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  • The Weekly Genealogist

  • Vol. 16, No. 14
    Whole #629
    April 3, 2013
    Edited by Lynn Betlock, Jean Powers, and Valerie Beaudrault


    Greetings from the New England Historic Genealogical Society! If you would like to unsubscribe or change your email address, please click on the link at the bottom of the email and follow the instructions provided.

    NEHGS collects, preserves, and interprets materials to document and make accessible the histories of families in America.

    * NEHGS Database News
    * Attend the NEHGS Annual Dinner Honoring David Gergen
    * Name Origins
    * A Contribution to the “Huddled Masses” Exhibit
    * A Review of Ralph Tailor’s Summer: A Scrivener, his City and the Plague
    * The Weekly Genealogist Survey
    * Spotlight: Washington State Resources
    * Stories of Interest
    * Native American Titles on Sale at the NEHGS Bookstore
    * Upcoming Education Programs

    NEHGS Database News
    by Sam Sturgis, Digital Collections Administrator, and Christopher Carter, Digital Collections Coordinator

    Suffolk County Court of Common Pleas - Index and Abstract of Cases, 1756–1776

    The dockets and extended record books for the Suffolk County Court of Common Pleas for the years 1756 to 1776 are largely missing, and many scholars speculate that the British took these volumes at the time of the evacuation of Boston in 1776. The volumes have never been located in Massachusetts, and repeated searches of the Public Record Office in London and the Provincial Archives of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have failed to turn up the missing volumes. The file papers for the period 1692 to 1830, however, were “rediscovered” in 1974 in the basement of the Suffolk County Court House, and a project sponsored by a series of NHPRC grants allowed those file papers to be preserved. They include the file papers that correspond to the missing dockets and extended record books for 1756–1776.

    In 1981, the Supreme Judicial Court took over the collection of file papers and created what has become the Supreme Judicial Court’s division of Archives and Records Preservation. That organization used the file papers to compile this index and abstracts of the 1756-1776 cases. Each abstract contains plaintiff and defendant information, the type of action, number of documents in the case, date filed, year and term the case was decided, amount of damages, and the attorney or individual filing the case. If available, additional information concerning the verdict, co-plaintiffs, co-defendants, and others involved in the case is included in a notes section. Unfortunately, no other information is available for these cases, the associated record books having been lost.

    The larger collection of Suffolk County Court of Common Pleas file papers, of which this index represents a part, is stored at the Massachusetts Archives, Columbia Point, Boston. For information concerning use of that collection, contact the Supreme Judicial Court’s division of Archives and Records Preservation.

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    Attend the NEHGS Annual Dinner Honoring David Gergen

    NEHGS Annual Dinner
    Friday evening, April 19, 2013
    Four Seasons Hotel, Boston

    We invite you to attend the NEHGS Annual Dinner, a benefit for “Connecting Families. Advancing History, A National Campaign for the New England Historic Genealogical Society.” David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN, will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in American Public Service at the event.

    Gergen has served as White House adviser to four U.S. presidents — Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton — and currently serves as professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The dinner will be hosted by CNBC anchor Bill Griffeth. Gergen will speak on “Leadership: From First Families to Our Family.” For more information or to register for this special event, please visit our website.

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    Name Origins
    by Julie Helen Otto, Genealogist

    JATHNIEL(m): Jathniel is not to be confused with Nathaniel, which is a separate name. Ja-, Jaa-, or Jah- at the beginning, middle, or end of a given name is an element in the name of God in the Hebrew language, which is why it’s seen so frequently. A Jathniel (fourth son of Meshelemiah, the father of Zachariah) is mentioned in I Chronicles 26:2, according to Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.

    Several men named Jathniel Peck appeared in the vital records of Taunton and Rehoboth, in Bristol County in southeastern Massachusetts, from the seventeenth century into the twentieth century. The 1850 census lists four men with the name: Jathniel Peck (b. 1829) of Taunton; Jathniel Perrin (b. 1815) of Woodstock, Connecticut; Jathniel Williams (b. 1803) of Dighton, Massachusetts; and Jathniel Williams (b. 1839) of Taunton.

