Roger Clapp (1609 – 1690)

Fanciful drawing of Captain Roger Clap, possibly with historically accurate uniform.  Scan from The Pilgrim Shore by Edmund H. Garrett. Boston: Little, Brown, 1900.

Roger Clapp is my 10th Great Grandfather.

He arrived in the Massachusetts colony on May 30, 1630.  He came on the ship “Mary and John”, which was the first of 17 ships that came to Massachusetts that year.

Roger was a Puritan and was quite deeply religious. As a young man he asked for and received the permission of his father to go to the city of Exon, England to be under the ministry of Reverend John Warham. Reverend Warham was taking his flock to the Massachusetts colony and traveled there with a total of about 140 passengers on the ship Mary and John. Among the passengers were Roger’s future wife Joanna Ford and her father Thomas Ford.

He arrived at Nantasket, which is now named Hull.   The city of Hull today is proud of it’s Historic Nantasket Beach.  We don’t exactly where he landed on Nantasket Beach, however it’s approximately 20 miles to Boston and 15 miles to Dorchester, where he settled.   Dorchester is now a neighborhood on the South side of the city of Boston, covering 6 square miles.

He was called “Captain” Roger Clapp, because he commanded “The Castle” which was the primary fortification protecting Boston. Roger commanded “Castle William”, on Castle Island from 1665–1686, a span of 21 years.  Castle Island is now the site of Fort Independence in Boston Harbor.

Roger and Joanna are both buried in Boston at King’s Chapel Burying Grounds.

Roger Clapp is particularly interesting to us and to anyone interested in the history of the Massachusetts colony, because he wrote a memoir, which we have.

The memoir is a lengthy document which mixes his memories of coming to the Massachusetts colony with his religious reasons for doing so.

I will publish the excerpts from that document with the story elements, soon. Shortly after that I’ll publish the entire long document here on this blog.  Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll read what was written about Captain Roger Clapp early in the 20th Century, which I have quoted below:

The following is excerpted from the family genealogy.

Roger Clapp was born in Salcombe, Regis, Devonshire, England, April  6, 1609; sailed from Plymouth for New England, March 20, 1630, and arrived at Nantasket, May 30, 1630.  He came in the ship Mary and John, Captain Squeb.  Two learned non-conformist ministers, Rev. John Maverick and Rev. John Warham, came in the same vessel, also other persons of distinction.  The passengers of this ship were the first settlers of Dorchester, and they arrived there about June 17, 1630.

Capt. Clapp’s life was a busy and eventful one.  In works of benevolence, he was forward and earnest; his ability and energy of character were acknowledged by the colony and the town.  In 1637, when 28 years old, he was chosen Selectman, and fourteen times afterwards, previous to 1665, when he took command of the Castle, he was elected to that office.  In 1645, he was one of a committee of five to fix the rate of assessment for building a new meeting house.  He was several times chosen Deputy from Dorchester to the General Court.  In 1673, being again chosen Deputy, it is significantly recorded by Blake, “afterwards, in this year, ye Court sent an order to choose another Deputy in ye room of Capt. Clap, his presence being necessary at ye Castle, because ye times were troublesome.”  To most of the petitions and documents emanating from, and relating to Dorchester, his name was signed, and carried with it a weight and influence.  He was one of the Commissioners appointed to marry persons, which at that time was an honorable office.

2 thoughts on “Roger Clapp (1609 – 1690)

  1. Did a search for King’s Chapel Burying Grounds just to see where it was on a map. I clicked on the Wikipedia link and it has Capt Roger Clapp mentioned as member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts, died February 2, 1691, formerly lived at Dorchester[3] (Capt. Clapp’s son Desire is also interred close by). Also has a link under References The Clapp Memorial: Record of the Clapp Family in America, Ebenezer Clapp, David Clapp & Son, Boston, 1876. Dwight, you’re getting me hooked. Brenda

  2. Riger Clapp is my great grandfather as well. My moms side of the family are direct decendants. My moms great grandpa was Lowell Clapp who was a mortician in northern Michigan. Someday I want to travel to Massachusetts to visit his museum house. I have yet to obtain a copy of his book but have read parts online.

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