Jacob Barney of Salem, Massachusetts
All authoritative researchers have concluded that Jacob Barney of Salem,
Massachusetts Bay Colony is the Jacob referred to in the will of Edward Barney of
Bradenham, Buckinghamshire, to receive a legacy of £10 if he be living at the time
of my death and do come over into England and personally demand the same. [For
a discussion of Edward Barney of Bradenham, see NL #43, Sept. 1989, pp.1-11]. I
embrace this conclusion as most logical and most probable.
He was aged 72 at his death in 1673, so he was born about 1601. I did not find
a record of his Christening in Bradenham (or elsewhere in Buckingham or in England).
However, neither are the Christenings of Edward's two daughters, Anne
Loveday and Katherine Dorvall recorded in the Bradenham parish records, although
Anne's marriage to Francis Loveday is recorded.
Since absolutely nothing is known of Jacob Barney's early life in England, we can only assume that he grew up in Bradenham and
perhaps worked his father's lands and lease-holds. He was married in England, whether in Buckingham or elsewhere
is not known. Among the members of the first church of Salem in 1637 was Anne Barney1, and all
authorities have concluded she was Jacob Barney's wife who must have come
with him from England along with their child Jacob Barney Jr. We can also
assume that our Jacob Barney was of firm convictions in the Puritan
religious faith, since nearly all the early immigrants to Massachusetts Bay
Colony were of that faith. For these English Puritans, the new colony of
Massachusetts had a meaning that is not easily translated into secular
terms; when most of these emigrants explained their motives for coming to
the New World, religion was mentioned not merely as their leading purpose.
It was their only purpose. The great migration developed in this spirit
-- above all as a religious movement of English Christians who meant to
build a new Zion in America.
Authoritative genealogists are unanimous in their pronouncement that
Jacob Barney and his fellow emigrants left England because of religious persecution.
Most American and English historians concede that religious
intolerance under the Church of England was indeed the major factor in this
migration from England, but some English historians take a more secular
view, pointing out several other factors, any or all of which may have
convinced Jacob Barney to leave England precisely when he did2.
The structured social order was one such factor: With social status
permanently assigned at birth, the son of a Yeoman -- even a wealthy one
-- could never aspire to be much better than a peasant. Another major factor
was economics. Conditions of the lower classes were very hard during the
reign of King Charles I, an era of economic depression, epidemic disease and
much suffering. Even though Jacob's father was comparatively wealthy, he
may have been inspired by reports of freedom and great wealth to be had in
the Colony of Massachusetts Bay. Another reason, and this one is of major
importance, was the political climate in England. The dissolution of Parliament by King Charles I in 1629 had added to the gravity of the Puritans' situation, eliminating hopes for a reasonable settlement of their grievances
against the Crown. Specifically, the eleven years (1629-1640) during which
the great migration occurred are precisely the period that English
historians call the eleven years' tyranny when Charles I tried to rule
England without a Parliament and Archbishop William Lund purged the church
of its Puritan members.
The political affairs in England were in a critical stage. No one was
safe from the ruin of his fortune and the loss of his freedom. Forced loans
were extorted and unjust taxes imposed. Proclamations, the Star Chamber, andthe High Commission Court were the instruments of government. The Tower,
Marshalsea, and Gate House were crowded with men who refused to yield to
arbitrary rule. Property, liberty and religion were in jeopardy. The
English merchants were encouraging the Puritans and Popular party in their
opposition to the Crown. Neither Puritans nor disaffected upper classes
could see anything ahead but fines, imprisonment, persecution and ruin.
Essex and the neighboring counties from whence came most of the
Massachusetts settlers had suffered from industrial and agrarian unrest.
The crisis in the cloth trade and agriculture caused increased unemployment,
dearth of food, poor trade, and a rising scale in the cost of living. The
economic crisis affected all groups, gentry as well as middle and lower
The civil unrest which had begun with the death of Queen Elizabeth over
two decades earlier was to fester for another decade, and then erupt in the
great Civil War which overthrew the Monarchy and placed Oliver Cromwell at
the head of the government as Lord Protector of England.
Massachusetts Bay Colony at Salem
The formal establishment of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay came in 1629. The Plymouth settlement had
just been extended to Salem, and the charter appointing the governor and company of Massachusetts Bay in New
England was issued by the Crown direct to the company which had settled at Salem. On the completion of the
arrangements of government, John Winthrop and 1500 colonists sailed to the new colony in 1630. According to
the Memoirs of Thomas Hutchinson3 the first news they had was of a general
conspiracy of all the Indians as far as Naraghanset, to extirpate the
The ship Lyon arrived in Salem just ahead of the main Winthrop fleet
in 1630, and the Jacob Barney family may have been passengers on that ship.
There is no record of his actual emigration from England, nor of his actual
arrival in Massachusetts Bay Colony. It is said by Pope4 Virkus5 and others
that he came from Swansea, Wales which was a major embarkation port for the
colonists. It has been theorized that he was among the passengers on the
ship Lyon which arrived in 1630. There is no known list of passengers
coming on this ship, just before the arrival of the Winthrop Fleet, and a
list of probable passengers, including Jacob Barney, was put together from
various contemporary references and a process of elimination (since the
names of most of the passengers arriving with Winthrop's main fleet are
known from contemporary sources).
Whether or not Jacob Barney was actually a passenger on the Lyon will
probably never be known. Although the Lyon was not officially a part of the
fleet chartered by Governor Winthrop to transport colonists to the new Bay
Colony, it must certainly have been authorized by him. The following
historical account of the Lyon is contained in Appendix C of The Winthrop
Fleet of 16307.
