Captain John Locke 


Father: Thomas Locke
Mother: Christine French

Spouse: Elizabeth Berry (m. 1652)

In 1620, during the reign of James I, the religious and political persecutions drove the Puritans from England and forced them to find a home on foreign shores. This emigration continued for a long period and in constantly increasing numbers. To stop this drain on his kingdom, Charles I ordered every person emigrating to take the oath of supremacy and allegiance: this had two effects. One was, that all who took the oath were thus privileged in having their names, time of sailing, and, in many cases, their place of birth, age, and occupation, recorded in the office. On the other hand, hundreds refusing to sign away their independence were forced to sail surreptitiously leaving no trace behind, and so their first movement was recorded on American shores. Our own John Locke was undoubtedly one of the latter, and perhaps came to these shores in one of those hundred ships, which we are told touched the New England coast between Salem and Portland, in the years 1630-1640 and of which we have no record.

Locke came from Yorkshire, England, and settled in New Hampshire about the years 1638-1644; that "at first he settled in Dover where he owned a right of land"; that from thence he moved to Fort Point, New Castle, and about the year 1652 married Elizabeth the daughter of William Berry, who was probably the first settler in Hampton at a place called Sandy Beach, now in Rye. From New Castle Mr. Locke moved to Sagamore Creek where he liv^ed until 1665, when he went to Hampton, now Rye, N. H. The early records of Dover have nothing to corroborate the above first statement. The Select- men of Portsmouth, in 1652, started a new town record, copying only a few items from an older book covering the years 1 623-1 651, the oldest book of the colony, which is now lost, and so any possible clue that might interest us is forever gone.

 The Portsmouth records do, however, mention him as follows: "And likewise John Locke is to have a house lott between John Jacksons and William Cotton's rails, the lott eight acres. At a town meeting held this first day of Januarie, 1656." At a meeting Jan. 22, 1660, "John Locke having eight acres, to have eight more" ; and the same year there was laid out to him "eight acres from Stony Brooke towards John Jones, 24 pole wide and 40 pole back into the woods, upon a south west line." Tradition tells us that John Locke framed the first meeting house in Portsmouth, and probably the first in New Hampshire about 1645. Tne specifications read: "The meeting house to be made 40 feet square with 12 windowes well fitted, 3 substancial doers and a complete pulpit." It was ordered built, Aug. 27, 1657, as given in "Historic Portsmouth." The date must be wrong as the seats were ordered in 1654. This church stood south of Pickering's Dam (now South Mill Bridge), at the junction of South and Marcy Streets, and was removed about 1750. It is barely possible that the town took the above means to pay this young man for his work by granting him the eight acres in the southern part of Portsmouth.

 The first grant of eight acres in 1656 bears out the tradition of his living at Sagamore Creek, since it was very close to that locality, being in reality on the present Little Harbor road, on the side of hill just east of the new brick Memorial Church, and overlooking the city of Portsmouth, of which it is a part. See enclosed plan. Evidently he did not live here long, as shown by the following sale,

 " Be it known unto all men by these presents that I, John Lock of Portsmouth, on Piscataqs river, Carpenter & Elizabeth my wife for and in consideration of the sum of Thirty two pounds 10 s. to us in hand before the engaging hereof, by James Drew of the same place marry nor, do . . . sell unto the said James Drew my new dwelling house . . . therewith eight acres of uplands on which the said house stands and is situate, and being between ye lands of John Jones on the West northly & ye lands of John Jackson on the East Southerly. Said lands of eight acres be it more or less was given & granted me the said Lock by the Town of Portsmouth, as may appear by the sd Towns grant & record of the bounds when it was laid out. All the said premises with the appurtenances of same which belong- ing to ye sd Locke & Elizabeth my wife . . . unto the sd Drew & his heirs etc. . . . furthermore whereas there is a piece of marsh in disspute between me the sd Jno Lock &. Wm. Cotton; I ye sd Jno. Lock & Elizabeth my wife do include in the sd forementioned bargain, if either ye sd Lock or ye sd Drew can recourus of ye hand of the sd Cotton, & ye sd Lock do hereby promise to do all in my power for the attainment of the same etc. . . . , in witness thereof his hand & seal 8z deliver the 23 day of March 1660-61."

 •Jno X Lock Elizabeth X Lock

 I am convinced also that the grant of 1660 was near the first grant if not adjacent, and this he sold long after he went to Locke's Neck, Hampton, as shown by the sale to his late neighbor Cotton with whom he had the dispute over the marsh land.

