Who was Simon Onge and
What Role did he play in the life of John Fuller of Newton
Symon Onge was born in Lavenham, Suffolk, UK and bp.11 April 1619, the son of Edmond Onge and Frances Reed who married in Brent Eleigh (close to Lavenham) 8 April 1602. Edmond died in 1629/30 and on 14 June 1630, Frances was granted administration of his estate which totaled £297. Frances and family immigrated to New England on the Lyon arriving 5 Feb 1630/1 and were among the first residence of Watertown, MA. Watertown records indicate grants of three parcels of land to Frances Onge: 30, 6 and 6 acres. The vital records indicate that Frances Onge ‘widow’ was buried in Watertown Cemetery 12 Nov. 1638, “Æ 55 y”.
The age of the surviving children, bp. dates from the Lavenham Parish records, when Frances died in 1638:
- Marie bp. 1606 and probably is the Mary, age 27 who immigrated on the Francis in 1634 with the Hammond family from Lavenham and Justinian Holden, who acquired the Onge propriety in Watertown, MA. Maria/Mary would have been 32 when her mother died. No further info found.
- Elizabeth bp 1616 would have been 22 and probably married to Justinian Holden, who acquired the Onge property in Watertown. She apparently died in 1673 with no children.
- Symon bp. 1619 would have been 19 when his Mom died. In the 1643/4 land inventories in Watertown showed that Simon held three lots and one 3 acre lot could be traced to his mother. In 1646/7 he sold his house and ground in Watertown. Simon died intestate in Newton late in 1678, unmarried.
- Isaac bp. 1627, is likely the Isaac who married 1670 in Watertown to Mary Underwood. They may have moved to New Jersey where they raised their family.
- Jacob (no Jacob is shown in the Lavenham church records, so may have been the John bp. 1624 or may have been born in 1630/1 after his father died) so would have been either 14 or 8 when his mother died. He is shown as an original “proprietor” (land owner) of Groton, MA; married before 1671 to Sarah ____ and they had s. Jacob Ong b. 9 Feb. 1671 in Chelmsford, MA. Sarah Ong, m(2) 22 Jan. 1690 in Chelmsford to Abraham Byam. Jacob was named as Administrator to his brother Simon’s estate in Newton, MA on December 17, 1678. Jacob’s own Probate Records (case #16232) show that Jacob Ong of Groton died there 1685.
Simon Ong (shown as ‘Ong’ in these records) died intestate (without a Will) in October, 1678 in Newton and the Probate Court arranged an inventory, which was taken on Nov. 8, 1678 by William Bond, Nathan Fisher and Henry Spring. The inventory totaled £86 of which the buildings and land of 22 acres totaled £70.
Court Order – Administrator of Estate
Court Order 17 Dec, 1678
At a coun[ty] court hold[en] at Charlestown [Massachusetts] Decemb[er] 17th 1678
Jacob Ong is granted administration on the estate of Simon Ong his Bro[ther] Deceased in Cambr[idge] Village and he has subm[it]ted an Inventory of his estate on Oath.
Bona Copia Tho[mas] Danforth Record[ed] [Judge Probate Court]
John Fuller Letter to the Probate Court
On Dec 14, 1678 John Fuller of Newton wrote a letter to the Judge of the Probate Court and asked the Judge to please inform the Court that the 22 acres of land in the estate inventory was his land and that he only allowed Simon Onge the right to live on the land during his lifetime. In this letter, John admitted he owned “the greater part of that land mentioned of in Simon Onge inventory” which indicates that he recognized that Simon had paid some amount towards the value of the land.
To Mr Danforth
Honoured Sor [Sir] I would Intret [entreat] one small kinese [kindness] of you that you would bee pleased to Informe the honoured Court for mee that the greates [greatest] part of that Land mad[e] menicion[mention] of in Simon Onge Invanoy[inventory] of his Estat[e] is my Land, and that he had it but for the time of his Life, and then it was to return to mee agene [again] as it will apeare, theerfor I thought good to Informe the honoured Court of it: that so tha[they] might not grant out administration to my estat[e]: for the Land is mine and it never was Layed out to Simon Onge nor he never had any Righting of it. So I rest your [servant] to sarve [serve] you in Love, dated 14: 10: month 78 [Dec 14, 1678] [signed] John Fuller.
Fuller vs Onge
[a summary by …………….W. L. Fuller]
In February 1678/9 John Fuller raised objections to the estate and on 9 June 1679 formally sued Jacob Onge for £50 damages for withholding uplands and meadow belonging to Fuller and for cutting and removing wood from the property. The case was heard on 17 June, 1679.
Witnesses were heard from both sides, John Fuller’s side were his two sons, pointing out that there was no deed of sale and the land in questions was covered in the Fuller farm deed and this was a rich man giving a poor man a chance to make a living during his lifetime and the improvements would be payment for the use of the land; on the Onge side Justinian Holden from Watertown, said that he recalled a sale some 20 years earlier and that Simon had paid a pair of Oxen towards the land. It does not appear that the Court was aware that Holden was married to Simon’s sister. Some of the neighbours testified that they thought that Simon owned the land. The housekeeper confirmed that there was no deed of sale. The jury entered an interesting verdict; “if purchasing, paying for and possessing and improving lands for more than 20 years without a deed in writing will give legal title, then we find from the defendant [Onge], otherwise for the Plaintiff.” The Bench followed the legal trail as there was no paper showing a sale had taken place – the Court found for Fuller.
The closeness of the verdict prompted Jacob and the Holdens to proceed and 17 October 1679 Onge petitioned the General Court of Massachusetts claiming that John Fuller had taken a box of papers that contained the deed from the Onge house after Simon died. Again both sides brought forward witnesses claiming for their side and at last John Fuller took the stand denying that any sale had taken place. The General Court reversed the Middlesex ruling stating that Onge should have the land in this dispute, unless John Fuller paid the estate £60 within two months and the court cost of some £11. This case probable led to the law being clarified in 1682, confirming that long term occupation of land, even without evidence that a purchase/ sale had taken place could be taken as proof of ownership. For a more comprehensive summary of these cases see Fuller vs Onge.
[Note: Simon Onge’s father, Edmond Onge, was one of the witnesses in 1618 to the Will of James Fuller in Lavenham, England and in John’s letter he says that he let Simon use the land for his lifetime. John would not have done that for a stranger, therefore this letter appears to tie John to Lavenham, James Fuller and the Onge family. This has led to a Most Likely Ancestral Line for John of Newton ]
- England Births and Baptisms, 1538-1975, database, Family Search LAVENHAM,SUFFOLK,ENGLAND, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 402302; 824046.
- The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III. (Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010), (Originally Published as: New England Historic Genealogical Society. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III, 3 Vols., 1995, pages 1360-63.
- The Ong Family of America, Albert R. ONG, A.M., M.D., Martins Ferry, Ohio, USA, 1906
- Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871. New England Historic Genealogical Society online database, 2014. From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives, Boston, MA, USA; Case No. 16233, Simon Ong, 1678.
- Ernest Frederick Fuller, descendant of John Fuller of Newton, John Jr. Line, family researcher, resident of Newton, MA.