Wednesday, November 21, 2012

John Perkins of Hillmorton, England and Ipswich, MA

John Perkins, immigrant to New England, was born in Hillmorton, Warwickshire, England. He was baptized on 23 December 1583 in the family's parish church, St. John the Baptish. HIs parents were Henry and Elizbeth (Sawbridge) Perkins. The village of Hillmorton no longer exists as a separate entity having been merged with the market town of Rugby in 1932. It is now a suburb but at the time of John's birth it was a rural village on the banks of the River Avon. His family had lived in this area since the early 1500s.

John Perkins' ancestors can be traced through their wills, beginning in 1528 and the parish records of the church, St. John the Baptist, which provide dates for births, marriages and burials beginning in 1565. The Ancestry of John Perkins of Hillmorton can be traced via a paper trail to his great grandparents, Thomas and Alice Perkins. 

Thomas, date of birth unknown, wrote his will on 3 April 1528 and it was proved a few weeks later on 21 April. His wife, Alice, her maiden name is not known and she was definitely not the daughter of Sir Thomas and Edith (Constable) De Astley. Thomas died in the Battle of Evesham in 1265 so I think this rules him out as her father. Thomas and Alice had at least three children that lived to adulthood, they were; Henry, Jone, and Jelyan. Thomas owned land and tenements in Hillmorton and nearby Lilborne. In her will Alice names her son Henry and married daughters Jeyn Slayter and Juliana Crumpton.

Thomas and Alice are buried under the floor of St. John the Baptist.

Henry, son of Thomas and Alice, died in 1547, his will is missing but the date it was proved was recorded. He had at least three children, his son Thomas was his heir. He also had children William and Joan who seemed to have died unmarried. 

Thomas married Alice Kebble and they had at least seven sons who lived to adulthood. Thomas' will was proved in May of 1592. His oldest son and heir was Henry Perkins, father of the immigrant John. He and his wife Elizabeth Sawbridge had at least 11 children, many of them sons. 

As you can see, the number of Perkins males living in the Hillmorton area was growing exponentially with each passing generation. I imagine that the prospect of getting land to farm might prove difficult, especially if you were the youngest son.

John's father died in 1609 when John was about 26 years old, but many of his siblings were under the age of majority, 21. John married Judith Gater, daughter of Michael Gater of Hillmorton, on 9 October 1608 at St. John the Baptist. They had their first child less than a year later. Over the next few years their family continued to grow. By 1624 they had six children.

setting sail
For whatever reason, lack of land, or a desire to join the Puritan experiment, John Perkins, age 48, removed his family to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. They left England on December 1, 1630 about the Lyon. There were only about 20 passengers on that crossing, the ship was mostly carrying cargo for the new colony. They landed on February 5, 1630/1 in Boston.

The winter of 1631 was very difficult in the fledgling colony. Almost 200 of the settlers died and many decided to return to England. The arrival of the Lyon, laden with much needed supplies was a cause for celebration and Governor John Winthrop ordered a day of Thanksgiving and prayer. I wonder what the Perkins family thought when they disembarked and found that many of the colonist were bailing out and taking the Lyon back to England.

click on map to enlarge it
John and his family first established themselves in Boston. They joined the First Church of Boston as members number 107 and 108. John was made a Freeman on May 18, 1631, only a few months after landing. 

By 1633, however, the family had moved to the newly settled plantation of Ipswich. John built his house on the river near Jeffries Neck on what is now East Street. He received land in 1634, 1635, 1636 and 1639.

As with most men in the colony, John was called on to perform civic duties. He served on the Grand Jury, the Petit Jury, he helped apparaise estates and set boundaries for the newly developed plantations.

In 1650 John was judged too old to participate in military training and was freed from that duty. On 28 March 1654 John Perkins wrote his last will and testament. This will was proved on 26 September of the same year. John lived to a good age, 71, and was able to see his children grown, married and settled, something few men of that time could witness.

Children of John and Judith were:
1. John Junior bp. 14 Sept. 1609 Hillmorton m. by 1636 Elizabeth Unknown d. 27 Sept. 1684 Ipswich.
2.  Elizabeth bp. 25 March 1611 Hillmorton m. 1636 William Sargent
3.  Mary  bp. 3 Sept. 1615 Hillmorton m. by 1637 Thomas Bradbury
4.  Anne bp. 5 Sept. 1617 Hillmorton no further record
5.  Thomas bp. 28 April 1622 Hillmorton m. by 1644 Phebe Gould d. around 1685
6.  Jacob bp. 12 July 1624 Hillmorton m. by 1649 Elizabeth Unknown
7.  Lydia bp. 3 June 1632 Boston, m. by 1651 Henry Bennett

Both Elizabeth and Mary are my ancestors.

Notes on the Perkins Families in England; Chiefly extracts from probate registries, with several other Pedigrees, appended by D.W. Perkins. Published in 1894, Salem.

McCabe, James D, The Centennial History of the Unites States, From the Discovery of the American Continent to the Close of the First Century of American Independence, 1874

Anderson, Robert Charles, The Great Migration Begins. 

Records and Files of the Quarterly Court of Essex

Perkins, George Augustus, The Family of John Perkins.

