Wednesday, May 30, 2018

William the Conqueror and Me


William the Conqueror must have thousands of descendants, but it seems quite a coincidence that I had thoroughly researched his life before I was aware there was a direct connection between us.

I learned about that connection from Gary Boyd Roberts, Senior Researcher Emeritus of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and author of many books, including The Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants to the American Colonies of the United States. A half-hour meeting with Roberts was part of a weekend research event at the NEHGS that I attended a few years ago.

Roberts was a bit intimidating. He insisted I not look at my notes, but look at him, and he was baffled that I was interested in my ancestors’ lives. For him, the births, marriages and deaths were all that mattered. He seemed to have memorized the lineages of just about every family in colonial New England, and he indicated the pages of the family history books I should photocopy. When he learned I am Canadian, Roberts remarked that I have a “nice chunk of Yankee.”

He then pointed to the name Margaret Wyatt on my family tree and stated, “she was of royal descent.”

When I posed with this wax William in 2009, at the Bayeux Tapestry exhibit in France, I had no idea we were related.

That royal ancestor was King Henry I, but the name did not ring any bells until I returned home and looked up Henry I on the Internet. Then I realized that Henry was the youngest son of William the Conqueror, about whom I had written a book!1 The book told the story of how William, Duke of Normandy, became King William I of England almost thousand years ago. Titled The Norman Conquest of England, it is one of several non-fiction books I have written for children.

William’s own ancestry was actually Viking: the Normans were people from Scandinavia who began raiding northern France around 800 A.D. In 911, William’s ancestor Rolf the Viking took control of the area that became known as Normandy.

William was born in Normandy around 1028, the illegitimate son of Duke Robert I of Normandy and a young woman named Herleve, who was probably the daughter of a tanner. Even as a child, William had many rivals, but eventually he succeeded his father as Duke of Normandy. In 1066, he famously crossed the English Channel and defeated the English troops at the Battle of Hastings. He was a powerful and violent man, and a good military commander.

The story of how William the Conqueror evaded his enemies and invaded England is full of intrigue and coincidences. After writing about these events, my husband and I toured northern France, including Bayeux, home of the Bayeux Tapestry that illustrates the Norman Conquest. Little did I know at the time that William was one of my ancestors.  

After William I’s death in 1087, his son William Rufus became king of England. Following the death of Rufus, William the Conqueror’s youngest son became King Henry I. Henry, who had been born in England, ruled from 1100 to 1135. Well educated, decisive and energetic, he was known as the Lion of Justice.

Henry married Matilda of Scotland, but the line of descent that leads to America was through an unnamed mistress. Their illegitimate child was Robert of Caen, 1st Earl of Gloucester. At generation 19 came Margaret Wyatt ( -  c. 1675).2 She married Matthew Allyn (1605-1671) in Devonshire, England in 1626/27 and a few years later they sailed across the Atlantic, settling in Hartford and later in Windsor, Connecticut.

From there, my line goes through their daughter Mary Allyn who married Benjamin Newberry; their daughter Mary Newberry who married John Moseley; their son Consider Moseley, who married Elizabeth Bancroft; and their daughter Elizabeth Moseley who married David Bagg in Westfield, Massachusetts. Their son Phineas Bagg, my four-times great-grandfather, left New England for Montreal, Quebec with his children around 1795.4

See also: 
Janice Hamilton, "Considering Consider Moseley," Writing Up the Ancestors, May 16, 2018,  writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2018/05/considering-consider-moseley.html

This article is also posted on www.genealogyensemble.com

Sources.
1. Janice Hamilton, The Norman Conquest of England, Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books, 2008.

2. Gary Boyd Roberts, compiler, Ancestors of American Presidents, 2009 Edition. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009, p. 408.

3. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III. (Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010), (Originally Published as: New England Historic Genealogical Society. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III, 3 vols, 1995) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB393/i/12107/42/235171345

4. Janice Hamilton, “An Economic Emigrant,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Oct. 16, 2013, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2013/10/an-economic-emigrant.html


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Considering Consider Moseley

This is the fifth in a series of posts about four generations of my ancestors in colonial Massachusetts and Connecticut. It includes the Bagg, Burt, Phelps, Moseley, Stanley and other related families between 1635 and 1795.

Consider Moseley (1675-1755), of Westfield, Massachusetts had an unusual name. In Puritan New England, where he was born, people normally named their children after close relatives1 or gave them Biblical names, but the origin of Consider’s name is a mystery. Maybe his parents had good imaginations: they called one of his brothers Comfort.

