Friday, December 23, 2016

English Ancestry of Abigail Salter Hammond; Suffolk England to Watertown, Massachusetts

The Salter English ancestry can only be definitely  trace back two generations from Abigail Salter who married John Hammond in Watertown. Abigail's only known Salter ancestors are her parents and grandparents. There was a large Salter population in the county of Suffolk, England and it is possible that they are related to many of them, but how is not known.

thomas salter
Abigail's Salter grandparents were Thomas and Tomasin Joyner Salter. The birth dates of Thomas and Tomasine are unknown  as are their birthplace. It is probably safe to say they were born in Suffolk, England by 1560. I have a working theory that Thomas' parents might be Roger and Margaret Salter of Buxhall. Roger was a shoemaker who owned houses in Buxhall and Great Finborough. They had a son Thomas who was baptized on 16 April 1559 at St. Mary's Buxhall.[1] This would be right in line for a birth date by 1560.

Roger wrote his will in August of 1566 and it was proved the next year on 4 July 1567. Roger named in his will his wife Margaret who he directs to bring up his children[2] who are:
1. George- who inherited the house in Great Finborough.
2. Thomas- who inherited the house in Buxhall
3. Martha
4. Rose

This is just a guess though.

thomas and tomasin

I do know that Thomas and Tomasin Joyner were married at All Saints in Semer, Suffolk on 20 October 1583.[3] (only about 11 miles from Buxhall) Semer, today, is a tiny village and is classified as an Ancient Woodland. The couples first three children were baptized at All Saints, the parish church. They were:

1. Martha, bp. 10 October 1585, she married a man named Whitt. She was alive in 1648 and had four daughters.
2. George bp. 20 August 1587 (my ancestor)
3. Rose bp. 9 November 1588. nothing more is known.
Look at those three names; George, Rose and Martha. They are the names of Thomas' siblings. Coincidence? I don't know.

Thomas and his wife left Semer at some point and settled in Rattlesden, about nine miles to the north. Thomas had two further children. It is not know when or where they were born or if Tomasin was their mother.[4] They were:
4. Elizabeth, b. 1590-1600, married John Sherman in 1619, she was dead in 1648, but had six living children named in her father's will.
5. Ann b. unknown, married in 1639. Ann was either a middle aged woman at the time of her marriage or she may have had a different mother than the rest of the Salter children.

thomas' will

Thomas Salter wrote his will on 25 March 1648. He was buried in the churchyard of St. Nicholas in Rattlesden on 3 April 1648. His will was proved in July. Thomas Salter's wife was buried in Rattlesden on 5 November 1646. It's a shame she died first, otherwise he might have named her in his will. Thomas did name  his living children or his grandchildren if their parent was dead. Rose  must have died unmarried or at least without children prior to 1648. Thomas left all his grandchildren £5 apiece. His youngest daughter Ann was given £20. A Jane Salter who married Anthony Skarp was named in the will, her relationship to Thomas is not known, perhaps she was a niece.  [5]
Son George was sixty one years old when his father died it is possible that he had already taken over any land owned by Thomas.  

george and elizabeth

George Salter married Elizabeth Munning on 29 October 1618 at St. Nicholas in Rattlesden. Elizabeth was the daughter of the Reverend Humprey Munning and Elizabeth Winthrop. Elizabeth was the daughter of William Winthrop, Uncle of Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, making Elizabeth and John first cousins.

Their oldest son Thomas was born the next year, his baptism has not been found. All the rest of the children were baptized at St. Nicholas in Rattlesden. The image below, from the freereg website shows the marriage of George and Elizabeth and the baptisms of their children(green dots).

Not much is known about George and Elizabeth. He called himself a 'Grazier' in his will, which was proved in July of 1654. He and Elizabeth had moved to Dedham in Essex County by then. A grazier was someone who fattened cattle or sheep for market. Dedham was about 20 miles to the south of Rattlesden. In his will he leave bequeaths to his three children who are in New England, if they were still alive. Having already lost two children; Simon and Elizabeth, he knew full well that one or more of them might had passed away.

Elizabeth Munning Salter lived until 1660. She too wrote a will. Elizabeth knew by then that her two daughters had married in New England and named them Abigail Hammond and Hanna Phillips. It must have been difficult as a mother to say goodbye to the three children who left for New England, knowing that she would never see them again. Abigail Salter Hammond was my ancestor.


[1] "England, Births and Baptisms, 1538-1975, Transcriptions," database, Find My Past ( : accessed 23 December 2016), baptsmal entry for Thomas Salter, 16 April 1559.

[2]W. A. Coppinger, History of the Parish of Buxhall in the County of Suffolk, (London: London H. Sotheran & Co., 1902) 237, digital images, Archive ( : accessed 23 December 2016).

[3]"England, Boyd's Marriage Indexes, 1538-1850," database, Find My Past ( : accessed 23 December 2016), marriage entry Thomas Salter and Tomasin Joiner.

[4] Leslie Mahler, "The Paternal Ancestry of Abigail (Salter) Hammond of Watertown and Hannah (Salter) Phillips of Boston," The New England Historic and Genealogical Register, Vol. 163 (April 2009) 113, digital images, American Ancestors ( : accessed 23 December 2016).

[5] Mahler, "The Paternal Ancestry of Abigail (Salter) Hammond."

[6] "Notes and Queries," The New England Historic and Genealogical Register, Vol. 55 (January 1901) 107.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Henry Kinne of Salem, Massachusetts (1624-1698) Was Sir Thomas Kinne his Ancestor?

