My Woodbury Genealogy

Woodbury genealogy in the United States is not particularly complicated. We 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 (now Gloucester, MA), which is basically a barren rock, and then moved to become one of the five founders of Salem, Massachusetts (along with Conant, Balch, Trask, and Palfrey).  For links where all this is addressed:

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 SIXTEEN 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

Here’s a long note about him from:
The fact that John could sign his name and held many positions of importance in the community implies he had an education. During his time in Salem he was Constable, Assessor, Deputy from Salem to the Massachusetts Bay General Court, Essex Petit jury foreman on two occasions, Surveyor, Lot layer, and Selectman.

John Woodbury, Capt Trask, Roger Conant, Peter Palfrey, and John Balch were each granted 200 acres of land at the head of Bass River in what is now Beverly, on 25 Jan 1635 or 6. The houses of John Balch and Roger Conant are still to be seen in 2000. Plaques mark the head of Bass River and the supposed location of John’s grant.

“The 27 th of the 11 th mo 1636.

“Its ordered that John Woodbury and Capt Trask and John Balch shall lay out two Hundred acres of land for Mr Endicot next adjoying the land which was formerly granted him. Salem, Febru. 23d 1682-3. pr John Hathorne, * who write this Copy from Salem Records.”

From the 18 th Edition, Vol. 2 of Burke’s Landed Gentry (Pgs. 651-2):

“Lineage — A pedigree of this family, of descent, in the male line, from John Woodberye (1579-1641), was recorded at the College of Arms 1953. The family Wills at the Exeter Probate Registry were destroyed during World War II but descent can be presumed from James Woodbarye, named in the Lay Subsidy of Burlescombe, Devon 1523-4, where the Woodbury family had been freeholders since the close of the 14 th century, when the overlordship of the deClaville family ended.”

“John Woodberye, “junior”, of Burlescombe, lived at East Coker, Somerset after 1605 and was sent to Cape Ann, Massachusetts Bay by the Dorchester Co…” It may be important to note that the Coker’s are just north of Dorchester which is just north of Weymouth a sailing port.

Some of John’s data was taken from a “Sketch of John Page Woodbury” by Charles Jeptha Hall Woodbury. John requested to become a Freeman on 19 Oct 1630 and took the Oath of Freemen on 18 May 1631, C.R., Vol. I. pp. 73, 74. See: N.E.H.G. Register, Book #3, Pg. 90.

John first came over in 1624 on the “Zouch Phenix.” According to “The Planters of the Commonwealth,” by Charles Edward Banks (Boston, 1930), p. 58:

“She was consort of the ’Unity,’ or arrived with her in the spring of this year. It is believed she sailed from Weymouth, and brought the following passengers, who settled at Cape Anne”* (*Banks MSS).

Representative of Salem in General Court between 1635 and 1639. Selectman and Surveyor. Returned to England in 1627 as Agent for the Dorchester Co., (Burke’s American Families Pg. #2983).

See: Frederick Virkus’s Compendium, Pg. #634…

On Pages #2054 to 2057 of “The Great Migration Begins” there is a piece about John Woodbury:

“John Woodberye” was on a list of Salem church members that was compiled in 1636, a later notation “dead” appears [SChR5].

Among the founders and settlers of the first Puritan settlement, Cape Ann and Naumkeag, 1623-1627:

Allen, Balch, Conant, Cushman, Gardner, Gray, Jeffrey, Knight, Lyford, Norman, Oldham, Palfrey, Patch, Pickryn, Winslow, Woodbury

John is frequently mentioned in the genealogies of other early settlers to New England.

On Sept. 24, 1639, John Woodbury, Peter Palfrey, and John Balch, [3 of the original “Planters”], three of the Salem selectmen, brought civil suit against Isabel Babson. There is no specific charges mentioned, but cases like this frequently involved land disputes. (See: The Babson Genealogy 1637-1977).

John spent six months in England and, soon after the issuance of the grant for their lands on March 19, 1627-8, he sailed for New England bringing with him son, Humphrey. They arrived in Salem on the June 28, following. See: Gates and Allied Families pp. 823-828.

While searching for more information on John Woodbury, Robin Bush traced a marriage license between a John Woodberrie of Dorchester, Dorset, husbandman, and Ann Napper of Hardington, spinster, at Hardington on 19 March 1627/8, (ref: D/D/01 26, p. 222, also in D/D/01 25, p.53), It seems likely that this could be John’s second marriage. In the Bishop’s transcripts for West Coker there are three entries that may be relevant:

John Woodberye and Johan Bishop, married 3 May 1607.
Johan daughter of John Woodberie, bpt. 23 March 1607/8
Humfrey son of John and Joane Woodberry, bpt. 25 July 1611
John Bishopp on 16 Apr 1605 (Johan’s 1st husband, father?)

From Robin Bush’s research “Search for the Passengers of the Mary and John 1630” Vol. 25; New Ancestral Discoveries. Robin Bush was Deputy Archivist in the Somerset County Record Office, Taunton, England.