Whatever the meaning and origin of his name, my six-times great-grandfather was born in Windsor, Connecticut, the fifth child of Lieut. John Maudsley (an earlier spelling of the last name) and his wife Mary Newberry. He had five younger siblings, all of them born after the family relocated to Westfield, Massachusetts2 around 1675.

The Ashley House, built in Deerfield, MA in 1734, may have been similar to Consider Moseley's home.
John Maudsley came to New England in 1638 and settled in Dorchester, Mass.3 He married Mary Newberry in 1664 and the couple moved to Windsor. It had been established on the banks of the Connecticut River almost 30 years earlier, and the founding settlers had received land grants but, as a relative latecomer, John purchased his land.

John sold that property in 1677 and moved to Westfield4 where he purchased a house and store. According to Westfield chronicler Chester Stiles, “Mr. Moseley had already proved his valor in battles with the followers of King Philip. [King Philip’s War, 1675-1676, was fought between some of the indigenous people and the colonists.] Hence, he was warmly welcomed to the stockaded hamlet and chosen lieutenant of the little company of defenders. He was also recorded as one of the seven original members, or “foundation men,” of the [Congregational] church first organized under Rev. Edward Taylor in 1677.” 5

John still owned a mill in Windsor, and he died there in 1690. Mary then married her Westfield neighbour, widower Isaac Phelps.6 Consider was 15 at the time of his father’s death and, as one of the older boys in the family, he would likely have been responsible for many chores on the family farm.

Consider was still a young man in 1700 when he was called upon to assist the whole community. Officially, this was peace time, but there was only a lull between two wars between England and France, King William’s War and Queen Ann’s War. Even in peace time, the people of Westfield were worried that the indigenous people who were allied with the French would come from New France (Quebec) and attack them.7

The town residents agreed that several houses should be securely fortified, and Consider’s house was one of the buildings chosen. Teams of neighbours helped with the work. Consider eventually became a lieutenant in the Westfield militia.

Eight Children including Twins

In 1709, at age 34, Consider married Elizabeth Bancroft.8 The couple had eight children, including twins Elizabeth and Daniel. (Daughter Elizabeth Moseley grew up to marry David Bagg, and they are my direct ancestors.9)  Consider’s wife died and, in 1731, he married Rebecka (Williams) Dewey, the widow of Jedediah Dewey II.10 Rebecka had nine children of her own at the time, ranging in age from five to 26.  

When Consider died in September, 1755, at age 80, he was described as “one of the wealthiest and most influential men of the town.”11 He may or may not have considered wealth important. Puritans valued hard work, but wasting their money on frivolous things was frowned upon. Wealth was tied to influence, however. Wealthier residents were usually elected to their town’s most important offices and, every Sunday when the people of New England went to church, where they sat depended on their social status.12

Lieut. Consider Moseley's grave in Westfield's Old Burying Ground
Many Puritans believed that God ordained all that happened, so an individual’s prosperity was a sign of God’s approval for a commitment to godly living. In his will, Consider noted that, “it has pleased God to bless me in this life.”

When Consider wrote his will in January, 1754, he noted that he was “infirm and weak in body, yet of perfect mind and memory.” Indeed, this four-page document shows how well organized he was. He owned numerous tracts of pasture land and farmland around Westfield, and he identified each one according to its geographic location, neighbouring lot owners or the individual from whom he had purchased it.

He had already signed deeds of conveyance giving the titles of several properties to his sons. He split the land between his two sons, Daniel and Israel, and the sons of his late son Benjamin. Each of his five daughters, and Benjamin’s daughter, received relatively small sums of money and a share of his furniture and household goods.

As for his beloved wife Rebecka, his bequest to her was five shillings “in consideration of the articles of agreement concluded between us at our marriage.” He did not describe that agreement,13  but her children probably looked after her for the rest of her life.

Photos by Janice Hamilton

Notes:

Children of John Maudsley and Mary Newberry:  
Born in Windsor: Benjamin, b. 1666, m. Mary Sackett; Margaret, b. 1668/69, d. 1678; Joseph, b. 1670, m. Abigail Root; Mary, b. 1673, m. Isaac Phelps Jr.; Consider, b. 1675, m. 1, Elizabeth Bancroft, 2, widow Rebecca Dewey.
Born in Westfield: John, b. 1678, d. c. 1690; Comfort, b. 1680, d. 1711; Margaret b. 1683, m. Samuel Taylor; Elizabeth, b. 1685; Hannah, b. 1690, d. 1707.
Source: Henry R. Stiles, The History of Ancient Windsor vol. II, p. 508.

