Genealogical and Family History
of the

Compiled under the editorial supervision of George Thomas Little, A. M., Litt. D.

New York

[Please see Index page for full citation.]

[Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]

[Many families included in these genealogical records had their beginnings in Massachusetts.]


The ancient family of Symonds has for its arms: Azure, a chevron engrailed between three trefoils slipped, or; motto: Dum vivo spiro. The chevron, which is found only on the arms of the followers of William the Conqueror into Britain, indicates that the family is of noble and very ancient origin. In Lancashire it is traced through twenty generations; six certainly recorded by Richard Symonds, antiquary and poet, who fought at Naseby. Richard of the third generation was an ancestor of the Symonds of Norfolk, England; John, of the eighth, to those of Cambridgeshire. The coat-of-arms of the families of Deputy Governor Samuel Symonds and John Symonds the immigrant are precisely the same.

(I) John Symonds, afterward of Salem, Mass., and Samuel Symonds, afterward of Ipswich, and deputy governor of Massachusetts, appeared together in Boston, in March, 1638, and took the freeman's oath. About 1850 the coat-of-arms, the genealogy, as well as the desk and table brought over by John Symonds, perished by fire at Middleton, but the descendants have always preserved the memory of "three trefoils sliipped, or" and have counted themselves of the same stock as the governor.
Topsfield, larged owned by him, was named out of deference to his old home in England, and as Middleton was not only to be found wherever a Symonds existed, but was a hamlet near, or in, his old estate of "Ollivers" in Essex, a name transplanted to his farm at Ipswich, it seemed natural when this name of Middleton was given to the township occupied by the descendants of John of Salem, to ask the reason why. The names of Topsfield and Middleton indicate a common origin, but there are other indications of common interest.
When John Symonds took the freeman's oath, in March, is wife Elizabeth was pregnant with her youngest child, the only one born in this country, and when that child was born in the following November, either because it was the name of the head of the family or because of tender regard for the deputy, he called it Samuel.
John Symonds brought with him from England, 1637-38, his wife Elizabeth and three children, and died in 1671. His will was proved Sept. 19, of that year. He left apprentices and is called a carpenter, much as Sir Richard Saltonstall is called a miller, but it is claimed that he did not work at that trade.
James, Ruth, Katherine, Samuel (the subject of the next paragraph).

(II) Samuel, youngest child of John and Elizabeth Symonds, born in Salem, Mass., Nov. 4, 1638, died in Boxford, Aug. 14, 1722, in his eighty-fifth year. He bought land from Zaccheus Gould for his homestead in 1662, and lived in what is now Boxford near the Topsfield line, and was there connected with Rowley and Topsfield churches.
Samuel Symonds and Captain Baker, the deputy's sons-in-law, held all the first town and church offices, and it is remarkable that the signature of this Samuel Symonds and all his successors is so like that of the deputy that it seems like a tracing. The likeness is evidently international.
He married Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Andrew, of Topsfield. She died March 17, 1725, aged eighty-two. Both were probably buried at Topsfield.
Elizabeth, Hannah, Grace, Mary, Samuel, John, Ruth, Rebecca (died young), Phebe (called Rebecca after her sister's death), Phoebe, Joseph, Nathaniel, and John (next mentioned).

(III) John (2), youngest child of Samuel and Elizabeth (Andrew) Symonds, was born in what is now Boxford, Jan. 6, 1690. He was taxed until 1761 and probably died in that year.
He married Feb. 13, 1708, Hannah, daughter of John Hazen, of Topsfield, and Mary (Bradstreet) Hazen, daughter of John and granddaughter of Governor Simon and Ann (Dudley) Bradstreet.
John (died young), Hannah, Thomas, Jacob, Alice (died young), Alice, Sarah, Francis, Lydia, Phoebe and John.

(IV) John (3), youngest child of John (2) and Hannah (Hazen) Symonds, born at Boxford March 11, 1725, died at Danvers of smallpox June, 1778. His son, John, was administrator of the estate, living at Holden. His inventory amounted to 1,492 pounds, 12s. 4d., returned Aug. 4, 1778.
John Symonds was married (first) March 13, 1746, at Rowley, to Ruth Dorman, of Topsfield, by John Hobson, justice of the peace.
John, Joanna, Mary and Joseph.
Soon after the birth of Joseph the mother must have died, and in 1759 John removed to Danvers, where he married (second) Ruth Metcalf.
Children of 2d wife:
Ruth, Thomas, Francis, Abigail, Nathaniel, Hannah and Huldah.

(V) Nathaniel, third son of John and Ruth (Metcalf) Symonds, born in Danvers, Mass., Oct. 28, 1764, died at Raymond, Maine, Feb. 19, 1823. He married in 1791, Martha, daughter of Moses Starbird, and soon after settled in Bridgton and then in Raymond, where he spent the remainder of his life engaged in farming, and where his children were born.
Joseph, Martha, Hannah, Huldah, Sally, Eliza C., and Henry A.
Moses STARBIRD's name appears with rank of private on continental army pay accounts of Captain Smart's company, Col. Smith's (Wigglesworth) regiment, for service from March 1, 1777 to March 1, 1780. Credited to Bradford. Also on a return dated Camp Valley Forge, Feb. 5, 1778. Town belonged to Raymondtown. Town enlisted for Bradford, in Capt. Nicholas Blaisdel's company, Col. Wigglesworth's regiment. The above is certified to be true extract from the record index to the revolutionary war archives by William M. Olin, secretary. After the revolution Moses Starbird settled in Raymond and built a large, old-fashioned farmhouse on the shore of Panther's pond, which was the home of his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Symonds, practically during their lives.