 "John Lock of Portsmouth, carpenter & wife Elizabeth, sold to William Cotton eight acres land to be layd out in Portsmouth, as appears in town book Sept. 8, 1674." John acknowledged the sale, March 26, 1675.

 I should judge that this dispute over marsh land was not settled since it appears in John's estate in 1707, and again later accord- ing to these transfers. "Shadrack Walton of New Castle sold John Dennett of Portsmouth, 3 acres of salt marsh in Little Harbor bounded by Mark Hunking's marsh on the south side and Jno. Locke's on the north side, and by the main brook on the east side, dated; Dec. 12, 1693." This marsh was later transferred in August and November 1709; Jno. Lock's marsh being mentioned on the north side.

 "Jno. Lock & Daniel Thomas having Edward Colcord committed to them for keeping & Letting him go in the night, are fined 2-6 apiece & are enjoyned to do their utmost to gott him again; if they do, are to be released from their fines otherwise to pay as above. 1662." Could it be possible that Edward bribed his jailors? At any rate there is no mention that they "gott" him.

At a town meeting in Portsmouth March 8, 1665-6, John Locke subscribed 5 shillings for the support of the minister, Mr. Moody. The town record also has in the same hear:

 "Capt. Locke was fined 5," whether shillings or pounds, or for what is not stated. Note the official record calls him Captain.

 "The names of such who took the oath of fidelity ye 2nd. of Oct., 1666, upon ye Election of Military officers; Jno Lock." "A noate drawne on Hen. Dering, Constable, to pay Jno Lock 12 s: dated Oct. 26, 1671."

 These items all go to show that while he was living at Joselyn's or Locke's Neck at this time, having moved there before 1665, he considered, and Portsmouth considered that he was within the latter 's jurisdiction. Hampton took a different view of the matter and the town records show they acted accordingly.

 "He sat down (squatted hence the word 'Squatter') on the public lands at Josselyn's Neck" and began clearing a farm without saying "by your leave," and as the inhabitants claimed the right of saying who should be citizens of the town, they chose a committee May 24, 1666, to pull up his fence and March 12, 1667, to warn him to desist from improving the town land and to notify him "that the town is displeased with his building there." Complaint was made against him as a "Trespasser" and he was warned to appear at the next meeting and give an account of himself. On the 8th of March 1667 the town voted: "Upon the motion of John Lock who desireth to yield himself to the town of Hampton as an inhabitant here amongst us, being already settled upon Josselyn's Neck in Hampton bounds, the town hath accepted of the said John Lock for an inhabitant accordingly." So John Locke from being the first squatter became an inhabitant of Hampton, now Rye, N. H., and here he continued to live until his death.

 Joselyn's Neck became Locke's Neck and so continued for two hundred years, in fact today it is equally as well known as by the newer name Straw's Point, a name given because Governor Straw bought much of the land and erected many houses upon it.

 These depositions of his neighbors are interesting as fixing his residence, and landmarks.

 "The Deposition of George Hunt aged 35 years testifiethe and Saith that Living with John Lock of Hampton and that I being then a Servant with him, that I Did help fence the neck of Land called Joselyn's neck thirteen year agoe (1667), and did help fence the marsh belonging to the neck twelve year agoe and further saith not. Taken upon Oath Sept. 1st. 1680."

"Nathaniel Drake aged 68, and John Goss aged 46, and John Berry aged 43, "Testfiieth and saith that John Lock hath enjoyed ye neck of Land commonly called Josliens neck fifteen years or thereabouts peacably and had it in fence moste part if not all the time above said, and further we testify that the marsh in Contreversy between Francis Jinins and Said Lock is within said Lock's fence as above said which he made near fifteen years ago (1665). Taken under oath Sept. 8, 1680."

 "John Brackett aged 39 years testifieth that fourteen or fifteen years ago (1665) I helped John Lock fence a corn field at a place called Joslien's neck and since I have seen a fence at the head of the neck where the cattle used to come over. Sworn to Sept. 7, 1680."

 "John Lock aged about 75, and John Foss aged about 69, testifieth that they have known the great Pond in Rye known by name as Sandy Beach Pond to have been fenced and in possession of John Lock formerly of Hampton deceased and William Berry of Portsmouth, disceased, for 60 years (1668), and fence enclosed meadows all around on back side and ends running down to the sea, and has been possessed by their descendants since. Sworn to, Feb. 5, 1728-9."

