Welcome to my genealogy blog. Ancestors I Wish I Knew is a combination of genealogical information and stories about individuals in my family tree. The focus is on those from my Cochrane, Eitelbach, Merrett, Minarcik and Richards lines and their descendants.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

#204 Rich Man

There are many ways to be rich.  My emigrant ancestor, Edward Richards (1610-1684) was a rich man.  When you are dealing with people in the 17th century, it is hard to determine exactly how rich any one was.  One way to determine that is to look at what they owned, particularly land.

Edward Richards lived in Dedham, Massachusetts.  He arrived there about 1632 and was granted a house lot and another lot because there was a defect in his house lot.  A little later he was able to buy an additional lot from Robert Feak.  Edward joined the church and signed the Dedham Covenant.

The town of Dedham was granted a good deal of land, some of which they held and other of which they distributed to its residents.  They had an interesting system.  The amount of land a person received was based on the amount of land the person already held and the number of people in the family.  So if you had a lot of land and a large family you got more land than people who owned less land and a smaller family.

Edward received land on 14 separate occasions.  In 1642 he was given 4 acres for improvement and two years later received 5 acres.  Typically, he was granted more land than the vast majority of individuals.  In 1657-8 when a cedar swamp was divided, Edward received the second larges grant, only the  Reverend Allin received more.  Another way to determine his wealth is to look at the taxes he paid.  Generally, he was in the top three or four men in terms of the the amount he was assessed.

Within the land granted to Dedham was a large tract of land which previous had been granted to a Mr. Cook of Dublin, Ireland for a large farm and manor house.  After Mr. Cook died, his attorney was given permission to sell the lands to Eliazer Lusher and Anthony Fisher of Dedham.  Some time later, Edward Richards was able to buy Mr. Cook’s farm and built “Broad Oaks,” which remained in the Richards family until 1838.

So I think, in terms of land Edward Richards was a rich man.  If I could talk to him, I would like to know what he did with all that land.  How much was farmed? How much was meadow? How many buildings was on that land?

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