The father of Joseph Clark is presently unknown.  Joseph Clark, probably born before 1654 (marriage date - 21)  married Damaris Francis 19 Aug. 1675, died 08 Nov 1708 in Braintree, Norfolk Co., MA (VR Braintree p722) could be an original immigrant (but I do not think so, for reasons stated).  He could be the son of one of the early landholders in Braintree.  He could be from elsewhere in the Colony, or RI, or CT.  At the moment we do not know.  Clues are listed below, along with their sources, and their flaws.  All we know is that he had a father!  (and a mother!)

Before we begin, a bit of history. Most of the location known as Braintree, MA in the era of interest is called Quincy now.  The first English settlement in Braintree, MA, was by one Captain Wollaston in 1625 in what is now Quincy. The settlement was named after him: "Mount Wollaston." Captain Wollaston remained only about a year and then left for Virginia with many of his followers.  After Wollaston's departure, Thomas Morton, assumed the leadership of the colony and renamed it "Merry Mount."  Morton was most definitely not a Puritan and the revelry and "loose morals" of the men at Merry Mount shocked the Pilgrims in nearby Plymouth-they even had the audacity to erect a Maypole and dance and frolic with Indian women (some of the early records attest to the "comely brunette Indian women!").  In 1627 the Pilgrims had Morton arrested, and in 1634 Boston annexed the area and gave land grants to Boston residents, many of whom  continued to  keep their residence in Boston. In 1639 the General Court at Boston gave permission to a Martin Saunders to "keepe a house of intertainement at Mount Woolaston." The next year Saunders was "alowed" to "draw wine" there.  Mount Wollaston was renamed Braintree in 1640.  Thus, what is now called Quincy was the seaward are of the Braintree of yore, and the place names for Braintree from 1624-1640 were Mount Wallaston and Merry Mount. At least in one of these records it is called Mount "Wolly Stone."  Further, Braintree was in Suffolk County until Norfolk County was created in 1793, thus the records sought are in Suffolk County records prior to 1793, not Norfolk County.

Joseph Clark's children might provide clues to his origins, and for this reason, we have attempted to trace them all, and highlight any geographical movement.  This may also be a blind alley.  At times, Murphy's Law prevails, and "none of the above" is the norm.

As I dig out records, I will better organize this.  For the moment, there appear to be at least four Clarks who owned land in Braintree of about the right time frame (note the two Thomas Clark records could be the same person-"heads" included servants and therefore could be time variable!):

In "Records Relating to Boston," Volume 2.  These are authentic!







12 Feb. 1637

Mr. John Clark

great lott at Mount Wollystone



25 Nov 1639

Thomas Clarke, locksmith

houseplott in Boston and great Lott at Mount Wollystone



27 Jan. 1639

Thomas Clarke, smith

great Lott "at the Mount"



24 Feb. 1639

James Clark

of the same, 8 acres there







Note in Records Relating to Boston Volume 2 there appear to be two separate Thomas Clarke land records, one to a locksmith and one to a smith.  While these could be the same person, a "smith" was an iron worker, not a person who made and repaired locks and keys.  The "number of heads" is also different, supporting the contention that these were two different people.   It appears that Thomas Clarke the locksmith may have resided in Boston.  Any of them, as holding land in Braintree, could be our connection.

Records Relating to Boston Volumes 2 and 4 Clark records extracted

The records below remain to be verified with original sources,  These look like they might be corruptions of the above.


Clark Records in Braintree Preceding Those of Joseph Clark




Braintree Land Grants



1640 Feb 24

James Clark



1638 Feb 19

John Clark




Thomas Clark




There are a lot of Clark probate records in Suffolk County that may be relevant to the father of Joseph Clark.

We will later verify this with original records, but a lot of work has been done already in: Pioneers of Massachusetts, A DESCRIPTIVE LIST, Drawn from Records of the Colonies, Towns and Churches, and other Contemporaneous Documents,.BY CHARLES HENRY POPE, PASTOR FIRST CHURCH, CHARLESTOWN, BOSTON, COMPILER OF THE DORCHESTER POPE FAMILY, THE CHENEY GENEALOGY, ETC BOSTON, MASS. PUBLISHED BY CHARLES H. POPE, 221 Columbus Ave., 1900. Copyright 1900, by Charles H. Pope, LINOTYPED AND PRINTED BY J. J. ARAKELYAN, 205 CONGRESS STREET, BOSTON (this is available on

This work appears to reflect all of the records that I have found to date.   It is both indexed and searchable. In this, there are summaries of three of the Clarks above.  Note that all records, even original records, contain inadvertent errors, and of course ambiguities.

