Saturday, January 13, 2018

Jonathan Lyman 1684 - 1753 #52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Dear Grandparents,
As we start 2018, I've signed up to participate in Amy Johnson Crow's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" prompts. I am hoping my participation will help me tackle writing about one of your lives each week this year. Where to start? Now that is a challenge. I decided to start with the only person in my direct line for whom I can document a January 1st birthday, my 7th great grandfather, Jonathan Lyman.

Born in Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, January 1, 1684 (Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988,, 2011, p 24), he is the son of Richard and Elizabeth (Coles) Lyman. They were married 26 May 1675 in Northampton (, Massachusetts: Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988).
Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts shown in red on this map from
His ancestry was English on both sides. Jonathan's paternal family came to Massachusetts from High Onger, Essex, England in 1631.
St. Mary's Church in High Onger, England was built about 1181. In all probability the Lyman family worshipped here.
Image from

His great grandfather Richard Lyman  was the 11th member of the Roxbury, Massachusetts Church and then moved to Hartford, Connecticut in 1636 (Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Online database: American, New England Historical Genealogical Society, 2010 p 1217).

The English origins of his maternal great grandfather, James Coles, have not been discovered. He immigrated to Massachusetts before 1639 and also lived in Hartford (Rising Genealogy: Descendants of Jonathan Rising of Suffield, Connecticut,, North American, Family Histories, 1500-2000, database online, Provo, UT, 2016, Appendix D).

When Jonathan was 12, his family joined a number of other families from Northampton who moved to the fairly new community of Lebanon in New London County, Connecticut. He spent most of the rest of his life in Lebanon. He became a farmer and landowner (Coleman Lyman, Ancestors and Descendants of Richard Lyman from High Ongar in England 1631, New York 1878, p 166

We do not know the exact date of his marriage to Lydia Loomis. Part of the page is torn from the church records and the date is missing (, Connecticut, Church Record Abstracts, 1630-1920, Provo, UT 2013, V 4 p 3). We imagine sometime before their first child, Jonathan Lyman, was born September 1708. Lydia is the daughter of Deacon Joseph and Hannah (Marsh) Loomis. Her family came from Essex, England in the 1630s.

Jonathan and Lydia are the parents of eleven children born over 18 years in Lebanon. They are:
  • Jonathan b. 19 Sep 1708,  d. 1709.
  • Lydia  b. 23 Nov 1709,  m. Thomas Webster,  d. 10 Dec 1790 in Bolton, Tolland, CT.
  • Jonathan  b. 23 Apr 1712, m. Bethiah Clark 2 Oct 1735, d. 28 Jul 1792 Lebanon.
  • Sarah  b. 24 Jan 1713,  m. William Hunt 19 Dec 1734 Lebanon, d. 7 Feb 1746.
  • Hannah  b. 15 Feb 1715, m. Simeon Hunt 29 Jul 1736 Lebanon, d. 2 Jan 1758 Coventry, Tolland, CT.
  • Joseph  b. 3 Jul 1718, m. Joanna Loomis 2 Dec 1741 Lebanon, d. 15 May 1751 Coventry, Tolland, CT.
  • Jacob  b. 4 May 1721, m. Mehitable Bushnell 26 Jun 1745, d. 15 Jan 1802 Andover, Tolland, CT.
  • Rachel  b. 4 May 1721, m. Edmund Grandye 15 May 1745 Lebanon, d. 1815.
  • Zeriah  g. 14 Apr 1723, m. Samuel Bushnell 5 Oct 1743 Lebanon, d. Feb 1745 Lebanon.
  • Elijah  b. 21 Jul 1727, m. Esther Clarke 14 Dec 1748 Lebanon, d. 5 Apr 1782 Coventry, Tolland, CT.
  • Anna b. 28 Jan 1730, m. Isaiah Tiffany 19 May 1748 Lebanon d. 24 Apr 1823 Lebanon.
Jonathan died 11 Aug 1753 and is buried in the Old Cemetery in Lebanon. He wrote his will 25 Dec 1732. The probate file contains 10 pages of inventory items. Among my tasks for the new year is transcribing the 30 pages in his will packet.

