John Choate was baptized on June 6, 1624 in Groton, Boxford, Colchester, England. He is believed by some historians to have been the emigrant John Choate who came to America in 1643 at the age of nineteen. According to the Court Files at Salem, he was about 40 years old in 1664. Another record says 46 in 1671. About 1660, he married Anne (____) who was born in 1637.
They settled upon a small farm in the area of Ipswich, Massachusetts then known as Chebacco, now Essex. John paid for the farm, as the record states, "In cattle not over eight years old, in grain English and Indian and partly in West India goods." As the years went on he added by purchase to his landed possessions until he had become the proprietor of two or three farms adjacent to his own.
As early as 1667 he commenced buying the shares of common lands which had been allotted to the proprietors of the town. These were located on an island, about two miles away, in full view from where the Choates lived. The island embraced about three hundred acres, constituting a swell of land, the form of which bore some resemblance to the back of a large hog lying asleep on the surrounding waters. These sea-girt lands were wild, covered with trees and bushes. This island, either from its shape, or because used as a common pasture for swine, or for some unknown reason, since as early as 1637 had been called "Hog Island".
As opportunity offered itself, John bought these shares of the common lands, one by one, until, in 1690, he was almost the sole owner of the island. The earliest deed of conveyance, now extant, was given in 1678, when he purchased the very spot on which stands the present Choate house. [At right, Choate House, Hog Island.]
Thus this early settler of Chebacco, by his industry, made his mark as a thrifty farmer, and as his sons came to manhood he as able to give to each a farm, excepting the youngest, Benjamin, for whom he provided the means of a college education.
It is recorded that he became a freeman, by oath, in 1667, that he was a voter by virtue of his membership in the Puritan church, and that he held the rank of sergeant in the militia. He is often referred to as Sergeant John to distinguish him from his son, John. From certain entries on the records, various depositions and law papers, he appears to have had a fair amount to do with the courts of his day, sometimes being himself arraigned for trial, as, for example, when charged with the theft of Mr. Hubbard's apples, or to bear witness, as in the case of "Rachell Clentons" who was charged with being a witch.
John died on December 4, 1693. Anne Choate survived her husband more than thirty years, but receives little mention. Her maiden name, birthplace, and parentage are unknown. It is said, however, that in some ancient court papers her name appears illegibly written, and seems to be 'Arramas'. She was doubtless a very estimable woman a good wife and mother. She joined the church in full communion December, 1673. John Choate in his will calls her, 'my dear and beloved wife, Ann Choate,' and names her as 'my sole executrix.' Mrs. Choate died 'Feb. ye 16 1727 upwards of 90.'
Estate of John
Choate of Ipswich
Know all ye Christian people that I, Sargeant John Choat, of Ipswich in ye County of Essex in New England, being sick in body but of sound mind, do now make my last Will and Testament.
IMPRIMIS. I bequeath my soul to God by the merits of Christ and my body unto decent burial, and then dispose of my worldly estate, which God of his bounty hath given unto me in manner following, viz:
First. I give unto John Choate my eldest son Half of my pasture where his new dwelling-house stands being about fifteen acres, viz. The said half with all the houses upon it with all stock I formerly possessed him of. Also give him the ploughing field commonly called "White's Field" containing about ten acres. Also I give him one half of my salt marsh at a place called "Thompson's Island" in Ipswich to him and his heirs forever.
Item. I give unto my son Samuel Choate, all that housing and land I bought of Mr. Bishop, where he the said Samuel Choate now lives, reserving only three acres of land within the field of said land for my son Benjamin, and the said Benjamin dying before he comes of age, the said three acres shall revert to Samuel or his heirs.
Item. I give and bequeath unto my son Joseph all my own living lands and ploughing grounds, and half of the salt marsh I have at "Thompson's Island" only reserving four acres of said half for my son Benjamin and said Benjamin dying before he is of age, said four acres shall revert unto Joseph to him and his heirs. And if the said Benjamin and Joseph shall die before they are of age, then said land and meadow shall be equally divided between the male heirs of my family then surviving.
