The town of Nantucket is located on Nantucket Island off the coast of Massachusetts. It was discovered by Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602 and the island was purchased by Thomas Macy in 1659. Thomas and his parents had fled England in 1640 due to religious persecution. They settled in Salisbury MA. however, Massachusetts would not be the safe haven Macy’s family had hoped for. After giving shelter to four Quakers in the middle of a rainstorm, for less than an hour’s time, Thomas was cited by the court and fined. Unwilling to live among these intolerant, narrow-minded people who had come to America seeking religious freedom, but were unwilling to extend it to others, Macy gave up his home and any property he couldn’t carry with him to move to the remote unsettled island of Nantucket.
He sold an interest in the island to nine other purchasers, keeping 1/10th for himself. He sold it “for the sum of thirty pounds…and also two beaver hats, one for myself and one for my wife.” Each of the ten original owners was allowed to invite one partner. Anxious to increase the population the number of shares was increased to twenty-seven. The inhabitants soon realized that they would need skilled tradesmen such as weavers, millers, builders, etc, they decided to give each selectman a half a share but only if they lived on Nantucket and continued their trade for at least three years. Most of these men were Quakers.
One of those Quakers was John Ellis, my 7th Great Grandfather. He and his wife Elizabeth Freeman enjoyed the religious freedom that they found among the inhabitants of the island. As the population grew so did their family. Their son, Mordecai was born on January 4, 1718. The Ellis’ was a family of weavers and the children learned the craft when they were still quite young. Discouraged by the lack of opportunity and potential spouses, Mordecai moved to Scituate Massachusetts in the Spring of 1740. There he met a fellow Quaker, Sarah Otis and they were married on September 30, 1740. Over the next 21 years, they had 12 children, 8 daughters, and 4 sons. Sarah died on April 22, 1796, she was 78 years old. Mordecai lived to the ripe old age of 92 dying in 1810.
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