The Ship Lyon, 1630
This ship was famous in the history of the early emigration to Massachusetts, and her Master was equally noted
for his skillful seamanship and his sympathy with the policy of the Puritan leaders. In 1630, 1631 and 1632 she made
four voyages hither in quick succession under his command with the regularity and safety of a ferry, and on one of
them saved the new settlement from starvation and death by her timely arrival with provisions. The official connection
of the Lyon with the Winthrop Fleet is of the same character as of the Mary and John, as both were doubtless
approved by the Governor. In his letter of March 28, 1630 to his wife, written from the Arabella, off the Isle of Wight,
after noting the sailing of the Mary and John, Winthrop wrote: ... and the ship which goes from Bristowe [Bristol]
carrieth about eighty persons. This was the Lyon and she probably sailed from that port to accommodate
passengers living in the West Counties. That they were authorized to settle in the limits of the Bay Patent seems
assured, as there is no evidence to the contrary following their arrival. The date of her departure is not known
(probably in March) but her arrival at Salem is reported in the latter part of May, some time before the Arabella
reached that port.
Of Captain William Peirse, her Master, more particulars are known. He had sailed to Plymouth in 1623 as Master
of the Anne of London, bringing the last lot of passengers to the Pilgrim settlement. Thereafter he was in constant
traffic in passengers and merchandise across the Atlantic. He took up his residence in Boston in 1632 and was
admitted Freeman on May 14, 1634. [NOTE: This was the same day that our Jacob Barney was admitted Freeman].
The names and identities of the eighty passengers who sailed in the Lyon from Bristol to Salem have not been
investigated, as they were soon amalgamated with the existing settlement there.
Although many of the vanguard of the Massachusetts Bay colonists, who had arrived the year before the
main Winthrop fleet, had died during the harsh winter of 1629-30, the new colony was relatively healthy. Many
of the new arrivals were weak with scurvy after their long sea voyage; fevers spread swiftly through the camp; and
people died. But the Bay Colony knew nothing like the "starving time'' of Jamestown or Plymouth.
The builders of the Bay Colony thought of themselves as a twice-chosen people: once by God, and again
by the General Court of Massachusetts. Other English colonies eagerly welcomed any man, woman or child who
could be dragged on board an emigrant ship. But Massachusetts chose its colonists with care. Not everyone was
allowed to settle there. In doubtful cases, the founders of the colony actually demanded written proof of good
character. This may have been the only English colony that required some of its immigrants to submit letters of
recommendation. Further, after immigrants arrived, the social chaff was speedily separated from the chosen few.
Those who did not fit in were banished to other colonies or sent back to England. This complex process of cultural
winnowing created a very special population.
To a remarkable degree, the founders of Massachusetts arrived in families -- more so than any major ethnic
group in American history. From the start, this exceptionally high level of family integration set Massachusetts
apart from other American colonies.
In terms of social rank, most emigrants to Massachusetts came from the middle strata of English society.
Only a few were of the aristocracy, and the gentry accounted for only about ten percent. The great majority were
yeomen, husbandmen, artisans, craftsmen, merchants and traders -- the sturdy middle class of England. They were
not poor. Remarkably few of the emigrants came from the bottom of English society, not surprising since the
colony's leaders actively discouraged servants and other emigrants of humble means. As a result of this policy,
nearly 3/4 of adult Massachusetts immigrants paid their own passage -- no small sum in 1630. The cost of
outfitting and moving a family across the ocean was about £50 for the poorest accommodations, or £80 for those
who wished a few minimal comforts. A typical English yeoman had an annual income of perhaps £40 to £60. Most
ordinary English families could not afford the trip to Massachusetts.
The social status of these people also appeared in their high levels of literacy. Two-thirds of New England's
adult male immigrants were able to sign their own names. In
old England before 1640 only about 1/3 could do so. The reproduction of Jacob Barney's signature shown here8
is from an official document, many of which contained his signature. One
such document, which Jacob Barney and six other men signed, was an April 29,
1658 petition to the General Court requesting that the man chosen as Clerk
of Court be allowed to serve, even though he had since moved from Salem9.
Jacob Barney Takes Freemens' Oath
The earliest record of Jacob Barney is when he was admitted to the Massachusetts Bay Colony as a
freeman on May 14, 1634. It is likely that he arrived some time previous to that date, possibly in May 1630 as
a passenger on the Lyon, as discussed previously. The act of taking the Freemens' Oath, and being admitted as a
freeman to the new colony, is extremely important in our understanding of Jacob Barney's official position and
Att a Gen rall Courte, holden att Boston, May 14 th, 1634: It was agreed & ordered, that the former oath
of Freemen shall be revoked, soe farr as it is dissonant from the oath of Freemen hereunder written, & that those
that received the former oath shall stand bound noe further thereby, to any intent or purpose, then this newe oath
types those that nowe takes ye same10.
Further, it is agreed, that none but the Genrall Court hath power to
chuse and admitt Freemen.
That none but the Genrall Court hath power to make and establishe
lawes, nor to elect and appoynet officers, as Gouvnr, Deputy Gouvnr,
Assistants, Treasurer, Secretary, Captn, Leiuetents, Ensignes, or any of like
moment, or to remove such upon misdemeanor, as also to sett out the dutyes
and powers of the said officers.
That none but the Genrall Court hath power to rayse moneyes & taxes,
& to dispose of lands, viz, to give & confirme Proprietyes.
The above pronouncements and new Freemens' Oath were the results of The Peaceful Revolution of
1634. In 1630, when the Massachusetts Bay Company charter was brought to America by Winthrop, there were
only twelve stockholder-freemen, and deaths soon reduced this number to eight. Thus a handful governed two
thousand, and the resulting government was very autocratic. From the beginning the people (or non-freemen)
demanded a voice in the government. When the first session of the General Court met in october 1630, with only
the governor, deputy governor, and the other eight freemen present, more than 100 heads of families applied for
admission to the corporation.