Jonathan Lyman's Headstone from Photo by Sara
Our descent from Jonathan and Lydia (Loomis) Lyman follows:
  • Their youngest daughter Anna married Isaiah Tiffany 19 May 1748
  • Their daughter Anna Lyman Tiffany married James Clarke, Jr. 18 Jan 1781
  • Their son James Augustus Clarke's second marriage was to his first wife Anna's sister, Parnel Champion. We are descended from the second marriage.
  • Their son John Champion Clarke married Lydia Hornell 2 Oct 1845.
  • Their daughter Mary Elizabeth Clarke married Charles Shepard Newton 2 Oct 1865.
  • Their daughter Helen Brown Newton married Frederick Naaman Cone 29 May 1889.
  • Their son, my grandfather, Charles Newton Cone married Hazel Bynum Allen 4 Sep 1926
Only while writing this descent did I realize that Charles and Mary Elizabeth (Clarke) Newton were married on her parents' 20th wedding anniversary. My husband and I were married on my parents' 22nd anniversary.

Besides chronicling an ancestor's life, "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" is rapidly filling in my 2018 Genealogical To Do List. Johnathan Lyman was a known ancestor for me. He is included in the pedigree chart prepared by my granduncle William L. Cone and passed on to me by my grandfather Charles N. Cone. Most of the facts included in this post are based on research I've done over the last 20 years. Still, I thought a search might reveal additional life events.

That simple search found a 1983 Master's Thesis by Robert Charles Anderson entitled "Genealogy and Social History: the Early Settlement of Lebanon, Connecticut, as a case study."(Masters Theses 1911-February 2014, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, #1282,  Yes, that Robert Charles Anderson, the author of the Great Migration Study. I do not know if he has a personal interest in Lebanon but I certainly do. I found 28 families to whom I have a connection in his paper.

Genealogy is often a linear pursuit, following one or another family by generation up the family tree. In my case, I have been concentrating on the stories of individual ancestors. Now I realize I also need to spend time on cluster research in places like Lebanon. Anderson identified immigrants to Lebanon from Northampton, MA, Norwich, CT, and Hartford, CT. He wondered in his paper if they had intermarried or had stayed within their original groups. It may have taken a couple of generations but my family tree contains intermarriages from all three groups. I will be spending time this year looking for family members in the sources mentioned in Anderson's bibliography.

Happy New Year,
Cecily Cone Kelly

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Celebrating Independence Day

Dear Grandfather Clark,
Today as we are celebrating the 241st anniversary our Independence,  I think it is important to remember that many of our ancestors were involved in the American colonies fight for independence even before the declaration that we all hold so dear was adopted. In 1775 you raised a company from your friends and neighbors in Lebanon, Connecticut and responded to the Lexington Alarm and then marched on to the Battle of Bunker Hill. It was still more than a year to the first reading of the famous document.

The Battle of Bunker Hill has gone down in our history as such but of course, you know it was fought on Breed’s Hill. The source of the confusion seems to be that the Colonial Troops had originally been ordered by the Committee of Safety to “Bunker’s Hill in Charlestown be securely kept and defended, and also some one hill or hills on Dorchester Neck be likewise secured.”

      Battle of Bunker Hill drawing from

Though we do not have your description of the battle. Other first hand accounts reveal that the day was hot. The grass was unmown, reaching to the knees of the men trying to march through it. There were walls and fences to be climbed over.

People from Boston, across the Charles River, lined the shore, crowded the hills, climbed to rooftops to watch the progression of battle. British ships shelled Charleston setting houses, churches and other buildings ablaze. British General Burgoyne wrote it presented “a picture and a complication of horror and importance beyond anything that ever came to my lot to witness to.”

Were you and your troops in the redoubt that had been constructed on Breed’s Hill? We’ll probably never know how it felt to watch the scarlet clad British troops inching their way up the hill toward you. We understand that you held your fire until they were just 150 feet away. When the volley came, the British troops fell in heaps. It must have been exhilarating.

Commanding a Company of your friends and neighbors from Lebanon, you must have felt a terrible responsibility to keep them alive. Were  your sons James and Moses with you? You must have known that British would regroup after the failure of their initial assault. Given the limits of your ammunition, how long could your troops last? Could the eventual retreat be managed effectively preserving the troops to fight another day and avoid a flight of panic? There are so many question I would like to ask.

The British suffered tremendous losses, 1,054 men shot, 226 killed out right. The American losses are more difficult to ascertain. The records were not good and the troops not as organized. Volunteers from several states, such as your troops who had marched the 100 miles from Connecticut were not integrated into the records. I know you knew how many of your men were killed or wounded but it has been difficult for historians to track the numbers from all the units.

