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  • #46 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: Recent Advances in Mayflower Research

    Gary Boyd Roberts

    Published Date : April 14, 2000
    The recent arrival (with thanks to Carolyn Doyle, who kindly fills my ongoing standing order) of volume 11, part 3, and volume 19 of Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, plus a new edition of the 4-generation “pink pamphlet” for Francis Cooke, warrants a reappraisal of current genealogical scholarship on the 23 American Mayflower families. I last wrote on this subject formally in “Recent Progress in Seventeenth-Century New England Genealogy: A Bibliographical Essay” in the sesquicentennial October 1996 issue of the Register (150: 451-72, at 464-67). Therein I noted the magnificent flowering, since 1990, of 5-G books and 4-G pamphlets. To continue that assessment, the first two volumes of Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, published in 1975 and 1978, have now been completely superseded; volumes 9 and 10 (1996) revise the Francis Eaton and Samuel Fuller sections of volume 1, volumes 13 and 15 (1997) revise the William White section of volume 1 and the Chilton and More sections of volume 2, and the new volume 19 (2000) revises the Thomas Rogers section of volume 2. Volume 19 includes the Watford, Northamptonshire English material on Thomas Rogers and his wife Alice Cosford, first published by Clifford L. Stott in vol. 10 of The Genealogist (1989, but published much later); the number of families in volume 19, I might add, is exactly the same as that in the Rogers section of volume 2.

    The third volume of Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, published in 1980, covered George Soule and contained numerous errors. The 4-generation George Soule pamphlet, with revisions by Robert S. Wakefield that summarized many corrective Soule-related articles of the 1980s, should be used for the first four generations, and then volume 3 can serve as a general guide to fifth-generation Soule descendants whose births or names only are covered in the 4-G pamphlet.

    The bulk, however, of progress in Mayflower scholarship since 1990 has been the remarkable series of new volumes shepherded through the press by Edith Bates Thomas and most frequently compiled by Robert S. Wakefield, with much help from such scholars as Neil D. Thompson and Ann S. Lainhart. Volume 4, now in two editions and compiled by Bruce Campbell MacGunnigle, covers the progeny of Edward Fuller. Volume 5 (1991), compiled by Ruth C. McGuyre, Wakefield, and Harriet W. Hodge, covers Edward Winslow and John Billington. Volume 6, also in two editions and compiled by Judge John D. Austin, covers Stephen Hopkins and was the first to include many or most sixth-generation spouses. Volume 7 (1992, and compiled by Wakefield), covers Peter Brown, all of whose descendants are derived through daughters Mary and Rebecca, wives of Ephraim Tinkham and William Snow. Volume 8 (1994), compiled by Mrs. Charles Delmar Townsend, Wakefield, and Margaret Harris Stover, covers Degory Priest, all of whose descendants (by Sarah Allerton, sister of Isaac), are derived through daughters Mary and Sarah, wives of Phineas Pratt and John Coombs.

    Volume 11, published in three parts, two in 1996 and the third in 2000 and compiled by Peter B. Hill, covers Edward Doty, much of whose colonial progeny lived in New Jersey, New York and elsewhere outside New England. Volume 12, in two editions (1996 and 1999), compiled by Ralph V. Wood, Jr., covers Francis Cooke, but does not include the progeny of almost certain grandson Thomas Mitchell of Block Island (an ancestor of C.S. Gifford, possible father of Marilyn Monroe), whose sons and the birth of whose grandchildren are treated in the 4-G pamphlet on Francis Cooke compiled by Wood and Wakefield. The Doty and Cooke volumes also indicate many or most sixth-generation spouses (more Cooke progeny spouses, however, could be readily identified from good printed sources). Volume 14 (1997), compiled by Russell L. Warner and Wakefield, covers Myles Standish. Volume 16, part 1 (1999), compiled by Esther L. Woodworth-Barnes and Alicia Crane Williams, was the long-awaited study of four generations of the descendants of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. Volume 17 (1998) compiled by Wakefield and Margaret Harris Stover, covers Isaac Allerton, and the two parts of volume 18, both published in 1999 and compiled by Wakefield, cover four generations of the descendants of Richard Warren, plus fifth-generation progeny of his daughters Mary Bartlett, Anna Little, and Elizabeth Church (the progeny of Sarah Warren, wife of John Cooke, son of Francis, is covered in the Cooke volume).

