Sunday, February 10, 2013

Genealogy by the States – Massachusetts

Sturgis Library, Barnstable, MA
Home built for Rev. John Lowthropp

I am fortunate.  Ancestors on my maternal side arrived on the shores of Massachusetts during the 1600s.  The religious sects, including the one of my ancestor Rev. John Lowthropp, felt the need to keep track of everyone.  We genealogists benefit from that philosophy.

Following his release from London’s Newgate prison, and under the direction to leave the country, Rev. John Lowthropp and his congregation sailed on the Griffin to Boston.  This group arrived in Boston on 18 September 1634. They first settled in Scituate, MA, and then dissatisfied with the quality of the land, the congregation moved to Barnstable.  Originally called Mattakeese, which meant “old fields,” or “planted fields,” the congregation found the land on the Cape more habitable.  The Lowthropp name took on variations as it became Lothrop and then Lathrop.

Reverend John Lowthropp died on 8 November 1653; his will was administered on 7 March 1654:

  • To his wife the new dwelling house
  • To his oldest son, Thomas, the house first lived in, in Barnstable
  • To John in England and Benjamin here, each a cow and 5
  • To Jane and Barbara – they had their portions already
  • To the rest – a cow, and one book chosen according to their ages
  • “The rest of the library to be sold to any honest man who can tell how to use it, and the proceeds to be divided.” The library’s estimated value was  5. 
Rev. John Lowthropp is buried in the Lothrop Hill Cemetery, Barnstable, MA.

So, what was it really like for John “The Elder” Agard and his pregnant forty-two year old wife Esther as they crossed the Atlantic in 1683?  What drove them to take that journey? Was it the political climate or the beckoning of a fresh start in the New World?  And did they know that John was dying when they boarded the ship? We may never know the answer.  But arrive they did in April 1683; John either died on route or shortly after arrival.  I do not know whether they arrived at Boston harbor, or near Barnstable, MA. At any rate, it is in Barnstable that we find Esther and her son, John “The Younger,” Agard(b: 16 July 1683).  Esther and John “The Elder” Agard are credited with being the founding members of the Agards in America.

Wedding Anniversary Celebration
Arthur and Jessie Tucker Agard
with Adeline Agard Tamburino, Ed and Carol Nunn
Taughannock Farms Inn

I am descended from these two Barnstable, Massachusetts ancestral lines with the marriage of Arthur Charles Agard and Jessie May Tucker on 26 June 1901.

Sources I used in developing their family story are:

Otis, Amos, Genealogical Notes of Barnstable Families, C.F. Swift, 1888, Vol II, p. 173

Huntington, Rev. E.B. and Mrs. Julia Huntington, A Genealogical Memoir of the Lo-Lathrop Family in this Country Embracing the Descendants as far as known – Rev. John Lothrop of Scituate and Barnstable, MA and Mark Lothrop of Salem and Bridgewater, MA, The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, Hartford, CT 1884.

Trayser, Donald G., Barnstable: Three Centuries of a Cape Cod Town, 1971

Taber, Helen Lathrop, A New Home in Mattakees, Yarmouthport, MA 2006

Berger, Josef, Cape Cod Pilot, Federal Writers Project, 1937

Thanks to Jim Sanders at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets for this prompt.


  1. Thanks for sharing this story of seeking religious freedom in the new world. How interesting that the Reverend's library was sold, not passed down intact to family. Oh, you know that Scituate would have been a great choice for fisherman but not for farmers.

  2. Marian: Oh, wouldn't his books have been a wonderful addition to the Sturgis Library. They do, however, have his bible displayed, and there is a great story associated with that - for another time.