The Bancroft Family:

Immigrant John Bancroft brought his wife and children to New England in 1632 and settled in Lynn, Massachusetts. After he died in 1637, his wife may have remarried and moved to Windsor, Connecticut. 

In 1650, John Bancroft Jr. married Hanna Duper in Windsor. John Jr. and Hanna had five children, including Nathaniel, born 1653. After John Jr. died in 1662, Hanna remarried and moved to Westfield.

Nathaniel Bancroft married Hannah Williams in 1677. They had five children, with Elizabeth, born 1682, being the second-youngest. Elizabeth Bancroft married Consider Moseley in 1709.
Source: Henry R. Stiles, The History of Ancient Windsor vol. II, p. 40-41.


Children of Consider Moseley and Elizabeth Bancroft:
Rhoda, b. 1710, m. Nathaniel Weller; Israel, b. 1711, Daniel, b. 1714, m. Ann Abbott; Elizabeth, b. 1714, m. Daniel Bagg; Lydia, b. 1716, m. Israel Dewey; Ruth, b. 1717, m. Thomas Root; Mercy, b. 1722, m. Aaron King; Benjamin?, m. Hannah?                
Source: Henry R. Stiles, The History of Ancient Windsor, p. 509.

Sources:

1. David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, New York, Oxford University Press, 1898, p 23.

2. Henry R. Stiles. The History of Ancient Windsor, Vol. II, a facsimile of the 1892 edition, Somersworth: New Hampshire Publishing Co., 1976. p. 508, https://archive.org/stream/historygenealogi02stil#page/508/mode/2up accessed April 10, 2018.

3. Robert Charles Anderson, Great Migration Directory: Immigrants of New England, 1620-1640, a Concise Compendium. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015.

4. Henry R. Stiles, The History of Ancient Windsor, p. 508.

5. Chester D. Stiles, A History of the Town of Westfield, compiled for public schools from Greenough’s History of Westfield in the Annals of Hampden County and other sources, Westfield: J.D. Cadle & Company, 1919, p. 22. https://archive.org/stream/historyoftownofw00stil#page/22/mode/2up  accessed April 14, 2018.

6. The American Genealogist. New Haven, CT: D. L. Jacobus, 1937-. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009 - .) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB283/i/12963/239/24672606, accessed April 7, 2018.

7. Rev. John H. Lockwood. Westfield and its Historic Influences, 1669-1919: the life of an early town. Springfield, MA, printed and sold by the author, 1922, p. 295, https://archive.org/stream/westfieldandits00lockgoog#page/n324/mode/2up  accessed April 10, 2018.

8. Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016), https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13251/47/253015607 accessed April 14, 2018.

9. Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/r/253018268, accessed April 10, 2018.

10. Joann River, River-Hopkins, Saemann-Nickel and Related Families (website), Jedediah Dewey II #8003, http://josfamilyhistory.com/htm/nickel/griffin/sheldon/noble/noble-dewey.htm#jed3, accessed April 15, 2018.

11. Lockwood, Westfield and its Historic Influences, p. 386.  https://archive.org/stream/westfieldandits00lockgoog#page/n414/mode/2up, accessed April 10, 2018.
12. Virginia DeJohn Anderson, New England’s Generation: The Great Migration and the Formation of Society and Culture in the Seventeenth Century, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991, p.175.

13.  Westfield, Hampden, Massachusetts, Probate Record of the estate of Consider Moseley, 1755. Case Number 102-30, Hampshire Box 102, 1755, page 102-30:1.
(Consider’s will is missing from the NEHGS online database of court, land and probate records, however, it is on available on microfilm at the NEHGS in Boston.)



Thursday, May 3, 2018

Isaac Phelps and his Blended Families



The grave of Capt. Isaac Phelps, 1638-1725, in Westfield's Old Burying Ground

This is the fourth in a series of posts about four generations of my ancestors in colonial Massachusetts and Connecticut. It includes the Bagg, Burt, Phelps, Moseley, Stanley and other related families between 1635 and 1795.

My seven-times great grandfather Isaac Phelps (1638-1725) was like the Energizer bunny: he never seemed to stop. For much of his life, he worked hard as a farmer and he held many offices in his home town in New England, but he also became a school teacher at age 64 and was named a captain in the militia at age 71. Only death seemed to slow him down, at age 87, and his tombstone is almost as legible now as the day it was carved.

Isaac was born in 1638 in Windsor, Connecticut, the eldest son of George Phelps and Philura Randall,1 both of whom were newcomers to New England, part of a wave of Puritans who fled England, hoping to follow their religious beliefs without persecution.

