The first man bearing the surname Clapp to enter the colonies was Roger Clapp. He was born on 6 April 1609 in Salcombe Regis, Devonshire, England. Roger sailed on the ship Mary and John in 1629 (1630) and landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. According to his own account, they arrived in Plymouth after the harvest. In March of 1630 he left Plymouth for Nantasket, Massachusetts. He was a Puritan and was deeply religious. A short time before his immigration he received the permission of his father to go to the city of Exon, England to be under the ministry of Reverend John Warham. Reverend Warham was on the same ship sailing from England as Roger Clapp. Also on the ship was Joanna Ford and her father, Thomas Ford. All the passengers on this ship went to Dorchester, Massachusetts where they arrived in June of 1630.
Roger Clapp 1609 — 1690
Joanna Ford was born on June 8, 1617 in Dorchester, England. She was the daughter of Thomas Ford and Elizabeth Charde. Joanna had at least 3 sisters. Abigail who married John Strong, Mary who married Captain John Cook and Hepzibah. Roger and Joanna Ford were married on November 6, 1633 in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
Roger Clapp was a Captain and chosen as a selectman fourteen times. He was chosen to represent Dorchester as Deputy of the court which brought him to Boston. In 1635 while Roger and his wife, Johanna remained in Dorchester for a period of time, her father, Thomas Ford, moved to Windsor, Connecticut along with a sizable portion of Dorchester residents. At that time Windsor was huge and later divided into other town. The Clapps had 14 children during their marriage and some of them lived to have families of their own.
Roger Clapp (also spelled Clap) did many things, however, his real career was that of a Captain in the Military of Massachusetts. Located in what is now South Boston on the shore of Boston Harbor was Castle Island. Castle Island is the oldest military site in North America established in 1643. Captain Clapp was stationed there as Captain of the Dorchester Company. In August 1665 he was named Captain of “the castle,” a post he held for 21 years. In September 1686 he left the castle having resigned and was given a nine gun salute. He never left Boston and remained there until his death on 2 February 1690 in Boston.
Joanna and Roger are both buried in Boston, Massachusetts at King’s Chapel Burying Grounds. Their headstones are still there in good condition.
—Dame Ellen C. Sewell
Roger Clapp's gravestone
ROGER CLAPP’S MEMOIRS, WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE VOYAGE OF THE MARY AND JOHN 1630 (reprint 62 pages)
Roger Clapp’s memoirs was originally written in the 17th century, is one of the few first-hand accounts of life in New England during the Great Migration. Roger Clapp wrote after the voyage of the Mary & John 1630. He was a Mary & John passenger of 1630 and describes the early days of hardships and suffering in the wilderness of those brave and hardy English men, women and children. This edition includes newly gathered material, photos and maps, from SallcomRegis Devon, his birthplace. Roger Clapp was born 6 April, 1609 in Sallcom, Devonshire, England, and died in 1691.
The English homestead of Roger Clapp still stands today and it is now a private dwelling. Roger Clapp was baptized April 6, 1609 in the church of St. Peter & Mary, in the parish of Salcombe Regis.
The Mary and John sailed from Plymouth, England, 20 March, 1630 and landed at the point called Nantasket. The voyagers founded the town of Dorchester, Massachusetts.
The voyage of the Mary and John was important in the history of America. To Dorchester, Massachusetts, to Windsor, Connecticut, to Northampton, Massachusetts, the Mary and John’s path was similar to the Mayflower to Plymouth, Massachusetts. You will find in the “Memoirs” one of the most authentic documents of early colonial history.