ISAAC STEARNS of Higham, Suffolk, was born about 1590. On 20 May 1622 at Stoke Nayland, the adjacent parish he married Mary Barker of Nayland. She was the daughter of John and Margaret (Walter) Barker of Nayland. Mary's father, John Barker, was buried 19 June 1617 at Nayland and shortly thereafter her mother, the widow Margaret, remarried to one Munnings of Gaines Colne, now known as Colne Engaine, which is about 10 miles to the west and across the Stour River into Essex. This is learned from the records of Thomas Lechford:
Isaacke Sterne of Watertown. planter, sometime of Stoke Nayland, Suffolk, tayler, & Mary his wife, daughter of John Barker late of Stoke. Nayland, clothier, deceased, makes a letter of attorney to Thomas Gilson of Sudbury, Suffolk, baker, to receive & recover of & from _______________ Mummings of Gaynes Colne, Essex, yeoman, £5 due unto her by some bond or agreement made by the sd ___________Mummings before or after his marriage with Margaret Barker, mother of sd Mary (Lechford's Notebook)
Isaac Stearns came to New England in the Winthrop Fleet on the ship "Arabelle" with Gov. Winthrop and Sir Richard Saltostall. On the morning of 8 April 1630, the first five ships set sail from Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. and arrived at Salem on the 12th of June. The other six ships of the Winthrop Fleet sailed in May and arrived in July, bringing altogether about 700 passengers. Not being satisfied with the prospects of Salem, the colonists soon moved on to Charlestown and thence to Watertown where they settled. Isaac Stearns settled near Mount Auburn. In 1642, his homelot was bounded on the north by the land of John Warren, on the west by the highway, on the south by the land of John Biscoe, and on the east by Pequusett Meadow, a part of which meadow he owned. In the distribution of the estate of his son Samuel in 1724, this homelot where his grandfIther had lived, was asàigned to the eldest son Nathaniel. Probably all the families of the name Steams in the United are descended from three early immigrants, viz. Isaac br.Charles, who settled in Watertown. or Nathaniel, who settled in Dedham. Isaac, in his will, calls Charles my kinsman. Probably Nathaniel was also related. Isaac Stearns was admitted a freeman on 18 May 1631, and he was a selectman for several years.
On 4 December 1638, Isaac Stearns and John Page were fined 5 shillings for turning the way about (i.e. changing the highway). In 1647, he and Briscoe were appointed by the selectmen to consider how the bridge over the river shall be built, and to agree with the workmen for doing it, according to their best discretion. This was the first mention of a bridge over the Charles River in Watertown. Isaac Steams died 19 June 1671, leaving a widow Mary, who died 23 April 1677.
His will, dated five days before his death, and with his autograph signature, is extant in the Middlesex Probate office. I. Isaac Sternes. of Watertown in the County of Middlesex, being sick in body, but though the goodness of God in sound memory, do declare this to be my last Will and Testament, in the manner and form as followeth:
Imp.-ffirst, I return my spirit into the hands of God that gave it, and my body to the earth from whence it was taken.
2dly-My will is that Mary, my beloved wife, should enjoy my whole estate, for her maintainance, so long as she shall remain a widow: but if my said wife shall marry again, then my will is that she should enjoy only what the law intended and provided for in the law titled dowers.
3dly-I give and bequeath to my grandchildren, the children of my sonne John Sternes, fower score pounds [which] being added to what my son had formerly, will be a double portion with the rest of my children.
4thly-I give unto my son Isaac Sternes, seventy pounds. which being added to what he have had already, will be his proportion according to the rest of my children.
5thly-I give to my son, Samuel Sternes, seventy pounds, which being added to what I formerly gave him will be his proportion with the rest of my children.
6thly-I give to my grandchildren, the children of my daughter Mary, deceased, five and thirty pounds: my grandchild, Isaac Lernot, to have ten pounds of the said 35 pounds--the remainder, which will be twenty-five pounds, to be equally divided to the rest; which said thirty five pounds being added to what I formerly gave my daughter. Mary Lernot, will be an equal proportion with the rest of my children.
7thly-l give to rny daughter Sarah Stone, forty pounds, which being added to what she formerly had, will be her proportion.
8thly-I give to my daughter Elizabeth Manning twenty pounds, which being added to what I formerly gave her, will be her proportion: further, my will is, that the said twenty pounds given to my daughter Elizabeth aforesaid, be secured for the good and benefit of the children. 9thly-l give and bequeath to my daughter Abigail Morss, five acres of meadow, lying and being at Samuel's farm, to enjoy and possess for her nnd her heirs forever and my will is, that my daughter Abigail Morss, may take the said five acres of meadow next to Samuel's meadow, or next to Capt. Masons: and besides the meadow, give to my said daughter Abigail. forty pounds. all which being added to what she have had forrnerly, will be her proportion.
10thly-My will is, that my kinsman Charles Sternes, shall have ten pounds of my estate. Further, my will is, that my whole estate remain whole and unbroken for comfort and maintainance of my beloved wife, as said above, so long as she doth remain a widow save only the five acres of meadow given to my daughter Abigail, which she is to enjoy presently.
ffurther. I nominate and appoint my beloved sons. Isaac Sternes and Samuel Sternes. executors, to this my last Will and Testament, and have hereunto set my -hand. this fourteenth day of June. one thousand six hundred and seventy-one, in presence of. Before subscribing, my will is. that when those several legacies are paid out -according to my Will within mentioned, then my will is. that the remainder of my -estate shall be equally divided among my children then living, and so subscribe the day aforesaid by putting to my hand in presence of. William fond. Sen'r John Briscoe. Sen'r
The appraisal of his estate indicates he was comparatively affluent for his time, considering that he had previously given respectable portions to each of his seven living children. It included 14 parcels of land of 467 acres total, plus stock, fanning utensils, provisions and household goods.