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    Contributing to the “Huddled Masses” Exhibit
    by Lynn Betlock, Editor

    In last week’s enewsletter, we included a story of interest about the Little Museum of Dublin looking for items for an upcoming Irish-American exhibit. Ruth Major of Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, wrote to let us know that she followed up with the Little Museum of Dublin:

    During the course of my research I have learned a great deal and found items that belonged to my ancestor, Robert Adems, Esq., from Dublin. I wrote to the museum and told them about three Irishmen who came to New York in the 1740s: Sir William Johnson, Robert Adems, and Hercules Mulligan, whose younger brother, Cook, married Adem’s youngest daughter.

    I’ve been corresponding for the last few days with Robert Malone from Dublin, who is working on the exhibit, and he is very interested in the contributions made by these three Irish emigrants. He wrote, “That is an amazing story. They are sometimes hard to come by but when there is a real Irish success story, it is a joy to read. We would very much like to exhibit some of the items you mentioned…”

    This sharing of information with the Little Museum of Dublin would never have taken place had the Weekly Genealogist not brought the museum to my attention.

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    A Review of Ralph Tailor’s Summer: A Scrivener, his City and the Plague
    by Robert Charles Anderson

    The following book review is excerpted from the Recent Literature section of the forthcoming Great Migration Newsletter, vol. 22, no. 1. — Editor.

    Keith Wrightson, Ralph Tailor’s Summer: A Scrivener, his City and the Plague [New Haven 2011].
    While engaged in an unrelated research project, Keith Wrightson came across the elaborate signature of Ralph Tailor, scrivener, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on a deposition of 1637. Based on this serendipitous find, Wrightson researched the life of Ralph Tailor, and especially the services he rendered to the citizens of Newcastle during an outbreak of the plague in 1636.

    In 1636 Ralph Tailor was in his mid-twenties and was just beginning his public career, having arrived recently in Newcastle from his home at Durham. Wrightson describes in great detail Tailor’s work in writing the wills of many of the tradesmen and artisans who died in the plague. In the process, the author also paints a compelling portrait of this port town as it endured a year of the plague.

    Aside from providing insights into life in old England during the peak years of the Great Migration, Wrightson also weaves into his story the experiences of a number of Newcastle residents who migrated to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the 1630s, as followers of Rev. Thomas Shepard, who had preached in Newcastle and vicinity in the early 1630s.

    (In 1995 Keith Wrightson and David Levine published Poverty and Piety in an English Village: Terling, 1525-1700. Terling, a parish in Essex not far from Braintree, was the home of a number of immigrants to New England, and had also briefly been the residence of Rev. Thomas Shepard in 1626, when he lived at the rectory with Rev. Joseph Weld.)

    For an extract from Ralph Tailor’s Summer, visit the Yale University Press website.

    To subscribe to the Great Migration Newsletter, visit or call NEHGS Member Services at 1-888-296-3447. The first quarter issue will be available shortly. Print subscribers receive a new issue of the GMN through the mail each quarter ($20 for a one-year subscription or $36 for a two-year subscription). Online subscribers access issues through, where the GMN is posted each quarter and past issues from volumes 11 through 21 are available for viewing ($10 for a one-year subscription or $18 for a two-year subscription).

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    The Weekly Genealogist Survey

    Last week’s survey asked about whether any of your immigrant ancestors returned to their countries of origin. 3,685 people answered this survey. The results are:

    • 15%, Yes, at least one of my immigrant ancestors returned permanently to a country of origin.
    • 42%, Yes, at least one of my immigrant ancestors returned for a visit to a country of origin.
    • 45%, No, I am not aware of any of my immigrant ancestors returning to a country of origin.
    • 10%, I don’t know if any of my immigrant ancestors returned to a country of origin.

    This week’s survey asks how you share your genealogical information. Take the survey now!

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    Spotlight: Washington State Resources
    by Valerie Beaudrault, Assistant Editor

    Puget Sound Genealogical Society (PSGS), Washington

    The Puget Sound Genealogical Society is located in Kitsap County, in the western part of Washington State. The society has undertaken three projects to make historical records of Kitsap County available. The current projects focus on cemeteries, obituaries, and school records. Databases for the first two may be found on the society’s website.

