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CFA Chapter 13
Descendants of Edmund Chandler

born c 1588 England, died 1662 MA USA

Chapter 13
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November 2008

Barb Chandler Editor

Benjamin Chandler’s Estate
by Billie Pett and Cornelia L. Taylor

Non Compos Mentis, 1685-1771, Duxbury, Massachusetts

Benjamin Chandler was baptized April 12, 1685, in the Second Parish Church of Scituate, Massachusetts. He was the son of Benjamin Chandler, Sr., and the grandson of the immigrant Edmund Chandler who arrived in America before 1633. His mother, Elizabeth Buck, was the daughter of Cornet John Buck of Scituate. All of Benjamin’s siblings, except the youngest, were baptized at the Second Church of Scituate. They were Martha, b.1672; Samuel, b.1674; John, b.1676; Mary, b.1678; Keturah, b. 1682; Elizabeth, b.1687; and Joseph, b. about 1690. His parents resided in Duxbury in 1691-92, when Benjamin Chandler, Sr., died intestate. On Oct. 6, 1691-2 an inventory was taken of his estate by Thomas Delano and Edward Southworth. The inventory included “a house and lands” in addition to such necessary items as “cattel, sheep, swine, table linens, cloathing, money, books, chests, spinning wheels, and 25 bushels of corn” worth a total of 195 pounds. Fortunately for her, the list excluded “the widow’s bed, furniture, and a pillow. The widow, Elizabeth, was named administrator. “Administration is granted by the said court unto Elizabeth Chandler, relict widow of Benjamin Chandler, late of Duxborrow deceased and administrator upon his estate.” There were no guardianships for the children. The following statement is written across the bottom of the page: “Ye settlement of this estate in ye county book of acts and passages page 74. At ye county court at Plimouth March 16th 1691-2.” (Plymouth Probates, Vol. 1, p.128)

No record of Benjamin Chandler’s marriage or any record of children has ever been found. He resided in Duxbury, but he is not mentioned in the records of the First Parish Church of Duxbury, until his death. However, his name appears several times in the Duxbury town records and the Plymouth deed index, and after 1745, he is the subject of a Plymouth Probate hearings.

In 1706 Benjamin Chandler sold his share in his father’s estate to his brother, John Chandler of Duxbury, including “all the lands & housing that was my father Benjamin Chandler’s in Duxborough.” (Plymouth Deeds, Vol. 20, p.166) The deed was witnessed by Edward Arnold and Pelatiah West. A few years later, in February 1710-1711, Benjamin’s brothers, Samuel and Joseph Chandler, also sold their share of their father’s homestead to their brother, John Chandler. This land is described as, “all the lands upland and meadow that was my father’s Benjamin Chandler’s in Duxborough or laying in the town of Marshfield with all ye housing and fencing thereon.” (Plymouth Deeds, Vol. 20, p. 167) The witnesses were Benjamin Arnold and Samuel Weston. It is possible that this Samuel Weston was John Chandler’s brother-in-law.

On April 27, 1708, Benjamin Chandler purchased a ten-acre farm from John Hunt in Duxbury. This property was described by John Hunt as, “all my ten acres of land given to me by my father Samuel Hunt – lying and being in Duxboro aforesaid att the head of Hounds Dich and adjacent to the farme whereon my father lived, the edifices, buildings, fences and all appurtenances – and also half of ye said farme both upland and meadow whereon my father dyed which he also gave to me” (Plymouth Deeds, Vol. 9, p. 114) In this document, John Hunt also makes an allowance for “my mother Mary Hunt,” whom we know to be Mary Glass. Mary Glass was the daughter of James Glass and Mary Pontus. When Mary was a small child, her widowed mother remarried Philip Delano, so she was raised by Mr. Delano whose farm lay to the northeast of the Hunt property. The original owner of John Hunt’s ten-acre tract was their grandfather, Edmund Hunt. Edmund Hunt was granted “ten acres of land,southerly along Hounds Ditch and east of Green Harbor’s Path on October 2, 1637.(Plymouth Colony Records, Vol. 1, p.66) On September 3, 1638, John Alden received a parcel near that of the Hunts: “a little parcel of land was granted to Mr. John Alden lying at the southerly side of his lot, bounded by Greeneďż˝s Harbor path all along the western side whereof, and with Hounds Ditch on the south side.” It is interesting that Benjamin Chandler bought land from the Hunts that had been in their family since 1637. If one looks at the Henry A. Fish map of Duxbury, published 1923, the farm of Edmund and Samuel Hunt is marked west of John Alden’s farm along Hound’s Ditch, and east of the Green Harbor Path. That property became Benjamin Chandler’s homestead farm in 1708. It was adjacent to property of Thomas Hunt, since at his death, Samuel Hunt left half of his farm to his son, Thomas, and the other half to John.

