Sunday, March 20, 2011

Line 4, Mary Fiske, The Female Puritan Influence

Before going on with Anthony Fisher’s son, I need to say something about Anthony Sr.’s wife, Mary Fiske. There are always two sides to each story and Mary, while not much is known about her personally, came from a family rich in Puritan influence. There definitely had to have been something about Mary as well as her husband that influenced her sons to pick up the Puritan banner and sail to the New World.

Mary Fiske was probably born in the early 1560s in Frankingham, Suffolk, England
She was the daughter of Nicholas Fiske and his wife Johan Crispe who was the daughter of William Crispe and his wife Anne Godbold.
Mary Fiske married Anthony Fisher
Died April 1640 and Buried 11 April 1640 in Syleham, Suffolk, England
The children of Anthony and Mary Fisher were:
1.      Joshua Fisher
2.      Mary Fisher
3.      Anthony Fisher
4.      Amos Fisher
5.      John Fisher
6.      Cornelius Fisher
7.      Martha Fisher
8.      Hester Fisher

Mary was born into a family that had lived in or around Laxfield, Suffolk, England since the time of the Norman Conquest. She may have descended from fishermen, as her maiden name is believed to have been the Norman version of “Fish”. While not noblemen, the Fiske family seems to have prospered over the years, producing yeomen, sheriffs, artisans, wheelwrights, clergymen and university educated sons. They also produced religious rebels who caused enough upheaval in the English religious community to produce at least one martyr and many persecutions among their family.

The most well known of the Fiske martyrs was actually the brother-in-law of Mary’s mother, Johan Crispe. Johan’s sister, Anne married John Noyes whose story is written in Foxes’ book of Martyrs. Fox wrote: “About the same time as those persons whose fate we have just recorded, suffered John Noyes, and his apprehension and death were brought about in the following manner:

Some bigoted papists, who dwelt in the neighborhood, knowing him to be a professor of the true faith, and a despiser of the mass, and other Romish superstitions, determined to bring him to punishment; and accordingly, three of them, named Thomas Lovel, Wolfren Dowsing, and Nicholas Stannard, beset his house, and he attempting to go out, Nicholas Stannard called to him and said, " Whither goest thou *" to which he replied, "To see some of my neighbors." Stannard then said, " Your master hath deceived you; you must go with us now." To which Noyes answered, " No, but take you heed your master deceive not you." And so they took him and carried him before the justices the next day. After several matters had been alleged against him, he was conducted to a dungeon at Eye, where he was confined for some time, and was then carried from thence to Norwich, and before the bishop, where he was interrogated…” John Noyes denied “the pope's supremacy, the use of ceremonies, and Christ's real presence in the sacrament.

Upon this, sentence was read by the bishop against him, in the presence of Dr. Dunning, his chancellor, Sir W. Wood- house, Sir Thomas Woodhonse, and several other gentlemen.
No further particulars of his examination are known; but we have the following account of his subsequent conduct and execution, from which we learn, in some measure, what took place on his appearance before the bishop:
In the mean time his brother-in-law, Nicholas Fisk, of Dinninpton, going to comfort him at such time as he remained in the Guildhall of Norwich, after Christian exhorCation, asked him if he did fear death when the bishop gave judgment against him, considering the terror of the same; and the said Noyes answered, he thanked God he feared death no more at that time, than he or any other did, being at liberty. Then the said Nicholas required of him to show the cause of his condemnation.”

“ The following letter was written by Noyes to his wife, while he lay in prison.
Wife, you desired me that I would send you some tokens that you might remember me. As I did read in the New Testament, I thought it good to write unto you certain places of the Scripture for a remembrance. St . Peter saith, 1 Pet . iv., "Dearly beloved, be not troubled with this heat that is come among you to try you, as though some strange thing had happened unto you, but rejoice, insomuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory nppeareth ye may be merry and glad. If Cbe railed on for the name of Christ, ppy are ye, for the Spirit of glory, and the Spirit of God, resteth upon you.

" It is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing than for evil doing.
" See that none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or an evil doer, or as a busy body in other men's matters; but if any man suffer as a Christian man, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in his behalf; for the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God. If it first begin with us, what shall the end of them be, that believe not the gospel of God i Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit their souls unto him in well doing."

