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Windows on the Wings: A Closer Look - Stephen's Will

The origin of the Wing family in Massachusetts is a bit hazy. We know for sure that the four sons of Reverend John and Deborah Wing; Matthew, Stephen, Daniel, and John, arrived sometime in the 1630s. It is believed that they came on the same ship with Reverend Stephen Bachilor in 1632, but to date we can’t confirm this. Matthew eventually went back to England but Stephen, Daniel and John remained in Massachusetts. All lineal descendant WFA members can trace their lineage back to one or more of these three brothers.

Stephen and his wife Oseah Dillingham took up residence in Sandwich, Massachusetts, circa

1646, in what has come to be known as “The Fort House”. One of the most precious documents hanging in the Fort House today is the original will of Stephen, who died in 1710.

Wills of that age are windows to the life of its author. All their possessions, from dishes to livestock to tools, are listed. Stephen’s will, dated Dec. 2, 1700, had some interesting items in it. He gave various sums of money to his children Nathaniel, Elisha, Sarah and Abigail. But his son John received “my great driping pan and spitt”. Perhaps Stephen had already given money to John in his lifetime. Maybe the driping pan and spitt was just as valuable to John as the money given to his siblings.

As far as we know, most of the items listed in Stephen’s will are long gone. The “iron kittle and old pott” were probably disposed of long ago. Old bedsteads and pillows most likely no longer exist. But today we have one item that existed over 300 years ago. It is a crowbar (pictured left) passed down from Stephen to his son Nathaniel. While it may have seemed a mundane item when it was bequeathed in 1710, today it holds a place of honor in the Fort House.

The Fort House is neither heated in the winter nor cooled in the summer, creating an unfriendly environment for aged documents. I said earlier that Stephen’s will hangs in the Fort House. That was incorrect.

Last year our curator Christina Shipps brought Stephen’s will and other important WFA historical documents to the Northeast Document Conservation Center to get an estimate to professionally preserve them for future generations. We hope to begin that process when funding is secured. Once funding is available all our precious documents… not only Stephen’s will but his son Ebenezer Wing’s will, (1731) Stephen Wing’s will (1765) and Joseph Wing’s will (1777) will have the best possible chance of surviving to tell our family’s history to our great grandchildren.

For a complete transcription of Stephen’s will:

Stephen Wing Will
Download PDF • 1.38MB

Your donations to the Wing Family of America support activities like preservation of our treasured documents. Please consider contributing to the Wing Family of America - Click here to donate now.

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