Sunday, February 2, 2020

George Parkhurst (1588-1675): England to New England and back again

Not everyone who immigrated to the new world made a success of it. Some didn't like it, some couldn't hack it, some were homesick. Sometimes they took one look at the Massachusetts Bay Colony from the ship and booked their return passage home on the spot. My ancestor George Parkhurst was one of those, for whatever reason, eventually returned to England for good. Here is what I know about him.

english origins
George Parkhurst was born about 1588, based on a court record. It is likely that he was born in or around the town of Ipswich in Suffolk. His family origins can be traced to Guildford in Surrey. In 1561 his Grandfather, Christopher Parkhurst moved his family to Ipswich. I will cover these older ancestors in a separate article as they are very interesting. See Ancestors of George Parkhurst here.

George married a woman named Phebe Leete, who also comes from a traceable family and will also be a future article. Phebe was the daughter of Robert and Alice (Grundy) Leete of Little Eversden in Cambridgeshire. She was baptized on 20 December 1585. Their marriage is not recorded but based on the 1612 birth of their daughter Phebe, they were married no later than very early 1612 if not 1611.

The house pictured below is  called The Five Gables, and is located in Little Eversden, the home of Phebe Leete. Phebe would have been familiar with this house. The oldest part, the hall dates from the medieval times, the newest bits are 17th century, and may have been added before  she died. 

17George and Phebe lived in Ipswich where they baptized their nine children:

1. Phebe, bapt. 29 Nov 1612 at St.Stephens; m. 1st at Wolverstone, Suffolk home of her aunt Ruth Dalton 27 March 1635 Daniel Dan. m. 2nd widower Thomas Arnold, they lived in Watertown and Providence, RI.

2. Mary bapt. 28 August 1614 at St. Lawrence, parish of St. Mary-at-the-Quay, 1638, the Reverend Thomas Carter, first minister of Woburn, MA, she died in 1687, 8 children.

3. Samuel bapt. 2 Feb 1616/17 at St. Margarets, no further information, likely died young

4. Deborah bapt. 1 Aug 1619 St. Margarets, m. 1st John Smith of Watertown, moved to Hampton, NH. and Edgartown by 1653. had 5 children.

5. George bapt. 5 June 1621 St. Margarets, m. 1st Sarah d/o Abraham Brown on 16 Dec 1643, m. 2nd 24 September 1650 in Watertown, widow Mary Veazie. d. 16 March 1698/9 age 81.

6. John bapt. 19 Oct. 1623. likely died young.

7. Abigail bapt. 1 Jan 1625/6 at St. Margaret. died young

8. Elizabeth b. in the parish of St. Mary-le-Tower. m. 1st Emmanuel Hilliard  how was lost on a boat on 20 October 1659, m. 2nd widower Joseph Merry, moved with her father to Edgartown in 1678. 

9. Joseph bapt. 21 Dec. 1629 at St. Margarets, m. Concord 26 June 1656 Rebecca Reed d/o Esdras Reed, lived in Chelmsford. 

Now businesses, these 15th century houses would have been very familiar to George Parkhurst and his family. They are located in Ipswich. It is possible he may have been inside one or two!

coming to america
It is not known exactly when the Parkhurst family left Ipswich for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. We also do not know if Phebe was still alive and made the trans-atlantic crossing. Perhaps she was buried alongside her three young children. In any case, George is first found in the town of Watertown in 1642 when the town ordered that a road be built to his house. According to Bond, George had a homestall of 12 acres and five other lots of land. 

In 1644 George married Susanna Simson, the widow of John Simpson who was buried in Watertown on 10 June 1643. She had five children by him (Simon). Through this marriage George acquired most of John Simpson's land. Soon after the marriage, the combined family moved to Boston. He was approximately 56 years old, his youngest child was the fifteen-year-old Joseph. 

Soon after this second marriage, George and Susanna moved to Boston. We don't know why. He sold his land in Watertown and in 1655 he sold the last parcel of John Simpson's Watertown land. He had to petition the General Court to enable the sale of the land and in his petition he states he is near 67 years old and his wife is near destitute. He tells the court she has gone to London with six of her ten children and that she found her mother, brothers, and sisters unable to do what she had expected. What this was we do not know, but my best guess is to support her and the children financially. George, he explained, needed to leave Massachusetts and go to London to help her. The deed of sale was recorded on 13 June 1655 and that's the last of George in the American record. 

What became of the family in England, we do not know. 

George and Susanna had the following children:

10. Benjamin b.Watertown or Boston, about 1645, if he was taken back to England he returned later and settled in Woodbridge, NJ about 1670. 

11. Unknown son, prob. b. Watertown or Boston, returned to England

12. Daniel, bapt. Boston 1st Church on 10 June 1649. 

13. Joshua bapt. Boston, 1st Church on 7 March 1651/2

14. Caleb bapt. Boston, 1st Church on 26 Feb 1653/4 

It is possible that George is the 'Old George Parkhurst' who was buried on 18 June 1675, at St. Lawrence, Ipswich, England. If so, then George ended up back at the start. 

Below, is a rather gloomy St. Lawrence in Ipswich. Any Churchyard used for burials is all paved over. 

Most of my information comes from the brilliant book; Fifty Great Migration Colonists by Genealogist John Brooks Threlfall. It's expensive but worth the cost. (at least it was for me!) Click on the cover and the link will take you to the Amazon page where you can check it out. 

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