King's Lynn COA from Wikipedia
This post is about my ancestor Henry Kinne (Kenny, Kinny, Keny, and any other variant of the name) and his wife Ann of Salem, Massachusetts. Multiple books have been written about Henry, his ancestors and his descendants which you would think would make this an easy bio to write. However, these books are full of undocumented claims which under scrutiny do not hold up. Unfortunately not everyone is willing to do the leg work needed to get the facts and instead copy and paste information from ancestry and other internet genealogy sites including, sadly, my favorite Wikitree. Luckily one researcher, Georgia Kinney Bopp, has done her research and has put up a great website about Henry. I'll post a link at the bottom. For sanity's sake I am going to use the surname spelling of Kinne for this article, but there is no clear consensus of how to spell his surname.

fictitious claims?
According to multiple publications and most internet genealogy site the standard 'facts' about Henry Kinne are as follows:

1. Henry was born on 8 July 1623 in King's Lynn, Norfolk, England
2. Henry was baptized on 3 May 1624 in Leiden, Holland (Netherlands) where he parents had fled to avoid persecution.
3. His father/Grandfather was Sir Thomas Kinne who was created a baronet in 1618
4. Henry arrived in Massachusetts in 1635, sailing on the "Elizabeth and Ann"
5. Henry married Ann Putnam/ Ann Howard

The first four of these claims are outright fabrications; the fifth, whether true or not, cannot be proven. What, then, are the source(s) of these claims and how were they backed up?

fiction writers
In the mid to late 1800's Americans, with our wars with England behind us and firmly settled in their identity, began looking back to England fondly. They began wanting to make a connection with their forefathers homeland and began to look for their ancestral origins. New England ancestry is centered in the British Isles. In the 1800's up to the mid 1900's the only way to travel to England was by boat; it was expensive and once you got there how would you know where to start your research? Many Americans employed  researchers to find their ancestors for them. Rich Americans did not want to find that their ancestor was a serf on a farm, they wanted to be related to someone of significance, a gentleman or a knight at the very least. And some Americans got what they wanted whether it was actually true or not because the researcher created a fake ancestry for them. This would have been okay except, once in possession of the fake information they began to publish it in books and journals. Genealogy Standards did not exist very early on and many of these writers did not include sources for their information and if they had employed a researcher they may not had be given the source information.

emerson kinne 1881
We do not know who introduced the false information but it seems some of  it was first published by Emerson Kinne in 1881. Emerson's version of Kinne is as follows: born in 1624 in Norfolk, son of Sir Thomas Kinne who was knighted for some 'signal service' to the government. The family left England for Holland. Henry arrived in Massachusetts when he was 30 years old and settled on a farm in Salem in 1653. No mention of wife and the author states that Henry, a prosperous farmer died in 1712. [1] Where did he come  by the name Sir Thomas Kinne? Did he make it up or was it given to him by a researcher? We will never know, but the fact remains that there was no such person as Sir Thomas Kinne. This man simply did not exist. He did not live in King's Lynn, he was not knighted, he did not have a son who was born in 1624 and he did not leave England for Leiden. But he is the snowball that started the avalanche of false information about Henry Kinne's origins.

raymon myers tingley 1935
Raymon Tingley adds a bit more to the Henry story in his 1935 book on his family. He states the following about Henry: Henry was born 3 May 1624 and died 6 June 1712 in Salem. Apprenticed to Vincent Potter 1639, married 3 May 1650, Ann, daughter of Thomas and Susanna Howard and Ann Unknown widow of James Lane after 1688. Tingley steers clear of the Sir Thomas Kinne story. Notice how he says Henry was born and married on 3 May. [2]

florance kenney robertson 1947
In 1947 Florance Kenney Robertson published her book on the ancestry of Henry and Ann Kinne. Her version of the Kinne ancestry had evolved greatly and is as follows: Henry was the son of John Keney and Sarah Cheever and was the grandson of Sir Thomas Kinne, Baronet, of King's Lynn. Born 8 July 1623, he was baptized in Leiden on 3 May 1624. [3]   Robertson introduces two very specific dates, one for his birth and one for his baptism. No explanation for the delay in baptism is given.  Most children born in this time of high infant mortality were baptized fairly soon after birth. Florance has also changed his father from Sir Thomas to Sir Thomas' son John. The false information has begun to evolve and Henry is given what appears to be a solid birth and baptismal date. Where did this information come from? Why did Emerson Kinne not know his birth or baptismal date? Why can no record of these events be found? These dates are clearly fabricated. Florance also seemed to be in possession of some document which confirmed a different name of Henry's wife. She said that he married Ann Putnam on 10 December 1649. More about that later.

In the preface of her book, Florance says that one of her future publications will be the ancestry of certain pioneers back to Adam (as in Adam and Eve). Thank the gods of genealogy that she never wrote it! What a mess that would be.

Henry was not baptized in Leiden. His Puritan parents did not flee to Leiden to escape religious persecution. In 1607 a group of religious separatists, who would later become the Pilgrims, fled the small English village of Scrooby in Nottinghamshire for Amsterdam. A year later the settled in Leiden where they took up their lives, learning new trades, but continuing in their 'separate' religious beliefs. They eventually became dissatisfied with Leiden and their failure to convert their Dutch protestant neighbors to their particular beliefs. We all know what happened in 1620, they left.[4] For more information read Nick Bunker's  Making Haste from Babylon a great book on the separatist who became the Pilgrim Fathers.

hazel otis crane 1955
How Hazel got away with her book I'll never know. This woman copied Florance Robertson's book, word for word, when she wrote her bio of Henry Kinne. I mean word for word, she totally plagiarized Robertson. Just like Florance she included Pope's reference to Henry Kenninge in his book Pioneers of Massachusetts. Pope said Henry Kenninge was apprenticed to William Parks of Roxbury by Vincent Potter on 21 (4) 1639. Pope does not say much about Potter, only noting that he was a Gentleman and that he came on the "Elizabeth and Ann" in 1635. Florance Robertson made a huge leap and assumed without a shred of proof that Vincent Potter was related to Henry and somehow zipped over to Holland to pick him up on his way to Massachusetts. [5] Potter was born in 1614 in Warwickshire to unknown parents, he was a merchant, soldier and regicide who returned to England in 1639, hence the reassignment of his four apprentices. There is no reason to believe that he was in any way related to any of the apprentices he left behind in England. See this interesting bio of Potter.

mabel gould demers hinckley, whew! 1968
In previous books on Henry, not much mention is made of his purported parents, John and Sarah Cheever Keney. Who were they and where did they come from? Who knows?  Mabel knows. According to Mabel Gould Demers Hinckley, John and Sarah Cheever were married in England. She says John was an Innkeeper in Boston and died in 1670. Sarah, she said, died in 1674. [6] No record can be found that confirms these people existed.

