Simon Willard (first generation)

Simon Willard (1605-1676) was an early Massachusetts fur trader, colonial militia leader, legislator, and judge.

Willard was born in Horsmonden, Kent, England and baptized on April 7, 1605. He emigrated to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1634 with his first wife Mary and their daughters Mary and Elizabeth. He was a founder of Concord, Massachusetts and served it as clerk from 1635 to 1653 and helped negotiate its purchase from the Native American owners. Willard represented Concord in the Massachusetts General Court from 1636 to 1654, and was assistant and councillor from 1654 to 1676.[1]

Willard served as an advisor to the Nashaway Company which founded Lancaster, Massachusetts in the 1640s and 1650s, and he settled in Lancaster by 1660.[2][3] In 1651 Willard laid out 1,000 acres for settlement along the Assabet River which may have included parts of what is now Maynard, Massachusetts when a Native American leader, Tantamous (Old Jethro), defaulted on a mortgage for a debt due to Concord gunsmith, Herman Garrett, for an unpaid debt.[4] In 1654/55, Willard led an expedition against Ninigret in southern New England, and removed Ninigret's Pequot wards and placed them with Niantic Sachem Harman Garrett in what is now Westerly, Rhode Island. In Massachusetts Willard served as an advisor to the Nashaway Indians and provided guns to them by order of the Massachusetts General Court.[5][6] He served as a major of militia in King Philip's War in 1676 at age 70, and he was the Chief Military Officer of Middlesex County, Massachusetts and repelled a Nipmuc force that was besieging Brookfield. He became a magistrate and died aged 71 on April 24, 1676 in Charlestown, Massachusetts while holding court.[1]

The Willard Elementary School in Concord, Massachusetts is named after Willard. The Liberty ship 0743 Simon Willard was also named after him.


  1.  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1889). "Willard, Simon, settler" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  3. Lisa Brooks, Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip's WarLisa Brooks (2018), pg. 110
  4. Gutteridge, William H. (1921). "A Brief History of the Town of Maynard, Massachusetts". pp. 12–16. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
  6. Lisa Brooks, Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip's WarLisa Brooks (2018), pg. 110


  • Willard, Joseph. Willard Memoir; or Life and Times of Major Simon Willard. Salem, Massachusetts: Higginson Books (reproduction of 1858 edition).
  • Willard, John Ware. Simon Willard and His Clocks. Dover Books (1968).

Further reading

A letter from Major Simon Willard to the commissioners of the United Colonies in 1654 is contained in Thomas Hutchinson's Collection of Original Papers relative to the History of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay (Boston, 1769). Joseph Willard wrote a Life (Boston, 1858).

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