The Stetson family of Bridgewater is one of the oldest and most prominent in that section of the State, and it has for upward of two centuries been identified with the manufacturing interests of the town, its representatives being the founders of the iron industry of Bridgewater. Especial reference is made to Capt. Abisha Stetson, who was one of the first to engage in the iron business; his son, Nahum Stetson, whose name was a household word in his native town, and who by his great foresight, enterprise and progressive ideas built up the great Bridgewater Iron Works; and the latter’s sons and grandsons, all men of substance and good citizenship.
The Sumner family, to which the late Mrs. George Barstow Stetson belonged, is an old and prominent family of New England, descended from one William Sumner, who was born at Bicester, England, in 1605, son of Roger Sumner, of Bicester, Oxfordshire, and his wife Joane (Franklin).
William Sumner, the only child of Roger and Joane, married Oct. 22, 1625, Mary West, and they came to America with their four children in 1636, locating at Dorchester, Mass. He was made a freeman of the Colony May 17, 1637, and held many offices of importance, being selectman for nearly a quarter of a century. He was deputy from Dorchester to the General Court for eight years. He died Dec. 9. 1688, surviving his wife, who died June 7, 1676. Both are buried at Dorchester.
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.
The Washburn name in this country is a distinguished one. Perhaps it is as yet only a tradition that John Washburn, the ancestor of the Washburns here considered, was he who first served as secretary of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Several governors of our States have borne the Washburn name and at one and the same time four of the name occupied seats in the United States Congress. And the branch of the Massachusetts Washburns seated in Middleboro and vicinity have borne no small part in the annals of the Old Colony and later Commonwealth. Capt. Amos Washburn was in command of a company in the American Revolution; one of his sons, a graduate of Harvard, was a talented lawyer at Middleboro; Edward Washburn, brother of Capt. Amos, was another patriot in the Continental army; and his son, Gen. Abiel Washburn, was one of the leading men of his time in Middleboro, the acknowledged leader of the Federal party, and for thirty-six years held commissions through the different grades of office in the State militia; while Luther, Cyrus and the late Bradford Sumner Washburn, in turn, were substantial citizens of the town, and the latter’s son, Judge Nathan Washburn, lawyer and present Justice of the Courts of Plymouth county, is giving a good account of himself.
Being a history of the descendants of Richard Dexter of Malden, Massachusetts, from the notes of John Haven Dexter and original researches. Richard Dexter, who was admitted an inhabitant of Boston (New England), Feb. 28, 1642, came from within ten miles of the town of Slane, Co. Meath, Ireland, and belonged to a branch of that family of Dexter who were descendants of Richard de Excester, the Lord Justice of Ireland. He, with his wife Bridget, and three or more children, fled to England from the great Irish Massacre of the Protestants which commenced Oct. 27, 1641. When Richard Dexter and family left England and by what vessel, we are unable to state, but he could not have remained there long, as we know he was living at Boston prior to Feb. 28, 1642.