John Chater1

b. circa 1619, d. 19 September 1671

7th great-grandfather of Ruth Minerva Fairfield.
9th great-grandfather of Laura Jane Munson.
Family Background:
Fairfield and Allied Families
Appears on charts:
Pedigree for Ruth Minerva Fairfield
     John Chater was born circa 1619 in England.2 He married Alice Emery, daughter of John Emery Sr. and Alice Grantham, by 1644 in Newbury, Essex County, Massachusetts, (eldest known child b. Newbury 7 August 1644).1 He died in York County, Maine, before 19 September 1671 when Mr. Nathaniel Fryer sued the administrator of his estate, John Miller, for debt, the court finding for the defendant and awarding his costs.3
     Walter Goodwin Davis wrote that it is tempting to identify him with the John Chater, aged 17, who embarked at Gravesend for Barbadoes on the ship Expedition November 20, 1635, particularly as so many early settlers in the West Indian islands eventually found their way to New England. In any event, our John Chater was in Newbury before 1644 and there married Alice Emery. He bought from Henry Palmer a farm in Newbury by which transaction he obtained freeholder's rights, and on 25 March 1651 he took the freeman's oath.4,2

     Davis continues:
     Except for two or three minor court actions, little is known about Chater's life at Newbury except an unhappy phase of his matrimonial experience. Sometime in 1652 he was lying seriously ill as was also one of his servants, Daniel Gunn, a Scotchman who had been deported and sold into servitude after the battle of Worcester. Alice Chater, carrying food to Gunn, told him that, if her husband should die, he should be her husband, of which prospect the young man took immediate advantage. Eighteen months later she confessed to her invalid husband in the hearing of William and Isabel Houldred, who were visiting them. Adultery was a capital offense and Gunn and Alice Chater were soon before the magistrates and in peril of their lives. The verdict of the jury before whom they were tried in the county court—whether it was "guilty" or "not guilty" does not appear—was not satisfactory to the judges, and the case was sent to the higher court in Boston as were the prisoners. On May 14, 1654, perhaps hesitating to inflict the death penalty, the governor and council stated that they were not guilty according to law but that, because of her shameful and unchaste behavior, Alice Chater should be severely admonished and stand tied to the whipping post for one hour and then be discharged that she might return to her husband, while Gunn, after Mr. Lunerius, the physician, had restored him to health, was to be whipped.5 The unhappy young Scot did not long survive his ordeal.

     In the meantime Newbury gossip was busy with the name of Isabel Houldred who was nursing Chater during his wife's absence, but the magistrates decided that it was unfounded when the usual presentment was made.

     An unimportant court case about a lost steer in 1657 is the last mention of the Chaters in Newbury, but it is valuable in that Chater's "father Emery" is mentioned. Two of Chater's servants, Francis Walker and Nicholas Brown, testified, as did Alice Chater. Also the two little Chater girls, aged thirteen and nine, gave evidence that they first called the steer "Wild Rascol" but later changed his name to "Matt."

     On March 13, 1659/60, Chater is mentioned in a deed as being in possession of lands between Cape Porpoise and Kennebunk rivers, and it was doubtless shortly before this date that the family moved to Maine from Newbury. In 1660 he was lot-layer for the town of Wells, which then embraced the territory now the town of Kennebunk, in which Chater lived, although the site of his house is unknown.

     In 1661 one of his servants, Thomas Latimer, ran away and was found drowned in the Saco river. The verdict of the jury impanelled to inquire into his death was that he was accidentally drowned through his own fault. That same year Chater was one of the petitioners for the reinstatement of Rev. Seth Fletcher.

     Called Lieut. Chater, which would indicate membership in the local train-band, he was, in 1662, appointed ferryman for the Mousam and Little rivers and was authorized to charge twelve pence for a man and a horse, except at low water, when the ferriage was to be at half price. In conjenction with the ferry he was authorized to keep an ordinary to meet the demands of travellers and had "liberty to draw one-third of a barrel of strong water which he had in his house" and to sell wine, beer and food. This was the first public house in the Kennebunk territory.