Though the Battle was an eventual loss, Americans celebrated the Battle of Bunker Hill for the tremendous showing that American raw recruits made in the face of the disciplined English forces who were the best in the world. According to a letter from General Gage to Dartmouth, Americans were “not the despicable rabble too many have supposed them to be” … they have… “a military spirit… joined with uncommon zeal and enthusiasm… The conquest of this country is not easy.”

Surely, it pointed to the need for a unified command structure. About a month later, the Continental Congress appointed George Washington, “to command all the continental forces, raised or to be raised, for the defense of American liberty.”

Today too many Americans believe that independence was all but guaranteed. The personal sacrifices made by those of you who left family, homes, farms, and businesses to put everything on the line to fight for independence are often overlooked. We can only imagine the sorrow you felt when you arrived home late in the fall of 1775 to discover that your young children Wealthy and Ernest had died within two weeks of each other in September.

However distraught, we know that you went back to your regiment and participated in the Battles for New York City and White Plains even more determined to win our independence.

CllarkhomeLebanon2015 (2016_12_17 18_37_25 UTC).jpg
6th and 7th great granddaughters Cecily Cone Kelly and Amanda Kelly in front of the
James Clark Home in Lebanon, CT circa 2016
From author’s personal collection

We know how you how you felt about our independence from a report written in the Connecticut Courant newspaper published 10 July 1822. It described a commemoration of the anniversary of American Independence held in your home town of Lebanon. It described you, at age 93, wearing the hat worn by the late Col. William Williams at the time he signed the Declaration of Independence, giving the following toast to,
The Liberty of America, may it be as durable as the slavery would have been
Lasting had it not been gained.

The article also noted that you were accompanied by your son, grandson and great grandson on the occasion.
Image of James Clark from the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker HillJamesClarkage94 (2016_12_17 18_37_25 UTC).jpg
17 June 1825 Image from the Lebanon Historical Society Collection

We remain dedicated to the principles of the Declaration of Independence and many of your descendants have put their lives on the line, as you did, to secure these rights. We still “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”


For family members our descendent from James Clarke follows:

Cecily (Cone) Kelly, Charles Newton Cone, Jr., Charles Newton Cone, Helen Brown (Newton) Cone, Mary Elizabeth (Clarke) Newton, John Champion Clarke, James Augustus Clark, James Clark, Jr., James Clark

Saturday, May 20, 2017

20 May 2017

Dear Grandfather Tobias,

Today we celebrate the 224th anniversary of your birth. While celebrating today, we really wish we had the opportunity to talk with you. There are so many unresolved questions about your life.

We believe we have identified your parents, Andreas Werst born about 1763 in Northampton, Pennsylvania. No surname has been discovered for his presumed wife and your mother Catherine. We have no birth certificate for you but we would not expect to find one for the time and place where you were born. The date comes from family records. We have found a record of your baptism at the Friendensville Lutheran Church in 1794.

Andreas Werst's family enumerated in the 1800 Federal Census.
There are two males listed as under age 10 in 1800 which would include Tobias.
"United States Census, 1800," database with images, FamilySearch
(https://family"XHR4-FS3: accessed 20 May 2017),
Andreas Werst, Salisbury, Northampton, Pennsylvania, United States; citing p. 624;
NARA microfilm publication M32, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records
Administration, n.d.), roll 37; FHL microfilm 360,340.
Note: Though listed as Salisbury, the image clearly lists the residents of Upper Saucon Township.
Since your father's will was written in German, we imagine that German was the language spoken in his home. It must have been your first language. We believe you must have also spoken English as your wife Nancy Carr seems to have been of Northern Irish heritage and would not have spoken German. Your family was either Lutheran or Reformed. Both congregations shared the same building and their records have been combined.

We know you served your country as a private during the War of 1812. You served with Capt. Robert McGuigan in the 123rd and 81st Regiments of the Pennsylvania Militia, Commanded by Lt. Col. James Montgomery. Your wife, then widow, Nancy (Carr) Werst applied for a widow's pension 23 March 1857.  Nancy said that you were disabled in 1814 and discharged at Danville, in Northumberland County. Were you wounded or injured in an accident? We just do not know.

The Pennsylvania Archives contains the following letter from Capt. McGuigan to the governor.

