John Biglo, Immigrant Ancestor

     The immigrant ancestor of nearly all persons in North America bearing the surname Bigelow in any of its several variants, is John Biglo of Watertown, Massachusetts. He lived from 1617 to 1703. Many of his descendants have been recorded in a genealogy entitled The Bigelow Family in America, written by Gilman Bigelow Howe, printed 1890. The book was published by Charles Hamilton of Boston, and is no longer available except by photo-copy reprint. Rebound used copies occasionally come into the used-book market with the simple title Bigelow Genealogy.

     In this book Howe states that he was unable to obtain any satisfactory account of the progenitor of John Biglo, and quotes conflicting traditions stating that the surname is of various national origins. He also quotes the late genealogist H.G. Somerby, who felt that John Biglo came from Wrentham, Suffolk, England, and was son of Randall and Jane Beageley, who had their youngest son, John, baptized 16 February 1617. Also, from the probate records of Wrentham, Somerby quotes the will of a Francis Baguley, blacksmith, of Wrentham, who in a will dated 20 October 1656, granted five pounds "to his brother John Baguley, now living in New England, if he comes for it within two years". He offered no proof that Francis was son of Randall Baguley.

     The rector of Wrentham parish in 1617 was the Rev. John Phillips, who later emigrated to Dedham, Massachusetts. During his years in Dedham, Phillips once stated that the blacksmith John Biglo of Watertown, Massachusetts was the same infant whom he had baptized in 1617 as the son of Randall Beageley, and that he (Phillips) had "known John Biglo from earliest youth upward','

     Further, in a civil case in Watertown during his lifetime, John Biglo took the witness stand and identified himself as "John Biglo, formerly of Wrentham, England." From these facts we state the identity and parentage of John Biglo, and through parish and probate records in England, can prove three generations of his English ancestry.

     John Biglo seems to have arrived in Watertown, MA about 1632. He probably came with an older relative, Elizabeth Bigelow, second wife of Deacon Richard Butler, who after a short stay in Massachusetts, followed the Rev. Thomas Hooker to Connecticut. It is assumed that Elizabeth was an older sister or first cousin. No ship's-records exist showing the date of their arrival. It is probable that John Biglow and/or Mary Warren came over on one of the ships of the Winthrop Fleet. It is also probable that they would have had to do so by budgeting solely based upon their own personal budget.

     John Biglo took part in the Pequot War of 1636, serving from Watertown. The next public mention we find of him is his marriage in Watertown on 30 October 1642-- the first marriage recorded in Watertown--before Mr. Nowell, to Mary Warren, daughter of John and Margaret Warren. Ella Biglow's book, Reminiscences of Historic Marlborouqh, MA, contains a fictional description of John at his wedding, in white satin breeches, ruffled shirt, and silver shoe buckles. There is also a docu-drama book called The Winthrop Woman, that is very well researched. On page 250, there is related a cannon-ball pitching contest between Will Hallet and "his opponent -- Bigelow, the blacksmith." The contest was held in the Common of "little Boston", on Election Day in the mid to late 1630's. The book relates the life of Elizabeth, a grand-daughter of John Winthrop, and a passenger on one of the ships of the same Winthrop Fleet.

      To quote from Howe's book, "from the list of those who took the oath of fidelity at Watertown 1652, we find that John Biggalough was one of the number, and he became a freeman 18 April 1690 which we find from the roll of freeman written as John Bigolo; under the same date we find that Samuel Begaloo was made a freeman, and by another list, date 16 May 1690, we find Samuel Biggilo and John Warren jr. were made freemen. On the return of soldiers who were in the service from 25 November to 3 December 1675 [King Philip's War]we find the names of John Bigulah Sr, Michael Flegg, and Isaac Leonard, the last being wounded. Thus we find the name variously spelled by different officials, but when we find the name written by any member of the family, in those early days it is written Biglo, Bigelo, or Bigelow."
     John Biglo appears by various accounts to have been a blacksmith, and again from town records we quote: "Agreed with John Biglo that for ten trees the towne allowed him for the setting up of a shop for a Smithes forge, that he shall either go on with his promise of setting up his trade, which is the trade of a Smith, within one twelfmonth after the date hereof or else to pay unto the towne ten shillings for these ten trees he acknowledged to have off the towne." Dated 4 March 1651.