By 1713 the records show that Benjamin Chandler and Thomas Hunt were “joint partner” in all the land that had belonged to Samuel Hunt. This is in addition to the ten acre lot that Benjamin purchased from John Hunt in 1708. On March 6, 1713, they signed a mutual agreement determining the boundaries of their adjoining properties: “whereas we Thomas Hunt and Benjamin Chandler both of the town of Duxborough – being joint partners in all that tract of land which did formerly belong to Samuel Hunt Deceased whereupon he formerly lived – and lyeth there adjoining together —- excepting that ten acre lot which doth already belong unto the said Benjamin Chandler whereon he now dwelleth. We have now by mutual agreement divided the aforesaid tract or parcel of land between us as followeth: Beginning at a stump by the northside of the cartway at the south end of the dam we draw a dividing line southeast and easterly to a great white oak standing by the east side of the highway and from thenceďż˝east a quarter of a point southerly by the swamp side, and from the same range to the foot of land at John Spragueďż˝s range and then from the first mentioned stump bounded westward by the northside of the first mentioned cart way and from thence ranging west half a point northerlyďż˝on the hill sideďż˝and on the same range to the commons at the head of the landďż˝and we do mutually agree that the said Benjamin Chandler shall have all that part of the aforementioned land which lyeth to the southward of the dividing line from the aforementioned boundaries unto the land of John Glass and the said Thomas Hunt shall have all that part of land that lyeth to the northward of the said dividing line which is the boundary of the first mentioned parcel. (Plymouth Deeds, Vol. 11, p. 144)

It appears from this land description that Benjamin Chandler’s property lay on both sides of the highway, to the east and to the west, south of the dividing line with Thomas Hunt. That highway was the Kings Highway or Plymouth Road. (Today it is Highway 3A or Tremont Street.) John Glass’s land lay adjacent to Benjamin Chandler’s property, to the south. John Glass’s father was an early proprietor in Duxbury named Roger Glass, and his wife was Esther Chandler, the daughter of Joseph Chandler, Sr. Joseph Chandler, Sr., was another son of the immigrant Edmund Chandler, and therefore, he was Benjamin Chandler’s uncle. Joseph also had land on both sides of Plymouth Road, a bit farther south of Benjamin’s property. Another of Joseph Chandler’s children, Joseph, Jr., married Martha Hunt, the daughter of Samuel Hunt and Mary Glass. It was her brother, John, who sold his share of the Hunt estate to Benjamin Chandler. In 1733, James Glass (Esther Chandler’s son) sold land in the same general neighborhood easterly of the highway to Nathaniel Chandler. (Plymouth Deeds, Vol. 30, p.54) The Hunt, Glass, and Chandler families lived in close proximity to each other, and consequently, they developed strong community and family ties.

Town records show that Benjamin Chandler gave a piece of land in this area to the town for a school in 1713-14:

At a town meeting in Duxborough February 24, Anno Dom, 1713/1714, Mr. Benjamin Chandler freely gave to the said town, liberty to build a School house upon his land near the road, for said town’s use, to be set near the fence between the said Benjamin Chandler and John Glass, their lands, and that said school house might there be settled and kept, with all privileges or use of about half an acre of land adjacent, so long as said town shall see cause to keep their school house there.( Copy of the Old Records, Town of Duxbury, Mass. From 1642-1770 )

The location of the schoolhouse along the west side of Plymouth Road is pinpointed on Henry A. Fish’s 1923 map of Duxbury. It is situated at the junction of Plymouth Road ( now 3A or Tremont Street ) and the current Harrison Road. The key to the map describes it as, 2nd Schoolhouse 1714.Fish’s map shows John Glass’s property adjacent to the schoolhouse. On March 11, 1764, John and James Glass sold this property to Gamaliel Bradford. (Plymouth Deeds, Vol. 49,p. 31) Col. Bradford’s house, a lovely yellow Colonial-style home, is still there today. Gershom Bradford’s house, now owned by the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society, is across the road. Hound’s Ditch brook runs east-west just north of this location. If one drives east from this place on Harrison Street, and then makes a right turn heading south towards the Duxbury Yacht Club, one drives right through the original Sprague Farm. A plaque on the wall inside the clubhouse declares that this building was originally a barn built in 1780 by the Hon. Seth Sprague, the son of Phineas Sprague and Mercy Chandler (daughter of Nathaniel Chandler and Zerviah Sprague). Seth Sprague was very active in local politics and shipbuilding. So, in 1713, Benjamin Chandler’s land extended east from the highway to the range of the Sprague Farm and west to the Green Harbor Path. It was south of Hound’s Ditch and Thomas Hunt’s land and north of John Glass’s property with a small section along the road adjacent to John Glass’s property donated for a school.

