Counting up

Sometimes it is best not to count things. I have just finished my spreadsheet listing all marriages in Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700 that took place in or prior to 1643 for individuals who arrived in New England after 1640 (with a whole bunch whose date of arrival is not known). Guess how many make the list?

As I start writing, the total is 1,182, although I am still culling out some duplicates, and there will be others who get eliminated for one thing or another, as we’ll see below. If I can figure out how to complete 100 sketches per year (instead of in 5 years), I will have this batch done by the time I am 82.

So, you ask, who are all these people? The largest group is the 544 whose arrival date is unknown. Some of these will turn out to be second-generation children who arrived in New England with their Great Migration parents in 1640 or earlier (such as the Winthrop boys). Some are immigrants who probably arrived after 1640, but their dates of arrival don’t matter since Early New England Families is treating couples by marriage year.

It was his first of three marriages, all in England, and he died in England in 1626, so he never was in New England.

Of all the entries in the spreadsheet, more than 200 were married prior to 1630, 130 prior to 1620, 42 prior to 1610, and three prior to 1600. The earliest known marriage year on the list is 1596 for Edward Sheafe “of Guilford.” It was his first of three marriages, all in England, and he died in England in 1626, so he never was in New England. It seems three of his children came to New England in 1638 and 1639 – and they are all duly listed in the Great Migration Directory. Edward is not my problem. Down to 1,181.

Next on the list is Robert Seabrook of Stratford, who was also married in 1596. He did make it to New England, dying at Stratford about 1650, where he was “an early settler.” He was preceded by at least one married daughter and her husband, who arrived in 1640. Preliminary investigation suggests that Robert arrived sometime after that with two unmarried daughters, but all that remains to be documented. So, except for that one 1640 daughter, I can’t get rid of Robert’s family and the total stays at 1,181 (no, wait, I just found two duplicates – 1,179!!).

Clearly, it will take some time to vet the whole list, but with plenty of confirmed marriages to keep me busy, I will have to dabble in the vetting process as time permits. Maybe we can schedule that retirement party for 2039, when I’m 92?

About Alicia Crane Williams

Alicia Crane Williams, FASG, Lead Genealogist of Early Families of New England Study Project, has compiled and edited numerous important genealogical publications including The Mayflower Descendant and the Alden Family “Silver Book” Five Generations project of the Mayflower Society. Most recently, she is the author of the 2017 edition of The Babson Genealogy, 1606-2017, Descendants of Thomas and Isabel Babson who first arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637. Alicia has served as Historian of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, Assistant Historian General at the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and as Genealogist of the Alden Kindred of America. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in History from Northeastern University.

27 thoughts on “Counting up

  1. Hi Alice, I really enjoyed your post. In 2039 I will be 96…Yikes! I have been involved in genealogy on some level since my late 20s and have been interested in it since I was 8 or 10. I am coming to an end with my family unless I want to extend way out into dozens of ancient cousins etc. which I don’t. I do want to write a book about the 4 main branches from my grandparents and a couple of interesting branches that married in and that will be enough.
    One of this crew is the Parkhurst family which goes back to one of the progenitors about which so much has been written and another branch goes back to John Cary, the Pilgrim of Braintree and Duxbury MA about whom much has been written also. A lesser light is the Gilson family that arrived in MA in 1634 or 35.
    Is that family on your radar or do I need to keep looking?
    Again, I know the feeling of having so much information to sort and catalog. Good luck in your work!

    1. Hi Sharon, sounds like you’ve been doing hard work. You’ll have to be more specific about your Gilsons before I can give you an answer. First names, places they lived.

  2. Is there any way you could assign some of these individuals to some of us dedicated researcher volunteers, to gather documentation for you to complete the sketches?

    1. Carole, Many thanks for the offer, but there is a Catch-22 involved. Much of the time one source leads to another and unless I do the searching, myself, I may not realize a certain trail needs to be followed. Plus, since everything needs to filter through me anyway, having people gather a lot of documentation that just piles up on the desk isn’t good for moral!

  3. Alicia, I hope your work continues for many years! I find your work and you Vita Brevis blog entries to be so helpful and inspiring to my own work in family history.

