Hi, cousin! My Chaffee line goes from my mother, Elizabeth Chaffee, back to include David, brother of your Dorothy.
THE CHAFFEE GENEALOGY 1909 includes sources that indicate Nathaniel moved from Hull to Rehoboth between 1657 and 1660 with his parents and brother Joseph. In 1667 the part of Rehoboth where he lived, known as Wannamoisett, was set off as a separate town and called Swansea. Town records indicate "At a Town meeting Lawfully warned ye 19th of May 1670... Nathaniel Chafy [chosen] Constable." [Swansea Town Records]
About the same time it recorded that "his ear mark for all kinds of cattell is an half ring in the top of each ear" indicating he owned cattle and/or other livestock. Land records also indicate he was a blacksmith, a most important and valued trade in those days. "In addition to shoeing horses, he was a worker in iron and other metals, making rude farming implements, household utensils and even casting bells." Indeed, on Feb 8, 1674, the town of Rehoboth was so was so anxious to have him as a citizen that they invited him to "return", with 10 acres of land as an inducement if he stayed 7 or more years. Four months later he purchased land there, presumably moving at that time. In 1875 he was chosen for a committee to ajudicate a land dispute. In 1681 he was admitted as a Freeman by the Plymouth Colony Court, a notable achievment that required him to be church member. In turn, Church membership at that time was difficult to gain, requiring extensive religious, moral, and civic qualifications that many never achieved during their entire lifetime. In 1681, at a town meeting, Rehoboth "Chose Nathaniel Chaffee Constable" for his second term in Rehoboth. In 1693 the town "chose Nathaniel Chaffe tytheing man". These duties included preserving order in the meeting house and collecting monies due for the support of the minister of the town. Re-elected 1704. Selected Grand juryman 1706.
Both Nathaniel and his wife Experience died in September 1721, spending the last days of their life living with and being cared by his son Noah and Noah's wife. A "tradition from Rehoboth tells us that Nathaniel was so devoted to his wife that he died of grief a few hours after her death." No will relating to his estate was ever found. "The old burying ground surrounding the Congregational church, formerly in Rehoboth, later in Seekonk, Mass.,and now in the village of Rumford, East Providence, R.I., is supposed to be the burial place of Nathaniel and Experience, though no stones to their memory remain." A reproduction of a striking watercolor sketch by S. R. Chaffee, showing the cemetery and the church, is included in the book.
With regard to Thomas and Dorothy's line, you certainly ask the "$64,000 question". I am also one of many looking for the parents/ancestors of Thomas Chaffe (Chafe, Chafy, Chaffee), probably born about 1605-15 in England, possibly near or in the towns of Hingham, Hull, or Chaffcombe; probably arrived MA 1630-1635, possibly in the 900 Puritans with John Winthrop in 1630; records indicate he owned land and was probably living single in Hingham, MA in 1635. In 1642 he was granted land for farming and house in Nantasket. Nantasket was renamed Hull in 1644 because the Indian name, which translated as "Bare cove", apparently offended Puritan sensibilities,and some of the residents were from Hull, England. (Possibly Thomas?) Thomas probably married a Dorothy in Hull; however, the town records of that period have been lost. Sons Nathaniel and Joseph were born in Hull. Apparently moved from Hull about 1660 to the area known at various times as part of the towns of Rehobeth, Swansea, Barrington, Seekonk, Cumberland, Attleboro, Pawtucket, and East Providence; ceded to RI in 1861. Died shortly before his will was filed on Mar 6, 1682/3. Most Chaffee families in the US are his descendants.
Origins of the family name in Chafecombe, now Chaffcombe, near Chard, Somerset County (Somersetshire), England, and descendants in America are documented in "The Chaffee Genealogy" by William H. Chaffee, 1908, The Grafton Press, NY, NY, available in many of the better libraries. Another interesting book is "Emma of Normandy", written 10 or 15 years ago by a professor whose name escapes me right now. Emma was accompanied by "Hugo the Thane" when she came to England to become Queen about 1002AD. Thanes were roughly equivalent to Barons; they were granted land to supervise and the job of collecting the King's taxes from the people whom came to live there. The size of the land granted to the typical thane was intended to support a population that could in turn supply about 100 adult males that would take up arms for the King in times of local conflict. Hugo was granted the land that became Chaffcome. When surnames were added about 1300-1400AD, the last names of the local residents became "Chaffe" or something similar.
If anyone else can add to or correct the above info, please do.
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