In 1713 the second and last division of the Common Lands in Duxbury took place. The common lands west of Benjamin Chandler’s farm were divided into lots and drawn by the town’s proprietors. The tenth lot was drawn by Christopher Wadsworth and Grace (Wadsworth) Sprague (the widow of William Sprague and the mother of Zerviah Sprague who married Nathaniel Chandler). This property was westward of the north corner bounds of the ninth lot and standeth on the west side of North Hill Way, and thence we run North sixteen degrees Easterly by a range of marked saplings to a stake and stones standing in the range of Benjamin Chandler.” (Plymouth Deeds, Vol. a, p. 79 ) Fishďż˝s map shows the North Hill area beginning at the western end of Hound’s Ditch and ranging southerly to include an expanse of land west of Harrison Street and thus southwest of Benjamin Chandler’s property and west or northwest of the current Unitarian Church. The North Hill Way ran east south east from North Hill to Tremont Road right above the church lot.(Deeds indicate that Joseph Chandler’s land may have also been along the North Hill Way near the present church lot.) In 1723, Grace Wadsworth Sprague and Christopher Wadsworth drew up an agreement on how to divide their joint property in lot #10. Grace Sprague’s share was all that part of said tenth lot which lyeth Easterly of the range of marked saplings.ďż˝ In other words, her property was east of the dividing line to the range of the land of Benjamin Chandler.

On May 21,1715, Benjamin Chandler purchased “two certain lots of cedar swamp lying and being in ye township of Pembroke, said lots are part of and belonging to ye second and last division of commons belonging to the towns of Duxborough and Pembroke abovesaid and are the Eleventh and Twenty-seventh Lots.” (Plymouth Deeds, Vol.12, p.60) He purchased the shares in these two lots from several other men including Joseph Peterson, Samuel Delano, Samuel Chandler, Thomas Fish, Benjamin Prior, Isaac Simons, Thomas Hunt, and Abraham Samson.

He bought of Samuel Delano his “whole share throughout in the Second and Last Division in the Township of Duxbury and Pembroke the salt marsh only excepted,” on February 28,1725-26. (Plymouth Deeds, Vol. 22, p.180)

In 1731-32, he purchased of Benjamin Alden, Samuel Alden, and Moses Simmons, “three shares or Tenth parts in the whole of ye Fifth and Twenty-ninth lots in the Cedar Swamps belonging to ye Second Division of ye Commons which belonged to the towns of Duxbrorough and Pembroke, said lots lying and being within the township of Pembroke aforesaid.” (Plymouth Deeds, Vol.27, p.37) This deed was witnessed on February 8, 1731-32, by Nathaniel Bartlett, Sarah Bartlett, Benjamin’s brother, John Chandler and Sarah (Weston) Chandler, John’s wife.

Benjamin Chandler’s mother, the widow Elizabeth Chandler, died in 1732. She wrote her will on April 22, 1728. It was witnessed by Ephraim Norcott, Moses Simons and Philip Delano, and it was recorded on Dec. 5, 1732. She gave her “wearing apparel” to her three daughters, Mary, Keturah, and Elizabeth. She gave her son Samuel “one pair of sheets and twenty shillings.” Her son Joseph received “one pair of sheets and twenty shillings,” plus an additional “twenty shillings,” and her son John was left her “chest of drawers & one pair of sheets & twenty shillings & my silver spoons.” Benjamin is mentioned briefly: “I do give to my son Benjamin twenty shillings.” She also made provision for her grandchildren, Deborah and Isaac Simmons, children of her daughter, Martha. John Chandler was named executor.

Within a few years after his mother’s death, Benjamin Chandler sold property to Francis Barker (Vol. 31, p. 175) and Isaac Simmons (Vol. 32, p. 68) This likely involved part of his inheritance, since his brother Samuel also sold property at this time.

In 1745, court records reveal a startling turn of events. On March 5, 1745, Benjamin Chandler’s brother, Joseph of Pembroke petitioned the Selectmen of Duxbury to become his legal guardian. He stated that his brother was non compos mentis or “unable of taking care of himself & estate.” (Plymouth Probate, Vol. 10, p.295) Later testimony shows that Benjamin had racked up considerable debt by this time, which may have alerted his relatives to his declining mental state.

Regarding the term non compos mentis, the law defined a non compos mentis individual as “Any person who is of unsound mind; the term being a generic one, and including all forms of insanity.” The law differentiated between at least four general types of insanity under the heading of non compos mentis: 1) “an idiot who has been of unsound mind since birth.” This referred to a person who had been mentally impaired his entire life. 2) “he who was of good and sound mind or memory, but by the act of God, has lost it.” This included individuals who suffered from dementia or a stroke, or those who had suffered a serious head injury 3) “lunatic” or someone who is sometimes of good mind and sometimes not. This included individuals who suffered from various kinds and degrees of mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder 4) one who is not aware or accountable due to alcoholism, “a drunkard.” (Handbook in the Law of Persons and Domestic Relations,ďż˝ by Walter Checkley and Others, West Publishing Company, 1921)

Another manual reflects on the possible causes of this condition. “Several causes have been assigned for this disorder such as the distemper of the humours of the body; the violence of a disease such as fever or palsy; and the concussion of the brain and it is distinguishable in kind or degree from a total alienation of the mind or complete madness.” The author describes a person who is non compos mentis as “unable to distinguish right from wrong,” a type of mental condition in which he was quite unaware of the nature of his character and consequences of the act he was committing. (A Treatise on Crimes and Misdemeanors, by William Oldhall, Little Brown and Company, 1896)

In the case of Benjamin Chandler, it is known that he was healthy at birth and, by all appearances, led a normal life. However, sometime between 1732 and 1745, he experienced a loss of cognitive abilities which resulted in his being unable to take care of himself and his estate. One could only speculate as to the cause, whether a loss of cognition due to a brain disease or a sudden calamity such as being thrown from a horse. In 1745, when he was declared non compos mentis, Benjamin Chandler was approximately 60 years old.