Learn how to cite your sources like a professional by ordering Elizabeth Shown Mills Your Stripped Bare Guide to Citing Sources available at by clicking the link. 


comments, questions, quarrels and confrontations welcome
cite your sources

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Crime and Punishment Puritan Style

While doing research on my ancestors I frequently search the  records of the Quarterly Court of Essex County to see if they have either been on a Jury or in front of Jury.  The records include  civil and criminal cases brought before the court. Many of the cases are serious crimes, but just as many are seemingly frivolous occurrences that hardly warrant the involvement of the courts never mind arrest and punishment. But these are Puritans that we are speaking of, so nothing should surprise us.
Here are two case which I found really funny, I guess the Court was not so amused. I have copied it word for word with their spelling, not mine.

At the Quarterly Court held at Salem on 1 12  1641 the following was recorded:
Daniell Owls to pay 2s. or sit in the stock for "Leaping and dancing at his house and had like to fale into fire he answered I do not care for the best maiestrat in the Land. If mett them in the field I should slash them for I have beene a pretty fellow in my tyme". Complained of by Mr. Pester.

This case was immediately followed by this terrible crime:

Mr. Ruck presented by Mr. Edmund Batter for baking of white bread contrary of order to the court and for allowing tippling at his house. Ruck to be admonished, fined 20s. and cautioned concerning leaving the ordinary. 

Tippling = drinking
Ordinary = tavern/place serving liquor

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Mysterious Samuel Thornton

From Ireland to Massachusetts
My Thornton ancestors can be traced to James Thornton from Londonderry Ireland who in 1718 was part of a Scots Irish migration to America.  Landing first in Boston, the made their way up to Maine, returned to Massachusetts and settled in Pelham, MA and from there spread out across New England. The descendants of James Thornton were researched and published in a book by Charles Thornton Adams, published in 1905.  This book is the go to book for information about our Thornton relatives. 

Mysterious Ancestor
Very little is written about Samuel Thornton.  Charles Adams says that Samuel lived in Campton, New Hampshire and then in Hatley and Stanstead in Canada. It says he was married twice, neither wife is named.  It states he had 22 children, 11 by each wife.  Also given are a partial list of his children's names including:  Samuel (2), Reuben, Sarah, Abram, Dorcus, Eleanor, William, Sumner, Hannah and ?. And that's all he has to say for Samuel. 

Where are the missing children
It seems hard to believe that a man can have two wives and 22 kids and nobody knows anything about him. I did find his name in the Pelham, MA records, but only briefly. Samuel (2) and Dorcus are the only children about which anything is known.  So, I chalked Samuel (1) down to an unsolvable mystery.  

Could the DAR be wrong
For some reason I got it into my head to try to join the DAR, The Daughters of the American Revolution.  I have plenty of "patriots" in my tree, men who fought in or aided the American Revolution.  I assumed that I could get in using Enoch Rowell, as he would be the easiest to prove. Imagine my surprise when the DAR genealogist told me that my best bet would be to use none other than Samuel (1) Thornton.

According to the DAR Samuel is already a confirmed patriot.  He was born in 1720 in Maine and died 27 Jan 1796 in Lanesborough, MA.  His wife was said to be Mary Ann Craven, born in Penobscot, ME. I told her that I did not believe this to be correct information, that I had something different, but she insisted that the DAR information is 99.9% correct and that it had been reconfirmed in recent times.  Well, what do you say to that kind of confidence. She explained what documents I needed to provide to prove my relationship to Samuel.

Of course when I got home I looked up what I had on Samuel to compare it to her research. She said that his name was Samuel K. Thornton, so I google his name and Mary Ann Craven and lo and behold up pops  their marriage record in a Lincoln, Penobscot book. Guess what, they were married October 26th 1878. Samuel K. was born in 1835, served in the Civil War and died an old man in 1908. Hum, I guess this is that 0.01% error.  I think Samuel K. Thornton just got ruled out. 

The genealogist also said that according to her records Samuel lived in Lanesborough, MA, and I did find him in a 1790 census of Berkshire, County.  I also found the names Samuel and Benjamin Thornton in a history of Lanesborough, they had both served in the Revolution according to it's author. I have looked at all the Revolutionary records on Fold3 and cannot find either of them. 

Could Charles Adams be wrong
I did find something interesting though and it got me really thinking that maybe the Thornton book by Charles Adams got it wrong. James Thornton, son of William, Samuel (1) brother, was born in Pelham in 1745 and moved to Schenectady, New York with his father. He married a woman named Antje Schermerhorn and had multiple children whose names include: Dorcus, Samuel, Abraham, Catherine, Mary, Margaret, William, and James. This caught my eye because Samuel (1) was also said to have a Dorcus, William, Abraham and Samuel. 

Samuel, son of James, was born on Feb 3 1776.  Our Samuel was believed to have been born around 1775.  Is it possible that the father of Samuel (2) was really James Thornton and not Samuel (1)? It might explain why there is no information on Samuel (1) and his 22 children.  

could I be wrong
What do you think?  Comments welcome!  And what should I tell my DAR lady?  Do I just go ahead and join knowing that my "patriot" is likely an error! What a dilemma.

Are you a descendant of James Thornton?  I would like to hear from you!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More Questions about Pierre de Morlaix

In James Fulton Perkins' essay on the Perkins family, he writes about the origins of the Perkins name in England.  This essay is widely  copied and quoted. In a previous post I gave my reasons why I do not believe that Pierre de Morlaix  existed.  This is a continuation of that post.  When I first read the essay I was mystified by some of his statements, his lack of proof, documentation, or even logical conclusions. But what is more mind boggling is that other readers just accept it without question and add it to their family history. I know this is a fairly long post, but I hope you'll read through it and come to the same conclusions as me. 

