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  • #6 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: "Classic" New England Genealogies; 1860-1915

    Gary Boyd Roberts

    Published Date : July 18, 1986
    At this year’s "Come Home to New England" I’m speaking on the best genealogical books of the last century. In preparing the handout for this lecture I slightly revised an old list I had made-- but never published--of the most useful of the "classic" New England genealogies of the period between the Civil War and World War I. In many cases these are among my favorite genealogies of any period--certainly the ones I have most used. I thought readers might enjoy this list also and present it below with some brief comment on each book. Various of these are in error about English origins and/or coats-of-arms; several confuse colonial generations and about half predate 1898. 
    1. Henry Adams of Braintree (1898) and Robert Adams of Newbury--cover most Massachusetts Adamses. The Henry volume allows you to check whether any Adams ancestor is related to the presidents; if your forebear is not in this 1000-page book, you are not related to Samuel Adams or the presidents.
    2. Avery of Groton, Conn., 2 vols. (1912)--the best single genealogy covering the several towns around Stonington; includes all the Rockefellers (the grandmother of the original John D. was an Avery).
    3. George Barbour of Medfield, Mass., 11 vols. (7 text, 4 index; 1907)--covers all descendants, including all female lines (daus. of daus. of daus.) of this early Medfield settler.
    4. William Brewster of the Mayflower, 2 vols. (1908)--the best Mayflower genealogy before the 5-generations project.
    5. Cleveland/Cleaveland, 3 vols. (1899)--attempts the ancestry of many spouses, and likewise covers many female lines; includes Grover Cleveland.
    6. Dewey (1898)--covers George, John, and Thomas E., plus virtually all Deweys in America.
    7. Dudley, 2 vols. (1886-1894)--the major source for the descendants of Governor Thomas Dudley (the immigrant of royal ancestry with the largest number of notable descendants in America); also includes descendants of Francis Dudley of Duxbury and William Dudley of Guilford, Conn.
    8. Dwight, 2 vols. (1874)--covers 3 Yale presidents and a major family in the Connecticut Valley.
    9. Greenes of Rhode Island, 2 vols. (1903)--the best R.I. genealogy before Jane Fiske’s 1987 Thomas Cooke study; covers Revolutionary general Nathaniel Greene.
    10. Hyde, 2 vols. (1864)--The "ur-family "of Norwich, Conn. Ur-ancestors count a large percentage of the nineteenth-century population of a given town or area among their descendants.
    11. Humphrey(s), 3 vols. (1883,1884, n.d.)--Ur-family of Simsbury, Conn.; includes John Brown of Harper’s Ferry.
    12. Loomis (1908) and Female Branches, 2 vols. (1880); John Porter, 2 vols. (1893). Joseph Loomis and John Porter were both sons-in-law of Robert White and Bridget Allgar, the couple most frequently appearing in Conn. Valley ancestry and among forebears of the Yankee Mormon followers of Brigham Young. The Porter volume also attempts to cover all lines in the ancestry of spouses.
    13. Lowell (1899)--the best Boston Brahmin single-family genealogy.
    14. Pickering, 3 vols. (1897) and 6 vols. of charts--covers all descendants through all lines of the Pickering fortune founder. The 6 vols. of charts cover the ancestry of every spouse, many of them Salem or Boston Brahmins (and is generally better than the treatment of spouses in the Cleveland and Porter genealogies above).
    15. 7 Pierce genealogies, mostly of middling quality, fully indexed and outlined in Seven PierceFamilies (1936).
    16. Strong, 2 vols. (1871)--an ur-family of Northampton and much of the Connecticut Valley; descendants include FDR and the late Princess of Wales.
    17. Wentworth, 3 vols. (1878)--the best New Hampshire genealogy; covers both the Revolutionary leaders of this surname and a large number of northern New Englanders. Wentworth himself was of royal descent and a first cousin once removed of Anne Hutchinson.
    18. Whitman (1889)--South Shore descendants of John Whitman of Hull, Mass., including Abraham Lincoln.
    19. Henry Whitney, 3 vols. (1878)--covers the Whitneys of Connecticut, not the descendants of John of Watertown; includes George Herbert Walker, grandfather of former President Bush.
    20. Winslow 2 vols. (1877-1888)--covers most New England Winslows, descendants of Kenelm, brother of Governor Edward, John, and Josiah; best Mayflower kin genealogy.

    Next week I’ll cover my favorite "town genealogies," including town histories with genealogical sections.

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