It is interesting to note that Benjamin Chandler’s older sister, Keturah (Chandler) Samson, the wife of Nathaniel Samson, also went through a period of inexplicable behavior in 1745-46. The records of the First Parish Church of Duxbury describe her erratic behavior and subsequent suspension from the church. On May 28,1746, Pastor Samuel Veazie wrote: “Katurah (sic) Samson for as much as you are found to slight and undervalue the holy ordinance of the Lord’s supper by long and careless neglect and for as much as you hate and despise the authority of the church in that you have refused by your neglect to appear before them when notified and since you have also been proved guilty of false speaking, we have now admonished you for your wickedness, that you repent of and be deeply humble for it before god and that you amend and turn to the lord whom you must need, have grieved and provoked, and that you earnestly seek.” In the following weeks there were other meetings scheduled with Keturah which she seemingly agreed to attend, and then she did not appear. It caused the church council much consternation. The matter was finally dropped after a pastor from another church interceded. Keturah’s suspension was lifted, but the reason is not given in the records. It is debatable whether or not this episode had anything in common with the behavior of her brother, Benjamin. It is merely a suggestion that she, too, possibly suffered from a malady that affected her judgment.

As previously stated, by 1745 Benjamin Chandler was no longer able to care for himself. The “Handbook in the Law of Persons and Domestic Relations,” defines his legal status: “The status of an insane person under the law is peculiar. As an incompetent person, he is subject to the control of, and entitled to protection, by the state.” So Joseph Chandler petitioned the court to become his brother’s keeper.

Selectmen Jonathan Wadsworth, Gamaliel Bradford and Samuel Seabury responded in May 1746 that we “are of opinion that he the said Benjamin Chandler is really non compos mentis & is so much distracted that he is not capable of manageing himself nor estate to good advantage in order to have a comfortable living in the world nor paying his part of the publick charges, it is likely in his management as it appears at present his Estate in a short time will be all wasted and run out.” (Plymouth Probate, Vol. 10,p. 296)

John Cushing, Judge of Probate for the county of Plymouth granted guardianship to Joseph Chandler of Pembroke on the 6th of October 1746, and ordered, “you are hereby directed to take a true and perfect inventory of the said estate both real and personal of the said Benjamin Chandler and exhibit the same into the registry of the court.” (Plymouth Probate, Vol. 10, p. 297)

The inventory was undertaken by Capt. Gamaliel Bradford, Deacon John Wadsworth, and Mr. Samuel Seabury. The itemized list of real estate consisted of the following: ( Plymouth Probate, Vol. 10, p. 298 )

His homestead with all the housing, orchards, and fencing thereon . . . . 900.00
All his rights in the Great Cedar Swamp in Pembroke . . . . 90.00
A piece of Salt Meadow lying near Bourne’s Wharf . . . . 100.00
One share and a half in the Salt Meadow in the Second Division of the Commons . . . . 37.10
Half a Wood Lot lying contiguous to Mr. Samuel Alden . . . . 60.00

His goods consisted of six bales of hay, six horses and four cows, a bull and a steer, a two-year old heifer and a yearling heifer, three calves, chest of drawers, small desk, four chairs, meal chest, grindstone, large iron pot , pot hook, fire shovel, tongs, pair of iron brands, pair of bellows, table, bed and bedstead, bed coverlet, 2 other coverlets, and one sheet, pewter baren, pewter platter, pewter pint pot, six knives and forks, among other items.

This inventory was attested to in an oath by Joseph Chandler on Dec. 18, 1746. There were several additions to the list in 1747 and 1748, including chains and a pipe case, a belt, five old barrels, an old iron, a panel of carpenter tools & farmer tools, a pair of cart wheels, hoops, and tires, one oxe yolk, one pitchfork, two old hogsheads, one powdering tub, two old washing tubs, one bottle case full of good bottles, four pounds of cotton yarn, gun, hoe, three pecks of beans, fifteen bushels of Indian corn, five bushels of rye, a spinning wheel of the large sort & a looking glass, one old frying pan, some sole leather, one old sieve, a panel of shells, a bridle and saddle, a pair of old iron dogs. These additional items had a value of about 54 pounds.