     John Biglo was chosen a surveyor of highways in 1652 and 1660, a constable [Tax-collector] in 1663, and one of the selectmen (see below) or town council, in 1665, 1670, and 1671. His homesite consisted of six acres and was bounded north by Richard Ambler and William Parker, east by Thomas Straight, south by the highway, and on the west by Miles Ives After the death of his wife Mary in 1691, he married (2) on 2 October 1694, Sarah Bemis, daughter of Joseph Bemis. She outlived him. He died on 14 July 1703, at the age of 86 years, as recorded in town records. His will was dated 4 January 1703 and was proved 23 July 1703.(His will is quoted in it's entirety after his children list)

Children of John and Mary (Warren) Bigelow, all born in Watertown, Middlesex co, MA:

    11      John, born 27 Oct 1643; died about 1721 in Hartford, Connecticut; he married, at unknown date, Rebecca Olmsted, to whose nephew his property was willed. Resided Hartford., Connecticut. No issue.

    12      Jonathan, born 11 Dec 1646; died 9 Jan 1711 Hartford, Connecticut; married (1)1671 Rebecca Shepard who died before 1686; (2) Mary Olcott,who died 7 Mar 1697 (3) Mary (Benton) Cole. Resided Hartford, Connecticut. 12 children.

    13      Mary, born 18 Mar 1648; died in Watertown before 1704; married 3 June 1674 Michael Flagg(FLEGG). 3 children.

    14      Daniel, born 1 Dec 1650; died about 1715; married at unknown date Abial Pratt; he was a tailor; resided Framingham, Massachusetts. 6 children.

    15      Samuel, born 28 Oct 1653; died 1 Feb 1731/2 Waltham, Massachusetts; married 3 June 1674 Mary Flagg(FLEGG). An innkeeper & carpenter, he resided Watertown to 1720, & held several town offices. 10 children.

    16      Joshua, born 5 Nov 1655; died 1 Feb 1745 Westminster, Massachusetts; married 20 Oct 1676 Elizabeth Flagg. Resided Watertown most of his life. 12 children.

    17 ..... Elizabeth, born 18 June 1657; died 18 April 1694 Billerica Massachusetts; married 06 Sept 1676 John Stearns. Resided Billerica. 7 children.

    18      Sarah, born 29 Sept 1659; died after 1703 at Framingham, Massachusetts; married 23 July 1679 Isaac Learned. Resided Framingham. 11 children.

    19      James, born about 1660; died 20 Jan 1728 at Weston; married (1)25 Mar 1687 Patience Brown; (2)3 July 1693 Elizabeth Child; (3)15 June 1708 Johanna Erickson. Resided Watertown. 4 children. The male line,however, died out in the next generation.

    1A      Martha, born 1 April 1662; died unknown date. She married (1)1686 Thomas Olmsted, and divorced 1687; (2)Obadiah Woods of E. Hartford, CT, who died 1712. Martha's family is uncertain, but she left several children.

    1B      Abigail, born 4 Feb 1663; died 12 Jan 1754 Watertown; married 10 Dec 1684 Benjamin Harrington. Resided Watertown. 4 children.

    1C      Hannah, born 4 Mar 1665; died 8 Mar 1665

    1D      A son, unnamed, born and died 18 Dec 1667.

The will of John Biglo in its entirety, is as follows:
"In the name of God amen. I John Biglo of Watertown in the county of Middlesex within her Majesties Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, being weeke of body but in sound disposing Memory prais be given to god for the same, Do make this my last will and testament in manner & form following, that is to say first and principally I resign my soul unto the mercy full hands of allmighty god my Creator assuredly hoping through the mercy of my blessed Saviour to obtain pardon remission of all my sins and my body I commit to the earth whence it was taken, to be decently buried by the discreshion of my executors hereinafter named and as for the worldly goods & estate the lord hath lone me I dispose thereof as follows:

