Life Events of Sarah Starbuck Austin Varney

A possible baptism was found for Sarah Starbuck in the parish of Derby St. Peter in 1631.[1] This parish borders the one in which a possible baptism was found for her father, Edward. A baptism in 1631 made 1648-1652 a reasonable time frame for Sarah’s first marriage. There is no marriage record for Sarah and Joseph Austin, but the birth of their first child, Deborah, indicated a marriage around 1649.[2]

Most of the confusion regarding Sarah comes from mistakes made in various family histories. Sometimes she was labeled Esther Starbuck and other times the fictional Esther was named as her sister. One of the most common mistakes was making “Esther” the wife of William Storer/Story. No proof of an Esther Starbuck has been found in records made on the Starbuck family in the 1600s. Each of Edward’s children had several documented records made within his or her lifetime, but no records exist for an Esther except in histories compiled by later researchers.

Sarah Starbuck did not, at any time, marry William Storer/Story. Sarah married (1) Joseph Austin about 1649.[3] Joseph Austin’s will was written 25 Jan 1662/3, and his widow was appointed executor 1 July 1663, therefore Sarah Starbuck Austin was still a widow as of July 1663.[4]

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Life Events of Nathaniel Starbuck

Nathaniel’s first appearance in Dover’s town records was a land grant from the town of Dover which added to the land his father had already given him, making a total of 200 acres for him in Dover. The date for the event was given only as 1656, which wasn’t recorded until 22 December 1658 in the town records.[1] Although parents could deed or bequeath land to a child at any age, according to English law at that time, that child could not do anything with the land until the age of twenty-one without parental/guardian consent.[2] Because of that, towns were unlikely to grant a patent or permission for land use to anyone under the age of twenty-one. Nathaniel also appeared in the Dover tax records on 21 July 1657, an indication he had taxable property by then and was accountable for it.[3] These records would indicate Nathaniel was born in the mid-1630s.

Nathaniel’s, and his sister Abigail’s, first appearance in the New Hampshire State Papers was as witnesses to their parents’ sale of land to Peter Coffin on 20 July 1653.[4] There was no specific age or gender requirement for being a witness, but common sense made it unlikely a very young child would perform that task. Both signed with an X, but neither the marks nor the witnessing was an indication of age.

Nathaniel was deposed in court on 27 June 1661 concerning a statement made by William Furber three or four years previously about ownership of a parcel of Furber’s land.[5] In the deposition, the Nathaniel Starbuck was described as, “ageged about twenty-five years,” placing his birth about 1636 or shortly before.

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Life Events of Abigail Starbuck Coffin

No baptism record was found for Abigail Starbuck in England or New England. Abigail first appeared in a public record with Nathaniel, her brother, in a 20 July 1653 deed.[1] She and her brother, Nathaniel, were witnesses to their parents’ sale of land to Peter Coffin. There was no specific age or gender requirement for being a witness, but common sense made it unlikely a very young child would perform that task. Both signed with an X, but that was not an indication of age.

Abigail’s marriage to Peter Coffin was not recorded in any vital record. Torrey’s book on New England marriages prior to 1700 listed the possible years of 1655 and 1657 with three possible locations: Dover, New Hampshire; Salisbury, Massachusetts; and Exeter, New Hampshire.[2] The sources used by Torrey to arrive at those conclusions included the following:

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Life Events of Dorcas Starbuck Gayer

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.[1] 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.[2]  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.[3] 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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Life Events of Jethro Starbuck

Jethro Starbuck’s only original record in New England was of his death on Nantucket on 27 May 1663.[1] 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.][2] 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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