After Joseph Chandler became his brother’s guardian, he kept a ledger of credits and debits which were entered into probate. These inventories consisted primarily of expenditures that were deducted from Benjamin Chandlerďestate for his daily needs such as, “sundries, a pair of stockings, a new pair of breeches, a new heel for his shoe, etc.” They also included guardian’s fees and legal fees. It is interesting that, at one point, Joseph Chandler sought supplementary guardianship fees for “extra trouble with him.” (Plymouth Probate, Vol. 11, p. 360)

In 1750, Joseph Chandler sold his brother’s “outlands,” to pay off some of his debts. This matter was taken up by the Plymouth Judge of Probate: “Danl. Lewis of lawful age testified that he assisted Joseph Chandler of Duxborough, Housewright, who was guardian to Benjamin Chandler, a person non compos in the sale of said Benjamin’s outlands when the same was sold by Order of the Superior Court of Judicature held at Plymouth on the Second Tuesday of July AD. 1750, to the value of fifty three Pounds lawful money for the payment of said Benjamin’s debts and to account with the Judge of Probate for said county as the law directs, the said outlands were sold on the 5th day of September AD. 1750 after notification had been posted up & that the 11thLot in the Cedar Swamp was sold to Capt. Joseph Josselyn of Hanover for nine pounds eighteen shillings and the 27th lot in the Cedar Swamp was sold to said Josselyn for twenty three pounds fourteen shillings and that part of the 52nd Lot in the first allotment in Duxborough was sold to Asa Hunt for nineteen pounds eight shillings

By 1751, Joseph Chandler picked up stakes and moved to Norwalk, Connecticut, but Benjamin Chandler remained in Duxbury. So, it was necessary for the court to appoint another guardian. That man was Briggs Alden. Briggs Alden was a military leader who later attained the rank of colonel, and he was also a leader in Duxbury politics. At most of the meetings of the town during his long and active life, he presided, and his customary stately and dignified mien secured for him the respect of the people for whom he toiled much.

In addition to his many military and political duties, he was an active member of the church, for many years a justice of the peace, and much interested in the cause of education. (A History of the Town of Duxbury with Genealogical Registers, by Justin Windsor, pub. 1849)

Soon after taking on the reins of guardianship, Briggs Alden found it necessary to sell off more pieces of Benjamin Chandler�s land in order to pay his debts and upkeep. This was not challenged by the Chandler family. Apparently, they believed Col. Alden to be a trustworthy and capable guardian.

The first recorded inventory of expenditures under Briggs Alden�s guardianship tenure was submitted to the court in 1765. It was very specific and very lengthy. All total, there were 117 line item entries in this inventory. From this list it appears that Benjamin was provided with everything he needed. In addition to personal items and household goods, Briggs Alden named local people and the work they did for Benjamin Chandler and his farm.

This is a portion of the inventory (Plymouth Probate, Vol. 19, pp. 202-205 ):

Nails bought of Nathan Soul for fixing up the buildings . . . . 0.15.6
Elnathan Weston for mason work . . . . 0.13.4
Thomas Weston for boarding mason . . . . 0.15.2
Thomas Weston for mending up the fence . . . . 2.11.0
Thomas Weston for carting 2 loads fencing from Pembroke . . . . 0.18.8
Joseph Chandler for getting said stuff . . . . 0.16.0
One gallon and a quart of rum . . . . 0.4.0
Sugar and more nails . . . . 0.12.3
4 1/2 yards wool cloth . . . . 2.4.0
3 1/2 yards flannel cloth . . . . 0.7.7
Paying Dea. Arnold’s wife for making a coat . . . . 0.4.8
Thomas Weston for carpenter work . . . . 0.11.4
Lidia Alden (indecipherable) . . . . 0.6.5
Nathaniel Simmons for mending the fence . . . . 0.4.0
Nathaniel Samson for making cloaths . . . . 0.4.0
What I paid the Widow Arnold for him . . . . 0.2.5
Ebenezer Chandler for iron work . . . . 1.5.3
John Wadsworth for drawing the acct . . . . 0.2.0
To carting posts from 4 Mile Hill . . . . 0.5.0
Nathaniel Bartlett and wife for making breeches . . . . 0.7.0
Shoes by James Southworth . . . . 0.6.4
Shoes by John Hunt and putting out fire . . . . 0.14.0
Large breeches . . . . 0.13.6
Ticklenburg breeches . . . . 1.3.9
Flannel jacket . . . . 0.6.6
2 cotton shirts . . . . 0.16.4
Hat by Mr. Bisbee . . . . 0.10.0
Stockings by John Hunt’s wife . . . . 0.6.0
Broadcloth breeches . . . . 0.13.0
John Hunt as allowed by the Selectmen last month . . . . 13.6.8
An iron mantelpiece . . . . 0.10.0
Anthony Samson, six days work . . . . 0.10.0
John Hunt for fencing and said Samson for boarding him . . . . 0.7.4
Major Bradford for rum . . . . 1.0.0
John Hunt and wife for mending his cloaths . . . . 1.1.0
To what I paid Robert Samson . . . . 4.0.5
To my own time trouble and oversight of the business for 14 years past . . . . 9.6.

This inventory, totaling about 66 pounds, was examined by Selectmen Ezra Arnold and John Wadsworth on April 3, 1765, and it was �allowed� by Judge Jonathan Cushing, Judge of Probate on May 22, 1765.

