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Subject: [GM-L] An Old Groton House & Its Many Occupants Part 2 of 3
Date: Wed, 24 Jul 2002 19:48:38 EDT

Subject: An Old House and Its Many Occupants - with Biographies Part 2
Source: Groton Historical Series by Dr. Samuel A. Green Vol I - Chapter
XVII 1887


During the excitement of Shays's Rebellion in the year 1786, owing to some
spite which the
insurgents had against Judge Champney, an attempt was made to burn his
office. Combustibles
ready for use were found concealed under the building; but fortunately the
plot was dis-
covered in time to defeat its object.

The office stood on the south side of the house, and was afterward used by
Mr. Bigelow and
Mr. Lawrence, and later by Dr. Amos Bancroft. Subsequently it was moved
across the street
and placed in a corner of Dr. Amos B. Bancroft's garden, a short distance
north of the
present Town House; after which it was again moved to the rear of his
dwelling, and still
later to the neighborhood of the railroad station, where it now (1887) stands.

According to town records, Mr. Champney was married on October 9, 1764 to
Abigail, the dau.
of the Rev. Caleb & Hannah (Walter) Trowbridge; and they had seven children,
of whom three
died during infancy. By this marriage Mr. Champney became connected with the
families of the Cottons and the Mathers. His wife was born on November 30,
1740 and died
on Oct. 23, 1775.

In November 1778, Ebenezer Champney was married secondly to Abigail Parker, a
dau. of
Samuel Parker, who had gone from Groton to New Ipswich as early as the year
1760; and by
this 2nd marriage he had four children. The 2nd wife died in the year 1790;
and in March,
1796 he m. (3) Susan Wyman, who died the following September. Hannah, a
dau. by his 1st
wife married the Hon. James Prescott, Jr. Benjamin Champney, Judge
Champney's eldest child
who was born on Aug 20, 1764 according to the History of New Ipswich, p.
347), studied law
with his father and after his admission to the bar, opened an office with him
in Groton,
during the year 1786. Here the son remained until 1792, when he joined his
father in New
Ipswich, who had removed there 3 yrs previously.


Judge Champney had a large practice and excercised a wide influence in this
During the earlier years of his professional life, while living at New
Ipswich, he was the
only lawyer between Groton, Mass. and Keene, N.H. He died on Sept. 10, 1810
at the age of
66 years.

The house was next occupied by Mr. Bigelow (see part 1) and here his children
were born,
including the Rev. Andrew Bigelow, D.D., and the late Hon. John Prescott
Bigelow, both
graduates of Harvard College and distinguished men in their respective
callings. The
latter son was the Secretary of the Commonwealth during seven years from 1836
to 1843
inclusive, and the Mayor of Boston during three years from 1849 to 1851
Two of the former Mayors of Boston have been natives of Groton and their
birthplaces were
within a few rods of each other.

Mr. Timothy Bigelow was followed by Luther Lawrence, Esq., who lived in the
house until
November 1811, when his new dwelling was completed which is one now (1887)
occupied by Eliel Shumway. Mr. Lawrence was a native of Groton, where he was
born on Sept. 28, 1778 and a graduate of Harvard College in the class of
1801. He studied law


with Mr. Bigelow and afterward on June 2, 1805 married Mr. Bigelow's younger
sister Lucy,
who was born at Worcester, May 13, 1774 and died in Boston on Oct. 6, 1856.
For many
years he was a member of the Legislature and at one time Speaker of the House
of Representa-

It is somewhat remarkable that two Speakers of the Massachusetts House should
have been
residents of Groton, and still more so that both should have lived here in
the same dwell-
ing. The coincidence is by no means weakened by the fact that Governor
Boutwell, the
present (1887) owner of the place was once the democratic candidate for the
same office
when the Legislature met on January 6, 1847 and he also was a resident of the
town of
Groton at that time.

It may be worthy of note that another Speaker, the Hon. Timothy Fuller, the
father of
Margaret Fuller who is known as the Countess d' Ossoli, was a citizen of
Groton for some
years before his death, which took place on October 1, 1835.

Mr. Lawrence had a large and successful practice in Groton. During the
spring of 1831 he
removed to Lowell, then recently incorporated, where seven years later he
became the Mayor
of that city. He was killed on April 17, 1839 by falling into a wheel-pit,
while showing
the large mill of the Middlesex Company to his friend & kinsman, Tyler
Bigelow, Esq. of

The next occupant of the house was Dr. Amos Bancroft, a physician widely
known in Middle-
sex County. He was the son of Edmund and Rachel (Howard/Barron) Bancroft of
where he was born on May 23, 1767. He graduated at Harvard College in the
class of 1791,
and studied medicine with Dr. Isaac Hurd of Concord, Mass., and Dr. Oliver
Prescott, Jr. of
Groton. He began the practice of his profession at Westford, but soon
afterward went to
Weston, Mass., where he remained until the year 1811, when he removed to


He was married on August 29, 1796 to Abigail Whiting of Hollis, N.H. After
her death which
occurred at Weston, on Dec. 4, 1799, when she was 28 years old, he was
married secondly, on
Oct 7, 1800, to Sarah, dau. of Henry & Faith (Savage) Bass, of Boston, who
was born on
April 21, 1768 and died on April 30, 1837.

He m. (3) on Oct 17, 1839 Eliza Doane of Boston who died Nov. 11, 1840 and he
m. (4) on
Oct 31, 1841, Mary Kneeland of Westford, a cousin of his 1st wife, who
survived him many
years. She was born at Westford Feb 25, 1789 and died at Groton on April 22,
1862 aged 73

To be continued Part III - p. 7
Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth

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