The New England Historical and Genealogical Register

Editorial: Summer 2015, Volume 167 (Whole #675)

David L. Greene, one of our consulting editors, has pointed out the following paragraph from the inside front cover of the Register for January 1874, unsigned, but probably by the Editor, Albert H. Hoyt:

The REGISTER, the oldest historical magazine in the world, and now clad in a new and improved dress, salutes its readers at the beginning of the 28th volume. The present number contains several articles of more than ordinary interest, and many valuable historical facts never before published. We have reason to expect that the same will be true of the succeeding numbers. The Register is now in its 169th volume, recently clad in a new and improved dress, and still with each issue containing articles of more than ordinary interest with many historical facts never before published.

Our lead article, The English Origins of Thomas1 Millard of Boston and His Cousin, John1 Millard of Rehoboth is an excellent example of an author following up a major clue that was previously ignored. Boston records show that Thomas1 Millard left a will in England, probated about 1671. Author Trudy Millard Krause found the will (in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills), which gave Thomas Millard’s place of residence in Warwickshire prior to emigration, and then identified the fathers and grandfather of Thomas1 and his first cousin John1 Millard.

Massachusetts vital records may record the births of some siblings but not others. An example of this is identifying The Parents of Elizabeth Robbins, Wife of Stephen4 Shattuck of Littleton, Massachusetts, by Travis Dodge Miscia. After eliminating two known Elizabeth Robbinses who could have married Stephen Shattuck in 1734, the author points out a six-year gap in the children of Benjamin Robbins of Westford, during which time he could have had a daughter Elizabeth. Fortunately, in a 1756 Worcester County deed, this Benjamin Robbins left several tracts of land to his “beloved grandson Stephen Shattuck, now a student at Harvard Collidge in Cambridge.” The deed was recorded forty-four years after it was made.

One of the interesting aspects of the English origins of New England settlers is the frequency of finding cousins who emigrated. The Millard article above treats first cousins who clearly knew each other. The Rhode Island Barker Family: Suffolk Background and Connections to Other New England Immigrants, by Jane Fletcher Fiske and William Wyman Fiske, treats the ancestry of James1 Barker of Rhode Island and his aunt, Christian (Barker) (Cooper) (Beecher) Easton. This first installment sets the stage for presenting their ancestry by explaining some key discoveries. Part 2 will give the details about their cousins and connections in East Anglia and New England.

New England vital records may record retrospectively the births of children born long before their parents resided in the town in which the births were recorded. Understandably, this can cause research problems if one assumes all the children were born where their births were recorded. In Mary1 (Browne) (Oakley) Bouchier Alias Garret of Saffron Walden, Essex, and Massachusetts, and Her Family, Patricia Law Hatcher demonstrates this for the earliest vital records for Suffolk County, Massachusetts, in the 1640s. The records do not actually begin until March 1643/4, so earlier births were recorded retrospectively. She proves this with the baptism of Miles Oakley, baptized in Saffron Walden 8 April 1638, and whose birth was recorded in Massachusetts as 1 April 1638.

In The Mother of Mary (Saxby) Clarke, Grandmother of Jeremy1 Clarke of Rhode Island, Scott G. Swanson shows that the traditional identification of Mary’s mother is chronologically impossible. He then explores the family of Sir Edward Saxby (Mary’s father) and the families of his known wives, concentrating on wills. The identity of Mary’s mother is not evident, but the author presents three well-considered hypotheses.

Rhode Island town council records recorded warnings out and removals. A file of original documents for one town are transcribed in Some South Kingstown, Rhode Island, Warnings Out and Removals, 1740–1800, by Cherry Fletcher Bamberg. These records “primarily concern people who would not, or could not, leave as ordered, especially women, children, the ‘underwitted,’ and strangers far from home.”

Francis Lewis Fairbank of Oneida County, New York, Son of Ebenezer and Abigail (Cobb) Fairbank, by Patricia Sezna Haggerty, shows how much information can be found for a family in upstate New York when most members don’t move west and indeed stay in one county. At the beginning of the article, the author abstracts an interesting chain of title of a half-acre parcel in the Town of Marshall, Oneida County, from 1848 to 1881. The author has made excellent use of online newspapers, especially for biographical details not found elsewhere.

We usually include the parents of spouses — and Joseph and Elizabeth (Wheeler) Whitcomb of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and Some of Their Descendants, provides a good example of why we do. A reader saw from Part 1 that the sister of one of her ancestors would be treated in Part 2, and sent the author, Austin W. Spencer, valuable information. Mr. Spencer continues to correct the two published Whitcomb genealogies.

New England Articles in Genealogical Journals in 2013 indexes articles in eighteen journals by surname, place, and some subjects.

— Henry B. Hoff and Helen Schatvet Ullmann