The letter continues with Scripture, justifying Noyes’ faith and that of the Puritans. He ends with this reminder of his faith and his willingness to die for it:

“So fare ye well, wife, and children: and leave worldly care, and see you be diligent to pray.
" Take no thought, (saith Christ , Matt . vi.) saying, What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed ? (for after all these things seek the Gentiles) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things, but seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and the righteousness thereof, and all these things shall be ministered unto you…."
John Noyes was sentenced to be burned at the stake. His last words as he was bound to the stake were: " Fear not then that can kill the body, but fear him that can kill both body and soul, and cast it into everlasting fire."

John Noyes died 22 September 1557, just a few years before Mary Fiske was born. It is not hard to imagine how influenced the Fiske and Fisher families were by this example of a faith that could not be quelched even my flames. It is certain that it inflamed the beliefs of the Fisher family as they became, at least in part, even stronger in their Puritan beliefs. It would be interesting to study some of the lines that remained in England to see if they stood strong in their beliefs and joined Cromwell in the English Civil War that began 1642, about five years after Mary’s sons Joshua and Anthony Fisher and their brother Cornelius arrived in the New World.

Mary’s father, Nicholas Fiske, died between 20 August 1569 and 28 September 1569 when his will was proved. He left his sons and daughters legacies, adding that “Wife Johane shall well and honestly educate and bring up my four children, namely Rachel, Ester, Mary, and Martha, my daughters, until they shall be of lawful age.” “Marye” and her sister Rachell, Ester and Martha were left 10 pounds each. Mary must have been a very young child as no husband was named for herself or her sisters, as was the custom in that century. There is some debate still going on about just who Mary’s mother was, but I feel the evidence strongly points to Johan Crispe who was Nicholas’ wife at the time of his dead.

In her sister, Esther Fiske’s 20 March 1578/9 will, Mary is named along with her sons, John and Cornelius.

It is not known when Mary, herself, died. Anthony and Mary Fisher's sons John named both parents in his 1636 will, as did Cornelius in 1638. Anthony Sr. was listed in the burial records of 11 April 1640 and Mary, his widow, was appointed administrator of his estate eight days later. No will has been found for Mary. It would be interesting to know if she survived to see the beginning of the English Civil War. Being born just after her Uncle’s martyrdom and living to see the Civil War could have given Mary a sense of fear and hope that her faith would be vindicated. As a mother, she probably felt relieved that her sons and grandchildren were out of war’s harm, but still have missed her children and wondered why the Puritans couldn’t have controlled England just a bit sooner.

1. Dedham Historical Register, 1890, Vol 1, Published by Dedham Historical Society
2. "Gen. and Personal Memories" Edited by William Richard Cutter
3. "The Fiske Family" from Genealogical Research in England Communicated by the Committee on English and Foreign Research contributed by G. Andrews Moriarty of Bristol, R.I. (from the NEHGR's book on "English Ancestries of New England")
4.  Fisher Facts, Vol I, 1974, No. 1, page 1/74
5.      New England Historical and Genealogy Register, Vol ___, No. ___, April 1997 The English Ancestry of New England Settlers Joshua and Anthony Fisher"
6. William Crispe of Laxfield, Suffolk Great-Grandfather of Anthony and Joshua Fisher of Dedham, Massachusetts by Clifford L. Stott, July 1997 New England Historical
and Genealogical Register, page 291
7.  Internet Derick Sibley Hartshorn III
8.  "Richard Fisk(e)'s Descendants
9.  "Fiske Family"
10.  Fressingfield, Suffolk, England Parish Records

My Fiske line:
Hugh Fiske, b. about 1370 in Laxfield, Co. Suffolk, England
Simon Fiske b. about 1399 in Laxfield, Co. Suffolk, England m. Susannah Smythe
Jeffrey Fiske b. about 1425 in Laxfield, England d. 1504 m. Maraget ? d. 1504 in Laxfield, England
Jeffrey Fiske b. in Laxfield, Co. Suffolk, England died there after 1535
Richard Fiske b. 1493 in England
Nicholas Fiske b. 1517 in Laxfield, Co. Suffolk, England; d. 1569 in Dennington, So. Suffolk, England m. Johan Crispe daughter of William Crispe 1490?-1553 and Anne Godbold daughter of
Mary Fiske 1561-?, m Anthony Fisher 1558-1640
Joshua Fisher 1585-1674 and also his brother Anthony Fisher 1591-1671

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