        Milton, July 2, 1812. 
To his Excellency, Simon Snyder, Governor of Pennsylvania:- 

 Sir: I have the honor to inform you that on the 1st day of July, 
instant, the several classes of the One Hundred and Twenty-third 
regiment of Pennsylvania militia; James Moodie, lieutenant colonel 
commandant, Second brigade, Ninth division, met in pursuance of brigade 
orders in Milton, Northumberland county; that upwards of the number 
seventy-nine have volunteered their services as their quota of militia 
to your 
Honor, to be ready to march at any time required. We beg leave to state 
to your Excellency that it is the wish of the company to march at the 
first call. 
                          Sir, your most obedient humble servant, 
                                    ROBERT McGUIGAN, 

We know that your company was ready to go early in the war. At the outbreak of the war Northumberland county sent Captain Robert McGuigan's company and the Warrior Run Rifle company, Captain William McGuire, to join the troops at Erie and they served in the Black Rock Campaign. (Major William P. Clarke, Official History of the Militia and the National Guard of the State of Pennsylvania, 1909, P. 94).

Nancy also added that you were married by the Rev. John Bryson, Minister of the Gospel in December 1819. John Bryson was a Presbyterian minister who's ancestors immigrated to Pennsylvania from the north of Ireland but who were of Scottish descent. Perhaps Nancy's family were also Scots-Irish. We believe her father's name may have been Joseph Christopher Carr because of the name given your eldest son.

We do not know why you moved to Neave Township in Darke County, Ohio. We do know that you lived there in 1840.

Tobias Werst family with 5 sons and 2 daughters in 1840 census.
"United States Census, 1840," database with images, FamilySearch
( : accessed 20 May 2017),
Tobias Worst, Neave Township, Darke, Ohio, United States; citing p. 71 NARA microfilm publication
M704, (Washington D. C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.),
roll 390; FHL microfilm 20,163.
The family is still living in Ohio in the 1850 census, but must have moved shortly after to Wabash County, Indiana where two grandsons were born in 1852. Your story ends in Wabash County, where you died 20 April 1855 and were buried four days later.

Tobias Werst tombstone at Mississinewa Memorial Cemetery
Tombstones were moved to this location when an earlier cemetery was flooded.
Photograph from author's personal collection.
There is so much we still need to learn about your life. Rest assured, we are still looking for answers to our questions. Any hints you could send would be greatly appreciated!

Happy Birthday,

Our descent from Tobias is as follows:
Cecily daughter of Betty Werst Cone, daughter of Cecil Oscar Werst, son of Lewis Werst, son of
George Washington Werst, son of Tobias Werst.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dear Grandparents,
On a recent trip to Massachusetts to celebrate my sister’s 65th birthday, we had the opportunity to see the home of our 10th great grandfather Jonathan Fairbanks. The cold, wet day could not deter us from walking around the house. We don’t normally expect to find such an old house, still standing.The Fairbanks House is indeed special.

Photograph of the Jonathan Fairbanks house taken from the parking lot.
27 March 2017 from my personal collection

From the website for the house,, Aboott Lowell Cummings, former Charles F. Montgomery Professor of American Decorative Arts at Yale University, stated,

“The Jonathan Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts, is one of the most important historic houses now standing in the northeastern part of the United States. Its value to the area and to the nation as a whole lies not so much in its claim to being the oldest house in New England but in its Architectural significance… It may be said quite simply that no other house of the mid-17th century in New England has survived in such unbelievable unspoiled condition. It is extraordinary that so early a structure should preserve such a high percentage of original features. It is a veritable store-house of information concerning the small handful of houses which survive from this early period.”
The center section of the house is the oldest. The east and west wings were added in the eighteenth century. Timbers for the Fairbanks house were sent to England for dendrochronology testing which dated the wood sent at 1641. Family lore says that some of the boards and much of the furniture original to the house was imported from England.
Photograph of Jonathan Fairbanks house taken 27 March 2017
form my personal collection

One of the secrets to its survival, is that the house was passed down and occupied by the Fairbanks family until the early twentieth century. The Fairbanks Family in America still owns the property and opens it for tours Wednesdays thru Sundays from May 3rd to October 29th. Because of the timing of our visit, we were not able to see the inside of the house but we will certainly schedule a return visit at a later date.

So how are we related to the Fairbanks family? It is not a surname that most of our family remembers. Here is our connection to Jonathan and Grace (Smith) Fairbanks. Maiden names are indicated by parentheses.

