetts.2 There is some question about the entry of Martha's birth. The Haverhill records have the following: _______ ch. posthumous Nathaniel / Sarah [Belknap], "I guess it to be" 20 August 1698 [dup. 12 August]. Perhaps the posthumous reference was to Nathaniel who had died a week earlier.
Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury [p. 318] says Martha was born 20 August 1689 and was living in 1696. [Date father's estate divided among heirs.]
The Haverhill records show a marriage for a Martha Singeltery and Peter Green on 30 April 1713.