After Benjamin Chandler’s death in 1771, Briggs Alden submitted a final account to the court (Plymouth Probate, Vol. 20, p. 491): “The account of Briggs Alden guardian of Benjamin Chandler late of Duxborough, a person non compos mentis, is humbly offered for allowance as follows, viz:

The said guardian charges himself for land sold by order of the superior court
amounting to 69.12, also to wood and timber cut on said Benjamin’s land
. . . . 05.15.
The said guardian prays allowance for money and recording of this account . . . . 01.00
To the Superior Court for liberty to sell part of Benjamin’s estate . . . . 14.6
The balance of his former acct allowed by the judge . . . . 66.
Sundry cloaths for Benjamin . . . . 13.7.1
Paid John Wadsworth for surveying . . . . 0.6
A bed bought of John Hunt . . . . 5.7.6
Boards and shingles, nails and timber, liquor & workmen to repair buildings, posts and rales . . . . 21.8.6
For his time trouble and expense . . . . 13.9.2
For grave cloaths and coffin . . . . 0.9.4
Paid John Hunt for looking after him in his lifetime & burying him . . . . 40.7.8
Two days at Maj. Bradford’s attending the adm, 1 day to Plymouth & 1 to Hanover . . . . 1.4
Balance due guardian . . . . 88.7.2

Judge Cushing requested that the inventories taken during Briggs Alden’s guardianship be examined and that “you report to me what sum in your opinion is due to the said Briggs, in equity, in consequence of his guardianship aforesaid.” Selectmen Gamaliel Bradford, Ezra Arnold, and Benjamin Southworth, reported on May 20,1771, “We have inspected the account of Briggs Alden and are of the opinion that there is due to the said Briggs Alden, Esq., the sum of 87.66 to the 12th day of April last. This account of charges was allowed by Judge Cushing.(Plymouth Probate, Vol. 20, p. 491)

On April 15th, 1771, Robert Samson and Thomas Chandler, both of Duxborough in the County of Plimouth were appointed by the judge of the probate of wills, to be administrators of all & singular the goods chattels, rights & credits which Benjamin Chandler late of Duxborough, yeoman, deceased died seized off and they then gave bond with sureties as the law directs for the faithful discharge of their trust. (Plymouth Probate, Vol. 20, p. 492)

This paragraph was witnessed by Joseph Soul and John Chandler.Across from their names is a dash followed by the notation “400 pounds.” There is no explanation in the document which explains this 400 pounds. The sheer size of the amount is puzzling, since Benjamin Chandler’s entire estate was not even valued at 400 pounds at this time. (Plymouth Deeds, Vol. 20, p. 492) This John Chandler was likely Benjamin’s nephew, the son of his brother Joseph.

The final inventory of Benjamin Chandler’s estate was taken on April 24, 1771, by Peleg Wadsworth, Joseph Soul, and Jedidiah Simmons. From this inventory, one can conclude that Benjamin Chandler’s guardians had sold off most of his property over the years to pay for his living expenses.�� In 1746, when he was first declared non compos mentis, his real estate was valued at about 1189 pounds. The value in 1771 was about 249 pounds. The most marked decrease can be seen in regards to his homestead farm. In 1746 it was valued at 900 pounds. This had been reduced to 103 pounds by 1771.

Here is the final inventory of Benjamin Chandler�s estate (Plymouth Probate, Vol. 20, p. 492):

Purse and apparel . . . . 3.11
Silver and gold buttons . . . . 6.6
Money scales and weights, sugar box . . . . 3.4
1 Bible and 5 books and inkhorn . . . . 7.8
2 razors and 4 jack knives, old knives and forks, 20 spoons . . . . 6.0
Bullets, spoon molds, pinchers and candle molds . . . . 4.8
2 boxes, half bushel box, pipe house, beaker glass . . . . 5.0
Bottle phials, tongs, slice, sickles, and shears . . . . 4.3
Pot, kettle, tobacco, tongs, mortar, pestle, gridiron . . . . 8.8
Old iron, pewter, garters, chest with one drawer . . . . 12.6
Box and old tools, clock real, gourd shell, scails, powder horns . . . . 10.6
Old desk, pitch fork, 2 great chairs, 4 small chairs . . . . 16.8
One feather bed, pillow, under bed and cord . . . . 3.15
Round table and square table . . . . 4.0
Homestead Farm with a little Cedar Swamp below . . . . 103.6.8
A piece of land called Hunt�s Field . . . . 22.0
A piece of land to the eastward of Plymouth Road . . . . 38.8
A piece of land to the westward of Plymouth Road . . . . 19.14.8
Salt marsh lying opposite to Bourne�s Wharf . . . . 32.0
A piece of salt marsh at Gotham (so called) . . . . 15.0
A part of a wood lot at Four Miles Hill . . . . 18.13
Total . . . . 260.15.5

Plymouth, April ye 24,1771, Peleg Wadsworth, Joseph Soul, and Jedidiah Simmons made oath that they had justly and equally appraised the goods and estate mentioned in the above inventory as is therein set down according to the best of their skill and judgment, without interest or impartiality.

Before me, Briggs Alden, Justice of the Peace.