 In 1672 John Lock was a witness to a land claim of Nathaniel Wallis of Casco, Me. He served on the jury in Portsmouth, Nov. 6, 1683, in the trial, "Proprietor Mason versus Vaughan." (He perhaps heard there why the early colonial record was destroyed.)

Either John Locke Sr. or Jr. was a witness to Anthony Brackett's will in 1691, and Anthony was killed by Indians that same year. John Locke's province tax rate of 1693, was 3 pounds, charged to New Castle but paid in Hampton; his son John's tax was 2 pounds.

 There seems to be some discrepancy in the date as to when John Locke died. According to Hampton records:

 "John Locke Senior was killed by the Heathen in his lott at work upon August 26 1696." In the Rev. Huntington Porter's address delivered in Rye Jan. 1 1801, he says "In 1694 (it should be 1696), John Locke being at the Neck was ambushed and killed by the Indians as he was reaping grain in his field."

 Undoubtedly the most reliable report is that contained in Reverend John Pike's Journals 1678 to 1709. Written by a divine living in those years, and shepherd of those early settlers, surely he could not be more than a day wrong as compared with the Hampton record. He writes: "Lieut. Lock was slain by the Indians at Sandy Beach, Aug. 25, 1696." It will be noted that this is the second time a title is given to John Locke, and this time by one who wrote advisedly.

 The early writings of Rye and Hampton mention three garrison houses, one of which, called the Lock Garrison, was at Locke's Neck and existed as late as 1708, and we may presume that it was Locke's house, built strongly of timbers to repel the savages and in which his neighbors sought refuge during the several Indian assaults on these early settlers. It is also probable that having such a stronghold and being in charge or in command of it as owner, he very naturally acquired the title of Lieutenant or Captain as noted in two cases above, even though we do not know that he ever received such commission from the authorities themselves.

 With only a difference of wording the histories and early writers have this to say of Captain Locke's death. He was noted for the daring and success with which he fought the Indians, foiling their many attempts to destroy the settlers, hence was correspondingly hated by them. On one of their raids from the east, landing on the coast near Locke's Neck, they concealed their canoes in the bushes and went inland to surprise their intended victims. Locke discovered the canoes and cut generous slashes in them where the cuts were not seen at first glance. The Indians returning from their murderous expedition, pushed off only to find themselves sinking, thereby losing nearly all their plunder, stores, and arms and making it necessary for them to escape over-land, suffering many hardships and losing some of their band. Later, a party of eight came from the eastward with the express purpose of killing Locke and, surprising him as he was reaping grain in his field, mortally wounded him with his own gun, which he had left against a rock at some distance away. They then returned without doing further damage. One account says that when the Indians ran up to scalp Locke, the latter had strength enough left to cut off the nose of one with the sickle he had been using; which act was seen by one of his sons who had secreted himself in the grain.

 Several anecdotes are told concerning this fact. One was that years after when friendship with the Indians was restored, the same son who saw his father killed, met an Indian minus a nose while both were out hunting, and who when questioned said "Old Locke cut it off." He explained that they tried to capture him alive as he was such a brave man, but he fought so they were compelled to kill and scalp him. Whereupon the son killed the Indian. Another account is that a grandson, named Berry, met at a Portsmouth tavern a noseless Indian, who, rendered talkative by liquor, boasted that he had killed a brave white man, "Old Captain Locke." Whereupon Berry waited outside, killed the Indian, and threw his body in a well, which well was filled up the next day. Jonathan Locke, born 1702, a grandson of Captain Locke, built a house at Rye Center, where the late Jonathan lived (the same site). Seeing an Indian one day a short distance away, he raised the window, propped it up with a book, and taking careful aim with his gun which rested on the window sill, shot the red man dead. When taken to task for killing an Indian in time of peace, he replied that the Indians killed his grandfather and he would kill one whenever he had the chance. Thus it seems that Captain Locke must have been sufficiently avenged, that is if the Indians held out.

