John Spence, who during his lifetime was a well-known citizen and successful business man of Rockland, Mass., was a native of Ireland, born there Dec. 12, 1834, son of James and Mary (Coffey) Spence. Mr. Spence left his native home for America in 1848, in his fourteenth year. He located in Massachusetts and learned the trade of shoemaker, at which he worked in a factory in East Abington, now Rockland, where he continued until 1875. He then started in business for himself, manufacturing heels, being a pioneer in that business. At this he continued for a number of years, and then in 1885 he started in the leather business, opening a store on South street, Boston, and a branch house in Chicago. In 1895 he established the Brockton Leather Company, which he conducted with great success until his death. He was also interested in other enterprises, being one of the promoters of the Rockland & Abington street railway, and serving as vice president and a director of the company during its existence. He was also a stockholder and director of the Abington & Rockland Electric Light & Power Company, and was a trustee of the Rockland Savings Bank until his death. He took quite a prominent and active part in the public affairs of Rockland, was a member of the board of water commissioners, and a member of the Commercial Club. Through his industry and thrift he built up a successful business and gained a considerable fortune. He was a consistent member of the Roman Catholic Church.
IVERS (New Bedford family). The name Ivers seems one uncommon in New England annals and the family by no means numerous. At Dedham are fragmentary records of the Ivers family name, but nothing of an early date.
William and Gregory Ivers, brothers, appear in Boston in the early part of the eighteenth century. They are said to have come about 1720 with the pioneer Scotch settlers from the North of Ireland. William Ivers married in Boston April 28, 1724, Jane Barber, the ceremony being performed by a Presbyterian minister. Jane Ivers died at Boston in 1789; her will, made April 29, 1776, proved April 13, 1789, Capt. Job Prince, executor, mentions sons James and Thomas, probably the only ones living at the date of making the will.
The earliest record of a Toby or Tobey in our American annals is that of one Francis of Boston, who was in court on July 7, 1635.
The first known and credited ancestor of this family was Thomas Tobey, of Scituate, Mass. He removed to Sandwich, Mass., and was a member of church there in 1694. He married at Sandwich Nov. 18, 1650, Martha Knott, daughter of George Knott, deceased
Albert Cranston Thompson, a resident of Brockton, Plymouth county, for over forty years, was a citizen of proved worth in business and public life. His influence in both is a permanent factor in the city’s development, a force which dominates the policy of at least one phase of its civil administration, and his memory is cherished by the many with whom he had long sustained commercial and social relations. As the head of an important industrial concern for a period of over thirty years, as chairman for nearly ten years, up to the time of his death, of the sewerage commissioners of Brockton, as president of the Commercial Club, as an active worker in church and social organizations, he had a diversity of interests which brought him into contact with all sorts and conditions of men and broadened his life to an unusual degree. Good will and sympathy characterized his intercourse with all his fellows. As may be judged from his numerous interests and his activity in all he was a man of many accomplishments, of unusual ability, of attractive personality and un-questionable integrity. He was earnest in everything which commanded his attention and zealous in promoting the welfare of any object which appealed to him, and his executive ability and untiring energy made him an ideal worker in the different organizations of every kind with which he was connected. Mr. Thompson was a native of the county in which he passed all his life, having been born Dec. 19, 1843, in Halifax, a descendant of one of the oldest and best known families of that town. The families of Thompson and Fuller were very numerous and prominent in that region, so much so that according to tradition a public speaker once, in opening his address, instead of beginning with the customary “Ladies and Gentlemen” said “Fullers and Thompsons.” So much for their numbers. The line of descent is traced back to early Colonial days.
Lawrence Wilkinson, the first of the race here in New England, was born in Lanchester, County of Durham, England, a son of William Wilkinson by his wife Mary, sister of Sir John Conyers, Bart., and the grandson of Lawrence Wilkinson, of Harpley House, Durham. He was a loyalist, and at the surrender of Newcastle, 1644, was taken prisoner by the Parliamentary and Scotch troops. At this time he held a lieutenant’s commission. He was deprived of his property, and his estates sequestered by order of Parliament. After having obtained special permission from Lord Fairfax, chief commander of the Parliamentary army, he embarked with his wife and child for New England, leaving, according to Somerby, in 1652. Arriving at Providence he signed the civil compact and received a gift of twenty-five acres of land and commenced his pioneer life. He was admitted as one of the original “Proprietors of Providence.” He soon acquired a large real estate, and held a prominent position among his fellow citizens. He was frequently chosen to fill offices of trust in the infant colony; was elected a member of the Legislature in 1659 and subsequently. He was an active business man. He participated in the Indian wars. He lived in his adopted country nearly half a century. His death occurred in 1692.