There was however, a John Kenney/Keeney who in 1657 married a Sarah Farr in Salem. Salem was also home to Henry Kinne. This John died in 1670, other than making a few bequeaths, he named no children of his own in his will, leaving the bulk to Sarah. Sarah remarried to John Holmes in 1672. [7] Some people claim that these were Henry's parents but, John Kenney did not name Henry in his will and Sarah remarried and had children with  her second husband. [8] Clearly a woman who is child bearing in 1672 cannot be the mother of a man born in 1623, not to mention the fact that she and John were not married until 1657.

There is no reason to believe that Henry's parents immigrated to New England or that their names were John and Sarah Cheever Kinne.

coat of arms
From F. K. Robertson's book
In her book, Florance Robertson included a picture which she claims was of the Kinne coat of arms. She says that it was the original Kinne arms and that on the bottom of the drawing the following was written: By the name of Kinne, granted and confirmed, 4 October 1618, to Sir Thomas Kinne of Norfolk and his descendants of the name.[9] How can a man who didn't exist have a coat of arms. He couldn't of course, the coat of arms is not his.

A rootsweb group took a long hard look at Henry Kinne in the early 2000's. An Englishman named Laurence Kinney tackled the question of the coat of arms. He says that he visited with Windsor Herald William G. Hunt at the College of Arms in the City of London. They searched the College's extensive records and could find no one with any variant of the name Kinne who had been knighted or had received a Baronet. [10] One of the indexes they searched was the "Britain, Knights Of The Realm & Commonwealth Index" which is currently searchable on Findmypast. No Thomas Kinne.

There is an undated entry for the name Kinne in the General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. But there is no forename. The entry says only: Kinne Gu a chev. ar. That's it.

john kynne
John Kynne was a real man, who lived in King's Lynn during the 1500's. He was a shipowner and merchant who served as alderman, mayor and member of parliament for King's Lynn. See this bio of him on History of Parliament online. This John had only one son who was a minor in 1573, the year of his death. Nothing further is known about this family. He did not have a son named Thomas. There is no information on his son John and whether he married and had children is not known, but he did not have a son named Thomas who was made a Baronet in 1618 or any other year.

edward randolph kinney
Edward Kinney was a family researcher, living in Denver in the 1930's-1940's. While he never published a book, he wrote many letters to his family about his ancestry and Henry Kinne. One of his letters was transcribed and can be found in the Kinney-L archives. I cannot speak to his integrity but I can say that his letter is full of garbage.

His writings include a lurid description of life in England for the adherents of the more puritan strain of Protestantism. He says, "those who dared to differ were persecuted to the limit" and  "confiscation of property and breaking up of families was the order of the day." This is blatantly untrue. He also paints a bleak future for those traveling to the new world. He says of the indentured servant, "they were to be auctioned off to the highest bidder," and then, "they were slaves to those who bid on them. Seldom if ever did they work out their passage money in 21 years." He said that indenture servants who ran away from their masters were penalized by death. Again, not true. Now it was probably not a easy life and as always there are those who are cruel and unfair, but to categorically paint all those who employed indentured servants as diabolical master is ridiculous.

Kinney then goes on to say that apprenticeship was another form of slavery. He says, " apprentices...were indentured for a period of seven years for 6 shillings and 5 pence." He says they automatically became freeman and the end of their indenture. This is bollocks and nonsense. Apprenticeship was a centuries old tradition of teaching professions. Goldsmiths, Merchants, Candle Makers, Linen Drapers, and on and on, all learned their trade through apprenticeship, and their fathers paid a pretty penny for their sons to be trained.

Here is a brief list of other false statements made in this one letter:

1. Henry reconciled with his father and mother John Keney and Mary Cheever in Roxbury- these are not his parents.
2. Upon completion of his apprenticeship Henry was made a Freeman- false Henry was a Freeman in 1678.
3. Henry disembarked at Salem Village- false Salem Town and Salem Village were separate places. Salem Town was a seaport, Salem Village a farming community.
4. Henry was a master of law pertaining to his real and personal rights. He never lost a case and always acted as his own attorney. - Check out the court records, Henry lost most of the time.
5. Henry is mentioned in the diary of Rev. Green concerning the Witch Trials- Rev. Green did not start his diary until after the trials. Henry is not mentioned in them at all.
6. Henry's wife and daughter testified at the trial- false, Anne Putnam who testified was not Henry's wife but the wife of Thomas Putnam and it was their daughter Anne who testified not Henry's.
7. Henry was called Goodman, the highest honor a church could bestow on a layman- what????? Goodman had nothing to do with the church and everything to do with how much money you had.

I could list more, but clearly Edward Kinney did not have a firm grip on his history. And in the scheme of things these are pretty minor but then he wrote about the bible. [11]

the bible and the fire
Edward Kinney's writings are pretty easy to dismiss or forgive until he began to write about Henry's bible. He claimed that Henry wrote his own name, that of his parents, and his grandfathers and their place of residence in England in his family bible. This enabled his descendants to trace their lineage back to the date 28 September 1066. In case you don't know that is the date that Duke William of Normandy invaded England. How was he able to trace this lineage is anyone's guess. Kinney called it an 'authentic' record. Kinney next said that Henry's son Thomas made a copy of the names for his own records. Henry's house in Roxbury burned down, according to Kinney, all his worldly goods were lost including the bible. The Roxbury congregation took up a collection for Henry, five pounds, for him to start a new life.  Nothing about this story rings true.

Henry lived in Roxbury when he was an apprentice. Once complete, Henry moved to Salem Village where he settled down and started his family. Henry and Ann's first child was John. His birth was recorded in the Salem records in as Jan __ 1651. Henry's son Thomas, b. 1655 died at the young age of 32. Thomas and his family also lived in a part of Salem that was first known as Salem Village, but is now called Danvers. Henry never lived in Roxbury after his removal to Salem.

There is no proof that Henry knew how to write. He made his mark and one time made his autograph, but that does not mean he knew how to write. Many small children can print their name, but they do not know who to actually write.

