Wednesday, February 10, 2010

John Barrett & Hannah Holmes of Plymouth, MA

The parents of John Barrett and Hannah Holmes are currently a mystery, as well as what happened to their child(ren) after their deaths.  Here is what I know thus far.

Timeline of John Barrett & Hannah Holmes

6 January 1787 - the first mention of John Barrett in Plymouth records, this is the date his intention to marry Hannah Holmes was filed.  It says:

1787 Janry 6 John Barrit now resident in Plimo & Hannah Holmes of Plimouth

It seems John did not come from Plymouth originally.

2 September 1787 - They are married in Plymouth

These 2 events are documented in Plymouth records.

About 1788 - Their son, William Barrett, is born (birth not recorded in Plymouth)

About 1789 - They may have had a daughter (birth not recorded in Plymouth)

1790 Census - John Barrett is in Plymouth, Massachusetts with 1 male age 16 and older (himself), 1 male age 16 and under (William), and 2 females (his wife and perhaps a daughter)

Between 1790-1800 - I can only speculate that John Barrett died.  There is no record of his death in Plymouth.

Also between 1790-1800 - They may have had a daughter (birth not recorded in Plymouth)

Hannah Holmes, Now a Widow

1800 Census - Hannah Barrett is in Plymouth with 1 male age 10 to 15 (probably her son William), 2 females under the age of 10 (daughters?), and 1 female age 26 to 44 (Hannah, placing her birthdate between approximately 1756 and 1774)

With regard to the parents of Hannah Holmes, I am currently going through the process of locating every Hannah Holmes born in Plymouth between roughly 1756 and 1774, and trying to find out which one she might be.  Holmes is a fairly common named in Plymouth.

2 November 1803 - Hannah Barrett dies in Plymouth, leaving a 15-year-old son (my ancestor William) and possibly 2 daughters, maybe the first about 13 or 14 and the second anywhere from 3 to 10.

15 November 1803 - Coroner Stephen Sampson was paid $14.15 for taking an inquisition on the body of one Hannah Barrett. (Plymouth Court Records, volume 4, page 177)

A friend checked the Plymouth County Massachusetts probate index, 1686-1881 by Ralph V. Wood (Published in 1988, Picton Press (Camden, Me)) and did not find any probate on the family.

I am left to wonder what happened to the 3 (?) minor children when their mother died.

William Barrett

20 May 1808 - William Barrett files his intention to marry Ruth Westgate of Rochester, MA (she had already given birth to their first child, William, on 19 May 1808)

They are married almost immediately and have a total of 7 children (as far as we know).

1810 and 1820 - William Barrett appears in the censuses in Plymouth, and the family numbers match up with the number of adults and children they were known to have.

17 Oct 1826 - William dies before this date, when Plymouth church records show the death of "the widow Barrett's child" at the age of 4 (presumably their youngest daughter, Susan, who was born about 1822).

The first five children (William, John, Clarissa - my 4th great-grandmother, Ruth Ann, and Benjamin W.) all went on to have children.  I do not know what happened to the 6th child, Charles, born about 1821, and Susan was the 7th child.

1830 Census - Ruth Barrett appears in Plymouth

12 December 1836 - Ruth (Westgate) Barrett remarries to Martin Gould in Plymouth, MA.

29 December 1861 - Ruth (Westgate) (Barrett) Gould dies in Plymouth.

Death records of the first 5 children of William and Ruth Barrett verify their parents (except Ruth Ann (Barrett) Savery's, which gives her father as "Charles Barrett"; clearly an error).

Who were the parents of John Barrett and Hannah Holmes?

Where did John Barrett come from before living in Plymouth? When did he die and how?

I should note that I found no land transactions for John Barrett whatsoever, nor Hannah in the time period during which they were alive.

When and how did William Barrett die?

Having exhausted Plymouth vital, church, and court records on this family, I am trying to find out if coroner's records are available.  I am looking at each and every John Barrett and Hannah Holmes born in the correct time period. 

I am also looking at all women living in Plymouth in the 1850 census who were born between 1787 and 1799, then checking their death records (or whatever further records are necessary) to see if any might be a daughter of John and Hannah.

Of course, this last one can only eliminate so many women.  The Barrett daughters may have died before 1850, or moved to another town, county, or state.

Process of elimination seems to be the only avenue I can pursue at this point.


  1. Wow, Wendy, this post is like a lesson in How To Think It Through. How great to have it all down in print! If you wander off and do something else for a few years, you can come back to this and bring yourself right back up to speed on this line of research. I wish I'd done something like this for every ancestor I've researched in the last twenty-some years!

  2. My Great,Great, Grandfather John David Barrett is Born on June 7, 1856 and died on May 23, 1939 in West Union Iowa. There is a lot of Barretts that came west. Check the iowa and Ohio records good

  3. Thanks for the suggestion. It's certainly very possible John did do some traveling, since there is no death record for him back in Massachusetts.

    1. Any connections or new infromation to John David Barrett 1856 - 1939 mentioned by Anonymous? JDB is also my G G Grandfather and have no prior Barrett information. Thanks.

    2. I'm sorry to say that I haven't had time to research the Barretts further (been quite busy this year). Does John David Barrett have a connection to Massachusetts and the Barretts in Plymouth?

    3. Tough to say about JD Barrett, appears to be born 1856 in Wisconsin of parents both born in Ireland; JDB married Margaret McLaughin born 1856 in Illinois whose parents were both born in Ireland... not finding any connections???

    4. Seems doubtful. My Barretts were in Plymouth, MA in the 1700's, and I do not know their origins. I hope you find his parents. Have you tried FamilySearch?

      If J. D. Barrett was from Racine County, then this 1870 census might be useful:

      If so, and if you know the names of any of his siblings, he might be the John Barrat in Racine in 1860. From Edward (at the top) down to John would be the family. Edward and Mary were born in Ireland:

      I don't know if this is the correct John. Have you obtained his death certificate?