George Byam

{All of the Byam information on this web-site is simply a collection of materials found regarding the life and history of George Byam and his descendants, rather than a research of original material created by me.  Most of these items have been found in summaries of Chelmsford, Massachusetts vital records, as well as a few historical items found on the Internet.   Our line follows some of what is listed in the first article below for the first few generations as follows: George, Abraham, Isaac, John & Susanna Byam.  I have added “Bold” type face to the presentation below to denote our direct ancestors.   I’d like to give my daughter, Julie Slagle credit for finding and preparing all of these documents for me for the various Byam generations on this site. 

Lionel Nebeker  -- 2014}

Just found this fantastic source on family search, but they didn't add this info onto the site! Let me know if you want to add it, or if you want me to. It all checks out with everything I've found so far, but I haven't looked into the more recent history of other lines. But our line (john through George Byam) is all accurate  -- Julie Slagle:

This book that was published by the LEWIS HISTORICAL PUBLISHING COMPANY in 1914 has now become public domain and Google has scanned its pages.


All the American Byams trace their ancestry to George, the immigrant, mentioned below.

(I) George Byam was bom in England or Wales, and came to this country before 1640.

He settled first in Salem, Massachusetts, where he was admitted to the church September 27, 1640. He removed to Wenham, and with wife Susanna sold land in 1657, then located in Chelmsford, about 1653. He was admitted a freeman May 18, 1642. His will was dated March 10, 1680, and proved June 15, 1680, bequeathing to wife Susanna and son Abram, and to kinswoman Deborah Jaques. Children : Abigail, born January 7, 1643, probably died young ; Abraham, mentioned below ; Mary, an adopted daughter, child of Mary Hersey, deceased, was born September 15, 1680.

(II) Abraham, son of George Byam, was baptized at Salem, April 14, 1644. He married (first) Experience Alford, of Scituate; (second) Mary Ony. He died in 1732. Children: Jacob,  removed to Vermont; Abraham, lived on the homestead; Isaac, mentioned below.

(III) Isaac, son of Abraham Byam, was born on the homestead at Chelmsford, and settled later on the farm afterward owned by John Byam, a short distance from his father's homestead. He had two children: Samuel, died young: and John, mentioned below.

(IV) John, son of Isaac Byam, was born in 1730. in Chelmsford, and settled there. He

was a drummer in the revolution in Captain John Minot's company. Colonel Dike's regiment, from December 13, 1776, to March 1, 1777; also in Captain John Moore's company, Colonel Jonathan Reed's regiment of guards. from April to July, 1778, guarding British prisoners at Cambridge. He married Sarah Blanchard.  Children: John; Zebediah; James; Solomon, born 1770, father of Otis, and grandfather of Raymond Stratton Byam, of Canton, Massachusetts; William, of whom further; Simeon, married Thankful Reed, and inherited the homestead; Susannah; Mary; Hannah; Sally; Deliverance; Anna.

(V) William, son of John Byam, married Rebecca Herrick.

(VI) Ezekiel, son of William Byam, was born at Chelmsford. He manufactured the

first Lucifer matches made in this country, in 1835, at South Chelmsford. A hundred of

these matches sold for twenty-five cents. They were ignited by drawing them through a piece of bent sandpaper. Although clumsy and ex- pensive, the lucifer match was the first device to do away with the old flint and tinder. The friction match was invented by A. D. Phillips, of Springfield, Massachusetts, October 24, 1836, and Mr. Byam purchased first the right to manufacture and soon afterward the whole patent. In 1837 ^^ began to manufacture the matches and laid the foundation of the vast industry' with which his name has been associated for the past seventy years. Very soon the Byam matches were known all over the country. The following verse was printed on the wrapper: "For quickness and sureness the public will find, These matches will leave all others behind; Without further remarks we invite you to try them, Remember all goods that are signed by E. BYAM."

The old match shop, as it was called, stood on the old road leading from South Chelmsford to the center of the town, nearly opposite the residence of Eli P. Parker. It was a small building set into the bank, with one story above the basement. The matches were put up at the William Byam house, which stood upon the site of the residence of the late E. P. Byam. After about a year Mr. Byam removed his business to Boston, but in 1845 he resumed manufacturing in Chelmsford and continued there for three years. Then the business was removed permanently to Boston. He married, February 15, 1818. Charlotte, daughter of John and Hannah (Butterick) Bateman. Children: William Augustus, Martha, Ezekiel George, Charles Favour and Charlotte.

(VII) Ezekiel George, son of Ezekiel Byam, was born at Chelmsford, August 29, 1828. He succeeded his father in the manufacture of matches, and took an active part in upbuilding the industry, which for more than thirty years has been known under the name of the Diamond Match Company. He resided for many years in Charlestown, and was a member of the Bunker Hill Monument Association. He died February 17, 1896, in Boston. He married, August 15, 1850, Lydia Jane Woodbridge, bom June 15, 1827, daughter of Samuel and Dorcas (Russell) Woodbridge; she died July 9, 1898, in Boston (see Woodbridge). Children:

1. Lottie Jane Byam, born September 19, 1855 married Charles Leavitt Beals Whitney, son of John Milton and Mary Leavitt (Beals) Whitney; he died September 14, 1892; they had children, bom in Brookline: Charles Beals Whitney, born July 9, 1883, graduate of Harvard College in 1907; Mary Leavitt Whitney, born June 13, 1885, married, October 5, 1912, Edward Lawrence, son of Edward Lawrence, of Brookline, Massachusetts; and Byam Whitney, born March 15, 1887.

2. Gertrude Forrester Byam, born at Charlestown, September 18, 1865; married, October 14, 1885, David Kimball Horton (see Horton).

Byam home more recently

Chelmsford, Mass.

George Byam

Death in Chelmsford, Mass

28 May 1680

Life Sketch of George Byam

From yet another source--author unknown:

George Byam was probably born in England; d: May 28, 1680 in Chelmsford, MA. He was one of the earliest settlers and an upstanding member of the church, having come with Rev. John Fiske from Wenham in 1653. It is said his family was Welsh in origin, although no direct ties to English or Welsh families has been established.

In 1646, George took in the orphaned child of Sister Hersome after her death, but a family squabble later arose over the division of her estate, which became the source of agitation within the church. In 1661, George Byam, who offered to clean the meeting house when Abraham Parker refused to perform the task in the absence of John Nuttings, "…that it be kept in a desent posture & of the hower [hour] glass, Cushion &c. For a yeere." He testified on behalf of numerous persons who wished to join the church at Chelmsford and Wenham.

During a church meeting in 1657, Nathaniel Shipley was charged with lying, saying that Goodwife Byam "was a hard woman and would beat him often, and that he trod on her toes and did run away from her." And, he stated that while "sleeping on a plank at the mill, Thomas Adams took [him] by the heels and hung him over the pond and made him believe he would drown him if he would not help him to husk that night and come to be catechised." At this point, Abraham Parker speaks out, "drown the rogue." Shipley was charged and confessed to five lies.