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Biographical Analysis of John Barnes of Plymouth Colony

JOHN BARNES of Plymouth, 1633-1651, dec. ca. 30 August 1671
Compiled by Jeff Fleisher & Chip Cunningham
University of Virginia
Anth 509, Spring & Summer 1996
© 1998 Copyright and All Rights Reserved

Plymouth Colony Records 1:4
John Barnes' name heads a listing of those "admitted afterwds" in a list of "The Names of the Freeman of the Incorporation of Plymoth in New England, An: 1633," which is the first entry in Volume 1 of the Records.

25 March 1633
Records 1:9
"Tymothy Hatherly, mercht, of London, hath sold unto Joh Barnes, of this place, one heyfer, for thirteen pounds sterling, to be paid in money or mercht beaver, at or before the last of June next ensuing, the laid Tymothy being to winter the said heyfer fo r the said Joh at this prop costs & charges, the said John standing to the adventure of the beast."

Records 1:10
At the same meeting of the Court, John Barnes was among those "rated in corneat vis p bushell", to be paid "at or before the last of November next ensuing". Barnes was due to pay 9s.

9 April 1633
Records 1:13
"John Barnes hath sold unto Thomas Lille one shallop, in consideration of one pownd of beaver rd in hand, & three ewe goats to be deliverd in June ensuing, whereof one to be a yeare old, & the other two between the age of two & three yeares, all giving mi lke at the same time."

12 September 1633
Records 1:16
John Barnes married unto Mary Plummer, the tweluth of September.

11 November 1633
Records 1:19
Following the intestate death of John Adams, his widow Hellen/Ellen Adams was appinted administrix of the estate, and was bound, together with John Barnes, "in the sum of 140L", to make full payment of "all & every the debts of the said John Adams. . ."

1634 10 and 13 January 1633/1634
Records 1:24
The first of John Barnes' land deals to be recorded. He purchases from Edward Holman a shallop, a house and 20 acres of land for 20L. He in turn promises to "possess" Holman of 20 acres of land at Scituate. On 13 Jan. Barnes sells Richard Higgins the hous e and land lately in the possession of Holman, for 10L sterling, and buys from him 20 acres of land in Scituate."

Jan. 10.
"Edw. Holman hath sold unto John Barnes one shallop, wth all things thereunto belonging. Also, one dwelling howse & twenty acres of land wth the fence and boards thereunto belonging, for & in consideration of twenty pownds to be pd as followeth, vizt, 20l bs of merct beaver in May ensuing at xss pl; and in Novbr following twenty bushels of corne; and other ten pownds of beaver in March following. The said paymts to be well & truly made to Edw. Wynslow, for & in the behalfe of the said Edw: Holman, his heir es, &c. Also the said Joh. Barnes shall make good & possesse the siad Edw. Holman of 20 acres of land in some convenient place at Scituate to be the sd Edw: and his heires for ever."

Jan. 13.
"John Barnes hath sold unto Rich. Higgens & his heires forever one dwelling howse & 20 acres of land, being lately in the possession of Edw: Holman, wth all the fence, boards, timber, (squared & unsquared,) belonging to the same, in consideration of ten p ownds starling to be paid in currant English money, or beaver at the rate it shall passe at the day of paymt, wch is the 20th of March, in the yeare of our Lord 1634. And also the said Richard shall possess the said John & his heires of 20 acres of land a t Scituate, in some convenient place."

24 March 1634
Records 1:26
Barnes is again rated in corn "at vjss a bushell", and is due to pay 18s "at or before the last of Novbr next ensuing".

26 August, 1634
Records 1:30
John Barnes and Thomas Prence, Governor, entered into an agreement to exchange two servants. John Rouse, currently working for Prence wished to transfer his services to Barnes, and Barnes' servant Richard Willis desired to work for Prence. All parties bei ng in agreement, all that remained was for John Barnes to pay Thomas Prence "the sum of fower pound sterlinge".

20 October 1634
Records 1:31
Reference to a lot of land sold by Edmund Chanler for 12L to John Rogers which had previously been purchased from John Barnes.

19 December 1634
Records 1:32
Indentured servant bound to John Barnes. "Simon Trent was turned over to John Barnes to serve him till he be twenty three years of age, and then the sayd John, his heires, or asignes to giue him a cow calfe, at least 8 or ten weekes old, live like, and to perform what else is expressed in his indentures."

