John Bigelow or Biglo was born 1617 in Wrentham, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom to Randall Bigelow (c1578-1626) and died 14 July 1703 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States of unspecified causes. He married Mary Warren (1624-1691) 30 October 1642 in Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. He married Sarah Bemis (1643-1712) 2 October 1694 in Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States.

Bigelow Family Surname

The immigrant ancestor of nearly all persons in North America bearing the surname Bigelow in any of its several variants, is John Biglo of Watertown, Massachusetts. He lived from 1617 to 1703. Many of his descendants have been recorded in a genealogy entitled The Bigelow Family in America, written by Gilman Bigelow Howe, printed 1890. A free digital copy of the book can be found in Google Books.

The modern family uses Bigelow, but in John's will it is written Biglo. This name has presented significant challenges in proving John's origins from England. His English Ancestors used the name Beageley. The Watertown colonial records have various more spellings of this name.

In this book Howe states that he was unable to obtain any satisfactory account of the progenitor of John Biglo, and quotes conflicting traditions stating that the surname is of various national origins. He also quotes the late genealogist H.G. Somerby, who felt that John Biglo came from Wrentham, Suffolk, England, and was son of Randall and Jane Beageley, who had their youngest son, John, baptized 16 February 1617. Also, from the probate records of Wrentham, Somerby quotes the will of a Francis Baguley, blacksmith, of Wrentham, who in a will dated 20 October 1656, granted five pounds "to his brother John Baguley, now living in New England, if he comes for it within two years". He offered no proof that Francis was son of Randall Baguley.

The rector of Wrentham parish in 1617 was the Rev. John Phillips, who later emigrated to Dedham, Massachusetts. During his years in Dedham, Phillips once stated that the blacksmith John Biglo of Watertown, Massachusetts was the same infant whom he had baptized in 1617 as the son of Randall Beageley, and that he (Phillips) had "known John Biglo from earliest youth upward','

Further, in a civil case in Watertown during his lifetime, John Biglo took the witness stand and identified himself as "John Biglo, formerly of Wrentham, England." From these facts we state the identity and parentage of John Biglo, and through parish and probate records in England, can prove three generations of his English ancestry.


Migration to America

John Biglo seems to have arrived in Watertown, MA about 1632-1636 (age 15-19). He probably came with an older relative, Elizabeth Bigelow (1614-1647), second wife of Deacon Richard Butler (1600-1684) who after a short stay in Massachusetts, followed the Rev. Rev Thomas Hooker to Connecticut. It is assumed that Elizabeth was an older sister or first cousin. No ship's-records exist showing the date of their arrival. His wife came earlier with her father, John Warren (1585-1667) in the Winthrop Fleet of 1630.

Watertown Founders Monument

Watertown Founders Monument

He is listed on Watertown Founders Monument, commemorating the first settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts. The town was first known as Saltonstall Plantation, one of the earliest of the Massachusetts Bay Colony settlements. Founded in early 1630 by a group of settlers led by Richard Saltonstall and George Phillips, it was officially incorporated that same year. The alternate spelling "Waterton" is seen in some early documents.

1636 Pequot War

Earliest record of John in America is his participation in the Pequot War of 1636, serving from Watertown. This event was an armed conflict between the Pequot tribe and an alliance of the English colonists of the Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Saybrook colonies and their Native American allies (the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes) which occurred between 1634 and 1638. The Pequots lost the war.

Watertown Blacksmith

John Biglo appears by various accounts to have been a blacksmith, and again from town records we quote: "Agreed with John Biglo that for ten trees the towne allowed him for the setting up of a shop for a Smithes forge, that he shall either go on with his promise of setting up his trade, which is the trade of a Smith, within one twelfmonth after the date hereof or else to pay unto the towne ten shillings for these ten trees he acknowledged to have off the towne." Dated 4 March 1651.

There is also a docu-drama book called The Winthrop Woman, that is very well researched. On page 250, there is related a cannon-ball pitching contest between Will Hallet and "his opponent -- Bigelow, the blacksmith." The contest was held in the Common of "little Boston", on Election Day in the mid to late 1630's. The book relates the life of Elizabeth, a grand-daughter of John Winthrop, and a passenger on one of the ships of the same Winthrop Fleet.

Both the inventory of his estate and his last will support the assumption of this occupation for John.

1690 Watertown Freeman

To quote from Howe's book, "from the list of those who took the oath of fidelity at Watertown 1652, we find that John Biggalough was one of the number, and he became a freeman 18 April 1690 which we find from the roll of freeman written as John Bigolo; under the same date we find that Samuel Begaloo was made a freeman, and by another list, date 16 May 1690, we find Samuel Biggilo and John Warren jr. were made freemen.

