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“John and Stephen Maynard” by Glenn R. Parker

John Maynard Sr. 1612-1672, of Sudbury Meadows, signer of the Marlborough Petition in 1656 and a founding member of Marlborough in 1660. John II, 1630-1711, immigrated with his father in 1638 and settled in Marlborough. Ensign John Maynard, 1661-1731, Captain John Maynard, Westborough, 1690-1757, Stephen B. Maynard, Westborough, 1720-1796.

Captain John Maynard

Captain John Maynard was the son of Ensign John Maynard an original grantee and proprietor of Marlborough and a well-to-do gentleman. Due to his status, the younger John inherited 400 acres of land in the Chauncy area of Marlborough. He married Hetzibah Brigham of Marlborough in 1719. Maynard was among the first settlers of Westborough, and by virtue of his ancestral status and the Brigham family fortune, the Maynard’s amassed real estate holdings of 800 acres of land. The land holdings from the summit of Powder Hill stretched north and west to the Assabeth River and south to the Grave Plain, which made them the largest property owners of the 100th town.

The Maynard’s were among the first settlers of Westborough.  John was appointed captain of the military post and depot of supplies. During the early development of the community he was very active in church and community affairs. Maynard donated a portion of his estate for the purposes of erecting the first meetinghouse. Prior to the selection of the first minister, Maynard volunteered to entertain visiting ministers at the cost of the town. The town’s first minister, Ebenezer Parkman, lived at the Maynard house for a while, and John supplied the pulpit for the town’s first church.

On a visit to the area, Parkman’s diary entry of August 1723 reads:

I walked to the Meeting House with a Pistol in my Hand by reason of the Danger of the Indians. When I returned was much affrighted with the sight of an Indian as I supposed; but drawing nigher I perceiv’d it was my Landlord. In the afternoon about 4 o’clock, there was an alarm in the North and people hastened with their arms, But it came to little.

Reverend Parkman later referred to the couple as the “salt of the earth.”  In return he was given a prominent pew second back from Ebenezer’s pulpit.  In 1728, Westborough appointed John to act with other communities to form a new county of Worcester, and John served as selectman in 1730, 1734, 1736, 1737, 1743-44, 1748, 1750, and 1755-56.

Stephen B. Maynard

Stephen B. Maynard was born in 1720 and was the only child of John and Hetzibah. Stephen never became a farmer or tradesman, nor received a formal education; rather, he was the son of a wealthy landowner. He was heir to the Maynard/Brigham estates and the title, Gentleman. In 1741, he married Thankful Newton and while living in the family homestead, the couple had nine children. After the old meetinghouse was taken down and the wood was recycled, Captain Stephen Maynard had a wooden fence erected around the vacant lot that was the property of the Town in May 16, 1750. In 1754, Maynard received a Royal Commission as a Lieutenant in the King’s Army and traveled to Canada to fight for the British in the French and Indian War.

While Stephen was away in Canada, he became the sole heir to the property when seven family members including his father and mother, wife, and four children died of the Great Mortality of 1756 (measles). However, in 1758 he returned and married a widower, Mrs. Anna Brigham, who moved into the family home and assumed responsibility of Maynard’s five surviving children. Six months later, Maynard returned to the war, and in the years to follow the couple managed to have six additional children during breaks in the war. While Maynard was away, his slaves maintained the property, and domestic servants assisted his wife with the 11 children.

At the end of the war in 1763, Maynard returned to Westborough to build a new home for his extended family. He also became involved in politics and real estate investments. S. Maynard held the Westborough town offices of Town Treasurer (1749) and Selectman (1761-62, 1768-73, and 1781-82).  In 1763, Maynard purchased the 8 acre Tomlin Farm on the Northborough Road near the Assabet River (later the Broader Farm), which Maynard gave to his step daughter Anna Brigham and her new husband Isaac Davis. In 1764, Maynard brokered the original Parkman parsonage sale. Prior to that, he was the mortgage holder of the Bruce Tavern. Land that was originally obtained from the Brigham family estate in the relocated center of town was developed by him as Memorial Cemetery. He also deeded and developed other land to the town for a new county road.

Although he was not an active member in church affairs he was a very generous contributor and confidant to Reverend Parkman. In 1768, by virtue of his war experience, Maynard was promoted to Captain as the foremost authority of military affairs and was made commander of all military operations and troops in Westborough. Although a Captain, he did not see action in the American Revolution, acting only as a consultant.

Captain Stephen Maynard Mansion, circa 1770 ~ Bela J. Stone 1885, burned 1891.

Stephen Maynard Mansion

Maynard’s new home built on Northborough Road took seven years to construct and was completed in 1770. With 11 rooms it was called a mansion due to its architectural design, imported carved oak wood, handcrafted moldings, heavy paneled doors and walls, and decorative stair banisters. Maynard also had three slaves, who built large stone walls on the property. Two walls still remain and line the driveway to the big house. The third wall ran parallel to the Northboro Road to the Turnpike. This wall was later removed for the foundation of Boulder Cottage and others at the Lyman School.

The end of the Revolutionary War in 1783 took its toll on the financial stability of the new country. Although Maynard was considered to be the wealthiest man in town, he was in fact only land rich. He was actually overwhelmed in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy.

During the French & Indian War, Stephen Maynard was a Lieutenant and served at Fort Shirley. Research does not mention any formalized education or military training, so it is presumed that the title of “Captain” was afforded him due to his status in the community.

The French and Indian War or the Seven Years War was 1754-1763. There is no reference material available that confirms officers or volunteers.

When the economy went into a deep recession after the American Revolution, many debtors went into foreclosure after their loans were recalled. In 1784, Maynard began selling off properties to pay his debts. The tanning business that he had established was sold to his son-in-law Isaac Davis. To make matters worse, the Commissioner of the Grafton Indians (Hassanamisco) filed a debt suit in Worcester Superior Court alleging that Maynard had used the Indian trust funds as his own. The funds were never repaid.

Those in debt that became insolvent were sentenced to debtor’s prison. Maynard knew this to be true, and so to avoid an embarrassing situation, he made a decision to dodge a trial and a probable jail term. In 1790, Maynard deeded his pew at the church to a son, packed up his personal belongings, abandoned the mansion and the remaining properties to the mortgage holders, and moved to Barnard, Vermont, never to return to Westborough again.

Captain Stephen Maynard lived out the remainder of his life in Vermont with his wife and three sons. After his undocumented ca. 1796 death, his wife Anna returned to the Davis Farm in Northborough with her daughter, where she died in 1809. By 1797 the Maynard properties had passed completely from the family with the exception of the original homestead on Powder Hill. The farm lands were subdivided and sold to pay mortgage holders, liens, and other debtors.

Glenn R. Parker

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