The final paragraph in the probate file states: “Plymouth, May 23,1771. Robert Samson and Thomas Chandler, administrators on the deceased and estate,made oath that this inventory contains the whole thereof so far as they now know, and that if more shall thereafter appear, they’ll give it in.Signed, Jonathan Cushing, Judge of Probate.

Both administrators were nephews of Benjamin Chandler:
Robert Samson, b. April 1712, was the son of Nathaniel Samson and Keturah Chandler.
Thomas Chandler, b. April 30,1725, was the son of Samuel Chandler and Margaret Phillips.

In settling his estate, the administrators sold parcels of his land beginning in late 1771. The following are a synopsis of Benjamin Chandler�s estate deeds:

Plymouth Deeds, Volume 57, page 27, December 16,1771
Know ye that we Robert Samson and Thomas Chandler both of Duxborough, yeomen, administrators in the estate of our late Uncle Mr. Benjamin Chandler late of Duxborough deceased, in consideration of the sum of forty six pounds two shillings & eight pence paid by John Peterson of Duxborough assigns a certain tract or parcel of land lying in Duxborough and is all the land that Benjamin Chandler owned to the Eastward of Plymouth Road and is bounded as followeth, viz: It beginneth at the Northeast corner thereof at a stake and stones ranging west 36 rods and six links to a stake and stones standing by Plymouth Road. Thence by said road ranging south ten degrees & a half west forty-one rods & six links to a stake and stones then ranging south eighty-seven degrees east thity four rods eleven links to a stake and stones, then ranging south ten degrees east seven rods to John Peterson’s Lake and so by said Peterson’s land to the stake and stones first mentioned. In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals this sixteenth day of December Anno Domini one thousand seven hundred & seventy one. Robert Samson (seal) Thomas Chandler (seal)In presence of Samuel Alden, Junior, and Jonathan Soule, Junior. Received November 20, 1772 & recorded by John Cotton, Register.



Plymouth Deeds, Volume 61, page 77, May 1,1773
Know all men by these presents that we Robert Samson and Thomas Chandler, both of Duxborough yeomen and as administrators to the estate of Benjamin Chandler late of Duxborough aforesaid deceased and in consideration of the sum of twenty five pounds and four shillings in lawful money of New England to us in hand well and truly paid by Andrew Samson of Duxborough . . assigns forever a certain tract or parcel of land lying in Duxborough above said being thirteen acres more or less and it being a part of the fifty second lot of upland in the first division of the commons bounded as follows: on the line of the northwest side of the 166 lot of the second division and it is the east North East corner of the fifteen acres of Dr. Harlow and thence by said Harlow’s line to a stake and stones standing in the long middle line said 52nd lot on the southerly side of the great swamp road til it meets with the country road to the East North East corner bounds of the 52nd lot. And we the said Robert Samson and Thomas Chandler have good right full power and legal authority granted to us for to sell a part of the said Benjamin Chandler’s estate for to pay and discharge the debts due from said estate. In witness whereof we the said Robert Samson and Thomas Chandler do hereunto set our hands and seals the first day of May in the year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and Seventy Three 1773. Signed sealed and delivered. Robert Samson (seal) Thomas Chandler (seal)In the presence of us, William Samson and Sylvanus Hall. Received May 8th 1782 and recorded by John Cotton, Register



Plymouth Deeds, Volume 59, page 11, March 4, 1775.
Know all men by these presents that we Robert Samson and Thomas Chandler of Duxborough yeomen, administrators in the estate of Benjamin Chandler late of Duxborough deceased for and in consideration of the sum of 11 pounds six shillings paid to us in hand by Thomas Hunt of Duxborough assign forever a certain piece of land lying in the township of Duxborough aforesaid and is a bounded as follows, viz: Beginning at the north corner of the said Benjamin Chandler’s land in the range of Judah Delano’s land thence south east half a point easterly sixty three poles to a stake and stones, from thence southwest three degrees to the side of the swampďż˝thence westerly by the swamp to the land of Judah Delano north by Delano’s land to the first mentioned bound 12 acres.



Plymouth Deeds, Volume 58, page 167, March 28,1775.
Know all men by these presents that we Robert Samson and Thomas Chandler both of Duxborough as administrators in the estate of Benjamin Chandler deceased in consideration of the sum of fifteen pounds lawful money paid to us in hand by Nathaniel Samson of Duxborough assigns forever two-fifths part of a certain lot of salt meadow lying in the township of Duxborough . . which is one of the lots of salt meadow that belongs to the second and last division of the commons laid out in the year one thousand seven hundred and twelve and is the thirtieth lot boundeth as followeth, viz: on the northeast part of by the twenty-ninth lot from the east corner of the said 29th lot by the side of Gotham River (finishing at a creek which was) the bounds of the marsh which did formerly belong to John Soule.Nathaniel Samson was Benjamin Chandler’s brother-in-law. His wife was Keturah Chandler. Andrew Samson (above; Vol. 61, p. 77) was Nathaniel Samson’s brother.