29 May 1635
Records 1:34
Tubs vs. Barnes. William Tubs had sold John Barnes 12 bushels of corn at 5s a bushel, and gave him an additional half bushel "over and above to take it so". Afterwards, when Tubs was only able to deliver 10 bushels and the half, Barnes took the delivery, sold the corn for 5s 6d a bushel, and refused to pay Tubs until the order was complete. Tubs heard Barnes was going out of town and needed the money to buy more corn so he could complete his deliveryto Barnes. Barnes, appearing before the Court, refused t o pay until "he had ye whole, & presented damages; but all ye damage appeared to be but the 6d in a bushell profit". So Tubs was ordered to give Barnes 12d, and Barnes to pay Tubs and the officer his fee "for putting him to the trouble to get his due".

5 January 1635/1636
Records 1:36
John Barnes was among seven men chosen by the Court "to assist ye Gouer & Counsell, to sett shuch rates on goods to be sould, & labourers for their hire, as should be meete & juste".

14 March 1635/1636
Records 1:39
Public land set aside for private use in 1636: "That John, Kenelm, & Josias Wynslow & John Barnes have that portion of grownd upon Jones River from the point of the wood right to the coming in at Stony Brooke, & so upward on the sowth side of the river."

4 July 1636
Records 1:42
John Barnes, having served Thomas Bowman by a warrant to appeare before the Court, for want of evidence in his case was contented his accusation should fall.

5 October 1636
Records 1:44
John Barnes, was found guilty for Sabbath breaking, for which he was fined 30s, and "to sit an howr in the stocks".

7 March 1636/1637
Records 1:52
John Barnes is listed as a Freeman.

20 March 1636/7
Records 1:55
"Hay Grounds assigned to the Inhabitants ofr Plymouth, Eele River, & Ducksbury for 1637: To John Barnes and Edward Holman, to have hey ground at the Gurnets Nose." Boundary reference. It is also mentioned that Josiah Cooke was assigned a plot of grass for hay "against John Barnes his creek. . ."

1 October 1637
Records 1:67
Another glimpse of a neighbour whose boundaries abut land belonging to John Barnes is given in a reference made to "A garden place . . . granted to Richard Wright, by John Barnes house, to build upon."

2 October 1637
Records 1:68
Barnes is called upon by the Court to give testimony in the case against Stephen Hopkins "for suffering men to drink in his house upon the Lords day, before the meeting be ended, and also upon the Lords day, both before & after the meetings, servants & ot hers to drink for than for ordinary refreshing". The case was held over until Barnes could be present in Court.

4 December 1637
Records 1:71
Barnes is granted seven acres of land by the Court, "lying on the north side, next to the lands formerly granted to James Davis, to lye to his house at Plymouth, & not to be sould from it, but when the house shall not be habitable to returne to the towne again". An indentical grant is made to Gyles Ricard. This is the first time that they appear in the Records with some kind of link.

2 January 1637/1638
Records 1:75
"John Barnes, of Plymouth, yeoman, and Gyles Rickett [Rickard] of the same, yeoman, were both levied of their lands and goods to pay 22s each to "or souaigne lord the King".

5 June 1638
Records 1:88
Barnes served as a member of the jury investigating the death of John England, "found dead upon the flatts of the shores of Plymouth . . . " The jury found that England, sailing in a canoe belonging to Thomas Burnes, between Greenes Harbor and Plymouth, c ame to his death "by reason of the insufficiency of the said canow, to make way in stormy weather, was ouer sett, and so the said John England was drowned. And so they say all that the said cannow was the cause of the death of the said John England, and d o fynd the said cannow to be forfaited to our souaigne lord the Kinge, and doe apprise it at tenn shillings sterling, and have committed the same to the keepoing of the goument of New Plymouth aforesaid."

4 August 1638
Plymouth Colony Records 12:32
A memorandum on this date explained the payment to John Barnes of 15 pounds and ten shillings and twenty bushels "of merchantable Indian Corne" by Robert Bartlet for the right to the Indenture of Thomas Shreiue for three years. This also notes the payment of Bartlet to Shreiue of 3 li 6s 8p per annum "for the terme of the said three yeares".

4 December 1638
Records 1:107
"John Barnes, presented for inordinate drinking about foure months since, and in regard the evidence thereof was not adjudged sufficient evidence, it was remitted to better proof."


5 March 1638/1639
Records 1:117
John Barnes appointed, with Kenelme Winslow, to assist the constables in Plymouth to survey the highways around the town, and "cause men to repaire them".

16 April 1639
Records 1:120
Barnes among several who applied for land at Mattacheese. Court ordered that only those who were actually living on the land and making use of it could remain. Unclear as to whether this applied to Barnes or not. At the same Court it was noted that John B arnes, of Plymouth, yeoman, owed the King xxs, as did Gyles Ricard.

