Editorial

NEHGR Vol. 174, Fall 2020

In Spring 2001 I wrote in New England Ancestors magazine that I tried to set aside time for taking a new look at old problems by broadening my general search to include periodicals and indexes for nearby or relevant areas, especially those that are available online. So, for example, I might look at The American Genealogist, Rhode Island Roots, and The Maine Genealogist, all on AmericanAncestors.org (except for the most recent five years). These periodicals are all reliable and indexed, and this kind of browsing can bring rewards.

Another approach is to work on allied or associated families to see what’s now in print or online that wasn’t years ago. Or I might work on old “to do” lists that are yellowing with age (and inattention). Or I might look for historical or sociological studies on places or families that might be relevant. For example, the Spencer article in this issue of the Register makes good use of the published account book of Peter Temple and Thomas Heritage (both Spencer relations; see note 170) and a study of the Heritage family’s business activities (see note 186).

Did you discover something of interest years ago and put it aside? Maybe your discovery would be suitable to publish in Vita Brevis. Looking through the titles of Vita Brevis articles in the past may give you ideas of what you might contribute.


As part of our ongoing observance of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower, the lead article of this issue is Richard Masterson (1580–1633), a Leiden Pilgrim from Ashford, Kent, by Michael R. Paulick. His earlier articles in the Register have treated Masterson; here the author gives further information about him and his family in Kent and Leiden, before he immigrated to Plymouth Colony. Anyone researching Kent families in the early 1600s should look at this article — and the Hatch article as well.

A child, Francis Dudley, was baptized in Northamptonshire in 1583, but no parents were named in the baptismal record. In Francis Dudley, an Unknown Brother of Gov. Thomas Dudley, author Barry E. Hinman discusses the identification of this child as a younger brother of Thomas Dudley, later governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. The godparents of Francis were named in the baptismal record; they were members of a family who helped Thomas Dudley as a young adult.

Updates to the Ancestry of Brothers Thomas1 and William1 Hatch of Scituate, Massachusetts, by Edward R. Taylor and Randy A. West, extends the English research published in the Register in 1916, largely thanks to material now available online. The mother of the brothers is identified as Anne Tilden, whose first cousin, Nathaniel Tilden, was a Great Migration immigrant. The brothers’ niece, Elizabeth Soane, is identified as the wife of John1 Stockbridge.

In this issue, we begin a long article, The Colman and Cutler Ancestry of John1 Thorndike of Essex County, Massachusetts, with the Colman Ancestry of John1 Coggeshall, Muriel1 (Gurdon) Saltonstall, and Jemima1 (Waldegrave) Pelham. The author, Robert Battle, has built on the research of previous authors, and has made use of the substantial material now available online. An unusual source is a detailed pedigree of the Colman family in Davy’s Suffolk Families. Although not perfect, the pedigree contains information not readily available elsewhere.

In The Search for Moses Thurston’s Wife Sarah, and Her Jones Ancestry in New Hampshire, author Susan Kilbride found deeds in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, that showed Sarah was the daughter of John Jones. Further research revealed that John was the son of Benjamin2 (George1) Jones.

Who Was Grace Holcom, Wife of Daniel Manley? initially was a question as to whether the widowed mother or the daughter with the same name married Daniel Manley in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, in 1799. The answer was not definite until the 1797 probate file for Martin Holcom was reviewed by the author, Mark Wentling. The file contained a guardianship petition by Grace Holcom (his widow) stating that Martin left a daughter Grace aged 3 in 1797. Thus it was the widow who married in 1799.

As often happens, one key document establishes a crucial link. Identifying Hannah, Wife of John2 Beard (Andrew1) as Hannah3 Cleveland (Aaron2, Moses1), by Perry Streeter, is based on the probate file of Aaron Cleveland in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. A 1716 document signed by the children of the deceased included Hannah Beard. Further research revealed that John Beard was Hannah’s husband.

We conclude Ancestry of Agnes Spencer, Wife of Thomas Higginson of Berkeswell, Warwickshire, Ancestor of Nine American Immigrants, Cousin to Diana, Princess of Wales, Sir Winston Churchill, President George Washington, and Others, by Clifford L. Stott. A two-page chart in the Summer Register summarized how those named in the article’s title and U.S. Presidents Washington, Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, and the two Bushes are descended from one of the three Spencer brothers of Warwickshire and Badby, Northamptonshire. The text gives details of the family’s rise from yeoman status to gentry, and several Spencers were knighted. The article ends with an account of the related Heritage family.

We also conclude Descendants of Thomas Low, the Immigrant to Ipswich, Massachusetts, for Three Generations. Author Edward E. Steele treats Thomas Low’s younger son, John Low, and his thirteen children by two wives, Sarah Thorndike and Dorcas _____. All children remained in Essex County, Massachusetts, or moved to New Hampshire.

Additions and Corrections are to articles published between 1960 and 2020.

– Henry B. Hoff