Simon Willard (first generation)

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Simon Willard was born at Horsmonden, County Kent, England, in 1605; he was baptized in this same town on 7 April 1605. He moved from England to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1634 with his (first) wife Mary [Sharpey] Willard and their two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. At the time he was a major in the English army. Simon Willard is considered a key Massachusetts Historical figure, as well as in the history of Concord, Massachusetts:[1][2][3] He was a founder of the town, and served it as clerk from 1635 to 1653. He represented it in the Massachusetts General Court from 1636 to 1654, and was assistant and councillor from 1654 to 1676.[4]

He moved to Lancaster in 1660, and in 1672 moved to Groton. On the dispersion of the inhabitants of Groton by King Philip's War (1676), in which he served as major of militia, he settled in Salem. During the war, at 70 years of age, he was the Chief Military Officer of Middlesex County, Massachusetts and repelled a Nipmuc force that had laid siege to Brookfield. He became a magistrate, and died at an age of 71 years, on 24 April 1676, in Charlestown, Massachusetts, while holding court there.[4]

He was one of the thirteen heads of families in Concord that signed Reverend Peter Bulkeley's 1643 petition to Governor John Endecott in support of Ambrose Martin. One of his seventeen children was Reverend Samuel Willard, the second minister of the Old South Church, or Old South Meetinghouse in Boston and acting president of Harvard College. Around 1692 he used his influence to publicly condemn the Witch Trials at Salem, and was considered important in swaying public opinion to end them.[5] One of Simon Willard's descendants was the celebrated U.S. clockmaker Simon Willard.

The Willard Elementary School in Concord, MA is named after Simon Willard.

The WWll Liberty Ship, 0743 Simon Willard which was built by Alabama Drydock & Shipbuilding Company, Mobile, Alabama, was also named after Simon Willard.


  1. ^ Willard at
  2. ^ Simon Willard’s Life In Concord
  3. ^ Willard notes at
  4. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1889). "Willard, Simon, settler". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton. 
  5. ^ Willard Memoir, p. 357


  • Willard, Joseph. Willard Memoir; or Life and Times of Major Simon Willard. Salem, Massachusetts: Higginson Books (reproduction of 1858 edition).
  • Willard, John Ware. Simon Willard and His Clocks. Dover Books (1968).

Further reading[edit]

A letter from Major Simon Willard to the commissioners of the United Colonies in 1654 is contained in Thomas Hutchinson's Collection of Original Papers relative to the History of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay (Boston, 1769). Joseph Willard wrote a Life (Boston, 1858).