The Litchfield triplets—Lincoln, Polly, and Hubbard—were born on August 11, 1796 in Scituate to Abner and Mary (Lincoln) Litchfield. Surely this was big news in that small town; triplets were rare. While they were born in Scituate, the triplets had many connections to Hingham; several of their siblings and children married Hingham residents and, in turn, their children were born in Hingham.
When the triplets were born, their parents, Abner and Mary (Lincoln) Litchfield, were in their late 30s and had been married for 16 years. They already had six children (Jacob, Celle, Rachel, Hearsey, Samuel and Abner, Jr). Abner was a landowner, farmer and Revolutionary War veteran descended from Laurence, the progenitor of the New England Litchfields. Mary was descended from the Lincolns of Hingham.
The triplets were given family names and not only did they all survive at a time when infant and child mortality was high, they all lived long lives. Hubbard and Polly lived to 78 and Lincoln to 80. This was so unusual that when, in 1889, the Burlington Weekly Free Press ran an article titled “Long-lived Triplets,” which featured three sets of New England triplets, the Litchfields were included.
There is a family photo of the trio taken in their later years. It came to the author from her great aunt, Ruth Litchfield Marsh of Hingham, great-granddaughter of Lincoln Litchfield. The photo is undated, but here are the triplets: Lincoln, Polly and Hubbard.
Lincoln Litchfield, first of three
Lincoln was a farmer like his father and grandfathers before him. He also worked as a shipwright. In April 1830, he married Isabella Merritt in the First Parish Church in Scituate. He was 33 and Isabella, the daughter of Paul and Deborah Merritt, was 24.The couple had three children: Joseph in 1831, Mary in 1833, and Jairus in 1841. Jairus died of consumption as a child but Joseph and Mary grew up in Scituate and married Hingham residents. Mary married Hingham blacksmith Henry Merritt in 1853 and moved to Leavitt Street. Three years later, Joseph married Sarah Trowbridge and moved to School Street. Their mother, Isabella, lived to see them both settled in their new homes, but did not live to see her grandchildren. She died in December 1857 of consumption and was buried in the Merritt Cemetery in Scituate. She was 52.
A year later, Lincoln remarried. His bride, Adeline Hatch of Cohasset, was 43; he was 62. Lincoln lived a long
time, dying on May 7, 1877, age 80 years and 8 months. He was buried with this first wife Isabelle in the Merritt Cemetery. Second wife, Adeline, was buried there 16 years later.
The “Litchfield Litchfields”
Lincoln’s triplet siblings, Polly and Hubbard, first appear in the public record with their marriages. Interestingly, both of them married Litchfields–making Polly “Polly Litchfield Litchfield” and Hubbard’s wife, Eliza “Eliza Litchfield Litchfield.”
Hubbard Litchfield, second of three
Hubbard was 28 when he married Eliza Litchfield in 1824. They had four children: William, Jane, Thomas, and Caroline. In 1839, when Caroline was three years old, Eliza died at age 33. She was buried in the Merritt Cemetery. A year later, Hubbard remarried Scituate resident Martha Brown.
Hubbard was a farmer and shipwright who lived close to his brother Lincoln throughout his life. He died March 29, 1875 at age 78 and is also buried in the Merritt Cemetery. His sister Polly died two days later; their names are inscribed on the same page in the Scituate town death records.
Polly Litchfield Litchfield, third of three
At birth, the third triplet was named Mary Lincoln Litchfield, for her mother, but as her mother was called “Polly,” she would also be called Polly. Polly married Perez Litchfield, a Scituate farmer, in about 1820. According to town records she had eight children: Charles, 1821; Perez L., 1823; Solon, 1825; Mary L., 1826; Augusta, 1830; Angeline, 1832; Abner, 1835; and Perez, 1837. Polly’s husband Perez died of heart disease in 1860 at age 68. She died at 78 in 1875 and was buried in the Union Cemetery in Scituate. Her gravestone is inscribed:
“Mary L. / Wife of Perez Litchfield /Died March 31, 1875 / Aged 78 years 7 months 19 days /Into thy hand o father I commit my spirit.”
Polly died the same day her brother Hubbard was buried.
The Litchfield triplets left many relatives, and residents of Hingham, Scituate and neighboring South Shore towns residents will find familiar names among them including Merritt, Studley, Marsh, Lincoln, Trowbridge, Briggs, Fearing, and Young. The large intermarried Merritt and Litchfield clans followed family naming conventions, challenging historians and genealogists. This photo printed on a cabinet card is Lincoln’s granddaughter Bella Merritt Fearing (1869-1937). Her parents are Mary (Litchfield) and Henry Merritt of Leavitt Street. Her paternal grandmother was Isabella Litchfield Merritt, and her maternal grandmother was Isabelle Merritt Litchfield.
- In 1856, Joseph Henry Litchfield married Sarah Trowbridge, daughter of Roswell Trowbridge and Sarah (Jones) Trowbridge, in Hingham. Two of their children were born in Hingham: Roswell Lincoln Litchfield (b. 1859 m. Martha Sprague) and Wilbur Trowbridge Litchfield ( b.1869, m. Frances Briggs). Source: Hingham Town Records.
- In 1853, Mary Brooks Litchfield married Henry Merritt, son of Henry Merritt and Isabella (Litchfield), in Hingham. Their children born in Hingham: Henry Lincoln Merritt, July 20, ___; Mary Isabel Merritt, Sept. 24, 1869; Anna Whitney Merritt, Apr. 7, 1879. Source: Hingham Town Records.
- Children of Polly and Perez Litchfield: Charles, b. 1821; Perez L., b. 1823; Solon, b. 1825; Mary L., b. 1826; Augusta, b. 1830; Angeline, b. 1832; Abner, b. 1835; and Perez, b. 1837. Source: Scituate Town Records.
- The private Merritt Cemetery in Scituate was established about 1775 and last used about 1938.
- For more about the Litchfields and other Hingham families, see: The House on School Street, Eight Generations, Two hundred and four years. One family.