Governor Winthrop faced a dilemma. Were the request refused, the applicants might leave the colony for
nearby settlements, or go back to England, and Massachusetts Bay might collapse. Were they admitted, on the
other hand, the Puritan oligarchy might lose control, and the Puritan ideal would be endangered.
Over the next few years some compromises were made whereby the oligarchy retained power but more
freemen were admitted to the corporation. These compromises considerably encouraged the freemen, though they
caused Winthrop much concern. He told the General Court that when the charter was issued, the number of
freemen was supposed to be so few as they might well join in making laws. Now, however, the increase in population
made the original method impracticable; they were grown to so great a body, as it was not possible for them
to make or execute laws, but they must choose others for that purpose.
Disputes between authorities in Salem and Boston regarding the Massachusetts Bay patent, coupled with
implied threats from England that a Royal Governor might be appointed, characterized a critical period in the
colony in 1634. In April 1634, Governor Winthrop ordered that all Bay residents, not freemen, take a Resident's
Oath pledging themselves to submit to the orders of the General Court and not to plot nor practice evil against
it. The governor also issued writs summoning all freemen to the General Court the following month. As a result
of this first political convention in America, the above orders were issued.
At the next session of the General Court, May 14, 1634, the first representative Court, a new Freeman's
Oath was passed which required the freemen to pledge allegiance to the General Court and officers. The purpose
was, according to John Cotton, to discover Episcopal and malignant practices against the country. In essence
the oaths renounced obedience to King and Parliament should a Royal Governor be sent over.
At this Court several new freemen were admitted, including Jacob Barney11. Freeman was
originally a definition of status in feudal society, a man not tied to the
land or by other economic servitude. In England it later came to mean a
person possessing the full privileges of a city, borough, or company, to
which admission was usually by birth, purchase, or apprenticeship. In the
17th century, freemen were quite powerful, claiming extensive trading privileges
and tax exemptions. Since most towns were organized as corporations,
chartered by the Crown, as those alone holding a town or borough franchise,
the freemen had vast influence in local government and parliamentary
The Massachusetts Bay Company was created as a body politic and corporate
with a governor, deputy governor, and assistants chosen by the freemen.
Four general courts or assemblies of freemen were to be held each year, at
which they could admit other freemen "as they shall think fit.'' This is
a long way from being a democracy, and "freeman'' did not mean a free
citizen, but was a title of a member of the Company as a "stockholder'' now
The organization styled The Governor and Company of the Massachusetts
Bay in New England was, therefore, something more than a modern commercial
company, since it had jurisdiction over a definite stretch of territory [between
the Merrimac and Charles Rivers and from the Atlantic to the Pacific].
It was a frame of government -- almost an independent state, holding its
rights directly from the Crown. Yet from another point of view, it was a
trading company organized for profit. It had its stockholders, or freemen,
holding different amounts of stock, who, with the freemen duly admitted
from time-to-time, elected their governor and assistants, clerk and
treasurer. The money subscribed was invested in ships, weapons for defense,
tools, supplies, provisions, and all articles needful for the work of
planting a colony. The Company was allowed to take persons and goods to New
England free of all duties and taxes for 7 years, and of all customs for 25
years. The ships bringing emigrants and supplies to the colony were loaded
on their return with merchandise consigned to the Company, the results of
the labor of its members, which could be sold at a profit in England. The
leaders were very able and comparatively wealthy men, and they furnished the
money to see the venture through. Their main reward came from land grants
proportionate to their contributions, which in the course of 25-30 years
came to have a substantial value.
We should begin to appreciate then, the status and position of Jacob
Barney who was among the very few colonists who were eligible to take the
Freemens' Oath on May 14, 1634, the day that the law establishing the new
oath was enacted. remembering that at first the owners of the town were the
freemen of the Company and that but few of the citizens were freemen, it is
not difficult to see that these men could easily meet and decide on public
matters. There were probably not more than 45 freemen in Salem before 1640,
and only 60 by 165113,14, so they could easily hold meetings at which a
majority would be present. None but the freemen had any say in the government,
including newcomers who had not yet been admitted as freemen.
Moreover, none but freemen could hold civil or military office after 1637.
In general only church members could become freemen.
Salem authorities were more strict in the admission of inhabitants
under the first charter than subsequently. Many who applied for residence
in Salem were denied and warned away. Others were accepted on trial, on
condition of bringing their wives from abroad, and of obtaining satisfactory
credentials as to their membership in the church, or good moral character.
Fines were sometimes levied on individuals who, more hospitable than
observant of legal restrictions, entertained strangers without authority
from the municipal officers15.
Jacob Barney, a Member of the First Grand Jury
Jacob Barney was described by his great-grandson, Daniel Barney [#39 in Preston's Genealogy of the Barney Family in America] as a little less than six feet tall, with dark
hair and eyes, fresh complexion, dignified in manner, a hearty well-wisher to all men. Soon after becoming a freeman of the colony he commenced what was to be a long and active public
career. His name is prominently mentioned in connection with the commerce of Salem, his occupation being listed generally as yeoman or husbandman, but he was identified as a tailor on
at least one record. He was often the official surveyor of roads and property boundaries, was charged with the enforcement of town and church laws, was a Deacon and took an active part
in church activities.
Of greatest importance, he was also intimately involved in the judicial activities and government of the colony. If he kept a diary it has not been found, nor have other accounts
of his personal daily life. However, we can gain a great deal of insight about his character by examining the record of his public service.
On September 1, 1635, at the Quarterly General Court in Boston, Jacob Barney of Salem was a member of the first Grand Jury of North America which presented above
one hundred offenses, including the case of Roger Williams. One of the cases considered by this body, deemed important enough at the time to be chronicled by Governor Winthrop16,
had to do with runaway servants: Captain Trask of Salem was directed to apprehend Diverse lewd servants, who had run away,
and stole a skiff and other things. He pursued them to the Isle of Shoals, and thence to Pascataqua, where, in the night,
he took them by surprise; and, bringing them to Boston, they were, at the next Court, severely whipped, and ordered to pay
Jacob Barney Judges Roger Williams
After a stormy 67-day voyage from Bristol, the good ship Lyon dropped anchor at Nantasket, near Boston harbor, on Feb.
