Sunday, January 29, 2012

John Gage of Ipswich b. 1606 Boxted, Suffolk and Penelope D'Arcy-Not his mother

If you have read any of my other blog posts, you will know that it drives me crazy to see junky genealogy stuff. You know what I'm talking  about, silly dates, wrong parents, born in places that didn't exist, etc. So here is yet another post about an interesting man who has a good deal of bogus information floating around out there on the internet.  This is the story of John Gage of Ipswich. 

A lot of effort has gone into finding the ancestry of John Gage and at some point early on, erroneous information was published on his parentage. According to Robert Charles Anderson, author of "The Great Migration Begins", there is not enough concrete evidence to say definitively who John's parents were, however he concedes that with further research it could be possible to prove that a John Gage born in Suffolk, at the right time, and right place might be the man.  This John was baptized on 21 April 1606, in Kersey, Suffolk, England. His parents were John and Jane (Lufkin) Gage, who lived in nearby Boxford.  Boxford is only a few miles from Groton, Suffolk, and if you know your Massachusetts history, you will recall that this was the home of John Winthrop, first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In fact, the Winthrop family opened a private boy's school in Boxford and frequently attended sermons at the Boxford church. 

© Copyright Michael Garlick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
John Gage gave his age in depositions once in 1659, and again in 1662.  At the first deposition he gave his age as 50 and in 1662 he stated his age as 58. This would be in the ballpark for the John Gage's name that appears on the Covenant Roll for the 1st Church in Boston, dated 27 Aug 1630.  His name was number 50 on the roll.  He had to have sailed with the Winthrop Fleet in order to be that high on the roll. The Winthrop Fleet was a group of eleven sailing ships under the leadership of John Winthrop that carried approximately 700 Puritans plus livestock and provisions from England to New England over the summer of 1630. They made John a Freeman on 4 March 1633. 

He remained in Boston until March 1633 when he joined with John Winthrop Jr. and about 10 other men to move to Agawam to start a new plantation. John Winthrop was recalled, but John Gage petitioned to remain. Agawam, purchased from the Indians for 20 pounds, became Ipswich, Massachusetts. Interestingly, there is a Boxford, Massachusetts not to far from Ipswich.

John was a farmer, a carpenter and a surveyor for the town of Ipswich.  He was also active in the militia, in 1639 he was called Corporal Gage and in 1670 he was a Sergeant. He settled in an area of Rowley which was known as Merrimac Village, this eventually became the town of Bradford, and finally incorporated into Haverhill. John was also active in the service of the town and colony.  He served on the Grand Jury, the Petit Jury, and was a selectman for Ipswich.  He was unable to write and made his mark on his deeds and his will.

John married twice, his first wife was Amy unknown, they married by 1638. They had at least 6 sons that lived to adulthood.  Amy died in June 1658 and John Gage wasted no time in remarrying.  His second wife was Sarah, the widow of Robert Keyes of Watertown and Newbury, they married in November 1658.  I suppose as the father of 6 boys under the age of 20 he needed a woman to help raise them. John died March 24, 1672/73 in Bradford. See this link for more about John Gage.

Okay, so that seems all pretty straightforward, so what is the misinformation I spoke of at the beginning.  Seemingly thousands of family trees have John Gage to be the son of Sir John Gage of Firle, Sussex 1st Baronet and his wife the Lady Penelope D'Arcy. Now if those two names don't raise red flags, I can't imagine what would. So who is this John Gage?  His mother Penelope had previously been married, and widowed at age 17, before marrying John Gage, Knight in 1611.  She was the daughter and co-heir of Thomas D'Arcy, Earl Rivers and his wife Mary, daughter and co-heir of Sir Thomas Kytson of Hengave Hall, Knight. Sounds mighty impressive, I think we need a picture here to impress how fantastically wealthy these people were.

Above is a picture of Firle Place, the principal residence of the Gage Family, but they owned a lot of property in many counties in England. Below is Hengrave House.

John Gage was made a Baronet in 1622, he died in 1633.  He had four sons: Thomas, his heir, John b. 1615, Henry and Edward, and four daughters: Frances, Penelope, Elizabeth and Ann (notice that there is no daughter named Susanna). In 1633 none of his sons had yet reached the age of 21. At the IPM, (inquistion post mortem) Thomas was said to be 14 years and 6 weeks old. Thomas, the eldest, inherited Firle and his father's title. All four sons are mentioned in his will. John as the second son was given twelve hundred and fifty pounds, his younger brothers and his sisters each got one thousand pounds. John was born no earlier that 1620 and was less than 13 years old when his father died.