I. First we examine the Clarks who owned land in Braintree in the correct time frame.

  1. James Clark. - James Clark, Boston, propr. at Braintree, 24 (12) 1639, of lot for 2 heads. Resided at Muddy River. Wife Jone, 1035. [Gen. Court Rec] He married in Roxbury Elizabeth Wright; children: Elizabeth and Mary bapt. Jan. S, 1645, Martha bapt. April 25, 1648, Hannah bapt. Dec. 23, 1649, James bapt. April 11, 1652, Samuel b. 9 (2) 1654. "My son James, now in N. E.," had beq. from John Clarke alias Kingman of Wells, Eng., yeoman, in will dated 24 Aug. 1646. [Reg. LI, 115.] His will dated Sept. 11, 1667, was prob. 7 Jan. 1674. Beq. to wife and children, James, Samuel, John and Aaron. Cousin Peter Aspinwall, James Pemerton and son-in- law Walter Morse overseers.
  2. John Clark - John Clark, Boston, memb. chh. 1031-2, frm. Nov. 6, 1632. Mr. John Clark had lot at Braintree 19 (12) 1637, for 10 heads.  We have his will, which lists children and rules him out.
  3. Thomas Clark - Thomas Clark, locksmith, blacksmith, Boston, had land at Braintree 27 (11) 1639 (I will attempt to determine how many Thomas Clarks were present in 1639, if this is possible) for 8 heads. Wife - ; children: Cornelius b. (10) 1639, Jacob b. (3) 1642, Deborah bapt. 9 (4) 1644, ae. about 6 days, Rachel b. 6 (o) 1646, Thomas bapt. 22 (6) 1647, ae. about 4 days, Thomas bapt. 17 (10) 1648, ae. about 5 days, Thomas bapt. 20 (8) 1650.

Discussion: Rev. Pope's work indicates that the children of neither James Clark nor Thomas Clark who owned land in Braintree had a son named Joseph.  John Clark, on the other hand, had "10 heads" in 1637, but we do not know their names.  Thus, John Clark is a possibility, except, alas, his probate records do not list a son, Joseph.  Probate records of the other two will be obtained, but these all look bleak for us.

II. A second line of inquiry is Clarks named in Rev. Pope's work (or elsewhere) who had a son named Joseph Clark in the correct time frame, whether they had land in Braintree or not.  For each of these, the best we can do is try to follow their records.  There are several in this category.  I omit Joseph Clark of Dedham, as he is well documented and not ours.  There are three remaining at this point.

  1. Jonas, or Jonah, mariner, Cambridge, propr., ruling elder. Appointed 13 Oct. 1654, with Samuel Andrew, to talie observations at the northerly bounds of Mass. Plantation. Wife Sarah was bur. 20 (12) 1649, and he m. 30 (5) 1650, Elizabeth -. Ch. Thomas b. 2 (10) 1642, d. 20 (3) 1649, Sarah b. 15 (7) 1644, Jonas b 4 (7) 1646, Mary d. 15 (9) 1649, Elizabeth Thomas, Timothy, Samuel bapt. Nov. 6, 1659, Abigail bapt. May 4, 1662. [Mi.] The wife Elizabeth d. 25 March, 1673, ae. 41 years. [Gr. St.] He d. Jan. 11, 1699, ae. 80. Will dated 19 Dec. 1699, prob. April 22, 1700, beq. to wife Elizabeth, sons Jonas, Timothy, Thomas, Joseph and Samuel; to daus. Susanna and Abigail; to dau. Bonner's 3 ch.; to dau. [dilialoon] and dau. Green; to Dorcas and Jonas Green; to son Timothy's son Samuel. Land in Camb., Groton and Dunstable.   It is possible, perhaps probable, that Jonas Clark's son, Joseph, is the Joseph Clark who removed to Methuen.
  2. William Clark, Yarmouth, took oath of allegiance and was sworn constable 7 Oct., 1639; frm. 6 June, 1654. He d. Dec. 7, 1688. Nunc, will prob. 28 (12) 1668-9; all to Joseph Benjamin Clark, his son, who presented the inventory of the estate. [Reg. VI, 178.]
  3. In "The Spirit of 76," Vol. VI, No. 1, Whole No 61, Published Monthly by The Spirit of 76 Publishing Company, 18&20 Rose St., New York, Sept. 1899.  Entered at NY Post Office as second class matter, Sept. 1894.  Per Copy 10 cents..  Board of Management, Dist. of Col., Sons of the American Revolution,  Feb. 28, 1897. On page16 is stated that one Edmund Clark, of Gloucester, 1650, was town-clerk in1656. By wife Agnes, he had Abigail Clark and Joseph Clark, born 1650. Edmund Clark died in 1667.  Unfortunately, his son, Joseph Clark, remained in Gloucester!

