New England Coffins



 Coffin family house, Newburyport, MA,
housed 240 Coffins since 1654.

The Tristram Coffyn family were among the first famlies of Newburyport, MA. Tristram and his pregnant wife, Dionis Stevens, and four children (Peter, Elizabeth, Tristram, and James), and his widowed mother, Joanna (her husband Peter having died 1628 at age 48), and his two unmarried sisters, Mary and Eunice, sailed on a 60 – 90 day journey on the “Hector Clement” and arrived in Newburyport in 1642. Their fifth child, John, apparently was born aboard the ship. Four other children (Deborah, Mary, John-2, Stephen) would be born in the New World, John, Mary, and Stephen dying in their infancy. The Coffyns were Royalists and may have come to America to avoid parlimentary rule under Cromwell.

Tristram soon moved his family to what is now Haverill, MA, having negotiated with the Indians for some land. He was the first white settler to plough land with a plough he made with his own hands. Times were difficult their with the Indians. After a few years of farming, and enduring much hardship, Tristram moved his family back to Newburyport where he opperated a ferry, kept Coffyn’s Ordinary (tavern/inn) which was run mostly by Dionis. In the 1650’s, after the ferry crossing was replaced by a floating bridge, Tristram sold his property and moved to Salisbury and became Commissioner there. In the late 1650’s Tristram Coffyn and a few others met with a Thomas Mayhew, the owner of Nantucket Island, which was independent of the Mass Bay Colony, and made arrangements to purchase the island and continue their adventure there. The island was purchased for 30 pounds and 2 beaver hats that were made by Tristram, Jr. Among the eight original owners of Nantucket Island were Tristram Coffyn, Peter Coffin, and Steven Greenleaf (husband of his daughter Elizabeth). Tristram was granted first choice for his lot of land. James and Tristram Coffin, Jr. also became land partners.Tristram Coffin, Jr. married Judith Greenleaf (widow of Henry Somersby with whom she had 4 children) and had 10 children. Tristram’s sister, Elizabeth married Steven Greenleaf and had 10 children. Our line of decent can be traced to Phebe Adams who’s mother, Sarah Dole, was related to Elizabeth and who’s father, Henry Adams, was related to Tristram Coffin. Joanna Coffyn died in 1661 and was remembered as being a remarkable woman.

The Coffin’s have an interesting history which you can learn more about at the following links:

Coffin – a 1910 history
My Father’s Shoes – Our Coffin Story


One thought on “New England Coffins

  1. Nice post, so thanks! BUT, as I am descended from both of them, it seems incorrect to say: “Mary, and Stephen dying in their infancy” (unless you have good contradictory information).

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