     The last record of his thus far found is as defendant in a suit for debt, brought by George Wheeler, in which he was represented by Mr. Harlackenden Symonds and lost.6
Additional Data
On 25 March 1651, John Emery deposed regarding steers in controversy between Nathaniel Weare and John Chater.7

Transcript of the court proceedings regarding Alice Chater and Daniel Gunn from Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County:
     Examination of Daniell Gun, taken Dec. 5, 1653: He was servant to John Chater who was weak and lying in bed, and about eighteen months since, his dame Alice, the wife of said Chater, came to his bedside and brought his victuals, etc., and said if her husband died he should be her husband. He criminally assaulted her, etc. Sworn in Ipswich court, Dec. 5, 1653.
     Alice, the wife of John Chater, was also examined and she confessed that she said she would marry Gun if her husband should die. Sworn in Ipswich court, Dec. 5, 1653, before Robert Lord, clerk.
     William Holdred and his wife Isebell testified that about the last of November they were at the house of John Chater of Newbery, by the fireside with said Chater's wife, she having formerly said that she knew something of Daniell Gun. Whereupon the deponents asked her what it was, as they wished to acquaint her husband who then lay in the same room sick in bed. Then Alice, John Chater's wife, went to her husband and confessed to him in an audible voice that when she carried beer or victuals to said Gun, who was sick or lame in bed, he assaulted her. Sworn in Ipswich court, Dec. 5, 1653. Copy of Ipswich court records of Feb. 9, 1653, attested by Robert Lord, [autograph] clerk.8
In March 1654 the "Wife of Will. Houldreg of Newbery [was presented] for unseemly carriage with John Chater" at Ipswich Quarterly Court.9

At Ipswich Quarterly Court in March 1655, "William Holdred's wife's presentment for unseemly carriages with John Chator, etc., referred to Mr. Symonds and Maj. Daniell Denison. Proved not to be lasciviousness, he being sick and she his only nurse, and her own husband present in the house. She was troubled with fits, and they found no censure on her."10 He

Ipswich Quarterly Court, September 1657: John Chattour to pay fees, etc.
     William Morse deposed about John Cheater and the value of the beast, appraised by Anthony Morse and Bengemine Sweate. Deponent persuaded Cheater to give the beast to Mistris Noice.
     William Trotter deposed that he was at work at Goodman Cheatter's with the latter's man, Francis Waker, and he asked Waker about the beast now in controversy with John Poore, being the same his master had earmarked the year before.
     Joseph Noyes (autograph) and Roberd (his mark) Saveri deposed that it was Mr. Noyes' steer. Sworn in Ipswich court, 19: 9: 1657.
     Peter Godfry (autograph) testified he went to look for a steer that was lost out of Mr. Noyse's herd and found it at John Cheter's with new earmarks. Sworn, 19: 9: 1657.
     Goodwife Barbara (her mark) Ilsly deposed that twelve months ago when John Chater brought a beast to his father Emery to be killed, etc.
     Frances (his mark) Waker deposed that his master Chater branded certain letters, etc.
     Nicholas (his mark) Browne, servant to John Chater, testified that the steer came to his master Chater's and he branded him. Sworn in Ipswich court, 19: 9: 1657.
     Alis, wife of John Chater, deposed.
     Nicolas Browne deposed before Francis Thorlla. (autograph)
     John Chater's two children deposed that the steer Mrs. Noyes had was one of five cattle brought from Rowly and at first they called him "Wild Rascol," but after he was marked, they called him "Matt." The beast John Pore had was called "Tiger." Deposed before John Emery, jr. (autograph)
     Steeven Webster, aged about twenty years, deposed.
     Mary Emerry deposed.
     Francis Walker deposed before Shubael Dummer (autograph) that the ox Goodman Poore had had no earmark in 1655, and the beast Mr. Noise had was three years old and as large as any his master had, except one of a Dutch breed.
     Nicholas Noyes (autograph) and Joseph Noyes (autograph) deposed. Sworn in Ipswich court, 19: 9: 1657.
in September 1657.11 Ipswich Court, May 1658: Town of Newbury, for want of "a lattin scoole," to pay five pounds to Ipswich Latin school, unless by the next court they provide a Latin schoolmaster according to law.
     Copy of town vote, Nov. 29, 1652, that a schoolhouse be built, and twenty pounds a year be paid for a schoolmaster, and Mr. Woodman, Richard Kent, jr., Lt. Pike and Nicholas Noyes be a committee to manage the business. At a town meeting held May 14, 1653(?), it was voted to levy a rate of 24li. yearly to maintain a free school to be kept at the meeting house, the master to teach all children sent to him as soon as they knew their letters and began to read. Copy made by Anthony Somerby. (autograph) The following dissented: Lt. John Pik, Richard Tharlay, Tho. Hale, Joseph Plumer, Joseph Muzzy, Sollom. Keyes, John Chater, John Roafe, John Woollcut, John Poore, Sam. Plumer, Dan. Thurston, John Emery, sr., John Emery, jr., Rich. Dole, Will. Ilsly and Lionell Worth.12
Salem Quarterly Court, June 1664: Georg Wheeler v. Jon. Chater. Debt. Verdict for plaintiff. Mr. Harlackendine Symonds appeared in court as surety for defendant and answered said action in his stead.
     Writ, dated May 2, 1664, signed by Jonath. Negus, (autograph) for the court, and served by Tho. Fitch, (autograph) constable of Boston.
     Harkakinden Symonds (autograph) was bound for John Chater's appearance.
     Bill of costs, 1li. 10d.
     Letter of attorney, dated May 30, 1664, given by George Wheeler (autograph and seal) of Newbury to Leift. John Pike. Wit: Anthony Somerby (autograph) and Rebecca Somerby. (autograph)
     John (his mark) Chatter of Newbary acknowledge a debt of 6li. to James Uselton of Newbery to be paid to Capt. Gerrish, in beef, pork or corn, dated May 10, 1660. Wit: Edward Woodman (autograph) and John Bartlett. (autograph).13
Salem Quarterly Court, November 1664: Execution, dated June 29, 1664, against John Chater to satisfy judgment granted George Wheeler at Salem court of June 27, 1664, signed by Hillyard Veren, (autograph) cleric, and served by John Pike, (autograph) deputy for Samuell Archard, (autograph) marshal of Salem.14