Discussion: It is possible that Joseph Clark son of Jonas Clark the mariner of Cambridge was an unfavored son and ours.  I have a lot of Cambridge records that may clarify this.  He is a possibility.  William of Yarmouth I think is very unlikely.  The location is off, the middle name is off, and the probate record should so state if he lived in Braintree. This one I doubt.  I think it is a record of Plymouth Clarks, but could be ours.  The Joseph Clark, son of Edmund Clark of Gloucester will have to be verified.

III.  A third line of inquiry is for families with listed but unnamed children of the right time frame.

  1. The following is a possibility, as the children are unnamed.  Mr. William Clark, one of the first to plant at Agawam, (Ipswich,) April 1, 1633, [Col. Rec] Had land assigned him Eastward of Labour in vane, southward of the town, Nov. 1634. Rem. to Salem, 1637; vintner. Part of his land fell within the limits of Lynn; for which he had another grant 13 (12) 1642. Dwelling between Linn and Ipswich, he had liberty from the Gen. Court to entertain passengers & cattle, 2 June, 1641. Ch. Bethiah bapt. at Salem 20 (6) 1638, Susanna bapt. 12 (1) 1642-3, Deborah bapt. 6 (6) 1645. Admin, gr. to widow Katharine (5) 1647. Eldest son; another son and a married dau. by a former wife; 4 younger (minor) children. The Gen. Court licenses the widow to keep the inn and sell wine, if she provide a fit man that is godly for the business.

Discussion: If one of the unnamed children was a Joseph Clark of the right time frame, this is precisely the sort of family from which our Joseph Clark might come, especially if things fell apart after this, and the children scattered.  If the children are unnamed, I am not sure how to prove this one, even should it be correct.  This location has some relevance to us, as I find a lot of Ipswich records that could conceivably fit.

IV. Joseph Clark could well be an original immigrant.  The argument against this is that he would probably have been indentured, and there should be a legal record of him as an indentured servant. plus a record of him becoming a "freeman."  There appears to be neither.  Be that as it may, given the fact so far that every single line of inquiry seems to be a dead end, I am leaning in this direction as of this moment.  Except for "V" below!  :o)

V.  His parents could be the infamous "none of the above!"  Any suggestions for this category are appreciated!  "None of the above" has a habit of sneaking up on us.  Perhaps from Rhode Island??

The only location clues in the records of Joseph Clark seem to be those of his children.  He seems to be the only Clark appearing in the marriages, births, and deaths in extant Braintree records (although not in those of Boston.  Note that Boston residents may have owned land in Braintree and never lived there.).  Many of his children remained in Braintree.  The first born son , Nathan Clark, removed to Middleborough after residing in Braintree c38 years.  This may be a strong location clue, but if so, I am clueless in interpretation!  We cannot yet tell with any certainty how long Nathan Clark remained in Middleborough.  As near as I can tell none of Nathan's children returned to Braintree, and many removed to what became Sharon.  Two of his daughters bore illegitimate children after the death of their mother, so Nathan Clark would appear not to have been a pillar of his community.  Several grandchildren appear to have married people from Weymouth.  Weymouth is close to Braintree, but in the direction pointing back towards Plymouth.  Two children fall in the NFI category.  I will continue to seek records for the children.

There are four documented Clarks in Middleborough before Joseph Clark appears in Braintree records by marrying Damaris Francis.