KELLEY (New Bedford family Haverhill branch). At New Bedford for several generations have lived what for designation may be termed the Haverhill-New Bedford Kelleys. Reference is made to some of the descendants of William Kelley and his wife Abigail (Cannon) Kelley, both natives of the town of Haverhill, one of whose sons, the late Henry C. Kelley, was in the earlier half of the nineteenth century a merchant in New Bedford, and his son, the present Charles Sampson Kelley, since young manhood has been one of the most active and useful citizens of the city, having coupled his name with most if not all of the projects which have tended to the developing and modernizing of the city, one whose efforts in this direction have been especially conspicuous; and who, as a business man, banker and broker, is the architect of his own successful career.
The name Kelley, which was originally spelled Kelleigh, can be traced back to a period prior to the Norman conquest, and its barons are undoubtedly descended from the ancient Britons. The principal manorial seat of the family in England has been for many centuries located in the small parish of Kelly (or Kelley) in Devonshire. Burke and Shirley both agree as to its great antiquity, and the latter asserts that the Kellys have been lords of the manor from the reign of Henry II. (1154-1189). All the Kelleys in New England prior to 1690, with the exception of David Kelley of Yarmouth, Mass., freeman, 1657, and possibly one other family, appear to have been of English origin, and in all probability were of the Devonshire stock.
Ellis Brett, president of the Plymouth County Trust Company, of Brockton, and one of that city’s honored and respected citizens, is a worthy representative of historic New England ancestry, the Brett family having resided in this community since the first settlement of the mother town of Bridgewater, from which the town of North Bridgewater (now Brockton) was set off. Mr. Brett was born in the latter town Oct. 23, 1840, only son of Ephraim and Ruth (Copeland) Brett. The early history of the Brett family in America begins with William Brett, who came to Duxbury, Mass., in 1645, from Kent, England, and later became one of the fifty-four original proprietors and first settlers of the town of ancient Bridgewater, settling in the West parish of the town. He was an elder in the church, and often when the Rev. James Keith, the first ordained pastor of the church there, was ill, Mr. Brett preached to the people. He was a leading man in both church and town affairs, and was deputy to the General Court from the date of the in-corporation of ancient Bridgewater in 1656 to 1661. That he was well educated and intelligent is manifest from a letter to Governor Winslow, still extant, and he was much esteemed by his brethren and often employed in their secular affairs. He died Dec. 17, 1681, aged sixty-three years
JOHN DEXTER FLINT (deceased), merchant, trader, philanthropist and churchman, of Fall River, was in many ways a most remarkable man, one that perhaps crowded more into his three-score years of active business life in the city of his adoption than any of his contemporaries; among the foremost leaders in business lines of those who wrought with him, he no doubt was first in generous gifts to religious and church work and lines akin to it. Born April 26, 1826, in the town of North Reading, Mass., Mr. Flint was a son of Henry and Mary (Sanborn) Flint, most estimable people but of limited means. The Flints were of good Puritan stock, the North Reading family descending from (I) Thomas Flint, who, with his brother William, was here in New England probably before 1642. William became a large land owner in the vicinity of Flint street, Salem, while Thomas was one of the first settlers in that part of Salem Village which became Danvers, buying land there as early as 1662.
At New Bedford, this Commonwealth, a point so long famous the world round for its whaling industry, a business carried on to an extent and success that made it the wealthiest place in proportion to its population of any point in New England, and a city that has since been hardly less conspicuous as a cotton manufacturing point, there still reside representatives of the Rotch family; here where, since the middle of the eighteenth century, have lived seven or eight generations of Rotches, than whom as a family perhaps no other has had greater influence in developing New Bedford’s character and prosperity and shaping its history.
For nearly fifty years the name of Whipple has been one of Brockton citizenship, representing a family here of substance and exceptional prominence in the community. Reference is made to the late Ferdinand Whipple and his son, the present Hon. John Jay Whipple, who together and in turn have been among Brockton’s successful business men, the son having figured conspicuously in public affairs, filling most of the offices within the gift of his fellow citizens, among other honors having been four times elected to the mayoralty of the city of Brockton. The Whipple family is one long prominent in the country, the earlier generations having been conspicuous in Rhode Island’s Colonial period, it being a Rhode Island family.