On her website Georgia Bopp writes,
In one of his papers/letters, ERK (Edward Randolph Kinney) states that the bible was destroyed in a fire.  Elsewhere he states that his uncle offered someone $5000 for the Bible in the early 1900's and that [the uncle or ERK had] traced the bible to a family in New Preston, CT, but the owner refused to let him see it.[12]
No one has ever seen the bible or the copied pages of the bible. It seems as if the bible never existed and that Edward Kinney fabricated it's existence in order to advance his genealogy. So all we are left with is the deposition.

the deposition
In a 1911 publication, Henry Kinne is said to have been deposed in 1684, giving his age as 60. This establishes  a birth year of 1624. [13] A earlier publication offered more information about the deposition. It seems a man named John Burton wrote his will in October 1684 and died the following month. Henry Kenney, was deposed in the probate of his estate. During the deposition he gave his age as 60 years old and made a statement concerning the will of John Burton. [14]

By the 1992 publication by Basil E. Kinney, this simple deposition by Henry Kinne and John Nichols concerning the wishes of their friend John Burton for the disposal of his estate has become a recitation of Henry's genealogy. This is what B. E. Kinney claims was in Henry's deposition:
In making a deposition in 1684 at Salem, Ma. Henry Keney stated that he was sixty years of age, "my father was ye John Keney out of Norfolk, in ye olde England, and my mother was ye Cheever, and my grandfather was ye Sir Thomas Keney in Lynne ye marchant and trader there who was soe Knighted by ye Goode Queen Elizabeth for ye gifte of ships to ye Captaine Daves ye Navigator, etc."
B. E. Kinney then goes on to comment:
Surely Henry erred in the last portion of this statement. His grandfather, Thomas, was knighted 4 Oct 1618, fifteen years after the death of "ye Goode Queen Elizabeth and fifteen years into the reign of the Stuart King James I. These last lines thus apply to the great grandfather of Henry reported to be Sir Robert Kinne of Kings Lynne, Country of Norfolk, England. The deposition of Henry Keney of Salem, Ma., continues, " I ye Henry borne ye 8th of the 7th month 1623 and came by ye colonies in ye year of 1635. [15]
This is so crazy! First of all, no one gives their pedigree in a simple deposition. Who cares who Henry's father was, the court case was not about him, he was only a witness. The language is so fake with all the 'ye' this and 'ye' that. Somehow Queen Elizabeth got dragged into this and to save the day B. E. Kinney fabricates a Sir Robert Kinne of King's Lynn who just like Sir Thomas Kinne did not exist.

The ancestry of Henry Kinne of Salem Village, now Danvers, is unknown. There is no such person as Sir Thomas Kinne. There is no document that would suggest who the parents of Henry were, and they certainly were not John Kinney and Sarah Farr of Salem. There is no reason to believe that Henry's mother's maiden name was Cheever.

The bible and deposition are fabricated stories. I do not know who started these stories, but it's time to stop passing them on. Good genealogy relies on strict standards and stories without substance do not make the grade. Please help me to stamp out this fake genealogy. Check out the Georgia Kinney Bopp website on Henry, it's awesome!


[1] Emerson Kinne, History and Genealogy of a Branch of the Kinne Family, (Syracuse, NY : Masters and Stone, 1881) digital images, Archive ( : accessed 15 December 2016).

[2] Raymond Meyers Tingley, Some ancestral lines : being a record of some of the ancestors of Guilford Solon Tingley and his wife, Martha Pamelia Meyers / collected by their son, Raymon Meyers Tingley, (Rutland, Vermont : Tuttle Publishing Company, 1935) 184.

[3] Florance Kenney Robertson, The Genealogy of Henry and Anne Kinne, Pioneers of Salem, Massachusetts, (Los Angeles : Wetzel Publishing Co., 1947), digital images, HatiTrust ( : accessed 14 December 2016).

[4] Nick Bunker, Making Haste from Babylon ( New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010).

[5] Hazel Otis Crane, Our Ancestry, (Ann Arbor : Unknown Publisher, 1955), digital images, Hathi Trust ( : accessed 16 December 2016).

[6] Mabel Gould Demers Hinckley, The Kenney--Kinney Family: A Monograph (Unknown, 1969).

[7] Clarence Almon Torrey, New England Marriages Prior to 1700, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1985) 433

[8] The Probate Records of Essex County, Vol. II, (Salem, Massachusetts: The Essex Institute, 1917) 202, digital images, American Ancestors ( : accessed 15 December 2016.

[9] Robertson, The Genealogy of Henry and Anne Kinne.

[10] Jeff Green <> Rootsweb, Kinney-L Archives, mailing list reference list number 1045155795, message of date 13 Feb 2003, entitled The Sir Thomas Myth.

[11] Mary L. Kinney <> Rootsweb, Kinney-L Archives, mailing list reference list number 0979177938, message of date 10 January 2001, entitled Re: Influence of reilgion, childrens names, immigration patterns pre-20th Century.

[12] Georgia Kinney Bopp, Henry Kinne Website, rootsweb

[13] John W. Jordan, Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania: Genealogical and Personal Memoirs, Vol. 3, (Pennsylvania: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1911),1290. [entry for Charles Clinton Kinney]

[14] Mrs. William Roome, "Notes on Burton Family of Essex County, Mass," Putnam's Historical Magazine, Vol 7, (Jan-Dec 1899) 305, digital images,  Google Books, ( : accessed 18 December 2016).

[15] Basil E. Kinney, By the name of Kinne : ancestors and descendants of Nathan Kinne of Preston, Ct. & Norton, N.S, (Bangor, Me : B. E. Kinney, 1992). 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Rainsford Island, Boston and other Quarantine Islands of New England

Most Americans, especially those whose immigrant ancestors passed though New York City, are familiar with Ellis Island and the part it played in processing the new arrivals, especially those who were possibly ill with a contagious disease. But, long before Ellis Island there were many such places. I was surprised to see that one of my ancestors died on a Island in the Boston Harbor called Rainsford Island. Her named was Cynthia Thornton Brown. She was born in 1812 in Thornton, New Hampshire. Cynthia married a local man, Obadiah Brown, and the eventually settled in Boston. In May of 1856 she contracted the deadly disease of small pox. Cynthia was transported to the Island, located in the Boston Harbor to live or die. She died.

