52 Ancestors: #46 William Hersey, Immigrant & one of the Founders of Hingham, MA

William Hersey was my ninth great-grandfather. Born 1596 in Reading, Berkshire, England, he died March 22, 1658 in Hingham, Massachusetts. The son of Nathaniel and Anne Hersey, he married  first  Margaret Garves on January 1, 1615 and second Elizabeth Croade in England in 1631 and then arrived in Hingham in 1635. Some documents claim William and Elizabeth married in New England, but since they were both from England and he arrived in 1635, that is unlikely. It appears Elizabeth arrived after giving birth to daughter Elizabeth in 1636 back in England.

Margaret gave him three children in Reading, England, only one of whom survived to have issue:      Gregory, b. Nov 19, 1616, had one son Robert who died in England, no issue.
Nathaniel b. Jan 13, 1617 d. Jan 16, 1617
Cecilie b. Jan 17, 1619 d. Dec. 7, 1619

Some notes say Margaret died 1623 but I have not found any death documentation beyond notes in various genealogy lists.

Elizabeth gave him at least six children – William (1632-1691), Elizabeth (1636-1719), John (1640-1726), James (1643-1684) and two daughters, Frances and Judith, for whom we do not have dates.

Daughter Elizabeth (my 8th great grandmother) married Moses Gilman, Judith married Humphrey Wilson and Frances married Richard Croade.

The Pioneers of Massachusetts 1620-1650

The Pioneers of Massachusetts 1620-1650


This is the will of William Hersey:

Will of William Hersey 1658

Will of William Hersey 1658


A memorial in Hingham Cemetery for William and his wife Elizabeth:

Memorial of William Hersey and his wife Elizabeth Croade. Photo taken in 1989 by Tim Cooper while visiting the cemetery with mother, Ruth Marcelyn (Hersey) Cooper. Added by: Tim Cooper 7/31/2008 from Find a Grave

Memorial of William Hersey and his wife Elizabeth Croade. Photo taken in 1989 by Tim Cooper while visiting the cemetery with mother, Ruth Marcelyn (Hersey) Cooper. Added by: Tim Cooper 7/31/2008 from Find a Grave

Further information on William can be found here.
“William Hersey was christened at St. Giles Parish, Reading, England 22 August 1596 and died at Hingham, Massachusetts 24 March 1658. On 1 January 1615/16 he married MARGARET GARVES (or Graves). Stiles’ “Ancient Wethersfield” book states that William had previously surveyed the Massachusetts coast for the British Government and was granted a large tract of land for these services in New England at what afterwards became Hingham, MA.  William came to New England in 1635 and early in the autumn of that year located in Hingham with others who were passengers on the ship he came in. On July 3, 1636, he had a house-lot of five acres granted him, on what is now South, nearly opposite West St. It is believed that part of William’s original homestead survives in the W. Allan Gay House located at 262 South Street in Hingham. In the History of Hingham, William, his son, grandson and great-grandson are listed as living in the ancestral home, with Deacon Joshua Hersey, the great-grandson, living there in 1737. He was the last of the line to occupy it, dying in 1784. The land in Hingham granted to William in 1635 is well documented. The location of his original house is also known. The house now standing on the site likely contains the original kitchen from William’s house. In the kitchen are exposed wood beams, whose great width indicates that the beams came from trees from the early to mid-1600’s. The main beam in the present kitchen is chestnut, a tree which disappeared in this size in the early 1700’s. William married secondly ELIZABETH CROADE, who was born at Suffolk, England 1610 and who died 8 October 1671.
At the time of the trouble about the election of officers for the train band, 1644-1645, William was assessed a heavy fine for supporting the views of Rev. Peter Hobart and his friends; and the family rate towards the erection of the new meeting-house was the largest but one upon the list. He was a Freeman March, 1638; selectman 1642, 1647, and 1650; and a member of the Artillery Company 1652. At the time of his death, his property was appraised at 409 pounds, 13 shillings, 6 pence. William’s will, dated 9 March 1657, reads as follows: William Hersie, senior, of Hingham—Being now sicke. I giue to my sonne William ye house and home Lott that he now Liues in and ye penn plott before his gate, and ye Lott I bought of Mathew Chafey at ye Capts Tent, with one great Lott at Nuttey hill, yt Lyes outmost to ye South East, to him and his heyres for euer. To my sonne John, one Lott at Nuttey hill, yt lyes Northward of Moses Colliers. To my sonne James the Lott yt Lyes next ye aforesaid Lott giuen his Brother John, Lyeing to ye Northward of the Lott of George Lane. To my daughter Frances, £5 sterling; dau. Elizabeth, £5 sterling; dau. Judith, £ sterling; (each of these at ye decease of their mother, or ye day of their mothers marriage.) I giue my Grand Child, John Croade, after my decease, when Liueing to 4 yeares of age, 40s.; my grand child, William Hersie, 40s in like manner. All ye rest of my Land, housing goods &c. to my wife Elizabeth, during her life, or liues in a Widdowes Estate; but if she marryes, then to distribute it amongst my Children as she may see good, allwayes p’vided not to Lay any restraint vpon her for matter of time in disposall of what she may see meete to any of my Children; making her my only executrix. Overseers, Cousine John Farrington, Thomas Marsh & my sonne in Law Richard Croade. William’s estate was appraised after his death on 28 April 1658 as worth £419. 13. 06. “Land wch was John Princes and Stephen Gates; a piece of ground at the rotten tree; land at Hockley; at Conahasset; at ware neck,” &c., &c. ”  (From Smith: Information )

