RICHARD BRACKETT (Peter, Richard, William) was baptized 16 September 1610 at Saint Gregory's in Sudbury, Suffolk, England. At the age of six, he was left fatherless, but his mother soon remarried to Martin Saunders. At the age of about 20, he sailed off to New England with the Winthrop Fleet, for he was in Massachusetts as early as 27 August 1630, when he was among the organizers of the First Church of Boston, being 144th on the list of members.
He returned to England, perhaps in 1633, for in the register of Saint Katherine by the Tower, London, is the 16 January 1633/4 marriage of Richard Brackett and Alice Blower. Alice, like Richard, grew up in Sudbury, but her parents had moved to London about this time. They surely knew each other in Sudbury. A year later they were in Boston where their daughter, Hannah, was baptized on 4 January 1634/5. Presumably they sailed for America shortly after their marriage. On 8 November 1635, Alice, wife of our brother Richard Brackett signed the covenant, thus joining the church in Boston. He was admitted freeman in Boston on 25 May 1636 and on 23 November 1636 he joined the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company.
On 21 March 1636, he was granted a lot on which to build. He chose a lot now on Washington Street, nearly midway between the present West and Boyalston Streets. He lived there until about 20 November 1637 when he was appointed by the General Court to keep the prison. His salary was £l3.6s.8d. (increased 6 June 1639 to £20) and the use of a house. The next year, he sold his Washington Street property, permission to sell being granted 11 June 1638.
About 1637-8, his older brother Peter joined him in New England at -Boston, his mother and step-father having Crossed over in 1635. They all later settled in Braintree. On 12 February 1639, leave was grantea to our Bro. Rich. Brackett to mowe the Marsh lying in the Newfield Which he hath usually mowen, for the next summer time. The marsh was at Mount Wollaston in Braintree, at that time 8 Part of the town of Boston. Braintree was incorporated in 1640. Richard Brackett moved there about 1641 or 1642, for the records of the First Church of Boston under 26 June 1641 read: "Richard Brackett was with wife Alice and his sister dismissed from the First Church in Boston with letter to church connected therewith at the Mount."
His sister referred to above was Rachel Newcomb. Under 8 May 1642: "Our Bro. Richard Brackett was granted by the church to be dismissed to ye church at Braintree at theer desire with ye Office of Deacon amongst you."
He was ordained a deacon on 21 July 1642 at Braintree and held the office until he died. A Suffolk, Massachusetts Deed of 25 October 1660 reads: Richard Brackett of Braintree, husbandman, sells 30 acres of woodland in township of Braintree but belonging to Boston, and about 25 years past by sd town of Boston g'td and laid out to other men as by record of said town appeareth - (Deed 6:237)
There were tracts of land in Braintree that were claimed by the town of Boston. It appointed Captain Richard to oversee these tracts as its agent, as: "Agreed with Captain Richard Brackett of Braintree that he should, in the town's behalf, take care that noe wast or strip of woods or timber be in the land belonginge to this town lying neere their towne, but do his utmost to prevent it, or give information to the Selectmen. Inconsideration whereof he hath libertie to cutt out of the wood already fallen to the value of 40 cord. - 25 December 1676".
Richard was granted by the town of Boston: "Libertie to cut soe much Tymber upon the Common land of Braintree as may serve for ye buildinge of a 1/4 pte of a vessel of 25 tun, in consideration of his care of the timber lands."
Clearly, Richard was a trusted agent of the town of Boston.
There was another tract of considerable extent in Braintree, which the town of Boston claimed. Quite all, or a large part of the tract, the town of Braintree purchased from an Indian chief. It was the desire of a great portion of the people to commence action for the recovery of the tract from Boston. This was opposed by a few of the town, notably by Richard Brackett and Edmund Quincy.
In March 1682, they were appointed to a committee to deal with the town of Boston. Ultimately, the committee secured for Braintree what is known as the six hundred acre lot.
He became the first town clerk of Braintree. In 1652, he was chosen selectman, and again in 1670 and 1672. The highest office his townsmen could bestow on him was deputy to the General Court. He was first elected to this position in 1643, next in 1655 and again in 1665 and 1667. In 1671, he was elected again and continued for four years until there was a greater need for his services in another capacity. In 1675, King Philip's War commenced. No lasting peace was secured until 1679. In 1680, he again returned to his seat in the General Court for the last time.
He was chosen sergeant on the organization of the train band in Braintree. In a few years he rose to Lieutenant. About 1654, he was appointed Captain.
The raids by the Indians induced the colony to establish a garrison near the line between Braintree and Bridgewater. The military committee of the General Court appointed Mr. Richard Thayer to take charge thereof. He raised an alarm on the most meager of rumors and stalked every phantom of the forest. Night and day, the people of Braintree lived in terror of being attacked by King Philip and his braves.
One day, one of King Philip's men, John George, a poor half starved wretch, came through the snow on his hands and knees to the garrison house to surrender. He was too weak to walk. He was the only Indian seen by Thayer and his garrison during their campaign. The capture of John George was loudly proclaimed as an instance of Thayer's vigilance and as evidence that real Indians were in the country. Thayer kept John George in the garrison house for five weeks at the expense of the town, apparently wanting to get the Indian in good physical condition as an exhibit. What with being constantly on the alert for weeks, marching at all seasons, night and day, with one false alarm but passing away before another was raised, Richard Brackett's patience was sorely strained. He had to put up with it because Thayer was the General Court's man. However, when ‘rhayer got a live Indian whom he kept in the garrison house at the expense of the town, an opportunity was presented to do something. The old jailer thought the jail was a good enough place for John George. He went with a detail of men to where Thayer was boarding John George, took the Indian away from his keeper and carried him forthwith to Boston. Thayer protested and petitioned. He said that he had a grievance and that all his bills were not paid by the town. Richard had ready the evidence of his men in support of the course he had taken, which was approved by those in authority.
