Very little was documented for the life events of Dorcas Starbuck Gayer. As a result, assumption of her birth was dependent on the events of others in her life.
Dorcas Starbuck was documented on Nantucket on 29 June 1671 by witnessing a deed with the Native Americans in which she signed her maiden name. She likely married within a year or two of that date and had three children with her husband, William Gayer, all born on Nantucket, between 1673 and 1677. Their birth dates were 24 October 1673, 29 August 1675, and 3 June 1677. That placed the marriage of William Gayer and Dorcas Starbuck after June 1671 but prior to October 1673, likely at some point in 1672 or earlier. Torrey’s New England Marriages to 1700 stated Dorcas married William Gayer before 1673. That is as accurate as it is possible to get.
This was several years after the marriage of her closest older sibling, Abigail, which occurred about 1656. Although the children of Dorcas were born close together, making it appear she had no infertility problems, with only three children it was possible her fertility was impacted by her age, as she may have married later in life than usual.
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Jethro Starbuck’s only original record in New England was of his death on Nantucket on 27 May 1663. The entry in the handwritten vital records of Nantucket read: “Jethro the son of Edward Starbuck died the 27th of May 1663.” This entry may have been written some time after the event because the earliest handwritten vital records of Nantucket were in the same handwriting from 1662 to 1726 and appear to be in a style more common to the early 1700s. It may be a town clerk transcribed the earliest scraps of original records into a book and then continued the record.
The 1928 official printed publication of the town death records for Nantucket was compiled from various sources including the handwritten book. It stated, “STARBUCK, Jethro, s. Edward, May 27, 1663 [s. Edward and Catherine Reynolds, PR 38. 27th 5 mo. PR 63.] The town vital records were created by bringing various town and private family history records together. PR 38 is the private records kept by William C. Folger (1806-1891) which are in the hands of the Nantucket Historical Society. PR 63 is the private record of Isaac Coffin (1764-1862), judge of probate, which is at the Nantucket Atheneum. The compiled death entry gave neither cause of death nor age at death.
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