Children of John Chater and Alice Emery


  1. [S757] "John Emery", citing Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, 1636-1686, 9 volumes (Salem 1911-1975) 2:56; Sarah Miller Anc 15-17, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, online <>, printout dated 2002. Previously published in hard copy (Boston: NEHGS, 1995).
  2. [S759] Walter Goodwin Davis, "Chater," Massachusetts and Maine Families in the Ancestry of Walter Goodwin Davis (1885-1966): A Reprinting, in Alphabetical Order by Surname, of the Sixteen Multi-Ancestor Compendia (plus Thomas Haley of Winter Harbor and His Descendants) compiled by Maine's Foremost Genealogist, 1916-1963), (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1996), 1, 259.
  3. [S1065] Walter Goodwin Davis, The ancestry of Sarah Miller, 1755-1840 : wife of Lieut. Amos Towne of Arundel (Kennebunkport) Maine (Portland, Maine: Southworth-Anthoensen Press, 1939), 16-17.
  4. [S1065] Walter Goodwin Davis, Ancestry of Sarah Miller, 15.
  5. [S1065] Walter Goodwin Davis, Ancestry of Sarah Miller, 15-17, citing Records and Files, etc., I: 324-6; Records of the Governor and Council of Massachusetts Bay, IV: 193.
  6. [S1065] Walter Goodwin Davis, Ancestry of Sarah Miller, 15-17.
  7. [S757] TGMB John Emery, online, citing Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, 1636-1686, 9 volumes (Salem 1911-1975) 1:212.
  8. [S855] George Francis Dow, ed., Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, 9 vols. (Salem: Essex Institute, 1911-1973). Transcribed and Abstracted from the Original Manuscript by Harriet S. Tapley, I: 324-5.
  9. [S855] George Francis Dow, Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, I: 337.
  10. [S855] George Francis Dow, Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, I: 388.
  11. [S855] George Francis Dow, Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, II: 55-56.
  12. [S855] George Francis Dow, Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, II: 70.
  13. [S855] George Francis Dow, Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, III: 157.
  14. [S855] George Francis Dow, Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, III: 222.
  15. [S910] Walter Goodwin Davis, "Chater, of Newbury and Wells," Massachusetts and Maine Families in the Ancestry of Walter Goodwin Davis (1885-1966): A Reprinting in Alphabetical Order by Surname, of the Sixteen Multi-Ancestor Compendia, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1996), Vol. 1, 261, originally published in The Ancestry of Sarah Miller (1939).