Cecily (Cone) Kelly13, Charles Newton Cone, Jr.12, Charles Newton Cone12, Frederick Naaman Cone11, William Warner Cone10, Joanna (Warner) Cone9, Thomas Warner8, Eleazer Warner7, Thomas Warner6, Delight (Metcalf) Warner5 , Rev. Joseph Metcalf4, Deacon Jonathan Metcalf³, Mary (Fairbanks)² Metcalf, Jonathan and Grace (Smith) Fairbanks¹

The Fairbanks and allied families are from the West Yorkshire area of England primarily around Halifax. It has been a center of the woolen industry since the 15th century. It is said that Jonathan was a weaver and merchant of woolens.
Map of West Yorkshire, England from www.wikipedia.orgHalifaxWestYorkshireEnglandwikipedia.png

Jonathan and his wife Grace (Smith) arrived in Boston sometime in 1633. No record of his immigration naming the exact date or ship has been discovered. By 1636, he and his family relocated to the newly founded town of Dedham, Massachusetts. The men founding the community were asked to sign the following Covenant:

The Covenant
  1. We whose name ar here unto subscribed doe in the feare and Reverence of our Allmightie God, Mutually: and generally p[ro]mise amongst ourselves and each to other to p[ro]ffesse and practice one trueth according to that most p[er]fect rule, the foundacion where is Everlasting Love:
  2. That we shall by all meanes Laboure to keepe of from us all such as ar[e] contrarye minded. And receaue onely such unto us as be such as may be p[ro]bably of one harte, with us, as that we either knowe or may well and truely be informed to walk in a peaceable conversation with all meekness of spirit for the edification of each other in the knowledg and faith of the Lord Jesus: And the Mutuall encouragem[ent] unto all Temporall comforts in all things, seekeing the good of each other, out of all which may be derived true Peace.
  3. That if at any time difference shall arise between p[ar]ties of our said Towne, that then such p[ar]tie and p[ar]ties shall p[er]sonlly Reserve all such difference unto som[e] one 2 or 3 others of our said Societie to be fully accorded and determined without any further delaye. If it possibly may bee:
  4. That every man that now or at any time heareafter shall have Lotts in our said Towne shall paye his share in all such Rate of money and charges as shall be imposed upon him Rateably in p[ur]portion with other men. As allso become freely subject unto all such orders and constitutions as shall be necesariely had or made now or at any time heere after from this daye fore warde as well for loveing and comfortable Societie in our said Towne as allso for the p[ro]sperous and thriveing condition of our said fellowshipe, especially respecting the feare of God in which we desire to begine and continue. Whatso ever we shall by his Loveing favoure take in hand.
  5. And for the better manefestation of our true resolution heere in every man so received to subscribe heere unto his name, thereby obliegeing both him self and his successors after him for ever as we have done.

According to the Dedham Historical Register Volume II, published in 1889, page 153, Jonathan Fayerbancke was among the signatories to the above covenant. He also received 12 acres of land among those he built his home. It would be interesting if neighbors signed such covenants today.

Sign for the Fairbanks House taken 27 March 2017 from my personal collection.

Jonathan was admitted a free man in Dedham 23 March 1637-38. Certainly the Fairbanks family were Puritans but Jonathan seems to have had some doubts about how the faith was practiced. When he made his declaration of faith, it was noted that he had “long stood off from the church upon some scruples about public profession of faith.” His concerns were resolved when he became a member of the First Church in Dedham 14 June 1646. His faith would have been considered to be Congregationalist.

The death of “Jonath. Fairebanck” was reported as 5 Dec., 1668 in “The Record of Births, Marriages and Deaths, and the intentions of Marriage in the Town of Dedham, Volume 1, page 11. He was buried in the Old Burying Place in Dedham. No headstone survives to this day and it is unknown if there was ever a marker on his grave.
Photograph of the Old Burying Place in Dedham is from Bill Boyington from used with permission.

Jonathan Fairbanks left a will that was probated 26 January 1669. He mentioned his wife Grace and children John, George, Jonas, and our 9th great grandmother Mary (Fairbanks) (Metcalf) Smith. His will is marked with an ‘x’ and it is unclear if he was illiterate or just too weak at that moment to sign. I may discover more when I visit the inside of the house!     Love, Cecily

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ancestor Tracking - 2017 Ancestor Tally

Dear Grandparents,
Many have heard me say each time I identify a new ancestor "now I have two additional people to find." Family researchers who announce that their "genealogy is finished" have always surprised me.
There are many of you that I still need to identify and there are more and more records available.
I figure my work will never be done.

Yesterday I came across Family Sleuther: Solving family history's mysteries a Facebook page ( this is the spelling used on the page) with a post on Ancestor Tracking. He suggested that the beginning of a new year is a good time to tally one's ancestors. I imagine the idea is to compare how many additional have been identified by the beginning of 2018. Having successfully identified more than 1,000 direct line ancestors seems at first glance to be quite an achievement. Looking at the far right column shows how much more work there is to be done.

