Edward Small was born circa 1589 in Bideford, Devonshire, England and died circa 1665 of unspecified causes. He married Elizabeth Unknown Small (1603-1665) 1624 in Bideford, Devon, England.

The best information that is backed by actual sources, both in Bideford, Devon, England, along with Maine and Massachusetts, is "Descendants of Edward Small of New England And The Allied Families," a three volume set, which has pictures, maps, copies of various Smalls, with a well searched introduction to the set, of the history of various Small's in England. It states that the Small's were of Saxon origin and lists prominent Smalls, many of whom were in Parliament in the 1300's.

It covers Small's in other parts of England. Unfortunately for those of us descended from Edward, there are no records found anywhere in England of his parent's names. On page xxxix of the introduction, it has, "Elizabeth wife of Edward Smale" was buried February 10, 1665, in St. Mary's parish at Bideford. As no other "Edward" is recorded there (though Edmond is common), the husband of Elizabeth, continued on page xl was still living; but the veil over the past has not been lifted, and his final resting place remains unknown. In 1646, the town of Bideford was ravished by a plague, "which appears to be occasioned by the landing of a cargo of Spanish wool." The two sons of Edward Smale reaming in Bideford, Edmond, baptized March 2, 1630 and William, baptized February 4, 1634, were never mentioned again, it is probable that they were among the unrecorded dead of the time.

Edward Smale, our second immigrant ancestor by that surname, was born about 1600, probably a few years earlier. He lived at Bedeford (By-the-ford) County of Devon, southwest England, and was a clothier manufacturer and merchant of woolen goods.

The “clothiers were capitalists, members of the powerful and extremely influential Guild of Clothworkers to which arms were granted. They supplied the capital and employed the workers of the industry; as shearmen, weavers, dyers, fullers, websters, etc. The vocation of clothier was of much more importance than retailer of cloth.” The historian Kent writes that “The occupation was of considerable consequence and estimation in those times and was exercised by persons who possessed most of the landed property in the weald, insomuch that almost all the antient families of those parts, now of large estates and genteel rank in life, and some of them enobled by title, are sprung from and owe their fortunes to ancestors who had used this great staple manufacture, now [1790] almost unknown here.”

Edward Smale was married to Elizabeth whose surname we do not know. He was the father of six children, all of whom were baptized at the ancient Norman font of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church at Bideford during the years 1625 to 1634.

Edward Smale and his oldest son, Francis, a lad twelve or fourteen years of age, sailed from England to America in about 1635. It is thought they first stopped at Plymouth, Massachusetts, to see John Smalley, about whom we have already written. It is supposed that these two men were brothers and there is evidence supporting this belief but we have no final proof. We are certain that Edward Smale and his son Francis had settled in Maine by 1640 and there is evidence that they were there several years before that date. He had built a house and made improvements at Sturgeon Creek, now Eliot, before 1643. On July 25, 1643, Edward acquired a homestead east of where the Cammock creek flows into the Newicheannock river and northward to Sturgeon creek. The map here with provided indicates this early holding of our second Smalley ancestor.

Edward was a cloth manufacturer in England but nothing has been found to indicate that he undertook that work in America. We do know that he was a husbandmen and fisherman. He owned fishing craft and worked in and out from the mouth of the Piscataqua. He was one the of the men who laid the foundation for the settlement of Piscataqua, later incorporated as Kittery, “the most prominent point and center of interest” in the Province of Maine. The name Kittery is Indian origin and means “right angle”.

Edward Smale was for a considerable time a resident in or in the neighborhood of Kittery. This settlement was most important. It had an excellent harbor and the river was navigable for ships of a hundred tons weight for a distance of eighteen miles from its mouth. Kittery was at the center of an excellent fishing area and the land back of it provided “a good soyle” and there was an abundance of excellent timber for ship building and other needs.

“That Edward was a person of culture and refinement is evident from his autograph.” The Trewlony Papers, Maine Historical Society Collection, Second Series, volume 3 page 214 says “Edward Smalley, one of the founders of Piscataway, appears to have been a man of respectable position and considerable talent.” That Edward Smale was a man of prominence is indicated by the fact that he was a member of the first General Court held at Saco, June 25, 1640. He was listed as a “gentleman”. During the sessions of the court he was one of the twelve jurors spoken of as “good men and true”. Then the General Court met again at Saco October 21, 1645, Mr. Edward Smale was elected a Magistrate. Two years later, on June 30, 1647, the General court met at Wells to inquire into the accidental killing of a fifteen year old boy. Mr. Edward Smale was the second named of the twelve men selected on “the Jury of the Crownes quest”. On December 5, 1651, when an important civil case involving 300 £ came to trial, Mr. Edward Smale was foreman of the jury.

In those days, the General Courts had legislative as well as judicial authority over the whole Province of Maine and the fact that Edward Smale was so prominent a member for so long a period indicates his importance.

The fact that Edward Smale was so prominent a citizen and elected Magistrate makes all the women among his descendants eligible to membership in the society of Colonial Dames.

In 1653, Edward was a resident in the Isles of Shoals, a group of important islands located some nine miles south of Kittery. During that year he signed an important petition as one of the residents of the Isles. Noting is further recorded of him in America and it is presumed that he returned to his old home at Bideford on the river Torridge in England.

Marriage and Family

Elizabeth the wife of Edward Smale never came to America and what became of his three younger children is not known. Elizabeth died in 1665 and is buried in the old church yard in Bideford. The record in the church book states that she was the wife of Edward Smale. “That she was mentions as wife, not widow, indicates that Edward was still living.” No record of his death has been found and his final resting place is unknown.


  1. Francis Small (1625-1713) - bap. October 6, 1625 at Bideford, England - Immigrated to America- much posterity.
  2. Elizabeth bap. July 6, 1627 at Bideford, England; died young.
  3. Mary bap. May 5, 1629 at Bideford, England
  4. Edmond bap. March 2, 1630 at Bideford, England
  5. Elizabeth bap. October 10, 1632 buried Dec. 27, 1635 at Bideford, England
  6. Willliam bap. Feb. 4, 1634 at Bideford, England


Offspring of Edward Small and Elizabeth Unknown Small (1603-1665)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Francis Small (1625-1713) 1625 Bideford, Devonshire, England 1713 Truro, Barnstable County, Massachusetts Elizabeth Unknown Small (1630-)
Elizabeth Small (1627-1632)
Mary Small (1629-)
Edmond Small (1630-1704)
Elizabeth Small (1632-1735)
William Small (1633-)



See Also

Footnotes (including sources)