5, 1631. On board was Roger Williams of London, a graduate of Cambridge University, protegé of the great Sir Edward Coke,
described as a man of good account in England, a godly and zealous preacher17, already known and highly esteemed by some of
the leading magistrates and elders. Governor Winthrop recorded18 he Lyon's arrival and noted that she ... brought Mr.
Williams, a godly minister, with his wife ... Ardent of temperament, clear and strong of intellect, already marked for his
courage, decision, and individuality, the 28-year old Roger Williams was a welcome addition to the infant colony.
The arrival of Roger Williams marks the beginning of a famous episode in New England history. Within five years
this young minister was a solitary pilgrim and homeless fugitive from New England persecutions, seeking refuge in the
wilderness, disgraced and forbidden to return.
Soon after arriving he was chosen teacher at Boston, since the Boston leaders were impressed by his acquaintance with
affairs and intimacy with the Puritan leaders in England, as much as with his zealous preaching. But he refused the call.
Upon examination of the religious and civil policy he found them an unseparated people who still held communion with the
Church of England. Secondly, he denied the power of the magistrates to rule in spiritual matters and to punish any breach
of the Ten Commandments. At the very outset of his career in America he announced the three principles that were to reappear
in his later controversies: rigid Separatism; absolute soul liberty; and separation of church and civil state. His position
struck at the root and foundation of the Holy Commonwealth of the Bay colony, where the statute book was the Bible, pure and
simple, and the Ten Commandments were the cornerstone of their social fabric.
These revolutionary ideas were not well received by the Puritans. If the magistrates could not punish such breaches
as sabbath breaking, idolatry, false worship, blasphemy and heresy, then civil society would surely be destroyed. And so his
stay in Boston was stormy and brief.
Two months after refusing to serve at Boston, he received a call to be a teacher at Salem, to the great alarm of Boston
magistrates and elders. On April 12, 1631, the same day he was called to Salem, the General Court wrote a letter to the Salem
leaders, in which they marvelled that Salem would choose him without advising with the Council. Nevertheless, already at
odds with Governor Winthrop and Boston in general for displacing Salem in importance, Salem welcomed Williams with open arms,
thereby giving the Boston magistrates a direct rebuke.
At Salem he renewed his attack against the Boston church, the use of civil power in spiritual matters, and Boston
interference with the Salem church. Since he could not renounce his opinions, however, he was inevitably headed for trouble.
An active opposition began to form against him in the settlements outside Salem, and before the close of the summer he was
forced to leave the Bay colony altogether and live in Plymouth.
In the autumn of 1631 he was prophesying at Plymouth, and for the next two years the independent colony protected him
from persecution by Massachusetts Bay. The Pilgrims were more fully in accord with the doctrines and ideas of the Separatists
than was Boston. The tolerance, religious views, and government of the Pilgrims allowed them to be more receptive of Williams'
ideas. The civil-religious Mayflower Compact made the Plymouth colony a primitive Christian democracy. Unlike the limited
franchise in Massachusetts Bay, the governor and Council at Plymouth were chosen by the vote of all and were subject to the
popular assembly of adult male colonists.
Williams could not leave well enough alone, however. In 1632 he began missionary work among the New England Indians,
visiting them in their wigwams, conducting trade, and associating with them in their daily life. During his work among the
Indians, during which he studied their language, customs and religion, he became concerned about the sin of the Royal patents
and charters. Charles I had granted a new patent to Plymouth in 1630, by right of discovery and by virtue of his
Christianity. Neither the Pilgrims nor the King had paid the Indian tribes for the lands they took from them. In 1632 Roger
Williams openly condemned the King's patent and questioned the right of Plymouth to the Indian lands unless by direct purchase
from the Indians in a voluntary sale.
He prepared a pamphlet, in December 1632, giving his arguments and proofs against their right to Indian lands, which
struck the Plymouth leaders with alarm. His theory undermined the political structure, openly charged the King with uttering
a solemn lie, and denied his prerogatives.
During the second year of exercising his gifts of prophecy, exhorting and instructing those at Plymouth, he stirred
up even more religious and civil disputes. He disagreed with their theocratic state, objected to their hearing the ministers
of the Anglican church when in England, denounced their patent, denied the King's right to claim Indian land, and held the
patent invalid. Therefore, the Plymouth leaders were glad to be rid of the divinely mad and overzealous man of God when,
in the summer of 1633, he was given a second call to teach at Salem, Massachusetts Bay, and was made an elder in the Salem
Roger Williams' return to Salem was the prelude to a series of controversies that shook the Holy Commonwealth to its
very foundation. No sooner was he able to speak in public than he repeated the attack on the patent begun at Plymouth,
claiming that they have not the land merely by right of patent from the King, but the Natives are true owners of all they
possess or improve. The attack from Salem was the first rumbling of a coming storm that was destined to shake the colony
to its very roots and almost destroyed the theocracy. The Bay authorities knew that Williams' return to Salem boded no good
for them, but they could not ignore his social and political influence with the Puritan leaders in England, whose help they
needed to defend their patent against enemies at the English Court.
In the spring of 1634, when all freemen were ordered to take the Freemens' Oath, Williams vehemently declined. The
new oath lacked the phrase, the faith and rule which I bear to our Sovereign Lord and King, denied the patent, made the
General Court the source of civil power, and accepted the right of magistrates to punish religious breaches. Not having taken
the Freemens' Oath he also refused to take the Resident's Oath. His championship of the people's cause made opposition to
the oaths so widespread that the Court saw him as an evil genius in his dissidence of dissent.
