Jacob Perkins: Cooper and Constable or Philanderer and Fornicator
My eighth great grandfather led an illustrious life. I am descended from him through two of his children, Joseph Perkins and John Perkins. Born in Ipswich, Massachusetts on 15 Feb 1685, he later purchased extensive lands in York and Wells, Maine. He lived near the area that is now called Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine.The book Jacob Perkins of Wells, and His Descendants by Thomas Perkins written in 1947 paints a pretty picture of Jacob. He worked as a cooper (barrel maker) and was a selectman, surveyor of roads and the town constable in Wells. He was a large man, called “Much Big Perkins” by the local Indians of whom it was said that he was not afraid. In 1736 he was appointed to the committee to help finish the meeting house in Wells. Good citizen, hard worker, nice guy. Right? Well, the records tell a different story.
The Perkins book states that Joseph Perkins born on 8 February 1717 was the son of Jacob and his first wife Lydia. The vital records of York, Maine, however, state that: “Deborah Webber, her Child, called Joseph Perkins [was] born in York Feb. 8, 1717.” Province of Maine Court records in October of that year show that Jacob Perkins was called into court to answer a charge of “bastardy.”
Court Record [6:228] “We present Deberoh Webber of york for haveing a bastard Child.”
[6:229] “Jacob Perkins being bound over to this Court by recogniscence for being the reputed father of a Bastard Child begotten on the body of Deberoah Webber of York, he Denying the fact, And Joseph Sayward of sd York Appeared and Acknowledged himself bound & Obliged in a bond of fifty pounds that the Town of york shall not be Charged with the Maintenance of sd Child, Its therefore Considered by the Court that the sd Jacob Perkins be Acquitted paying fees of Court 20s.”
In other court records, Jacob is charged with multiple counts of “non-attendance at church,” “profanity,” “trespassing,” “cursing,” “assault” and “debt.” Bad guy? Good guy?
Jacob denied the charge of “bastardy” and was acquitted. He was charged 20 shillings for court fees, the equivalent of a little over $210.00 dollars in today’s money. In addition, the town of York refused to be responsible for the welfare of Deborah’s child. (Where is Maury Povich and DNA testing when you need them?)
Joseph died before 15 October 1747, long before his (alleged) father, Jacob, who died intestate in 1772. Joseph would not be mentioned in any probate records. Sadly, we may never know if Jacob ever acknowledged that Joseph was his son.