Boston records show that a Robert Doak arrived on this Continent on November 3, 1718 aboard the sailing vessel "Elizabeth". We believe he sailed from Belfast, Ireland but probably lived in or near Londonderry. He was a Flax Weaver by training and was apparently reasonably well off because he paid his steerage and was not indentured. While the records don't show it, he probably was accompanied by a very large Doak family group.
Robert and his wife Margaret M. and their large family did not stay long in Boston. They joined a group of pioneers that were headed for a new settlement in New Hampshire. In 1718 on August 4th the 23 original proprietors arrived at Boston aboard 5 ships that arrived from Ireland on that date. Two months later another ship (the Elizabeth) arrived on November 3 with 115 more settlers including Robert and his family and probably some siblings and their families. It was not until the following Spring on April 11, 1719 that the group actually arrived on the site of their new town at Nutfield, N.H.. Sixteen plots were originally assigned on both sides of West Running Brook. Each plot was 60 acres. One of the plots was assigned to Robert and his family (all children, except James and John, were probably under legal age and all were born in Ireland) while another plot was assigned to his sons James and John who were legally old enough to own land. The records always show James and John together on a Plot. We believe that James was about 23 and John was about 21 at this time. It appears that 1/2 plots were assigned to single, unmarried individuals. The original Settlers called their new town, Nutfield after the many varieties of Nut trees found there.
By 1722 the colony at Nutfield had grown dramatically in size. Robert now owned 3 plots and James and John owned two. The town was Chartered by England and the inhabitants changed its name from Nutfield to Londonderry after their native town of Londonderry, Ireland.
We do not know precisely the ages of these three Doak men. We are tentatively estimating Robert's age as 46 and James as 23 and John as 21, at the time of their arrival in 1718. Land records from 1723 were signed by Robert and his wife Margaret M.. So we know that his wife came with him and perhaps additional sons and some daughters that were not documented by the authorities at Boston. We believe that Samuel, David, Robert, Thankful and Ann were five of the minor children. Ships' records rarely mentioned females. If there WERE other children, we would not see a record of them on the farm at Londonderry as very few records were kept in those days.
We know of the arrival of Robert from the records of the Boston Selectmen. They documented his arrival because he was "warned out" from Boston. The Scotch/Irish immigrated in groups. Whole church congregations and whole family groups came to America together. So it is not only possible, but it is probable, that the entire Doak family of brothers and sisters with their children were all aboard the "Elizabeth". If it eventually proves out that Robert and Margaret DID have a very large family and they were ALL aboard the "Elizabeth" we would be a giant step forward in our quest to explain HOW the now well documented line of Doak's in Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina originally arrived in America. This possibility is one of the hot items now being researched by other Doak researchers. There was a James Doak "from Virginia" that was warned out of Boston in 1726. Could this have been one of Roberts' brothers that originally went to Virginia and then decided to move to Boston/Marbletown eight years later? Or could it have been James of Londonderry returning from a trip to Pennsylvania trying to decide whether to sell out at Londonderry and join his relatives at Pennsylvania? If so, why was James "warned out" of Boston? He was a a land owner and as such, should have been deemed responsible by the Boston Councilmen. We hope someday to know the answers to all the above.
Note of 3/8/2006 by jrd.
"Warning Out" was a method used by Boston officials to get rid of people they did not want to stay in town. The reasons behind why people were warned out are not clear and have not been documented as far as I have been able to discover. One thing seems to be certain - people were not warned out only because there was an absolute defect in their character. Sometimes it was a character defect that was the reason, but many times it was not. So there had to be other reasons. One is left to speculate on what those other reasons might have been. Here are my ideas on why "Warning Out" occurred:
The Boston Selectmen reviewed each arrival in town to determine if they would be an asset to the town and whether they would be able to support themselves and their families and not be a drain on the town finances. The Selectmen were Judge and Jury and made their decisions without having to explain their reasons. What, then, would probably get you warned out? Here are some surefire reasons: Criminal background, being sick, being poor, being insane, being physically disabled, being a refugee thrown out by another town, or having no skill needed by the town of Boston. For example, there were no farms in Boston. It was a growing industrial community with manufacturing and shipbuilding and it was a commercial community with wholesale and retail commerce growing by leaps and bounds. It was a very busy seafaring port. So no farmers were needed and they were immediately encouraged to move on to find farm land elsewhere. There was nothing being held against the farmer as a person, it was only that there was no need for him in Boston and no way for him then, to make a living. On Nov. 3, 1718, of the total 115 people on board the "Elizabeth" there were probably 40 or so that were "Heads of Families" with the remainder being the wives and children of those 40 Family Heads. If a Family Head was "Warned Out" then the whole family was also expected to leave town. It is interesting to note on Page 63 of the Selectmen's Minutes of 1719-20, that 30 Family Heads from the "Elizabeth" were "Warned Out" and guess what they all had in common? - If you guessed that they were ALL farmers, you would be correct. In addition to that, several weeks later on the 30th of November, another ship from Ireland arrived commanded by Capt Dennis. On that ship, 21 Heads of Families were Warned Out, all of THEM also being Farmers. One can only conclude that Farmers were not needed by the Town of Boston, and though these farmers may have been well off and very hard working people, they were "Warned Out". Our Robert Doak (Doke), was first on the list. So if my conjectures are correct, it is reassuring to know that Robert was not poor or undesirable - he was just a Farmer, and farmers were not needed in Boston. My interpretation of the meaning of "Warning Out" also offers an explanation of why James Doak, in 1726, was "Warned Out" after he returned from Virginia. He owned property in Londonderry and could certainly support himself. His problem was that he was a Farmer, and the Boston Selectmen wanted to be sure he did not tarry in Boston with a skill like that!!
