The Cheney Family

 The origin of the name and the source of the family are subjects of great interest. As far as I my researched has determined the origin of William Cheney has not been determined. Some researchers say he was from Lambourn, Berkshire, England and that his father was Lawrence Cheney, born about 1566, married Julia Waldron about 1588/9 and died 2, November 1643. The father of Lawrence is John Cheney of Lambourn, Berkshire, England. died 27, October 1574. 

The word Chéne in French means an oak. A great many family names came from some peculiarity of the residence of the family. As this class of tree was common, the name might might be given to many unrelated persons.

William Cheney was an early resident of Roxbury, in the colony of Massachusetts Bay, in New England. According to research done by Charles Henry Pope, the oldest records of that town which have been brought down to modern times are contained in a volume whose opening sentence says that the book was bought in 1639 for the purpose of recording various matters relating to the inhabitants. It's earliest entries are not dated. One of these is a list of the men who owned land and lived in the town, entitled "A note of the estates and persons of the Inhabitants of Rocksbury". Persons mentioned are Edward Parson, possessor of 3 acres of ground, to Mr. Thomas Dudley, with 356 acres. William Cheney is the fortieth name, with 24 1/2 acres, showing that he was above average in wealth. This list is on a page where the year 1640 is given as the date of a preceding entry; and 1642 is given as the date of the following page.

In the Roxbury Land Records there is a detailed description of each settler's real estate, with the names of the owners of adjacent tracts. William Cheney's land is described in those records. Charles Henry Pope, in his book "The Cheney Genealogy", gives a description of this land record.

The annuals of the town do not give the proceedings of town meetings in the earliest days, but there were a few movements where the citizens are noted well. One of these is the founding in 1645 of the Roxbury Free School, supported by voluntary subscriptions but managed by town officers.

The original paper with its signatures is extant. It shows William Cheney not only a a subscriber to the fund, but as one of the few leading men who specially guaranteed to the town the payment of yearly contributions. He was one of two constables in 1654/5 and his final account was approved February 13, 1655/6. In January of 1656/7 he was elected a member of the board of selectman, associated with men of education and rank. In May of 1666, he was made a "freeman of the Colony," which made him eligible to colonial office and capable of voting on matters relating to the general government.

William fell sick in the spring of 1666/7, as we learn from the opening phrases of his will ; and after a few weeks he died as noted by the town clerk in his entry of persons deceased:

"William Cheney aged 63 years died June the 30 day, 1667." His wife Margaret Cule, remarried to a Mr. Burge, but in a deed mentioned in 1679, she must have been a widow again as described in the deed record. Margaret moved to Boston and was living there when she died in 1686. Her will mentions her son Joseph Cheney and daughter Mehitabel Wight.

Children of William Cheney and Margaret Cule:

  1. Elinor/Ellen Cheney born about 1626, England; d. night of Sep. 28/29, 1678, Hingham, MA.  Married March 20, 1642/3 at Roxbury, MA. to Humphrey JOHNSON, son of Capt. John JOHNSON and Mary HEATH.
  2. Margaret Cheney born November 20, 1628, England. Married Thomas HASTINGS in Roxbury, April 1650.
  3. Thomas Cheney- b. about 1631; died in infancy.
  4. Thomas Cheney born about 1633, Roxbury, MA; d. 1693/5, Cambridge, MA. His will was dated Oct. 23, 1693 and proved Mar. 4, 1694/5.   Married January 11, 1656 in Roxbury, MA. to  Jane ATKINSON (d. Jul. 1724).
  5. William Cheney born 1635, Roxbury, MA; d. September 21, 1681 (hanged), Dorchester, MA. Married Deborah WISWALL (bap. March 30, 1641), daughter of John of Dorchester.  William was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged for rape, although his wife Deborah called Experience HOLBROOK (daughter of Capt. Joseph and Elizabeth HOLBROOK) a "lying wench." Deborah married second Ebenezer WILLIAMS.
  6. John Cheney born September 20, 1639; d. October 12, 1671. He drowned "as he was catching of eales."
  7. Mehitable Cheney baptized  June 1, 1643 in Roxbury, died 1693/4, probably at Medfield, MA. Married by 1663 to Thomas WIGHT, Jr.
  8. Joseph Cheney born June 6, 1647 in Roxbury, MA; died September 16, 1704, Medfield, MA. Married first March 12, 1667/8 at Medfield, MA., Hannah THURSTON (b. April 28, 1650, Dedham, MA; d. December 29, 1690, Medfield, MA), daughter of John and Margaret THURSTON. Joseph married second July 21, 1691 at Medfield, MA, Mehitable (PLIMPTON) HINSDALE, daughter of John PLIMPTON and Jane DAMON, and widow of Ephraim HINSDALE.

Other Cheney Family Researchers:

Freeman Family

Bryant Family Heritage

The Cheney Family

Cheney Family Genealogy Forum


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