Excepted from:  Locke, A.H. (1866). A history and genealogy of Captain John Locke (1627-1696) of Portsmouth and Rye, N.H., and his descendants

John Locke left no will, but letters of administration were granted March 4, 1706, whereby John and Joseph, the oldest and youngest sons, were to settle the estate. An inventory made by James Rendle and William Seavey was returned as follows :

 An Inventory Est. of John Lock deceased now John & Joseph Lock May 19 1707:

one yoke of oxen £8-00-00
two Cows 5-10-00
one yearling & Calf 1-03-00
eight Swine 5-10-00
two puter Candl Stick 1-01-00
two Iron pots 0-16-00
two tramels one pare of pot hooks 0-08-00
one Spite & fire tongs & a small cops 0-07-00
4 chares 0-04-00
one bras kittel 0-09-00
one Sword 6-06-00
one frying pan 0-03-00
two Chests 9-00
two Earthen ware 3-00
his Carpenters tules 12-00
one draft chain 06-00
feathers and two old coverleds  1-10-00
one bed & bedding 5-00-00
house & land & medow at gossling neck 25-00-00
two akers of salt marsh at little harbor 8-06-00
total 64-7-00


The estate was divided among ten children as given below. the oldest, John, to receive a double portion, although he had already in 1677 been given one half of all his father's lands at Locke's Neck: John, Nathaniel, Edward, William, James, Joseph, Alice, Phenea (Tryphena), Rebecca, Mary, John and Joseph made return to court, May 4, 1708.

"As there was nothing taken out for the widdows thirds, by reason the Adms. did voluntarily promise and agree in open court to take care for the maintainance of the widdow ; it is there- fore ordered that the said Adms. take care to maintain the widdow during her natural life accordingly. Charles Storer. Recorder."

 There can be no doubt that there was an Elizabeth in the above family, and Dr. John Locke born 1772, in a signed statement, names all the above children and Elizabeth also. Eleven children are also named by other old descendants. We can only suppose she died before 1708.

 Those of us who recall the early years of our Locke Association will remember that a sword and sickle, claimed to have been used by our ancestor was presented to us and later placed in the keeping of the New Hampshire Historical Society. The fact that a sword is listed in his estate makes the above much more credible, particularly as it passed through only three hands. It is claimed that William Locke, 1677-1768, gave sword, gun, and sickle to his grandson, Wilham, 1758-1828; from him these relics descended to his grandson George Locke, 1817-1903, who gave them to the Association. Excessive patriotism of the Locke boys July 4, 1840, caused the old gun to burst, and though its parts were treasured many years, they gradually disappeared.

 That John Locke possessed a sword does not prove that he was an officer or that he was foolish enough to pursue savages with it. Rather let us suppose our ancestor was a man, brave as the Indians called him, such a one as would naturally take the leadership of settlers or scouts when after an enemy, and to whom they would look not as a superior officer but as a fellow settler, perhaps more daring than the rest.

 Our progenitor's home at Locke's Neck was probably situated almost in the middle of the present road to the outer end of the point, and just beyond its junction with the road to Jenness Beach and the cable station. The only landmarks are the tansy and one upright stone gate post on the left, which at one time held a gate which gave entrance to the property. His remains, together with his kinsfolk, we must suppose rest in a little plot of land in the southeast corner of these two roads, where thirty-five graves, or rather rough stones may be counted. See the cross marked on the map. The oldest Rye people can tell nothing about this graveyard, except that many years ago a few, perhaps five shipwrecked people were buried there in the space nearest Jenness Beach.

 Not being sure of John Locke's burial place. The Locke Association a few years ago erected in the Central Cemetery at Rye, a handsome granite monument to the memory of our ancestor. This association, further honors his memory by holding its annual meetings on the Wednesday nearest the 26th day of August, at Rye, N. H.

John Locke left little in financial estate, what he left was far more valuable. He left in a struggling settlement ten children from whom came at least forty-eight grandchildren. A score or more of his descendants inheriting his fighting spirit took part in the Indian Wars. At least a hundred fought in the War for Independence, and since that time thousands, whether they be governors of New Hampshire, lawyers of national reputation, the honest mechanics, or the humble tillers of the soil, claiming him as ancestor, have performed their little or much in making our country what it is today. Such an estate we claim has no estimate in dollars and cents. Captain John Locke was probably baptized in London, England, Sept. 16, 1627, married about 1652, Elizabeth, the daughter of William and Jane Berry, and was killed by the Indians Aug. 26, 1696, in Rye, N. H. Elizabeth the widow was living in 1708 when the estate was settled and the children given below shared in its distribution. Several old papers prepared by descendants born about 1735, give the entire family, and in the following order. As first names only were given it is impossible to determine whether the girls were married, or to whom married at that time (1708) but we know nearly all were.





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