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Jonathan Dunham (Shingleterry or Singletary)

Jonathan Dunham (Shingleterry or Singletary)

Posted: 1134411201000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1165267814000
Surnames: Dunham, Bloomfield, Rosse, Singletary
Researchers of Jonathan Dunham, alias Singletary, may be interested in the article "The Strange Case of Mary Rosse and her Enthusiastical Power" by Diane Rapaport in the latest issue of New England Ancestors, Holiday 2005, Vol. 6, nos. 5-6, pp. 50-51. Published by the New England Historic and Genealogical Society.

The article tells of the court case in 1683 involving Jonathan Dunham, alies "Shingleterry" or Singletary, a married man, and his young female consort, who terrorized a local family in a brutal home invasion. Jonathan did return to his wife, Mary Bloomfield, but deeded his house to Mary Rosse, "his young female consort."

Very interesting article for any descendants.

Marjean Holmes Workman

Re: Jonathan Dunham (Shingleterry or Singletary)

Posted: 1151629383000
Classification: Query

Researchers of Jonathan Dunham, alias Singletary, may be interested in the article "The Strange Case of Mary Rosse and her Enthusiastical Power" by Diane Rapaport in the latest issue of New England Ancestors, Holiday 2005, Vol. 6, nos. 5-6, pp. 50-51. Published by the New England Historic and Genealogical Society.

The article tells of the court case in 1683 involving Jonathan Dunham, alias "Shingleterry" or Singletary, a married man, and his young female consort, who terrorized a local family in a brutal home invasion. Jonathan did return to his wife, Mary Bloomfield, but deeded his house to Mary Rosse, "his young female consort."

Re: Jonathan Dunham (Shingleterry or Singletary)

Rick Waggener (View posts)
Posted: 1151632395000
Classification: Query
I don't know if this will fit in a message, but I'll try to cut and paste the notes I have put together for Jonathan. I have not seen the article you mentioned, but I have a transcription of most of the record it apparently refers to.

Rick Waggener


The story of Jonathan Dunham alias Singletary is a complicated one. There is a lot of information available concerning him, but it appears that there is also much that is unknown. What is known has been the subject of a range of speculation and different interpretations. There is no question that he was a prominent man, who was held in high esteem by many for much of his life. Some of the records are very harsh and critical of Jonathan and his actions, and they have led to the speculation that there were two very different sides to him and his life. My personal interpretation is that it is doubtful that he was a "dual personality" as has been speculated. It seems much more likely to me that he was a forceful and prominent personality, who was deeply involved in the political and religious dynamics of his time, and who was seen as very controversial by his detractors. There is evidence that he was involved with the Quakers, who at the time were seen as bizarre by the Puritans and were persecuted by them. It seems very possible that this is the root cause of much if not all of his controversy.

The records show that he was born as Jonathan Singletary on January 17, 1639/40, in Salisbury, Essex County, Massachusetts. His father was Richard Singletary and apparently his mother was Susanna Cooke. There is speculation that he might have been the child of an earlier and at this point unknown wife of Richard. What is known is that after he moved with his wife's family to Woodbridge, New Jersey, he started calling himself Jonathan Dunham alias Singletary. The speculation about his mother is that perhaps her name was Dunham, and Jonathan began to use it in deference to her. It has also been speculated that he changed his name to flee from or in some way hide from his controversial past in Massachusetts. The biggest problem with this explanation is that he doesn't seem to have broken his ties with Massachusetts and he does not seem to have made any effort to lose the Singletary name completely. In many records, he and his family members identified themselves as Dunham alias Singletary.

Another explanation came from an interesting story, which has been passed down through the family for many years, and which I mentioned in the notes of Jonathan's father, Richard Singletary. The story is that Richard Singletary was actually a son and heir of the House of Dunham in England. There were apparently two branches of the Dunham family and Richard was reportedly the last male heir of the older branch. Reportedly, if he were to die, the title and estates would pass to the nearest relative in the younger branch. According to what was told by Richard's former nanny on her deathbed, she was hired to murder the child, but could not bring herself to do it. She said that instead she took the child on an arduous trip on a ship to America, and that she left the child there with the Captain of the ship, and she returned to England. She stated that because the child was alone and separated from all family ties, she had given him the name of 'Single-Tarry.' Reportedly the Captain adopted Richard and kept the name the nanny had given him. The conclusion of the story is that Jonathan reverted to the name of Dunham because he felt that this was his true family name.

