The family bearing this name in New Bedford, where it is one of nearly one hundred years’ standing one, too, of prominence and wealth, is a branch of the ancient Knowles family of the town of Eastham, Barnstable county, this Commonwealth. Reference is made to some of the descendants of the brothers Thomas and James H. Knowles of Eastham, several of whose sons – at least two of the former and one of the latter – in their earlier manhood cast their lot with the people of New Bedford. The firm of Thomas Knowles & Co. for many years was one of the greatest engaged in the whale fishery business in New Bedford; and its members in turn have been succeeded in business by younger generations who have most worthily worn the family name and sustained its reputation; and today the name continues of record in and about the city of their birth connected prominently with many of the most extensive commercial establishments and banking institutions of the locality.
Some four generations of this surname have lived in Taunton through the past hundred years, a branch of the ancient Cape Cod Eldridge family. Reference is made to some of the posterity of Eli Eldridge, whose son, Eli Henry, and the latter’s sons, John Henry and Capt. Albert Stanley Eldridge, all either together or in turn have been identified with one of the solid industries of the city – one of their own founding and fostering and developing, which has come to be an important factor in Taunton history. This was the britannia establishment of Eldridge & Co., whose promoters and owners have long been men of substance and prominent in Taunton’s social and business life.
The Massachusetts Tax Valuation List of 1771 contains the names and descriptions of taxable property of nearly 38,000 individuals who resided in 152 Massachusetts towns in 1771
As will be seen in what follows the Fall River family of Sears here considered – to which belongs Chauncey Howe Sears, an extensive mason contractor and builder and one of Fall River’s well-known citizens and substantial men – is one of some two hundred and sixty and more years’ standing in this Commonwealth. The family history and genealogy of the Fall River family follow in chronological order from the immigrant settler.