Since his essay seems to be the basis of so much of what you read about the Perkins family genealogy I think that it warrants a closer look. So lets pick this apart and see what comes of it. 

Perkins is one of the most notable surnames from the European genealogical research of Anglo/Saxon surnames, and its historical trail has emerged from the mists of time as an influential surname of the middle ages. 
What does he mean by the European genealogical research of Anglo/Saxon surnames? Is he speaking in general terms or to a specific study of names.  What does he mean by "influential" surname?  Who were those influential Perkins?

This essay is intended to document the facts ...The writer's purpose was to clear up some of the errors, omissions, folklore and stories, which were uncovered during a search for family history.
Excellent what we need are facts.
It should be noted at the beginning that the original spelling of the name was not Perkins.  Confusing to most, the name was originally deMorlaix as the manuscripts of this time period were, most always, written in Latin or French.  The later translators Anglicized the name from deMorlaix to Morley.      
In this bit the author is saying that the name Perkins was originally deMorlaix. Is he saying that deMorlaix = Perkins, or de Morlaix = Morley.  The later translators, (who were they) changed the name to Morley.  The only time the name of this ancestor appears in writing is in the visitation of Berkshire in 1623 and it is written in latin. His name is written Petrus Morley alias Perkins. So why would his first name be in Latin but his surname is not.  More importantly, how do you know his name was de Morlaix? I thought "de Morlaix" meant he was from Morlaix, France, as in Peter of Morlaix.

Research of ancient manuscripts, which include the Doomsday Book by Duke William of Normandy in 1086 A.D., the Ragman Rolls of 1291-1296 authorized by King Edward 1st of England, the Curia Regis Rolls, The Pipe Rolls and The Hearth Rolls of England, found the first record of the name Perkins in Leicestershire, England
Okay, so here he says that the name Perkins was first found in Leicestershire.  Peter de Morley was from Shropshire and then Oxfordshire, he never lived in Leicestershire, that I know of.
 The name Perkins, in one form or another (i.e.: deMorlaix/Morley), first appears on the census rolls taken by the Kings of England beginning about 400 A.D.  
The very first census was taken in 1086 by King William.  What is he referring to when he states that the name was first found in 400 AD?  Again he seems to be saying that de Morlaix and Perkins are the same thing.  In the prior statement he said the first time the name is found is in records relating to Leicestershire, is this a different Perkins family.  Your right James, I am confused.  If any one knows which of these ancient documents contains the name Perkins please pass it on.

The family name Perkins is one of the most distinguished of the ancient world during a time of Kingdoms, Kings and Knights
Examples please, who were these distinguished men and what did they do? Sir Perkins, King Perkins, the Kingdom of Perkins...what is he talking about?

If we are to believe Bede, the Chronicler of the Saxons, this founding race of England was led by the Saxon General/Commanders Hengist and Horsa and settled in Kent during this time and was a Anglo/Saxon race.  
Gobbly gook.  This does not make any sense.

However, there is evidence to support the claim that the name is of Celtic/Welsh origin.  
Bring it on.

Based on British history we know that after the last Roman Legions left the continent in the early part of the 5th century the Saxons, Angles and other Low  German tribes settled in Southeastern England around Kent. 
One glaring error, the Romans left the Island of England in about 410 AD.  They did not leave the continent (of Europe).  Angles, Saxon and Jutes came in waves and settle most of southeastern England.

 However, the Ancient Britons (Celtics) were the true natives of the area and it is an amalgamation of the Angles, Saxons and Celtic Britons who became what we refer to today as the Anglo/Saxons.  The truth is that the Angles and Saxons may have "moved in", but the Britons were there in far greater numbers, thus accounting for the claim that the blood line is far more Celtic than any other. 
 Therefore it should be concluded that the origins of the Perkins "Clan" are Celtic/Welsh.

Okay, the Celtic Britons were there first.  They probably did outnumber the Anglo Saxons, but what does this have to do with the Perkins name.  How can you possibly say that the Perkins clan is Welsh.  I conclude that you (James) have no idea what your talking about.  And, I thought you said that Peter was from France. So what is all this about Celtic Briton?

 By the 13th century the family name Perkins emerged as a notable English family in the county of Leicester, where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated as Lords of the manor and estates in that shire. 
So far the author has told us that the Perkins name was originally de Morlaix, now he tells us that the name was found in Leicester in the century before Peter's birth, and by the 1200's were already a family of great antiquity. So were there Perkins in Leicester for hundreds of years before Peter?  Who were these Lords of the manor, names please and what do they have to do with our Peter who came from France.

They had branched to Ufton Court in Berkshire and Sutton Coldfield inWarwickshire, later branching to Nuneaton, Marston and Hillmorton, Warwickshire.  The main stem of the family continued at Orton Hall in Leicestershire, where it remains to this day.  

You're right, the Perkins name can/could be found in all those places but Orton Hall is now a Best Western Hotel, if the "main stem" of the family lives there it must be pretty crowded

Notable amongst the family at this time was Perkins of Leicester.  For the next two or three centuries bearers of the surname Perkins flourished and played a significant role in the political development of England.
Enough with these notable significant people, who in heck are they! What part did they play in the political development? 