Penelope Hervey
From about 1633 to 1640 Penelope lived in the Gage house on St. James St. Clerkenwell, London. In 1640 the widowed Penelope moved into Hengrave Hall, the home of her mother, Lady Rivers. Hengrave is in Suffolk County near Bury St. Edmunds. This area was home to a large concentration of Roman Catholic families, including the Gages. Penelope's sister Elizabeth lived nearby, she too was a widow. She had been married to Thomas Savage, Viscount, of Long Melford, Suffolk. Their son John became the 2nd Earl Rivers in 1640, upon the death of her father. Thomas Savage was a favorite of King Charles I and was Chancellor to Queen Henrietta Maria from 1628 to 1634. In 1642 the Colchester home of Lady Rivers and the Long Melford home of Elizabeth Savage were attacked by rioters. Elizabeth fled to Bury St. Edmunds where she was given shelter.

In January 1643 Hengrave Hall was visited by members of the County Committee who under orders from Parliament removed all weapons from the home. Penelope had been given a warning, shortly before they arrived, by Sir William Hervey of Ickworth. Penelope married Sir William shortly after this incident. Hengrave Hall became a Royalist hangout for the remainder of the Interregnum.

Sir William was a widower, his first wife was Susan, daughter of Sir Robert Jermyn of Rushbrook. The two families who become intertwined. Penelope's son Edward Gage married William's daughter Maria. Penelope's son Henry Gage married Henrietta Jermyn, niece of Susan Jermyn. The last of Penelope's sons to marry was John. He married Mary Barker on 9 May 1655, their marriage was recorded St. Dunstan in the West, in London. At this time, during the interregnum, all marriages were considered a civil contract and were preformed by a magistrate. There were no 'church' weddings.     
Record of the Marriage of John Gage and Mary Barker


A very important thing of note about the family of Penelope Gage is that they were Roman Catholic in a time when Catholicism was banned in England. In fact, Ickworth, home of Sir William Hervey, had a private Catholic Chapel with Priest Hole.  Found in the "Particulars taken from the Process Book of Indictments from 6 October 7 Charles I to 4 December 16 Charles I, charges were brought against Penelope D' Arcy at least eight times for Recusancy.  Charges were also brought against her son John Gage, Gentlemen and her daughter Anne in the year 1641.  To be a Recusant was to be a Catholic. These charges were brought against Sir John Gage, Penelope and her children routinely when they lived at the London home of the Gage family on St. John's Street in the parish of St. James Clerkenwell.

Henrietta Jermyn Gage
On 6 November 1650 Sir William Hervey and Dame Penelope Gage his wife, of Hengrave, Suffolk, beg allowance of their claim to lands in Botolph Bridge conveyed to Lady Gage in 1637 by Sir Thomas Shirley for 200 years for 500 pounds seized for her recusancy, but discharged 10 Charles and the rents paid until they were sequestered 31 August last....

Penelope wrote her will on 30 August 1656 and it was proved on 2 July 1661. She was interred in the private chapel at Hengrave next to her daughter Dorothy.  In her will she wrote why she settled Hengrave on her fourth son Edward, and makes provisions for her other two sons, John and Henry.  In a codicil she ratified and confirmed the conveyance to her son John the Manor in Stoneham, Suffolk as well as the Manor of Barking, and a manor in Coddenham.  Her townhouse in Bury St. Edmunds was split between five of her children, including John.

Penelope lived long enough to see the restoration of the Monarchy. King Charles II returned to England in 1660. Edward Gage inherited Hengrave was made a Baronet by King Charles in 1662. He became one of the richest Catholics in the country. In 1675 his son and heir William Gage married Mary Charlotte Bond, daughter of Sir Thomas Bond. The wedding took place at Hengrave Hall and the future King James II was in attendance.

John Gage and his wife had no living children. In his will he specifically leaves his Suffolk manors to his brother Henry and his son John Gage. John is also mention in his brother Henry's will. At the time he wrote his will he was living on York Street in St. James Square in London in a house he had from the Earl of St. Albans, Henry Jermyn. John's will was proved 27 April 1688.

There you go, two men named John Gage, contemporaries, yet their lives are worlds apart. How anyone could confuse the two is beyond me.


Gage, Arthur E., "Some Descendants of John Gage of Ipswich, Mass", New England Historic and Genealogical Register, Boston, MA, July 1908, pgs. 254-263.Online, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2013.)

Rokewode, John Gage, Esquire, History and Antiquities of Suffolk, Thingo Hundred, S. Bentley, 1838, Hengrave Hall, Suffolk, England.

