National Society Colonial Dames of the XVII Century

California State Society

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The Rebecca Nurse Chapter was organized November 7, 1981 and chartered January 8, 1983. The chapter holds its meetings on the 3rd Thursday in January, September, November and 1st Saturday in May.

The chapter is named for Rebecca Nurse who was the daughter of William and Joanna Towne (née Blessing). Rebecca was born in Great Yarmouth, England in 1621. Although her exact birthdate is unknown, her baptism is recorded as February 21, 1621. Her family emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, settling in Salem, MA, though most of the Towne family would eventually move inland to Topsfield, MA. Rebecca had three sisters, Susan (baptized 26 October 1625; died 29 July 1630), Mary (baptized 24 August 1634; died c. 1692) and Sarah. She also had three brothers, Edmund (baptized June 1628), Jacob (baptized 11 March 1631 or 1632) and Joseph (born around 1639).

Sometime around 1644, she married Francis Nurse (or Nourse), who was also born in England. Her husband was a "tray maker" by trade, who likely made many other wooden household items. Due to the rarity of such household goods, such artisans were esteemed. They raised their family in Salem Town (modern day city of Salem, MA). The couple had eight children: four daughters and four sons. Their names were Rebecca Nurse (born 1642), Sarah Nurse (born 1644), John Nurse (born 1645), Samuel Nurse (born 1649), Mary Nurse (1653 - 28 June 1749), Elizabeth Nurse (born 1656), Francis Nurse (born 1660 or 1661), and Benjamin Nurse (born in 1665 or 1666). In 1672, Francis Nurse served as Salem's Constable. It was later written that Rebecca had "acquired a reputation for exemplary piety that was virtually unchallenged in the community," making her one of the "unlikely" persons to be accused of witchcraft.

In 1678 they were offered the opportunity to lease-to-own a 300-acre (1.2 km2) farm in the rural "village' area of Salem, today (Danvers, MA), originally a part of a grant given to Townsend Bishop in 1636. Rebecca and Francis frequented the Salem Village meeting house and Francis was quite active in the community becoming well respected in Salem Village; he was often asked to serve as mediator to help settle matters. The Nurses officially remained members to the Salem Towne church until their deaths, despite being very active within the village community. In 1699 the Nurses' children were able to officially purchase the farm outright and remained for multiple generations.

If you are interested in Membership in the chapter which meets in the Napa area, provide your name and email address with your potential ancestor to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century
1300 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1595
Phone: (202) 293-1700
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