Rainsford, as I said, is very small, only about eleven acres and has an elevation of 49 feet. It had been used by the Native Americans prior to the arrival of English colonist. In 1632 it was given to Edward Rainsford who used it to raise cattle, safe from hungry wolves and poachers. In 1737 the town of Boston to use a place of quarantine. Ships coming into the Boston harbor who drop off any sick sailor or passenger, complete with their bedding and clothes. If you lived you left, if you died, you were buried in an unmarked grave.

The Island was used for various additional purposes in the ensuing years. Boston sent it's  desperately poor there to live in almshouses. A boy's school was established, called the Suffolk School for Boys, it remained open until the 1920s. When there was no contagion on the island, the caretakers could rent out holiday houses to Bostonians.

Today there are no remaining buildings on the Island which is reachable only by private boat. It is part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.

The Lazaretto
Many of the colonial east coast cities had their own quarantine island. While Philadelphia did not have a quarantine Island, it did have a large facility, called the Lazaretto located just outside the harbor area. The word Lazaretto is Italian and is defined as a maritime quarantine station. The building, erected in 1799, still stands and is near the airport. This 217 year old building is the oldest surviving quarantine hospital in the United States. It was built shortly after the terrible yellow fever epidemic of 1793 during which about 5,000 people died.

The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

New York Island
New York City had multiple quarantine Islands. North Brother Island is in the East River between Rikers Island and the Bronx. Beginning in the 1880's it was the site of Riverside Hospital, the ruins of which still stand on the abandoned Island. This was the eventually home of the cook, Mary Mallon, famously known as Typhoid Mary.  She infected 51 people before being quarantined, for the rest of her life.

The federal government built several man made island in the lower New York Bay for the purposes of quarantine. Swineburne and Hoffman Islands housed victims of cholera epidemics, the last of which was in 1910-1911.  New York also had quarantine ships to house infected people.

North Brother Island is a bird sanctuary, owned by the City of New York. Swineburne and Hoffman are managed by the National Park Service and is off limits to the public.

Maine Islands
There are multiple islands off the coast of Maine that were once used for quarantine. Widows Island, a 15 acres land mass off the shore of North Haven was used to house yellow fever victims. Wood Island was used by the U.S. Navy for the same reason. Hospital Island in the Passamaquoddy Bay is a tiny three acre island that was used in 1832 to isolate ship passengers with cholera.

Thankfully, the days of rampant infectious disease are behind us. I can only imagine the pain and suffering felt by these people. What was Obidiah thinking when his wife Cynthia Thornton Brown was taken to Rainsford Island? He would never see her again. Did someone come by and tell him she had died?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Samuel Thornton of Abbeville, South Carolina; Who Was He? Was he the brother of Matthew Thornton of Londonderry, NH?

If the Thornton Project at FamilyTreeDNA is an accurate  reflection of the Thornton men who immigrated to North America then there are two large groups of  related descendants. The largest by far are the Virginia descendants of William and Luke Thornton. The next largest group seems to be the Thorntons of Rhode Island. Many of the other Thorntons have no match; my father's YDNA has one match.

My father was a descendant of the Thorntons who immigrated from the North of Ireland to New England in about 1720. They first established themselves in Maine, but were forced out by the Native Americans. They moved on to Worcester, Mass before settling in New Hampshire. His ancestors were James Thornton and his son William who died in Thornton, NH in 1790. The YDNA match was from a man who descended from Samuel Thornton who died in 1797 in Abbeville, South Carolina. So who was Samuel Thornton of Abbeville?

the simonton family of conestoga manor
Theophilus Simonton, believed to have immigrated from Ireland, purchased land in what was called the Conestoga Manor in Lancaster County, PA. Sometime around 1754 brothers William and Robert Simonton, sons of Theophilus, bought land in what was then Anson County, North Carolina. [1] Samuel Thornton purchased his land grant on 7 May 1757. He was married to Theophilus' daughter Mary Simonton. There is no record of their marriage so we cannot be sure where this marriage took place, in Pennsylvania or in North Carolina.

The map above shows the location of the Samuel Thornton land. It's interesting to note that his closest neighbors were Wassons. The Thornton family of Londonderry had close family ties with a Wasson family as well.

who was samuel?
Some folks claim that Samuel was the brother of Matthew Thornton who signed the Declaration of Independence. Another thought is that he was the son of Robert Thornton of West Bradford, Chester, PA. Robert did have a son named Samuel. He also had a daughter Hannah Thornton Freeman who is said have immigrated with her husband John to Cane Creek, North Carolina. Thornton/Freeman families were Quakers and they belonged to the first Quaker church in North Carolina. I do not think that Samuel of Abbeville is the Samuel son of Robert in this family for two reasons. First Samuel Thornton of Abbeville was a Presbyterian and was one of the founders of the Forth Creek Church in Anson/Rowan/Irdell County North Carolina. The other problem is that Samuel Thornton was still on the tax rolls for West Bradford, Chester, PA in 1789.

was samuel the brother of matthew?
If Samuel was the brother of both Matthew Thornton and my ancestor William Thornton, then the common ancestor between my father and the matching YDNA kit would have to be their father James Thornton. James would be my father's fourth great grandfather. Below is the chart showing the probability of our common ancestor.

I am only a novice when it comes to deciphering DNA results, but to me it seems that our common ancestor is more likely further up the chain. What we need is more Thornton descendants to take a DNA test to solidify the results. With only two tests it's simply not possible to tell. So, that being said, Hey all you Thornton males, get tested!

related story: The Mysterious Samuel Thornton

[1] North Carolina, Land Grant Files, 1693-1960, database with images, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 September 2016), Anson County, Robert Simonton, 20 February 1754.

Friday, September 16, 2016

John Partridge of Navestock, Essex; not the ancestor of John Partridge of Medfield or William Partridge of Salisbury

Many people believe that John Partridge who immigrated from England and lived in Medfield, Massachusetts was the son of John and Jane (Hogg) Partridge of Navestock, Essex, England. This is not correct. The origins of John of Medfield and his siblings is unknown.

The idea that these were the same men comes from the Visitation of Essex which had the family tree of Bartholomew Partridge and includes his son John who married Jane Hogg. [1] The visitation shows that Captain John Partridge had four children: John (age 14 in 1634), William, Jane and Margaret.

