Israel Harding1

d. after 25 February 1690/91

6th great-grandfather of Ruth Minerva Fairfield.
8th great-grandfather of Laura Jane Munson.
Family Background:
Fairfield and Allied Families
Appears on charts:
Pedigree for Ruth Minerva Fairfield
     Israel Harding married first Lydia, widow of John Gooch, before 7 October 1673 when Israel was granted administration of the Gooch estate. He married second Mary Wakefield, widow of William Frost, after 29 January 1682/83 on which date Israel's first wife was still living.1 He died after 25 February 1690/91 when he was granted administration on the William Frost estate.1
     In 1670 Israel Harding, a blacksmith, applied for a grant of land at Wells, York County, Maine, and 200 acres were given him on the condition "that said Israel Harding do come into the town as an inhabitant within three months; do continue five years an inhabitant, and do the smithwork for the inhabitants for such current pay as the town doth produce. If the said Harding do desert, the land to revert to the town."2

     As a Baptist, Israel did not fit in well, as explained in the following sketch taken from Bourne's History of Wells and Kennebunk:
     Israel Harding did not turn out to be the man after the heart of the people, as was expected of him. He became a troublesome element in the population, by the liberty which he took of freely speaking of the current religion, and thereby creating no small excitement. He was boisterous and loud in his denunciations of ministers, and while pounding at the anvil, was more vehemently pounding at Congregationalism. He was probably honest-hearted, but he felt that the Christian religion was entire liberty, and that any restraint of it was a violation of his rights. He did not believe in public worship sustained by burdens imposed on the people, but believed that the Gospel was intended as, and should be, a free offering to all. Though the law required every man to attend the meeting at the sanctuary on the Lord's day, he gave no heed to it. His wife was imbued with the same spirit. The people could not endure his continued slander of religious institutions, and of the worthy men who were laboring to make them efficient for their benevolent purposes. He was presented at court for not attending public worship on Sunday; his wife was afterwards presented for the same cause. But these proceedings only increased his virulent spirit against ministers and people who sustained them. His tongue was set on fire by the opposition which he met. Assuming to preach the Gospel himself, ranting against its forms, ceremonies, and impositions on the people, and the theology so dear to their hearts, he broke in upon the order and peace of the church. He was again complained of in court, and "convicted of very disorderly practices, presumptously taking upon himself the office of a minister to preach and baptize contrary to his Majesty's laws." The court admonished him for his "disorderly practices," that he had no call from God for his irregularities, and that if he persisted in his unwarrantable course all his lands should be confiscated. But still the unruly member was not checked. The rebel spirit was only quickened and trengthened by these persecutions. As soon as he was discharged he was again at his work, exercising what he deemed his rights, preaching against ministers and churches, and fomenting discord and confusion all around him. He was arrested a third time, and brought to the bar to answer for his misfeasances; was convicted "of several presumptuous miscarriages, and his abusive and reproachful language against ministers, ministry, and preaching thereof, to the dishonor of God and the destruction of the way of the Gospel;" and was fined five pounds. Whether his ardor was cooled by this procedure we cannot answer. We have learned nothing further of him.3
     The names of himself and his son, his occupation, religion and call to preach, as well as family tradition, all strongly suggest that Israel Harding was a son of Stephen of Providence, Rhode Island. It should be noted, however, that there is nothing found in the records to conclusively prove the relationship. If Israel was a son, he was surely the oldest as he would have been at least 21 in 1670 when he was granted land in Wells. Given an estimated birth year of 1649, he was born at least a year after Stephen of Providence married Bridget Estance, and about three years before the birth of their oldest known son John, who would later name his oldest son Israel.4

Child of Israel Harding and Lydia (—?—) (Gooch-Harding)


  1. [S869] Charles Thornton Libby, Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire (Portland, Maine: The Southward Press, 1928), 308.
  2. [S873] Edward E. Bourne, The History of Wells and Kennebunk: from the earliest settlement to the year 1820, at which time Kennebunk was set off, and incorporated: with biographical sketches (Portland, Maine: B. Thurston & Co., 1875), 124.
  3. [S873] Edward E. Bourne, History of Wells and Kennebunk, 125-126.
  4. [S906] Wilber J. Harding, The Hardings in America: a Genealogical Register of the Descendants of John Harding, of England born A.D. 1567 (Keystone, Iowa: Harding Print Co., 1925), 27-28.