Jonathan grew up in Essex County, Massachusetts, which is where he met and married Mary Bloomfield, daughter of Thomas and Mary Bloomfield. The date of their marriage is apparently not known, but it must have been before 1662. There is a record in that year of Jonathan's parents conveying a piece of land to Mary, identified as the wife of Jonathan. It was about that time that Jonathan seems to have been involved in his first controversy. He was apparently drawn into in a series of legal disputes with a John Godfrey. At one point he was jailed for a time and at another point he reportedly accused Godfrey of witchcraft.

Sometime around 1665, Jonathan and Mary left Essex County, Massachusetts and relocated to Woodbridge, Middlesex County, New Jersey, apparently with Mary's parents. It is not clear why they did this, but apparently Thomas Bloomfield was one of a number of prominent men invited to emigrate there by the newly appointed Governor of New Jersey. As noted above, with this move Jonathan began to call himself Jonathan Dunham alias Singletary.

Jonathan became a prominent citizen in Woodbridge. In 1670 "Jonathan Dunham, alias Singletary, and Mary his wife, formerly of Hauesall in ye Massachusetts colony" are given a 213 acre grant of land in consideration of Jonathan building the first grist mill in Woodbridge Township. He later acquired a number of other tracts of land also. The old mill that he built was apparently used for many generations and was reportedly still standing in 1870. The millstone itself is still in existence, and can be seen on display at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Woodbridge, New Jersey. The house that Jonathan built in 1671, adjacent to the mill, was reportedly built of brick from Holland that was used a ballast in ships. Although it has apparently been significantly refurbished, it is still standing. It currently serves as the Rectory of the same Trinity Episcopal Church. In 1671 Jonathan was listed as acting as the foreman of a jury, and also as the overseer of the highways. In 1673 he was elected as member in the New Jersey Assembly. In 1675 he served as the Clerk of the Township Court.

As mentioned above there are some controversial and somewhat disturbing records concerning Jonathan. In 1677 he was called a "mad man" by the Council of War for the Achter Colony and apparently punished in some manner. Later that same year he was arrested for removing goods from Governor Phillip Careret's house and he was condemned for the act. There were a couple of stories from about 1681 involving Jonathan and apparently several Quakers, which were recorded by Cotton Mathers about 20 years later. The first apparently took place in Long Island, New York and involved Jonathan and a group of Quakers, one of whom was brutally and mysteriously murdered. The second apparently occurred in Plymouth, Massachusetts and involved Jonathan and a couple Quaker women, including a Mary Ross. They reportedly engaged in some bizarre behavior, including the killing of a dog. There is a Court record from Plymouth from 1683, which apparently concerns this later incident. Jonathan was condemned by the Court for his actions, and ordered to be publicly whipped and to leave town.

It is hard to make sense of these controversial records, particularly in light of all the good things that Jonathan seemed to have been involved in during this period. A number of researchers have reported the derogatory statements made against Jonathan as if they were completely objective reports, and then filled in the blanks with what amounts to conjecture. In all likelihood there is a great deal of bias and prejudice in these records, and there is much that is unknown about them. I think that there could be a political explanation for the earlier incident and a religious explanation for the later one. It was suggested that Jonathan left Woodridge and abandoned his family as a result of the problems from 1677, and that he later became involved with the Mary Ross in some very inappropriate way. There is nothing to support this. In a document from 1689, Jonathan writes, "being frequently abroad in parts remote." It seems clear that whether it was for business, religious, or personal reasons, Jonathan seems to have traveled between New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. In 1702 he was given the power of attorney to dispose of the lands given him by his parents in Massachusetts. This seems to indicate that despite the problems he had there, he still maintained ties. There is nothing to support that he ever abandoned his family and responsibilities in Woodbridge. The same Mary Ross from the incident in Plymouth, was in Woodridge in 1689, and involved in some sort of legal transaction with both Jonathan and his wife Mary. The fact is the dynamics of these events and relationships are not at all clear from the information that is available.