Item. I have given my daughter Margaret Fitts upwards of three score pounds in current pay of merchants, which I have given her and I do now give and ratify unto her and her heirs as her portion.
Item. I do give and bequeath unto my daughter, Sarah Choate three score pounds in current pay of the merchants and I constitute my dear and beloved wife, Ann Choate, and she shall be my sole executrix and I do give and bequeath unto her all the rest of my estate of money chattels, debts and demands.
In witness whereof I have set my hand set my hand and seal this seventh day of December 1691.
The inventory made of John Choate's estate amounted to £405 13s.
There was an objection to the Will, as Thomas Choate was left out. An agreement was reached by the family.
The heirs of John Choate, Sr., in setting aside his last will, state themselves as follows:
Whereas by the Will of John Choate deceased there are several parcels of lands & estate settled upon John his eldest son & Samuel & Joseph & Benjamin, yet, Thomas notwithstanding what has been given him in a deed of gift is not mentioned, nor confirmed in said will. John accounting his part short of a double portion, the rest not being well satisfied especially Anne, the relict of John Choate. Therefore it is mutually agreed by all said parties, namely Anne the said mother of said children & John, Thomas & Samuel for themselves and said Anne in behalf of herself & Benjamin & Thomas in behalf of himself and as guardian to said Joseph with the said Anne & Joseph & Benjamin consenting for themselves, that the estate given to any of them per deed of said children shall be as follows viz:
Item. It is agreed that what said Anne hath in her hands undisposed of: her son John shall have a double part and all the rest of her sons equal parts, and it is agreed if any land be sold for the bringing up of Benjamin, it shall be the ten acres, or part of it, that is the pasture land lying betwixt Capt. Goodhues land and John Choate's land said John Choate shall have it giving as much as another will give, and if the said land be sold as aforesaid then Joseph shall have Benjamin's land given him by will except the three acres reserved for Samuel as his deed mentions.
Further it is mutually agreed that the said John Choate, the eldest son of John Choate, deceased, shall have all the housing and lands and stock given by deed of gift and confirmed by will without any right of dowry.
Further, it is mutually agreed that Samuel Choate shall have all the housing and lands & stock given him by deed of gift & (note) without any right of dowry.
Further, it is mutually agreed that Thomas Choate shall have all the housing and lands given him by deed of gift and not confirmed by Will without any right of dowry.
Further is mutually agreed that Joseph during his brother's life, and his brother Benjamin's education, as before mentioned, when he comes of age and after he comes of age during his mother's life & during his brother's education, as before inserted, shall have and enjoy all the housing lands and meadows as by his father's Will and afterwards forever.
Further - it is mutually agreed that Benjamin shall receive the yearly income of his brother Joseph's land till he comes of age, and other payments as before inserted until he Commences Bachelor of Arts or might have done it, if he remained at his learning, and the land given him by his father's will may be sold for the bringing to and at the College if need be, and if Joseph or Benjamin or both decease before they come of age of twenty one years, and land that shall then remain unsold shall be divided to the brothers viz: To John a double, and to each other male heir of said Choate's children a single share and if sold to have it forever.
It is further agreed and each doth for themselves and in behalf forever a quit claim make each other, and their respective heirs and assigns of all the estate real and personal of said John Choate, deceased estate, giving and granting to each the respective share inserted to have and to hold to them as it is prefixed to them without let or hindrance, molestation or interruption, suit or demand of us ourselves, our heirs, executors, administrators or assigns.
In Testimony hereof we have affixed our hands and seals this 14th day of May Anno Domino 1697.
The following comments may shed additional light on this family. The estate was settled satisfactorily on the basis of this agreement. Since no mention is made in these documents of Mary Choate, a daughter, it is probable that she had died in early life prior to 1691.
Mrs. Margaret Fitts appears in the will, but not in the agreement, for she had died in 1692.
Thomas Choate is not mentioned in his father's will, doubtless because he had already received by deed all to which he was entitled, but his name appears in the agreement of 1697.
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See lineage of Choate Family
Read the Biography of John's father, Robert Choate
Read the Biography of John's son, John Choate
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