GENEALOGICAL and PERSONAL MEMOIRS
Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts
Prepared under the editorial supervision of William Richard CUTTER, A. M.
Historian of the New England Historic Genealogical Society; Librarian of Woburn Public Library; Authur of “The Cutter Family,” “History of Arlington,” “Bibliography of Woburn,” etc., etc.
Volume I.; Illustrated
New York; Lewis Historical Publishing Company; 1908
Many local characters in Essex county have been famous in their day and generation, and perhaps none more so at the time of the American Revolution than Hon. Timothy Pickering. He was born in Salem, July 17, 1745, and died in his native city, January 29, 1829. He was graduated from Harvard College in 1763, was admitted to the bar in 1768, received a degree from New Jersey College in 1798; commanded a militia regiment at the beginning of the Revolution, held the office of adjutant-general of the arm in 1777, and that of quartermaster-general in 1780. After the Revolutionary was he settled in Pennsylvania, and between 1791 and 1800 was postmaster-general of the United States, and secretary of war and secretary of state. He returned to Salem in 1801, and was afterwards chief justice of the Essex County court of common pleas, United States senator from 1803 to 1811, and a representative in Congress from 1815 to 1817. His portrait by Stuart, at the age of sixty-three, shows a man of a strong face, indicative of a firm will. He was the father of the famous scholar, John Pickering (1777-1846) author of the Greek and English Lexicon bearing his name. This was the first Greek lexicon with definitions in English, and not Latin.
Timothy Pickering was conspicuous for the force and dignity of his character. From 1774 when the first colonial legislature assembled in Salem, Pickering politically was at the centre of events that preceeded and included the Revolution. Eminent as he was in public life, he was but one in a group of professional and business men of rare ability and great attainments. He was associated in his native city with educated men who were not only familiar with affairs in their own country, but also were at home in foreign lands, having much of the culture gained by travel after the usual course of education was finished. They were not provincial in the narrow sense.
It is remembered of Timothy Pickering that he was near-sighted and wore glasses at a period in the history of the country when such articles were uncommon, and near-sighted people having no glasses were relegated to the limbo of old age and to the realms of premature uselessness. At home he was president of the county agricultural society and one of the school committee. About 1770 he published a manual of military tactics which he used in drill service before the breaking out of the following war and which he applied later in a critical way to the instructions of officers superior to him in rank as the war progressed. He published an exhaustive letter on the "Conduct of the American Government towards Great Britain and France," and a "Review of the Correspondence between President John Adams and W. Cunningham," besides other papers connected with his varied official service. The late George Bailey Loring says of him: "Colonel Pickering was not only governed by a high sense of duty throughout his long career, and by strong convictions, but he also expressed himself in a nervous, vigorous style, and in controversial correspondence was a most formidable foe. To no man is this country more indebted for its independent nationality and the strength of its institutions. He performed his service with such fearlessness and honesty that he was at times placed on the defensive; but he now stands in the front rank of the great and pure men of the Revolutionary and Constitutional period in our history. In a literary point of view, he has left for the imitation of those statesmen who come after him a clear and impressive style and great power of statement."
He is sometimes criticized for his marching from Salem, with his regiment of three hundred men, on April 19, 1775, in pursuit of the British troops retreating from Lexington, and failing to come up with them near Charlestown, from which he threatened to cut off their retreat. An observer on Prospect Hill, in present Somerville, saw Colonel Pickering's regiment on the top of Winter Hill, nearby and the enemy being very near in Charlestown road. And Washington wrote: "For they (the British) had not arrived in Charlestown, under cover of their ships, half an hour, before a powerful body of men from Marblehead and Salem was at their heels, and must, if they had happened to be up one hour sooner, inevitably have intercepted their retreat to Charlestown." *
ANCESTRY — John Pickering (I), born in England, about 1615, died in Salem, Massachusetts, 1657, married, about 1636, Elizabeth _____; she married second, December 25, 1657, John Deacon, and died August 8, 1662. According to the Aspinwall Notarial Records, under date of 1650, John Pickering of Salem owned a house near the Negate in Coventry, county Warwick, England, which leads to the belief that he came from there or near there. Children: 1. John; see forward. 2. Jonathan; died 1729, married March 19, 1665, Jane Cromwell. 3. Elizabeth, baptized March 3, 1644, died young. 4. Elizabeth, baptized August 31, 1645, died young.
II)John Pickering, son of John Pickering (I), born at Salem, Massachusetts, 1637, died May 5, 1694, married Alice (Flint) Bullock, widow of Henry Bullock, Junior, and daughter of William and Alice Flint. He was a lieutenant in Captain Samuel Appleton’s company in 1675-6, and under Captain Moseley went to the rescue of Captain Lathrop’s company at Bloody Brook, 1675. Children: 1. John, born 1658, see forward. 2. Jonathan, born September 27, 1660, died young. 3. Joseph, born September 9, 1663, died young. 4. Benjamin, born January 15, 1665-6, died 1718, married April 27, 1693, Jane Hobby. 5. Sarah, born September 7, 1668, died before 1692, married John Buttolph. 6. Edward, birth unrecorded. 7. William, born January 11, 1670-1; married June 19, 1695, Hannah Browne. 8. Elizabeth, born September 7, 1674; married first, before 1696, Samuel Nichols; married second, February 22, 1698-9, James Browne. 9. Hannah, born July 2, 1677, died before July 29, 1714; married first, Daniel King; married second, 1701, Nathaniel Beadle; married third, October 29, 1706, Richard Palmer.
