The New England Historical and Genealogical Register

Editorial: Summer 2017, Volume 171 (Whole #683)

Many of our old reliable sources are now available on various websites. But in most cases they have new titles, which has caused us some concern. For example, for the Massachusetts state copies of vital records, we have been using the title Massachusetts Vital Records from 1841. This open-ended title reflects the fact that every five years the state releases another five years of records. But now, the first time we use that citation in an article we are adding the caveat, “These Massachusetts state copies of vital records are online at,, and under various titles.” The same could be said for vital records of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Then there are the Connecticut indexes to church records held by the Connecticut State Library. We cite them as Connecticut State Library Index of Church Records, [name of church], with the volume and page cited. But on the title is Connecticut, Church Record Abstracts, 1630–1920. We could give many other examples.

Another concern is that many researchers are citing extractions or indexes of records without looking at the original record cited. While we are willing to accept citations to Barbour’s index of Connecticut vital records or the published vital records of many Massachusetts towns, we do not even cite Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 from, because we can identify (and cite) the book imaged there.

Our lead article is The Higginson Family of Berkeswell, Warwickshire, and Its American Descendants: Daniel Clark of Windsor, Connecticut; Rev. Josias Clark of New York, Boston, and Jamaica, West Indies; Isabel Overton, Wife of Rev. Ephraim Huit of Windsor; Nicholas and Robert Augur of New Haven, Connecticut; Hester (Augur) Coster of New Haven; Robert, Humphrey, and Christopher Higginson of Virginia. Author Clifford L. Stott discovered that these nine immigrants were related to each other, and that they may have been distantly related to the Higginson family of Massachusetts. A large network of cousins in different North American colonies is always a desirable subject for a Register article.

In John Ramsdell, John Ravensdale, Isaac Johnson, and Nathaniel Turner, author Ian Watson shows that John Ramsdell, of Lynn by 1631, was identical with John Ravensdale, who was made a freeman in 1635 with other Lynn men. Ravensdale was mentioned as a servant in the 1627 will of Isaac Johnson, a prominent member of the Massachusetts Bay Company. The same will mentions cousin Nathaniel Turner. The author shows that the cousin was Nathaniel1 Turner of Lynn and New Haven, who was Ramsdell’s master in Lynn. The author deftly ties together these strands of evidence.

George R. Nye presents the story of William7 Trowbridge, alias William Bent (1791–1853), of Framingham, Massachusetts, and Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia, who took his mother’s maiden name when he immigrated to Nova Scotia in 1812. Fortunately, the 1908 Trowbridge genealogy included this important information, and the author presents the supporting evidence in family letters and a death certificate. While William consistently used the name Bent in Nova Scotia, he recognized that a letter addressed to “J.W.B. Trowbridge” was for him.

Men with common surnames who “just appeared” in New England in the late seventeenth century often present problems. George Robinson (married first in 1683 or earlier) was one of these. In George1 Robinson of Watertown, Massachusetts, and His Children and Grandchildren, author Marion Vermazen corrects the published account of his second marriage, and gives a complete account of his known children and grandchildren.

Kenneth W. Rockwell has published extensively on the Rockwell families of New England. In The Families of Amariah Rockwell of Coventry, Connecticut, and His Son, David Rockwell of Coventry, he shows that Amariah had an oldest son Daniel, who died in 1777, and a youngest son David, who married and had children. Amariah moved to Langdon, New Hampshire, but his son David remained in Connecticut.

Jedediah Smith’s Book of the Records of Marriages in Blandford, Massachusetts, for 1802–1816, shows that he did not report several marriages to the town. Fortunately, a transcription was published in the Boston Transcript, and there is a typescript at NEHGS.

We conclude Patricia R. Reed’s William H. Johnson, a Free Man of Color of Tyringham, Massachusetts, and His Descendants, with an account of the brilliant early twentieth–century photographer Edward Elcha (1885–1939) and his parents. Elcha worked in Springfield, Massachusetts, and New York City, and many examples of his work may be found online. One example is on the front cover of this issue, and another is on the back cover.

We also conclude The Wylley and Cramphorne Families of Hertfordshire and Their Contribution to the Great Migration. William Wyman Fiske’s account of the Cramphorne family includes descendants Edmund1, John1, and Abraham1 Browne, Isaac1 Heath, and Phebe1 (Perry) Desborough. In addition, several other immigrants were connected to the Cramphorne family.

Unpublished Vital Records of Union, Connecticut, by Scott Andrew Bartley, is also concluded in this issue. Several entries in these records give a date of birth with the phrase “But not Born in the Town of Union.”

New England Articles in Genealogical Journals in 2015 indexes articles in fifteen journals by surname, place, and some subjects.

Henry B. Hoff and Helen Schatvet Ullmann