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  • A Visit to Messing, Essex: Still No Bush Breakthrough

    Elaine Bush Prince

    Published Date : June-August, 1990

    After reading in several places that President George Herbert Walker Bush was a descendant of Reynold Bush of Messing, Essex, and seeing Messing spotlighted on CNN as the President's "ancestral village," I thought perhaps someone had made a breakthrough in discovering the parents of the President's earliest known patrilineal ancestor - Capt. Timothy Bush (ca. 1735-ca. 1815) of Hebron, Conn. and Springport, N.Y. -- but such was not the case.

    Messing, Essex is indeed the village from which Reynold Bush, one of the founders of Cambridge, Mass., emigrated ca. 1632.  It is pure supposition that he arrived on the Lion as his name does not appear on any list of its passengers.  The eminent English-origins genealogist J. Gardner Bartlett noted of Messing that #from here came two of our Cambridge disciples of [Rev. Thomas] Hooker, Reynold Bush and John White, the latter of whom went with him to Hartford ("The English Ancestral Homes of the Founders of Cambridge," Cambridge Historical Society Publications 14 [1919], p. 87). Mary and Anna White, sisters of John and daughters of Robert White (d. 1617) and Bridget Allgar of Messing, married respectively Joseph Loomis and John Porter, and immigrated to Windsor, Connecticut.  Mary (White) Loomis became an ancestor of President Millard Fillmore, and Anna (White) Porter to Presidents U.S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, and Gerald Ford (see G.B. Roberts, Ancestors of American Presidents, preliminary edition revised [19891, pp. 112, 114, 182 and TAG 61 11985-861:175).

    I had already planned a trip to England in early May 1989 for pleasure, not research, but nevertheless made a side trip to Messing.  I arrived there the day after the Secret Service had visited to reconnoiter the area for a possible presidential visit (President Bush was then in England to meet with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher), but a trip to Messing did not fit into the President's busy schedule.

    My visit was much too rushed, but I thoroughly enjoyed my three hours in Messing.  As the pub had not opened when we arrived, my husband and I walked through the village, a most beautiful and peaceful spot.  Many of the people, whom we found most friendly, were out walking, as it was voting day.  Two ladies took us to the cemetery which nearly surrounds the beautiful church.  No gravesites or markers have been located there for any member of the Bush family, but according to church records they lived in the parish in the sixteenth century.  Bush is a common surname in these parts, and many of the name are to be found also in the nearby village of Feering.

    We walked through the outskirts of the village and stopped at Paul Roseblade#s shop on Old School House Road, where I bought a very attractive poster of "The Bush Tree" nicely lettered on parchment, rolled and placed in a clay ring made by the local potter, complete with the Messing seal.  But the data printed on this document further confirms that any descent of the President from Reynold Bush of Messing is far from proved.  A generation or two has been skipped, and Capt. Timothy Bush is given as the son of Joseph Bush of Middletown, Conn., who died in 1749.

    This Joseph Bush was born at Enfield, Conn. 16 November 1718 (Enfield VRs) and I find no marriage for him prior to 6 May 1744, when he married Mary Ranney at Middletown.  Joseph died five years later at Surinam and, according to Middletown VRs, had three daughters: Hannah, b. 8 December 1744; Mary, b. 6 May 1746; and Abigail, b. 16 November 1748.  Administration of Joseph's estate can be found as Middletown Probate File #986 at the Connecticut State Library.  From these facts I find it hard to fit Capt. Timothy Bush, with a birthdate of ca. 1735 (from a family Bible record that he died ca. 1815, aged 80), as the son of Joseph Bush of Middletown, Connecticut, or as a proven descendant of Reynold Bush of Messing, Essex and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Mrs. Prince, of 74 Dennison Avenue, Framinghain, MA 01701, is collecting material on all Americans (1630-present) sharing the Bush surname.  She is also preparing a genealogy of the descendants of Capt. Timothy Bush and would like to hear from anyone with additional data; see her previous article on President Bush#s patrilineal ancestry in NEXUS 3(1986):124-25.

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