Sep 192013

Massacre of Ipswich settlers in Brookfield

I received an intriguing inquiry this week. Here’s a digest of our correspondence:

(Question) Hi – My name is Dorothy. Our family lives in Illinois and I have never been out East. Growing up, my mom used to talk about “Ipswich Massachusetts” and that part of our family came from there. Several ten-times great-grandparents of mine including William Clark came to America from England on the Winthrop fleet in1630. I also found family members that were involved in the Salem Witch Trials, John Dane and Rev. Francis Dane, who had more family members accused than any other family. My seven times great-grandfather, James Hovey, Sr. was killed by Indians in 1675 and possibly my seven times great-grandmother, Priscilla Dane. Do you know if she died at age 23 in 1675 or went on with her life?

(My reply:) Hi Dorothy. In May 1660 a group of colonists moved from Ipswich to the Indian town Quaboag in Western Massachusetts, which they renamed named Brookfield. Daniel Hovey and his wife Abigail joined the new town in 1668 accompanied by their five younger children, Thomas aged 20, James 18, Joseph 15, Abigail 13, and Nathaniel 11. Their older children, Daniel Jr. and John remained in Ipswich. Daniel Hovey moved again to Hadley and returned to Ipswich after the massacre at Quabog in 1675 during “King Phillips War”.

The Quabog Massacre: In the early moments of the siege, Daniel’s son James was overtaken and killed by the Indians somewhere near his house. His wife Priscilla, and their children took refuge in a tavern surrounded by hundreds of hostile Nipmucs, who tried unsuccessfully to  burn it. After three days Major Simon Willard arrived with 46 troops, and they chased off the attackers. James Hovey was buried with the eleven other victims, and the traumatized survivors returned to Ipswich or dispersed to other better-protected communities along the Massachusetts frontier. Priscilla and the children survived.

The mystery surrounding Priscilla Dane: Certain first names were used repeatedly over the generations, and many families in early Ipswich were intermarried, making historical accuracy difficult. Some histories indicate that in 1670 James Hovey married Priscilla Rebecca Dane, daughter of Dr. John Dane and Eleanor Clark of Ipswich. Yet the Dane family is not mentioned among the settlers of Brookfield and their four daughters  were listed as Elizabeth, Mary, Rebecca and Sarah. The Dane’s son John married Abigail Warner, daughter of Daniel and Elizabeth Warner. James Hovey married Priscilla Warner, daughter of John and Priscilla Warner, another “planter family” in Brookfield originally from Ipswich. After the attack on Brookfield, Priscilla took her three children to join James’ brother Daniel Hovey in Hadley. Some records state that he married a Priscilla Dane, adding to the confusion. James’ widow Priscilla left her eldest son, also named Daniel in Hadley to be raised and educated by James’ other brother Thomas. She returned to Ipswich with her daughter Priscilla and the infant, James Jr. She filed an inventory of the estate in March 1676 and received a small stipend as a war widow from the General Court of Ipswich. James’ death was officially listed as a military casualty.

The former home of Daniel Hovey on Tansey Lane

More about the family names you mentioned:

  • William Clark (aka Clerk) was among the original settlers twelve settlers of Ipswich, arriving in 1633 with John Winthrop Jr. He was granted sixty acres of land on the same side of the Ipswich River
  • This was near the home of home of Daniel Hovey, who arrived in Ipswich in 1635 at the age of 17. Hovey Street is named after him, and is across the river from Hovey’s home. (Read about him at Daniel Hovey married Abigail, daughter of Captain Robert Andrewes (aka Andrews) circa 1641.
  • Capt. Andrews settled at Ipswich early in the year 1635, and was master of the ship Angel Gabriel. His sister married a member of the Burnham family, also Ipswich early settlers.
  • John Dane had worked as a tailor in England and joined the Puritan Great Migration to the newly established Massachusetts Bay Colony. The family name Dane was alternatively spelled Dean. The home of the son of the second Philomen Dean (son of the son of the second John Dean), is one of the oldest and most historic in town, and you can read about it at
  • Daniel Dane, son of John, married Abigail Burnham. The “Burnham-Andrews House” on Argilla Road originated with this family. View the house at

So, regardless of the mystery surrounding Priscilla Dane, you have a strong Ipswich “pedigree” Dorothy. Even though I grew up in the deep south, I like to think I am somehow related to the Harris family of carpenters who built some of our earliest homes along East Street and Town Wharf. To view and search several hundred historic houses in Ipswich and see the names of their original owners, go to .

Gordon Harris, chairman, Ipswich Historical Commission

Quaboag Plantation alias Brookefeild;:

A seventeenth century Massachusetts town,

  2 Responses to “Ipswich and the Brookfield Massacre”

  1. In searching for more information re: John Dane the third, grandson of Dr. John Dane, author of “The Narrative” and wife Eleanor Clarke, I came across This article of other Danes of this family. Both John Dane Jr. and a sister married into the Warner family. John Dane Jr. married Abigail Warner, and John’s sister married Daniel Warner born 1640.
    John Dane Jr. and wife Abigail Warner had a son, also John Dane whose birthdate, place (probably Ipswich, Ma) wife, and death date and place have been impossible for me to locate.

    John Dane III left a daughter Abigail Dane/Dean who married Samuel Dodge

    I haven’t found John Dane’s wife, or any other mention of him on the web. At least your article gives names and details re: other Ipswich, Ma. residents who moved to other parts.

    My late husband is also descendent of Sarah Proctor, whose brother John Proctor was in trial where an earlier John Dane presided. Husband’s nephew is married to a descendent of Rebecca Towne who also was brought to trial, but perhaps not with same Dane judge. Thanks for the article. L.Davis


  2. Thank you Gordon. I more than appreciate the input you have given me on my family origins in Ipswich. I was born, raised and live in Illinois. The first time I heard my mom talk about Ipswich was when I was about 7 years old and it really caught my attention then because I though it was such a neat name for a town to say! Through over 300 years of oral family history, my sisters and I heard through my mom that part of our family came from Ipswich Massachusetts and this has now turned out to be completely correct! I will plan on visiting Ipswich next fall. Thanks again.


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