There is a marriage recorded in the parish of St. Gregory by St. Paul in London. [2] Jane Hogg and John Partridge were married on 11 May 1619. This is quite likely the marriage of John. In the visitation John and Jane Partridge are said to have four living children: John, William, Jane and Margaret. In the Navestock parish register there are baptismal records that would correspond to Jane and William. [3] There is also a burial record for William Partridge son of John on 12 September 1636.

On 1 Oct 1652 John Partridge of Navestock wrote his will. He made his son John and his wife Jane his executors. He left bequeaths to his daughter Margaret, married to Unknown Hudson and to the children of his daughter Jane, who had married John Lake, it would seem that she was dead. The will was probated in 1663 by his wife Jane. [4]

Jane wrote her will in 1666. She named her Lake grandchildren, Thomas and Jane, her Hudson (Hutchin) grandson Robert. He daughter Margaret Hudson, her daughter Ann Partridge (wife of her son John) and her Partridge grandson John. [5] The bulk of the estate went to Ann Partridge, as her grandson John was still under the age of 21.

In the church of St. Thomas the Apostle in Navestock, Essex is a memorial stone for several men named John Partridge. The stone reads: John Partridge, Gentleman died 24 March 1653 age 34. John Partridge the son died 18 December 1671 age 23. These are the son and grandson of Jane Hogg Partridge. Another stone is for John Partridge Gentleman heir to John Partridge Citizen and Cutler of London who died 25 October 1683. These are the son and grandson of Gabriel Partridge who was the brother of John Partridge of Navestock.

Clearly the children of John and Jane Hogg Partridge are not the Partridge siblings who settled in Medfield Massachusetts.


[1] Walter Charles Metcalf, The Visitations of Essex by Hawley, 1552; Hervey, 1558; Cooke, 1570; Raven, 1612; and Owen and Lilly, 1634. To which are Added Miscellaneous Essex Pedigrees from Various Harleian Manuscripts: And an Appendix Containing Berry's Essex Pedigrees, Part 1, (London: Mitchell and Hughes, 1878) 465, digital images, Google Books ( : accessed 14 September 2016).

[2] "England Marriages, 1538–1973 ," database, FamilySearch ( : 10 December 2014), John Partridge and Jane Hogge, 11 May 1619; citing Saint Gregory By Saint Paul, London,England, reference ; FHL microfilm 375,028.

[3] Navestock Parish Register, St. Thomas the Apostle, database, FreeReg2 ( : accessed 15 September 2016) Jane Partrech baptized 24 Oct 1622, daughter of John Partrech.

[4]"London, England, Wills and Probate, 1507-1858," digital images, ( : accessed 16 September 2016) John Partridge, Essex, 1663, citing London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, Clerkenwell, London, England; Reference Number: DCP/K/C/06/MS 25628/3; Will Number: 14.

[5] "London, England, Wills and Probate, 1507-1858," digital images, ( accessed 16 September 2016) Jane Partridge, Essex, 1666, citing London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, Clerkenwell, London, England; Reference Number: DCP/K/C/06/MS 25628/7; Will Number: 19.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hugh and Mary Parsons; Witches of Springfield

My book on Hugh and Mary
Most people are familiar with the Salem Witches of 1692. Many books and articles have been written about them. Plays and movies have made about these unfortunate souls and whole websites devoted to their stories. But there were many other early New Englanders who suffered the same fate. This is a brief story of Hugh and Mary Parsons of Springfield who were accused of Witchcraft in 1650. 

Hugh Parsons
Hugh was most likely born in England and arrived in Springfield by 1645. His ancestry in unknown. He was a brick maker by trade and on 20 October 1645 he agreed to make bricks for a chimney for William Pynchon, founder and leading citizen of Springfield.[1] He also felled trees and sawed lumber. Hugh was given a land grant and in 1647 he was recorded as having 37 and 1/2 acres. His was, at that time, one of the last lots in the small outpost of Springfield. The lots stretched along the Connecticut River. Immediately behind their house lots each man was assigned a woodlot and directly across the river they had a planting lot. His planting lot was just north of the confluence of the then Agawam, now Westfield, River and the Connecticut River. His neigbor to the south was John Lombard and Jonathan Burt lived on the north side of him. three lots to the north was Reice Bedortha who married Blanche Lewis, believed to be the sister of his wife's first husband.[2] Nothing remains today of those long ago homes.

Mary Lewis
October was  busy month for Hugh. On the 20th he signed a contract with the town leader and on the 27th he formed a contract of a different sort, one he would surely regret a few years later. On that day he married Mary ____Lewis. Mary was originally from Wales. [3] Her husband has run off, abandoning her. William Pynchon called him a 'Papist' and said that they had been separated for some seven years. What she did prior to her marriage to Hugh is unknown. She possibly worked as a servant for a Springfield family. 


Hugh and Mary are known to have had three children. It does not seem as if she had any with her first husband.
Hannah b. 7 August 1646, nothing more known
Samuel b. 8 June 1648, b. end of September 1649
Joshua b. 26 October 1650 d. 4 March 1651

name calling 
On 29 May 1649 the Widow Marshfield brought Mary Parsons to court and charged her with slander. Mary had made a serious accusation against the widow and had called her a witch. John Matthews and his wife were called to testify. He said that Mary had told him that the Widow Marshfield was a witch. She had started coyly by saying she was taught to know a witch by a widow now living in Springfield who had lived in Windsor, that this woman had three children, one of whom was married. I'm sure it was not hard for John and his wife to guess who she was talking about, but she admitted that it was the Widow Marshfield.

Mary was found guilty of slander and sentenced to 20 lashes or a payment of 3 pounds to the widow. Hugh paid the fine in Indian corn.

Hugh is not nice
It seems that Hugh was not a very nice man, nor was he a caring husband, at least that is what can be gleaned from the public records of the time. He argued with his neighbors, he failed to hold up his side of business dealing, usually having to do with bricks. When angered he insulted and used verbal threats against the offender. His neighbors were it seemed fed up with him.

the accusations are reversed

In 1651 Mary was accused of being a witch and she in turn accused her own husband. No less that 35 neighbors turned out to testify against him. Today the supposed acts of witchcraft for which he was accused seem pretty silly. From exploding sausages to missing knives and trowels to men falling off their horses, the actions for which he stood trial are laughable today, but were deadly serious in 1651. During the trial their third child died and Mary claimed that she had killed it. When the magistrate, William Pynchon had gatherer all the testimony, Mary and Hugh were taken to Boston to await trail by the General Court.