In December 1634 Williams began a year of probation, to which he had been sentenced by the Court which met November
27th, and during which he continued and increased his attacks on the Bay colony authorities. On April 12, 1635 the Salem
church elevated him to the position of teacher, a severe rebuff to the Bay authorities. At the July General Court the town
of Salem was held accountable, as well as the Salem church, for Letters of Admonition supporting Williams, which the Bay
authorities found offensive.
The Salem deputies, among them Jacob Barney, were dismissed from the September Court until they could produce evidence
that the freemen of Salem did not support Williams. The Court was then adjourned to the next Quarter General Court which was
to meet at Newtown on October 6, 1635. During the intervening month the magistrates and elders, by frequent visits and letters
to the freemen and church members of Salem, had been able to win over a small majority of them to disclaim the offensive
Letters of Admonition. Two active newcomers took a leading part in the persecution: Hugh Peters and Richard Mather, both
of whom played large roles in subsequent New England history.
Even though the majority of church members and other non-freemen Salem residents still supported Williams, the Salem
deputies to the General Court, Capt. William Trask, John Woodberry, and Jacob Barney, were able to fetch satisfaction from
Salem that a majority of the freemen had disavowed the Letters.
The magistrates of the Bay colony had shown more leniency to Roger Williams than to any other opponent of the colony,
but their dalliance with him came to an end on Thursday, October 8, 1635. The God-fearing men of the General Court were at
once legislators, executives, and judiciary -- judge and jury, and the final court of appeal in the trial of Roger Williams,
against whom they were also the complainants.
His sentence was banishment from the colony. If he were to refrain from exercising his gifts, he might be allowed
to remain in Salem until spring. However, he made no promises of obedience and within a few days word reached Boston that
he was again preaching his dangerous opinions19. A Warrant was immediately sent to Salem to have him arrested and put aboard
a ship then lying at Nantasket for transport back to England.
The Salem officials could not find Roger Williams, however, for he had fled from the colony (having been fore-warned
about the Warrant). And thus escaped the founder of Rhode Island from the hands raised against him, under a mstaken sense
of duty, and was wending his way through an almost trackless wilderness, amidst the snows and frosts of mid-winter, or
encountering the more perilous journey in an open boat, following the indentations of the icy and savage coast, southward,
for the safety of person and freedom of conscience which he knew God had vouchsafed to all men20.
Whether Jacob Barney was part of the majority of Salem residents who supported Roger Williams, and only reluctantly
joined the majority of the Salem freemen in condemning him, I could not determine. At Williams' trial there was one dissenting
vote. I assume that Jacob Barney voted with the majority to banish Williams from the colony, although at a similar trial
eleven years later he was the only member of the Court to oppose the sentence.
Jacob Barney's Public Career
As he was one of only a very few Salem residents qualified to serve, Jacob Barney was selected to serve nearly
continuously, in one capacity or another, from 1635 until 166221. In addition to being a deputy to the General Court, serving
either on the Trial Jury or Grand Jury, his public duties included surveying, setting tax rates, and enforcing the rules of
Salem town and church.
Hardly had the town records begun before the question of roads was raised. Those freemen who received grants of land
were ordered to leave room for highways. As official surveyor, Jacob Barney laid out property lines, marked the placement
of fences, and located the proper right-of-way for public highways, including bridges and ferries. He was also often the
arbitrator in property boundary disputes. In 1657 he represented Salem in negotiations with the neighboring towns of Ipswich
and Topsfield regarding town boundaries.
In December 1638 he was chosen one of the Deacons of the church at Salem. His duties to the Salem church were not
separate from his duties to Salem town, since the Salem town authorities were obligated to enforce all rules regarding
religion. For example, at a town meeting on October 4, 1643, Jacob Barney was appointed to perform the following duty: On
Lord's Day to walke forth in the tune of Gods worshipps, to take notice of such as either lye about the meeting Howse without
giving good account thereof, and to take the names of such persons & to present them to the magistrate, whereby they may be
accordinglie procdeeded against.
It was in the fall of 1637 that the idea of running the town of Salem by a committee occurred to the freemen22, and
they voted that men shall be chosen for manadging the affairs of the Towne. The next year seven men were chosen;
but the same men who came usually to the town meeting were the ones chosen, so it made little difference, and the following
year it was voted that six was a quorum in any town meeting. Such authorities were called, at times, the Townsmen, and the
select Townsmen; at other times they were called the seven men. During 1647-1654 they were sometimes called selectmen,
the name used consistently after 165523. Jacob Barney is named as selectman in the town records for 1655-1658.
The First Bicameral Legislature24
For a decade after the Peaceful Revolution of 1634, the General Court was composed of two elements: the assistants,
sympathetic to the Puritan oligarchy, and the deputies of the freemen, chosen by town meetings and constituting a republican
element. They all sat as one body, and the deputies, as they outnumbered the assistants, could outvote them.
To overcome their lack of numbers, the assistants in 1634 demanded that all measures must have a majority of both
groups. This proposition was reluctantly accepted by the deputies, but set the stage for future controversy between the
appointed members and the elected ones. The deputies soon realized, therefore, that they would have more power and influence
if they sat as a separate house.
Their efforts to do so failed until 1644, when a case involving a stray pig came to trial before the General Court,
which included Jacob Barney. Ownership of the pig was being disputed a poor woman and a wealthy merchant. The case had
escalated to the General Court after several suits and counter-suits and a number of appeals. Although the evidence concerning
ownership of the pig, and counter-charges of slander, was not clear, the Court divided along class lines. The assistants
supported the merchant, the deputies the poor woman. As neither party had the support of a majority of both groups comprising
the Court, the issue was deadlocked and led to the question of whether the assistants, though less numerous than the deputies,
should not have a veto over actions of the people's representatives. Governor Winthrop vigorously upheld such a veto,
saying that without it Massachusetts would become a mere democracy.
