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The word Cady is derived from Ca-dia, a Gaelic word, meaning the House of God. Cadie is an old Scottish word for messenger. As a surname, the word has been variously spelled, Cade, Caddie, Caddy, Cadye, Kayde, Cadey and Cady. Families of this name of some antiquity are found in counties Essex, Kent, Suffolk and Gloucester, England. The surname is found in the ancient Hundred Rolls and was not uncommon as early as 1450 in county Sussex.

Some published accounts state that Nicholas Cady came to America as a minor in 1630 with his future father-in-law, William Knapp, as a carpenter's apprentice. Nicholas was indeed a carpenter, as was William Knapp, who came from near Bury St. Mary, County Suffolk, England. As there were Cadys at Stoken Stein in the same county at that time, it might be reasonable to suppose that Nicholas Cady may have been bound out as an apprentice to Knapp, as was the custom of the time, and that he might have been allowed to migrate with his master to America. Still there is no proof. The very first undoubted record of Nicholas is a partnership with John, the son of William Knapp, dated October 8, 1645, when William Potter of Watertown sold Nicholas Cady and John Knapp his house in Watertown and 17 acres of land. Nicholas deeded his share to John Knapp in August, 1650.

About 1650, Nicholas married Judith Knapp, the daughter of William Knapp and Judith Tue. Judith was baptized in Bures St. Mary, Suffolk, England on July 16, 1629. William Knapp died August 30, 1658, aged about 80, and his will lists Judith, wife of Nicholas as one of his heirs.

In 1652, Nicholas, with others, took the oath of fidelity, and in 1653, he was listed as a member of the train band (militia) of Watertown under Captain Mason. On December 24, 1667 Nicholas Cady, carpenter of Watertown, exchanges house and land at Watertown with John Clary, carpenter.

He must have removed to the frontier town of Groton, Massachusetts in the early part of 1668 for we find that on September 10, 1668, Nicholas Cady of Groton, planter, and his wife Judith, sold to G. Lawrence, six acres of land in Watertown and five acres of meadow in Cambridge.

On December 10, 1671, Nicholas Cady was surveyor at Groton. In 1673 and 1675, "Corporal Cady" was appointed one of the fence viewers. His name appears among others on the Indian rolls of land grants that were made before the town of Groton was burned by the Indians in 1676.

King Philip's war broke out in June 1675. During the war, major Indian assaults were made against several towns. The assault and destruction of the town of Groton took place on the 13th and 14th of March, 1678. Nicholas Cady was among the settlers who took refuge in a garrison house where they were eventually rescued by Captain Sills Lee with fifty dragoons and sixty carts. Groton was abandoned and the Cady family went to Cambridge.

Nicholas and his eldest son, John, signed as witnesses in the following petitions pertaining to this attack: "The Petition of Daniel Adams 21 April 1676 - At Groton on the 14th of March 1676 was Daniel Adams who was very helpful to the town of Groton with some others of Lancaster and the said Daniel Adams did kill one Indian at Mr. Willard's garrison. Witness, John Cadye and Samuel Woods. We who see him fall to the ground and not rise again. Witness Nicholass Cadye."

In view of the fact that he bought sixty acres of land in Cambridge from John Wincoll on May 14, 1678, it seems that he did not plan to return to Groton. However, in 1679, "for and in consideration of the natural affection and parental love for her", he deeded eleven acres of land in Groton to his only daughter, Judith, and her husband, Alexander Rouse. It is certain that by June 8, 1680 Nicholas had returned to Groton, since he was chosen surveyor on that date, and in December 1680, his name was on the list of the heads of families in Groton. In 1681, he paid a tax of just over 18s 2d. (Only one person in Groton was taxed more.) At the 1683 town meeting, he was again chosen as surveyor. Also in 1683, he bought fifteen acres of land in Groton. A 1683 record has been found which documents the sale of 6 acres of land in Cambridge, for 15, by Nicholas Cady of Groton, planter, to J. Winter. Also, on the same date he sold Simon Cooledge two pieces of land in Watertown, one of 25 acres and the other 6 acres. In 1685, Nicholas was chosen constable of Groton, and in 1686, he was again chosen surveyor.

On May 16, 1712 John Cady, husbandman of Groton sells several parcels of land describing them "with one-half ye town rights formerly Nicholas Cady's, deceased, or now mine the Sd John Cady's." No record of the death of Nicholas Cady or his wife Judith has been found, but doubtless their last days were spent in Groton and both died before 1712. It is inferred from the above that Nicholas Cady lived with his oldest son John, to whom fell a major portion of his father's estate. Nicholas Cady resided near Cady's Pond, named for him, located about a mile southeasterly from the village of Groton, on the Boston road. Nicholas and Judith had eight children, and virtually all Americans by the name of Cady are their descendants.

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See lineage of Cady Family

Read the Biography of Nicholas's son, Joseph Cady

Read the Biography of Nicholas's grandson, Benjamin Cady

Read the Biography of Nicholas's great grandson, Benjamin Cady

Read the Biography of Nicholas's famous descendant Elizabeth Cady Stanton

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