Mathuriean (Maturin) Ballou, 1722 - 1804




Providence, Rhode Island, Smithfield, Rhode Island, Scituate, Rhode Island, Richmond, New Hampshire


Maturian Ballou was born in Providence, Rhode Island, on October 30, 1722, to Peter Ballou (1689–1754) and Rebecca (Esten) Ballou (1695-1787).(1) Maturian was the namesake and great-grandson of Maturian Ballou (1615–1662), who immigrated to the English colonies from England and established his French Huguenot family in Providence as one of the town’s original founders and settlers.(2) The younger Maturian, who is identified as a turner working in Smithfield and Providence, Rhode Island, was related to several known craftsmen working in the wood trades. He likely learned his trade from his father, who worked as a cooper and also likely as a turner, and his second cousin Jonathan Ballou, just one year younger than Maturian, worked as a joiner in Providence.

The Ballou family carried on the name Maturian with gusto, often producing several Maturians in each new generation. While the evidence points to the turner being the man born in 1722 to Peter and Rebecca, Peter had a brother named Maturian (ca. 1685–1760), who may be confused with his nephew in some records. The timeline of marriage records, references in Peter Ballou’s will, and the fact that Peter was working in the wood trades himself and therefore in a position to train his own son all lend credibility to the turner Maturian being the man born in 1722.

Maturian likely began the formal period of his apprenticeship with his father around 1736 at the age of fourteen, but he would have grown up in and around the shop and gained a familiarity with the tools and trade. Peter Ballou is identified in various court records as a cooper, but his probate inventory includes a group of "new chears and rounds for chears," a "pole tree," likely referring to a spring pole or pole tree lathe, a "tenant saw" or tenon saw, general "Shop Touls," and boards. These items indicate that in addition to coopering, Peter also did turning work and produced chairs.(3) Most apprenticeships ended at the age of twenty one, which for Maturian meant that he had completed his training by 1743.

At some point around this time in his life, Maturian married Lydia Harris (1728–1773), who is identified as his wife in two deeds that they cosigned in 1758 and 1759.(4) The 1758 deed gives evidence that the turner Maturian was the son of Peter Ballou because it documents Maturian selling twenty acres of land in Smithfield to Peter Ballou, Jr., his brother. Peter Ballou the father died in 1754 and stipulated in his will that Maturian, the elder of his two sons, would receive twenty acres of his land (which he described as bordering the land of his brother, the elder Maturian) as well as other mortgaged property. The will also instructs that Peter, Jr., his younger son, would receive the remainder of the land on the homestead.(5) The deed from 1758 is likely documenting the transfer of some of this land from Maturian to his brother Peter, Jr., in order to carry out their father’s wishes.

In 1750, Maturian bought a lot of land in Providence from George Jenckes, a yeoman from that town.(6) In 1752 Maturian and a Samuel Bagley took the probate inventory of the estate of John Arnold, Jr., which included twenty six pine logs at a sawmill.(7) This small detail suggests that Arnold may have been a fellow craftsman in a woodworking trade and access to a sawmill would have served Maturian well. That same year Maturian began to preach in the Baptist Church, a calling he pursued until 1790.(8) In 1756, Maturian witnessed a document in which Thomas Woods of Providence, a housewright, gave power of attorney over his estate to his wife, Elizabeth.(9) Lastly, in 1759 Maturian sold a house and some amount of land (or entered a mortgage transaction, possibly) in Providence to William Jenckes, a blacksmith from Cumberland, Rhode Island. (10) The income from those sales may have enabled him to purchase land and a dwelling house in Scituate, Rhode Island, in 1759.(11) In 1767 Maturian sold his house and land in Scituate in preparation for a move to Richmond, New Hampshire, with a number of other yeomen from Smithfield, Glocester, and Cumberland.(12) He bought land in Richmond in 1768, was formally ordained a minister there in 1770, and continued to live there until his death in 1804.(13)

Caryne A. Eskridge and Patricia E. Kane

1. Maturian’s first name is alternately spelled Mathurian, Maturin, Matturian, or Mathurieau among other variations. Rhode Island Vital Records, 1636–1850: Town and Church Records, vol. 2, p. 211. Accessed online at American Ancestors,

2. U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s–1900s. A land record from August 1754 records Jonathan Ballou, Maturian’s second cousin, selling (or perhaps mortgaging) "half a house lot, Stamper’s Hill, Providence, 2nd division to Maturean Ballou, which I Jonathan purchased of my father Samuel Ballou" to John Foster, a Providence blacksmith. This reference likely indicates the immigrant Maturian Ballou. Jonathan’s mention of both Maturian and his father in connection to the land suggests a family lineage. Jonathan Ballou, Providence, shop joiner, deed to John Foster, Providence, blacksmith, April 23, 1775, recorded June 24, 1755, Providence Deeds, vol. 15, p. 20, Providence City Hall, R.I.

3. Peter Ballou inventory, Smithfield, cooper, died May 9, 1754, recorded October 17, 1754, Smithfield Town Council and Probate, vol. 2, pp. 147–148, Central Falls City Hall, R.I.

4. Maturian Ballou, Providence, turner, deed to Peter Ballou, Jr., Smithfield, yeoman, 1758, recorded April 18, 1759, Smithfield Deeds, vol. 4, pp. 330–332, Central Falls City Hall, R.I. Maturian Ballou, Providence, turner, deed to William Jenckes, Cumberland, blacksmith, March 12, 1759, Smithfield Deeds, vol. 1, p. 324, Central Falls City Hall, R.I.

5. Peter Ballou last will and testament, Smithfield, turner, April 18, 1754, Smithfield Town Council and Probate, vol. 2, p. 145, Central Falls City Hall, R.I.

6. George Jenckes, Providence, yeoman, deed to Maturian Ballou, Smithfield, turner, March 5, 1750, recorded May 10, 1751, Providence Deeds, vol. 12, p. 457, Providence City Hall, R.I.

7. John Arnold, Jr., inventory, Smithfield, gentleman, died December 11, 1750, Smithfield Town Council and Probate, vol. 2, pp. 75–77, Central Falls City Hall, R.I.

8. Adin Ballou, History and Genealogy of the Ballous in America (Providence, R.I.: E. L. Freeman and Son, 1888), pp. 65–69.

9. Thomas Woods, Providence, housewright, deed to Elizabeth Woods, Providence, 1755, recorded 1756, Providence Deeds, vol. 14, pp. 221–222, Providence City Hall, R.I.

10. Maturian Ballou, Providence, turner, deed to William Jenckes, Cumberland, blacksmith, 1759, North Providence Deeds, vol. 1, p. 324, Pawtucket City Hall, R.I.

11. James Seaman, Scituate, yeoman, deed to Maturian Ballou, Providence, yeoman, 1759, Scituate Deeds, vol. 5, p. 99, Scituate Town Hall, R.I.

12. Adin, Ballous in America, 1888, p. 67, citing Scituate Deeds, vol. 5, p. 615 and vol. 6, p. 583.

13. Adin, Ballous in America, 1888, pp. 67–69; Hosea Starr Ballou, "Rev. Malturean Ballou’s Record of Marriages," New England Genealogical Register 79 (July 1925): 244–247.