Make your own free website on


Enoch Place
Stories Home

Enoch Place was born about 1631 in England. According to one story, Enoch came to America "with his guardian, Major Humphrey Atherton." Major Atherton is generally believed to have come to America on the "James" with the Rev. Richard Mather. The "James" which arrived on 17 August 1635, according to James Savage, was one of 17 ships that sailed to Massachusetts that summer from Bristol, England.

Sailing the Atlantic was a dangerous thing to do in those days. It was especially dangerous from June 1 through the end of October, the hurricane season, and the sailing route from Old England to New England ran south to the Canaries, then west to the Bahamas, and then north with the Gulf Stream.

While some families came in one boat, most seem to have split up. One family sent their four children on four different boats that year and the parents came on a fifth. Enoch’s brother Peter came to America on the “Truelove”, which sailed from Bristol in September, 1635, was the last of the 17 ships to leave England that summer. If the Atherton, Mather, and Place families were indeed acquainted before they sailed for America, Humphrey Atherton may well have been Enoch's guardian for the voyage, and Enoch’s father Thomas Place may well have been guardian to Timothy Mather and one of Atherton's sons.

Enoch married Sarah (last name unknown) in 1657. Some researchers show her as Sarah Mumford. There is no record of a Mumford family in Dorchester, Massachusetts while Enoch was there, but Enoch's friend, Thomas Mumford married Sarah Odding, widow of Phillip Sherman of Roxbury, ca. 1656. Thomas Mumford had a daughter named Sarah, but she was not born until 1668 (she married Benedict Arnold). The first record we have of Thomas Mumford is in Portsmouth, in 1657. Thomas was one of the original purchasers of the Pettaquamscutt land.

Sarah's maiden surname will always be a mystery. However, the lack of a surname could be a sign that she was a servant, possibly of Major Atherton's. "Servant" was, of course, the short form of "indentured servant." We can imagine Enoch's buying her freedom with part of his
inheritance and promptly marrying her.

The first record we have of Enoch Place is that of his marriage. According to the New England Historical & Genealogical Society Register (11/332), Enoch was married by Major Atherton to Sarah [____] on 5-9-1657 (Dorchester Marriages). Their first son, Enoch was born in Dorchester on 18-7-1658 and their second, Peter in Dorchester on 16-12-1660. These dates should be read (for instance) "on the 5th day of the 9th month. At that time, March 1 was considered as New Year's Day, so Enoch's marriage date would have been 5 November 1657 and the other dates should be advanced two months, as well.

The fact that Enoch named a son, Peter, is of less significance than the fact that he named a son, Thomas. While it was not always followed, the common naming pattern among the Puritans of
Massachusetts was to name the first son for his father, followed by his maternal and then paternal grandfathers, with a similar pattern for naming daughters; hence, Enoch and Sarah for the first-born son and daughter. Peter may have been the name of Sarah's father and Thomas, Enoch's father.

About 1660, Enoch and his family moved to Rhode Island and settled on land in the Pettaquamscutt Purchase, of which Major Atherton was one of the purchasers. This area became known as Kings Town and later as Kingstown. It is difficult to determine just where Enoch's farm was located but it was evidently near what is now known as Wickford, Rhode Island, a short distance west of the Wickford to Narragansett Pier Road near the village of Hamilton, described in Enoch's will as "a dwelling house and 100 acres about one half mile west of Sugar House Hill." It is said that Sugar House Hill, a name no longer used, is a small hill near the main road, a little north of Hamilton and about one mile south of Wickford.

While we do not know how much land Enoch purchased or what he paid for it, one has to wonder where a 31-year-old young man would have accumulated the kind of funds involved. One obvious source would have been through an inheritance. Thomas was obviously a man of substance - one of the requirements for acceptance as a Freeman. Another was membership in "the church" - and again, only men of substance were considered for this. Furthermore, only men of substance were able to afford the costs involved in bringing a family to America. So Thomas
would have had a substantial estate when he died. While a will has not been found, it is assumed that he willed his entire estate to his wife and that this passed to Peter and Enoch and, possibly, a sister or sisters, following Dinah's death.