25 May 1639
Records 1:122
John Combe owed money to John Barnes, and Thomas Prence paid it to Barnes on Combe's behalf.

23 June 1639
Plymouth Colony Records 12:45
Memorandum of a land sale from John Winslow of Plymouth to John Barnes of Plymouth. Barnes paid Winslow eight pounds sterling for "foure acrees of meddow land . . . at the Heigh Pynes lying to the south east side of the meddow ground" which borders Barnes 's property.

24 June 1639
Records 1:129
John Barnes assigns his servant, Symon Trott, to Thomas Clark. Details of agreement given.

20 July 1639
Plymouth Colony Records 12:45
Memorandum of a land sale from John Barnes to Mr. Robert Hicks of Plymouth. Hicks payed Barnes nine pounds and fifteen shillings for "foure acrees of meddow ground lying at the High Pynes wch he bought of John Winslowe" [see above entry]. This appears to be a quick turn around sale for Barnes, buying from Winslow in June and then reselling to Hicks one month later for a profit.

25 September 1639
Records 1:132
Barnes acquires a new servant, Edmond Edwards, who had been indentured to Henry Feake of Sandwich. Details of agreement given.

6 November 1639
Plymouth Colony Records 12: 49
Memorandum of a land sale from Edward Holman to John Barnes. Barnes payed Holman forty shillings for "two acrees of meaddow. . .at the Turkey poynt".

2 December 1639
Records 1:136
Land boundaries. Thomas Prence granted the parcel of land lying between John Barnes garden and George Watson's field.

12 January 1639/1640
Records 1:138
Record of the sale by Barnes of four steers and one bull to Richard Sparrow of Yarmouth, and details of the agreement.

3 March 1639/1640
Records 1:142
Barnes, together with George Bower, appointed to erect the prison at Plymouth, from timber and frame, set it up and "get hands & help to finish the same".

5 May 1640
Records 1:152
Barnes, together with six others, appointed "to view the meddows about Edward Doteys, & to computate the number of acres, & make report thereof to the next Court".

1 June 1640
Records 1:154
Land grant. Barnes granted 100 acres of upland and 10 acres of meadow "next beyond the Six Mile Brooke, in the way to Namascutte, two acres of meddow lying at the said brooke to be pt of the said tenn acres of meddow".

5 October 1640
Plymouth Colony Records 12: 63-4
In this land deal between William Dennis and Richard Willis it appears that John Barnes will loan the money to Willis or make the payments for him: "John Barnes vndertaketh & pmiseth with the said Richard Willis for the say payment & to pay them to the sa id Wilm Dennis or to whom hee shall assigne them to be payd at the tymes they shall growe due and payable".

5 October 1640
Plymouth Colony Records 12:63
Memorandum of a land sale from Josias Winslowe to John Barnes. Barnes payed Winslowe "the sume of fifty two pounds sterling to be discounted & discharged for cattell bought of Richard Sparrow and a pcell of cloth to the value of eight pounds to him deliue d. . ." for Winslowes "house Messuage out houses and garden place wth the vpland belonging to the said hous in Plymouth. . .and two acrees of Marsh meddow lying at the Wood Iland. . ."

26 November 1640
Plymouth Colony Records 12:64-5
Memorandum of a land sale from Marke Mendloue to John Barnes. Barnes payed Mendloue 12 pounds for "his house and land lyning at the fishing poynt vpon the Eele Riuer wth the fence about the land and the board & poles about the house. . ." It appears that Mendloue's land was fenced and possibly the house had a palisade surrounding it ("board and poles").

30 November 1640
Records 1:167
Court ordered Barnes to repay six shillings to Edward Holman, "which he wrongfully tooke of him for not entring of two acres of meddow, wch the said John bought of the said Edward". Edward Holman agreed to pay John Barnes 20s, "and to deliver the boate at Plymouth, wth her furniture, before the first day of March next, and the said John Barnes is to have one third pte of the said boate, wch the said Edward hath sold unto the said John".

1 December 1640
Records 2:5
Barnes accused, but found not guilty, of "taking rye at foure shillings p bushell, and selling it again for five, wthout adventure or long forbearance in one and the same place".


15 January 1640/1641
Plymouth Colony Records 12:68-9
Memorandum of a land sale from Thomas Hill to John Barnes. Barnes payed Hill twenty pounds sterling for "his house & garden and land therevnto belonginge lying on the North side Wellingsly brooke wth the fence in & about the same. . ." It also notes that "fifty apple trees fiue and twenty whereof are to be first chosen by the sd John Barnes out of all the trees that the said Thom Hil hath now vnsold. . ." It notes that Hill will take the remaining trees away "by the first day of May next".

