John Balch - First Balch in America

John Balch (Before 1605 - May 1648) was born sometime before 1605 in Horton, Somersetshire, England. Little or no information is available about John's family and we know virtually nothing about his time in England. It isn't until 1623 that we begin to see more information about John Balch. In 1623, joining with Captain Robert Gorges and others in the "Gorges Company", John came to North America - aboard the ship Zouch Phoenix (Phenix?) [2]. Landing at a place known as Wessegusset (modern Weymouth, Mass.) Robert Gorges and his company set out to build a successful colony.

There had been a previous colony in the location of the 1623 colony at Wessegusset. In 1621 a colony was established in this location but the colonists failed to prepare properly for winter. Possibly out of a sense of desperation these colonists had begun to steal from the colony at Plymouth and also from the native tribes nearby. The nearby natives began to plot an attack and were contemplating the extermination of the English settlers. In the end word got out, of the plot, and the colonists were removed to England and the attack was apparently avoided.

Shortly after the removal of the first colony in the spring of 1623 the second colony arrived with Captain Robert Gorges. The first inhabitants of this new colony, in the beginning, tried to build and make their living purely through farming. In 1624 the colonists, hoping to make a profit, established the Dorchester Company and attempted to set up a successful fishery at Cape Anne. In the end the fishery at Cape Anne was a failure and some colonists returned to England while others remained in the general area to return to agriculture. John Balch was one of about thirty colonists that remained in the region as they moved to a place bettered suited for farming. Settling in Naumkeag the colonists built a town that would one day become known as Salem.

In time the Dorchester Company would sell its rights to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and their colony was merged with that of nearby Plymouth. By about 1636 John Balch's name is showing up in town records indicating that he was one of the first thirteen executive rulers of Salem and later he is named one of the twelve selectmen for the town. In time a land grant was given to the people of the area and John Balch(being one of the "Old Planters" or first colonists) was chosen as one of the individuals to help divy up the land amongst the inhabitants(this land grant was either one thousand acres or two thousand depending on the source you consult). John would end up with a section of land, along the Bass River, where ultimately it is believed his son Benjamin built a house (the Balch House) that still stands. In time John's land and the acres surrounding it would become Beverly, Massachusetts.

Presumably John's final years were spent in developing his lands and farming. In May of 1648 John passed away willing his lands to his son Benjamin with provisions to take care of his wife.

Genealogy of John:

Father: George Balch, Sr. (One source indicates this to be the Father)
Mother: Jane Ashford (One source indicates this to be the Mother)

Wife 1: Margary
Married: Before 1628


1. Benjamin
2. John
3. Freeborn

Wife 2: Agnes Patch
Married: Unknown


1. No Children

Geni Profile & Family Tree:

Geni Profile

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Primary Sources/Links:

Our Ancestry - John Balch [1] - Passengers on Three Early Ships to New England - Arrivals on the Zouch Phenix, Abigail and Lyon [2]

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