Richard and Elizabeth Hooper
Owners from 1684 to 1701
Richard Hooper purchased an eleven acre farm including the land this house sits on, on February 14, 1684, for 45 pounds. He lived here with his wife and two children until he died on December 8, 1690. The inventory of his estate included a house that was well furnished with books “beyond a bible,” a barn, an orchard, cattle, pigs, horses, and a servant.
Prior to purchasing the land, there is no mention of Hooper in the records of Cambridge or Watertown and it is believed that he moved to the area from New Hampshire. In the intensely insular Puritan communities, being from another colony would have raised some suspicion. He worked in medicine, but in what capacity is unclear. He is referred to as a physician in records of the purchase of the farm, but in a court case he is referred to as a surgeon. These different positions would have placed him in radically different social classes.
Soon after Richard’s death his wife, Elizabeth, fell on hard times. In 1691 she petitioned the selectmen of Watertown to keep an inn and to serve alcohol. Within a year she was reprimanded for entertaining questionable guests, and by the time of her death in 1701 the house was virtually empty, lacking even a sheet to wrap the corpse. Was this because the family were outsiders? Because Richard was a surgeon? Or was it just the harsh climate of Puritan New England?