Mary's case was heard right away. She was indicted and charged with witchcraft and murder of her child for which she was found guilty. She was sentenced to died by hanging. She was given a reprieve on the 29th of May. Nothing more is known about her fate. It is presumed that she died in prison as her execution was never recorded.

Hugh's trial did not occur for another year. On 12 May 1652 Hugh was found guilty of witchcraft by the court of Assistants, but two weeks later the verdict was rescinded by the General Court. John Pynchon sold his lands in Springfield and forwarded him the proceeds.  What he did after the trial is also unknown as is the fate of their daughter Hannah.

Where did he go?
Hugh was still in Boston in May 1654. He was not the Hugh Parsons who lived in Watertown. That Parsons was granted land there in 1649 too soon to be the Hugh of Springfield. There was also a Hugh Parsons who lived in Rhode Island. He had a daughter Hannah, like the Springfield Parsons but he also had a daughter named Grace who seems was born about 1637, too early to be his daughter. [5] The Rhode Island Hugh married and seemed to have some responsibility in community where he lived. I would think that Hugh Parsons of Springfield, would be something of a pariah, not to mention that he was not a very nice fellow.

Mary Bliss Parsons
In a bizarre twist of fate, a second Mary Parsons was accused of witchcraft by her Springfield/Northampton neighbors. Many of the same names are found in depositions from the slander case she brought against her accuser, Sarah Bridgeman. Read about Mary Bliss Parsons here.

weave a web of witchcraft
WEAVE A WEB OF WITCHCRAFT is my novel built on the lives of Hugh and Mary. It uses actual testimony given at their trials to reconstruct their world. Using meticulous research I bring the their world to life, the day to day struggle to survive on the Massachusetts frontier. WEAVE A WEB OF WITCHCRAFT is a window into the world of our 17th century ancestors; what they ate, their houses, their work, what they believed, from birth to death.

My book is available on Amazon in paperback and kindle and on Smashwords where you can buy it for Nook, ibook and many other formats. Please consider giving it a read. It will make you happy to be from the 21st century!


[1] Gerald James Parsons, "The Early Parsons Families of the Connecticut Valley," The New England Historic and Genealogical Register, Vol. 149 (January 1995) 69-70, digital images, American Ancestors ( : accessed 5 September 2016).

[2] Henry M. Burt, The First Century of the History of Springfield, Vol. 2 (Springfield, Mass: H. M. Burt, 1899), digital images, Internet Archive ( : accessed 5 September 2016).

[3] Parsons, "The Early Parsons," 69.

[4] Parsons, "The Early Parsons," 69

[5] Parsons, "The Early Parsons, " 69.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Evolution of William Smith Bryan from Irish Rebel to Virginia Planter

Search the internet for William Smith Bryan and you will find a plethora of information about him. He is said to be the progenitor of many a Bryan/Bryant in America. He has also be the subject of many biographies, beginning in the late 19th century up until very recent times. Over the years his story has evolved, becoming more and more fanciful as the years go by. Here is a breakdown of his evolving story.

In 1832 Samuel Bryan of Marion County Indiana applied for a Revolutionary War pension. He had relocated from North Carolina to Indiana late in life. His wife applied for a widow's pension after his death. Included in their pension application was a document supplied by their son Luke which contained the following:
[Luke Bryan submitted the following with his mother’s application for a pension, and he deposed that it was written by his father, Samuel Bryan.]
My great grandfather Bryan was a Dane born in Denmark & rais’d in that Kingdom where he married a wife & lived untill he had a sone born whome he called Morgan after which he remov’d to Ireland where he lived untill said Morgan came to manhood who left his father in Ireland & came to Pensylvania in Amerricia where he Married a woman by the name of Martha Strode the daughter of a man by the name of Strode a Hollander who had moved to France where he resided with his wife untill he had three children, he & his wife being protestants, in time of a great persecution fled for their lives, bound for Pensylvania in Amerricia but himself & wife sickened on the seas & died before they arrived to the end of their voige....
Samuel's great grandfather was not named in the application. Nor was the name of his grandfather or father. This would change and by the time this genealogy was found in print Samuel's ancestors had aquired some names.

William Smith Bryan is an interesting character. He is first written about in a book published in 1876 called The Pioneer Families of Missouri, written by William Smith Bryan, his descendant. [1] Mr. Bryan wrote that his ancestor landed in Virginia by way of Ireland in 1615, saying he "arouse the hostility of the British Government by a too ardent Irish patriotism and was deported as a rebellious subject." He also claims that William Smith Bryan was the only living lineal descendant of Brian Boru, a high king of Ireland from the 10th century. Mr. Bryan goes on to say that William Smith Bryan had eleven children but the name of only one was known; Francis, who returned to Ireland to reclaim the family lands.

This Francis was unsuccessful in his attempt to regain the old family land and for whatever reason is said to have fled to Denmark. In Denmark two sons were born; Morgan and William. Morgan inexplicably became the Standard Bearer for William of Orange and was present at the battle of the Boyne in 1690. He then left Europe and immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1695, where he married Martha Stroud. [2]

On page 132 of the Pioneers of Missouri, a second William Bryan is introduced. He is said to have come from Wales with Lord Baltimore in 1650 and settled in Maryland. His wife was Irish and they had three children; William, Morgan and Daniel. A descendant of this William, another William, settled in Roan County, NC and married a woman named Sally Bringer. The had eleven children, one of whom, a daughter named Rebecca, married Daniel Boone. [3]

By 1915 the story had changed quite a bit. In the book The Shearer and Akers Family, by J. W. Shearer, William Smith ? Bryan, his question mark, was a descendant of Sir Francis Bryan. No wife is identified. William Smith Bryan is said to be a landowner in Ireland, probably County Clare. In 1650 he and his family were deported by Cromwell for being a rebellious subject. Accompanying him were eleven sons, but only two are given in this book, Morgan and Francis. [4] This newer version sets the action forward by 35 years into the Cromwell era.

