William Stevens was a highly regarded shipbuilder (ship-carpenter). In England he made a Royal Merchant ship of 600 tons. He was preparing to go to Spain where the wages were better but he was persuaded to go to New England.
William Stevens probably came to New England before 1632 and probably resided in Boston.
He was in Salem in 1636 where his children Isaac and Mary were baptized. His daughter Ruth was born in 1641.
He was admitted freeman in 1640.
In 1642 he was one of the commissioners in Gloucester appointed by the General Court for ordering town-affairs. He received five hundred acres of land lying between Chebacco and Annisquam Rivers. Also, he received six acres on the Meeting-house Neck. He lived on eight acres of land at the Cut, near the Beach.
The King of England wanted to interfere with legislation of the Colony that infringed on Colonial rights and privileges. William Stevens declared "that he would bear no office within this jurisdiction, nor anywhere else, where Charles Stewart than any other man, as king; and that he abhorred the name of Charles Stewart as king." For stating his hatred for the king he was sentenced to a month's imprisonment, pay a fine of 20 pounds and costs, and be deprived of his privileges as a freeman.
His wife petitioned the General Court for relief. She represents him as deranged and herself as aged and having a family.
There is no record of William Stevens death or a settlement of his estate. The five hundred acres and his estate at the Cut were mortgaged to Francis Willoughby in 1667. It was never returned to him. His other land was put in trust for his wife Philippa and was managed by his sons James and Isaac.
William Stevens son James (my ancestor) may have followed the trade of his father since ship-carpenter's tools and an oak plank are mentioned in his inventory. James was a deacon in the church, a military officer, selectman (1667, 1674 - 1691), and representative ten years.
William Stevens was highly regarded as a great shipbuilder.
Babson, John J, History of the Town of Glucester Cape Ann, 1972
Perley, Sidney, A History of Salem Massachusetts, Volume I 1626 - 1637, Salem, Mass., Sidney Perley, 1924.