Learning about ancestors

This book is the outgrowth of a boy’s attempt — many years ago — to learn something about his ancestors.

It has been calculated that, during the period 1620-1640, upwards of 22,000 Puritans and Independents (the figures have been placed as high as 50,000, showing that no exact record was kept) came to New England from English and Dutch ports. Those from the latter being Independents who had previously fled from England to Holland, to escape religious persecution.

It is obvious that it would be futile to attempt to locate the homes from which this throng started. In comparatively few cases the record or tradition has been preserved, but with a vast majority of these pilgrims, it is impossible to ascertain even the names of the counties from which they came.

Immediately after the Conquest, Aldingham was granted to Michael Flandrensis, or le Fleming, sometimes called Michael de Furness.

Sir Michael, son of William le Fleming, being drowned in the Leven, and dying without issue, his sister Alice carried the inheritance by marriage into the family of Cancefeld of Cantsfield, in Tunstall parish.

The abbot of Furness demised the manor of Aldyngham to Sir Robert Haverington, a.d. 1273, having come to his hands by the death of William, brother of John de Cansfeld.

William de Cancefield the last of the male line, was succeeded by his sister Agnes, who marrying Robert de Harrington of Harrington in Cumberland, constituted him lord of Aldingham.

The fret, that is borne on the arms of the Fleming and Harrington families, shows plainly that the Herald’s College considered a connecting link between the Fleming and the Harrington families.

via Full text of “A history of Thomas Canfield and of Matthew Camfield, with a genealogy of their descendants in New Jersey”.

Journal of John Winthrop

For 350 years Governor John Winthrop’s journal has been recognized as the central source for the history of Massachusetts in the 1630s and 1640s.

Winthrop reported events—especially religious and political events—more fully and more candidly than any other contemporary observer.The governor’s journal has been edited and published three times since 1790, but these editions are long outmoded.

Richard Dunn and Laetitia Yeandle have now prepared a long-awaited scholarly edition, complete with introduction, notes, and appendices. This full-scale, unabridged edition uses the manuscript volumes of the first and third notebooks (both carefully preserved at the Massachusetts Historical Society), retaining their spelling and punctuation, and James Savage’s transcription of the middle notebook (accidentally destroyed in 1825).

Winthrop’s narrative began as a journal and evolved into a history.

As a dedicated Puritan convert, Winthrop decided to emigrate to America in 1630 with members of the Massachusetts Bay Company, who had chosen him as their governor. Just before sailing, he began a day-to-day account of his voyage. He continued his journal when he reached Massachusetts, at first making brief and irregular entries, followed by more frequent writing sessions and contemporaneous reporting, and finally, from 1643 onward, engaging in only irregular writing sessions and retrospective reporting.

Winthrop built lasting significance into the seemingly small-scale actions of a few thousand colonists in early New England, which is why his journal will remain an important historical source.

via The Journal of John Winthrop, 1630-1649 — John Winthrop, James Savage, Richard S. Dunn, Laetitia Yaendle | Harvard University Press.

Saybrook Settlement

On 19th March 1631/2, Lords Saye and Brooke with ten others including the Hon. Charles Fiennes, John Hampden, John Humphris, Richard Knightley, Herbert Pelham, John Pym, Henry Rich, Earl of Holland, Sir Nathaniel Rich, Sir Richard Saltonstall and Sir Harry Vane, obtained from Lord Warwick and his New England Company a patent to buy a tract of land stretching forty leagues (about 140 miles) from the Narragasett River in Massachusetts.

They appointed, as governor, John Winthrop, a member of a wealthy wool family, and, if possible, even more opposed to the established church than was Lord Saye. Winthrop, an experienced colonist, was bidden to establish a settlement and fort at the mouth of the river, to be known as Saybrook. Several shiploads of new colonists were sent over from England. In 1633 both Saye and Brooke purchased more land to create a plantation at Dover, New Hampshire. The Saybrook settlement was to be the bolt hole for Lords Saye and Brooke should things go, politically, badly wrong in the future.

Lord Saye insisted that the colony should have an aristocracy with himself at the head and the others to be selected by himself; the Massachusetts government would have none of it. In the meantime the political situation in England was rapidly deteriorating. The Lords Saye and Brooke lost interest in the venture and after much wrangling the land was sold and became a part of Connecticut.

Lord Saye turned his interests south-westward and concentrated his efforts and finances on the Providence Island Company.

via Saybrook Settlement On 19th March 1631/2.

This Charles Fiennes is described as the brother of Lord Saye and Sele

via The British Empire in America : Containing the History of the Discovery, Settlement, Progress and State of the British Colonies on the Continent and Islands of America, Volume 1, Page 123

Early Stuart London

After the establishment of the naval docks at Deptford and Woolwich in the 16th century the lower Thames increasingly became a centre of ship-building. Until the end of that century merchant ships were constructed in the Netherlands but increasingly began to be built on the Thames from the first decades of the 17th century. A large community of workers employed in the shipping industry grew around Stepney, particularly at Wapping.

With superior ships the Dutch controlled long distance trade routes to the Far East. When they raised the price of pepper the Mayor of London chaired a meeting of merchants that agreed to create a new joint stock company to fund voyages in competition. The first ships of the East India Company set sail in 1601. The company grew in size during the 17th century, establishing a large dock at Blackwall, downriver from the Tower of London.

There had been previous unsuccessful attempts to set up a British colony in North America and an area there had been named Virginia. In 1606 King James issued royal charters that established the Virginia Company of London and the Plymouth Company, both joint stock companies whose shares were traded in London. The following year three London Company ships set sail from Blackwall to establish Jamestown, the first permanent British colony in North America. In 1620 a group of puritans hired the Mayflower – based at Rotherhithe – that took them to New England where they founded the town of Plymouth.

King James based himself at Whitehall and gave the palace at Greenwich to his wife. In 1616 she began the construction of a ‘House of Delights’ in the park, that became known as the ‘Queen’s House’. Designed by Inigo Jones it was the artist’s first important commission following his studies of Palladian classical architecture in Italy. The work on the house was still incomplete when Anne died in 1619, eventually restarted in 1629 by Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, and completed in 1635.

via In brief – Early-Stuart London | The History of London.

The Witches’ Tree

Envy, turmoil, and perhaps even boredom, intertwine like the gnarled branches of an ancient tree in this story.

Book cover
Buy this book online

The ease with which those deemed as other can be persecuted and made to suffer has been engraved on the hearts of men, inscribed in the annals of history, and continues to admonish humanity.

The year 1692 is remembered with sadness.

Rebecka Nurse, née Towne, (known to many as Rebecca Nurse from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible) was a cousin of Roger Conant, who had founded Salem after leaving Plymouth, which all at her trial knew.  Myles Standish, the governor of Plymouth was a relative of Rebecka Nurse and Roger Conant.

Nothing could save Rebecca Nurse from the gallows, that had been made of the Witches’ Tree in the ancient Wampanoag settlement called Naumkeag, now Salem.