In the early 1700s our British settlers had begun to move west, from the port towns in what we now call the North Shore area, north of Boston, to begin farming the inland areas of Massachusetts. In addition to the dangers of infectious disease, French and Indian wars, poor diet or accident, women were subject to the potential complications of childbirth as often as every two years or so during a 25 year period of childbearing. After 250 years, this memorial of one such woman survives in the cemetery at Littleton Common.
Tryphena (or Trypheuny) Powers was born 22 May 1711 in Watertown, MA. She was the fifth and last child of Isaac Powers and Mary Poulter. Mary had had 5 children by her first husband, Samuel Winship. It was the second marriage for both parents. It appears that Isaac also had four older children.
The name Tryphena was used by English Puritains on both side of the Atlantic until the 18th century. It was mentioned by Paul in Romans, and comes from the Greek, meaning delicate.
When she was sixteen, she married Jonathan Lawrence about 1727 in Groton, in northern Middlesex County, MA. He was born in 1703, so was nearly eight years older than his bride. The Lawrance/Lawrence family, in several variants of spelling, was numerous in the area. His grandfather Peleg has purchased land directly from the Nashoba Indians in Groton/Littleton.
Their 11 children were born over a period of 24 years, from the time Trypheuny was aged 17 to 41. The first 9 were listed in Groton records:
- Jonathan, born 27 August 1728
- Isaac, born 19 May 1731
- Abel, born 16 July 1733
- Tryphenia, born 26 September 1735
- Betty, born 24 February 1737
The Littleton records indicate a vote on 8 January 1738 accepting the Lawrance brothers Peleg, Jonathan, Eleazer and Samuel as voters in Littleton. This does not necessarily indicate a relocation, but a change in the boundary between the two towns. Children registered in Littleton are:
- Olive, born 19 May 1740
- Peter, born 17 October 1742
- Abigail, born 26 July 1745
- Timothy, born 31 March 1748
- Lucy, born 15 May 1750
- Benjamin, born 2 August 1752
Just three weeks after the birth of her last child, Tryphena died on 25 August 1752 in her forty-second year. Her oldest child Jonathan was 24, and her daughter and namesake was 17, and would have been well able to care for the younger children, with help from her sisters.
Two years later Jonathan remarried to Lydia Fletcher. He lived to be 86 and is buried beside Tryphena in Littleton.