The Visitations of Suffolk made by Hervey, Clarenceaux, 1561, Cooke, Clarenceaux, 1577, and Raven, Richmond herald, 1612, with notes and an appendix of additional Suffolk pedigrees, William Pollard, Exeter, 1882, pgs. 48-49.

Coppinger, Walter, Arthur, Manors of Suffolk, Notes on their history and devolution, London, 1905

Will of Penelope D'Arcy from the National Archives London

Will of John Gage from the National Archives London

The Great Migration Begins Robert Charles Anderson

Parish Records, St. Dunstan in the West, London

Young, Francis, "Surviving the Penal Laws in East Anglia, Academia,

Young, Francis, "The Gages of Hengrave 1640-1767, Academia,

See the blog of Dr. Francis Young, Gage family researcher here. Dr. Young has done extensive research on this family and had accessed the family papers. He had also written a book on the Gage family. Which can be viewed/purchased at amazon by clicking on the book cover. 

I recently had an exchange, see comments below, with a woman who was utterly convinced that her ancestors were the Gage's of Firle.  Despite all evidence to the contrary she clings to that belief, going so far as to completely rewrite the Gage family history.  Some people will believe what they want and that's fine, but don't attack me or other researchers because we see things differently. Give me some fact based information and who knows, maybe you can change my mind. 


Anonymous said...

Well said, familygirl.
I, too, find "junky genealogy stuff." Many people don't do simple math, find sources, or do any research on their own. Genealogy is time consuming.
Good job.

Robert said...

Thank you for your comment. It is hard work to get an accurate genealogy and is very time consuming, not to mention spending a few bucks, but it's worth it in the end. Happy Hunting to you. Family Girl

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for your information. I am also related to Sergeant John Gage of Mass through my 3rd great grandmother Nany Phillips and Daniel Fletcher of Canada. A loyalist Thomas Phillips had married a Phoebe Bedford who was a descendant of Stephen Bedford and Naomi Gage. The Fletcher's of Canada were also from Mass and were decsendents of Roert Fletcher of Concord and his son Francis. This has cleared up many things and also gives me more information about my Puritan and Quaker roots from England to Canada. I would still like to find out who Sergeant John Gage's real father in Enganl was. Any info would help. Wes Fletcher,

Anonymous said...

Has anyone found out, definitively, the "real" father of John Gage?

Unknown said...

John did not petition to stay in Ipswich; he petitioned for John Winthrop Jr. to stay in Ipswich.

According to Firle, this John Gage is the son of Sir John Gage. Somerby’s “contribution” to Gage ancestry actually contradicts the American Gage lineage, as noted in “A record of Pierce Gage and his descendants. With a brief account of his ancestry,” by G.N. Gage (East Washington, N.H., 1894):

“It has been thought by some, that all of the Gages of America sprang from a common ancestor, John Gage of Ipswich, Mass., who landed at Salem, Mass., June 12, 1630. This idea has been found to be erroneous.”

Gage relies on the family records of the first Gages in America, and Somerby’s work comes in later down the line, which is probably why it had no effect on my family history. As for the references in the “Visitations” and “Surveys,” John’s story changes over time. There is no evidence that Sir John’s second son ever married in England, there are no records that he ever owned any property in England, and the the will of John Gage, Esq of St. Andrew’s, Holburn belongs to a completely different John. In fact, Somerby may have been the source of this erroneous information in these later versions as they were published around his time.

John Gage was the only child not present at the “proving” of his father’s will in 1633, because he was already in America. Although there was an attempt to “pencil him in,” ( ), the official record does not include him (

Lord Gage, in a letter of 1946 ( surmises that John’s abandonment of the Catholic faith would have been enough to get him written out; and would account for Penelope’s massive estate settling on her third son, unheard of if the second son had still been around. John had discarded the family religion, possibly through the influence of his grand­ father, Lord Darcy, at a time when his father was described in court filings as “a recusant convict” (Copy order of the commissioners for recusants’ revenues,” 13 Feb. 1628).

John would have lied about his age when he emigrated, so that he would be able to conduct business as soon as his feet hit the ground in Salem, which he did. Then he forgot the date he’d given when disposed decades later. He was literate, and he obviously had enough bank to get on the Arabella.

Also, according to family records, the matriarch of the Gage’s in America was named Anna. John and Anna started it all.

K said...

Hello, I think I am a descendant of John Gage. There is a Revolutionary War Cemetery, Wayne Maine with Gages from Barnstable MA

Are you aware of this cemetery and do you think the Gages who are buried here are a descendant of John Gage?

Or you can google Old Yard Cemetery Wayne, Maine.

Just thought I would share.


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