Plymouth County Biographies

Part of the Massachusetts Biographies Project

John Cushing

John Cushing, Sen. came into Scituate from Hingham, 1662, and purchased the farm on "Belle house neck," of Capt. John Vassall, son of William Vassall, to whom it was laid out 1634. He was the son of Matthew Cushing, and Nazareth Pitcher his wife. Matthew was born in England 1588, the son of Peter Cushing of Norfolk, whose grandfather had possessed large estates in Lombard street, London. Matthew Cushing, with his wife and five children, viz. Daniel, Jeremiah, Matthew, Debora, and John, sailed from Gravesend, April 26, 1636, in the ship Diligent, John Martin of Ipswich master, and arrived at Boston on the 10th of August. They appear in Hingham in the autumn of the same year. Matthew deceased at Hingham, September 30, 1660, aged seventy-two. His widow survived to 1681, aged ninety-six. His children were all living at his decease, save is daughter, who had been the wife of Matthias Briggs. His will bequeaths legacies "to my wife Nazareth my house, &c. - to son Daniel (lands described - to son n law Matthias Briggs 150L - to son Jeremiah 2L, 2s, 10d, - to Matthew and John each (a sum named)." Of theses children Deborah and Jeremiah left no children. Daniel and Matthew left families in Hingham, whose posterity is very numerous.

We return to John, sen., who settled in Scituate. He was born 1627. He married Sarah, the daughter of Nicholas Jacob of Hingham, 1656 He was a deputy to the Colony Court many years, and first in 1674: an assistant of the Colony Government 1689, 90 and 91, and representative to the Court at Boston, the first year after the two Colonies were united in 1692, and several succeeding years. He died 1708. His wife died 1678, aged thirty-eight. Their children were John, jr. born April 28, 1662, and died 1737. He resided at "Belle house" neck. He was Chief Justice of the Inferior Court of Plymouth, from 1702 to 1710. - Counselor of Massachusetts, from 1710 to 1728, inclusively - Judge of the Superior Court from 1728 to 1737. A contemporary journalist (John Cotton) says "he was the life and soul of the courts." He married Deborah Loring of Hull, May 20, 1687, who died 1713. children, Sarah born 1687, (a son 1692, who died in infancy), Deborah born 1693*, John, 3d. born July 17, 1695, Elijah 1697, Mary 1700, Nazareth 1703, Benjamin 1706, Nathaniel 1709. By a second wife, Sarah Holmes, married 1714, Josiah born 1715, Mary 1716. Of some of these children we only give a brief notice. Elijah** settled in Pembroke.

Nazareth was the wife of Benjamin Balch, (see Balch).

Nathaniel graduated at Harvard College 1728-married Mary Pemberton of Boston, 1729, and died one month afterward.

John, 3d. resided at "Belle House" until 1743, when he built the mansion south-east of Walnut tree hill. He lived eighty-two years, having died 1778. He was a representative from Scituate 1721, and several succeeding years. He was Judge of Probate from 1738 to 1746 - Judge of the Superior Court from 1747 to 1771, when he resigned, and also a counselor of the province, from 1746 to 1763, inclusively. He married Elizabeth Holmes, (of Boston, we believe), daughter of his father's second wife, 1718, she died 1726. Children, Deborah born 1718, (wife of David Stockbridge, and mother of David, Esq.), Sarah born 1720, (not married).

John, 4th. born 1722, who resided at Belle house, and whose sons, John removed to Berwick, Dea. Francis to Maine, and Nathaniel deceased on the paternal estate, 1825.