It is at this point where we pick up the story of the present day Perkins.  The last generation to use the original spelling of Morlaix in or around 1331 was the family of one Pierre de Morlaix of Shropshire, England.  
The last generation? The only person who used the name was Pierre.  Unless there were lots of de Morlaix's running around Morlaix in France.

He appears to have been born 1312 in Bretagne, Morliax, Normandy, France and died about 1384 in Shropshire, England.  
I think this should read, based on a wild guess he was born in 1312 and what his date of death is based on, since, remember now, the only time his name is ever written was in the Visitation manuscript, there is no way to know when he died.  The manuscript only says that he was alive in 1381. 

His name indicates that although originally from Morlaix, Normandy, France he was part of the Celtic/Welsh group previously mentioned who migrated to England.  
What part of this makes sense to anyone?  Why does the fact that he was from Morlaix in France and named for the town of Morlaix lead you to believe that he was Celtic/Welsh.  Am I the only one who doesn't get this?

During this time period surnames were not in common use.  Everybody was known by some personal characteristic such as what they did, who there father was or where they came from, hence Pierre de Morlaix was from Morlaix, France.  
Exactly, he was called de Morlaix because he was from Morlaix, France.  

Attaining a high position within English society, Pierre became the High Steward of the Hugo de Spencer Estate of Oxfordshire, England (later known as the House of Spencer, of whom Princes Diana was a daughter).
Now this is a bit of wishful thinking.  James says that Pierre was born in 1312. Hugh Despenser Sr. and Hugh Despenser the Younger were both executed for treason with a few weeks of each other in the year 1326.  Pierre would only be about 14 years old, so it is implausible that he would work for either of them.  Immediately after their deaths their lands and possessions were confiscated by the King. Hugh the Younger had a son, Hugh III, born in 1308. Hugh III was imprisoned after his fathers death.  He did not receive his freedom and his pardon until Feb. 1332, at which time he made a pilgrimage to Santiago in Spain. In 1332 Pierre would have been 20 years old.  The King eventually Knighted him and gave him land. Hugh continued to try to rehabilitate the name Despenser and eventually won favor with King Edward III, but he never came close to achieving all that his Father and Grandfather had.  Hugh died in Feb. 1349, possibly of the Black Death.  In 1349 Pierre would have been 37.  If he worked for Hugh Despenser it would have to have been between the ages of 20 and 37. He was most likely the Steward or Bailiff of the Manor at Shipton.  He was not a "high Steward" of all the Despenser lands.  
Hugh had no living children so his property was inherited by his nephew Edward, son of his brother Edward. Edward was killed in battle in, are you ready for this, Morlaix, France! Now where have I heard that name before.
Pierre changed his name to the English translated version "Peter Morley" when Charles V, the Black Prince of France renewed the Hundred Years War with England.  This war was disrupting English shipping, compromising trade with Spain and the Netherlands and persecuting English subjects on the mainland in many ways.  
So, I covered this part in my previous post, but it's too good to pass up.  Charles V, the King of France, did renew the Hundred Years War in 1369.  He fought against English forces led by Edward, The Black Prince, son of Edward III.   

Because of the French victory at the Battle of Hastings, Frenchmen became persona-non-grata in England so to conceal his French origins Pierre changed his name to the English translation, Peter Morley. (1312-1384)
What!!!! The Battle of Hastings was in 1066, 300 years in the past.  Why would he have to conceal his origins? This is nonsense. Did he speak with a funny voice to disguise his French accent?

Unwilling to end the heritage of the deMorlaix name, when Peter (Pierre de Morlaix) Morley married Agnes Taylor, daughter of John Taylor of Madresield, Worcestershire, England, they had a son.  
Okay, he didn't want the de Morlaix name to end, so he and Agnes had a son. Like they were able to plan that or something.  I don't want my heritage to end, so I'm having a son!

He was to be named Henry Pierrekin (meaning "first son of Pierre", born 1340 in Shropshire, England and died in Hillmorton, Warwickshire, England). 
He was to be or he was. Actually, all we know is that his name was Henry Perkins, thats it, nothing else, nada. We don't know when he was born, where he was born or when  he died. (but it probably wasn't Hillmorton).
The "kin" suffix indicates the eldest son in a family and any subsequent sons are simply called with the suffix "son", as in "Pierreson".  Hence, the first son is Pierrekin and the second son of Peter (Pierre) Morley would be "Pierreson".   
As above, Henry was Henry Perkins! And "kin" is a diminutive. It it means "little Peter".

 Henry Pierrekin altered the name further, again to disguise the French origin, becoming the very English Henry Pierkyn. 
Nope, all we know is that he was Henry Perkins.  This is his entry in the genealogy:
 Henricus Perkins filius Petri = [blank] and had
When Henry married his eldest son was to be called John Perkyns (born 1360 in Madresfield, Worcestershire, England and died 05 Jan 1400 in the same place); again the suffix to indicate the eldest but changed from "kin" to "kyns".  John became quite well educated and began often signing his name as John Perkins.  Now as the prosperous John Perkins, Esquire he attained the position of Lord of the manor of Madrasfield as well as High Steward of the deSpencers at the passing of his father Henry.  Thus began the spelling carried by all subsequent generations.      
Not true the name continued to have various spellings, including the Parkyns of Upton in 1623. And John was not Perkins but Parkyns.  There is just a few more lines to the essay, but it's just more of the same stuff.