John Biglo was chosen a surveyor of highways in 1652 and 1660, a constable [Tax-collector] in 1663, and one of the selectmen (see below) or town council, in 1665, 1670, and 1671.

King Philip's War

On the return of soldiers who were in the service from 25 November to 3 December 1675 King Philip's War we find the names of John Bigulah Sr, Michael Flegg, and Isaac Leonard, who were impressed into service from Watertown, the last being wounded.

Last Days

His homesite consisted of six acres and was bounded north by Richard Ambler and William Parker, east by Thomas Straight, south by the highway, and on the west by Miles Ives After the death of his wife Mary in 1691, he married (2) on 2 October 1694, Sarah Bemis, daughter of Joseph Bemis. She outlived him. He died on 14 July 1703, at the age of 86 years, as recorded in town records. His will was dated 4 January 1703 and was proved 23 July 1703.

John's Will

The will of John Biglo in its entirety, is as follows: (Source Genealogy of the Bigelow Family of America by Gilman Bigelow - (1890))

"In the name of God amen. I John Biglo of Watertown in the county of Middlesex within her Majesties Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, being weeke of body but in sound disposing Memory prais be given to god for the same, Do make this my last will and testament in manner & form following, that is to say first and principally I resign my soul unto the mercy full hands of allmighty god my Creator assuredly hoping through the mercy of my blessed Saviour to obtain pardon remission of all my sins and my body I commit to the earth whence it was taken, to be decently buried by the discreshion of my executors hereinafter named and as for the worldly goods & estate the lord hath lone me I dispose thereof as follows:

Imp. I give and bequeath unto Sarah my well beloved wife, and to her heirs & assigns forever, all the lands and movable estate, that was hers before our marriage, and forty pounds in money, twenty pounds of s'd money to be p'd her within one month after my decease and twenty pounds within one year after my dece's I give unto her forty pounds waight of good pork, three bushels of barley, and one bushel of indian corn, five pounds waight in butter and five pounds waight in Chees, and also two Sheep, and half the flax that shall be in the house at my Deces--and that to be in full satisfaction of her thirds,

2ndly I give & bequeath to my eldest son John Biglo, & to his heirs & assigns forever, twenty pounds in money to be p'd within one year after my Deces, and in case my s'd son have an heir lawfully begotten of his own body, I give & bequeath his s'd heir twenty pounds in money to be p'd to him or her, when it shall be twenty one years of age, or day of marriage which shall first happen, but if it hapon my s'd son deces without an heir as above s'd, then my will is y't ye aboves'd twenty pounds be equally divided between my children then surviving.

3rdly I give & bequeath unto my son Jonathan Biglo, and to his heirs & assigns forever, twenty five pounds in money to be p'd him within one year after my deces.

4thly I give & bequeath to my son Daniell Biglo and to his heirs & assigns forever, twenty five pounds in money to be p'd him within one year after my deces.

5thly I give & bequeath to my son Samuel Biglo and to his heirs & assigns forever ten pounds in money besides what he hath already had, to be p'd to him within one year after my deces.

6thly I give and bequeath unto my son Joshua Biglo and to his heirs & assigns forever two parcels of lands lying on the westerly side of bow brook in s'd town. Purchased of Lieut Chas Hammond as may more fully appear by the deed of the same, and twenty five pounds in money, to be p'd him within one year after my deces.

7thly I give & bequeath unto my son James Biglo fifteen pounds, which I lent him as may appear by a bond under his hand and seal, and I give & bequeath to my said son James's son James Biglo ten pounds in money to be p'd him if he shall live to the age of twenty one years, but if it so happen that he deces before s'd age, then ye s'd ten pounds to be equally divided between my s'd son James surviving children, when they shall be of the age of twenty one years or day of marriage which shall first happen.

8thly I give & bequeath to my Daughter Mary Flagg and to her heirs & assigns forever, twenty five pounds in money to be p'd her within two years aft

9thly I give & bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Sterns' children twenty five pounds in money, to be p'd them, when they are twenty one years of age, or day of marriage which shall first happen.

10thly. I give & bequeath to my daughter Sarah Learned, and assigns forever, twenty five pounds in money, within three years after my Deces.

llthly. I give & bequeath to my daughter Martha wood's children, lawfully begotten of her own body, twenty five pounds in money to be p'd them equally alike, when they shall arrive at the age of twenty one years or day of marriage, which shall first happen.

