April 6, 2018

Pages 4230
Whole Number 164


by Russell E. Bidlack

The town within Essex County which adjoins the town of Ipswich on the north is Rowley; it was organized in 1639. There are three entries in the surviving Rowley town records that pertain to a John Sparks there. It is possible, but this writer believes unlikely, that this John Sparks of Rowley could have been the son of John Sparks, the innkeeper of Ipswich, and who was recorded there as having been born in 1678.

The Rowley vital records to 1849 have been published, and the following Sparks references are found on pages 198 and 521.

In the church records of Rowley there is a record of the baptism of a Thomas Sparks on September 12, 1731, who was identified there as a son of a John Sparks. There is also a record of the death of the wife of John Sparks of Row- ley on May 27, 1744, but her given name was not recorded. The third Sparks record from Rowley is that of the death of John Sparks on May 28, 1751, to which the town clerk added "aged about 80 years." This would place the birth of John Sparks of Rowley as ca. 1671, although aged people at that time were often thought to be older than they actually were.

While, as noted above, it is possible that John Sparks of Rowley was the John born in Ipswich in September 1678, which would mean he was in his seventy- second year in May 1751, we must still question why, if he were living in nearby Rowley, he had not been mentioned, as were his surviving siblings, in the will of his uncle, John Roper, in 1709, or in that of his mother, Mary Sparks, in 1711.

Note should also be made that among the vital records of Ipswich there is the record of a "marriage intention" between a John Sparks, called a "resident of Ipswich," and a Mary Crumbee of Bradford, dated March 24, 1732. Bradford, which had been founded in 1675, was a town in Essex County, and it was probably there that the actual marriage took place. This could have been the John Sparks who died in Rowley in 1751. If so, however, it would doubtless have been a second marriage, since a son, Thomas, had been born September 12, 1731, as noted above.