Sources on Hugh Despenser III
Susan Higginbotham, The Other Hugh Le Despenser

I welcome any comments you might have good or bad, I only ask that if you want to argue a point you provide a source.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pierre de Morlaix

This blog article was originally going  to be written about my ancestor John Perkins who left Hillmorton, England for Ipswich, Massachusetts.  While surfing the net looking for clues about his ancestry I kept finding this incredible lineage which included someone called Pierre de Morlaix.  Most Perkins genealogies start with the words, "I can trace my family back to Pierre de Morlaix". So who was Pierre and what do we know about him? (If you have read any of my other blog posts, ya know where this one is going)

Pierre de Morlaix

Pierre was born in Morlaix, on the Breton coast in the year 1312. This area was part of the Duchy of  Brittany in the year 1300 and was under the control of John II Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond.  He was from the House of Dreux, b. 1239 d. 1305, he was married to Beatrice of England, daughter of Henry III.   Pierre left Brittany and first settled in Salop, or Shropshire, England. 
Moving far ahead in history, there came a time when the descendants of great men became gentlemen, yeoman, tradesman, and of course just farmers or tenants. Their ancestor, a Knight, had a "coat of arms"  which he wore on a surcoat to identify him in battle.  This coat of arms, which should have been passed down through the eldest son,  was not deemed important or even necessary and was oftentimes forgotten.  In other instances the coat of arms might be used by men not entitled to it for their own benefit or vanity. 
Coats of Arms, otherwise known as Heraldry  falls under the jurisdiction of the College of Arms, aka the Herald's College. The College is responsible for the correct use and maintenance of Coats of Arms. (note I am not using the term "family crest" as there is no such thing)  In 1530 King Henry VIII authorized the "Heraldic Visitation". The Heralds visited all the counties of England and sought out misuse of coats of arms and found those who were entitled to arms but did not know it. There were four visitations to  the county of Berkshire, including one which took place in the year 1623.  This visitation was recorded in a manuscript called MSS Ashmole 852. 
The heralds recorded genealogical data on the prominent families and institution in the county of Berkshire including the Perkyns family of Ufton. The herald was able to trace the Perkins family back to an ancestor called Peter who they say was alive in the year 1381.
In the book called "The Four Visitations of Berkshire..." edited by Harry Rylands 1907, the findings of the Herald, recorded in the manuscript, are copied as follows:
Petrus  Morley  alias Perkins =  Alice Taylor         
de co. Salopiae Servius ( sic)    Uxor Eius
dni Hugonia de Spenser        
dni de Shipton  in Com:
Supstes 4 R 2

Obviously this was written in Latin.  It translates as:
Peter Morley alias Perkins = Alice Taylor
of Shropshire servant           his wife
Lord Hugh de Spenser
lord of Shipton in 
Alive in the 4th year of the reign of King Richard II (1381)

