The mighty Winthrop Fleet consisted of a fleet of eleven ships, arriving in Massachusetts in 1630. Anthony Fisher’s sons were among the puritans that followed in the later 1630s, up until Cromwell and the Commonwealth took over the government of England. The Fishers belonged to a movement of faith, looking to build that “city on a hill” that would proclaim the glory of God.
Joshua Fisher was baptized 24 March 1587/8 at Fressingfield, Suffolk, England the son of Anthony Fisher and his wife Mary Fiske.
Married 1. Elizabeth (maiden name unknown)
2. Anne Orfor on 7 February 1638/9
Died 18 October 1674 in Dedham, Massachusetts
The children of Joshua and Elizabeth Fisher were:
1. Elizabeth Fisher baptized 4 Jun 1618 in Syleham, Suffolk, England and probably died young.
2. Joshua Fisher baptized 2 April 1621 in Syleham, Suffolk, England. He married Mary Aldis and died 10 August 1672 in Dedham Massachusetts
3. Mary Fisher baptized 1623, in Redenhall with Harleston, Norfolk, England married Thomas Battle and died 06 August 1691 in Dedham, Massachusetts
4. Hester Fisher baptized 1625 in Redenhall with Harleston, Norfolk, England where she died days later
5. Sarah Fisher born and died 1627 in Redenhall with Harleston, Norfolk, England
6. Amos Fisher buried 05 September 1630 Redenhall with Harleston, Norfolk, England
7. John Fisher baptized 26 January 1633/34 Redenhall with Harleston, Norfolk, England; married Elizabeth Boylston. He died 03 July 1668 in Medfield, Suffolk, MA
8. Samuel Fisher baptized 11 October 1635 at Redenhall with Harleston, Norfolk, England and died there in 1638.
Joshua Fisher was baptized as “Joseph Fysher” in the church at Fressingfield on 24 March 1587/8. A baptismal record reading "Anno Domini 1585, Joshua Fysher et Maria Fysher, Gemini, baptized fuer 24th die Februarii" confused genealogist was a long time. This turned out to be another Joshua when it was realized that “Joseph” had been written instead of Joshua in the 1587/8 record. This was one of the few times, Joshua would be confused about just who he was. In later years he would have the strength of will and faith to travel to the New World in order to live out his faith as he felt was proper.
Joshua Fisher married twice. His first wife is only known by her first name, Elizabeth. His second wife, who also cause some debate among later generations of genealogists, was finally determined to be Anne Orfor whom Joshua married the 7th of February 1638/9 in Syleham.
By 1621 Joshua and his family, which consisted of wife, Elizabeth and possibly two children, if daughter Elizabeth was still alive, move across the river to Harleston, Norfolk, England. Four young Fisher children (and possibly Elizabeth Jr. as well) would be buried in the Harleston churchyard. Elizabeth Sr. would be buried there in 1638. Joshua, a widower with three living children, one of whom had left for New England, married Anne Orfor only five months later.
We don’t know if Elizabeth Sr. was already ill in the summer of 1637, but she was about to “lose” another child. Her sixteen-year-old son, Joshua Jr. left England with his Uncle Anthony Fisher for the colonies. Maybe the family was already planning to join young Joshua and his uncle’s family in the New World but they delayed long enough for Elizabeth to die and for Joshua Sr. to remarry. Anne was most certainly a Puritan herself and a kind person. She had no children of her own but her stepchildren certainly respected and loved her. Stepson, John Fisher called her “my mother Anne Fisher” in his will. Anne and Joshua Sr. had deeded property in Medfield [Massachusetts] to “our Sonne John.” Anne herself, named “daughter Battlie” [Mary Fisher Battle] and grandsons and granddaughters as well as “my late Son Lieftenant Joshua Fisher whom I brought up from his Childhood” in her 8 April 1675 will. The stiff, cold stereotype of a Puritan woman just doesn’t fit the little we know about Anne. Joshua Fisher was fortunate indeed to have married so loving wife who loved his children as well. He most certainly had known Anne long before he married her. It is possible that he was planning to go to the colonies to join his son when his wife Elizabeth died. As winter drew near, he may have decided it would be better to bring a wife to the colonies with him, rather then to see who was available there. Anne, herself, may have been planning to leave for the colonies but having no husband and possibly losing family at the same time that Elizabeth died, may have realized that she could not now go. While the marriage may have been for convince, documents suggest (as noted above) that it was a happy marriage.
Puritans followed the Calvinistic doctrinal thought. They believed in God’s absolute sovereignty and man’s total depravity and hence man’s total dependency on God’s grace and the hope of salvation. Puritans believed in predestination; that some were chosen or “elected” to be saved by God. Those chosen reflected the teachings of Scripture in their actions and lifestyle. Joshua and his brother, Anthony, and their siblings, were born during the reign of Elizabeth I. James of Scotland succeeded Elizabeth in 1603 when Joshua and Anthony were still boys. There must have been some hope of better reform in the Church of England from a king who came from a strongly puritan country. The “Puritans” in England felt that Elizabeth’s Church of England was too full of rituals and pomp and wanted change. James came from a Scotland heavily under the influence of John Knox’s theology and the Puritans must have hoped for the continuance of this influence by James.