The freemen and their deputies, including Jacob Barney who was a deputy from Salem, bitterly fought this opinion.
Before the year was over, however, it was decided that the General Court should be divided: the magistrates sitting by
themselves and the deputies sitting by themselves. This establishment of a bicameral legislature was considered a victory
for the assistants, who could veto measures passed by the deputies. In the long run it was a victory for the people who,
through their representatives in the lower house, were ultimately able to dominate the rest of the colonial government. The
split into two houses was inevitable anyway, but, as one historian has noted, this was the first time that pork got into
Jacob Barney Opposes General Court
The following synopsis appears in dozens of genealogical compendia, county histories, etc.: Jacob Barney, freeman
May 14, 1634, deputy to the General Court in 1635 and 1647; he opposed the sentence of the General Court against those who
petitioned for freer franchise, which indicates he was more liberal in theology than were most of his contemporaries.
In the lower house of delegates to the General Court, which met May 26, 1647, it is recorded25 that In Salem, Henry
Bartholomew was replaced by Jacob Barney, the only man in the May session to oppose the condemnation of the petitioners.
This episode clearly reveals his courage, his independence, and liberality in politics, but has little to do with theology.
A Dr. Robert Child (a person Governor Winthrop regarded as the greatest pest of Massachusetts Bay since Anne Hutchinson
was banished), and four or five others, presented a petition to the General Court for more privileges. For this the Doctor
and his associates were sentenced to pay fines of from œ100 to œ200 each, and to either put up a bond or go to jail until the
fine was paid. Dr. Child's question was of the Massachusetts Bay Charter -- a petition by the non-freemen of the colony to
disestablish the Freeman idea. The disen-franchisement of the non-freemen had been a problem since the beginning of the
colony, and was one of Roger Williams' arguments a decade earlier.
Underneath the record of the General Court vote to sentence Dr. Child and his associates is the following line: Jacob
Barney contradicena to Ye sentence of Ye Courte.
About thirty-five Assistants and Deputies were present at this particular session of the General Court. Dr. Child
and his colleagues were found guilty of the heinous crime of asking for permission to vote. When one fully realizes the
autocratic power of the General Court, brooking no opposition, then one can understand that it took real courage for a man
to cast a lonely vote against the verdict of the rest. Really, it's a wonder that Jacob Barney's name wasn't added to the
list of those sentenced!
Jacob Barney as a Land-Owner
As one of the freemen, stockholders in the Massachusetts Bay Company, Jacob Barney was privileged to receive grants
of land from the corporation. This land became quite valuable over time, and I am sure added significantly to Jacob Barney's
The earliest record I found regarding land grants is in the Original Record, Dec. 26, 1636 - July 12, 163726, in
which it is noted that Jacob Barney had requested a grant of 60 acres. In December 1638 he was granted two parcels of land:
50 acres next to Goodman Leach; and another 10-acre parcel. On January 21, 1639/40 he was granted five acres of meadowland.
On December 28, 1650 he was granted 50 acres next to Mr. Alford's farm27, but he apparently did not take it.
It appears, from the records, that the majority of Jacob Barney's land was in the extreme northeastern portion of Salem
Village, in the area called Royal Side. Named after William Royal, one of the original grantees, the name was corrupted to
Riall Side as early as 163828, and is called Rial Side to this day. The area is now located in the towns of Beverly and
Danvers; the location of most of Jacob Barney's property is in Danvers. He also had at least one parcel of land near the
center of town.
Jacob Barney's land was in that part of Rial Side near the head of the Frost Fish River where it is fed by Frost Fish
Brook. On the small Frost Fish brook is Barney's Cove. There was a landing place at the head of Frost Fish River, on the
south side of Conant Street. The road leading down to it, called the town highway that goeth toward ye landing place, was
laid out two rods wide in 1671. It went through the land of Jacob Barney Sr., from whom the town of Salem bought it, together
with his interest in the landing place.
An examination of the property sold by Jacob Barney Jr. when all the Barneys moved to Rehoboth in 1692 reveals most
or all of the land holdings of Jacob Barney Sr., which are marked on the map. I have not done a particular study of how his
land grants compare with the grants to other Salem reemen, but it appears that he was one of the dozen or so largest land
owners in Salem. I believe his house was located just north of Leach's Hill, on Ye Country Road, now Conant St.
It is a difficult task to try to paint a picture of a man who died over 300 years ago, especially when the only sources
are the public records. Only a few personal records exist from those who knew him, including his grandson's description of
him which is found on page 292, saying he was dignified in manner, a hearty well-wisher to all men.
We must assume he was already relatively wealthy and well-connected when he arrived in Salem. Else he would not have
been able to purchase shares in the corporation, which qualified him to be a freeman and to take an active part in the affairs
of the town, church, and colony. His long record of public service indicates that he was intelligent and capable, as well
as well-connected and well-liked.
Embedded in the various public records are some items which shed light on Jacob Barney the man, as well as on his
There was, apparently, a fairly bitter and long-standing feud between Jacob Barney and his neighbor Richard Ingersoll,
a non-freeman. The Barney-Ingersoll feud lasted until nearly 50 years after Richard Ingersoll's death, and 20 years after
Jacob Barney's death.
By order of the town representatives on June 10, 1637, Mr. Ingersoll was given a parcel of land by the Frost Fish
Brook next to Goodman Barney. His land was immediately north of Barney's land, and Mr. Ingersoll's house was located only
a couple of hundred yards northwest of the landing place on Frost Fish River, on the south side of Ye Country Road.
On September 24, 1639 Richard Ingersoll brought suit against Jacob Barney in the General Court, saying that Barney
had encroached upon his land. The case was decided in favor of Barney, and the court ordered that Barney's land be officially
surveyed and staked.