(VI) Joseph, eldest child of Nathaniel and Martha (Starbird) Symonds, born in Raymond, Maine, June 12, 1793, died in Portland April 6, 1873, aged seventy-nine. He was engaged in mercantile pursuits, and spent some of his last years in Portland.
He married, Oct. 7, 1819, Isabella, born July 4, 1799, died in Portland, Nov. 19, 1885, daughter of Samuel and Rachel (Humphrey) Jordan, of Raymond, Maine, and descendant in the eighth generation from Rev. Robert Jordan, the first Episcopal clergyman in Maine.
David J., Lydia M., Rachel J., Elizabeth C., William Law (see below), C. Isabel, Joseph W., (see below), and Anson Jordan (who died young).

(VII) William Law, second son of Joseph and Isabella (Jordan) Symonds, born in Raymond, Maine, April 29, 1833, died Jan. 18, 1862, in his twenty-ninth year. His father removed from Raymond to Portland in March, 1845, when he was nearly twelve years of age. He was fitted for college in the Portland High school and entered Bowdoin College in the fall of 1850, graduating in the class of 1854, with the highest honors, having been marked by scholarly tastes, maturity, refinement and purity of character. After a year spent as private tutor in the family of Mr. Richards, son-in-law of Robert H. Gardiner, of Gardiner, he pursued theological study at Cambridge two years. From the summer of 1857 until his death, with the exception of about six months as preacher at Chicopee, Mass., he resided in New York.
He became connected with the staff of the New American Cyclopedia, devoting himself with untiring labor to the workm laid upon him. A detail of his contributions would surprise one by their number, variety and extensive attainemtns, which they involved, having himself, it is said, furnished twenty-six hundred articles - historical, philosophical and biographical - which gave him high reputation for taste, research and wide acquistions. He wrote some of the heaviest articles for the New American Cyclopedia, such as "History," "English Literature," "Philosophy," etc. He was also a contributor to the Atlantic Monthly, the Knickerbocker, and newspaper press, papers which attracted attention by original thought and brilliant fancy. Of one of his essays in the Atlantic Monthly, "The Carnival of the Romantic," published in August, 1860, Mr. James Russell Lowell, then the editor, said it was the best essay ever printed in the magazine. Mr. William Winter, literary and dramatic editor of the New York Tribune, who knew Mr. Symonds in New Yorkm as long ago as 1860, is now editing a volume of selections from his letters and writings with a view to the publication of the same in connection with a biography of him by Mr. Winter.
The knowledge of books possessed by Mr. Symonds led Dr. Coggswell of the Astor Library to leave that library in his care during his absence of the former in Europe. Mr. Symonds was unaffected in manner, of gentle dispositon, of elevated tone of mind and character, of peculiar refinement, and of warm affections.
He was stricken with erysipelas, which, in his sensitive organization, accomplished its work in three or four days, he passing away in the Artists' Studio building on West Tenth street, and thus perished the most brilliant promise and hopes.

(VII) Hon. Joseph White, youngest child of Joseph and Isabella (Jordan) Symonds, was born in Raymond, Maine, Sept. 2, 1840. At four years of age he was taken to Portland by his parents and has ever since resided there. He received his early education in the public schools of Portland, leaving the high school to enter Bowdoin College in 1856. He graduated in 1860, and entered upon the study of law in the office of Samuel and D. W. Fessenden, and subsequently continuted it with Hon. Edward Fox, afterward judge of the U. S. District court for Maine. In 1863 he was admitted to the bar in Cumberland county and began practice of law in Portland. In 1869 he associated himself with Charles F. Libby and the firm took the name of Symonds & Libby. They practiced together until the fall of 1872, when Governor Perham appointed Mr. Symonds to the superior bench of the state. Six years later, Sept., 1878, he was appointed by Governor Selden Connor to a place on the supreme bench, which position he held from that time until 1884, when he resigned to resume the practice of the law.
In 1863 he received from his alma mater the degree of Master of Arts, and in 1894 received the degree of Doctor of Laws. The professional life of Judge Symonds has been singularly felicitous. Naturally endowed with ready wit, an active, logical mind and good judgment, and having the advantage of superior training in both his literary and legal studies and possessing a vocabulary and facility of expression seldom excelled in New England, he soon took high rank as a lawyer, and has for years been credited by his brethren of the bar as being at the head of the profession in the state. In his practice he has successfully handled many cases in which great amounts were at stake, and his remuneration has been correspondingly large. His record while upon the bench was characterized by probity and a high regard for justice in every case. His decisions while on the supreme bench are found in volumes of the state reports, and are clear, logical and just expositons of the law as applied to the facts adduced, and in almost every instance his views were share by his associates on the bench.
As an orator his reputation is second to that of no other man in Maine. His forensic efforts have always received the apporbation of his auditors, and he has been called many times to address political conventions, to place distinguished candidates in nomination, and to deliver addresses on various subjects before learned societies and popular assemblies.
Judge Symonds has never held any but judicial offices. He is a Republican. He is a citizen who commands the respect of the community, and with men of all parties he is a social favorite. He is a member of the Maine Historical Society, Comberland Club, Fraternity Club, and was for many years an overseer of Bowdoin College. Mr. Symond's sisters are distinguished in Portland as ladies of culture and refinement.
He has one son, Stuart Oakley, born Aug. 3, 1885, a graduate of Bowdoin in class of 1905, and now (1908) a student of law in his father's office.

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