The branch of the Lawton family so long resident in New Bedford, and in each generation active in public affairs, but recently represented by the late Charles H. and Horace A. Lawton, well known druggists, the former long prominent in the government of the town and an important factor in the financial and commercial life, is descended from George Lawton, a brother of Thomas and possibly of John also, all of Newport as early as 1638 or 1639. George and Thomas were among the twenty-eight signers of the Compact, April 30, 1639, for the formation of a “civil body politicke.” George Lawton was made a freeman in 1655; member of the Court of Trials, 1648; deputy, 1665-72-75-76-79-80; assistant, 1680-81-82-83-84-85-86-89-90. He and five other assistants, with the deputy governor, wrote a letter to their Majesties, William and Mary, congratulating them on their accession to the Crown, and informing them that since the deposition of Governor Andros the former government under the charter had been resumed. He seems to have been prominent in all the Colonial affairs of his time. He died Oct. 5, 1693, and was buried in his orchard at Portsmouth. He married Elizabeth Hazard, daughter of Thomas and Martha Hazard.
John Washburn, first of the name here, was an early settler in New England, and was a resident of Duxbury, Mass., before 1632, in which year he had an action in court against Edward Doten. He was named in the assessment of taxes in 1633, and in 1634 bought a place from Edward Bonparse known as “Eagle’s Nest.” He and his two sons, John and Philip, were included with those able to bear arms in 1643. He and his son John were original proprietors of Bridgewater, and they with the son Philip settled in the town as early as 1665. He died in Bridgewater before 1670.
Thomas Beatty Inness, of Brockton, one of that city’s enterprising and progressive citizens, is a native of Pennsylvania, born at Pottsville March 4, 1848, only son of the late James A. and Mary Williams (Beatty) Inness, and a descendant of sturdy Scotch-Irish.
The Read family of which the late Paddock Richmond Read was a descendant, is one of the oldest and best known families of this section of New England. The first of the name in New England wasJohn Reade, a cordwainer by trade, according to tradition, as is his coming from Plymouth, England. He came to this country and was an inhabitant of Newport, R. I.
The ancient town of Bridgewater, the first interior settlement of the Old Colony, has been the birthplace and the home of many who have made the history of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts rich in stories of good lives devoted to the development and uplift of the community, and not the least among these may be mentioned the late Capt. Benjamin Beal Howard, philanthropist, whose name is perpetuated in Howard Seminary, which he founded, and his son, the late Francis Edward Howard, philanthropist, statesman and upright, patriotic and useful citizen.
The McCullough family is of Irish extraction. Patrick McCullough, grandfather of John McCullough, was a native of the parish of Altacamicussey, County Tyrone, Ireland, where he lived and died. He followed farming. He married Mary Conway, who was a native of the same county, and their son, John McCullough, was born on a farm in Altacamicussey, County Tyrone, June 15, 1821. There he grew to manhood, and what little education he received was obtained in the local school. Meantime he worked at farm labor and also obtained some knowledge of the mason’s trade. He there married about 1845 Alice Devlin, who was a native of the parish of Pallough, County Tyrone, and daughter of Michael and Annie Devlin. In the spring of 1847, with his wife and an infant son, he sailed for the New World, making the trip on a sailing vessel bound for New York. After a passage of six weeks they landed at that port, where they remained three months, during which time they lost their first-born, the infant son mentioned.
William Sturdy, as he was thenceforth known, then shipped on an American schooner lying at Leghorn, and bound for the United States. He finally landed at Beverly, Mass., June 9, 1809. From the port of Beverly he made several voyages as mate of American schooners, but finally abandoned the seas. He married in Beverly Clarissa Whittemore, who was born in that town Jan. 28, 1794. After their marriage they settled in Attleboro, Bristol county, where Mr. Sturdy bought land lying on the west shore of the Falls pond and engaged in farming until 1827. Here ten of his fourteen children were born. About that time, 1827, “the initial efforts in cotton manufacturing on the Blackstone had opened the way for the employment of minors,” and Mr. Sturdy availed himself of this opportunity because it had become impossible for him to procure a proper subsistence for his large family from his farm. In that year he sold out and removed to the Blackstone Valley, locating at Slatersville, town of North Smithfield, R. I., where he and his children found employment in the cotton mills. He later settled in Blackstone, Mass., where he died Oct. 16, 1834. He was a hardworking man, honest and upright in his dealings, and his large family of fourteen children reflected great credit on their home training. The wife and mother died Feb. 13, 1856.
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 Connecticut-Massachusetts branch of the earlier family of this name of the old Bay State is one of long and honorable standing in New England, and as well of historic connection. The especial family here considered, and which for designation is styled the Taunton family, is that of pome of the descendants of Capt. Jabez Fox, of Berkley, Mass., one of whose sons was the late Henry Hodges Fox and the latter’s son the present Hon. William Henry Fox, lawyer and judge, who for forty and more years has been judge of the First District court of Bristol county and otherwise prominently identified with the public affairs of the city of Taunton.
The Keith family is one of the oldest of southeastern Massachusetts. Its founder in America was Rev. James Keith, born in 1644, who came to America, landing in Boston in 1662. He became minister of the Bridgewater Church, where he administered to the spiritual needs of the people for half a century. He died July 23, 1719. He was twice married. His first wife was Susannah Edson, daughter of Deacon Samuel Edson.