However, James I found it easier to stay with the church that Elizabeth had established. In January of 1604, shortly after James became King of England as well as of Scotland, the Hampton Court Conference was held to hear the two dominate sides of the protestant movement in England; the Church of England and the Puritans. The Puritan idea of replacing bishops with “presbyteries” didn’t set well with James. This type of church government was made up of pastors, elders and other theologians, rather then having the church headed by a bishop who didn’t know the congregation. James saw this as exclusion of his role as the head of the Church of England and didn’t like it. While the Puritans were able to co-exist in a somewhat civil way with the Church of England, the divide grew with the years and by the end of James’ reign there was much persecution of the Puritans and the Exodus to the New World gained momentum. The Fisher brothers, Joshua, Anthony and Cornelius became a part of the 17th Century Exodus.
With young Joshua already in New England, Joshua Sr., his wife Anne and daughter, Mary, and young son, John, probably set sail for Massachusetts in the spring or summer of 1639. The younger Joshua Fisher had been given the right to be Dedham’s blacksmith until his father arrived from England. Joshua senior, however, had not arrived by 28 August 1638 when Edward Kempe was given half of the “smith” lot. Joshua Sr. was first mentioned in Dedham, Massachusetts record on 23 March 1639/40. "Joshua Fisher" is signer number 78 on the "Covenant of Dedham, Massachusetts" first signed on August 15, 1636. Also listed were Anthony Fisher, John Eaton, Nathan and John Aldus, Cornelius Fisher, and Samuell Fisher.
The Joshua Fisher family settled in Medfield sometime after Joshua Fisher was mentioned in the Dedham records in 21 September 1650. Medfield was not far from Dedham but was far enough to be considered a new village. Joshua died there on 18 October 1674.
WILL of Joshua Fisher: "In the Year of our Lord one thousand six hundred seventy four the second daye of May, 1. Joshua ffisher of Medfield Senior...brought to old age and being thourby with the inffirmities...wife Ann...the bed with all belongings in the little chamber next to the stairs and all soe two good blankets more and two payres of sheets and two pillows and that trunke now standing in the bed Chamber below marked A.F. with what soe ever is now in it and all hir wearing apparrell as well linen as wooling and one payer of andirons...and payier of tongs one trammel...and two heaters one payere of pothookes two brass vesselles...bellows...two chairs two fouer ffooted stolles two chushings such as she shall chuse and three puter dishes two of the..and one...and three bushels of Endian corne and forty pound wayt of butter and forty pound of chese and fifty pound wayght of porke and one cow such as she shall chuse and all my fire wood that is cut out when god shall take me away whether in the woods or in my yard and soe much more of my moveable goods as shall be vallued at ten pound in such as she shall chuse or also soemuch in good and merchantable wheat as com to ten pound, and fifteen pound in good and curant ne England mony and further my will and desire is that my above said wife may live in that end of the house that I live in according to the will of my son John ffisher deceased untill such time as the heirs shall cum of age (and then to injoy...with the benefit of any one now of the apple trees in the orchard) and then too live in the other end and there to injoy During the terme of her naturall life all such Liberties and prevelidges as are enjoyed in my deed of gift fformerly made to my son John ffisher...
Unto my daughter Marcy Battle the wife of Thomas Battle and her heires ffor ever thirty pound...to grandson Joshua 60 pounds it being already in his hands payd to him out of that Estate which I had in his fathers hands...to Mary Clap my grand daughter and wife of Thomas Clap 5 pounds...John ffisher grand child, son of Joshua ffisher 5 pounds...to Hannah B...grand child 5 pounds...John ffisher son of my son John ffisher all land in Medfield, etc....further that John ffisher son of my son John ffisher within the space of two years after he shall com to one and twenty years of age shall pay 40 pounds to his brother Jonathan ffisher...Vigilance ffisher my grand child son of my son Joshua ffisher 40 shillings...and I constitute appoint and ordain my trusty and well beloved cosen Daniel ffisher of Dedham and Joshua Fisher my grand child
executors of this my last will...
1. Dedham Historical Register, 1890, Vol. 1, published by the Dedham Historical Society
2. John Fisher's (son) Will
3. Transcript of Parish Records, Syleham, Suffolk, England
4. "A Genealogical Register of the First Settlers of New England" by John Farmer
5. "English Records of Joshua Fisher of Dedham, Mass." by Robert Charles Anderson from the American Genealogist, Vol. 66, No. 3 July 1991
6. New England Historical and Genealogy Register, Vol. 151, April 1997 "The English Ancestry of New England Settlers Joshua and Anthony Fisher" by Myrtle Stevens Hyde and John Plummer
7. Genealogy Research in England "The Fiske Family" by G. Andrews Moriarty
8. Joshua Fisher's will
9. List of signers of the Covenant of Dedham, Massachusetts
10. Dedham Massachusetts record of 1 January 1637/8