III)John Pickering, son of John Pickering (2), born at Salem, Massachusetts, September 10, 1658, died there June 19, 1722; married June 14, 1683, Sarah Burrell, born May 16, 1661, died December 27, 1747, daughter of John and Lois (Ivory) Burrell, of Lynn, Massachusetts. Children: Lois, born May 1, 1684; died February 12, 1754; married April 17, 1709, Timothy Orne. 2. Sarah, born July 25, 1686; died December 20, 1744; married July 17, 1707, Joseph Hardy. 3. John, born October 28, 1688; died September 10, 1712. 4. Mary, born May 11, 1691; died July 8, 1702. 5. Ruth, born October 10, 1693; died July 27, 1702. 6. Joseph, born November 29, 1695; died July 22, 1702. 7. Lydia, born March 17, 1698; died October 10, 1702. 8. Theophilus, born September 28, 1700; died October 7, 1747. 9. Timothy, born February 10, 1702-3; see forward. 10. Eunice, born October 3, 1705; died October 8, 1783; married first, December 10, 1724, Joseph Neal, married second, April 6, 1738, William Pickering.
IV)Timothy Pickering, son of John Pickering (3), born at Salem, Massachusetts, baptized February 14, 1702-3, died there, June 7, 1778, married November 21, 1728, Mary Wingate, born at Hampton, New Hampshire, June 14, 1708, died at Salem, Massachusetts, December 12, 1784, daughter of Colonel Joshua and Mary (Lunt) Wingate. Children: 1. Sarah, born January 28, 1730, died November 21, 1826; married John Clarke. 2. Mary, born March 29, 1733; died January 30, 1805. 3. Lydia, born February 27, 1736; died October 21, 1824; married March 15, 1758, George Williams. 4. Elizabeth, born November 12, 1737; died October 12, 1823; married November 7, 1757, John Gardner. 5. John, born March 2, 1740; died August 20, 1811. 6. Lois, born April 19, 1742; died February 4, 1815; married 1772, John Gooll. 7. Eunice, born April 19, 1742; died January 14, 1843, in her one hundred and first year; married May 23, 1765, her cousin, Paine Wingate, who died in his one hundredth year. 8. Timothy, born July 6, 1745; see forward. 9. Lucia, born November 12, 1747; died October 31, 1822; married June 17, 1776, Israel Dodge.
V)Colonel Timothy Pickering, son of Timothy Pickering (4), born at Salem, Massachusetts, July 6, 1745; died there, January 29, 1829; married April 8, 1776, Rebecca White, born at Bristol, England, July 18, 1754, died at Salem, Massachusetts, August 14, 1828, daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Miller) White. Children: 1. John, born February 2, 1777; died May 5, 1846; married March 3, 1805, Sarah White. 2. Timothy, born October 1, 1779; died May 14, 1807; married December 29, 1804, Lurena Cole. 3. Henry, born October 8, 1781; died May 8, 1838. 4. Charles, born May 25, 1784; died May 12, 1796. 5. William, born February 16, 1786; died June 16, 1814. 6. Edward, born September 12, 1787; died October 10, 1793. 7. George, born August 7, 1789, died April 23, 1826. 8. Octavius, born September 2, 1791; died October 29, 1868; married December 29, 1836, Jane Pratt. 9. Mary, born November 21, 1793; died March 22, 1863; married April 12, 1813, Benjamin Ropes Nichols. 10. Elizabeth, born November 21, 1793; died August 11, 1819; married August 12, 1816, Hammond Dorsey.
* On February 13, 1775, he was elected colonel of the First Regiment of Essex county militia, and received his commission from the royal government. He held this office sometime after he had joined the army of the United States in 1777. It is generally understood that he was present at the North Bridge when Colonel Leslie attempted to capture the cannon that were stored on the North Field, Salem; and the accounts of the affair printed in the “Essex Gazette” have been attributed to him.
April 19, 1775, he led his regiment to assist the colonists on that eventful day, but arrived too late. The affray at Lexington had already taken place, and the British were on their return to Boston, when Colonel Pickering and his men reached Medford. Colonel Pickering’s behavior on this occasion has been the subject of adverse criticism; but a careful inquiry into the facts shows clearly that his conduct was all that could be desired from a brave and careful officer. December 5, 1776, he collected a regiment of seven hundred men, who marched under his command, and went through the campaign in New York and New Jersey. The campaign ended April 1, 1777.
Colonel Pickering’s reputation and his frequent visits at headquarters made so favorable impression on General Washington that he wrote him an urgent letter dated March 30, 1777, offering him the post of adjutant-general, which he declined at first, but afterwards accepted.