A year later, at the General Court of September 29, 1640 Jacob Barney brought suit against Mr. Ingersoll for feeding
cattle in his marsh. Again, Barney was the victor, and Ingersoll was ordered to deliver two loads of hay at the waterside
as convenient as his own was.
Richard Ingersoll died in 1644, and his heirs sold the land to William Paine, a merchant of Boston. Mr. Payne sold
the land to Jacob Barney, but did not give him a deed until July 26, 1657. The ownership by Mr. Barney was disputed by Ann,
wife of John Knight, the widow of Richard Ingersoll, to whom Mr. Ingersoll had bequeathed the land in his will. She deeded
the land to her sons John and Nathaniel Ingersoll on April 10, 1868, and they immediately demanded possession from Mr. Barney.
He refused, claiming title under the deed from Mr. Paine, so they brought an action of trespass in the General Court of March
16, 1668/9. The depositions of 25 witnesses are preserved with a number of exhibits; also a bond with the autographs of Jacob
Sr. and Jr. The jury returned a special verdict upon which the court found for the defendant, Jacob Barney. The case was
appealed, but the Ingersolls finally released all claims to the land on February 16, 1691/2, long after Jacob Barney's death.
While serving on the Grand Jury in 1643, a William Pester was presented for being derelict in his military watch duties
and being found at the Potter's house three nights very suspiciously, and common tippling. Jacob Barney produced witnesses
to testify to Mr. Pester's forwardness to send for drink. Based on this testimony, Mr. Prester's case was forwarded to the
Trial Jury where he was convicted of public drunkenness.
At the Court held in Salem on July 9, 1644, Hugh Laskin and his wife were charged with hard usage of his late servant
in victuals and clothes. Jacob Barney testified that he heard the greater part of the servant's diet was course bread and
whey; but Laskin denied it. Jacob Barney and others said that the boy's bed and clothing were not as should be, and that one
time the boy did not eat until 11 o'clock and was growing thin. The Laskins were fined 40 shillings.
At the same court, Richard and Jonathan Leech were charged with concealing a pig for three months. Jacob Barney
testified that the pig actually belonged to Jonathan Porter. The Leeches were fined 20 shillings each.
At the General Court held in Salem on July 9, 1647, Rafe Fogge was presented for speaking falsely and dealing
corruptly, taking pay of diverse persons and demanding it again; and some having paid twice for one and the same thing, he
demanded it the third time. Jacob Barney testified that Fogge was guilty of the charges, and that he also had forged a paper
which, when confronted, he threw with indignation into the fire, swearing falsely that this paper was the one given him by
Mr. Norrice. Fogge was convicted.
A petition, signed by 31 farmers of Salem, to the General Court at Boston, regarding the hardships of the military
watch, was heard October 15, 1667 and favorably acted upon October 30, 1667. Among the signers were Jacob Barney Sr. and Jacob
Barney Jr. One has to wonder about the wisdom of signing petitions to the General Court which questioned any of the government
regulations, knowing the outcome of Dr. Child's petition 20 years earlier!
Of a more personal character is a deposition, sworn before Major William Hawthorne, assistant to the General Court
on April 18, 1672 and read to the Court in Salem on June 25, 1672. I neglected to properly research what the matter was about,
only that it concerned Jacob Barney's daughter Hannah, who married John Cromwell in 1656.
Jacob Barney Sr., aged about 71 years, deposed that Mr. Philip Cromwell, haveing declared to Mrs. Capt. George
Corwin, his former wife, his desire of a marriage betweene his son John & my daughter Hannah, I beeing told of it by
Mrs. Corwin, tooke occasion to goe to Mr. Phillip Cromwell's house to speake with him. He and his wife tooke me into
a Inner roome, wheare he & his wife did declare to me both their willingness to have it bee, soe wee began to speake
about the waye for theire comfortable liveing. Mr. Cromwell, haveing taken a cold in his head, his hearing was then
very bad, soe Mrs. Cromwell began to speake to me. As I turned to Mr. Cromwell, expecting to have theire minds from
him, he p'rceiving it, said that what soever his wife doth Ingage, he would make it good. Soe amongst other things
she spake as followeth, vidz: that if they did marry, they should live with them, if they would and take theire diett
with them. If they would not like to live with them they should live in one end of theire house & themselves at the
other end of it. If they would not like to live soe, they should goe into the other house that was standing betweene
theire house & Thomas Cromwell's house, & there I will furnish for them two rooms, withall necessaries soe as for
theire ordinarye occasions they shall not need to borrow anything.
Jacob Barney Refuses to Serve as Constable
In 1668, though about 68 years old, Jacob Barney had, for some reason or other, been elected Constable of Salem against
his wish. He refused to serve and his son Jacob Barney Jr. was chosen in his place. At a Generall Towne Meeting November
10, 1668 Jacob Barney Sen. fined 50 s. for Refusinge to serve in the place of Constable, beinge formerly legally chosen. Jacob
Barney Jun. Chosen Constable in his Roome. At a meeting of selectmen November 30, 1668, It's Ordered that there shall be
a warrant Issued forth by the Clerke for the Leviing of fifty shillings on the estate of Jacob Barney Sen. accordinge to what
is voted by the towne for refusinge to serve as a Constable. At a General Town Meeting January 9, 1669, The fine of 50 s.
The Highway That Goeth Toward Ye Landing Place
Beginning in 1771, Jacob Barney became engaged in a controversy with the town of Salem over the land which the town
claimed for a highway to the landing place on Frost Fish River (see map on page 299). He felt he was never adequately
compensated. The matter was not settled in his lifetime, but dragged on until 1677, four years after his death.
At a meeting of the selectmen on May 27, 1671, It's Ordrd that there shall be a High Way Laid out from the Country
Way that Cometh Downe to the head of Frost Fish Brooke into Jacob Barny Senrs Land, to goe to his barrs and soe downe to the
river, it being the Same way that hath been to Cart to the River, the which way is to be laid out two Rodd wide untill it
Cometh within four rodd of the river, and soe to be four rodd from high watter mark which is to be soe from the watter takeing
in both the poynts where wood is usually laid and the Cove between them.
