James Pattison/Paterson/Patterson, Native of Scotland

Added: 11 Feb 2014
Submitted by Patrick Patterson – patrickpatterson1948@yahoo.com

James Pattison Biography

Constructed from the Genealogy of the Patterson Family by D. Williams Patterson [1824-1892][1] of Newark Valley, NY and my rough research notes.

James Patterson was a native of Scotland, and was born about 1633.  He was one of the prisoners of ware taken by Cromwell, probably at the battle of Worcester, 3 September 1651.  These prisoners were sold as bond-servants by the English government and a large number of them were sent to New England in the ship “John and Sarah,” of London, Captain John Green, master: they embarked 6 November 1651, probably sailed 14 November 1651, and arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, probably early in the following May, as on 13 May 1652, the list of servants sent on board the ship was recorded in Boston.  In 1658 he was a resident of Billerica, Massachusetts [a small village 20 miles north northwest of Boston], as he then received a grant of land from that town.  Between 1658 and 1685 he received sixteen different grants of land from the town of Billerica.  In 1651 his name appears upon the town records in a vote of proprietors.  He married 29 May 1662, Rebecca Stevenson, before “Thomas Danforth, Esq.” She was the daughter of Andrew Stevenson of Cambridge, and was born about 1642.

“At a meeting of Selectmen & Committee of Militia held October 8, 1675, In pursuance of an order from the Hon. Council sent unto them,” twelve garrisons were formed in Billerica.  They appoint James Patersons house for garrison and to entertain John Baldwin, Edward & Thomas Farmer, Henery & John Jeffts & two soldiers.  8 soldiers & 4 families.”  He was admitted freeman 18 April 1690.  His will was dated 12 May 1701, and he died in Billerica 14 July 1701, aged about sixty-eight years, according to the town records, but his inventory states that he died 14 June 1701.  He had eight children, Mary Patterson [4666-1688-9]; James Patterson [1668-9-1677]; Andrew Patterson [1672-aft. 1707]; John Patterson [1675-unknown]; Joseph Patterson [1677-8- abt. 1736-7]; Rebecca Patterson [1680-1683]; James Patterson [1683-aft. 1735]; and Jonathan Patterson [1685-6-1718].

The spelling of James Patterson is found in various forms in the early history of the American Colonies.  The first reference I located listed James Pattison [a common derivation of the Patterson/Paterson name][2] was in a list of passengers aboard the English ship John & Sara departing London approximately 11 November 1651 and arriving in Boston early in 1652 [probably May 1652].  James Patterson was one of approximately 272 prisoners onboard the John & Sara that were captured by Oliver Cromwell’s forces during the Battle of Worcester, England 3 Sept 1651.  That battle ended the English Civil War and the prisoners were not treated well as a result of the loyalty to King Charles II and their treason to the English king.  Following their capture many of the prisoners who survived the march to London and their brief imprisonment there, were sold as indentured laborers and sent to the new colonies in North America, Bermuda, and the West Indies as well as Ireland.[3] The John & Sara was the second ship transporting prisoners from the Battle of Worcester [1651] and the Battle of Dunbar [1650] to Boston.  The first ship, the Unity, containing approximately 150 prisoners departed England shortly after receiving their sailing orders 11 Nov 1650.  Many of these men were taken to work locations throughout New England.[4]  When captured and sold into servitude, James Pattison was merely nineteen or twenty years of age.  I am sure none of the men who fought with James Pattison at Worcester ever expected to see London let alone ending up in a strange new land just being developed in the Americas.  It must have been like going to the moon in the 1650s in terms of the hostile nature of their new environment in new world.

There were two individuals on board the John & Sara using the names James Pattison and David Patterson.  There were no other Patterson name derivations listed in this ship’s manifest or the ship that preceded them from London.[5]  He is later referred to as James Patterson in various publications, as well as the spelling Paterson[6] in his death record 14 July 1700.[7]  Massachusetts marriage records of James Paterson and Rebecca Stevenson spell the name Paterson[8] and Henry Hazen’s publication on the history of Billerica, Massachusetts [a small village in Middlesex County, MA about 20 miles north-northwest of Boston] spells the name Paterson and Patterson referring to the same individual at different locations in the book.[9] It is fairly clear from the reading of Hazen’s history of Billerica, MA, there is probably only one James Patterson there during the early years of the New England colony, and he figured prominently in the history of Billerica.  It is also clear this individual was sold into servitude and arrived in Boston at the end of 1651 to early 1652.  I will use the spelling Patterson from this point further in that the spelling of the descendants were consistent from 1700 on, unless written records are specific.

At present I am uncertain to who James Patterson was bonded to once he reached Massachusetts, the manifest only noted the prisoners were to be delivered to a Thomas Kemble of Boston/Charlestown, MA for disposition.  The term or servitude was probably around seven years.  I am also not able to determine the family he descended from in Scotland.


[1] D. Williams Patterson, “The Patterson Family Descended from James Patterson of Scotland,”  (Newark Valley, Tioga Co., NY: 1906).

[2] Robert D. McLaren, “Who Are Your Patterson?,” Clan MacLaren Society of North America, http://www.clanmaclarenna.org/articles/surnames-patterson.htm.

[3] Trevor Royle, The British Civil War: The Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660 (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2004).

[4] “Scots Prisoners and Their Relocation to the Colonies, 1650-1654,” Geni.com, http://www.geni.com/projects/Scots-Prisoners-and-their-Relocation-to-the-Colonies-1650-1654/3465.

[5] Ibid, Diane Rapaport, “Scots for Sale: The Fate of the Scottish Prisoners in 17th Century Massachusetts,” New England Historic Genealogical Society, http://www.americanancestors.org/scots-for-sale/.

[6] Elizabeth May Leach Rixford, “Decendants of James Patterson,” in Three Hundred Colonial Ancestors and War Service: Their Part in Making American History from 495 to 1934 (New England: Tutle Company, 1934).

[7] “Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, Billerica Deaths, P. 382 for James Paterson ”  (Ancestry.com).

[8] “Massachusetts Marriages 1695-1910,” FamilySearch, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FH7F-72G.

[9] Henry A. Hazen, The History of Billerica, Massachusetts, with Genealogical Register (Boston: A. Williams & Co., 1883).

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2 Responses to James Pattison/Paterson/Patterson, Native of Scotland

  1. Theresa, I am completing a manuscript on the descendants of James Paterson [John & Sara Prisoner] and would like to publish it somewhere. It covers the descendants to present day including notes on those who participated in the various Indian wars, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the US Civil War, WWI and WWII. After editing I would like to publish, any ideas?

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