William Bassett was born circa 1590 in England and died 4 April 1667 Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts of unspecified causes. He married Elizabeth Bassett (1603-1651) 1623 in Plymouth County, Massachusetts.


William Bassett was an English artisan and a migrant to North America who came to Plymouth Colony on the ship Fortune in November 1621, possibly as a single man, according to author Charles Banks. During his long life he was involved in many colony governmental activities and business ventures, being one of the original members of the “Purchaser” investment group of 1626. In his later years he described himself as a blacksmith, but Banks indicates that in addition to being a worker in metals, he was also a gunsmith.

According to one author, in records of the time, his last name was apparently also spelled as “Basset”, and he uses Basset for him in his book. Other historical records show his name spelled "Bassett".

Early Origina

William Bassett's origins are unknown at this time. He was among the very early arrivals in New England, arriving on the "Fortune" in 1621. His first wife Elizabeth may have also been among the passengers, either as a single woman or recently married to him.

Nothing is known of his life in England, although he was believed to have been born in England sometime before 1600, and possibly as early as about 1590, since he was betrothed twice in Leiden in 1611. He was a Pilgrim from St. Peter's parish, Sandwich, Kent.

Life at Leiden

At some point Bassett was a Leiden Separatist and was recorded there as a master mason from Sandwich, Kent. Although some historians disagree, most sources agree that William Bassett from Sandwich, Kent lived in Leiden in 1611 and was betrothed there to Mary Butler, and William Brewster, Roger Wilson, Anna Fuller, and Rose Lisle were to be witnesses, but Mary died before the marriage. He was then betrothed on July 29, 1611 to Margaret Oldham, with Edward Southworth, Roger Wilson, Elizabeth Neal, and Wybra Pontus as witnesses, with their marriage being August 13, 1611

1621 Trip to Plymouth Colony

William Bassett arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in November 1621 on the ship Fortune most probably with his wife Elizabeth Bassett (1603-1651), although Banks states he was unmarried upon arrival.

In the Land Division of 1623 he was allotted two acres indicating he had taken a wife before that date. Wife Elizabeth and his children William and Elizabeth were in the 1627 division, but his wife died later.

In Governor William Bradford (1590-1657)'s Letter Book,[7] Bassett is one of 27 names of those men who were creditors hoping to realize profit from the colony and who signed an agreement as “Purchasers” to allow privileges to the eight Undertakers (colony leaders Bradford, Standish, Isaac Allerton (1586-1658), Edward Winslow (1595-1655), William Brewster (1567-1644), John Howland (1592-1672), John Alden (c1599-1687) and Thomas Prence (1600-1673)) in return for their assumption of the colony debt. Bassett was a signatory on this agreement as “William Basset”. The Undertakers being colony leaders who assumed the colony debt from the London Adventurers in return for a monopoly of the fur trade.[8]

He moved to Duxbury by 1637, and to Bridgewater, Massachusetts by 1656.

He served on a number of juries and committees, and was a deputy for Duxbury to the Plymouth court.

He was a blacksmith, and a number of smith’s tools are listed in his inventory, which also contained a number of theological books.

In 1658, in records of the time, William Bassett is listed as the Constable of Sandwich, Massachusetts.

On November 8, 1666 William Bassett, who described himself as a blacksmith of Bridgewater, sold four lots to John Sprague of Duxbury, and Bassett’s wife Mary gave her consent. John Sprague was the husband of Bassett’s daughter Ruth.[10]

Marriage & Family

Early Betrothals

While living in Leiden in 1611 he was betrothed twice without marriage. First to Mary Butler, and William Brewster, Roger Wilson, Anna Fuller, and Rose Lisle were to be witnesses, but Mary died before the marriage.

He was then betrothed on July 29, 1611 to Margaret Oldham, with Edward Southworth, Roger Wilson, Elizabeth Neal, and Wybra Pontus as witnesses, with their marriage being August 13, 1611.

1st Marriage: Elizabeth

He married, first, Elizabeth ____, probably before 1623.

  1. William Bassett (1624-1670) - William was born in Plymouth about 1624 and died in Sandwich on May 29, 1670. He married Mary Rainsford by about 1652 and had three children.
  2. Elizabeth Bassett (1626-) - Elizabeth was born in Plymouth about 1626. She married Thomas Burgess on November 8, 1648 in Sandwich. They divorced June 1661 in the first divorce in Plymouth Colony. He was brought to court for an act of uncleanness with Lydia Gaunt and the court allowed Elizabeth to keep small things “that are in William Bassett’s hands”.
  3. Sarah Bassett (1630-1711) - married to Peregrine White (1620-1704) who was born aboard the Mayflower while it sat in Provincetown Harbor. A memorial stone was erected in Winslow Cemetery in honor of her and other prominent in early Plymouth Colony.
  4. Nathaniel Bassett (1630-1710) - Nathaniel was born about 1630 and died on January 17, 1710/11. He lived first in Marshfield and then in Yarmouth. He had ten children.
  5. Joseph Bassett (1632-1712) - Joseph was born about 1632 and died in 1712. He had eight children.
  6. Ruth Bassett (1632-c1694) - Ruth was born about 1634 and died after March 22, 1693/94. - her first husband died in King Philip's War

2nd Marriage: Mary Tilden

Sometime after 1651, he married Mary (Tilden) Lapham, the widow of Thomas Lapham. No Children.


Offspring of William Bassett and Elizabeth Bassett (1603-1651)
Name Birth Death Joined with
William Bassett (1624-1670)
Elizabeth Bassett (1626-)
Sarah Bassett (1630-1711) 7 October 1630 Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 22 January 1711 Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Peregrine White (1620-1704)
Nathaniel Bassett (1630-1710) 1630 Yarmouth, Barnstable County, Massachusetts 16 January 1710 Yarmouth, Barnstable County, Massachusetts Dorcas Joyce (1640-1707)
Joseph Bassett (1632-1712)
Ruth Bassett (1632-c1694) 1634 Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts 1694 Marshfield, Plymouth County, Massachusetts John Sprague (1630-1676) John Sprague (1630-1676) Mr Thomas (c1630-)


Vital Records

Last Will and Estate

In his will dated April 3, 1667, William Bassett mentioned his unnamed wife, his son Joseph, and his son William’s son William. He died sometime between the date of his will and the date his will was sworn, June 5, 1667. It is assumed he died sometime shortly after the will was written. His wife Mary swore to his inventory. The burial place of William Bassett is unknown.



Footnotes (including sources)