Jonathan's wife Mary reportedly died in Woodbridge in 1705. Jonathan is reported to have lived there another 18 years. He was involved in several more land transactions in 1717, 1720, and 1721. I am not aware of any record of his death, but there was document dated April 24, 1724, in which his son Jonathan noted that his father Jonathan Dunham had lately deceased. Reportedly Jonathan is buried near his house in Woodbridge.

Oliver B. Leonard reports that a Woodridge historian named Mr. Dally, wrote of Jonathan, "This Dunham was a man of great energy. When he determined upon an enterprise he pushed it forward to success with indomitable perseverance. So many of his relatives settled in the north of the Kirk Green that the neighborhood was known as Dunhamtown for many years."


Some of the records concerning Jonathan:

****** 1661 [Ref: Bond April 6, 1600] John Godfrey sued Edward Clark in Essex Court; jury found in favor of Godfrey; March 17, 1661/2 Godfrey assigned bond to Jonathan Singletary and in Salisbury Court 8 Apr. 1662 Jonathan Singletary assignee of John Godfrey vs. Ed. Clarke on debt of 21 bushels of corn. Godfrey then turns around and sues Jonathan Singletary in Nov. 1662 Salem court. JS [Jonathan Singletary] ordered to give security. JS was jailed for debt and in March 1663 sued John Godfrey Thomas Bloomfield had offered land as satisfaction of the debt while JS in prison but Godfrey declined. A jury finally found for JS but ruled he had to "save harmless from Edward Clarke for his bond." JS apparently accused Godfrey of witchcraft and on 30 June 1663 Godfrey again sued JS. This was the source of the story of JS hearing "a greate noyese as of maney Catts..." Their animous continued and Godfrey again sued JS in 1664....(from Pat Junkin)

****** 1662 Richard Singletary and wife Susan convey to Mary, wife of Jonathan of Haverhill 150 acres bounded by Theophilous Satchwell (from Pat Junkin)

****** 1663 Jonathan Singletary and Edward Clarke witness the will of Theophylus Satchwell (from Pat Junkin)

****** 1665 JS testifies about a fence in Haverhill (from Pat Junkin)

****** 1670/1 grant of land of 210 acres on the Pasaic River made to Jonathan Dunham alias Singletary in Woodbridge if he is to build a grist mill

****** December 28, 1671; Return of Survey by Robert Vauquellin, Surveyor General, of land for Jonathan Donham of Woodbridge (N.J. Arch.21:19).

****** August 10, 1672; patent. The Lords Proprietors to Jonathan Donham of Woodbridge carpenter for: 1) a houselot of 9 acres E. of the Meeting House Green; 2) 8 acres W. of the parsonage lands, N. of Thomas Lenard; 3) 120 acres of upland N. of Wilyam Cotter; 4) 36 acres of meadows not yet laid out (ibid.).

****** 7 June 1673 Thomas Bloomfield and Jonathan Dunham were elected Representatives to the General Assembly for Woodbridge with Samuel Dennis for the year 1675. (N.J. Arch., 21:34; NYGBR, 68:58, "Thomas Bloomfield of Woodbridge, N.J., and Some of his Descendants," by William Jones.)

****** July 20, 1673 Deed. Stephen Kent junior of Woodbridge to Jonathan Dunham alias Singleterry of the same place, for part of his homelot on Papyack Creek, adjoining grantee, S. of the road to grantee's mill, 2 acres on the Northside of said road a. more (N.J. Arch., 21:277).

***** On February 1, 1674/5; Jonathan Dunham was named on of the executors of the will or Obediah Winter, alias Grabum, of Woodbridge (N.J. Arch., 21:37).

***** Jonathan Singletary, with Robert Lapriere, was arrested on September 7, 1677 by Sheriff John Ogden for removing goods from Governor Phillip Carteret's house and was condemned for the act. On July 16 preceding he had been ordered by the Council of War for Achter Colony to pay five pounds costs and punished as a mad-man. The Council consisted of Capt. Benajah Dunham of Piscataway and John Pike of Woodbridge, etc. (Dunham, p. 42.)

