Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Ancestors of George Parkhurst: Immigrant to America and Returnee to England

Guildford Guildhall built in 1550 the facade is from 1683

We can trace the ancestry of George Parkhurst of Ipswich to his great grandfather, George Parkhurst of Guildford, County Surrey. George's name appears in the records on 3 April 1514. He was granted a license to sell in the local market. Later that same year he was chosen to act as Hallwarden for the Guild Hall.  The Guild Hall may or may not have been the same as the town hall, depending on the wealth of the Guild. The Merchant Guilds controlled trade in England.  the Hallwarden's job was to collect money due to the Guild. Cloth making was the backbone of the Guildford economy. 

In 1515 George served as a bailiff for the town. This was another type of civil servant job. He held these jobs off and on for the remainder of his life. One year he and another man were chosen to be 'Flesh and Fish Tasters.' This was a more quality control job, ensuring the safety of the food supply. In 1522 George was elected Mayor of Guildford. The records show he served in this position twice more. 

Clearly, George was an important man in town, holding many important posts. He was also a tavern owner and was twice fined for some offence related to the enclosure of his tavern. 

Given his age at the time he is first mentioned in the records, George was likely born 1490ish. His oldest son John born about 1510.  George Parkhurst's wife's name is Unknown, although some genealogy websites list her as Phebe, I have no idea where this information comes from. His son is also supposedly married to a Phebe and his grandson George was known to have married a Phebe. I think there is some comingling of wifely names her. 

George died between 27 April 1545 and 2 May 1546. The first date is the last time his name is mentioned in the records and the second date is that of the tax list for Guildford, his name is not on it, meaning he had died. There is no will. 

John Parkhurst, eldest son, was sent to college. He attended Magdalen college in Oxford and then joined Merton College. He took Holy Orders in 1532. John was a supporter of Henry VIII and his break with Rome. He became Chaplain to Queen Katherine Parr, Henry's last wife. He was also Chaplain to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. He received many rich appointments, including one from Thomas, Lord Seymour, to a living in Gloucestershire. If you know your Tudor history, Seymour was the brother of Queen Jane Seymour and Uncle to the King Edward VI. He married Queen Katherine after the death of Henry VIII. It did not end well for him.  I think it's pretty cool that this guy knew the movers and shakers of his time and he knew good ole' King Henry and the last of his six wives!

The beautiful Magdalen College where John Parkhurst studied.

Things changed for all the supporters of the Reformation when Queen Mary reverted the country to Catholicism. John Parkhurst left England and took up residence in Zurich, Switzerland. He returned on the accession of Queen Elizabeth I and was appointed Bishop of Norwich. He died in 1574 and left a lengthy will in which he makes multiple bequeaths to his brothers and sisters, including Christoper Parkhurst. 

Christoper Parkhurst was born in Guildford about 1520-1524. He is first named in a town record in 1546, the same one from which his father's name is absent. He lived in the St. Marys' Parish. In 1550 he and his sister sold land to the husband of a second sister. 

In 1561 John Parkhust made his brother Christoper, Keeper of the Bishop's Palace in Ipswich, the home of the Bishop when he was in residence. This was a perk of having a star in the family.

Christoper and his two wives had nine children. There is a burial for a Christoper Parkhurst in the Ipswich records dated 10 August 1595. If so he would have been about 75 years old. It is also possible that this is his son Christoper Parkhurst who was born 1572. He would have been 22 years old if so. That it is possibly the younger man is in no way unrealistic given the times.

This brings us to the last of the Parkhursts, John Parkhurst son of Christoper and father of George the immigrant to New England. John was baptised on 29 October 1554 at St. Mary's Guildford. He married a woman named Sarah in 1582. He was a clothier by trade. What we know about John comes from his will. 

His first bequests are to his wife, Sara. She gets all his household stuff, bedding, brass, pewter, linen and woolen and is to be paid a rent of £8 half yearly for life. His first son, Robert, born in 1583, is not named in the will and presumed deceased. Son George is to get all his shopstuff, all implements of trade as a shearman, his goods and stock, moveables and unmoveables and all his books. Son John gets 100marks at age 21, daughter Thamar: annual rent of £5, daughter Hellen gets 50 at age 21 or marriage, daughter Sara gets 40 at age 21 or marriage, a fourth daughter, Mary, is not mentioned in the will.

John wrote his will on 29 March 1610 and it was probated on 7 June1611. His wife, Sarah, remarried in on 7 January 1611/12 to a man named Benjamin Cole. We know nothing further of Sarah. 

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