By the time he was nine years old, Isaac had four younger siblings, but that year, 1647, two of them died. The following April, his mother died.2 Families needed two parents to share the work of running the household and the farm, so his father did not wait long to remarry. George Phelps’ second wife was Frances Dewey, whose second husband, Thomas Dewey, had died two days before Philura.3

From age ten, Isaac grew up in what we would describe as a blended family. The household included his father and step-mother, his brother Joseph, Mary Clark (Frances’ daughter from her first marriage) and the five Dewey children, Thomas, Josiah, Anna, Israel and Jedediah. Eventually, there were three more half-brothers: Jacob, John and Nathaniel Phelps. Isaac’s other brother, Abraham, was adopted by Randall relatives who were childless.4

The Puritans wanted to be able to read the Bible themselves, so education was considered important in colonial New England. Perhaps Isaac went to a neighbour’s house for tutoring. Meanwhile, everyone in the community attended church for the whole day every Sunday.

In 1662, Isaac Phelps married Ann Gaylord.5 (See note i) Isaac’s and Ann’s eldest child, Isaac Jr., was born in 1666 in Windsor. The family moved to Westfield, Massachusetts around 1670 and the rest of their 11 children were born in that frontier settlement. (See note ii)

Dewey House, built 1735, is home to the Western Hampden Historical Society
Ann (Gaylord) Phelps died in 1689 or 1690, when the youngest child was still a toddler. Sometime before 1694, Isaac married his neighbour, widow Mary (Newberry) Maudsley,6 who had eight children of her own. (See note iii) Once again, Isaac was part of a big, blended family.

Members of the extended Phelps/Dewey family were also living in Westfield, including George and Frances and Isaac’s half-brothers and step-siblings. Perhaps these families saw more opportunities to acquire fertile farmland in the new settlement, which was founded by settlers from nearby Springfield and a handful of families from Windsor.

Isaac and his father were amongst the first settlers in Westfield, choosing prime home lots located near the Little River in 1667.7 The colonists purchased the land from the indigenous people and Westfield was incorporated in 1669.

Because Westfield was quite isolated, the residents were afraid of attacks by the indigenous people, especially during King Phillip’s War (1675-76). When colonial authorities in Boston told the residents to go to Springfield because of the danger, Isaac Phelps was one of four people to sign a letter refusing to do so. Instead, Westfield residents built a two-square-mile wooden palisade around the town and dug an underground cellar where the women and children could hide.8 Westfield was not attacked, although Springfield was, and some individuals were.

Map showing Westfield's first meeting house and fortified area
Westfield’s citizens maintained a militia for decades to counter the threat that was fueled by ongoing wars between the English and the French and their Native American allies. In 1709, Isaac became a captain in the militia.

Westfield had about 150 residents in 1676, and the town continued to grow. The Dewey brothers built a mill on one of the many nearby creeks, there was a tavern in the town and a road that led to Springfield. Most important, the town had a minister: Reverend Edward Taylor, a graduate of Cambridge University and of Harvard University, served the people of Westfield from 1679 to 1726. Isaac was one of the founding members of the church, and a deacon.9

Isaac also played a role in Westfield’s civic life. He served as town clerk, assessor, surveyor and town treasurer,10 and, although he was not a scholar, he took on the duties of school teacher at age 64. He was also a legislator of the Massachusetts General Court.

He died in 1725 and was buried in Westfield’s Old Burying Ground. He is my ancestor through his daughter Hannah Phelps, who married Daniel Bagg in 1693.

Photo credits:
Janice Hamilton
www.cityofwestfield.org/DocumentCenter/View/236/Westfield-History


See also:

Janice Hamilton, “George Phelps of Windsor and Westfield,” Writing Up the Ancestors, April 18, 2018, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2018/04/george-phelps-of-windsor-and-westfield.html

Janice Hamilton, “A Visit to the Old Burying Ground of Westfield, Massachusetts,” Writing Up the Ancestors, April 4, 2018, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2018/04/a-visit-to-old-burying-ground-of.html

Notes:

i. The Gaylord family. Ann Gaylord’s grandfather William Gaylord (also spelled Gayler, Gaylar, Gaylor, Gailead and Gailer) brought his family from England to Dorchester, Massachusetts aboard the Mary and John in 1630. At the time, he and his wife (name unknown) had six children ranging in age from about four to 15.11

William Gaylord played an important role in Dorchester, initially as one of two deacons of the Congregational church that the colonists and their pastor, John Warham, established there. William was one of four men who signed early town orders in Dorchester, he was chosen as a selectman (town official) for several terms between 1635 and 1637, and he was appointed assessor in 1636. Two years later, the Gaylord family followed Rev. Warham and a number of other Dorchester families to Windsor, Connecticut. There, William was granted a 20-acre home lot and several tracts of agricultural land. He served as deputy for Windsor to the Connecticut General Court for many years. His wife died in Windsor in 1657; William Sr. died in 1673.

