Using “squnch” in a sentence

Santa Claus arrived in July with a portable hard drive full of the newly-digitized images from the microfilm of Clarence Almon Torrey’s twelve-volume manuscript, New England Marriages Prior to 1700. It has been forty years since I last had quality time with Clarence. Hard to remember the months and months spent in the stacks going through every book in the library to match his “short” citations and create a bibliography.

For readers who haven’t been introduced, Clarence Almon Torrey spent decades in the library at NEHGS extracting every mention of a seventeenth-century New England marriage from nearly every book, pamphlet, and manuscript in the collection up until about 1960. He first wrote the entries on a sheet of paper as he extracted them from the books, then cut the paper into strips, alphabetized the strips in boxes and finally copied the alphabetized listing on to full sheets of paper again. No one has actually counted how many marriages Clarence collected, but the estimate is about 37,000. In 2011 the manuscript was completely transcribed, including citations with bibliography, and published in three large volumes available in the NEHGS bookstore; the compilation is now also available as a database on AmericanAncestors.

No one has actually counted how many marriages Clarence collected, but the estimate is about 37,000.

All well and good, except the process of transcribing handwritten material, often done in different pens and pencils, smudged and overwritten, has limitations. Among these are illegible or mistyped page numbers and untangling the citations for one marriage from another when they run over the space allotted. Clarence had a regular system of spacing marriage entries, regardless of the number of citations he sometimes had to “squnch” in. I have already found transcribed entries in which a citation from one marriage slipped into a neighbor’s list. The scans are wonderfully clear, but there are still illegible words and numbers that may not be decipherable even on the original manuscript.

Being able to compare the scans with the typed transcription makes a great difference. The scan shows Torrey’s original arrangement, where the marriage date was isolated in its own column and the town of marriage was prominently written beside it. By necessity, the transcribed version had to be strung together in a continuous paragraph where one easily loses track of what goes with what.

The process of posting these scans as a browsable database on AmericanAncestors is underway. In the meantime, I am now the official ( contact for any questions about Clarence’s manuscript. If you are having trouble interpreting the transcribed version, let me know, and I will see if the scan makes things clearer.

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.

24 thoughts on “Using “squnch” in a sentence

  1. We had all three Vols. in the History Room at Seymour Public Library, Auburn, NY (Cayuga co.) it was among several items on the shelves, most referred to by researchers from all over the Country who used the room for Family History. I am retired after 21 yrs there, but the room is still running well daily and I urge anyone to give it a try either coming from or going to New England.

  2. I love it when the example is about my own research! Daniel and Joanna were parents of the James who married Hannah, all my ancestors. It motivates me all the more strongly to look up Torrey’s original handwritten version.

  3. Aha! Daniel Lovett and Joanna Blott are my wife’s 9th great grandparents. I’ve had the information for many years but this is the first time I’ve seen it in a source this old. Yeaaaaaa!

  4. Alicia, this is enormously helpful. I have been using the 1985, 6th printing of Torrey and had NO idea the newer one had sources! However, in looking at the database, I couldn’t find a key to some of them e.g. GDMNH – I gather is New Hampshire. I read the forenotes and intro of Vol. 1, but is there a biblio in each volume? Are these sources in the NEHGS library? And, would you please look at the TOZER Richard (-1675) & Judith SMITH entry? I have been working on her English origins for almost a decade now and see sources here I hadn’t found. I assume this is a research request? Please do let me know…what a revelation this is!!

    1. Elizabeth, in the printed volumes, the bibliography of sources is at the end of the third volume. When using the Americanancestors database, you can scroll down to the bottom of any page and find a link to the sources in PDF. GDMNH is in there:
      GDMNH: Noyes, Sybil, Charles T. Libby, and Walter Goodwin Davis, Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire (Portland, Me.: Anthoensen Press, 1928–29, reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Company, 1972)
      The scans are supposed to be up early next week. They aren’t indexed, so you will have to go to Roll 7, Volume T-Z. Your Toziers are on image 0647 — note that this roll was digitized from back to front, so it is actually Z-T!
      Let me know which sources you can’t find.

      1. Elizabeth,

        GDMNH is available (by subscription) on, I think that the intended reference to Richard and Judith is on p. 689, rather that 189, here,
        It says, “Tozier, a cleaner of wool. Peculiar to co. Devon.
        Richard, Berwick, first at Boston where he m. 3 July 1656 Judith Smith, dau. of Thomas and gr.dau. of Simon of Stepney, co. Surrey, who named her and her husb. in his will 3 Oct. 1665. Barring divorce, it is impossible that he was the husb. of ‘dau. Tozier’ (with eldest s. John Green) who was alive and legatee of her fa. Robert Mott of Boston in 1662. …”
        There are many additional mentions of the name Tozier in the book.