Plymouth Deeds, Volume 59, page 222, April 10,1779.
Know all men by these presents that I Thomas Chandler of Duxborough administrator to the estate of Benjamin Chandler late of said Duxborough Deceased for and in consideration of the sum of four hundred and thirty five pounds in lawfull money to me in hand by Nathaniel Sprague assign a certain tract or parcel of land lying and being in Duxborough and it is the HOMESTEAD FARM of land that the said Benjamin Chandler last dwelt upon in his lifetime being about sixteen acres more or less and is bounded as follows, viz: Beginning at a stake and stones standing in a place where a tree stood which is now blown up by the roots and it is on the northwesterly corner bounds of the land of Thomas Hunt, thence bounded northerly by the land of said Hunt till it comes to the land of Collonel Alden’s land through xx swamp till it comes to the land of James Glass thence bounded by Glass’s land about south south west till it comes to the southerly corner bounds of the heirs of the widow Zerviah Chandler’s homestead farm that she last dwelt on thence south fifty two degrees to east thirty six rods to the line of Joshua Soul Deceased thence north forty degrees and 36 rods . . to the bounds first mentioned. Nathaniel Sprague was the son of Mercy Chandler (daughter of Nathaniel Chandler and Zerviah Sprague) and Peleg Sprague. This deed was witnessed by Nathaniel’s brother, the Hon. Seth Sprague.

It has been suggested that Benjamin Chandler may have married and had children. However, extensive research has not produced any evidence, not even any strong circumstantial evidence. There is no record of a wife or heirs. There is no marriage record, nor any baptismal records. There is no reference to a spouse or children in any of his deeds. There are no direct survivors named in any of the probate documents. Indeed, the family that appears to have had the closest association with Benjamin Chandler was the Hunts. Benjamin Chandler owned the Hunt family’s original homestead farm that had been granted to Edmund Hunt in 1637. For years he shared the farm with Edmund Hunt’s direct descendants, Thomas and John. When he was declared non compos mentisin 1745, although he had legal guardians, it was members of the Hunt family who actually looked after him and cared for him until his death. At the end, it was John Hunt who made Benjamin Chandler’s coffin and buried him. Besides Benjamin, other members of the Chandler family displayed a close association with the Hunts. Joseph Chandler, Sr., called on Thomas Hunt to witness his will, and Joseph’s own son, Joseph Chandler, Jr, married Martha Hunt. There is speculation on some genealogy websites that Joseph Chandler, Sr.’s wife was a woman named Marcye Hunt.

As for Benjamin Chandler’s possible children, one suggestion is Nathaniel Chandler, born about 1700, and designated by the Edmund Chandler Family Association as one of the “mystery” Chandlers of Duxbury. Nathaniel Chandler and his wife, Zerviah Sprague had seven daughters: Iraney married Mason Wattles; Mercy married Peleg Sprague, Phineas Sprague and Ichabod Simmons; Caroline married Joseph Freeman,Jr.; Zerviah married Hubbell Wells; Ruth married Nathaniel Burgess; Lucy married Stephen Otis; and Ruby married William Weston. While it is true that by 1779, Benjamin Chandler’s homestead farm was in the possession of Nathaniel and Zerviah Chandler’s grandson, Nathaniel Sprague, it was not through inheritance. He bought that property for 435 pounds from Thomas Chandler and Robert Samson, executors of Benjamin Chandler’s estate, in 1779. (Plymouth Deed, Vol. 59, p. 222) Furthermore, the neighboring land that had been the homestead farm of Zerviah Chandler was sold to John Chandler, Jr, (son of Jonathan Chandler and Rebecca Packard) and his wife, Mercy Sprague, in 1779. Mercy Sprague was the daughter of Mercy Chandler and Phineas Sprague and, therefore, another grandchild of Nathaniel and Zerviah Chandler. So this adjoining land was also in the possession of an heir of Nathaniel Chandler but not through inheritance. When MD researcher Benjamin Tilden observed that Nathaniel Burgess (Nathaniel Chandler and Zerviah Sprague’s son-in-law) occupied land that had originally been part of Benjamin Chandler’s homestead farm, he also raised the question of inheritance, and a possible link to Benjamin Chandler. However another deed shows that Zerviah Chandler purchased property from Ezekiel Souleďż˝ including a corner of Benjamin Chandler’s homestead farm. on March 2, 1764, and that land was located in the North Hill area. Therefore, if that is the property Tilden refers to, it may have been handed down to the Burgesses from their mother, Zerviah Chandler. (Plymouth Deed, Vol. 49, p.234)

There is no evidence that Benjamin Chandler had any children.

Upon Benjamin Chandler’s death, the pastor of the First Parish Church made the following brief entry in the church record, “March ye 26, 1771, died Benjamin Chandler, aged 87 3/24 years.” There are no other entries for him in the entire record book. He lived as a non compos mentis individual for nearly 25 years. His sister, Keturah Samson, another troubled individual, died only two months prior to him. Benjamin Chandler’s burial place is unknown. Perhaps he was laid to rest on his farm – the old Hunt farm – just south of Hounds Ditch in Duxbury. Wherever his final resting place, he finally found peace.
If you have questions or comments please direct them to Barb Chandler at barb95831 @ gmail.com