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Richard Norcross, 1621 to 1790

Mary Brooks, to 1670

Richard Norcrosse,  second and youngest son of Jeremiah Norcross, was born in London, England in 1621. He came to New England with his father in about 1638, being then about 17 years of age. In 1642, we find him in Watertown with his father and owning a homestead of one acre and a small lot of upland.

Richard was the first family member to enter the Vital Records of this new country with his marriage in 1650 to Mary Brooks and his children between 1652 and 1671. The death of his daughter Mary in 1661 was the first death of a Norcross recorded.

He married first, in 1650, Mary Brooks. She died in 1672 leaving him with seven children. He married second, in 1673, Susanna, widow of William Shattuck who had died also in 1672. She had ten children by Mr. Shattuck, three of whom, two boys and one girl, were in their minority at the time of their mother’s marriage to Mr. Norcrosse. The following the agreement was made between Richard and Susanna (probably the first pre-nuptial agreement on record in the Colony).

“First: In case that he deceased before his wife, that she shall have the same fully made good to her again of the Estate she brought with her to her husband, besides what he shall, out of his own good will or the law will give unto him.

Second: In case she decease before him, that then, unless by Will shall bequeath any part thereof to him the said Richard Norcrosse he shall then pay or cause to be paid forty-five pounds which is the sum, the inventory of her goods come to his hands and the same he shall pay in full value to the children of his new wife who shall then be living or as the said wife shall appoint by her last Will otherwise. In the performance whereof, the said Richard Norcrosse acknowledges himself, Executors, Administrators to stand fully bound in a bond of £90 sterling to be paid to the Treasurer of the County and the Court do further order that the aforementioned Richard Norcrosse performing to the above said request, all other obligations by him made in reference to person or Estate shall be null and void to all intents and purpose in the law, and the said Richard is to bring up the young children as his own, until they come to age to choose guardians or be put to Apprentices.

29 March 1687. Philip Shattuck, William Shattuck, Samuel Shattuck, Jonathan Brown, John Fay, and Abigail Morse, all children natural or by marriage of Mrs. Norcross, late widow and relict of William Shattuck deceased, do own and acknowledge ourselves fully satisfied with what we have now received of our father-in-law Richard Norcross, being the full of what he was to pay us, of what he received of our father Shattuck’s Estate and agreed by bond given into County Court at Cambridge the 8th of April 1674, we say, we have each and every one of us received our proportion in full according to that bond.”

This agreement was also signed by the above mentioned children of Mrs. Susanna Shattuck Norcross.

Richard Norcrosse was the first schoolmaster mentioned in the Watertown records. He was chosen for one year January 6, 1651, for £30. He is the only schoolmaster mentioned until 1675, and his salary continued the same until that time.  A reading of the town records of the time would suggest that the Town of Watertown was under constant pressure by the Colonial Court to provide for the education of the children in that town.

On the files of the Court 1679 is the petition of Richard Norcrosse for 20 years schoolmaster that the privilege of exemption from training may be conferred on him who is called again to the same employment. He was then 58 years of age.

In 1679, the arrangement was that he should teach only Latin and Writing at his own house during the months of June, July and August and the remainder of the year, Latin and English at the schoolhouse and to have £20 out of the town rates, and probably what he should obtain as Tuition as before. In 1680, the County Court ordered Watertown to provide a grammar school. A committee was appointed in 1681, to provide a master to teach Latin and English and Richard Norcrosse was chosen 2 November 1690. The town allowed £15 for the schoolmaster’s maintenance. On 3 September 1700, he was chosen to keep school for £10 and to receive something and to receive something additional from the parents and they each to send a quarter of a chord of wood in the winter. At this time Mr. Norcrosse had been schoolmaster 49 years and was 79 years old. He was admitted freeman in 1653.

Richard Norcross died in 1709 at the good old age of 88 leaving four sons and two daughters, having lost one daughter previous to his death. He made his will 8 April 1708 when he was 87 years of age, he had made settlements with his children before he made this will.

