Ayer/Ayre Genealogy - Story of John Ayer - Ayer History - Immigrant John Ayer, Thomas Ayer Untitled Document
Who are your ancestors?


The Story of John Ayer of Haverhill Massachusetts

This is the story, to the best of my knowledge, of John Ayer and his time in Haverhill MA. I want to thank people like Willis Brown, Robert Ayers, and Warren Ayer for sharing so much of their research and knowledge. Clearly their input has helped my research significantly and made this website possible.

The immigrant John Ayer was said to have come from England, arriving on The James in 1635 with his wife Hannah and their first 4 children - Thomas, Rebecca, Robert, and Peter. There is no documentation found for his journey, but in John's case he came with money, and perhaps was one of the people who were not allowed to leave without surrendering money and property to the Crown. Per Willis Brown's research, we place him on the James because of his later close association with other listed passengers on that ship, such as the Pike family, and his kinsman, John Evered alias Webb.

The James itself is a part of history, surviving the Great Hurricane of 1635. The James, out of Bristol, met the hurricane off the Isles of Shoals, there losing three anchors and being forced to put to sea, for no canvas or rope would hold. The storm winds drove her to within feet of the Pascataquack rocks. "At this moment," wrote Increase Mather (his father, mother, and four brothers being among the one hundred passengers), "their lives were given up for lost; but then, in an instant of time, God turned the wind about, which carried them from the rocks of death before their eyes." On Aug 13, 1635, The James manages to make it to Boston Harbor proper with "...her sails rent in sunder, and split in pieces, as if they had been rotten ragges..."

So were the parents of' a great American family delivered from death at the hands of the tempest. Of the one hundred plus aboard the James, none were lost.

John and his family resided in Salisbury, MA from 1640 - 1646. Some people report that he lived in Ispwich for a time. We know this not to be true, as he was recorded as such in many family histories because he was made a Freeman in the Ipswich court. However, the court at that time traveled, and it was just a stroke of fate that it was in Ipswich when the issue of Freeman status for John and his son John was taken up by the court. The will of John also comes into the same category. He never lived in Hampton, but that is where the court was at the session that considered his estate.

John and family moved to Haverhill, MA in 1647, there John and Hannah had 5 more children - Mary, John Jr., Nathanial, Hannah, and Obadiah.

Occording to the New England Heritage John was made a freeman, and was a well respected member of Haverhill. A freeman in those days was not the opposite of a slave. A freeman was more of a citizen with benifits. The Church had to vote on who became a freeman, and the process and questions were excrutiating.

To the best of our knowledge, our John was married once, to Hannah, whose maiden name is lost to history. She survived her husband, and was the mother of all of his children, easily proven by the land deeds of MA. Below is a quote from Willis Brown in regards to Hannah and her maiden name:

"First and possibly foremost, John Ayer was not married to Hannah Evered. He was married to Hannah, who was not an Evered. A very early researcher, perhaps as early as 1860, identified her as Hannah Green(?) with the question mark next to it. He left us no notes, or lists of reference. I have found nothing that would indicate where he developed that theory.

The earliest identification that I have found of the wife of John Ayer as Hannah Evered was a newspaper genealogy column known as "The Boston Transcript." According to that source Hannah was listed in the will of John Evered alias Webb, therefore she must be his sister. She was not listed in that will. In fact, Hannah was still alive when the will was offered for probate, she was not mentioned and did not inherit. John Evered alias Webb did mention his cousins as the children of John Ayer: and not as the children of his sister Hannah. I think John Evered alias Webb knew what he was doing and I do not try to second guess him. In some so-called family trees, Hannah has been added as a sibling of John Evered alias Webb, but that is not supported by English records."

John passed away in Haverhill in 1657. his will was dated March 12, 1656, proved Hampton Ct. Jun 8 1657. His wife, Hannah, survived him, and died Oct. 8, 1688, having remained his widow. John Ayer devised his homestead to his son John Jr.

The publication "The Pioneer Families of Northwestern New Jersey" wrote about John's grandson (John, son of Obadiah Ayer). The publication also touch on John the immigrant and stated his inventory after his death (see below). Please keep in mind that the items and values are transcribed from the actual document, so there are some spelling and grammer errors.

John Ayer's Inventory at his Time of Death


fower cows, two steers, and a calf
twenty swine and fower pigs
fower oxen
one plough, two pair plough irons, one harrow, one yolke and chayne, and a rope cart
two howes, two axes, two shovels, one spade, two wedges, two betell rings, two sickels and a reap hook hangers in the chimneys, tongs and pot hooks
two pots, three kettles, one skillet, and frying pan
in pewter
three flocks, beds, and bed clothes
12 yards of cotton cloth and cotton wool and hemp and flax
two wheels, three chests, and a cupbboard
wooden stuff belonging to the house
two muskets and all that belong to y'
in books
in flesh meat
about forie bushells of corne
his waring apparill
about six or seven acres of graine in and uppon the ground
the dwelling house and barne and land broken and unbroken with all appurtaneences
forks, rakes, and other small implements about the house and barne
in debt owing to him
between two or three bushels of sale and so mayle
248.05.00 pounds

So the total was ~248 pounds, which was very good in those days, and he did not owe anyone anything. Also, if you add up the values you get quite a bit more than 248 pounds - but like I said I transcribed this all from the original source.

Modern day Ayer's Village in Haverhill, MA - Image from http://members.mva.net/galaca/p3ayers.html

Email me at [email protected] for further information, questions, or data requests

Ayer / Ayre Genealogy
Other Useful Links

Ancestry.com has the largest, searchable database for records and much more.