12th. I give & bequeath unto my daughter Abigail Herrington & to her heirs & assigns, twenty five pounds in money, to be p'd within four years after my deces. And I nominat, ordain, & appoint, my above s'd son Joshua Biglo and my son in law Isaac Larned my Sole Executors to see this my last will & testament performed and all the rest and residue of my estate not herein bequeathed, after all my just debts and funerall charges are p'd my will is that it be divided between my s'd executors, that is to say, two parts of three, to my s'd son Joshua, and one third to my son in law Isaac Leanerd, and do request my trusty and well beloved friend, Capt. Benj. Garfield to be my overseer of this my last will & testament, my s'd executors to allow him out of my estate for his cost & charges reasonable sattisfaction to his content, Revoking & making null & void all former or other wills by me heretofore made. In witness hereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this fourth day of January one thousand seven hundred two/three, in the first year of the reign of our lady Anna, by the Grace of God over England & Queen.

Signed, seald & Published Sam'l Livermore Daniel Harrington Witnesses Munning Sawin" his JOHN x BIGLO mark

Estate Inventory

Estate Inventory: (Source Genealogy of the Bigelow Family of America by Gilman Bigelow - (1890))

The inventory of John Biglo's estate amounted to L 627-12-00. This was a middle-class fortune. Among the expenses charged for the funeral were several pairs of black gloves, twenty gallons of wine, bottles for the wine, allspice and sugar, and two men and horses to carry the wine and other articles to the funeral, also " a man and horse to notify Isaac Larned and wife at Sherburne to attend the funeral, and a man and horse to notify John Stearns at Billerica to attend the funeral".

An additional note comes from the Knight family genealogy, in which Joseph Knight and his wife Hannah in 1649 sold "a mansion and land" to John Biglo. A map of early Watertown is shown in Robinson & Wheeler's book, Great Little Watertown; the land owned by John Biglo appears at the extreme left of the map, as does the adjoining parcel purchased from Joseph Knight. John Biglo owned several pieces of property, and in 1686 executed a gift-in-deed, conveying 16 acres and the house thereon "already occupied by my son Samuel" to Samuel Biglow and wife.

Family of John Bigelow and Mary Warren

The first marriage recorded in the colonial records of Watertown, Massachusetts is that of John to his first wife Mary Warren (1624-1691), ceremony by Mr. Nowell. She is the daughter of John Warren, The Immigrant 1585 and Margaret Bayly (1587-1662), two early immigrants of John Winthrop's fleet in 1630.

1642-30-8. John Bigulah and Mary Warin joyned in mariag before Mr. Nowell.

Ella Biglow's book, Reminiscences of Historic Marlborouqh, MA, contains a fictional description of John at his wedding, in white satin breeches, ruffled shirt, and silver shoe buckles.

13 Children of John and Mary Warren (1624-1691). All sons and marriages of daughters are proven in his will (See above) except for the last two children that died as an infant. All born in Watertown, Middlesex co, MA:

  1. John Bigelow (1643-1721) - born 27 Oct 1643; died about 1721 in Hartford, Connecticut; he married, at unknown date, Rebecca Olmsted, to whose nephew his property was willed. Resided Hartford., Connecticut. No issue.
  2. Jonathan Bigelow (1646-1711) - born 11 Dec 1646; died 9 Jan 1711 Hartford, Connecticut; married (1)1671 Rebecca Shepard who died before 1686; (2) Mary Olcott,who died 7 Mar 1697 (3) Mary (Benton) Cole. Resided Hartford, Connecticut. 12 children.
  3. Mary Bigelow Flagg (1648-1704) - born 18 Mar 1648; died in Watertown before 1704; married 3 June 1674 Michael Flagg(FLEGG). 3 children.
  4. Daniel Bigelow (1650-1715) - born 1 Dec 1650; died about 1715; married at unknown date Abial Pratt; he was a tailor; resided Framingham, Massachusetts. 6 children.
  5. Samuel Bigelow (1653-1730) - born 28 Oct 1653; died 1 Feb 1731/2 Waltham, Massachusetts; married 3 June 1674 to Mary Flagg (1657-1720). An innkeeper & carpenter, he resided Watertown to 1720, & held several town offices. 10 children.
  6. Joshua Bigelow (1655-1745) - born 5 Nov 1655; died 1 Feb 1745 Westminster, Massachusetts; married 20 Oct 1676 Elizabeth Flagg. Resided Watertown most of his life. 12 children.
  7. Elizabeth Bigelow Stearns (1657-1694) - born 18 June 1657; died 18 April 1694 Billerica Massachusetts; married 06 Sept 1676 John Stearns. Resided Billerica. 7 children.
  8. Sarah Bigelow Learned (1659-1703) - born 29 Sept 1659; died after 1703 at Framingham, Massachusetts; married 23 July 1679 Isaac Learned. Resided Framingham. 11 children.
  9. James Bigelow (1660-1728) - born about 1660; died 20 Jan 1728 at Weston; married (1)25 Mar 1687 Patience Brown; (2)3 July 1693 Elizabeth Child; (3)15 June 1708 Johanna Erickson. Resided Watertown. 4 children. The male line,however, died out in the next generation.
  10. Martha Bigelow Olmsted Woods (1662-1729) - born 1 April 1662; died unknown date. She married (1)1686 Thomas Olmsted, and divorced 1687; (2)Obadiah Woods of E. Hartford, CT, who died 1712. Martha's family is uncertain, but she left several children.
  11. Abigail Bigelow Harrington (1663-1754) - born 4 Feb 1663; died 12 Jan 1754 Watertown; married 10 Dec 1684 Benjamin Harrington. Resided Watertown. 4 children.
  12. Hannah Bigelow (1665-1665) - born 4 Mar 1665; died 8 Mar 1665.
  13. Son Bigelow (1667-1667) - A son, unnamed, born and died 18 Dec 1667.