End of Note
We do not know when Robert or Margaret died or where they are buried. They sold their farms totaling 556 acres at Londonderry in 1725, the year after their son John, living on his farm at Donegal, Pa., sold his farm in Londonderry. We believe they took their children and went to live on the farm of their son John at Donegal. If that is so, then Robert probably died in early 1726 and is buried on the farm. There is a tax record of 1726 at Donegal, Pa. that lists John Doak "and mother" as tax payers. So maybe Robert died prior to 1726 and son John and mother ran the farm at Donegal. Due to the wonderful investigative work of Kirsten Straight and her daughter Joycelynn, we now know the exact location of the 2nd John Doak farm in the Donegal area. We have walked and photographed the land and talked to the current owner of the farm. It is likely that John owned an earlier farm from 1724 to 1727 to the East a few miles and that he sold or gave the first farm to his brother David and their mother. David would have turned 21 in 1731 and so could have been a landowner in that year. Margaret does not show up on any further Tax Records or documents, so she probably died about 1737 when David sold the farm, and Margaret is probably buried on that farm. It is likely that the primitive burial procedures in those days will make it impossible for us to ever find the graves of Robert and Margaret. Even stone headstones on farm gravesites eventually became eroded and unreadable and oftentimes were knocked down and eventually covered with sod and soil. Wooden markers were sometimes used and of course did not last but a short time. We know that three of the Doak brothers owned farms in the Donegal area - John (discussed above), Samuel and David. All three sold out after 1737 and next show up owning farms in Augusta county, Va. at Tinkling Springs in 1741/2. We think that Thankful came on the ship Elizabeth as a babe in arms. probably born on the ship or shortly before leaving Ireland. She then, would have been 16 or 17 when she married John Finley in Pa. about 1734, and Ann married George Breckenridge later on.
We also don't know where Robert and Margaret's other son James died or was buried but we do know where he brought up his family. James married Martha Rankin Sterling in Boston in 1726. They had at least three sons (James Jr., Robert, John) but a birth record has been found only for Robert. James was a Yoeman (Farmer) and also dealt in Land transactions. He is also shown as a Surveyor in Londonderry in 1738 and he signed a Petition limiting the number of Taverns in town in 1758. We believe that James died in August of 1776, but that is not yet proven. We have not found his Will. His son John was chosen as a Constable for the Westerly side of Beaver Brook in 1756 and he is recorded as voting for approval of the Town Accounts in 1758. We think that that son John died in 1778, but that is not yet proven. We have found no records for the third son, Robert, but it is your Web Master's opinion, that HE followed his Uncle John and went west to Pennsylvania, having at least three children in the Harrisburg, Pa. area starting about 1758. We think he then went to South Strabane, Pa. in Washington County where he was granted 400 acres in 1785 which came to be known as "Doak Plains".
We know that Robert and Margaret's son John (discussed in some detail in a paragraph above) sold his holdings in Londonderry in 1724, having previously moved West to Donegal, Pennsylvania. "Old" Donegal no longer exists as a town, but originally was located on a line between what is now Marietta, Pa. and Mt. Joy, Pa. close to what is now Donegal Mills Plantation. The Scotch-Irish farms were lined up on both sides of what is now called the Chickies Creeks running from the Susquehanna north towards Manheim, Pa.. We know today, that the actual Doak farms were further west on the Conewago creek. During those years in Pennsylvania John reportedly married Mary Wilson and after moving to Augusta County, Virginia, raised a large family. He died in North Carolina.
We do know that James' son James Doak Jr. was a Shoemaker and married Janet Boyes. We have a good record of James Jr. of Londonderry and the family that HE propagated. One notable son was Robert, who in 1810 married Abigail Crosby and went to Compton, Quebec to farm and raise his family. He fathered four generations of Doak's in that community before they sold out in 1907/1910..