The surveyors reported back on March 12, 1671, that the highway was laid out at Frost Fish River from the Road way
into Jacob Barneys Ground ..., marked by a wallnutt tree and a stake & soe downe to the watter side & from high water mark
four pole Into the upland Lying between two points of Land.
The matter of compensation to Jacob Barney was raised the following week. At a General Town Meeting on March 22,
1671/2, It's left to the Selectmen to Give unto Jacob Barney senr. for a highway which the Towne had Layd out through his
land. About a year later, at a meeting of the selectmen on At a meeting of the selectmen on March 18, 1672, Jacob Barney
and two others were appointed to Estimate the high way that was layd out through Jacob Barnys land Nigh Frost Fish River, and
it is also left to them to Judge which is best to have barrs through his fence or a Gate, and they are to make a returne to
the Select men that soe the Sd Barny may have Satisfaction for his land.
Apparently he was not satisfied with the recommended compensation, because in 1673 it was again left to the selectmen
to give satisfaction for the highway across his land. Four years later (and four years after Jacob Barney's death) at a meeting of the selectmen on November 5, 1677,
it was voted that those persons formerly appointed ... shall take a View of Ye highway Laid out through Jacob Barnies Land, & make him Just satisfaction.
Jacob Barney died at Salem on April 28, 1673 and is buried there. An entry in the town history29, dated June 24, 1673, states: Mr. Jacob Barney
had died recently, age 73. He became Freeman 1634, and a member of the church here, about the same time. He had a grant of
land 1636. He was often Selectman, and Deputy to General Court. He was an intelligent merchant. He left a wife, Elizabeth, and children, Jacob, and a daughter, married
to John Cromwell. The loss of such men as Mr. Barney is not easily supplied.
For a fairly comprehensive discussion of Jacob Barney's will and estate, and the complete list of his children, see Eugene D. Preston's Genealogy of the Barney Family
in America, pp.2-4.
1 NOTE: As mentioned on p.4 of NL 43, some Jacob Barney married, Jan. 16, 1626
in Epping, Essex, to Hannah Stace. Their daughter, Ann, was Christened there January 5, 1627.
Could a 10-year-old Ann Barney have been listed as a member of the First Church of Salem in 1637?
Or could Ann Barney of Salem have been the Ann Barnie, age 23, a passenger for Virginia, who
took the oath of allegiance on June 20, 1635 at Gravesend, England? (The Pilgrims who landed at
Plymouth Rock in 1620 were also bound for Virginia). Just a couple of thoughts, to point out that
there are other alternatives to explore, beyond what the "Experts" say must be so.
2 NOTE: Only 4,000 out of about 16,000 who emigrated to England during
1629-1640 ever became members of the New England churches. As we descend the scale of
religious fanaticism, “the religious incentives narrow and disappear, as does also the desire for
honorable public service, and the economic factor alone remains. [James E. Ernst, Roger Williams,
New England Firebrand; New York: The MacMillan Co., 1932.
3 Thomas Hutchinson, The History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts-Bay, Vol. I, Ed. by Lfawrence S. Mayo; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1936.
4 Charles H. Pope, Pioneers of Massachusetts; Boston: Char-les H. Pope, 1900.
5 Frederick A. Virkus, Compendium of American Geneal-ogy; First Families of America; Chicago: F.A. Virkus & Co., 1925.
6 Charles E. Banks, The Planters of the Commonwealth, Appendix 10; Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1930.
7 Charles E. Banks, The Winthrop Fleet of 1630; Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1961.
8 Sidney Perley, History of Salem, Massachusetts, 1:283
9 "The Essex Antiquarian," Vol. 8, p.73; Salem: The Essex Antiquarian, 1
10 Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, Ed., Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, Vol. I; Boston: William White Press, 1853.
11 Oscar T. Barck Jr., Colonial America; New York: The Macmillan Co., 1976.
12 The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Micropaedia, Vol. 4; Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1979.
13 James D. Phillips, Salem in the Seventeenth Century; Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1933.
14 Other references estimate that as many as 80 new freemen were admitted at the General Court on May 14, 1634, and that by 1650 there were 300 or so freemen in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
15 Joseph B. Felt, Annals of Salem, Vol. I; Salem: W & S.B. Ives, 1845.
16 J. F. Jameson, Ed., Winthrop's Journal; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1908
17 James E. Ernst, Roger Williams, New England Firebrand; op. cit.
18 J. F. Jameson, Ed., Winthrop's Journal; op. cit.
19 J. F. Jameson, Ed., Winthrop's Journal; op. cit.
20 Samuel G. Drake, The History and Antiquities of Boston; Boston: Luther Stevens, 1856.
21 Verbatim minutes of Salem town meetings, transcripts of letters, petitions, etc., in Essex Institute, “Historical Collections;” Salem: Essex Institute Press, 1858 --. Sidney Perley, Ed., “The Essex Antiquarian;” Salem: The Essex Antiquarian, 1896 --.
22 James D. Phillips, Salem in the Seventeenth Century; op. cit.
23 Joseph B. Felt, Annals of Salem; op. cit.
24 Oscar T. Barck Jr. Colonial America; op. cit.
25 Wall, Massachusetts, The Crucial Decade. [F67.W17]
26 Essex Institute, "Historical Collections," Vol. IX; Salem: Essex Institute Press, 1869.
27 There were probably more grants of land, with more precise locations, contained in various Salem records which I haven't examined closely enough
28 Essex Institute, "Historical Collections," Vol. LV; Salem: Essex Institute Press, 1919.
29 Joseph B. Felt, Annals of Salem, Vol. 1; op. cit.