(1) c1675-1677 one William Clark was a resident of Middleborough p34 History of the Town Of Middleboro (house burned in King Philips War).  This house was on the Eel River, very close to Plymouth, and it appears to be the house of the William Clark son of Thomas Clark who died c98 years of age married to Susannah Ring.  He did not have a son named Joseph Clark, and we know this family is a dead end for us.

(2) (p54) Ephraim Tinkham in April of the same year (1642) he had conveyed to him ten acres of upland by Thurston Clark.  Thurston Clark left a somewhat known trail, and would seem to fit, except for the lack of a record of a son, Joseph.

There were two other mentions of potentially relevant Clarks, apparently widows, who drew lots of Indian land for debt owed their husbands (both appear to be widows in 1672):

p612.  "Lots"                                   1st  2nd draft 

(3) Mrs. Clark for her children         8   15

(4) Mrs. Doritie Clark for Samuell  10  22

These latter two would appear to be too late for our Joseph Clark (i.e. they would not have had a son born as early as 1750-54).  Thurston left records (in Plymouth) and does not appear to have had a son named Joseph.  As stated above William Clark, appears to be a son of the old Thomas Clark, and had no sons named Joseph of whom we are aware.


So much for the records, let us examine speculation.  There is a lot of mythology, or probable mythology - these cannot all be correct - maybe none are -  on line (and even in print).  Remember, just because "it is in a book," does not mean it is based on sound original records, and even if it is, the records are often ambiguous.  Statements on the web are just that, and might as well not be there, unless documented.  You may take them as items to try to prove (which I have done).  Most are useless.  Lists are useless.  We want documents, references, and facts.  Even then, we have to be certain a given record is of our particular line and person.

Supposition on the father of Joseph Clark who died in 1708 in Braintree, MA.

Document "Clark Family of Braintree, Mass., by G.P. Bonsall, 1947, states that he was born 27 July 1642, but I believe this is in error, and that this record is of the Joseph Clark of Dedham!   Also note, I do not believe there is any clear documentary evidence to show that the early Joseph Clark who appears in Dorchester records is necessarily the Joseph Clark who appears in Dedham and then removes to Medfield.  These may be, and probably are, two different people.

Walter Van Ness in Mayflower Descendants claims Joseph Clark was born in 1650 in Braintree to Thomas Clark (born 1626 Plymouth- died 1651) and Abigail Cogswell (1626-2 Apr. 1728), but I cannot find any records confirming this.  Abigail Cogswell was supposedly born 1626 in Leigh, Wiltshire, England to John Coggswell (7 Apr. 1592-29 Nov. 1669 and Elizabeth Thompson (b.1594-d.2 June 1676).  An Abigail Coggswell Clark supposedly died 2 April 1728 at Ipswich, Essex, MA.  View this entire record as supposition which must be proven.  Personally, I believe this to be entirely incorrect, but I am trying to locate records to prove it nonetheless.  He could be the Thomas Clark above with no will.  An Abigail Cogswell was married to a Clark in Ipswich records, I believe, but matches none of the rest of this.  Nonetheless, there are some possibilities in Ipswich records, and they will be explored.  I can find no Plymouth record of a Thomas Clark who fits this description.  NEHGS does not appear to have any records confirming any of this, at least that I can locate with their server.

Joseph Clark may have been born in Weymouth to a Thomas Clark, perhaps the one above from Plymouth?  The location is good, the records are as yet unfound.  I see zero evidence in extant Plymouth County records to support this.


Braintree was in Suffolk County until Norfolk County was created in 1793.  There are a lot of Clark probate records in Suffolk County of Clarks who might have been the father of Joseph Clark. Unfortunately, unless something is in these not covered by Rev. Pope, I suspect these will not be informative, and Rev. Pope seems to have been thorough.  I will get them anyway.


James Clark



Thomas Clark



Thomas Clark



William Clark



Thomas Clark



Thomas Clark





Suffolk Deeds Liber I; Suffolk Registry of Deeds, Boston, Nov. 13, 1880.

p526   Index of Grantors










Clark, Clarke, Clerck, Clerk






Henry Clark

Robert Saltenstall



So much land S. & some land W. next adjoining a tract of land which said Cato formerly sold George Munnings & the rest of the Planters of Sudbury, as may make the bounds of said Town 5 miles square.


Jerimye Clerk




House & land in Boston - Farm in Newbury

4(3) 1643

Jeremy Clark




Land [in Boston], Dan'l Turrel S.W.; said Chafe N.E.& N.W.; the sea S.E.