Nathaniel, (son of John, 3d.), born 1724, died early, as also William, born 1725, the last of the children of Elizabeth Holmes. The second wife of Judge John, 3d. was Mary Cotton, daughter of Josiah, Esq. of Plymouth, married 1729, whose children, Mary born 1730, the wife of Rev. Ebenezer Gay of Suffield), William born March 1, 1732, and died September 13, 1810. Charles born 1734, died 1810, Edward 1736, died early, Hannah born 1738, (the wife of Rev. Samuel Baldwin of Hanover), Bethia born 1740, (the wife of Abraham Bubank, Esq. of West Springfield), Lucy born 1745, (the wife of Thomas Aylwn, Esq. of Boston), Abigail born 1748, died 1824, not married, Rowland born February 26, 1750, died 1789. he graduated at Harvard College 1768, was bread to the law, practiced several years at Pownalboro, Maine; he left no family. He is remembered as a gentleman of distinguished talents, and remarkable for his personal beauty and gracefulness.

Col. Charles born 1734, (as above noted), graduated at Harvard College 1755, was bred to the law, and was many years the clerk of the Courts in Boston, and was a gentleman worthy of his distinguished ancestors. His wife was Elizabeth, (Sister of Gov. Sumner). His only son, Charles, Esq. resides at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and his daughters are the wives of Charles Paine, Henry Sheafe, Stephen Codman, and Elisha Doan, Esquires.

William , LL.D. (son of John, 3d.) was prepared for the University under the care of Mr. Richard Fitzgerald, a Latin schoolmaster in this vicinity. He graduated at Harvard College 1751, and was educated for the bar under the care of the celebrated Jeremy Gridley of Boston, many years (previous to 1761) Attorney Gen. of the Province of Massachusetts. He commenced practice at Pownalboro, Maine, 1755, was Judge of Probate for the County of Lincoln in 1768 - appointed Judge of the Superior Court of Massachusetts, (under the crown), 1772, in which office he was the only member of the Bench that adhered to the American cause. At the re-organization of the Court, 1777, he was appointed Chief Justice of that Court, in which office he laboured with great success in establishing our Judicial system on a firm basis. At the organization of the United States Government in 1789, he was selected by Washington for one of the Justices of the Court of the United States, in which office he eminently shone. During the mission of Chief Justice Jay, envoy extraordinary to the Court of Great Britain, Judge Cushing presided; and after Judge Jay's resignation in 1796, Judge Cushing was nominated to the Chief Justice's office, and unanimously confirmed by the senate: but notwithstanding this extraordinary expression of confidence, he declined the office on account of infirm health; but he continued on the bench until 1810, when he had prepared an instrument of resignation, but was called to resign life. In person he was of middling stature, erect and graceful: of form rather slight, of complexion fair, of blue and brilliant eyes, and aquiline nose. His oratory was ready and flowing, but not of that overawing description with which some native orators of more fiery mould have transported audiences: but its excellence consisted in cool, deliberate judgment, and logical and lucid argumentation, which gave him eventually an advantage over those of more ardent temperament. As a Judge, he was eminently qualified by his learning, and not less by his unshaken integrity and deliberate temper. The writer of this notice first saw him on the bench in 1801, when his zenith brightness had probably abated, but he still remembers how forcibly his youthful mind was affected by the order and perspicuity with which he performed the duties of his high office, and the mild though commanding dignity with which he guided the bar. In private life, he was all that was amiable, always ready to instruct by useful discourse, and to make his friends happy by his cheerfulness. He diligently collected works of Tates, and (if we may judge by the numerous notes written with his own hand in margins) he read with the greatest care. He was a learned theologian - well acquainted with the controversies of the day, and though far from gathering heat in those controversies, he was conspicuously on the side of liberal Christianity. he used to speak of his acquaintance with Dr. Priestley, as a happy era of his life, and to read and talk of his works with approbation. In short, as a exemplary Christian, he was irreproachable, and as a public character, he is universally acknowledged to have stood in the first rank of his countrymen, with Washington, and Adams, and Henry, and Jefferson, either in times of awful hazard, or in times of those prodigious civil labours, which laid the foundations of our country's policy. He left no children. He married Hannah Philips of Middletown, 1774, and this highly accomplished lady, who partook so largely in her husbands cares and journeyings, still survives. He resided southeast f Walnut tree hill.

