Hometown Tuesday ~ Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

hometown tuesdayThe year 1630 was distinguished by the arrival of “Winthrop’s fleet” which was owned by the Governor of Massachusetts Edward Winthrop, bringing a colony, well qualified by their spirit of self-denial and perseverance, to form new settlements in the wilderness. The first winter after their arrival, the food was scarce. All they had was shellfish, groundnuts and acorns to eat.

Watertown, first known to settlers as Saltonstall Plantation, was one of Watertown#3the earliest of the Massachusetts Bay Colony settlements. Founded in the early part of 1630 by a group of settlers led by Richard Saltonstall and Reverend George Phillips, it was officially incorporated as the settlement of Watertown in September 1630. Watertown initially encompassed the present communities of Weston, Waltham, and large sections of Lincoln, Belmont, and Cambridge which was one of the largest American settlements of its time. It soon grew to be an important center for trade, commerce, and industry.

watertown sealAs early as the close of the 17th century, Watertown was the chief horse and cattle market in New England and was known for its fertile gardens and fine estates. Here about 1632 was erected the first gristmill in the colony, and in 1662 one of the first woolen mills in America was built here. The first burying ground, on Arlington Street, was established in the 1660s.

My 10th great-grandfather, Thomas Broughton arrived in Watertown in July 1635. He was born in 1616 in Gravesend, Kent, England, and traveled alone at the age of 19 to this new colony. Here he married Mary Ann Briscoe in 1637. He was able to purchase land on which he built a corn mill. The couple had 2 children that died at birth. In 1639, Thomas sold his land and mill and moved the pregnant Mary to Boston. Soon after their arrival their daughter Mary was born. They went on to have 7 more children, 4 sons, and 3 daughters. He once again purchased land and the following is an account of how he obtained mills in the area.

“While a merchant in Boston, Thomas Broughton, bought of Rev. Henry Dunster, the mills (corn and fulling) on Mistick River, on Menotomy land, which mills said Thomas Broughton built. Also bought of Parnell and Samuel Nowell, of Charlestown, for 85 pounds that farm of upland and meadow containing 300 acres, which the town had granted to their father, Mr. Increase Nowell, bounded SW by Cambridge line, NW by the line between Woburn and Charlestown, NE by Mr. Zechariah Sims, NW line between Mr. Winthrop, Major Gibbons & Mr. John Wilson.”

Thomas died on November 17, 1700, at the age of 84. Mary had died in 1665, at the age of 45.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

5 thoughts on “Hometown Tuesday ~ Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

  1. Wow, what a coincidence. My ancestors, John Firman also came to Watertown in the 1630’s! There are still loads of Fairman (which the name developed into) descendants all over New England!!

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