    Before proceeding to those Mayflower families covered only in 4-G pamphlets or in the Howland volumes by Elizabeth Pearson White, I wish to note a few new items, in addition to the already mentioned Rogers discovery, on Mayflower English origins. My 2001/2 new edition of RD500/600 will considerably revise the royal descent of child passenger Richard More; a possible Greville descent and several royal lines for Gov. Edward Winslow and his brothers (including John, husband of Mary Chilton) are suggested by “Kenneth W. Kirkpatrick” in the January 2000 issue of the Register; Jeremy D. Bangs reopens the question of the birthplace (and thus ancestry) of Myles Standish in the premier issue (2000) of New England Ancestors; the background of Stephen Hopkins was treated in TAG 73 (1998): 161-71; possible Alden origins are discussed in The Mayflower Descendant 39 (1989): 111-22; and of course knightly and baronial ancestry for Henry Sampson (which may eventually lead to a royal descent) was outlined in The Genealogist 6 (1985); 166-86.

    4-G pamphlets cover Bradford (two generations more are treated in a 1951 genealogy by Ruth Gardiner Hall), Brewster (two, both by Barbara L. Merrick, which include fifth-generation descendants of Jonathan2 Brewster), and Sampson. The amazingly productive Mr. Wakefield continues, I hope, preparation of part 3 of volume 18, covering the younger children of Richard Warren; many fifth-generation descendants of Warren’s son Nathaniel, moreover, are treated in the recent 4-G pamphlet on the progeny of Philip Delano, also published by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. Mrs. Merrick, I believe, plans other 4-G pamphlets on the fifth-generation descendants of Patience (Brewster) Prence and Love Brewster at least; the progeny of Fear Brewster and Isaac Allerton, of course, is treated in volume 17 of the 5-G series. Further Alden volumes are eagerly awaited, but fifth-generation spouses are identified in volume 16:1 and extensive research for these forthcoming volumes has already been completed.

    The final Pilgrim with American descendants is John Howland. Elizabeth Pearson White of Winnetka, Illinois, published two volumes of a projected half-dozen or so studies of the progeny of each of Howland’s children in 1990 and 1993. These splendid works cover the descendants of Desire (Howland) Gorham and John Howland, Jr. Volumes 3 and 4 will cover Hope (Howland) Chipman (an ancestor of President George Herbert Walker Bush and presidential candidate Gov. George Walker Bush of Texas) and Elizabeth (Howland) Dickinson. Volume 4 is about ready, Mrs. White tells me, but Chipman descendants are numerous; she nonetheless hopes for publication of vol. 3 in 2001 or so.

    I will close this column with a few comments on the genealogical standards set by various of these volumes. The Doty works might be “fuller” – with more biographical detail, deed and other record abstraction, further military data, etc. – but I am glad indeed to have this initial version completed. The post-1990 Wakefield volumes improve but basically continue the format devised for volumes 1 and 2, especially the “bunched” listing of sources at the end of each nuclear family. Deed and will abstraction is always ample for genealogical content but otherwise spare, and sixth-generation spouses, or the surnames of married daughters, are identified only from wills of parents. The Alden volume uses embedded footnotes, a system I still like, and includes lavish detail. Mrs. Merrick and Mrs. White aim for, and generally achieve, exhaustive documentation from every source they can find. They, the Alden researchers, Cooke scholar Van Wood, and Doty scholar Peter Hill key every fact to a particular source – a practice that allows immediate reference back to whatever is used for “proof.”

    I think all of these several standards are valid, and might note that Mr. Wakefield’s parenthetic notes after most sources (a system I often employ as well) readily identify what he found there, so that there is seldom, for me, any question of the particular source used. Various practitioners of one or the other of these standards seem, however, sometimes at least, as interested in defending the standard as in unravelling new data, and as with the several young royal-descents scholars who often argue among themselves somewhat rudely on the Internet, I would like to encourage all of these able genealogists to continue their Mayflower research “full speed ahead” – using whatever standard or format, within those just discussed, they prefer. The completion of 5-G studies on all 23 American Mayflower families will be one of the greatest publication monuments in our field of the half-century between roughly 1975 and 2025. Remaining are one Warren volume, probably four or five Howland volumes, and fifth-generation research on the descendants of Brewster, Bradford, and Sampson. Much, perhaps even most, of the colonial progeny of the Mayflower Pilgrims, however, is now known, and the database to study both the overall contribution of the Mayflower progeny to colonial American history, and dozens of demographic questions, is now at hand.

    Once more, I will let my next column be a surprise.

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