An approaching anniversary

Another anniversary is approaching. In April it will be six years since the first Early New England Families Study Project sketches were published on AmericanAncestors. While many of you have been following the project all these years, it is probably a good time to do a little recapping for newer readers.

The Early New England Family Study Project was conceived as a companion to the Great Migration Study Project and a fitting use for the massive compilation done by Clarence Almon Torrey, published by NEHGS in the four-volume New England Marriages Prior to 1700, which is also available as an AmericanAncestors database. Torrey’s work covers information gleaned from thousands of books, periodicals, and manuscripts in the NEHGS library about couples who lived in New England from 1620 through 1700. The total number of marriages treated by Torrey is estimated to be 37,000!

The Great Migration Study Project, begun by Robert Charles Anderson in 1988, treats individuals and their families who came to New England from 1620 through 1640, grouped by year of arrival. Early New England Families was assigned everyone else, to be arranged by year of marriage beginning with 1641. While this seemed like a practical idea at the time, to me at least [okay, those of you who expressed doubts get a nickel], it turned out to be much too awkward for any number of reasons.

Many of the couple’s dates of marriage are unknown, which means that vague estimates have to be used – which makes it difficult to arrange sketches strictly by date. Many of the individuals who arrived after 1640 were married before they emigrated, but I had not counted them in my original survey, when I was concentrating on marriages in New England. I had also not fully included the second generation of Great Migration immigrants, only briefly treated as children of “featured” individuals in that project, who all have to be treated on their own in Early Families, regardless of their date of marriage.

In these first five years of the project, one hundred sketches of Early New England families have been published in the database on AmericanAncestors. The first fifty were also printed in book form in 2015 as Early New England Families 1641-1700, Volume 1, and the second volume covering the next fifty families is being prepared for publication in 2019.

…I am expanding my research to include groups of families and/or neighbors with common research sources in order to be more efficient with my time.

Starting with the third set of fifty sketches, I have made some adjustments. I am still beginning with couples who were married by 1642, but I am expanding my research to include groups of families and/or neighbors with common research sources in order to be more efficient with my time.

The new sketches will also be trimmed down a little, although by no means sacrificed to expediency. Longer transcriptions of wills, deeds, or other biographical material will be abstracted or cross-referenced to sources in which they were previously published. Information on family members who are treated in Great Migration or other Early New England Families sketches, or well documented in periodical articles, particularly those published in the Register, will also be cross-referenced to avoid duplicating what is already in print.

The first cluster, which I call the “Lord Cluster,” will have four sketches that will all be published at the same time in the next month: William Lord of Hartford and Saybrook, Connecticut; his second wife, Lydia (Buckland) Browne; her first husband, John Browne of Rehoboth; and Lydia’s third husband, Thomas Dunk of Saybrook. I think you will find this group quite interesting. In future posts I will fill you in on some of the tribulations and successes of the new system.

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.

12 thoughts on “An approaching anniversary

  1. For those interested in William Hyde (1597-1681/2), a first settler in Hartford and known to be a resident Hartford by 1639, are there plans for a sketch with him as the focus?

    1. Hi,

      William Hyde was an immigrant to New England in 1639 and thus falls into the Great Migration Study Project category. Unfortunately, he falls into the very last section of immigrants who will be treated. Bob Anderson’s series treats everyone from 1620 through 1635. An announcement was just made last week that Ian Watson will be picking up the project with immigrants from 1636 through 1638. At this time, no one is working on 1639.

      Eventually, William’s son Samuel Hyde will be treated in the Early New England Families Study Project, but because he did not marry until 1659 and Early New England Families is currently working with couples who married prior to 1642, it will be a long time before the project reaches Samuel.

      Wish it could be simpler and much faster, but just too many people cluttering up New England in those days!

      1. Thanks for the explanation. Wish his profile would be underway sooner, particularly since William had to have immigrated prior to 1639 when he was recorded as a Proprietor in Hartford, and his son Samuel was born that same year in that city. Hoping consideration could be given that he arrived prior to 1639 for all this activity to have occurred!

        1. Often, claims in older genealogies, such as the Hyde Genealogy of 1864 that says William was in Hartford as early as 1635, cannot be corroborated with the original records. See Bob Anderson’s article “Focus on Hartford” in Great Migration Newsletter, v.1-20, pp. 27-30 (which is online as a database at for his discussion about dates of records. The 1635 date is not correct and the earliest record for William was the list made in January 1639 — this, however, was really January 1639/40 or 1640 by the new calendar, leaving plenty of time for William to have arrived in 1639. Also there is no specific birth record for his son Samuel, only the Hyde Genealogy’s statement that he was born in Hartford “about 1637,” which does not give a source for how that date was calculated. If Samuel was born about 1637 he could easily have been born in England before they arrived.

          So, the 1639/40 date is the earliest record for William in the Colonies, and Anderson’s studies indicate men arrive within a year of their first record, which is why William is under 1639 group. No solace for you, of course, but at least an explanation!

  2. is there a way to verify the list of family names that have already been referenced in the “sketches” online at NEGS?

  3. Congrats on the highly professional work you have & are doing. Making the change to “clustering” certainly makes sense given the re-marriage rate which subverts the year-by-year order. You have generated all that info on the 1st couple which means you already have the needed info on the second couple, so Don’t File It, Publish It!

    As to the Martin announcement: good news as I might live to see the end of it. Where is that? I just scanned the WGs and didn’t see it. Should I Google for the press release?

    Am about to get into the weeds re migrant Thomas Miller (m. abt 1649 Sarah Marshall), 1st stop on working up paternal ancestry of Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller. Am using Preserved Puritan format, but may switch over to yours as it is a listed NEM marriage.

  4. Indubitably! And here is his web page – Info there will have to do until formal announcement, though I read now that the new cast of characters was unveiled at the GM celebration conference end of January. Now have to go to back issues and read IW’s articles again, especially re Ramsdall and DNA. Looking forward to the announcement of the OTHER scholars who will separately handle 1637, 1638, and 1639/1640. Why, at that rate, it might all get done before I’m 80!!

    1. Bob, Ian is signed up to do 1636, 1637 and 1638. Anyone wants the job for 1639 and 1640 they can apply. Announcements were made at the Winter Dinner and the seminar. I’m not in the loop to know any more.

  5. Is there a plan to add the Thomas Minor (who arrived in 1629); and Thomas Hewitt (arrived in 1656) families of Stonington,CT or the Parker family of Massachusetts: brothers James, Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph, all of whom arrived in 1644? Thank you.

  6. Is anyone planning to cover the Curtis family of Thomas Chamber (2nd spouse) of Richardine who married first to Thomas Curtis of Ash-next-Sandwich, Kent, England? Chambers brought Richardine/ene and her children by Thomas Curtis to Scituate, Massachusetts in 1638.
    I proved my connection to Richardine’s son, Thomas Curtis, who settled in York, Maine in 1642, for OFFME (Order of the First Families of Maine).
    The Curtis/s Family Society has supplied NEHGS with the books of Harold E. Curtis, among others, proving these and other early Curtis families to New England.
    Nancy (Schneider) Purchase.

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