A General History of the Northern Line of Feltons in America
The northern line of Feltons presently occupying this country descended from Nathaniel Felton and his wife, Mary Skelton Felton. According to official records of Salem and the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the First Feltons appeared in the area between 1630 and 1635. Analysis of the various records would indicate that Nathaniel Felton, born in 1615 or 1616. was most likely the first of the Feltons to enter the Bay Colony, in 1633. After looking into the conditions of the area, he returned home to Great Yarmouth, England, where the family had resided for more than a hundred years, and made atrangements to bring additional family members to the colonies.
In 1635, Nathaniel returned tp Salem with his widowed mother, "Mistress" (a title of great distinction in those days) Ellen Felton, his sisters, Judith and Margaret, Benjamin, (an unsubstantiated report in Savage's Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England says he was Ellen's son but he is now believed to be Nathaniel's uncle), and Benjamin's wife, Mary. In 1636, Ellen received a 20 acre land grant in the area of Salem known as Felton Hill. In 1637, Nathaniel received a 2 acre land grant in this area that subsequently became Danvers and now Peabody, Massachusetts. In 1644, Nathaniel constructed his home on the property. Over time, other Feltons constructed their homes at Felton Hill. A Felton continually occupied the land until 192--, when the Smith family purchased the 2 surviving homes, those of Nathaniel Felton, Sr, and Nathaniel Felton, Jr. The Peabody Historical Society currently owns the property and conducts tours of the Nathaniel Jr. and Sr. houses. Nathaniel Felton, Sr. was the "venerable patriarch" of the Massachusetts Feltons. He was a juror in 8 different years between 1648 and 1674. He was a Grand Juryman in 1660, 1661, 1667, 1679 and 1680, and was forman on several occasions. He was given the title of Sargeant in 1667, Ensign in 1679 and Lieutenant in 1681. He became a selectman in 1682. He served as executor, appraisor and overseer of various estates and in 1692 he drafted and became the first signer of a paper in support of John Proctor, who stood accused at the Salem Witch Trials.
Nathaniel Felton was married to Mary Skelton, fourth child of the Reverend Samuel Skelton who was the first Minister of the First Church of Salem, Masachusetts.
Nathaniel and Mary had 8 children. Many of our earliest ancestors are buried in unknown locations on Felton Hill. Later generations are buried at the end of present day Felton Street, in the Felton Cemetary, established in 1780.
An extensive accounting of the Feltons of Massachusetts and Great Yarmouth can be found in the following sources: A Genealogical History of the Felton Family, by Cyrus Felton, 1886, A Genealogical History of The Felton Family, by William Reid Felton, 1935, and The Felton Family, by Nancy Felton Koster, 1963. These books are currently available through Higginson Book Company at www.higginsonbooks.com and other sources. A Message From The Association Historian
Our Felton Family's Earlies history goes back in time to the very conquest of England, when two brothers were in William's army. For their service they were given land. That land was in Northumberland near the Scottish borders.
At the end of the twelve hundreds, a second son was given the village and lands around it as his inheritance. His eldest brother inherited a Barony. The name of the village was Felton. The name comes from the old English "Fel" for field and "ton" for village. Our name Felton comes from those terms. The Family were mainly warriors in service to the various Kings of England and gained fame and fortune by their service. In 1381, one of the men was a trusted soldier of the Black Prince and was "created a Knight of the Garter." He had served the Prince in many battles in France and became the "Seneschal" or keeper of the province of Guienne and Aquitaine. Our first ancestor to come to the newly open colonies of America was Nathaniel Felton, son of John Felton of Great Yarmouth. Nathaniel came with his uncle Benjamin Felton to what at that time was the colony of Salem, in Massachusetts. He returned to England that fall and sold the family properties and returned with his mother, Ellen Felton, and two sisters, Margaret and Judith. In 1644, he married Mary Skelton, the daughter of the Rev. Samuel Skelton, first Minister of the Colony. The descendants of Nathaniel and Mary Felton make up what is today known as the Northern line of Feltons. In about 1670, Richard Felton, a cousin of a younger generation, came to the Southern colonies with his wife, Alice, and settled in the Carolinas. Their descendants make up the Southern line. There is also a line of Feltons, that come out of the "Low Lands" of Germany, that descend from a John Felton or Johanne Veletin, which is the same name. There are records of a John Felton being sent to the Low Lands in the mid 1500s to be in charge of the family business interests there. I believe that this line is a part of our English family, but have not found confirming evidence at this time. We can all claim family that in general were strong, working people, endowed with gentleness, integrity, and truth as a way of life. We all should be very proud of our ancestors who came here so long ago to make a new way of life of freedom for us that followed. We welcome all Felton descendants and would be most happy to have you join us as members of the Felton Family Association.
Cora Felton Anderson
Historian, Felton Family Association