Imp. I give and bequeath unto Sarah my well beloved wife, and to her heirs & assigns forever, all the lands and movable estate, that was hers before our marriage, and forty pounds in money, twenty pounds of s'd money to be p'd her within one month after my decease and twenty pounds within one year after my dece's I give unto her forty pounds waight of good pork, three bushels of barley, and one bushel of indian corn, five pounds waight in butter and five pounds waight in Chees, and also two Sheep, and half the flax that shall be in the house at my Deces--and that to be in full satisfaction of her thirds,

2ndly I give & bequeath to my eldest son John Biglo, & to his heirs & assigns forever, twenty pounds in money to be p'd within one year after my Deces, and in case my s'd son have an heir lawfully begotten of his own body, I give & bequeath his s'd heir twenty pounds in money to be p'd to him or her, when it shall be twenty one years of age, or day of marriage which shall first happen, but if it hapon my s'd son deces without an heir as above s'd, then my will is y't ye aboves'd twenty pounds be equally divided between my children then surviving.

3rdly I give & bequeath unto my son Jonathan Biglo, and to his heirs & assigns forever, twenty five pounds in money to be p'd him within one year after my deces.

4thly I give & bequeath to my son Daniell Biglo and to his heirs & assigns forever, twenty five pounds in money to be p'd him within one year after my deces.

5thly I give & bequeath to my son Samuel Biglo and to his heirs & assigns forever ten pounds in money besides what he hath already had, to be p'd to him within one year after my deces.

6thly I give and bequeath unto my son Joshua Biglo and to his heirs & assigns forever two parcels of lands lying on the westerly side of bow brook in s'd town. Purchased of Lieut Chas Hammond as may more fully appear by the deed of the same, and twenty five pounds in money, to be p'd him within one year after my deces.

7thly I give & bequeath unto my son James Biglo fifteen pounds, which I lent him as may appear by a bond under his hand and seal, and I give & bequeath to my said son James's son James Biglo ten pounds in money to be p'd him if he shall live to the age of twenty one years, but if it so happen that he deces before s'd age, then ye s'd ten pounds to be equally divided between my s'd son James surviving children, when they shall be of the age of twenty one years or day of marriage which shall first happen.

8thly I give & bequeath to my Daughter Mary Flagg and to her heirs & assigns forever, twenty five pounds in money to be p'd her within two years aft

9thly I give & bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Sterns' children twenty five pounds in money, to be p'd them, when they are twenty one years of age, or day of marriage which shall first happen.

10thly. I give & bequeath to my daughter Sarah Learned, and assigns forever, twenty five pounds in money, within three years after my Deces.

llthly. I give & bequeath to my daughter Martha wood's children, lawfully begotten of her own body, twenty five pounds in money to be p'd them equally alike, when they shall arrive at the age of twenty one years or day of marriage, which shall first happen.

12th. I give & bequeath unto my daughter Abigail Herrington & to her heirs & assigns, twenty five pounds in money, to be p'd within four years after my deces.
And I nominat, ordain, & appoint, my above s'd son Joshua Biglo and my son in law Isaac Larned my Sole Executors to see this my last will & testament performed and all the rest and residue of my estate not herein bequeathed, after all my just debts and funerall charges are p'd my will is that it be divided between my s'd executors, that is to say, two parts of three, to my s'd son Joshua, and one third to my son in law Isaac Leanerd, and do request my trusty and well beloved friend, Capt. Benj. Garfield to be my overseer of this my last will & testament, my s'd executors to allow him out of my estate for his cost & charges reasonable sattisfaction to his content, Revoking & making null & void all former or other wills by me heretofore made. In witness hereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this fourth day of January one thousand seven hundred two/three, in the first year of the reign of our lady Anna, by the Grace of God over England & Queen.

Signed, seald & Published
Sam'l Livermore
Daniel Harrington Witnesses
Munning Sawin"


The inventory of John Biglo's estate amounted to L 627-12-00. This was a middle-class fortune. Among the expenses charged for the funeral were several pairs of black gloves, twenty gallons of wine, bottles for the wine, allspice and sugar, and two men and horses to carry the wine and other articles to the funeral, also " a man and horse to notify Isaac Larned and wife at Sherburne to attend the funeral, and a man and horse to notify John Stearns at Billerica to attend the funeral".