Their second child, William Jr., was baptized in Crewkerne, Somersetshire, in 1617, and married Anna Porter in Windsor in 1641.12 John Porter’s family had come from England and settled in Windsor in 1639. After Anna died in 1653, William married Elizabeth Drake.

William Jr. died in 1656, leaving seven children, the oldest of whom was Ann, born 1645. Ann must have shouldered a lot of responsibility helping to raise her younger brothers and sisters. She married Isaac Phelps on March 11, 1662/63.

ii. Isaac’s and Ann’s children born in Windsor:
Isaac, b. 1666, m. Mary Moseley.
Those who were baptized in Westfield were:
daughter b. 1669, d. young.
John b. 1672, married Thankful Hitchcock;
Hannah b. 1674, m. Daniel Bagg in 1693/4 (my direct ancestors);13
Hezekiah b. 1677;
Joseph b. 1679;
Daniel b. 1681, d. 1690;
Noah, b. 1684, d. 1731 at Housatonnuc;
infant, b/d 1686;
Ebenezer, b. 1687, m. Susanna Burbank.14

iii. Some 19th-century genealogies suggest Isaac did not remarry after Ann’s death, but it would have been unusual for a widower with a houseful of young children not to look for a new wife. An article proving Isaac did remarry appeared in The American Genealogist in 1993 (TAG vol. 68, p 239-241). In such a small community, there were multiple connections between some of these blended family members. After Isaac Phelps married Mary (Newberry) Maudsley, his son Isaac Jr. married her daughter, Mary Maudsley.

iv. Windsor and Westfield kept good records and these databases are available online from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Several books have been written about the area and its residents, mostly by amateur historians and genealogists in the 19th century, and the information in these books need to be checked against the databases. Keep in mind that often several individuals living about the same time had the same name. For example, besides the father and son I have mentioned, there were three other men named Isaac Phelps. See The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 163 [2009]: 117.

Sources:

1. Connecticut: Vital Records (The Barbour Collection), 1630-1870 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011.) From original typescripts, Lucius Barnes Barbour Collection, 1928. https://www.americanancestors.org/DB414/i/12316/224/138422806, accessed April 7, 2018

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Oliver Seymour Phelps and Andrew T. Servin, compilers, “George Phelps the Emigrant, 1630,” The Phelps Family of America and their English Ancestors, and other interesting papers, coats of arms and valuable records, volume II (Pittsfield, MA: Eagle Publishing Company, 1899), p. 1270.

5. Burton Spear, compiler, Search for the Passengers of the Mary and John, 1630, vol. 5, Gallop – Greenway (Toledo: The Mary and John Clearing House, 1987), p 18.

6. The American Genealogist. New Haven, CT: D. L. Jacobus, 1937-. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009 - .) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB283/i/12963/239/24672606, accessed April 7, 2018.

7. Rev. John H. Lockwood, Westfield and its Historic Influences 1669-1919: The Life of an Early Town (Springfield, 1922, Printed and sold by the author), p. 58, https://archive.org/stream/westfieldandits00lockgoog#page/n80/mode/2up accessed April 1, 2018

8. Kay Delli Bovi, Barbara Trant, volunteers in public schools, The Westfield Story, printed in 2006, http://www.cityofwestfield.org/DocumentCenter/View/236 accessed April 7, 2018.

9. Lockwood, Westfield and its Historic Influences 1669-1919, p. 94. https://archive.org/stream/westfieldandits00lockgoog#page/n120/mode/2up, accessed April 1, 2018.

10. Phelps and Servin, The Phelps Family of America and their English Ancestors, p. 1269.

11 Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, 3 volumes, (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society), II: 742.

12.  Connecticut: Vital Records (The Barbour Collection), 1630-1870 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011.) From original typescripts, Lucius Barnes Barbour Collection, 1928. 
https://www.americanancestors.org/DB414/r/138416737, accessed April 10, 2018.

13. New England Marriages to 1700. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008.) Originally published as: New England Marriages Prior to 1700. Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015.

14. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1847-. (Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2013.) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB202/r/245392558, accessed April 10, 2018.