A Brief History of
William Dodge of Beverly - 1629 - 1692
by Donald R. Dodge
In the approximate year of our Lord 1604, John and Margery Dodge of Middle Chinnock, County of Somerset, England, had born to them William, the second of three sons. John Dodge and his sons William, Richard, and Michael were linearly descended from that Saxon race of warriors who served as steel clad barons in wars waged for the Norman kings of England.
On April 25, 1629, Mr. William Dodge joined a company of Puritan planters and craftsmen and journeyed to America on the Lion's Whelp, a small ship of 120 tons displacement. The Lion's Whelp and her sister ships the Talbot and the George carried their goods and passengers to Naumkaeg, the Indian name for the North American territory settled by England's Massachusetts Bay Company at Salem.
William Dodge, aged 25 years, or thereabouts, was described as well over usual stature, with a well formed athletic physique, with the dark hair, eyes, and complexion typical of the ancient Britons. Reverend John White of the Massachusetts Bay Company called Mr. William Dodge a " skillful and painful husbandman" in reference to his skills as a farmer. He recommended that Governor Endicott give William the charge of a team of horses to facilitate his work efforts in the expanding Puritan settlements in the Salem area The records indicate that William returned to England on October 15, 1635 to be present at his father's deathbed. William was one of three witnesses to John Dodge's will which gave him a sum of 40 pounds and a team of oxen. This inheritance was described as supplemental to whatever gifts his father had given him before he first emigrated to the New World in 1629.
William returned to Salem, presumably with his inherited money and farm animals to resume his life as an English Planter. As a freeman of the Salem settlement, William was given two lots of land comprised of 80 acres and 20 acres each, on September 3, 1637. In May, 1641, William purchased 200 more acres of good, farmable land from John Palfrey. The land was located in an area of Salem near the headwaters of the Bass River. This land area later became part of the new town of Beverly where William made his permanent residence in 1645.
William Dodge's 280+ acres of land made his land holdings the largest of the early 17th century Planters according to the recorded land deeds of the Salem/ Beverly area. Records show that on December 3, 1641 he gave 40 acres of his land to his brother Richard Dodge who had emigrated to Salem in 1638, nine years after his younger brother William.
William Dodge was a well respected farmer and citizen of the Salem/Beverly community. The area's historical texts and records show over 35 instances where Farmer William was appointed or elected to public services for his community. He held such offices as selectman, grand juryman, and surveyor of roads and properties. He is noted as one of the founders of the First Church in Beverly in 1667. He was a neighbor and close friend of the Reverend John Hale.
William Dodge was a family man. According to historical records, he married Mary Conant, the widow of John Balch of Beverly, in his later life. However, the maiden name of the wife and mother of his four children is not recorded. His children, in order of birth were;
* John Dodge Baptized December 25, 1636
* William Dodge Baptized September 19, 1640
* Hannah Dodge Baptized July 24, 1642
* Josiah Dodge ( Baptismal date not recorded)
Farmer William Dodge Sr. died in his 80's at some time between the years 1685 and 1692. He deeded most of his property to his second son Captain William Dodge. No mention is made in Farmer William's will , or in other records, of his bequests to his eldest son Captain John Dodge, who outlived his father by more than 30 years. It is recorded that Captain John Dodge and his two brothers fought in the Puritan community's wars with the Naragansett indians. Farmer Dodge's youngest son Josiah was killed in battle at Bloody Brook, South Deerfield, along with the sons of Benjamin Balch and Humphrey Woodberry.
Farmer William Dodge's surviving sons John and William lived long and prospered in their Puritan community of Beverly. Captain John owned and operated a successful grist mill at the head waters of the Bass River while Captain William continued as a prosperous farmer on his father's original family homestead in Beverly. Both Farmer William's sons served, at different times, as Beverly's representative to the General Court. Today, the descendants of Farmer William and his two sons still reside in the New England area and, indeed, the whole breadth of the United States. Farmer William and his brother Richard have a posterity of which they would be proud: a posterity in keeping with the traditions of their race.
* The author, Donald R. Dodge is a 12th generation lineal descendant of English Planter William Dodge of Beverly, Mass. through his son Captain John Dodge. Donald currently resides in Munhall, Pennsylvania with his wife Ruby Elizabeth (Phillips) Dodge, his children, and grandchildren. Donald Dodge's family genealogy is accurately presented in the DODGE FAMILY GENEALOGY, 1898-1998 by Robert Livingston Dodge
*Vol 1, History of Salem by Sidney Perley
* Salem in the Seventeenth Century by James D. Phillips
* The Old Planters of Beverly in Massachusetts and The Thousand Acre Grant by Gertrude Lapham
* Beverly in 1700 by Sidney Perley
* Ancesters Descendants of John Dodge 1816-1898, Vol 2 by Marilyn and Phillip Slinger
++ The author acknowledges the work of Mr. Stephen p. Hall of the BEVERLY HISTORICAL SOCIETY. Mr. Hall collected and supplied the historical texts which provided the source material for this article.