Reverend William Bentley of Salem, Massachusetts
portrait by Frothingham at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem
Last Monday I wrote about Reverend William Bentley of Salem, Massachusetts and his eleven volume diary. I wrote about how he mentioned my 5x great grandparents, Mary Gardner and Abijah Hitchings, several times in his diary. Abijah was also married to Mary's sister, Sarah. In Rev. Bentley's diary I also found several mentions of Benjamin Gardner, my 6x great grandfather and father to Mary and Sarah.
Benjamin Gardner is a mystery to me. There are many Gardners in Salem, and too many Benjamin Gardners. I have not been able to ascertain his parents or lineage, but the following lines in the Bentley diary gave me hope: "June 7 1797, Died this morning suddenly, Mr. Benjamin Gardner, Ropemaker. He had within a week moved in with his daughter Hitchins, feeling infimities which took him in his labours. He was born in Boston. At the commencement of the war he removed to Marblehead where he married his second wife and thence removed to Salem. This second wife died 6 apr 1787 and since this time he has lived with the widow Hawkes. He lived upon terms of intimate friendship with Mr. Josiah Gaines who died 18 May 1796. He was industrious to the close of his life and had never known sickness. He was in his 77th year. He was a most worthy, consistant and industrious man. I loved him and visted him often. He was married in 1751. His wife died in Salem in 1781. He married again on Nov., 1782 in Salem."
This was thrilling to me! Obviously my ancestor was a great friend and companion of the Reverend Bentley. I hoped to find out more genealogical information by searching the entire diary and every volume. Unfortunately, although there were many references to Benjamin Gardner, there was not much genealogy in the diary. However, I learned many details about my ancestor's life, including a migration trail from Boston to Marblehead to Salem. I've been exploring the clues of ropemaker in Boston for several years- no news yet!
"April 6, 1787, Mrs. Gardner seemed in a decay, tho without any expectoration, was delirious for about six months, had dropsical complaints, upon the whole however died in a decay, which might be called consumption."
from Vol. 1, page 59
"15 April 1787. Benj. Gardner and children, d. of a wife" [his second wife Mary Briers died on 6 April 1787 in Salem "former husbands were Ferguson and Bassett", ( Salem, MA VR)]
from the "Record of the Parish List of Deaths 1785-1819" by Rev. Bentley
"#49. Apr. 6. Mary, wife of Benj. Gardner, aet. 56. Consumption. She was named Briers; her parents are living in Marblehed; former husbands were Ferguson and Basset (living two daughters by the first)." [I have since found out more on Mary Briers, including her parents, lineage and chidren, thank you Rev. Bentley!]
from Vol 1, page 176
"27 sep 1789- Benja. Gardiner and children, death of a brother at Boston." [I have since found a Thomas Gardner died in Boston 22 September 1789 (Boston Deaths 1700-1799)]
also by Rev. Bentley and Ira Patch "Record of the Parish List of Deaths. 1785-1819"
"June 7 1797, Benjamin Gardner, Dropsey aet 77., 1st marriage forty years, 2nd marriage 5 years, a son and daughter Hitchins survive by first wife, He was of Boston, married 1751, Lived and married in Marblehead 2nd time, there two years. Thence to Salem, here twenty years, See Day Book. "
The Diary of William Bentley, D. D. By William Bentley, Joseph Gilbert Waters, Marguerite Dalrymple, Alice G. Waters, Essex Institute, Salem, MA.
Dr. Bentley's Salem: Diary of a Town, by the Essex Institute, Salem, MA 1977.
Record of the Parish List of Deaths 1785-1819, by Rev. William Bentley and Ira Patch, Essex Institute, Salem, MA 1882.
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo