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Chapter 1: Ancestry.

The Sumner family is of English origin. The name was at first Summoner or Somner,—the title of officers whose duty it was to summon parties into courts. Roger Sumner died at Bicester, in the county of Oxford, and was buried in the church of St. Edburg, Dec. 4, 1608. William, his only son and heir, from whom descended Charles Sumner, in the seventh generation, was baptized in St. Edburg, Jan. 27, 1604-5. About 1635, he came, with his wife Mary and his three sons, William, Roger, and George, to Dorchester,1 Massachusetts, and became the founder of an American family, now widely spread.

Many of the first settlers of Dorchester were from the southwestern counties of England. They arrived in 1630, less than ten years after the settlement of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. They were attracted to the particular site by the salt-marsh, which lay along the bay and the Neponset River. This furnished an immediate supply of hay, and dispensed with the necessity of clearing at once large tracts of forest land. Among them were expert fishermen, who were pleased to find at hand this means of support. The territory which they selected for their new home presented one of the fairest of landscapes,— diversified with upland and meadow, the Blue Hills and the river.

At first, the organization of the settlement was imperfect. In 1633, a local government was organized; and the next year the town sent delegates to the first general court or legislature. The community was still in its infancy, when William Sumner joined

1 Annexed to Boston, 1870.

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