John Briggs of Sandwich first appears when he receives land there on 16 April 1640 and died shortly thereafter and certainly before his widow was granted administration on his estate on 1 June 1641 [Plymouth Colony Records 2:18, and Mayflower Descendant 3:224-25] . It's very hard to learn much about people who leave so few records. John's wife's name is Katherine as seen in the inventory of his estate which also mentions his two children, Samuel and Sarah. This John is often confused with two other records for a John Briggs. The first in Watertown actually belongs to John Griggs of Watertown. The second is the passenger list for the ship Blessing in 1635. It is doubtful the name is Briggs or Biggs, it is directly below a Thomas Briggs, and the passenger's age is listed as 20, too young for this man. [Anderson, The Great Migration 1634-1635, I:400-401]
Certainly this John Briggs, was a joiner (carpenter) and his inventory attests to that. A joiner, out of apprenticeship, would be older than 20 in 1635. Additionally his daughter Sarah marries in 1654 and if an average age of 21, she was born ca. 1633, when the passenger was only 18. This is highly unlikely. If married for the first time in 1632, our John Briggs was likely born circa 1607.
There so happens to be a clue, I've never followed up on. A John Briggs, widower, married Katherine Coote, singlewoman on 19 June 1632 at St. John Timberhill, Norwich, Norfolk. This seems like a good place to start. John may have been older, this was a second marriage, and certainly perhaps he died say age 50 or so. Sadly it seems Katherine, after the inventory and probate, falls off the face of the earth as well. Samuel Briggs married Elizabeth Ellis. Sarah Briggs married as his second wife, Stephen2 (John1) Wing.
- John Briggs of Sandwich, Massachusetts by E.A. Hannibal (1962).
- An Emerson-Benson Saga: The Ancestry of Charles F. Emerson and Bessie Benson and the Struggle to Settle the United States by Edmund K. Swigart, Ph.D. (Gateway Press, Baltimore, 1995) [which has the 1635 mistaken identification].