Friday, April 22, 2011

Line 3.4 Mary Fisher Clapp; Living the Dream

Mary Fisher was born in America, grew up in America and although we don’t know when or where (but probably Dedham, Massachusetts), she died in America. Her heritage may have been English but her life was American. Living on a firm Christian foundation, Mary’s faith may have been as strong as her parents or it may have weakened or strengthened in a different direction. The generations following the first was less strict in their faith but they were still believers; living their lives in the shadow of the church and giving what would become the United States of America, it’s Christian favor for generations to come.

Mary Fisher was born 02 April 1621 in Dedham, Norfolk, Massachusetts
Married 10 November 1662 in Dedham, MA to Thomas Clapp who was born 15 March 1638/39 in Weymouth, MA and died 07 August 1689 in Dedham, MA
Mary’s death date is unknown
The children of Thomas Clap and Mary Fisher were:
1.      Thomas Clapp born 26 September 1663 married Mary ?
2.      John Clapp born 28 February 1664/65
3.      Joshua Clapp born 1667 married Silence  Bird
4.      Mary Clapp born 13 December 1669
5.      Eliezer  Clapp born 04 November 1671
6.      Abigail Clapp born 12 December 1674
7.      Hannah Clapp born 28 March 1679 married William  Robbins
8.      Samuel Clapp born 21 August 1682; married Elizabeth Fisher

I only know a few details of Mary fisher’s life. She was born 23 March 1643/4 in Dedham, Massachusetts where her parents, Joshua and Mary (Aldis) Fishers had meet and married. Her baptismal record in that same town reads, "Mary ye daughter of our Brother and sister Joshuah Fisher and his wife Mary was baptized 31d 1 m 1644." We know Mary survived her husband, Thomas Clapp, as he left her household goods, one end of the dwelling-house and 8 pounds a year while she remained his widow. She was a young widow and had children to rise. There is no indication that she remarried. Thomas had been the son of Thomas Clapp Sr. and probably his first of three wives, Abigail whose maiden name is unknown. Thomas Sr. came from Sidbury, Co. Devon, England. While not extremely wealthy men, both Thomases left estates that suggested a middle class comfort created from a strong work ethic.

Mary and her husband Thomas Clapp were of the first generation born in the New World. They probably never knew England except in their parent’s reminiscences. Their world was made up of the forested New England, full of new world ideas and dreams. They never saw the castles or cathedrals of England. The England they knew was through their parents’ stories. They were separated from the Old World by a three months sea voyage and a wilderness stretching west into the unknown. Their parents were bent on creating a City on the Hill, a shining beacon of the true way to worship and live. But it was a rigid “city” that had little room for individuality or a spirit of seeking a bigger more complicated God. Mary Fisher and Thomas Clapp’s generation lead a quiet rebellion, not losing their Puritan spirit but become less ridged in their beliefs. Mary and Thomas were also bent on creating a comfortable living, in a land between wilderness and the open sea that lead to far away England. They were still bound them in the English thought patterns and traditions. However they were the first generation to truly create an American ideal. Their “puritan work ethic” would persist through many generations, coloring the American people. The importance of education, faith and a representative government was established in the hopes and faith of these people so saturated in a need to purify their religion that they would uproot their families and seek out a place where they could be independent and express their beliefs in all aspects of life. Mary and Thomas’ generation was less fanatical about their “religion” their parents. While their parents were intent on witnessing to the native population, Mary and Thomas’ generation and that of their children, was more intent on owning a piece of the dream through land ownership and moving up in the world. The zeal of the puritans was not quit so obvious in proceeding generations. But it was still there, coloring not just New England but all of what would become the United States of America. In our age we, in our sophistication, we tend to laugh and sneer at the simple faith of the early New England settlers, jeering at their witchcraft trials, their exiles of dissenters and hanging of Quakers and their ridged belief system. We don’t need to whitewash Puritan New England, but we need to be fair in judgment. These were men and women of uncommon faith and courage who, indeed, built a foundation that has stood strong for many generations. Mary and Thomas Clapp’s generation and the ones that preceded them ebbed and flowed with the need to worship God; each new generation created men and woman of exceptional faith just as it created villains.

1. The Record of Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths in the Town of Dedham, Mass.  Edited by Don Gleason Hill
3.  "Ancestry of Nathan Aldus of Dedham" New England Historical and Genealogical Register Vol 150, page 489

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