My first challenge comes with the parents of my 2nd great grandfather William Henry Colby. Most records show him as having been born in New Hampshire. The earliest record found is his marriage to Fanny Hummell 11 May 1855 in Lake County, Illinois. This record contains an inexact spelling of his wife Fanny Hunnewell's name. Below is his entry in the 1900 census.

"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 17 January 2017), William H Colby, Vernon Township, Lake, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 139, sheet 1B, family 20, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,314.
The parentage of another 2nd great grandfather, Simpson Barnes, is also a challenge. He is consistently listed in census records as having been born in New York. He marries Angelina Burgoyne in Cambria, Hillsdale County Michigan 15 November 1848. No record discovered lists the names of his parents.
"United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 9 November 2014), Simpson Barnes, Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan, United States; citing family 84, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.)
The next hole in my linage is identifying the parents of Elizabeth Jane Jones, my 3rd great grandmother on my mother's side. She is my direct fifth generation mitochondrial ancestor.

Elizabeth Jane (Jones) Gibson
portrait copied from Hugunin Family Bible in my possession.

Entries in the Hugunin Family Bible, which were entered around the time of her daughter Sarah Amanda Gibson's marriage to Van Epps Hugunin in 1868, list Elizabeth's birth as 2 May 1821. However, they make no mention of her parents. The earliest record that clearly identifies Elizabeth is that of her marriage to Newsom Gibson 19 December 1840 ("Tennessee Marriages, 1796-1950," database, FamilySearch ( 8 December 2014), Newsom Gibson and Elizabeth Jones, 29 Dec 1840'; citing Davidson, Tennessee, reference; FHL microfilm 200,295).

The challenges in identifying each of these great grandparents lies in the their common surnames.
Jones, Barnes and Colby occur so frequently that it has been impossible to differentiate my ancestors from others with similar names. So far.

As the chart shows, I have plenty of work to do this year. Only another 3,860 ancestors to identify. Any serendipitous assistance is welcome.


Monday, February 15, 2016

A February 14th marriage - John and Mercy (Prence) Freeman

Dear Grandparents,

     Happy Valentine's Day. This is a day when we celebrate our loved ones. Michele Simmons Lewis offered a "Tip of the Day" for those of us who use Legacy Family Tree Software to keep track of our family history research. She wanted to help us find any couples in our family tree who married on February 14th. I wasn't sure that there would be such a marriage in my data base but following Michele's directions I discovered that my ninth great grandparents John and Mercy (Prence) Freeman married 14 February 1649 in Eastham, Barnstable County, Massachusetts. I am certain there were no red heart shaped boxes of candy or flowers associated with this ceremony. Interestingly, 14 February 1649 was a Sunday just like today.[1] 
     John is the son of Edmund and Bennett (Hodsoll) Freeman. They were married 16 June 1617 in Cowfold, Sussex, England. He is their fifth child born 28 January 1626/27. His mother was buried at Pulborough, England 12 April 1630. His father remarried sometime before 1635 to Elizabeth (who's surname is unknown). The family left London on the Abigail which sailed about 1 July 1635 for Plymouth.
     Mercy is the daughter of Thomas and Patience (Brewster) Prence. Thomas immigrated on the Fortune in 1621. He served as governor of the Plymouth Colony for 16 years. Thomas and Patience were married 5 August 1624. Patience was the daughter of Pilgrim William Brewster who was one of the passengers of the Mayflower. Patience was born about 1607 in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England. She fled with her family to Holland. She was left behind when her parents left for the new world on the Mayflower. She joined them in Plymouth in July 1623 arriving on the Anne.

