John Sheldon (1660-1705)
Parents
Father John Sheldon (c1630-before 1704)
Mother Sarah (c1640-after 1704)
Vital Dates
Born c1660 in Newport, Aquidneck Island, Rhode Island (estimated)
Married unknown - c1680 in Rhode Island
Died December 1705 in Kings Town, Rhode Island
Children
1 John Sheldon m. Herodias Watson
2 Elizabeth Sheldon (c1684-?) m. Daniel Sunderland
3 Joseph Sheldon m. Mehitable Godfrey
4 Isaac Sheldon (1686-1752) m. Susanna Potter
5 Abigail Sheldon
6 Mary Sheldon
7 Dinah Sheldon m. Jabez Gifford

John's parents, John and Sarah, had been early Rhode Island colonists who arrived in Newport, Rhode Island very quickly after arriving in the colonies, or possibly directly from England as there is no record of them anywhere else in the colonies. The first records of his father are in the Town of Newport in 1652 and 1657 and therefore it is assumed that John was born in Newport on Aquidneck Island (now officially Rhode Island) in about 1660. We estimate his birth based on the first official record of him, a petition to King Charles that he signed along with his father in 1679. He would have been an adult at the time of this signing but still quite young as he had not yet married, so we estimate his age at about 18 or 19 in 1679.

Father and son, as "John Shelldin" and "John Sheldon, Jun'r", both signed the petition, along with 40 others of Narraganset, to the King praying that he would finalize which colony had control over the "Narragansett Country" or to make a new Province for themselves in order to rebuild after King Phillip's War. As mentioned before, John Jr was still quite young at this time, probably in his late teens. To imagine it, it must have been quite a moment for him. Although he didn't sign the document himself, the petitioners would have asked his permission. A petition to the King of England, an important request to organize a governing body to save the land that he had always known. It must have been an honor for him, this young man with the future ahead of him. The petition described how many of the families had lived in the Narragansett Country for some time and that many of their children had been born there or grew up there and that they considered it their place of nativity. This tells us that John Sr probably moved his family to this area early on and that John Jr grew up here.

Although we don't know about his parents, John Jr did have some eduction which he probably received at home. He may have also received some education through the educational foundation left behind by Roger Williams in Newport. In an inventory of his estate taken in 1704, he had 10 shillings worth in books (while many colonists had no books other than a bible). We also know from this inventory that he was, like most colonists in Rhode Island, a rancher with several cows, horses, pigs and sheep, but also had skills as a carpenter. Knowing that his father was not adverse to a good time and drinking, having been arrested for disorderly conduct in Newport in 1657, we can get an idea that the Sheldon's were a liberal family who knew how to have a good time - somewhat rare in the puritan climate of New England.

John was probably married somewhere around here in the time line. So let's try some new calculations. We know that John's daughter Elizabeth was already married to Daniel Sunderland when John wrote his will in August of 1704. If she had married earlier that year, and if she was as young as 16 when she married, then the very latest she could have been born is 1688. But the likelihood is that she married Daniel earlier and that she was slightly older when she did marry. So lets say that it is unlikely that she was born before 1680, giving us an eight year window that Elizabeth was born between 1680 and 1688. Average that out for an estimated birth year of c1684. Elizabeth was at least the eldest of the sisters, and possible the oldest of all the siblings. That and the consideration that we've estimated John's birth to c1660, and we can estimate that he was married between 1678 and 1682. But there are so many averages here that it's hard to really pinpoint anything. So we'll just give a simple marriage estimate as c1680.

Now we have another problem, who did he marry? Normally I would just leave the name blank and leave it at that until some documentation points to something, but a plethera of possible names have been swimming around the internet for years. The bad part? I have no idea where any of these names have come from. The most common names given are Susan Cleremont and Deliverance Palmer. Other suggestions I've seen recently are Sarah Havens and Sarah Palmer, but I think these are errors, someone confusing John's wife with his mother Sarah and then further confusing it with Deliverance Palmer. The addition of the surname Havens is completely knew and I have no idea of the origin of this. I almost hate to even mention them, but in case there was some sort of documentation that I have just not seen yet, I thought I should at least make a note of it. So back to the other two - Deliverance Palmer and Susan Cleremont. These names are very common and are often given together as having both married John. Each genealogist seems to randomly pick which is the mother of John's children. There is slightly more evidence, it should be noted, for Deliverance Palmer as one of John's sons, Isaac Sheldon, named one of his sons Palmer Sheldon

On October 20, 1687, now in his late 20s, married and with a few children, John Jr bought 230 acres of land near the Pettacomscott Purchase for 7 pounds from Benjamin Congdon, the grandson of the Earl of Pembroke - being "the land granted to me [Congdon] by William Brenton, Benedict Arnold, etc". Congdon had previously purchased the land from Brenton on September 20, 1671 but "did not move thence for some years". It is my guess that this occurred shortly after the death of John Sr and that John Jr obtained the seven pounds sterling from his inheritance - but this is only a theory. There was, in fact, no record of John Sr after 1679 and he had certainly passed away by 1704, as John Jr mentions his mother Sarah, but not his father, in his will that year

His will was dated August 15, 1704 and was proved (which occurs shortly after death) on January 16, 1706. This record is the best documentation we have for his children and also gives us his mothers name which is rare for the time, and gives us a little insight into their lives by giving the inventory as I mentioned before. The full will and inventory is as follows:

To eldest son John, dwelling house I now live in and land belonging to it. To son Isaac, half of a tract of land in Kings Town (except 20 acres formerly given my son-in-law Daniel Sunderland), the western part with dwelling house. To son Joseph, eastern part of said tract. To daughter Elizabeth Sunderland, L4. To daughters Abigail, Mary and Dinah Sheldon, each L4. To son Joseph, two steers, two heifers and a saddle. To son John, rest of estate and he to take care of my honoured mother Sarah Sheldon, and pay children as thy come of age, said legacies.

Inventory of estate (1706) - L125, 7s, 6d, viz:
- - a feather bed
- - 3 wool beds
- - pewter
- - warming pan
- - books 10s
- - gun
- - cutlass
- - bandoliers
- - stillyards
- - carpenter's tools
- - 4 cows
- - 2 steers
- - 2 two year old
- - a yearling
- - 2 calves
- - 4 geldings
- - 4 mares
- - 31 sheep and lambe
- - 15 swine
- - 2 pair wool cards
- - 4 chairs
- - 2 tables
- - shoemaking tools
- - 20 loads hay
- - &c.

It has been suggested my many genealogists that John Jr died in Kings Town, which is very possible. But rather than the actual town of Kings Town I think it may be more accurate to say that he passed away (possibly) in the outskirts of town close to the area known as West Kingstown, a modern subdivision of South Kingstown. In his will he refers to the "dwelling house I now live in and land belonging to it", and separately a "tract of land in Kings Town" with dwelling house. I think that it's possible that the first dwelling house and land mentioned is that of his father, the original Narragansett Country settlement, which we know from a map by Carder H. Whaley was located near the modern intersection of Route 2 and Liberty Lane. There was also believed to be a cemetery near this intersection called the "Sheldon Lot", since lost, where his parents were most likely buried. This is also within walking distance, less than a mile, from the site of the "Great Swamp Fight" memorial. John Jr and his family have also been buried here, as there is currently no other record of their interments.