The General Court, in its might, took upon itself to banish the poor Indian from the country. That is, he was sold into slavery. It is indeed sad that Richard did not free the poor fellow.
There is evidence that Captain Richard Brackett taught the school in Braintree.
On 15 October 1679, he was appointed to take oaths in civil cases and perform marriages.
As he grew older, he sought release from the burdens of public office. On 15 October 1684, the General Court recorded the following: On request of Captain Richard Brackett being 73 years of age and the infirmities of age upon him: having formerly desired, and now again to- day,to lay down his place as chief military commander of Braintree, the court granted the request and appointed Lieut. Edmund Quincy to succeed him.
At that time, he had been connected with the company for about 43 years and for 30 years had been its Captain.
In Braintree he was a farmer and was described as a husbandman. He acquired a considerable estate in Braintree and when the town of Billerica was formed, he became a proprietor there. Two sons and two daughters settled there.
He died 5 March 168 9/90 and Alice Brackett died eight months later on 3 November 1690, aged 76. No stone marks her burial place but he is buried in the old North precinct of Braintree, now the city of Quincy. His grave is marked by a stone cut about 150 years after his death. However, the inscription seems to be a duplicate of what had beer on the original stone.
Here lyeth buried
ye body of
Captain Richard Brackett
Aged 80 years
Deceased March 5
The town record says he died 3 March.
A silver cup inscribed R & A and used in the Unitarian Church in Braintree (which in early days was Congregational) at communion service, is the gift of Richard Brackett and his wife, Alice, to the church. His will follows: January 29, 1689 In the name of God, amen I Richard Brackett of Braintree in New England, being mindful of my mortallyty and being of memory and a disposing mind a trusting in God through Jesus Christ, my only savior for eternal life salvation, revoking and making null all former wills by me made, do make and ordain this my last will and testament as followeth.
The town record says he died 3 March. My will is that All my just debts, if any. be first paid, and funeral charges be defrayed. I Item. I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife, Allice I Brackett, all my estate in housing, orchards, lands, and I meadows in Braintry for her comfortable subsistence during her natural life, as also the income of my estate at Billerica Item. I give to the children of my son John Brackett onefourthpart of all my land and meadows and housing inBilerica, as it shall fall by equal division, to be equally divided to them and their heirs. My meaning is the children that he had by his wife, Hannah Brackett.
Item. I give and bequeath the remaining three parts of my housing, and lands, and meadows in Billerica to my son Peter Brackett and son in law, Simon Crosby. and son in law, Joseph Thompson, and to their heirs, to be equally divided between them. Item. I give to my son Peter Brackett five pounds in current pay, to be paid by my executors. Item. My will is that the division of my lands in Bilierica, as above disposed, shall be made by indifferent men, the persons concerned in each part to choose one man. Item. My will is that the children of my son John, and Peter Brackett, Simon Crosby and Joseph Thompson, shall pay unto the two daughters of my son Josiah, deceased, Elizabeth and Sarah, twenty pounds a piece in good pay when they shall attain the age of twenty years respectively: and in want of the payment of said fortypounds, they the said Elizabeth and Sarah shall have one half of the land above mentioned, to them and to their heirs, to be equally divided to them. And in case either of said Elizabeth or Sarah shall die without issue, the legacies to her given shall be to the survivor. I give to the said Sarah, the daughter of my son Josiah, five pounds in u current pay and the feather bed her mother carryed away. I Item. I give to my son James all of my now dwelling house, barn, orchard, land and meadows, lying and being in Braintry aforesaid, next and immediately after my wife's decease (excepting what may be necessarily expended for her maintenance during her life) to him and to his heirs forever. Item. I give to my son in law, Joseph Crosby ten pounds in good pay which ten pounds with the five pounds given to my son Peter Brackett as above, is to be paid within two years after inyne and my wiles decease.
Item. I give unto my daughter Hannah Brackett twenty shillings in good pay. I give my great Bible to my daughter Rachel Crosby for her use during her life, and at her decease to be to my grandchild Abigail Thompson.
Item. I give to Hannah Brackett, daughter of my son John, the feather bed which she lyeth on, and bolster what belonged to it and my bedsted in Billerica, with as much movable goods as shall amount to twenty pounds. Item. I give and bequeath to my beloved wife, Allice Brackett, all the rest of my movables for her comfortable sustenance while she lives, and to be disposed of by her to whom she please at her death. Item. I appoint and nominate my son James Brackett to be sole executor to this my last will and testament. I have here- unto set my hand and seal the day and year above written.
Signed sealed and published
in presence of us
John Ruggles, Senr.
John Ruggles, Jr.
Whereas I have given to my grandchild Sarah Brackett, the daughter of my son Josiah Brackett, deceased, five pounds, my will is that it shall be null and void and of none effect; as also the ten pounds given to Joseph Crosby, I give to his daughter Anna Crosby. (seal) Christopher Webb Boston, December 19, 1690
Approved John Ruggles, Sen. John Ruggles, Jr., both at Braintree appearing at Probate
Ref.: Brackett Genealogy; Published Braintree Town Records; Savage; Pope's Pioneers; Suffolk County -Probate File #1775; Parish Registers; Bishop's Transcripts