The Richardson - Hathorne house on Woburn Street in Wilmington was used for early town meetings. There is a record of the 1740 Town Meeting being held there.
In 1740, it was the home of Samuel Hathorne, who had come from Lynnfield in 1737.
In his 1880 historical address, Rev. Daniel Noyes lists the house as having been there in 1730, when the town was founded.
A key point of discussion in the 1740 Town Meeting concerned the town pastor. Rev. James Varney had been the pastor, and had left. Isaac Morrill was proposed as pastor. Seven of the possibly 30 men present dissented from his election. These included Ebenezer Jones, Lt. Benjamin Harnden, John Harnden, Capt. Samuel Walker, William Butter and Samuel Hathorne.
Samuel Hathorne was descended from Maj. William Hathorne (1606/7-1681), who settled in Salem. Samuel would probably have been a third generation descendant.
Maj. Hathorne’s third son, fifth child, was John, who became a judge in the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. It is said that he was particularly accusatory in his examination of witnesses, and that he was the only judge involved who did not later recant and apologize for his condemnation of people to death.
A later descendant was Nathaniel Hawthorne, born in Salem in 1804. So ashamed was he of the record of Justice John Hathorne that he changed his name upon graduation from Bowdoin College, adding a W. He became one of the most prominent novelists of the Romantic period in the mid-1800’s. Among his works were The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables.
This writer has not developed a clear line for the Hathorne family. Nathaniel Hawthorne evidently was a cousin of sorts to the Wilmington Hathornes, but the exact relationship has not been determined.
The Wilmington book of births, marriages and deaths lists 16 Hathorne births, including nine to John and Esther between 1744 and 1766. Eight of these were boys.
The Hathorne family disappeared from Wilmington about the time of the Revolutionary War, 1775-1782. The last birth recorded was in 1768. The last marriage recorded was in 1780, between William Hathorne of Woolwich and Mary Jenkins of Wilmington. Woolwich is a town near Bath, Maine, then part of Massachusetts.
It was speculated that the Hathornes were Tories. In 1774, the Town Meeting ordered the town treasurer to pay in full the amount assessed by the Continental Congress — clear indication that the town was leaning toward the colonists. It was also ordered to form a committee to draw up a “solemn league and covenant.”
Appointed to this committee were Cadwallader Ford, Jr., Timothy Walker, Lt. Ebenezer Jones, Joshua Eames and John Hathorne.
Two weeks later, the committee made its report, which was unanimously adopted, and a committee was appointed to gather signatures on the covenant. In four of the five names, it was the same committee. However, there is a note that one member of the committee refused to sign. That man would be John Hathorne.
The other four members of the committee all marched to Concord on April 18, 1775, and two of them, Ford and Walker, were captains of Minutemen companies.
After that time, there are no Hathornes listed in town records.