Again, Francis is said to have returned to Ireland to reclaim the family land but was persecuted by the English and fled to Denmark. Morgan is identified only as a possible son and is said to have been in Norfolk, Virginia in 1663. His son Morgan married a woman named Martha Stroud and ended up in Davie County, North Carolina. [5]

In a 1917 publication William is described as an Irish land owner with eleven children who was deported by Cromwell's forces in 1650 for being a rebellious subject. Francis returned to Ireland in 1677 and fled for Denmark where his sons William and Morgan were born. William married a Margaret and they lived in Ballyrooney, County Down, Ireland. William and Margaret and their son John left Ireland after John was arrested for poaching. [6]

In 1922  a book called Notable Southern Families was published. [7] William Smith Bryan is also discussed in this book, in which he is said to be the son of Sir Francis Bryan. He was deported in 1650 for being an undesirable citizen. He arrived in Virginia in 1615 with his family and a boatload of household goods. This book makes the amazing claim that William Smith Bryan was the ancestor of the O'Briens who were the Lords of Inchquin. The book repeats the story of Francis' return to England and the troubles that led him to Denmark, his marriage to Sarah Brinker. This version of the story says that Francis eventually returned to live in Ireland. It also supposes that Morgan Bryan was a son of William Smith Bryan.  Morgan, this time, left Ireland for Pennsylvania. [8]

Another book published in 1922 was a history of the Boone Family. This book gives two versions of the story of Morgan Bryan. In the first, Morgan grew to manhood in Ireland and then left for America, settling in Pennsylvania where he married Martha Stroud. [9] The second version is the William Smith deported version but has Francis returning for his land in 1650. Again Francis goes to Denmark where son Morgan is born. Morgan of the battle of the Boyne comes to Pennsylvania in 1695. Francis died in Belfast in 1694. The author says that he does not know which if either were the correct story.

A 1962 article in the Virginia Magazine perpetuates the story of Francis Bryan returning to Ireland to reclaim the family estates. His son Morgan, then living in poverty, sailed, possible under indenture to Pennsylvania. [10]

In 1965, in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 53, it is Francis that is the standard bearer for William of Orange in 1690.

Skip forward a few decades to the age of the internet. In 2011 this was posted on a message board:

Sir William Smith BRYAN, 8th Great-Grandfather. PMC" Prince William of Ireland", Deported in 1650, to Gloucester Beach, Virginia as a "Rebellious Subject." Marriage 1: Countess Of Ormond Catherine MORGAN, b: 1594 in , Claire, Ireland.
Married: 1620, in , Claire, Ireland.
 Note: In 1650, William Smith Bryan, the Grandson of Sir Francis Bryan, declared himself Heir-to-the-Throne Of Ireland, and fought against Cromwell, from the back of a White horse. Defeated by sheer numbers of the Puritan army, Bryan was deported to the Colony of Virginia in America, together with "twenty-one sons and grandsons." Declares himself Heir to the Throne of Ireland. 
So in about 150 years William Smith Bryan has gone from a Danish man to 1615 Irish rebel to a full on pretender to the throne, a knight no less, seated on a white horse, battling the forces of evil Cromwell. He is now married to the Countess of Ormand! And, he has accrued 21 sons, but still only two that can be identified.

William Smith O'Brien
So where did this William Smith Bryan stuff come from and is any of it real, or is William a mythical fantasy ancestor. My vote is that he is an imaginary character. I believe that he is based on a real life man named William Smith O'Brien. William was the younger son of Sir Edward O'Brien and his wife Charlotte Smith, daughter of William Smith. Sir Edward was also Baron Inchquin. William Smith, despite being a member of the upper class and a protestant took the side of the poor roman catholic Irish population. He encouraged the use of the Irish language and sought relief during the famine. In 1848 he was charged with sedition as the result of a ill executed 'rebellion.' Sentenced to death, the country took up a petition to spare his life. He was deported to an island off of Tasmania in exile. Eventually he was release, spent some time in Brussels before returning to Ireland.

Doesn't that sound familiar? A son of a Lord, Irish rebel, deported, spent time in a European country before he eventually returning home to Ireland. William Smith Bryan and William Smith O'Brien. I believe that the life of O'Brien was transferred to a unknown ancestor by a Bryan biographer in the past. This fable has been added to over the years, resulting our knight in shining armour, riding a white horse.

More Research on William Smith Bryan


[1] William Smith Bryan, Pioneer Families of Missouri, (St. Louis, MO : Bryan Brand & Co., 1876) viii; digital images, Archive ( : accessed 2 September 2016).

[2] Bryan, Pioneer Families, viv.

[3] Bryan, Pioneer Families, 132.

[4] J. W. Shearer, The Shearer Akers Family, (Sommerville, N.J : Press of the Somerset Register, 1915) 11; digital images, Archive ( : accessed 2 September 2016).

[5] J. W. Shearer, The Shearer Akers Family, 11.

[6] George Norbury Mackenzie, Colonial Families of the United States, (Grafton Press, 1917) digital images, Google Books.

[7] Zella Armstrong, Notable Southern Families, (Chattanooga, Tennessee; The Lookout Publishing Co., 1922) 33, digital images, Google Books, ( : accessed 2 September 2016).

[8] Zella Armstrong, Notable Southern Families, 33.

[9] Jesse Procter Crump, The Boone family: a genealogical history of the descendants of George and Mary Boone, who came to America in 1717 : containing many unpublished bits of early Kentucky history : also a biographical sketch of Daniel Boone, the pioneer, by one of his descendants
(Buffalo, New York: Tuttle Co., 1922) 505-506, digital images, Google Books, (

[10] Charles W. Bryan, "Morgan Bryan; Pioneer of the Opequon and Yadkin," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 70. no. 2 (April 1962) 154-164, digital images, JSTOR : accessed 2 September 2016).

Roles of Men, Women and Children in 17th Century Puritan Massachusetts

In 17 th century pur itan Massachusetts , the roles of men , women and children were very clearly defined . Men were the ...