10 February 1640/1641
Plymouth Colony Records 12:69
Memorandum of a land sale from John Barnes to William Baker. Here, Barnes sells the house and land that he had previously purchased from Marke Mendloue on 26 November 1639/40 (see above). It notes that Baker will pay Barnes 18 pounds (giving him a 6 pound profit over his purchase price) "in money goods Corne or cattell as they will passe from man to man in manner and forme following, that is to say six pound the tenth day of ffebruar next following six pound the tenth day ffebr wch shallbe in the yeare of our Lord (1642) and thother six pound wch shalbe in the year of our Lord (1644). . ."

2 March 1640/1641
Records 2:12
John Barnes, accused, found not guilty, of selling black and brown thread at five shillings four pence a lb.

5 April 1641
Records 2:13
Barnes sold his house and lands at the Eele River to William Baker. It appears that Baker could not make good on the sale, and instead an agreement to lease was approved by the Court. Details are set out.

27 October 1641
Plymouth Colony Records 12:76
This memorandum records a land sale from Thomas Wallis to William Bradford but notes that Bradford will pay "twenty foure pounds and tenn shillings" to John Barnes, making clear that Wallis owed money to Barnes.

4 January 1641/1642
Records 2:31
Barnes contributed an eigth part towards building a bark of 40 or 50 tons, estimated charge 200L. He was one of four appointed by the Court to arrange for the bark to be built. Barnes was appointed, as one of eight mean, to survey the land on both sides of Plymouth, with a view to setting aside "convenient highways & passages for cattell into the woods" so that the remaining land could be granted "to such as stand in need".

18 April 1642
Records 2:38
Francis Billington and Christian his wife, put Elizabeth, their daughter, "apprentis to John Barnes and Mary, his wyfe, to dwell wth them and to do their service untill shee shall accomplish the age of twenty yeares (shee being now seaven years of age the xth of July next) the said John Barnes & Mary, his wyfe, finding her meate, drink, & cloathes during the said terme.

30 December 1642
Plymouth Colony Records 12:87
Memorandum of a land sale from John Barnes to Edward Edwards. Here, Barnes sells the house and land that he had previously purchased from Thomas Hill on 15 January 1640 (see above). It notes that Edwards will pay Barnes sixteen pounds in installments of 5 li 6s 8d for the next three years. These payments "are to be made in money stockings shooes or other merchantable comodytes that the said John Barnes shall accept of at the days of payment. . ." Barnes may have taken a slight loss on this deal since he had originally paid Hill twenty pounds for the house, land, garden and 25 apple trees.

30 October 1644
Plymouth Colony Records 12:88
This entry follows a land deed between John Barnes and Edward Edwards╠dated 30 December 1642 (see above). This memorandum notes the resale of a house and land that Edwards had bought from Barnes but was paying him in three yearly installments. Edwards sold the house and land to Thomas Whitney of Plymouth "in consideracon of the sum of Nine pounds two shillings and six to be payed vnto the said John Barnes within the space of one yeare now next ensuing in currant Countrey. . ."


27 October 1647
Plymouth Colony Records 12:88
This is a brief memorandum noting that "I John Barnes do acquit release and discharge Thomas Whitten of all debts & demands fro the beginning of the world to the prsent. . ." It does not note what the debts were.


16 April 1649
Plymouth Colony Records 12:166
This is a brief memorandum noting that "I John Barnes Doe aqquite Release and discharge Gorg Bonham of all debts dews and demaunds from the beginning of the world to this prsent day. . ."

18 April 1649
Plymouth Colony Records 12: 166
Memorandum of a land sale from John Barnes to Gorg Bonum of Plymouth (whom he recently release of all debts, see above). Bonum agrees to pay Barnes three pounds for "a prcell of Land lyeing at the ffishing point at the mouth of the Eel Riuer" which Barnes had previously purchased from Mark Mendum (see 26 November 1639/40 above). Bonum will pay Barnes 20 shillings per year for three years.

3 September 1649
Plymouth Colony Records 12:63
Memorandum that "John Barnes doth acknowledg that for and in consideracon of the sume of fifty pound sterl to be payd in money corne goods or cattell by Thomas Wallis of Plymouth merchant in manner and forme following That is to say tenn pound in hand."


24 August 1651
Plymouth Colony Records 12:214-5
This appears to be a partial Last Will of John Barnes in which he divides his cattle, horses and sheep amongst his children (Jonathan, Mary, Hanna, and Lidia) and William Nelson. He also gives executive power to Constant Southworth of Duxburrow, Lt. Thomas Southworth of Plymouth, and Josiah Cook of Eastham.

14 October 1651
Plymouth Colony Records 12:215
This is an addendum to the partial Last Will that Barnes signed on 24 August 1651 (see above), noting the dispersal of more cattle "in the keeping of Mr. Tho: howes of yarmouth", John Crocker of Barnstable, and John Willis of Duxburrow.