Ruth Parker Life Sketch

(1704 - 1787)

Ruth Parker was born October 30, 1704 in Reading, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Ruth married first Joseph Bancroft on January 3, 1721 in Reading and married second Joseph Underwood on March 22, 1739 in Reading. Ruth Parker Underwood died September 8, 1787 in Reading, Massachusetts.


Ruth Parker was born October 30, 1704 in Reading, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, the oldest of 2 known children, both daughters, of Kendal Parker and Ruth Johnson. Ruth was raised in Reading, Massachusetts, a town 15 miles directly north of Boston.

At the age of 16 Ruth married Joseph Bancroft, son of Thomas Bancroft and Mary Webster. Joseph was a blacksmith. Ruth and Joseph had the following known children:

  1. Joseph Bancroft
  2. Ruth Bancroft

Joseph was born in 1724 followed by daughter Ruth in 1727. Sadly, son Joseph died in 1731 at the age of 6.

Ruth’s husband Joseph Bancroft died in 1733. Joseph’s will specified that Ruth was to receive “all my indoor moveables and household stuff of all sorts whatsoever” and “my horse or mare and my 2 cows” , also “all my housing and lands if she remain my widow until my daughter Ruth comes of age or marriage” and if Ruth “shall see cause to marry again then these shall be paid to my wife by my daughter Ruth, her guardian or heirs, the sum of 3 pounds a year annually during my wife’s natural life”. Joseph’s real estate consisted of a homestead with 5 acres, a barn and a new frame for a house, 14 acres of pasture called “Tayler’s Pasture”, and 3 acres of woodland. In settling her husband’s estate, Ruth requested the probate court to be allowed to sell 5 acres of land in order to pay her husband’s debts, which the court approved.

Ruth remarried in January of 1739, Joseph Underwood. Joseph was a graduate of Harvard, a teacher and a minister. Ruth and Joseph had one child:

Joseph Underwood

Joseph was born in December of the first year of the marriage. Ruth and the family most likely moved to Chelmsford where Joseph owned land and where Joseph also preached, there and in surrounding towns. In 1741, Ruth’s father Kendal Parker became guardian to Ruth’s daughter Ruth Bancroft, which likely meant that he was responsible for overseeing her inheritance until she came of age or married.

In 1745, Ruth was widowed for the second time when Joseph died at the age of 37. Their son Joseph was just 5 years old. Ruth and the children, likely moved from Chelmsford back to Reading following Joseph’s death since it is where Ruth’s daughter Ruth Bancroft married Ebenezer Hopkinson about 1745 or 1746. Kendal Parker deeded the estate of Joseph Bancroft to Ebenezer in 1746.

In 1755 Kendal Parker died. Kendal devised half of his house to his wife, and after his wife’s decease to go to Ruth’s sister Mary Goodwin or Mary’s heirs. The other half of the house was devised to Ruth. Kendal’s will also instructed Ruth’s brother-in-law, John Goodwin, to keep 1 cow for Ruth as well as provide her with 2 barrels of cider, 4 barrels of indian corn, 2 barrels of rye, yearly, and to find and provide Ruth “good and sufficient firewood”. If Ruth remarried, John Goodwin would be released from these obligations and was to pay Ruth a portion of the estate.

Ruth’s sister Mary Goodwin died in 1765 leaving at least 3 children. Ruth’s mother lived until 1770 when she died. Ruth administered her mother’s estate. As specified in Kendal’s will the mother’s half of the house descended to Mary’s heirs. Controversy over the estate developed in February of 1771, when Ruth filed a case against her brother-in-law John Goodwin. A committee was appointed to hear each side. When their decision was issued in May, it stated that the negro woman Hannah was not Ruth Underwood’s property but servant Jack was; that a silver tankard was the property of Capt Goodwin; and that 22 pounds and 2 pence of the estate were in the possession of Capt. Goodwin had not been inventoried and Capt Goodwin was instructed to pay Ruth that amount. Capt. Goodwin was also ordered to pay the cost of the case.

In 1776 John Goodwin remarried. In September of 1777, Ruth decided to release John from the obligations set in her father’s will. “In consideration of the sum of 60 pounds paid by said John Goodwin I do hereby release and forever quitclaim to him all the things above mentioned in the Will & Testament of my Father … the Honorable Kendal Parker Esq”. Ruth’s son Joseph witnessed the deed. Likely Ruth moved in with Joseph and his family also in Reading, where she lived another 10 years before dying of palsy on September 8, 1787 at the age of 83.

Genealogical Research and Life Sketch completed: 3 July 2020


Sources:

"Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001," database with images, FamilySearch, Ruth Parker, 30 Oct 1704; citing Birth, Reading, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States, Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, Boston; FHL microfilm 007009686.

"Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001," database with images, FamilySearch, Ruth Parker in entry for Joseph Bancroft, 3 Jan 1721; citing Marriage, Reading, Middlesex, Massachusetts Bay Colony, British Colonial America, Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, Boston; FHL microfilm 004198966.

"Massachusetts Births and Christenings, 1639-1915", database, FamilySearch, Ruth in entry for Joseph Bancroft, 1724.

"Massachusetts Births and Christenings, 1639-1915", database, FamilySearch, Ruth in entry for Ruth Bancroft, 1727.

"Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001," database with images, FamilySearch, Joseph Underwood and Ruth Bancrof, 4 Mar 1739; citing Marriage, Reading, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States, Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, Boston; FHL microfilm 007009686.

"Massachusetts Births and Christenings, 1639-1915", database, FamilySearch, Ruth in entry for Joseph Underwood, 1739.

“Probate Records, 1648 - 1924,” Middlesex County Massachusetts, Probate Court. Probate papers 891-972. Family Search, FHL microfilm 007552903.

“Probate Records, 1648 - 1924,” Middlesex County Massachusetts, Probate Court. Probate papers 23100-23228. Family Search, FHL microfilm 007553794.

“Probate Records, 1648 - 1924,” Middlesex County Massachusetts, Probate Court. Probate papers 16661-16760. Family Search, FHL microfilm 007553727.

“Probate Records, 1648 - 1924,” Middlesex County Massachusetts, Probate Court. Probate papers 16761-16852. Family Search, FHL microfilm 007553728.

"Massachusetts Land Records, 1620-1986," images, FamilySearch, Middlesex, Deeds 1774-1778 vol 76-77, image 780 of 786; county courthouses and offices, Massachusetts.

“Massachusetts Co Court Records,” images, FamilySearch, Middlesex. Image 53. FHL microfilm 008182409.

“Vital Records of Wakefield, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850”. United States: Wright & Potter printing Company, 1912.

Ruth Parker Life Sketch genealogy research