John Clark

Matthew Chaffie



House in Cambridge, bought of Wm. Goodwin. - 7a, of planting ground. -15a upland in neck near Bay Marsh - 14a marsh in great marsh. - 1a 3 R. in Ox Marsh. -- 18a meadow in Rocky meadow.


Thomas  Clark et al.




600 acres of land in Mt. Wollaston, bounded partly by Mt. Wollaston river & partly by saltwater shore towards the N.

Apr. 28, 1652

Thomas Clark et al. overseers

Thomas Holbrooke



As to Will Coddington's deed

Oct. 18, 1652

Thomas Clark et al.

Humphrey Milom



200 a. of land in Mount Wollastone of Braintree, bought of Richard Wright

Feb. 11, 1652

Thomas Clark et al.

Thomas Gainer



12 a. of land [in Braintree], between lands of William Ting & Mr. Paine


Thomas Clark

Mark Hands









House & wharf in Boston & land bought of Thomas Clarke, Thos Rawlins W., Wm. Burnhill E.; the sea S.; the highway N.


Emanuell Downing

Thomas Fowle et al.









Four shares of two patents of Pascataqua & Swampscott, bought of Hy Clark.  Also one share, bought of Mr.s Isabell Willett.


John Scarborough

Thomas Dudley



House & land in Boston, the street E.; Mr. Hutchinson S.; Wm. Phillips W.; Thomas Clarke N. - 6a. in the fort field, said Fairbanks E. & N.E.; the highway N.


Richard Walderne et al.

Wm Whiteing

Bond & Mort.


House & lands in Boston, bought of Thomas Clarke, Wm. Burnell N.W.; Hy Vaine N.E.; the sea S.; the highway to the new meeting house N., & wharf & warehouse build by said Hands upon said wharf, before said dwelling house S.


Wm. Healy

Thomas Dulley


bolded references above are to Braintree.

Suffolk Deeds Volume 1-4  Liber X


Index of Grantors












Discharge of mortgage fol 344

13 Oct 1685

Christopher Clarke

Increase Mather



Land in Boston near the Second meeting-house street from the water-mill towards Winnisimmet ferry place S.E.; Jonas Clark S.W.; Jethro, a negro, and Susannah Bennet N.W.; Susannah Bennet N.E

26 Feb 1677/8

Jonas et ux Susanna Clark

Increase Mather



Land warves and buildings in Boston on the East and West sides of the mill creek

5 Sept. 1677

Martha Clark

Joseph Rock



Land and one fourth part of house in Boston, Joseph Rock W.' William Franklin E.; Thomas Makepeace S.; tide water mill creek N.

21 Mar 1676/7

Mary ux of  & Thomas Clark

William Bartholomew



Warehouse in Boston on Bendall's Dock

26 Feb 1677/8

Susanna ux of & Jonas Clark

Increase Mather



House and land in Boston, in Conduit street, and wharf and flats thereto belonging

21 March 1676/7

Thomas et ux Mary

William Bartholomew



Index of Grantees






Land and one fourth part of a house in Boston, Joseph Rock W., Wm. Franklin E.; Thos. Makepeace S.; tide water mill creek, N.

21 Mar 1676/7

Wm. Bartholomew

Thomas Clark et ux.



House and land [in Boston] formerly of Robert Rochell, deceased

10 May 1678

Christopher Clarke

Wm. Griggs et ux.



Land in Boston near the Second meeting-house, street from the water mill towards WInnisimmet ferry place S.E.; James Clarke, SW; Jethro, a negro, and Susannah Bennet N.W.; Susannah Bennet N.E.

26 Feb. 1677/8

Increase Mather

Jonas Clarke et ux.



Land, wharves and buildings in Boston on the East and the West sides of the mill creek.

5 Sept. 1677

Joseph Rock

Martha Clark








These deed records are mostly covered in Rev. Pope's work, but note, not all!

One known child of this unknown Clark

  1. Joseph Clark of Braintree

Copyright ©2015, Frank O. Clark, Ph.D., all rights reserved. These documents may be freely used for private purposes, and included in your own genealogy.  However, this document is copyrighted and may not be sold, nor given to anyone who may attempt to derive profit from same. Please send any errors, corrections, conjectures, updates, etc. to Frank O. Clark, Ph.D..