  4. Alicia,
    You are an inspiration! I will never again feel that little frustration when it takes me 3 years to break through a brick wall ancestor.
    Thank you for your dedication to this project. I’m now stuck investigating John and Meribah Patch Marshall, who married in Barnstead, NH in Feb 1779…John being born in 1754 to parents John Marshall ( of Portsmouth ) and Elizabeth White…who married in Newington, Rockingham, NH on 4 Oct 1745.
    I’m trying to figure out if John Marshall and Maribeh Patch are the parents of William Obediah Marshall Sr. , who stated that he was born in Barnstead on his War of 1812 enlistment record.
    I don’t know if your project would include the original John Marshall and Elizabeth White…but I am hopeful that someday I can find William O. Marshall Sr.’s parents.
    Best wishes on your project!

  5. I so enjoy your blogs, your webinars, and your Early New England Families sketches. Thank you for providing insights and information that can be counted on in this world of hints and guesses with no supporting evidence.

  6. Well, how old will you be in 2039 if yhou don’t work on these sketches? That’s what I tell myself when I feel like the task is overwhelming. You may find ways to lessen the effort, you may find some trustworthy helpers, I hope, and you may just enjoy every day that you’re able to work on this wonderful project. One day at a time, one name at a time-and may those names be some of mine!

  7. I have the daughter (Alice Seabrook) arriving in Massachusetts in 1634. She married my 9th great grandfather Thomas Sherwood. They settled in Fairfield, Connecticut.

    1. Laura, There is some confusion about the Thomas Sherwood who m. one or two Seabrook daughters, and further confusion about whether they were named Alice!. He is not the man of that name who came to New England in 1634 to Ipswich (and is treated in Great Migration, 2:6:304-12). The Thomas Sherwood of Stratford arrived there in the early 1640s. I have some unravelling to do with this family.

      1. I am looking forward to seeing this Seabrook mystery unraveled. I have been puzzled about it for many years, though I have Thomas Sherwood’s wife as Sarah Seabrook, daughter of Robert. She’s listed in Jacobus’ Old Fairfield, Conn., Vol. 2, pp. 523 and 560, as I’m sure you know. Thomas Sherwood is enough of a problem, as there were two contemporaneous, and some accounts show the other Thomas as married to Alice Seabrook, and their descendants are often wrongly commingled..

  8. Alicia, I love your posts and greatly appreciate your work.
    Will Henry Glover of New Haven be included in your current project?
    In the Great Migration 1634-1635 sketches that were once available online, there were three biographical sketches, one for a 1634 passenger named Henry Glover, one for Henry Glover (1641, New Haven) and one for Henry Glover (1642, Dedham). In the published version of GM 1634-1635, III, G-H (available as a database on AmericanAncestors), I now find only the entry for the 1634 passenger. As in the original online sketch, the biographical sketch about the 1634 passenger provides some information about the other two Henry Glovers and argues that neither of them was the 1634 passenger ( and the following page). The biographical sketches about the other two Henry Glovers do not appear in the 1634-1635 GM book images and no longer appear to be available on the AmericanAncestors website.

    1. Hi Janet, Henry Glovers 1641 and 1642 are in my bucket. Henry of New Haven m. ca. 1640 and Henry of Medfield (who I presume is the man of Dedham) m. ca. 1630/5, so they are in the group I am working on now. I will pull them out and see if I can move them up the list.

  9. Hi Alicia and Laura Thomas Sherwood came to Boston on the Francis of Ipswich in 1634, and was in Fairfield by 1639. I descend from his second wife and youngest son, Isaac. There has been some new research about his first wife, in England, re: the Fitch or Seabrook name. If I can locate my notes… I will log back on tonight.

    1. Hi Susan Sherwood,
      Yes, the first wife of Thomas Sherwood of Fairfield has been identified as Alice Tiler, and the baptisms of most of the children of Thomas and Alice have been found in a transcription of the parish register of Kettle Baston, Suffolk, England. See two articles in TAG by Leslie Mahler, “The English Home of Thomas Sherwood of Wethersfield, Stamford, and Fairfield, Connecticut” (2005), available online at, and “The Parentage of Alice Tiler, First Wife of Thomas Sherwood of Wethersfield, Stamford, and Fairfield, Connecticut” (2008),
      For a review of early published material and confusion between Thomas Sherwood of Fairfield and Thomas Sherwood of Stratford, see the TAG article by Donald Lines Jacobus “Sherwood of Fairfield and Stratford, Conn.” (1951),

  10. Hi Cousin Janet, you are my angel! I lost some data when my laptop went on vacation… please share your tree with me! Hope you are closer to Fairfield than I, only drove thru once @ 15 years ago, unable to stop…

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