ICYMI: Bye-bye-bye

[Editor’s note: This blog post first appeared in Vita Brevis on 20 March 2017.]

Following up on correcting the charts in my Seeing double blog post, the chart showing my ancestor Anna (Salisbury) Slade was a recent disappointment and involved removing some ancestors from my charts. The chart identified Anna’s parents as Daniel Salisbury and Anna Hale, and had Anna as the child of Rev. Moses Hale (Harvard 1699) and Mary Moody of Newbury, with several early Newbury ancestors including Henry and Jane (Dummer) Sewall, who were the parents of Judge Samuel Sewall (1652–1730), known for his involvement in the Salem witch trials.

Through a different part of my family, I descend from Jacob Towne (1632–1704) of Topsfield, Massachusetts, who was a brother of Mary (Towne) Esty and Rebecca (Towne) Nurse, both of whom were executed for witchcraft at Salem in 1692. So I liked to say I was the several greats nephew of two accused witches, as well as one of the judges who sentenced them. [1]

Judge Samuel Sewall. Courtesy of Wikipedia.org

While there are several items wrong on the above chart (the name of Daniel Salisbury’s mother for one), I had not researched everything, and I had not come across anything to make me question Anne Hale’s parents and thus my Sewall descent. In 2007, when we published Eben Graves’s The Descendants of Henry Sewall, I happily looked at the book for my line of descent, which went down to the above Moses Hale and his wife Mary Moody but did not include their children. I had also done various research over the years on some of the Sewall and Dummer ancestors in England.

In the fall of 2015, I gave a talk to the Sons and Daughters of the First Settlers of Newbury, Massachusetts, and I thought I would briefly mention what I thought were my several early Newbury ancestors. I went over what I thought would be a quick confirmation of the various ancestors. I found the 1770 gravestone of Anne (Hale) Salisbury on findagrave (which actually lists her maiden name as Hale!). However, on the memorial the contributor had said she was a daughter of John Hale/Haile and Elizabeth Mason of Swansea, Massachusetts. Were the parents I had wrong? This was quite easy to confirm. The 1997 Descendants of Richard Haile of Swansea (1640–1729) shows the family of John Haile and Elizabeth Mason and provides a verbatim transcription of the 1743 administration of John Haile in which it says “Item We have divided to Anne the wife of Daniel Salisbury the only Daughter…”

So in one swoop, I lost nearly all of my Newbury ancestors…

Clearly I had the wrong parents! I could definitely have found this years earlier had I looked. The sketch of Moses Hale in Sibley’s Harvard Graduates says he had three sons and seven daughters, citing the 1889 Genealogy of Descendants of Thomas Hale [of Newbury]; had I consulted that work, I would have seen that Moses did not have a daughter named Anne (from his will, which listed all of his surviving daughters).

So in one swoop, I lost nearly all of my Newbury ancestors and gained several new Swansea ancestors. I told the Newbury group I now only had one single early Newbury ancestor – Anthony Morse, through a different (and researched) side of my family. While I still am a several greats nephew of the accused witches, I can say bye-bye as a several greats nephew to one of the judges.[2]


[1] Their sister Sarah Cloyce was also accused of witchcraft but was released from jail in 1693.

[2] My Town ancestors are included in Lois Payne Hoover, Towne Family – William Towne and Joanna Blessing Salem, Massachusetts 1635 (Baltimore: Otter Bay Books, 2010); the line is well-documented going down to my ancestor Elizabeth Davis (daughter of Tamar Town) and her husband John Eliot Eaton. I documented the generations from John and Elizabeth down to myself as part of an application to the Jamestowne Society through John Eliot Eaton’s descent from Major-General Daniel Gookin (ca. 1612–1687), briefly of Virginia and later of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

About Christopher C. Child

Chris Child has worked for various departments at NEHGS since 1997 and became a full-time employee in July 2003. He has been a member of NEHGS since the age of eleven. He has written several articles in American Ancestors, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and The Mayflower Descendant. He is the co-editor of The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton (NEHGS, 2011), co-author of The Descendants of Judge John Lowell of Newburyport, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2011) and Ancestors and Descendants of George Rufus and Alice Nelson Pratt (Newbury Street Press, 2013), and author of The Nelson Family of Rowley, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2014). Chris holds a B.A. in history from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

8 thoughts on “ICYMI: Bye-bye-bye

  1. I recently had a similar experience. Spurred by a recent article in American Ancestors on Edward Converse I decided to respond but first thought I should double check the two lines. I had completed that part of my tree about twenty years ago before probate records were available on line. I was able to prove the line up to the most important Mary Wyman, my ancestor who married first Jonathan Fuller of Lynn and then as his widow married my ancestor Isaiah Newhall. I had her as the daughter of Samuel and Mary (Pierce) Wyman. When I checked Samuel Wyman’s will it showed his daughter as Mary Bigelow. It had been an almost perfect match.
    I have looked and looked for the correct Mary Wyman born about 1733 with no success.

  2. I always think that my actual ancestors are so much more interesting than the ones everyone else says I have. If I may, I’d like to address an issue with the chart of your non-ancestors. I have parents of Sgt John Hale as Thomas Hale and Thomasine Dowsett, and grandparents as Thomas Hale and Joan Kirby. Do I have it correct or is your chart showing the correct lineage?

    1. Yes, there a few things wrong in the chart I received. Sergeant John Hale was the son of Thomas and Thomasine (Dowsett) Hale, and the grandson of Thomas and Joan (Kirby) Hale (this last couple never lived in New England, despite what the chart says). See Walter Goodwin Davis, The Ancestry of Phoebe Tilton, pages 193-97 for an accurate and documented summary of these Hale generations https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=wu.89065996662&view=1up&seq=211

  3. I am a descendant of Rebecca Nurse on two lines. I am also related to five of the victims as aunts and uncles. My ancestor (9th great grandmother) Abigail Dane Faulkner was sentenced to be hung as a witch, but was pregnant so was remanded to prison in Boston. Fortunately, the hysteria passed and she was pardoned. I am also descended from the Salem constable who arrested the “witches” as well as the owner of the tavern where the early trials were held. Once you dip your toe into the Salem Andover mess, you find more and more connections. When Abigail Faulkner was in jail, Thomas Morgan, the husband of Martha Carrier (hung 1692) took care of her children. If you are interested in the Salem Witch Trials, go to the online archive of The trials at the University of Virginia. You can search for references to individuals in the court papers.

  4. So nice to see I’m in good company with “family” on my charts that turns out not to be mine. The only actual record my great uncle had of my Maynard ancestry was birth record of Phineas Maynard, who married Mary Farnsworth. I had expanded from his putative parents to many New England ancestors before my first visit to the NEHGS library in Boston, where no less an authority than Gary Boyd Roberts looked at my charts and quickly pointed out that the Phineas I had in my records had married a Mary, but not Mary Farnsworth. That was 25 years ago, and to this day I have not been able to find his parents, although I did find his original 1801 marriage record and births of his first few children in unpublished vital records of Hawley, Mass., at the Boston public library during the same trip. So the Farnsworth line is still intact, and Phineas remains a brick wall.

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