So what does Peter Morley alias Perkins have to do with Pierre de Morlaix, ah but you already know the answer to that or you wouldn't be reading this. Well once again we have to skip ahead in time to the late 1800's and early 1900's, a time when many Americans were researching their ancestors including those in Europe.  In January of 1884 George Augustus Perkins published a book "The Family of John Perkins of Ipswich, MA.  He seems to be the first person to put down in writing "my family history begins with Pierre de Morlaix".  He states that Pierre was a Norman born in the town of Morlaix in France who became the High Steward of the estates of Hugo Despenser. Pierre married Agnes Taylor and they had a son named Henry, who on his fathers death became known as Henry Pierrekins. 
In 1890 Augustus Thorndike Perkins published a volume entitled "A private proof printed in order to preserve certain matters connected with the Boston branch of the Perkins family". In this book, this Mr. Perkins confirms  the suggestion that Peter Morley  is none other than Pierre de Morlaix. Where the two Perkins authors got their information on Pierre is unkown.
A. T. Perkins states in his book that Pierre is probably a Norman of good education and that he was born either in England or Morlaix in France. Pierre, he says, is the high steward of Hugo Despenser, one of the most powerful men in all of England, and he goes on to say that there is some reason to believe that Pierre is also bailiff of Malvern Chase, once site of Hanley Castle, birthplace of Anne Beauchamp, one of the medieval worlds greatest heiress'. He neglects to give the reasons why we should believe his information. Mr. Perkins does not give the reader any clue as to the birth date of Pierre, nor does he mention the county of  Shropshire, remember Petrus Morley is of Shropshire.  He does however seem to interpret the Latin word Servius, which means servant or slave, to hold a different meaning, that of high steward. 
In January of 1892 Miss Mary Sharp published a book entitled "The History of Ufton Court", which includes genealogical information about the Perkins family.  She too, traces the family to Petrus Morley alias Perkins, but does not mention the name Pierre de Morlaix. She interpreted the Latin word Servius to mean bailiff  and says that Peter was the bailiff or manager of the estate of Shipton which belonged to Hugh Despenser III. She, unlike Mr. Perkins, notes that in the manor rolls of Madresfield, Worcestershire, in the year 1388, is found the name Agnes Taylor, daughter of John Taylor. Agnes Taylor was the wife of Petrus Morley. 
Miss Sharp's book was reviewed in a 1893 in a magazine entitled "The Antiquary: A Magazine Devoted to the Study of the Past" vol. 27 edited by Mr. John Charles Cox. While mostly showing appreciation for her book about Ufton Manor, the author chides Miss Sharp on her interpretation of the Latin words used by the Heralds in their visitation. He says:
We are amused to read that Ms. Sharp's interpretation of servus "bailiff or manager" of the estates belonging to Lord Despenser at Shipton.  This is an euphemistic reading of the term which is not correct. When will pedigree-makers presumably Christians, learn that there is nothing derogatory in having an ancestor who was a slave or servant".  
(the story so far: Peter/Pierre Morley/Morlaix Perkins from France/Shropshire on the welsh border is employed by Hugh Despenser in Shipton and is married to Alice from Madresfield. FYI the distance between Shipton and Madresfield is 47.5 miles, the distance from Madresfield to the Welsh border is 42 miles, Shropshire is just to the Northwest of Madresfield, probably about 40 miles to the county border)
In January of 1916 another book is published on the Perkins family, the author this time is  Mansfield Parkyns, the book is entitled "The Perkins family in ye olden times". This book is really a series of letter that Mr. Parkyns exchanged with other Perkins researchers including Adolphous Thorndyke Perkins and Miss Mary Sharp. Although he too includes the ancestry based on the visitation of 1623 he cautions in his introduction that "the last two or three generations (within the knowledge of the persons who attested to the pedigree) may generally be trusted, beyond that they are useful.
Some few pages later Mr. Parkyns goes on to say, 
"In the time of Henry VIII the heralds were getting so poor from general disregard of such matters that they started these "visitations" and traveled about like modern "bagmen" trying to get people to believe in the ennobling virtue  of coats of arms etc. for the sake of their fees and did more mischief to history, genealogies etc. with their blundering pedigrees and coats of arms that can be imagined."
On page 35 of his book he says that he has found evidence of the name Perkins in Madresfield in the year 1318, a Juliana Perkins is named in the Subsidy Rolls for Worcestershire   He says that he frequently found the names Perkins and Mor or More, which is a Shropshire name, but never the name Morley.  He also has his own interpretation of the word Servius.  He believed that this meant Sergeant, as in Sergeant at Arms, a step below Knight.  He did not believe that Peter was a steward, and certainly not a "high steward".  He also make a very important statement, that the only knowledge that we have of either Peter Morley Perkins or his son Henry is from the Visitation.  Those names cannot be found on any other document, period. 
Now to his opinion of Pierre de Morlaix.  In Chapter 15 called Mistakes Corrected Mr. Parkyns prints a letter from A. T. Perkins who admitted that his book was full of errors concerning Pierre de Morlaix.  Mr. Parkyns goes on to say there are no records which contain the name Pierre de Morlaix and that if he existed at all he was not Peter Morley Perkins of Shropshire.  
So this brings us to the more modern writing of the Perkins history by Mr. James Fulton Perkins. His essay on the Perkins family is one of the silliest pieces of writings I have ever seen.  The biggest problem with his essay though, is that people are coping it and quoting it and perpetuating his errors.  A big chunk of his essay ended up on Wikipedia, which made me rethink using that site as a  source. I don't mean to sound harsh, but if you put yourself out there on the internet then you open yourself up to criticism. 
The first thing I noticed when I read the essay was the incorrect history.  Here are some of the lines that jump out at me:

By 1066 King Harold had come to throne of England and was enjoying peace and prosperity. However, the invasion from France and their victory found many Englishmen moving. Okay, did I mention I have a problem with his grammar as well. I think he means that England was enjoying peace, not the King, but anyway, Harold was crowned on Jan 8th, he was dead by Oct. 14th, fighting in the battle of Hastings. Doesn't sound like a peaceful year to me. I have no idea what he means about Englishmen moving and where did these Englishmen move to?
Pierre changed his name to the English translated version of "Peter Morley" when Charles V, the black prince of France renewed the Hundred Years War with England. 
Charles V was the King of France, he reignited the Hundred Years War in May of 1369.  The Black Prince was Edward, son of King Edward III and heir to the English Throne. 
Because of the French victory at the Battle of Hastings, Frenchmen became "persona non grata" in England so to conceal his French origins Pierre changed his name to the English translation. Hum, not sure what is going on here, the Battle of Hastings was back in 1066.
Unwilling to end the heritage of the deMorlaix name when Peter (Pierre de Morlaix) Morley married Agnes Taylor, daughter of John Taylor of Madresield (sic) Worcestershire  England, they had a son.  He was to be named Henry Pierrekin , meaning "first son of Pierre" born 1340 in Shropshire and died in Hillmorton, Warwickshire, England.  So I have multiple issues with these two sentences, the first of which does not even make sense.  If Pierre didn't want the de Morlaix name to end, why wasn't his son name de Morlaix? Also, remember that the names of Peter and his Henry are only found in the Heralds genealogy and their surname was spelled Perkins.  Henry was never called Pierrekins, which means "little Pierre" not "first son". No one knows when Henry was born, where  he was born or where he died.  The Perkins did not live in Hillmorton until more recent times. 