We return to the children of the first John Cushing. His second son Thomas born 1663, settled in Boston. He was Ensign of the Ancient and Honorable artillery 1709, and was of has Majesty's Council for several years His son Thomas, born 1693, graduated at Harvard College 1711, resided in Boston. He was Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1742 to 1746, inclusively, when he deceased. And his son Thomas, graduated at Harvard College 1744, was the well remember patriot in the Revolution - a member of the Congress at Philadelphia, 1774 - Commissary General from 1775 to 1779, and Lieut. Governor from 1779 to 1788, when he deceased.

Matthew (son of John first) born 1665, and Jeremiah born 1666, we believe, left no families.

James born 1668, was several years Clerk of the Town of Scituate. He resided in the north parish. His son James married Sarah House 1710, and Lydia Barrell 1713, and settled at Cushing hill, as did his son James after him, whose daughter, Mrs. Lapham, resides at the same place.

Joshua (sixth son of John first) born 1670, left no family.

Sarah (daughter of John first) married Dea. David Jacob, 1689, (son of John Jacob of Hingham).

Caleb (son of John first) born 1672, graduated at Harvard College 1692, was ordained at Salisbury 1697, married Elizabeth, daughter of Rev. John Cotton, (widow of Rev. James Alling of Salisbury). Of his children we remark that James was a minister of Plaistow, New Hampshire, and John, minister of Boxford, Massachusetts.*** Rev. Caleb died 1752. Hon. Caleb Cushing of Essex County, is his descendant - son of Judge Caleb.

Mary (daughter of John first) born 1676, died single 1698.

Deborah also born 1672, left no family, that we can trace.

Joseph born 1677, married Mary Pickels 1710, and settled near Henchman's corner, three quarters of a mile west of the South Meeting house. He was a deacon of the second Church, a Justice of the peace, and a venerable man. His only son, Dea. Joseph, (graduated at Harvard College 1721), succeeded him, married Lydia King 1732, and had fifteen children.**** He was long employed as grammar schoolmaster, and was Justice of the peace. He prepared his own sons and several others for College. Of his children, we name George, who succeeded his father, and whose son George resides on the paternal spot. Pickels, who inherited a part of the estate of the family of Pickels, from the brother of his grandmother. Lemuel, who graduated at Harvard College 1767, was a surgeon in the thirteenth regiment Revolutionary army, and deceased 1779. Alice, (the widow of Nathaniel Cushing), born 1756, now survives, and Judge Nathan, born September 24, 1742, graduated at Harvard College 1763. He was at first a preacher, and afterward a lawyer. In 1776, he was appointed Judge of admiralty, and with great firmness condemned the captured British vessels, which brought him into notoriety as a patriot. He was appointed Judge of the Supreme Court in 1789, in which office he continued until 1801, when he resigned. He was afterward a Counselor of the State. He was a gentleman of noble form, commanding countenance and courteous manners; distinguished more for solid judgment and discretion than for eloquence. He deceased 1812.

He married Abigail Tilden 1777, the daughter of Christopher Tilden, Esq. of Boston. That highly accomplished lady deceased 1810: They had three children, Abigail, the wife of Hon. Cushing Otis. Christopher, Esq. graduated at Harvard College 1794 - married Lucy Nichols of Scituate, 1817, and deceased 1819; His widow married Hon. Wildes Wood of Middleboro, 1828. And Frances, the wife of Capt. Lemuel Cushing of Roxbury.

The residence of Judge Nathan Cushing was at the east foot of little Hoop-pole hill, three fourths of a mile west of the south Meeting-house.

Benjamin, the last son of John first, born 1679, settled in Boston. He was a member of the honorable Artillery 1700, and at that time Lieutenant in another corps. We have not learned that he left any family.