John and Mercy Freeman made their home in Eastham, shown in red,
image from
     Regarded as one of the fathers of Eastham, John served as Deputy for 8 years beginning in 1654, as Selectman from 1663 for ten years, Assistant to the Governor for several years and late in life, on December 7, 1692 was appointed to the Bench of the Court of Common Pleas. He was also Deacon of the Eastham Church. Appointed Ensign, then Captain and finally Major he worked to protect the colony and fought in King Phillip's War.    
     John and Mercy enjoyed more than sixty-two years of marriage before Mercy's death 28 September 1711 at age 80. John lived another seven years dying 28 October 1719. Together they were the parents of eleven children. At least nine of their children lived to adulthood.
Major John Freeman Headstone
Inscription reads "Here Lyes the Body Of
Major John Freeman Dec. October 28, 1719
in the 98 year of his age"
Old Cove Burying Ground, Eastham, Barnstable County, Massachusetts
Find A Grave Memorial #7301580
Photograph by Jennifer W. Hanson used with permission
Mercy Prence Freeman Headstone
Inscription reads " Here Lyes Buried Ye Body of Marcy Freeman
Wife to Major John Freeman Aged 80 years
Dec'd Sept Ye 28th 1711"
Old Cove Burying Ground, Eastham, Barnstable County, Massachusetts
Find A Grave Memorial #6032848
Photograph by Julie Nathanson used with permission.
      Most of the information on the Freeman Family is from the Great Migration 1634-1635, C-F. (Online database. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008.) Originally published as: The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume II, C-F, by Robert Charles Anderson, George F. Sanborn, Jr., and Melinde Lutz Sanborn. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001.
    I was surprised to find that two of my many times great grandparents had married on February 14th, especially so long ago. My family is lucky to have many lines that go back to Colonial New England and to England itself. However, we do have several lines that dead end about 1830.

    My descent from John and Mercy (Prence) Freeman is:
Cecily13, Charles12, Charles11, Frederick10, William9 Cone, Joanna8 Warner, Rhoda7, Elisha6, Nathaniel5, Nathaniel4 Hopkins, Mercy3 Mayo, Hannah2,John1 and Mercy1 (Prence) Freeman


[1] February 14, 1649 was the 45th day of the year 1649 in the Gregorian calendar. The day of the week was Sunday.

Friday, February 12, 2016

My 11th great grandfather Edward Wightman: The Last Man Burned at the Stake in England

Dear Grandfather Edward,
     As we were celebrating the beginning of 2016, I began to look at the calendar in my genealogy software program (Legacy) to help me select an ancestor born on New Year's Day or shortly thereafter and write their story. Your 4 times great granddaughter, Martha Rathbone was born January 2, 1736 in Stonington, Connecticut and I thought I would begin this year's posts with her. Well....I was innocently writing Martha's story and noted that she was the daughter of Capt. Joshua and Mary (Wightman) Rathbone and then realized that I did not know the ancestral origin of her mother's family who had settled in Rhode Island. That research led me to your story.
     You were probably born a little before your baptism December 20, 1566 in Burbage, Leicestershire, England. Your mother is Modwen or Madewyn Caldwall, daughter of William Caldwall, and a member of a family of successful drapers or traders of wool. Your father, John Wightman, was headmaster of the grammar school at Repton, Derbyshire just a few miles from your mother's family's home in Burton-on-Trent. It is unknown if you attended your father's school or were
schooled in Burton-on-Trent.
     Evidently, your father's profession of school master did not call you. Instead you entered the cloth business of your mother's family serving an apprenticeship to John Barnes as a woolen draper in the town of Shrewsbury beginning in 1580. Did you meet the woman you would marry selling cloth at the market in her hometown of Hinckley? Your marriage to Frances Darbye was registered at the
Staffordshire Record Office September 11, 1583.
     Settling in Burton-on-Trent and engaging in the cloth trade, you and Frances are the parents of six children:

 Johannis Wightman, born circa November 1594, died young.