I could go on and on about the lack of facts or even logic in this essay, but I will stop here.  
Here is what I believe based on my research: there was no Pierre de Morlaix.  There may have been a Peter Morlay Perkins and a son Henry, but there is no proof other than what was written by the Heralds.  The Perkins name was found in Worcestershire by 1318 so it did not originate with Peter Morlay.  If Peter did work for Hugh Despenser, it was in a minor role on the Manor of Shipton in Oxfordshire, Hugh III was dead by 1346, his estates were inherited by his nephew. There definitely was a John Perkyns, and his name is recorded and can be found in contemporary records. More about him later.

see part 2 of my Pierre blog
Comments welcome, even if you disagree.  One caveat you must show your sources!

My sources:
Harold Rylands, The Four Visitations of Berkshire, 1907
George Agustus Perkins, The Family of John Perkins of Ipswich, MA, 1884
Agustus Thorndike Perkins, A Private Proof to Preserve Certain Matters Connected with the Boston Branch of the Perkins Family, 1890
Mary Sharp, The History of Ufton Court, 1892
John Charles Cox, The Antiquarian, Vol. 27, 1893
Mansfield Parkyns, The Perkins Family in Ye Olden Times, 1916
James Fulton Perkins, Essay on the Perkins Family
Jules Frusher, MA Lady Despensers Scribery (blog) knowledgeable about all things Hugh de Spenser the younger
Wikipedia (not that I recommend it)
Excerpta e Scrinio Manerial de Madresfield (Manorial Rolls of Madresfield)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Christopher Osgood (1606-1650) of Newton Tony, Wiltshire and Ipswich, Essex, Massachsuetts

family connections
Writing this blog really brings home the name family connections as it relates to the interwoven lives of my early ancestors.  Christopher Osgood was married twice, his first wife was buried in England, his second wife buried him in New England.  This second wife, Margery Fowler became the wife of another ancestor, Thomas Rowell. Although I am not related to her in anyway, that I know of, she was married to two of my ancestors. She was to marry twice more in her lifetime. I have two Mary Osgoods in my family, one the daughter of Christoper and one the daughter of William of Salisbury.  There was also a third man named Osgood in New England, John Osgood.  Many people try to connect these three men as family but there is no proof of any relationship, yet. Given the lack of potential partners and the need to be married, it shouldn't come as any surprise that there were so many interconnections.  It makes for an interesting family tree.

engish origins
Christopher Osgood was born near Marlborough, England in a tiny village called Newton Tony in the county of Wiltshire.  Marlborough is said to be the legendary burial place of Merlin the Magician from the King Arthur story.  In 1642 the town paid a heavy price for backing Parliament over King Charles, the town was sacked by the King's soldiers and many buildings burnt.  If Christopher left family behind when he left for Massachusetts they may have be greatly affected by those events. 

Christoper was baptized in St. Andrew's church on 17 April 1606, the son of Thomas and Margaret Skeat Osgood. [1] He was the fifth of nine children. His mother died when he was only ten years old. Margaret's youngest child was still a baby when she was buried on 1 May 1616. Christopher was the only child in the family who immigrated. I guess he couldn't talk any of his six brothers into joining him in his adventure. 

parents The Osgood family was well established in the local area. Thomas Osgood, Christopher's father, was born, probably in Newton Tony in about 1570. He and Margaret were married in St. Andrew's on 13 July 1595.[2] Thomas, unfortunately for us, died without a will, his son Thomas Osgood Jr. and William Skeate posted bond on the estate on 16 June 1634. The inventory of his estate was taken two days later, the value was a meager 12 pounds. [3]

Margaret, wife of Thomas, was probably one of two daughters so named, by Roger Skete of Downton, Wiltshire, whose will was proved on 16 April 1578. Roger's will named possible mother of Margaret, Alice and his children including the two Margarets. Roger was the son of Thomas Skete of Downton, who wrote his will in 1553. Roger's mother was also Alice. [4]

Christopher the immigrant was named for his grandfather Christoper Osgood, also of Newton Tony. Christopher, the elder, was under the age of 20 when his own father, John Osgood, made his will in 1553, meaning he was born between 1552 and 1533. Christopher married Alice who was buried in Newton Tony on 16 December 1596. Christopher remarried on 30 October 1599 at St. Thomas in Salisbury. His second wife was the twice widowed Elizabeth (Nycholes) (Maylard) Brockwell. She was a widow for the third time in 1607 when Christopher died. [5]

great grandparents
Christopher's great grandparents were John and Jone____ (Carpenter) Osgood of Newton Tony. John was a husbandman. It is possible, but not proven, that John was the son of Richard Osgood of Over Wallop, Hants who named son John in his will dated 1543. [6]

So, if I have confused you with this ancestry, it should look like this: John, Christoper, Thomas and then our Christoper the immigrant. 

St. Mary's Marlborough
Christopher's first wife was Mary Everett. The pair were married on 21 April 1632 in the beautiful St. Mary's church in Marlborough. [7] It was not to be a long marriage. Mary gave birth to their only child, a daughter, on 17 March 1632/3, she was buried a littler more than a month later, on 22 April 1633.  As with most widowed men with small children, Christopher wasted no time in finding a new wife. He married Margery Fowler a little more than three months later on 28 July 1633. They were also married at St. Mary's.

