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Nathaniel Norcrosse, 1618 to 1662

Mary Gilbert

The Reverend Nathaniel Norcrosse, the oldest son of Jeremiah Norcrosse, was born in London, England in the year 1618.

He was educated at Catherine Hall, at the University of Cambridge where he received the degree off A.B. in 1636. In the University records he is recorded as born in London. Soon after he graduated came to the America with his father.

We find no record of the date(s) of his marriage or to whom. Bond, in his "Watertown" history calls the name of his wife Sarah. In Gunnís Directory to English Estates, the name of Sarah Norcrosse is found where descendents were wanted to claim an estate. It says she was the wife of Reverend Norcrosse. In the memorandum below, he is said to be married to Mary Gilbert of Taunton.

"There was a John Gilbert who came from England about 1630 and settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts and afterwards about 1638 removed to Taunton, Massachusetts. He made his will, dated April 1656 exhibited to the court June 3, 1657, the same year that the Jeremiah Norcrosse will was submitted to the court.  Among other bequests is this. ďI give to my daughter, Mary Norcrosse, my great furnace or brewing kettle if she be living or otherwise unto her daughter Mary. The furnace to be sold by my executors and the value to be out to interest until the child be of age.Ē"

Nathaniel died 10 August 1662 at St. Dustanís in the East, a parish of London giving by his will all his Estate both in New England and Old England to Mary, his wife. No children are named.

He is mentioned as having been at Salem in 1639, and as joining the Church there in 1641. He removed to Watertown in 1642, and was admitted freeman there in 1643.

He is the first petitioner for the Plantation at Nashaway (now Lancaster, Massachusetts) in May 1644 and soon thereafter was called as a Minister there upon the first attempt to organize a Church. The Worcester Magazine and Historical Journal published in 1826 (Vol. 2, page 274) gives the following account of it:

"Many of Watertown and other towns joined in the Plantation at Nashaway and having called a young man, a universal scholar, (Savage says University scholar), one Mr. Norcrosse, to be their Minister. Seven of them who were not members of any church were desirous to gather into a Church Estate but the magistrates and elders advised them first to go a build their habitations, for there was no house there, and then to take some that were members of other churches, as had formerly been done, and to proceed orderly. But the persons interested in the plantation being most of them poor men and some of them corrupt in judgement and others profane, it went on very slowly, so that in two years they had not three houses built and he whom they had called to be their Minister left them for their delay."

In the Provincial papers of New Hampshire (Vol. 1, page 145) is a contract of several persons in Exeter, New Hampshire to pay their shares for the purchase of Mr. Wheelwrightís house and land for Mr. Nathaniel Norcrosse and a town meeting was held for this purpose in 1645.  There is no record of his settling there. He was settled in 1648 at Agamenticus (now York, Maine, which was the first city of the United States) and the following in an extract from a letter written in Salem on 17 December 1648, by Lucy Downing to her nephew, John Winthrop Jr., son of Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts.

"Mr. Norcrosse is flown to Agamenticus and there he says for his short experience he likes very well. Mr. Godfrey, where he lives, keeps a very good house and if we will go there, a house with three chimneys he promises if two of them blow down this winter, which may be feared being but the parsonís house. I am willing to make you smile but I wish him well and the work of the Lord to prosper in his hands." (Massachusetts Historical Collections, Vol. 1, 5th series, page 37).

He probably did not remain at Agamenticus long, but returned to England soon after. Calamy, in his Non Conformist memorial, mentions a Reverend Nathaniel Norcrosse who was silenced or ejected in 1662 at Walsingham, in Norfolk County, England. Savage says it was probably Nathaniel Norcrosse who was in America.

We know that he did return to England and died there the same year he is reported to have been silenced in Walsingham. His history, summed up, is this:

Born London England about 1618
Received the degree of A.B. at Catherine Hall, Cambridge University, England in 1636 (age 18)
Came to America about 1636/38
First mentioned in Salem in 1639 (age 19)
Joined the Church in Salem in 1641 (age 21)
Moved to Watertown in 1642
Admitted Freeman in 1643
First Petitioner for Nashaway in 1644 (age 24)
Called to Exeter, New Hampshire in 1645
Minister at Agamenticus, Maine in 1648
Returned to England between 1648 and 1650 (age 30 to 32)
Tenant of the Bishop of Chester, England in 1650
Minister at Walsingham, England in 1662 (age 44)
Died in London in 1662 (age 44)


Parents: Nathaniel Norcrosse Jeremiah Norcrosse
Mary Gilbert Norcrosse John Gilbert
Children: Mary born abt. 1652 died abt. 1661

Copyright 2004, Philip Norcross Gross

For more information please contact me at  All this information is based on family stories, or documents listed in the References.  Official documentation is not common except for recent generations (1850 or later) and may not necessarily be referenced herein.