Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 24, 2013

Dalton column: Job Tyler, Andover's original pioneer?

Bill Dalton
The Andover Townsman

---- — There was a “tradition” that Job Tyler was already in Andover when the first documented settlers arrived. That’s according to Sarah Loring Bailey, whose detailed accounts of Andover’s earliest happenings are incomparably described in her 1880 book, “Historical Sketches of Andover Massachusetts” (Houghton, Mifflin and Company - Boston). She speculates as to whether being here first may have given him a sense of entitlement [not her exact words]. We will never know; however, it would have taken a great deal of courage to live alone in the wilderness.

The first solid documentation of Tyler or his family occurs in 1648, when his wife was mentioned as being a victim of an accused witch, John Godfrey of Andover. The Godfrey events occur decades before the Salem witch trial hysteria. Godfrey was said to cause the Devil to appear in many shapes, and one of those shapes was a bird that “had come to suck the wife of Job Tyler, of Andover, and she and others had fallen into strange fits and sickness.” (Bailey). Godfrey was acquitted and sued his accusers for defamation, presumably including Tyler. Perhaps Tyler was ordered to pay damages to Godfrey or perhaps not, but, in 1650, Tyler mortgaged his house, land, and three cows to a Newbury man, an unusual transaction by a pioneer.

Among the first documented settlers were the Chandlers, and by 1658 Thomas Chandler was a respected blacksmith. According to him, the following events took place. Job Tyler apprenticed his son, Hopestill, to Chandler. The apprenticeship contract was drafted by a man who kept it in his house. Job Tyler, having changed his mind about the apprenticeship, entered that house and took or destroyed the contract. Tyler, of course, denied this, and apparently was never charged with theft. However, the record shows that civil litigation ensued, and the cases of Chandler v. Tyler and Tyler v. Chandler went on for over 10 years (Bailey).

Chandler was a man of relative wealth, who would later serve in the General Court. Simon Bradstreet, who was Andover’s most important man and would one day be governor, was the chief witness for Chandler, saying he had read the contract before its disappearance and found it to be valid. Adding to his credibility was the detail he offered as to the contract’s terms: Hopestill was to serve as an apprentice to Chandler for nine and a half years in return for room, board, washing, and clothes, and Chandler was to teach Hopestill to read and write.

During the court actions, Job Tyler was granted the status of a pauper, which relieved him of court costs and monetary fines exceeding six pounds. However, when he lost a defamation suit by Chandler in 1665, he was required to post at the meeting houses in Andover and Roxbury, where Tyler was then living, the following notice: “... I, Job Tyler, have shamefully reproached Thomas Chandler of Andover by saying he is a base, lying, cozening, cheating knave, that he hath got his estate by cozening in a base reviling manner & that he was recorded for a liar & that he was a cheating, lying whoreing knave fit for all manner of bawdrey, wishing that the devil had him, Therefore I Job Tyler do acknowledge that I have in these expressions most wickedly slandered the said Thomas Chandler...” (Bailey). I wonder if Chandler was happy with this posting, especially with the detailing of Tyler’s accusations.

Job Tyler and his bewitched wife disappeared from Andover history when they moved to Roxbury, but they left two sons here, Hopestill and Moses. As for Hopestill, things turned out alright, but it took a while. In 1687, 22 years after his father’s litigation, Andover granted him the right to set up a blacksmith shop near his home in the south end of town (now Andover). Moses lived in Boxford and had a son whom he named after his father, Job. Moses is buried in North Andover. Sarah Loring Bailey said that, although Tyler descendants were spread throughout New England, none were left in Andover.

Bill Dalton writes a weekly column for the Andover Townsman. His email address is BillDalton@AndoverTownie.com.