The farmhouse at Bennett’s Farm on Fox Creek Road (aka Labor in Vain Farm House) was built in 1680 by Henry Bennett, who was born in England but was one of the early settlers of Ipswich. He bought land for the 200-acre farm in 1654 from Jonathan Wade and became known as “Farmer Bennett.” He farmed here for 40 years, and sold the farm to John Wainwright in 1698. He died in 1707. Bennett also owned land on Hog Island, Castle Neck and Plum Island.
A suit was brought against Bennett in 1684 by Daniel Epps who owned the area around Castle Hill, for enticing away and harboring his Indian boy, Lyonel. This was the sad situation of the last original Indian family known to have lived in Ipswich, as recorded in “Salem: Place, Myth and Memory”:
“In 1670, a family of Indians had appeared at Epps’s Ipswich farm. They consisted of an old squaw, her son Robin, her daughter, and the daughter’s two very young children. The old squaw was infirm, her daughter was terminally ill, and Robin was apparently unable or unwilling to work. They were refugees fleeing from the upper Merrimac, where Mohawk raiders had killed several members of the family. They came to Epps’s farm because in past years they had dwelt upon the land, knew Epps, and apparently had no other place to turn for help. Epps took pity on them, providing them with food and supplies. After a few months, the young squaw passed away, but on her deathbed she asked Epps to look after her young son—still less than one year old. The boy was named Lionel—after Epps’s son. The Indians continued to live on Epps’s land, with his support, for about nine years. Then the old squaw moved away, and Robin sold his young nephew Lionel into servitude to pay for gambling debts. Epps tried for several years to get Lionel freed from his alleged owner, Henry Bennett. He initially lost the case, but he won on appeal to the Court of Assistants.”
“Farmer Bennett” of Ipswich, Massachusetts. Husband of Lydia Perkins Bennett. He immigrated by 1650 and probably married Lydia by 1651. After Lydia’s death, Henry married Mary (Smith) (Call) Burr, widow of Phillip Call and John Burr. Mary was the daughter of Richard Smith of Shropham, Norfolk, England. Henry was still living as of 1707.
Henry Bennett lived for decades on his 200-acre farm in Ipswich, bought from Jonathan Wade in 1654 and sold to John Wainwright in 1698. He also owned land on Hog Island, Castle Neck, and Plum Island.
Although Henry Bennett posed some initial challenges for 19th-century genealogists (he was apparently never made a freeman), he had some prominence and means.
In 1672, his brother William Bennett, a vintner in Bishopsgate, London, England, left Henry £100 sterling. One of Henry’s neighbors made an unwelcome effort to collect the money for him at fifty percent commission. This led to a trans-Atlantic lawsuit. Henry prevailed.
Henry Bennett was also involved in a lawsuit concerning a Native American boy, an indentured servant named Lyonel. “The case is interesting as showing the condition of perhaps the last Indian family that lived in Ipswich” (NEHGR 29:168).
Known children of Henry Bennett and his first wife, Lydia Perkins Bennett:
- Jacob (1651-Mar 5, 1685/6), m Sarah ___
- John (1655-1675)
- William (1657-aft 1685)
- Henry (1664- ), m 1: Frances Burr, 2: Margaret ___
- Thomas, ( -1700), m Elizabeth ____ abt 1692
First Period features
First Period features, in the form of an exposed, decorated frame, are seen in the right-hand room and chamber. In the right-hand room, the longitudinal summer beam, the chimney girt, the front (south east) corner post and the chimney posts have inch-wide flat chamfers and lamb’s tongue stops. The chimney post has the added embellishment of a taper stop near the floor. In the right-hand chamber, all the framing is exposed and has inch-wide flat chamfers and lamb’s tongue stops. Rising braces are exposed in the rear wall of this room, suggesting the possibility of plank frame construction. In the attic, a principal rafter/common purlin roof made with oak timbers is visible.
The house retains Second Period trim on the fireplace walls in the right-hand room and left-hand chamber, including panelled cupboard doors in the downstairs room and raised-field panelling and a bold bolection-molded fireplace surround in the upstairs room. Trim in the Federal style including mantel pieces is found in the right-hand chamber and the c. 1810 wing to the left.
Source: Anne Grady, for the Massachusetts Historical Commission, 1986. View MACRIS