January 7, 2012

The Immigrant Ordway - James

The story of James Ordway, the immigrant to America, and his wife, Ann Emery, is well documented in many sources, some of which will be used here to tell his story. 

Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire, Vol. II, Lewis Publishing Company, 1908, p.832
The family of this name came early to Massachusetts, and did yeoman service in preparing the way for future generations.  The same pioneer work was repeated by later members in New Hampshire.  An ancestor of the Concord family fought in the Revolution, and many of the Ordways have been prominent in war and peace.
Tradition says that James and Abner Ordway, supposed to be brothers, and probably a sister, Sara, came to this country between 1635 and 1640 from England or Wales."
(Abner was presumably the older brother.  Sara married in 1654 Richard Fitz/Fitts and died in 1667 without having children.  When her husband, Richard, died, he left legacies to his brother-in-law, James and James' daughter, Jane.)
"James Ordway went with other pioneer settlers to Cocheco,now Dover, New Hampshire, in 1641, but afterwards returned to Newbury, Massachusetts.  He was a farmer and the owner of several boats employed in lighterage service in Newbury for many years, and was, after the death of his wife, with one of his children, as late as 1704, mention of his being made in that year in the diary of Rev. Samuel Sewell. 
In 1648, he married Anne Emery, daughter of John Emery, from Romsey, England, but then of Newbury, Massachusetts and from James and Anne Emery Ordway probably descended nearly all now bearing that name in this country.  Anne died March 31, 1687.  Her gravestone is still standing in the old cemetery at Newbury port.  The eleven children of James Ordway were as follows: Ephraim, James Jr., Edward, Sarah, John, Isaac, Jane, Hannah, a child unnamed, Anne and Mary."

From New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial, Series 3, Volume IV, Lewis Publishing, New York, 1915, p.1660.
"ORDWAY - James Ordway, the immigrant ancestor of all the Ordways of early New England, was born in England in 1624.  He himself deposed that he was about forty-five years old in 1669.  He settled in Newbury, Massachusetts, of which he was a proprietor in 1648, and his descendants have been numerous in that town and adjacent towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  He married November  25, 1648, Anne, daughter of John Emery, another pioneer of Newbury.  She died March 31, 1687. Children: Child died June 18, 1650; Ephraim, born April 25, 1650; James, April 16, 1651; Edward, September 14, 1656; John, November 17, 1658; Isaac, December 4, 1660; Jane, November 12, 1663; Hannah, December 2, 1665; Ann, February 12, 1670; Mary, April 5, 1671."

Dean Smith, in The Ancestry of Samuel Blanchard Ordway, 1990, thoroughly studied the Newbury records and the parish registers in England to flesh out the story of James Ordway.  Smith found the baptismal record of 5 August 1621, for James in St. Peter, Bengeworth, Worcestershire, England. 
In Newbury, MA, James was a land owner, a participant in many public meetings and he held a bench in his church.  He did some farming, owned livestock, served on the jury and various committees, was a witness in several court trials, and in general, was a good citizen of Newbury.  He could not read or write and used a "JO" as his mark.

p. 83 - "James Ordway served in the militia with Captain Gerrish.  His allowances for a gun, horse, powder and horn, cheese and bread, ammunition, saddle, bridle and cloth were paid and the records survive.

After Ann died in 1687, James married the widow Joanna Davis Corliss, who had lost her husband, George, just one year prior.  No record has been discovered for James' death although it is thought he lived to be at least 91. 
 Located in the First Burial Ground, Newbury, MA - memorial stone to James and Ann Ordway, although they are not buried here.

Ann Emery Ordway appears very seldom in the records except for when she appeared as a witness in the witch trial of Elizabeth Morse.  Ann had lost a child just after neighbor Morse had been in the house and touched him.

"Ann came forward to testify against her neighbor
Ann Ordway, Aged about 50.  This Deponent saith, I had a childe aged about 7 or 8 years taken suddenly sick: So continued about three weeks and then I perceiving amendment in ye childe because hee could turn himself in ye bedd after this time, goody Morss came to visit him.  She stroak't upp his head, presently after I did apprehend ye Child grew worse and could not turn him in ye Bedd and in a Sore and Solemn condition continued untill hee dyed and this thing have laide heavy upon mee ever sinse.  Taken on oath, Jan. 7th, 1679."  (Suffolk Files #1870) 

Elizabeth Morse was reprieved by the governor, but again brought before the general court two years later.  William Morse, her husband, petitioned the court, answering all the sundry charges against his wife and responding to Ann Ordway thus:
...To goodwife Ordway.  Hir child being long ill, my wife coming in and looking on it, pitting of it,  did feare it would dy, and when it dyed Israell Webster, our next neighbour, heard not a word of it, nor spoken of by others, nor any of ye family, but hir conceite, now brought in...(dated 14 May 1681, History of Newbury, p. 128." 
Luckily for Elizabeth Morse, governor Bradstreet saved her life and Newbury did not give up its first victim to the witch hunts of the time. 
Ann Emery Ordway is buried at the First Parish Church of Newbury.

James Ordway's burial place is unknown.  One theory claims he was lost at sea.  Thanks to J. Ordway Lamourex for these photos, 1999.


  1. I loved finding this site on James Ordway and Ann Emery Ordway! My husband and I just realized this weekend that Ann Emery Ordway is the connecting link to both of our families. I am a descendant of Ann Emery, and my husband is a descendant of James Ordway! As we live relatively close to Newbury, MA, I am rather excited to find Ann Emery's headstone! Thanks for sharing this information!

    1. I am so happy that the genealogical information on this site has helped someone discover his or her own roots. Genealogy is to be shared! Have fun on your journey to

  2. My husbands grandmother is Cecil Ordway and her father was Calvin Ordway son of Issace Ordway. His great great great great grandfather was Hananiah Ordway son of James Ordway. We looked up where his grandmothers family is from. Thank you for posting this information!!

  3. Would you happen to have any info on Julia Ann Ordway? All I have is that she was born in New Hampshire around 1810, married a Samuel Lovely and lived most of her live in Ogdensburg NY, where she died in 1884
    Thanks, Chris (cmontroy@hotmail.com)