Margery was baptized at St. Mary's in Marlborough on 25 March 1615. [8] She was the daughter of Phillip and Mary Fowler of that same town. Phillip was a cloth worker by trade. On the 24th of March 1633/4, Phillip, and his wife Mary along  their children, including Margery and Christopher Osgood boarded, at Southampton, the sailing ship the Mary and John and left England forever. [9]

The Osgoods and the Fowlers began their new lives at Ipswich, a plantation, barely established in 1633 by John Winthrop Jr. son of the Governor John Sr. So in effect, they traded a life in a bustling, busy English market town for the wilderness of Massachusetts.Christopher was a brick maker by trade, which should have come in handy in a land with no houses or other buildings. Christopher was also a member in good standing with his church, this allowed him to take the freeman's oath on 6 May 1635. [10]

The first town meeting and division of land occurred in August of 1634, there was no mention either Christopher or Philip. At the town meeting of 5 Jan 1634/5 both men received their first lot of land consisting of 4 acres of marsh and meadow lying northward of town. A few weeks later, on the 26th of Jan. both men were given an additional 6 acres for them and their heirs forever. Christopher continued to receive land as the divisions continued.

Map showing location of Ipswich borrowed
from the website Henry Bennett of Ipswich
In January of 1642 and in 1650 Christopher was selected as a juryman.  The early settlers seemed to drag every minor offense into court, charges of trespass, slander, defamation, fines for this and that. They were a very litigious bunch   In 1645 he was on the grand jury, and again in 1648.

Christopher wrote his will on 18 April 1650.  He was probably a fairly young man by today's standards.  If he was born in 1607 then he would have been only 43.  His will was not probated until October of that year. Did he have some lingering illness, we will never know.  He left behind his wife Margery, daughter Mary by his first wife and Abigail, Christopher, Elizabeth and Deborah. In his will he gave daughter Mary ten pounds, daughters Abigail, Elizabeth and Deborah got five.  Christopher was to receive the bulk of the estate with Margery as the executor and administrator of said estate.  On 10 October 1650 Margery petitioned the court on the matter of her late husbands will.  This petition was heard by the General Court in Boston in December. This court found that there was not enough value in the estate to pay the legacies left so they adjusted what each daughter was to receive   Mary's share was reduced to 8 pounds and her half sisters were to receive 4 pounds each.

Christopher also stipulated in his will that his daughter Mary should not marry without the advice of her stepmother. Mary married only a few months after the death of her father. I don't know if her stepmother approved or not.[11]

Children of Christoper Osgood

1.  Mary bp. 17 March 1632/3 Marlborough, England m. John Lovejoy of Andover, 1 Jan 1651, d. unknown
2.  Abigail born about 1636 m. 1657 Shoreborn Wilson
3. Christopher b. about 1638 m. 4 times Hannah Belknap, Hannah Barker, Sarah Reddington, Sarah Unknown his will was dated 27 July 1722
4.  Elizabeth b. about 1640, named in her fathers will of 1650 but not her mothers of 1673, never married and no children
5.  Deborah b. about 1643 m. 1663 John Russ
My family descent from Christoper Osgood

Christoper Osgood - Mary Everett
Mary Osgood - John Lovejoy
Ann Lovejoy - Jonathan Blanchard
Benjamin Blanchard -Mary Abbott
Benjamin Blanchard  - Keziah Hastings
Jonathan Blanchard and Hannah Chadwick
James Blanchard and Phebe Carter
Chloe Blanchard - Samuel Thornton
John Thornton- Jennie Clover Rowell

[1] Jane Fletcher Fiske, "New Light On The English Background Of The Osgoods of Essex County, Massachusetts," The American Genealogist, 83 (2008-2009) 51-58, digital image, American Ancestors ( : accessed 30 January 2016).

[1] "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch( : accessed 30 January 2016), Christofer Osgood, 17 Apr 1606; citing NEWTON TONEY,WILTSHIRE,ENGLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 1,279,336.

[2] FreeReg. "basic search." Database, FreeReg ( : accessed 30 January 2016); entry for marriage of Thomas and Margaret Sikett, 13 July 1595, St. Andrews, Newton Tony, Wiltshire [England].

[3] Jane Fletcher Fiske, "New Light," 57.

[4] Jane Fletcher Fiske, "New Light," 57.

[5] FreeReg, "basic search," Database, FreeReg ( : accessed 30 January 2016); entry for marriage Christopher Osgood and Elizabeth Brockwell, 30 October 1599 at St. Thomas, Salisbury, Wiltshire,[ England].

[6] Jane Fletcher Fiske, "New Light," 55.

[7] "England Marriages, 1538–1973," database, FamilySearch( : accessed 30 January 2016), Christopher Osgood and Mary Everatt, 1632; citing Saint Mary, Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, reference 2:12RLDN7; FHL microfilm 950,274.

[8] "England Marriages, 1538–1973," database, FamilySearch( : accessed 30 January 2016), Christopher Osgood and Margery Towller, 1633; citing Saint Mary, Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, reference 2:12RLF43; FHL microfilm 950,274.

[9] Robert Charles Anderson, Great Migration Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Vol V, M-P, 318, (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2007), digital images, American Ancestors ( : accessed 30 January 2016), 321.

[10] Anderson, Great Migration 1634-1635, 318.

[11]"Essex County, MA: Early Probate Records, 1635-1681,"Online database, American Ancestors  ( : accessed 30 January 2016),

Charles Robert Anderson, The Great Migration Immigrants to New England 1634-1635
The Ancient Records of the town of Ipswich

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