****** 1679 Jonathan Dunham and Samuel Dennis took inventory of estate of Thomas Bloomfield (from Pat Junkin)

****** November 1681; Jonathan is listed in the following excerpted account: Cotton Mather's 'Magnalia Christi Americana" pub. 1702, in Book VII p. 25 under Chapter IV. These are events passed on to Mather second hand and apparently recorded by him about 20 years later.

The chapter heading is: "Ignes Fatui: or, The Molestations given to the Churches of New England by that Old Sect of People called Quakers. And some uncomfortable occurrents relating to a Sect of Other and Better People" p. 25

"I will give my Reader the Entertainment of Two or Three very well attested Stories, and then ask his leave to have done with a Generation which it can be no great Satisfaction to meddle with.

About the beginning of November, 1681 a Man whose Name was Denham, with Two Women, all belonging to Case's Crew, went unto Southold upon Long-Island, where they met with one Samuel Banks of Fairfield, the mose Blasphemous Wretch in the World. These joining together with some others of their Bran at Southold, went into the company of one Thomas Harris, a Young Merchant of Boston, who had before this been a little inclining to the Quakers; and they fell to Dancing and Singing after their Devilish manner about him. After some time, Thomas Harris fell to Dancing and Singing like them, and speaking of Extra ordinary Raptures, and calling those Devils that were not of this Religion, and a perfect Imitation of all their Devilism. When he had shown these Tokens of Conversion, as they accounted it, they solomnly admitted him into their Society, and one of them thereupon promised him, Henceforward thy Tongue shall be as the Pen of a ready Writer, to declare the Praises of our Lord.

The Young Man, who before this was of a compos'd Behaviour, now ran about with an odd Note of Joy! Joy! Joy! And called them Devils that any way opposed him, and said, (more than he intended) that his own Father was a Devil! Quickly after this, going to Lodge at a Farm not far off, where dwelt a Quaker of the Same Spirit, he would go to Bed before the rest of the Family; but upon another Young Man's coming to him, he said, he must get up and return that Night unto Southold, where he had left his Company; and though the Young Man would have persuaded him to lye until Day, he would not be persuaded, up he got, and went his way.

Within some while he was missing, and upon enquiry he could not be heard of, only his Hat, and Gloves, and Neckcloth were found in the Road from the Farm to the Town: Two Days after which, Banks looking into a Bible, suddenly shut it again, crying out, his Friend Harris was dead. On the Day following Harris was found by the sea-side, about a quarter of a Mile from the place where his Appurtenances had been found before, having Three Holes like Stabs in his Throat, and NO TONGUE in his Head, nor the least sign thereof; but all clear to his Neck-bone, within, his mouth close shut, and one of his Eyes hanging down upon his Cheek out of his Head, that although it was whole there, it was hardly to be come at. This was the end of a TONGUE that was to be as the Pen of a ready Writer!

The Night after he was Buried, Colonel Young, the High Sheriff, as himself assured me, was in the Dead of the Night awakened by the Voice of this Harris, calling very loudly at his Window, with a demand of him to See Justice done him; the Voice came Three times that Night with the like demand; and the Night after it came into the Colonel's House, close to his Bedside, very loudly repeating of it. But the Auther of the Murder could never be discovered!".......

I'll give but one Instance more of their Exorbitancies. It was much about this time that one Jonathan Dunen, of Case's, drew away the wife of a Man to Marshfield in Plymouth-Colony, to follow him, and one Mary Ross falling into their Company, presently was possessed with as Frantick a Demon as ever was heard of; she burnt her Clothes; she said that she was Christ; she gave Names to the Gang with her, as Apostles, calling one Peter, another Thomas; she declared, that she would be Dead for Three Days, and then Rise again: and accordingly she seemed to die.

Dunen then gave out, that they should see Glorious things when she Rose again; but what she then did, was thus: that upon her order Dunen sacrific'd a Dog. The Men and the Two Women then Danced Naked althogether; for which, when the Constable carried 'em to the Magistrates, Ross uttered Stupendous Blasphemies, but Dunen lay for Dead an Hour on the Floor, saying, when he came to himself, that Ross bid him, and he could not resist.

