Henry Adams (Braintree)

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Henry Adams (1583–1646) was an American farmer. He was a patrilineal ancestor of U.S. Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.[1][2]


Henry Adams was the son of John Adams of Barton St. David, by his wife Agnes Stone. He emigrated from Braintree, Essex[3] in England to what soon became Braintree, Massachusetts in about 1632–1633.[3] He was one of the earliest settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He is likely to have arrived in the area with his wife, Edith Squire[4] (1587-1672/73), his brothers Jeremy Adams et al., and eight sons and a daughter, in 1632.[5] Braintree was incorporated in 1640,[citation needed] and included what is now Quincy, and Braintree.

John Adams, the second president of the United States of America, erected a monument to his memory in the old church yard at Quincy with the following inscription: "In memory of Henry Adams who took his flight from the Dragon persecution in Devonshire, England and alighted with eight sons, near Mount Wollaston. One of the sons returned to England, and after taking time to explore the country, four removed to Medfield and the neighboring towns; two to Chelmsford. One only, Joseph, who lies here at his left hand, remained here, who was an original proprietor in the township of Braintree, incorporated in 1639. This stone and several others have been placed in this yard, by a great-great grandson, from a veneration of the Piety, humility, simplicity, prudence, patience, temperance, frugality, industry and perseverance, of his Ancestors, in hopes of Recommending an imitation of their virtures to their posterity. ... Erected December, 1823."

However, President John Quincy Adams dissented from the opinion of his father that Henry Adams came from Devonshire. He believed that: "After giving the matter particular and thorough investigation... my conviction is that Henry Adams was from Braintree in the county of Essex, on the east coast of England."[6]

Henry may have been in the company of Thomas Hooker, who arrived in September 1633. The Hooker company was mostly made up from immigrants of Chelmsford, perhaps from Braintree and other neighboring villages of Essex county, who had arrived just to the new colony the year before. Winthrop's Journal, I. 37, says, "1632: 14 Aug; The Braintree Company which had begun to settle down at Mt. Wollaston by order of Court, removed to Newtown. These were Mr. Hooker's Company."[7][8] Hence it appears highly probable that Henry Adams from Braintree in Essex joined Hooker's Company and arrived in Boston in 1632. Dr. James Savage, author of the Genealogical Dictionary of the early first-comers of New England, concurs in the opinion of President John Quincy Adams.[9]

The brothers Adams were likely among the citizens of Chelmsford, England, who originally came to the colonies in early 17th century, in the Hooker company.