        For the Henry Glover entry in Torrey at which I looked yesterday, all of the sources are available online. One (Springfield Families) requires that one view it at a Family History Center.

      2. Thank you! I have found some of the sources via Familysearch’s catalogue service. Tomorrow I will be able to spend some more time on Torrey and Tozer-Smith. I will get back to you and much appreciate your help and advice.

  5. Wow, what a gargantuan task this was of Torrey’s, as well as for those like you, Alicia, who have picked up the pieces! If it’s estimated he collected data for about 37,000 marriages in New England prior to 1700, does that figure make sense in terms of any other population data about that time that may have been collected in the meantime?

    1. Judy, I haven’t investigated that question, but I don’t think there are a lot of population studies in print. Also have to remember that this is 37,000 marriages, in which a husband may have been married more than once, so it isn’t 37,000 couples.

  6. Alicia, what a generous offer!

    In the Torrey entry for Henry Glover,, one of the sources listed is “Beach (1898) 985.” I think the page number intended is 185 rather than 985.

    The Beach book is available online (the biographical sketch about Henry and Ellen Glover is on pages 184-185),

    The expanded citation is Rebecca Donaldson Beach and Rebecca Donaldson Gibbons, _The Reverend John Beach and His Descendants Together with Historical and Biographical Sketches and the Ancestry and Descendants of John Sanford, of Redding, Connecticut_ (New Haven: The Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Press, 1898)

    The full account in Bacon’s _Historical Discourses_ of the reconciliation of Henry Glover with the church in New Haven is also available online,

    Another source listed in the Torrey entry for this Henry Glover is “New Haven Gen. Mag. 160, 765, 945.” I think that the first intended page number is 660 rather than 160. See

    1. Hooray! The images are now available. The page for Henry Glover is here, Looking at the image, I think I would have transcribed the page numbers in Beach and the New Haven Gen. Mag. as they were in the printed version, but I can see that they could also be the corrected page numbers I reported (185 rather than 985 in Beach and 660 rather than 160 in the New Haven Gen. Mag.). In the image it somewhat looks like some of the page numbers were faint and someone, perhaps even Torrey himself, wrote over them to make them more visible and in so doing may have introduced the errors.

  7. Elizabeth,

    The key to the source abbreviations is here,

    There is a link to this sources key near the bottom of the search results page for entries in Torrey, below the citation information. You can see it, for example, on this page, (scroll down to the bottom of the page). The words for the link are “Read the guide to Torrey’s source references in PDF format.”

    1. A difficulty is deciphering what “Lord 11” or “Wentworth 1” means. It isn’t immediately clear so assume there must be a key to that. Separately, very interesting to see the Henry Glover attachment from you; Judith Smith and the two Glover girls who married the two Winthrop boys were first cousins once removed. The Glover girls’ mother was Sarah Oldfield; Judith’s grandmother was Sarah’s older sister, Thomasine, who m. Simon Smith. The connection of the sisters and their brother Roger ( named for Roger Oldfield, father of the sisters) and Henry, I don’t know. Again, many thanks…I need to study all you have sent me.

      1. Good Morning Alicia. I have been scanning some of the Lovett/Tyler/Blott Family Connections to my Family (POSSIBLE). There are Morris, Hilton, Hylton links somewhere in the scheme of things. Do you know of any of the Mayflower links ??? Thank any of our friends for comments on this notification. I see that there are Winthrop links here too. What are the names of any of these links. Thanks Friends for so many kindnesses. Sincere Best Wishes, Paul Morris Hilton

      2. Elizabeth, the number after the code name for the book is the page number in the book. In the Richard Tozier and Judith Smith entry, “Lord 166” means page 166 of the book Lord, Harold M., The Windham, Maine, Branch of the Nathan Lord Family of Kittery, Maine (n.p., n.d.). It is available online in the InternetArchive at Curiously, page 166 does not appear to have information about Richard and Judith. The family is discussed on p. 31 and individual descendants appear on several additional pages. For the Wentworth source, there are three volumes of this book, so “Wentworth 1:104, 143, 148” means those page numbers in volume one of the set of books, Wentworth, John, The Wentworth Genealogy: England and America, 3 vols. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1878), online in GoogleBooks,

        1. Janet, thank you. I believe the number that I was at first puzzling over was the volume. Page number was fairly clear. I just had to study each one to figure it out. Aren’t these a wonderful resource, though!

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