We Herseys are descendants of William Hersey who came to America, from England in 1635. Francis C. Hersey has researched the progenitor of the Herseys in America:The earliest record of the Hersey family- which can be obtained is the name of a certain Sir Malvicius de Herey in the year 1210. The family appears to have come originally from Flanders, and I find that a Hughe de Hersey was Governor of Trou-Normandy in 1204. Edward I held another Hugh when a minor, i. e., took all his rents until he came of age. There is a Count Hercé-Maine, France, running from the year 1550. Sir Malvicius married Theophania, daughter and co-heir of Gilbert de Arches, Baron of Grove, and from him descended the family of Herey of Grove, one of the first families in the County of Nottingham.Branches of this family appear to have settled in several of the southern counties of England; one in Oxfordshire, another in Berks, and so forth, and they appear always to have been among the leading county families. The name is found in Sussex, England, in 1376 to 1482, owning property seven miles round. In Warwickshire there is a village which still bears the name Pillerton Hersey or Herey, The Herseys of Grove only show, it direct descent in the male line down to 1570, but the branches in Oxfordshire and Berkshire go to 1794, at which date a son-in-law took the name Hersey, and these branches in England come down to the present time through him.

There are numerous Hearseys, Hersees, Hearses and Herseys to be found, and a number of entries. are in the registers of London churches, including Thomas Hersey, his wife, Eliza, and family of five children, Richard, Elizabeth, Thomas, John, and Joan, all of. whom died of the plague at Wandsworth, London in 1603. The name of Robert Hearse occurs as minister of Trinity Church, London, in 1578. There are branches of the family to be found in India, where they own land fifty miles by fifteen in the province of Oude. The arms of English Hereys are “Gules, a chief argent”; crest, “a Moor’s head wreathed on a coronet.”

In the year 1635 Richard Herey, aged twenty-two, sailed from London for Virginia in the ship [unclear] and in the same year William sailed for New England. This last named settled in Hingham, Mass., and the records of that town clearly prove his identity. Savage’s “Three Generations of Settlers” says that the William Herey who left England in 1635 had a daughter Judith born in England who was married in 1663 to Humphrey Wilson. The records of the town of Hingham show that Judith, daughter of the William who settled there in 1635, was baptized in Hingham, July 15, 1638, and was married to Humphrey Wilson in 1663, as stated by Savage. This William was undoubtedly the son of Nathaniel Herey, who died in Reading, Berkshire Country, in 1629; his children were William, born 1596, and Thomas, born 1599. I find no male issue of Thomas after 1672. The children of William, probably born in England, Gregory, Prudence, Nathaniel, William, Frances, Elizabeth, and Judith, the four latter accompanying their father to America. Gregory had one son Robert, who died in England leaving no issue, and Nathaniel left one son and one grandson; the latter probably died in England about 1794, without male issue. There is no record of burial in England of Nathaniel’s son William, showing that he must be the emigrant of 1635 who settled in Hingham, same year. Thus the present American branch of the Hersey family, who descended from William, are able to establish their connection through Nathaniel with the English Berkshire family, and to trace their ancestry back to Sir Malvicius de Herey, who lived in the reign of King John.

The Richard Herey who sailed for Virginia could not have belonged to the Berkshire branch of the Herey family; no trace can be found of him in America, and it is probable that be died without issue.

About 1786 William Graham, of Netherby, Cumberland, England, married a Miss Hersey (American branch) and had a son William. This is a baronet’s family, and one of them was Viscount Preston in 1688.

From my genealogical researches I have arranged a Hersey Tree, starting with William, who settled in Hingham in 1635.”

(From:  Their Story by May Hersey )

Update: This is where records state William Hersey’s house was located.

South St, near West St, Hingham MA 2017

William Hersey (1596 – 1658) is your 9th great grandfather
 John Hersey (1640 – 1726) son of William Hersey
 Daniel Hersey (1682 – 1766) son of John Hersey
 Mary Hersey (1711 – 1805) daughter of Daniel Hersey
 Zenas Wilder (1749 – 1833) son of Mary Hersey
 Theophilus Wilder (1787 – 1865) son of Zenas Wilder
 Mary Ann Wilder (1828 – 1905) daughter of Theophilus Wilder
 John Milton Roberts (1858 – 1939) son of Mary Ann Wilder
 Hazel Pearl Roberts (1900 – 1990) daughter of John Milton Roberts
 Helen Adelaide Reynolds (1920 – 2003)  (my maternal grandmother) daughter of Hazel Pearl Roberts






About T.K. Eldridge

This entry was posted in Graff/Roberts/Reynolds/etc.. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 52 Ancestors: #46 William Hersey, Immigrant & one of the Founders of Hingham, MA

  1. Christa says:

    William is my 9th great grandfather, as well. We share this line to Daniel, though often through more than one child in a generation. They intermarried many times all the way to my 4th greats.

    Thank you for posting this information. I’m looking forward to exploring more of it.

    • T.K. Eldridge says:

      Nice to meet you! There are a lot of intermarriages in the Wilder line as well. Made researching both easy…and complicated!

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