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Ask a Genealogist: A seventeenth century land definition.

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In reference to Plymouth Colony Records Court Orders Vol 5 1668-1678, Pg 24, I am trying to understand the following statement: "The Court have granted unto Anthonie Annible, a competent accommodation of land where Mr John Howland, John Chipman and Jonathan Sparrow are granted land lying on Taunton River near Teticutt...purchased by Capt Willet". Question 1: What is a competent accommodation, and who owns the land? Annibel or the other three? Ques 2.I have found some background on Capt Thomas Willet, but no references to his purchase of property in this area. Any suggestions?


The exact meaning of the term “competent accommodation” is unclear, but in the context in which it is presented, it would appear to mean a sufficient amount of land to sustain a family. You will note that the words “accommodation” (noun) and “accommodate” (verb) are used frequently on the pages preceding and following the quotation in question, in regards to grants of land to others.

As to who owns the land, it was owned by Plymouth Colony and doled out to settlers. If you read the entire sentence, it states that Capt. Willett purchased the land “for the country,” meaning that he had acquired title from the Indians, and the land could now be granted to citizens of the colony. Portions had already been granted to Howland, Chipman and Sparrow, and Anthony Annable’s land was to be in the same area (on the Taunton River near Teaticket).

The full sentence reads: “The Court haue graunted vnto Anthonie Annible a competent accommodation of land, where Mr. John Howland, John Chipman and Jonathan Sparrow are graunted land lying on Taunton Riuer neare Teticutt, in the purchase of land that Capt Willett purchased for the countrey [emphasis added] if it may be had there; if not, elsewhere, if it may be found within this jurisdiction.”

Capt. Thomas Willett was a major figure in Plymouth Colony, and held a number of elected and appointed offices and positions of public trust. A summary of his life appeared in the Register, 61:157-64. He and Anthony Annable also are the subjects of extensive biographical and genealogical sketches in The Great Migration Begins, available on .

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