The first record of Enoch in Rhode Island is dated July 3, 1663, at Kings Town, when he and others of Narragansett indicated their preference to be under the protection of Connecticut. Major Atherton and others (including Thomas Mumford) had obtained land at Pettaquamscutt from the Narragansett Indians (Jan 20, 1658). At a meeting held on July 2, 1663, (moderated by Major Atherton) it was decided that it would be up to the people to decide which colony they wanted to align with--Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or Connecticut. Enoch and others apparently preferred to cast their lots with Connecticut. (Rhode Island, at that time, was literally an island--originally, Aquidneck Island--on the other side of Narragansett Bay). One of the concerns was certainly a question of which political entity could best provide security from Indian raids.

The next record of him is dated May 5, 1664, when he and Thomas Mumford were released from prison. The Records of the Colony of Rhode Island, and Providence Plantations, read as follows:
"Vpon consideration which of the prisonors shall be called first: ordered, That Thomas Mumford shall be first heard. Vpon consideration and debate about Thomas Mumford and Enock Playce concearning ther release or continuance in bonds: it is ordered, That they shall be bound in the sume of one hundred pounds apiece, to be lyable to come forth vpon all occationes when duely called for, to speake farther to the matter concearning Timothy Mather, whome they accuse for speaking words of a very dishonerable natuer against his Majestye; and the court see cause to enlarge them from prison in consideration of the voluntary, though somewhat late information consearning the sayd Timothy Mather's expressiones, concieving that want of knowledge what
to doe (as they aleadge), was the true cause of ther neglect in the premises." (Timothy Mather was a son of the Rev. Richard Mather and was Major Atherton's son-in-law. Thomas Mumford would later be an overseer of Enoch's will.)

For reasons unknown, Enoch tried to return to Dorchester in 1668. The Dorchester Town Records, Volume 4, Page 156, state:.."At a meeting of the selectmen on 8 (12)1668. The same day a letter was presented to the selectmen from Enoch Place for his reseption into the Towne as an inhabitant again but the selectmen saw no reason to grant it". The events described in the previous paragraph may have had a lot to do with the selectmen's decision.

The next record of Enoch is found in the same Records Of The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, on May 18th, 1671, when the General Court met at Pettaquomscott.:
"The inhabitants being present, the court was called; after which the commission from the Generall Assembly for holding this Court, his Majesties most gracious Charter and letters; as also the Commissioners orders were publickly read, after which the inhabitants, viz: Mr. Jireh Bull, Mr. Samuell Wilson, Mr. John Porter, Tho. Mumford, John Tift, William Hefernan, Rouse Holmes, James Eldridge, Samuell Albro, Ben. Gardiner, Henry Gardiner, George Gardiner, Nicholas Gardiner, George Palmer, Stephen Northup, Wm. Aires, George Crofts, Enoch
Plaice, and Christopher Holmes, did give their engagements for their allegiance to his Majestie, and fidelity to this Colony."

Enoch's date of death is not recorded. His will, dated May 31, 1695, was proved on September 11, 1695: Exx. wife Sarah. Overseers, Thomas Mumford and Josiah Arnold. He calls himself aged sixty-four years. "To wife Sarah, whole estate, real and personal, for life, for support
in old age. To youngest son Joseph, at decease of wife, my dwelling house and 100 acres, about half a mile west of Sugar House Hill, and he then to be executor. If Joseph die without issue, the said house and land to go to the eldest of the male heirs of the Places of my issue. All movables in wife's possession at her death to go equally to sons and daughters, viz: Enoch, Peter, Thomas and Joseph Place and Sarah Cook. Inventory, 17, 19s, viz: cow, heifer, 2 yearlings, calf, 4 sheep, 2 or 3 lambs, pewter, iron, etc."

On Mar. 17, 1716/7, Joseph Place and wife Joanna deeded to Daniel McCoon (the second husband of Sarah Place Cook) 100 acres, reserving 3 rods square "where father Enoch Place is buried." (South Kingstown, Rhode Island, Land Evidence, Volume 3a, page 227-230.).