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The Descendants of William Dudley

    We do not know William's birth date but some sources indicate he was born in 1608 in the town of Sheen, later Richmond, in County Surrey, England. His parents are sometimes reported to be David Dudley and Joanna Arnold. We have not yet confirmed this information. Nothing is known of Jane's birth or parentage, but she is said to have been "of Wyseborough Green". Guilford records indicate that the couple had four children. William, was born aboard the St. John on June 8, 1639; Joseph was born in Guilford, April 24, 1643; Ruth was born in Guilford April 20, 1645; and Deborah was born in Guilford, September 20, 1647. Two sources ascribe to them a fifth, unnamed child, but no records have been found to confirm this birth. No mention of a fifth child is made in William's will.
    There is very little of record concerning William and Jane although he was apparently a substantial member of the community. He was granted 3 3/4 acres of land on Petticoat Lane (now Fair Street) for a home lot in the first division of land. In subsequent divisions he was granted additional land and eventually accumulated holdings of about 150 acres in various parts of Guilford. William was a farmer and kept cows, horses, sheep, and oxen. Upon his death, his estate was valued at 345 pounds, 3 shillings, 5 pence, a considerable sum in 1684.
    Records reveal that he became a Freeman on June 30, 1650, at the same time as many others of the 25 original settlers. We have recently examined some old town records and find that William was elected and served as Townsman on three occasions, in 1653, 1656, and again in 1661. He was also chosen to "set out highway" as needed, to "set out grounds for the mill's use" and to set out fence for the young cattle. He also served as an appraiser of estates on several occasions. It has been claimed by some that he served as a representative to the General Court, but lists of those Deputies do not include his name and town meeting records do not reveal his ever having been elected to such a position. He may have been illiterate. His will drawn up on December 22, 1679 and a codicil, drawn up on July 25, 1683, were not signed, but marked and affirmed. His signature does appear on the Guilford compact, but one or two persons may have written it, like all the others. Similarities in the signatures leads one to this possible conclusion. If he were illiterate, it might explain why he never held public office as all Freeman were expected to do.
    William Dudley died in Guilford on March 16, 1684 following by ten years the death of his wife, Jane in Guilford on May 1, 1674.

This is a condensation of an article that was written for The Dudley Family Newsletter. For sources or further information or to learn how to subscribe to The Dudley Family Newsletter, E-mail Al Dudley.

This information was originally part of the wonderful Dudley page found at http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Woods/3951/Biography.html