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Katherine Reynolds Starbuck of Dover, New Hampshire and Nantucket Island

by Susan Rogers Clement
© Reynolds Family Association, 1992

Edward Starbuck and his wife Katherine came to New England about 1635, and settled in Dover, NH. Although there is no documented evidence to date, Edward's wife is traditionally known as Katherine Reynolds. As early as 1862, James Savage, in A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, wrote that Edward Starbuck "m. Eunice or Catherine Reynolds, said to be from Wales." Early Settlers of Nantucket, compiled by Lydia S. Hinchman and published is 1901, states that Edward's wife was "Katharine (Reynolds), of Wales." A footnote states "Some authorities give Eunice." George Edward McConnell and David Ross McConnell, in Our Family's Starbuck Ancestry, published 1963, state "his wife, Katherine Reynolds, daughter of Robert, is thought to have been Welch." This Reynolds connection was also acknowledged in the Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, by Sybil Noyes, Charles Thornton Libbey and Walter Goodwin Davis in 1939. They stated that "his wife Katherine is repeatedly called Katherine Reynolds, but no documented evidence of the 'Reynolds' has been seen." Such long-standing tradition should not be taken lightly, despite the current lack of extant evidence, and until research proves otherwise, we will consider that Katherine and her descendants constitute a branch of the Reynolds family in America.

It has been written in the above stated sources that Edward was from Derbyshire, England. The Starbuck genealogy adds that he was from Derbyshire or from Attenborough, Nottinghamshire. Noyes, Libbey and Davis state that Edward was of Draycut, Co. Derby and Attenboro, Co. Notts. There has apparently been no success to date with research in English records for the ancestry of either Edward or Katherine, though further study has been started by the RFA.

As is generally the case in early colonial records, there is much documented about the life of Edward Starbuck, but little information about Katherine, his wife. Edward first appears in the records of Dover, NH in 1640, when he is found on a list of inhabitants of Dover and appeared in a court suit. He was named as a Proprietor in 1642. In 1643 and 1646 he was chosen as Representative from Dover to the General Court of the Mass. Bay Colony. He was one of the men appointed by the town in 1644 to have control and management of the fisheries in the river. He acted as agent for Mr. Valentine Hill in 1646, and was a partner with Richard Waldron in lumbering on the Maine side in 1648. He was granted the right to erect sawmills in 1647 and 1650, and in 1652 he was granted the right to use certain lands.

Katherine Starbuck is known through her signing with her husband on two deeds. She signed with him in May or July 1653 when they sold land to their son-in-law Peter Coffin. Later in 1659, Edward and Katherine deeded land to Mr. Broughton, which excepted the house and land on the Newichawannock River which belonged to "Goodwife Starbuck" as "being formerly given her...in wife's right..."

Some time during his stay in Dover, Edward came under the influence of the Anabaptists. On 18 Oct 1648, he was charged with refusing to join with the established church in the rite of baptism. There is some question if these religious differences played a part over the next few years in Edward's decision to move his family from Dover. Whatever the reason, Edward gave all his property in Dover to his son-in-law, Peter Coffin on 9 Mar 1659/60, and moved himself and his family, except for Abigail and Sarah who had already married, to Nantucket. His name appears there on the earliest Indian deed in 1660, and on many other deeds and documents in the succeeding years. He served as a selectman in 1673. On 18 March 1685, Edward deeded all his property and good to his son Nathaniel.

Edward died at Nantucket 4 Mar 1690, age 86. There is no record of Katherine's death. Some sources assume that she died in Dover prior to the move to Nantucket, however, Noyes, Libbey and Davis state that she was living 19 June 1678 (without citing a source for this date). It is probable that she had died by 1685 when Edward alone deeded to son Nathaniel.

The children of Edward and Katherine (Reynolds) Starbuck:

1. Nathaniel b. 1635, d. 6 Aug 1719; m. 1662 Mary Coffin, daughter of Tristram and Dionis (Stevens) Coffin, b. 20 Feb 1645.

2. Sarah m1) 1668 William Storey; 2) 1684 Joseph Austin; 3) Humphrey Varney as his second wife

3. Dorcas d. Oct 1696; m. William Gayer

4. Abigail m. Peter Coffin, son of Tristram and Dionis Stevens) Coffin, b. 1631

5. Esther m. Humphrey Varney as his first wife

6. Jethro b. 1651, d. 27 May 1663, run over by a cart

7. Shuah d. bef. 1685; m1) by 1661 Ensign James Heard; 2) 1676-77 Richard Otis as his second wife (Shuah is named only by Noyes, Libbey and Davis; other sources do not name her as a child of Edward)


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