An additional note comes from the Knight family genealogy, in which Joseph Knight and his wife Hannah in 1649 sold "a mansion and land" to John Biglo. A map of early Watertown is shown in Robinson & Wheeler's book, Great Little Watertown; the land owned by John Biglo appears at the extreme left of the map, as does the adjoining parcel purchased from Joseph Knight. John Biglo owned several pieces of property, and in 1686 executed a gift-in-deed, conveying 16 acres and the house thereon "already occupied by my son Samuel" to Samuel Biglow and wife.

Mary Warren Biglo

John Warren,son of John and Mary (Scarlet) Warren, was baptised 1 Aug 1585 Nayland, Suffolk, England. He married Margaret , who died in Watertown, MA 6 Nov 1662. John Warren died at Watertown 13 Dec 1667. They came to New England 1630. All their children were born Nayland, Suffolk England:

  1. Mary, baptised 23 Apr 161;; buried 17 Dec 1622.
  2. Elizabeth, baptised 25 June 1619; buried 1622.
  3. iSarah, baptised 20 Apr 1620; buried 7 Sept 1621.
  4. John, baptised 12 may 1622;died Watertown,MA about 1703; married 11 J1y 1667 Michal (Jennison) Blois.
  5. Mary, baptised 12 Sept 1624; died 19 Oct 1691 Watertown; married 30 Oct 1642 John Bigelow. See preceding four pages.
  6. Daniel, baptised 25 Feb 1626/7; died after 1698; married 10 Dec.1650 Mary,Barron.
  7. Elizabeth, baptised 21 July 1629; married about 1654 James Knapp.
Bigelow Family Genealogy Volume. I ; first pages;
Howe, Bigelow Family in America; pg 17-22;
Bond's, Genealogies & History of Watertown;
NEHG Register, Oct 1910;
Warren genealogy;
The Winthrop Woman, by Anya Seton Chase (c) 1958
(This is a Copy of a scanned document from the Bigelow Society June 1996 by Don Bigelow

New info from Janice Farnsworth, when John was living in Watertown and one of the Selectmen:
Source: Children & Youth in America
New England towns remove children from poor families
This is the first of three volumes dealing with the history of public policy toward children and youth in America from the colonial period to the present.
1. Watertown, Massachusetts, 1671
Watertown Records, I, 103-104, 105, 107.
January 3, 1671. At a meeting of the Select-men at the house of Isaac Sterns, John Bigulah and Thomas Fleg, Senior, were appointed to treat with Edward Sanderson and his wife about getting a service for the biggest of [the] two least of his children where it may be to their own content and the good education of the child in learning and labor. And the town will be helpful to them in it if they desire it. And to acquaint them that if themselves do not that, then the town will provide a service for it.
March 3, 1671. There coming a complaint to us the selectmen concerning the poverty of Edward Sandersons family: that they had not wherewith to maintain themselves and children either with supply of provision or employment to earn any, and considering that it would be the charge of the town to provide for the whole family which will be hard to do this year, and not knowing how to supply them with provision, we considering if we should supply them and could do it, yet it would not tend to the good of the children for their good education and bringing up so they may be useful in the commonwealth or themselves to live comfortably and usefully in time to come; we have, therefore, agreed to put out two of his children into some honest families where they may be educated and brought up in the knowledge of God and some honest calling or labor. And, therefore, we do order that Thomas Fleg and John Bigulah shall have power to bind them prentices with some honest people with the consent of their parents, if it may be had, and if the parents shall oppose them to use the help of the Magistrate, in the name and with the consent of the Selectmen, Thomas Hastings.
Thomas Fleg, Senior, and John Bigulah at a meeting of the Selectmen March 3, 1672 were appointed to put out the children of Edward Sanderson apprentice. The return of Thomas Fleg and John Bigulah was that they had put out the oldest of the two, of a matter of eight years of age, to John Fleg, an apprentice till she be eighteen years of age. The said John Fleg was to have her well apparelled at her: coming to him and to have for his encouragement fifty shillings to be paid in his rates to the town. And the above said John Fleg does engage to bring her up in all respects as an apprentice according as the law require[s] and to allow her double apparel at the end of the term of her time fitting for an apprentice.

               Original file from "The Bigelow Society" Welcome package
               Original file name: John Bigelo Edited ROD 1997.

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Rod Bigelow (Roger Jon12 BIGELOW)
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