Family of John Bigelow and Sarah Bemis

After the death of his wife Mary in 1691, he married (2) on 2 October 1694, Sarah Bemis (1643-1712), daughter of Joseph Bemis. She outlived him.

Sarah Bemis, dau of Joseph and Sarah ( ___ ) Bemis was born 15 Jan 1642/3 Boston, Of Watertown, Middlesex, MA; died 1712 Watertown, Middlesex, MA; and buried: 1712 Watertown, Middlesex, MA; she married 2 Oct 1694 Watertown, Middlesex, MA, John Bigelow and his second wife and had no children.

There seems to be confusion and doubt about whether this Sarah Bemis was the widow of Joseph Bemis, born about 1612, or the daughter of Joseph Bemis, Sarah Bemis, born January 15, 1643. He would have been 25 years older than the daughter. Both ladies were apparently living and "available" during this time of marriage. Torrey reports whichever one it was died before 1712.


Offspring of John Bigelow or Biglo and Mary Warren (1624-1691)
Name Birth Death Joined with
John Bigelow (1643-1721) 27 October 1643 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts 1721 Connecticut Sarah Wheate Sarah Wheate Rebecca Olmstead
Jonathan Bigelow (1646-1711) 11 December 1646 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts 9 January 1711 Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut Rebecca Shepard (1650-1686) Mary Olcott (-1697) Rebecca Shepard (1650-1686) Mary Olcott (-1697) Mary Benton (-1752)
Mary Bigelow (1648-1704) 14 March 1648 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts 3 September 1704 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Michael Flagg (1652-1711)
Daniel Bigelow (1650-1715) 1 December 1650 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States 1715 Framingham, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States Abial Pratt (c1658-1715)
Samuel Bigelow (1653-1730) 28 October 1653 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States 30 September 1730 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States Mary Flagg (1657-1720)
Joshua Bigelow (1655-1745) 5 November 1655 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts 1 February 1745 Westminister, Worcester County, Massachusetts Elizabeth Flagg (1655-1729)
Elizabeth Bigelow (1657-1694) 18 June 1657 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts 18 April 1694 Billerica, Middlesex County, Massachusetts John Stearns (1654-1728)
Sarah Bigelow (1659-1703) 29 September 1659 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts 1703 Middlesex County, Massachusetts Isaac Learned (1655-1737)
James Bigelow (1660-1728) 1660 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts 20 January 1728 Weston, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Patience Brown (1669-1693) Elizabeth Child (1670-1707) Patience Brown (1669-1693) Elizabeth Child (1670-1707) Joanna Erickson (1665-)
Martha Bigelow (1662-1729) 1 February 1662 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts 20 January 1729 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Unknown Mr. King Unknown Mr. King Obadiah Wood (1662-1723)
Abigail Bigelow (1663-1754) 4 February 1664 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts 12 January 1754 Weston, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Benjamin Harrington (1661-1724)
Hannah Bigelow (1665-1665)
Son Bigelow (1667-1667)


Famous Descendants

Research Notes

  1. Elizabeth Bigelow - Please find link to this Older sister or cousin that migrated to America with John and her husband Deacon Richard Butler. They settled in Connecticut. They might have notes to prove the date of John's arrival in Watertown. Additionally, several of their children married into the Olmstead Family, (as also did some of John's children. (See above)
  2. Benjamin Garfield (1643-1717) - Good friend and prominent Watertown leader appointed as one of the executors of his will above. His granddaughter, Mercy Bigelow (1686-1745) and his son Thomas Garfield (1680-1752) would marry, forming the common link to 20th U.S. President, James Abram Garfield (1831-1881).


  • Genealogy of the Bigelow Family of America by Gilman Bigelow (1890) - Free on Google Books
  • Biography of John Bigelow - Bigelow Society Family History
  • Bond's Genealogies & History of Watertown -
  • Fifty Great Migration Colonists - John B. Threlfall, Heritage Books,1992, p. 481-495


Footnotes (including sources)

₪ Wedding
  • First marriage recorded in the colonial records of Watertown, MA.

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