52 Ancestors #26: Sergeant William Harlow, Second Generation Pilgrim

William Harlow, Sergeant, was my tenth great grandfather. He was born to William Harlow and Lucy Uln on October 5, 1624 in Plymouth, Massachusetts and died August 23, 1691 in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

He married first, Rebecca Bartlett on December 20, 1649 in Plymouth. She gave him William (1650-1650), Samuel (1652-1734), my ninth great grandmother, Rebeckah (1655-1727) and William (1657-1710). Rebecca Bartlett Harlow died 15 Jul 1657 shortly after William’s birth in Plymouth.

He then married Mary Faunce on July 16, 1658 who gave him Mary (1659-1743), Repentance (1660-1738), John (1662-1771) and Nathaniel (1664-1721). Mary Faunce Harlow died 4 Oct 1664 shortly after Nathaniel’s death.

Last he married Mary Shelley June 25, 1665. She gave him Hannah (1666-1689), Bathshua (1667), Joanna (1669), Mehitable (1672), Judith (1676) and Benjamin (1679)

Harlow Old Fort House

Harlow Old Fort House


Harlow House

Harlow House


Interior Harlow House

Interior Harlow House

1677 Harlow Old Fort House   119 Sandwich Street, Plymouth, MA
Built in 1677, the gambrel-roofed Harlow Old Fort House is one of the few remaining 17th century buildings in the oldest established town in the Commonwealth. It was originally the family residence of settler William Harlow, a farmer, cooper and town official, who also served as sergeant of the local militia and participated in King Philip’s War. In 1676, Harlow was granted permission to salvage material from the Pilgrim’s fort-house on Burial Hill to use in the construction of his new dwelling. From the early 19th century, the Harlow House has been notable for the hand-hewn beams attributed to this source. The house, a local landmark for generations, is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.
In 1920, when the Harlow House was put up for sale by its last private owners, much of Plymouth’s historic waterfront was being razed to prepare for the Tercentenary celebration of the Landing of the Pilgrims. The Plymouth Antiquarian Society recognized the importance of preserving one of the town’s few remaining First Period structures and purchased the Harlow House for $3,000. Under the direction of architect Joseph E. Chandler, the house was restored to show the early hall with its central hearth and wide board flooring. Since 1922, the Harlow House has been in continuous operation as a historic house museum, furnished with early American artifacts to show daily life in colonial New England.

After hundreds of years of being lived in, the Harlow House remains a welcoming place for children and families to explore the past. Tours and educational programs are offered seasonally. A series of festive special events is held at the site annually, including “The Corn Planting,” enacted each year by local schoolchildren, a spinning bee and craft fair, and the annual Pilgrim Breakfast, a traditional New England repast featuring fish cakes, baked beans and corn bread. The Sgt. William Harlow Family Association holds a gathering for descendants of original settler William Harlow at the historic homestead every summer.

Written by: Ruth B. Wagner – Research by: Jane Baker
Half-a-mile south of the center of Plymouth stands the Harlow Old Fort House, a small story and a half dwelling with grayed shingles, gambrel roof, and a large central chimney. This type of house was often built in the area south of Boston. The gable faces Sandwich Street, the old “hieway” connecting Plymouth with Sandwich on Cape Cod.
The house presents much the same appearance it did in 1677 when it was completed and occupied by William Harlow, a cooper by trade, who had obtained the land at a town meeting in 1669. Harlow, a ‘freeman’ or voter of the colony, and a Selectman of the town which he also represented in various minor offices, was typical of the responsible, sober and hardworking men who carried on the pilgrim tradition in the second generation of Plymouth Colony. His house projects the Pilgrim home and way of life.

Sergeant William Harlow was born in England about 1624 but is first mentioned in Plymouth (Massachusetts) town records as a voter in 1646.

His first wife, Rebecca Bartlett, to whom he was married in 1648, was the granddaughter of Richard Warren, who arrived in Plymouth in 1620 as a passenger on the Mayflower. Mary Faunce was his second wife. He married the third time to Mary Shelley.

Many families today trace their ancestry back to Sergeant William Harlow through his fourteen children.

Local church history, as well as town sources, reveal his many contributions to the community. His title was obtained as a leader of the military company and he had charge of the old fort and saw much military service. In 1621 the Pilgrims built the old fort on Burial Hill where their religious services were held. At the end of King Philip’s War (1676) the fort was torn down and its timbers used by Sergeant William Harlow for the construction of this house.

After nearly 250 years in the Harlow Family, the Plymouth Antiquarian Society acquired the property and restored and refurnished it to its original appearance and then opened to the public in 1921. It is supported by the generosity of the people whose national heritage is here preserved. Anyone interested in helping is cordially invited to become a member of the Society or to contribute to the Plymouth Antiquarian Society, Plymouth, Mass.
This is a working museum that presents to the visitor an intimate glimpse into the daily life of our 17th century settlers. A costumed hostess demonstrates how wool is washed, carded and spun on the spinning wheel; and how the thread is skeined, dyed and woven on the loom. She shows the process of making linen from the flax plant to the finished product. She dips bayberry candles by hand as they were made in Pilgrim times, and there are some demonstrations of fireplace cooking.


William Harlow Sgt. (1624 – 1691) is your 10th great grandfather
Rebeckah Harlow (1655 – 1727) daughter of William Harlow Sgt.
Rebeckah Cushman (1678 – 1756) daughter of Rebeckah Harlow
Noah Mitchell (1712 – 1784)  son of Rebeckah Cushman
Hannah Mitchell (1743 – 1799) daughter of Noah Mitchell
Rebecca Cox (1769 – 1844) daughter of Hannah Mitchell
David Reynolds (1792 – 1864) son of Rebecca Cox
Edgar Bliss Reynolds (1868 – 1923)  son of Ephraim Weston Reynolds
Harry Nelson Reynolds (1896 – 1963)  son of Edgar Bliss Reynolds
Helen Adelaide Reynolds (1920 – 2003)  daughter of Harry Nelson Reynolds


About T.K. Eldridge

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7 Responses to 52 Ancestors #26: Sergeant William Harlow, Second Generation Pilgrim

  1. Erica Y. says:

    Hi there! I styled across this site as I’m studying more about my ancestors and Sgt. William Harlow is also my 10th Great-Grandfather!

  2. Shakindatree says:

    Thank you much for your post on your/ours Plimouth Ancestors. How did you find Lucy Uln name the resource? Your the only one with it. Thank you much.

    • T.K. Eldridge says:

      I got it from records shared by a member of the Mayflower Descendants group. He had documentation from England. I saw his documents but don’t have copies yet.

  3. Keith Sears, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada says:

    I’m interested in the spelling of the name of one of Sgt. William Harlow’s daughters with his third wife Mary Shelly. Her name was Bathshua and she married Richard Sears the son of my 7th GG. Our family has always spelled her name as Bashua. Also, would you be able to tell me the date of her death and where she might be buried? Thanks.

    • T.K. Eldridge says:

      In Massachusetts Compiled Marriages, it spelled her name Bathshua. Considering most of the names were from the bible, Bathshua is the biblical spelling, so between that and the Mass Marriages doc, I went with Bathshua. I don’t have her death date, sorry.

  4. Dan Harlow says:

    My name is Daniel Roy Harlow and Sgt William is my 8th great grandfather. I have spent hundreds of hours on my genealogy and am willing to share.

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