    Cemetery Project
    The purpose of the PSGS Cemetery Project is to preserve and document cemeteries in Kitsap County. It is a work in progress. The overall list comprises 48 cemeteries and, to date, ten have been indexed. Click on the cemetery name link to open a webpage for that cemetery. The cemetery webpage generally contains a brief history of the cemetery, location, and driving directions, and a link to the burials listing. The data fields in the alphabetical listing are surname, first name, middle name, birth date, if known, and death date.

    Obituary Project
    The Society’s obituary files contain information from the early 1900s, primarily extracted from local and regional newspapers. Click on the Obituary Project link to open a new page with two obituary databases in PDF format. One is organized by the first letter of the surname of the deceased; the other is organized by date (1890–2008). A link to an obituary abbreviation key has also been included. The data fields in the databases are surname, given name, death date, newspaper date, remarks, and death location.

    PSGS has the obituaries on file in their library. You may request a copy of an obituary from PSGS by submitting an Obituary Research Request Form. There is a link to the form on the Obituary Project webpage.

    Masonic Memorial Park, Washington

    Masonic Memorial Park is a public cemetery in Tumwater, Washington. It is in Thurston County, in the western part of the state. The cemetery was founded in 1852 by the Olympia Masonic Lodge #1 F&AM of Washington. Click on the Information Lookup link to search the burials listing. Enter a last name in the search box and click on the submit button. The data fields in the search results are last name, first name, other (names), female, age, and death date. If the deceased is female, the check box in this field will be checked. The surname is a link to the detailed record page. The data fields in the detailed record include full name, female, age, infant age, plot location, date interred, date of death, date of birth, obituary, Mason, Eastern Star, and property owner.

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    Stories of Interest

    Relatives of Richard III Threaten Legal Action Claiming his Planned Reburial in Leicester Cathedral is a Breach of Human Rights
    “The debate over the king’s final resting place has been propelled by the significant tourism boost that will inevitably be attached to the location.”

    Author Carolyn Abraham Juggled DNA Testing and Document Searches to Trace her Ancestors
    Carolyn Abraham of Toronto, whose parents and grandparents were born in India, set out to prove or disprove some of her ancestral stories, which included a sea captain from Jamaica and a circus juggler, possibly from China.

    A Credit Union that’s All in the Family
    To belong to Our Family Social Credit Union of Omaha (membership 511), you must be a direct descendant (or the spouse of a descendant) of Manley and Lucy Williams.

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    Native American Titles on Sale at the NEHGS Bookstore

    The Bookstore at NEHGS is offering 15% off on four Native American resource titles through April 11, 2013.

    Dictionary of American-Indian Place and Proper Names in New England (normally $24.95, now $21.21)

    New England Captives Carried to Canada (normally $29.95, now $25.46)

    Indian Deeds: Land Transactions in Plymouth Colony, 1620-1691 (normally $29.95, now $25.46)

    King Philip’s War: The History and Legacy of America’s Forgotten Conflict (normally $19.95, now $16.96)

    To receive the 15% discount, please enter coupon code NA413 in our online store. The 15% discount cannot be combined with any other discount, including the NEHGS member discount. Offer good through April 11, 2013, while supplies last. Massachusetts residents add 6.25% sales tax to the King Philip’s War title.

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    Upcoming Education Programs

    Last Chance to Register!

    London Research Tour
    May 19–26, 2013

    Experience the wealth of information available in London’s archives as NEHGS returns to the U.K. Participants will enjoy one-on-one consultations, guided research at the Society of Genealogists and The National Archives, and two group dinners. Daily educational activities include lectures and tours by the experts from the SoG, The National Archives, and NEHGS. NEHGS experts Christopher Child and David Dearborn will accompany the group.

    Essex, Norfolk, & Suffolk County Records Offices Research Tour
    May 27–31, 2013

    For the first time, NEHGS will lead a tour of county record offices in England. Join us for trips to the archives of Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk, and take advantage of opportunities to learn from local experts. The trip, which immediately follows our London Research Tour held from May 19-26, will be based in Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk, with day trips to the county record offices in Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich, and Chelmsford.

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    Copyright 2013, New England Historic Genealogical Society
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