*Deborah, daughter of John, Jr., Esq. married Capt. John Briggs, jr. December 2, 1712. Deborah Brigs, her daughter, (and the only one on record here), was baptized in the North Parish, February 20, 1714. She was the wife of Thomas Savage, Esq. of Boston, and the grandmother of Hon. James Savage. She died at Judge John Cushing's, when here on a visit, and her remains lie in the Cushing tomb, with those of an infant child, which was born and which expired on the same day of the mother's death.

**Elijah (son of John, jr., Esq) settled in Pembroke. He married Elizabeth Barker 1724. his sons were Elijah, Nathaniel, and Judge Joseph, and his daughters were Mary, wife of Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, Deborah, wife of Rev. Dr. Shute, Elizabeth, wife of Major Cushing, all of Hingham. The sons of Elijah, jr. were Elijah, who deceased at Natches, Thomas and Nathaniel of Hanson. The sons of Nathaniel, 1st were Nathaniel, Esq., Capt. Benjamin and Charles. The son of Joseph (who was Judge of Probate many years) is Horatio, Esq. of Hanover.

Nathaniel, Esq was father of Dr. Ezekiel, who graduated at Harvard College 1808, was educated in the science of Medicine in Paris, practiced several years in Boston, and deceased at Hanover 1827. He was highly accomplished as a physician and a gentleman, and left few equals behind him. His brother George deceased at New Orleans: and his brother Elijah resides in Hanson.

Josiah (son of John, Jr., Esq) married Ruth Thomas 1738, and settled in Pembroke. The late Capt. Josiah was his son.

***Rev. John of Boxford had sons, Hn. John, who graduated at Harvard College 1761, and who was a Judge and member of the council many years. (His residence was Freeport, Maine), and Rev. James of North Haverhill. Rev. Giles Merrill was his successor, and married his daughter. James C. Merrill, Esq. of Boston, is his son.

**** The fifteen children of Dea. Joseph, Jr. were as follows: Joseph born 1733, George 1736, Mercy 1739, Nathan 1741, (died early), Judge Nathan 1742, Pickels 1743, Hawkes 1744, Dr. Lemuel 1746, Thomas 1748, (died early), Thomas 1749, (died early), Caleb 1750, (died early), Nathaniel 1751, (died early), Deborah, 1752, (the wife of Josiah Cushing of Pembroke), Caleb 1754, (died in middle life, single), Alice 1754.

We add to the notices of this family that George married Lydia, the daughter of James Cushing, and left children, Hannah, the widow of Perez Turner, George, (his successor), Robert, late of Hull, Rachel, the wife of Pickels Cushing, Jr., Mary, the wife of Dea. James Loring of Boston, and Lydia.

Pickels married Abigail Hatch 1708, and left sons Joseph, Pickels, jr., Bela, Charles, Martin, Roland, and daughters Lucy, Abigail, Sarah.

Hawkes married Ruth Cushing, daughter of Josiah of Pembroke, 1770, and left children, Dea. Thomas, who died 1825, (a man whose amiable qualities were above all praise), Capt. Lemuel of Roxbury, Nancy, (wife of George Cushing, Jr.), Clarissa, (wife of Dea. Joseph Stevens of Boston), and Charlotte, (the wife of Col. Vose of the United States Army).

Alice, the widow of Nathaniel Cushing, (who came from Hingham), had children Nathaniel, of Scituate, whose wife is Jane, daughter of Hayward Pierce, Esq. Deborah, (the late amiable consort of Mr. John Nash), Betsey, Warren of New Bedford, Samuel, late of Boston, Mary, (the wife of Bela Cushing, late of Boston), and Chauncy, who died at nineteen, in 1813.

Dea. Joseph, jr. educated three sons at Harvard College, viz. Joseph graduated 1752, and died early, Judge Nathan and Dr. Lemuel mentioned before.

Samuel Deane, History of Scituate, Massachusetts, from Its First Settlement to 1831. pp. 254-260