Will of Richard Norcross

"In the name of God, Amen. I Richard Norcross of Watertown in her Majesty’s province in the Massachusetts Bay in New England, late schoolmaster being weak in body but sound of mind and disposing memory, praise be given to God for the same, do by my last Will and Testament in manner and form following. First and principally I do resign my soul unto the hands of God that gave it me, assuredly hoping through the merit of my blessed saviour to obtain the pardon of all my sins, and my body I commit to be decently buried by the directions of Executors hereinafter named. As for the worldly goods God hath lent me, I dispose of them in the following manner.

First I require that all my debts due be discharged to each creditor fully and justly before any legacies afterwards be paid out.

Second, I give and bequeath to my son Richard Norcross, five shillings to be paid him by any Executors, within one year of my death, he having received his full portion and more of my Estate I die seized of. I also give my son Nathaniel a legacy of five shillings, he having also had a full share of my Estate and more.

Third, I give and bequeath unto my son Samuel, in case he personally appears in New England within the space of ten years after my decease one fourth part of what Estate of mine shall visibly be found, to be paid to him by my Executors.

Fourth, I give and bequeath to my son Jeremiah, a double portion and to his sister Mary a single portion which shall be a fourth part of my Estate in case Samuel appears within the before mentioned time, if he does not appear then a third part of what Estate I die seized of.

Fifth, I do nominate and ordain my son Jeremiah, Executor, and my daughter May, Executrix, of this my last Will and Testament. I moreover, give to them their heirs and assigns to dispose of all given to them, so that the Will herein be fulfilled according to the tenor of it forever after my decease.

Sixth, As to legacies, six grandchildren of my daughters child, my will is they be paid out of my Estate 20 shillings apiece after the Estate is out of debt, of the best the form shall provide, and I desire Captain Nathan Burnham and Captain James Bond to be overseers to advise my Executors in all weighty concerns about the management of my Estate after my decease, it being my will, that what is done by their consent, shall be full force and value, and I pronounce this to be my last Will and Testament revoking all other Wills and Testaments formerly made. Moreover, it is my will and pleasure that my overseers be honestly and justly paid by my Executors for what time they shall expend in council and advice given to my Executors in all weighty affairs and business they may be employed in. It is my will Corporal Nathaniel Bright and Sergeant John Chadwick be also overseers with the above named.

Richard Norcross Sen

Signed and sealed
in the presence of witnesses
April 28, 1708 Mary Bright
witnesses Henry Bright
Joseph Bright
Inventory of the Estate of Richard Norcross which was apraized by the Subscribers the 14th of Oct 1709

In his wearing apparel, woollens and lined £5.
Some books 1.
One feather bed, bedstead and rug 3.
One flock and pillow .8
Pewter platters, one tea pot, one candlestick .17
In brass, 1 kettle, 1 pan 1.
In Iron Ware, 1 pail, 1 spit, 1 frying pan, 1 Tram, 1 pot, 1 pr. Tongs .18
1 old wainscot, chest, cupboard, small box .1
1 spinning wheel and some Lamb .1
Some casks in ye cellar 1.1
6 acres of Indian Corn, standing 6.6
4 bushels barley .12
3 cows and some hay in the barn 9.
One Mansion house, barn, orchard 90.
12 acres meadow land 9.

Jabez Beers, George Lawrence, Manning Sowins, appraisers
Jeremiah Norcross and Mary Norcross, executors
17 October 1709.
Parents: Richard Norcrosse Jeremiah Norcross
Mary Brooks Norcrosse Henry Brooks
Susannah Bradford Brooks
Suzanne Shattuck Norcrosse unknown
Children: Mary Norcross born 1652 died 1661
Jeremiah Norcross born 1655 died 1717
Sarah Norcross born 1657 died before 1705
Richard Norcross born 1660 died 1745
Mary Norcross born 1663 unknown
Nathaniel Norcross born 1664 died 1717
Samuel Norcross born 1670 unknown

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.