****** 1683; Jonathan Dunham is listed in the following Court record in the Plymouth Colony, with apparently the same Mary Ross.

"Whereas Jonathan Dunham, allies Shingletery hath longe absented himselfe from his wife and family, tho advised and warned by authoritie to repaire to them, and for some considerable time hath vine wandering about from place to place as a vagabond in this collonie, alsoe deseminating his corrupt principles, and drawing away another mans wife, following hi up and downe against her husbands consent; and att last hee meeting with and accompaning a younge woman called Mary Rosse, led by inthewsiasticall (enthusiastical) power, he said hee must be doe whatt shee bad him, and according did, both of them, on her mothion, att the house of John Irish, att Little Compton, kill his dogg, against the declared will of said Irish; and although hee put them out of his house, yett they would goe in againe; and according to theire anticke tricks and foolish powers, made a fier in the house, and threw the dogg upon it, and shott of a gun seuerall times, and burnt some other thinges in the house, to the hazard of burning of his house and younge children, keeping the dores and not opening them to the said John Irish when hee come with some of his naghbor ro rescue the same; to the disturbance of his ma? peace comaunded, and against his lawes.

This Court centanced the said Jonathan Dunham to be publickly whipt att the post, and required him to depart forth with out of this collonie, which if he de? to doe, hee shalbe tooke up by the constable where dothe neccesaruily stay, and he againe whipt and sent ? of the colonnie; and soe serued as oft as he shall nessesarily returne into it to deseminqate his corrupt principles.

And the said Mary Rosse, for her univell and outrageous reailing words and carriages to Deputie Gou, and afterwardsbefore the whole Colonie superaded to her former anticke actings as aforsaid centanced to be wipt and conveyed from constable ? consable out of this goument towards Boston, which her mother dwells."
(Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, Mass. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England, Court Orders: Vol. VI 1678-1691, pp 1-4)

****** September 21, 1687; Jonathan Dunham was one of those who made the inventory of the estate of his father-in-law Thomas Bloomfield in Woodbridge.

****** December 2, 1689; Deed. Jonathan Dunhame of Woodbridge and wife Mary to Mary Ross, formerly of Boston, daughter of John and Mary Ross of Boston, for a dwelling house in Woodbridge and a lot on the S. side of the road. Marginal note states, that Mary Ross reconveyed the property to Dunhame aforesaid, as per endorsement on this dde (N.J. Arch., 21:169).

****** December 22, 1689; Deed of trust. Jonathan Dunham to James Seattoun (Seaton) in trust of his sons Jonathan, david, and Benjamin Dunhame for all his real property on Cannoo Hill; son-in-law Samuel Smith mentioned (ibid.).

******* 1692; Rebecca Seaton (Seatown) granted divorce from James Seaton. Mary Ross names (Monnette, p., 536).

******* 1693; 1. New York. Endorsement on Deed Dunham-Ross (Liber D. p.95), in which Mary Ross conveys back to Jonathan Dunham the same property (N.J. Arch., 21:277).

****** 1694 Power of Attorney John Gibb now of Sussex annexed to PA, mariner, to Jonathan Dunham of Woodbridge general agent.... (from Pat Junkin)

****** On April 16, 1702 Jonathan Dunham was given the power of attorney by his wife and his five surviving children to sell lands in Haverhill that was given to them by Jonathan's parents, Richard and Susanna (Cooke) Singletary. They all signed the power of attorney "Dunham alias Singletary." This power of attorney is quoted in it's entirety in Monnette, p. 501. Monnette cites Essex Deeds, 15:202. In 1724 the family asked for confirmation of grants saying he was "lately deceased."

Re: Jonathan Dunham (Shingleterry or Singletary)

Posted: 1152473329000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1165267814000
Surnames: Dunham, Shingleterry, Singletary
I believe you may obtain a copy of the article by writing
the New England Historic Genealogical Society, 101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02166-3007. It is only two pages, so I can't believe it would be more than a dollar or two.


Re: Jonathan Dunham (Shingleterry or Singletary)

dee (View posts)
Posted: 1152557589000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Dunham
Hi Rick,

I knew some of the info you provided but not all - thank you for taking the time to post it!
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