 Priscilla Wightman, born circa December 1596

 John Wightman, born circa January 1598, died in Rhode Island Colony

 Maris Wightman, born circa February 1602

 Anna Wightman, born circa September 1608

 Samuel Wightman, born circa August 1611, died in Rhode Island Colony

     Everything about your life to this point seems somewhat ordinary. Of course, I can only imagine the turmoil the English people had experienced since King Henry VIII broke from the Roman Catholic Church in 1529.  King Henry's argument with the Pope wasn't just about divorcing his wife. He was also frustrated that the Roman Catholic Church in England, the next largest land owner in the country next to the crown, owed its allegiance and funds to the Pope. His newly established Church of England continued the policy that church attendance was mandatory and both Crown and Church used these services to spread their dictates. Every English man was subject to the rule of the Church, they were required to pay for the support of their local clergyman and the upkeep of the church. Not only did the church have the power to tax the people, it also could summon the people to a church court for a variety of offenses. Those transgressions included; failure to attend church, adultery, fornication, gossip and heresy. The church courts had the power to excommunicate those who were found guilty. Punishment for the most serious offense, heresy, was turned over to the civil authorities.
     It seems likely that you were first exposed to the Puritan movement while serving your apprenticeship in Shrewsbury. The English Puritans were trying to purge the Church of England of all Roman Catholic practices. They were looking to eliminate the expensive trappings and rites that made priests seem to be princes. A thriving movement, headed by John Tomkys, was centered in Shrewsbury. Others in Burton-on-Trent were establishing Puritanism there including Peter Eccleshall
who was indicted in 1588 for not using the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer  and Philip Stubbes, a Puritan evangelist. By your subsequent actions, their preaching must have found a place in your heart.
     I wish you could detail for your descendants the process by which you became committed to what is described as "an emotional and spiritual band of Puritanism." Clearly, your new views differed radically from not only the Church of England but also those of the local Puritan leaders. Wikipedia's article on you lists thirteen of your views that brought you into direct conflict with the Church and King James I.
  •  There is no Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost).
  •  Jesus Christ was not God.
  •  Jesus Christ was a mere man.
  •  Christ was never incarnate and did not fulfill the promises of salvation.
  •  The three creeds (Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian) of the apostolic church were lies.
  •  You, Edward Wightman, were the promised Messiah of the Old Testament.
  •  You were the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
  •  To deny that you were divine was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, worthy of everlasting  death.
  •  Jesus Christ is dead and there is no punishment for sinners in the afterlife.
  • You are literally the prophet Elijah.
  • The historic baptism of the church (baptism of infants) is wickedness.
  • The Lord's Supper (communion) is evil.
  • That God ordained you (Wightman) Saviour of the world.
     The power of the established Church and King were overwhelming. That many clerics tried to dissuade you of your beliefs may well have been out of respect for your place in the community and your family. Finally you were given the ultimatum, recant your opinions or "burn at the stake in Burton before Allholland day next."

     You were taken to Lichfield, and ordered to be placed "in some public and open place... and before the people burned in the detestation of the said crime and for manifest example of other Christians that they may not fall into the same crime." King James I approved your execution.

St. Mary's Church and Marketplace Lichfield, England from the early 19th century
Image from
     I can only imagine the pain and terror you experienced when the flames reached your feet and legs. Reports are that you screamed to recant and the gathered crowd pleaded for your release. Pulled from the flames, you were already too badly injured to sign the papers accepting beliefs of the church. Two weeks later, you were brought before the authorities to sign your denial of your beliefs. After your firm refusal, you were once again tied to the stake in the marketplace  and this time burned to death. The date was April 11, 1612.

View of Lichfield Marketplace 2012
from Edward Wightman Memorial #101686171
     What terror your family must have experienced! Your children were between the ages of 16 and less than a year old. How would your wife be able to support the family? She soon left for London and some anonymity. Not surprisingly, your two surviving sons immigrated to Rhode Island, a colony known for religious tolerance.

     Historically, you bear the dubious distinction of having been the last Englishman burned at the stake. There is a plaque near the marketplace in Lichfield marking that distinction.

Photograph of Marketplace plaque from 
Edward Wightman Memorial #101686171
This Memorial was written by Edward's 11th great grandson Steven Tynan.
     I wish I could say that people are no longer being put to death for their religious beliefs but sadly there are radical religious groups that are still committing such atrocities today. You have moved to the top of the list of ancestors with whom I would like to have dinner.


For family members: Our descent from Edward Wightman

Cecily13, Charles12, Charles11 Cone, Helen10 Newton, Mary9 Clarke, Lydia8, George7 Hornell, Jr., Martha6 Stevens, Martha5 Rathbone, Mary4,Valentine3, George2, John1, EdwardA Wightman

Superscript A indicates the generation that did not immigrate. If there is no surname after the name, the surname is the same as the previous generation.

     My original post was formatted in Word with footnotes which did not import into the Blogger format this time though they have in previous posts. Additional information on Edward Wightman's story can be found at the following sources:

"England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch ( accessed 9 January 2016), Edward Wightman, 20 Dec 1566; citing BURBAGE,LEICESTER,ENGLAND, reference; FHL microfilm 585,278.

"England Marriages, 1538–1973 ," database, FamilySearch ( accessed 9 January 2016), Edward Wightman and Francis Darbye, 11 Sep 1593; citing St. Modwen's, Burton Upon Trent, Staffordshire, England, reference items 4-10; FHL microfilm 1,278,931.

"Contributions to the history of the Whiteman or Wightman Family", The Narragansett Historical Register, Vol. 3, No. 4 (April 1885), Pages 290-2.