The Woodburys in the United States are all descended from John and William Woodbury (brothers or cousins, it’s not clear) who came to Salem, Massachusetts in the 1620’s.

John was first.  He was part of a fishing consortium–not a Puritan–and traveled across the Atlantic on the Zouch Phenix in 1624 as part of the Dorchester Company.  He settled in Cape Ann, which is basically a barren rock, and then moved north to become one of the five founders of Salem, Massachusetts (along with Conant, Balch, Trask, and Palfrey).

He then was granted 200 acres in what is now Beverly, Massachusetts in 1635.

My grandfather was born in Beverly three hundred years later.  Not an adventurous bunch, apparently, once they got to Massachusetts.  Terrifyingly, I am descended from John and William together FOURTEEN times, through both my mother and father.

One good story is that my umpteenth ancestor, Peter, younger son of John (my main line descends through John’s eldest son, Humphrey, but I descend from Peter too.  Twice.) kept a horse saddled in his barn at all times in case anyone needed a quick get-a-way to escape from the Salem witch trials.

“Peter was selectman in 1675 and 76. On Nov. 16, 1686 he was elected Deacon. It was during his incumbency in this office that the witchcraft delusion swept over Salem and it is related of him that he kept his horses saddled to assist the persecuted to flee to New Hampshire out of the jurisdiction of the court.”


Larry Wert has done heroic and exhaustive research of the thousands of Woodbury descendents.  For more stories and more information than you could possibly comprehend, see his web page:  **note, for those of you who have tried before, it is up and running again. Yay! (as of 12/1/2013)

Essex County Genealogy

Woodbury Family Genealogy Forum


10 thoughts on “Woodbury Genealogy

  • February 3, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Sarah – I’m a fan – and also a writer who loves the early middle ages, but I write about England. Do you ever share the name of the person who designs your covers? They fit your books perfectly. best, Deborah

    • February 3, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      Hi Deborah! Her name is in the credits at the beginning of every book 🙂 Christine DeMaio-Rice and I love her!

  • February 17, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Wow, I stumbled onto this website today, purely out of cuoriosity, when one of your books came up on I am a Woodbury by marriage. ..but my husband and I both grew up in Watertown. Massachusetts. I may just have to start doing some research to my kids have it someday

    • February 17, 2013 at 9:47 am

      How great! I am sure your husband’s family and I are related. Fun. Happy reading!

  • January 29, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Hello Sarah, I have been working on my family geneologies. Talk about not being adventerous! Both my mother’s and father’s families are srtictly British, several trace to the Mayflower, and all lived in Massachusetts and Maine. On the Woodbury side is John, John, Peter, Peter, Benjamin, Johnathan, Nathan, Willard, Willard, Harry, Willard, and Janet, my mother. My geneologies are for the most part done as far as I want to trace. I now have time for the fun part finding the stories and hopefully names of cemetaries. This spring I will visit a friend in Marshfield.
    I live in Connecticut and summer on a lake near Portland in a camp my grandfather, Willard, purchases back in 1924. On a sad note – both my mother and father had no brothers or sisters, and they produced a daughter and a son. Both of us have only daughters so our direct name line of Woodbury or Cooper has ended.

    Thank you for posting your research on the large Woodbury clan. I will save and use the sites you recommended. Jo-Ann

    • January 29, 2013 at 4:18 pm

      Thanks for commenting! Good luck with your research.

  • January 29, 2013 at 6:23 am

    Hi Sarah,
    I’m sure were related some how. I was adopted into the family, but come the Ogden and Salt Lake City, Utah tree. Can you really make a connection to the original Woodbury’s? I’m right now trying to research biographical information on my grandfather, Max Saint Claire(not sure of the ‘e’) Woodbury Senior. He was born in Salt Lake City or Ogden in Janaury 1907(month not sure). He was a trumpeter for the Cleveland Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchstra, Professor of music at Indiana University and Ball State University in Indiana. I’ve found out that he taught musicians such as Freddie Hubbard. How can I find further information on him? Thanks for any help.

    • January 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      A whole branch of the Woodburys came west with Joseph Smith in the 1800s. The Latter Day Saints have a huge genealogical database. Have you tried their site?

      I can trace my ancestry directly back to the original John in a straight line. Plus with an addition 16 other lines since Beverly seemed to be fairly inbred 🙂 Since my grandfather was born there, and the Woodburys lived there for 300 years, that certainly makes it easier!

  • December 22, 2012 at 6:53 pm


    Just getting into tracking my ancestors for my kids, Daniel and Sarah Woodbury, when I stumbled upon your website. Our line is John-Humphrey-Thomas-Jonathan-Nathaniel-Israel-Asa-Isaac-Isaac-Willard-Willard. My daughter is an avid reader and that plus sharing your name is reason enough to drop you a note. We live in California, about as far from Beverly as you get, but will take the kids to the east coast in the summer of 2014. My mom took me to Danvers, MA when I was ten and I recall all the Woodbury grave stones when we visited a cemetery (in Beverly?). After doing some research, I can now understand why.


    • December 22, 2012 at 9:26 pm

      Hi David! Thanks for writing! We live in Oregon–equally far–but my dad went on sabbatical to Amherst, MA when I was a girl. We rented a house in Leverett, and low and behold, my sister and I found Woodburys buried in the cemetery around the corner. Enjoy your trip and take lots of pictures!

Comments are closed.