Renew and Return

Courtesy of Nathaniel Lane Taylor

In my recent post on the Round family of Swansea, Massachusetts, I noted that the forename of my ancestor Renew (Carpenter) Round, was frequently repeated (or renewed). Renew was named for her paternal grandmother, Renew (Weeks) Carpenter, who died in 1703, and was buried in a part of Swansea that is now in Barrington, Rhode Island. She was “Renew the first,” and after my last post I learned from Nathaniel Lane Taylor, editor of The American Genealogist, that her footstone has a story of its own.

Renew (Weeks) Carpenter was buried at Nockum Hill Burial Ground, where her headstone stands today. However, her footstone, shown at left, is in the custody of the Barrington Preservation Society, cataloged as Accession No. 1990.4. Nat showed me the five-page summary explaining how the footstone came into the possession of the Barrington Preservation Society. The summary also noted that Renew “is known to be the ancestor of three United States presidents: James A. Garfield, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. It is a statistical certainty that Renew has thousands – probably tens of thousands – of living descendants today.” I’m grateful that her footstone has been preserved, with a concise summary of interest to Renew’s descendants.

I descend from Renew (Weeks) Carpenter twice through her children Jotham and Elizabeth, making my mother’s paternal grandparents fifth cousins three times removed.

I descend from Renew (Weeks) Carpenter twice through her children Jotham and Elizabeth, making my mother’s paternal grandparents fifth cousins three times removed. This is certainly one of the closer coincidental kinships of my ancestors, as my great-grandparents were from Illinois and New York and married in Kansas. As shown on the chart below, I found the name Renew six times over five generations among descendants of William and Elizabeth Weeks. The six Renews lived between 1660 and 1855.

The longer line of Renews was partially covered in a recently published book I co-authored, Descendants of John Lippitt of Providence and Warwick, Rhode Island. The “last” Renew I found was Renew (Eddy) Howland, who is buried in Webster, Massachusetts, where my parents live today.  The “first” Renew also had a nephew named Return, but I doubt either name had anything to do with overdue library books!

Click on image to expand it.


For further treatment on the Weeks and Carpenter families above, see Mary Lovering Holman, Ancestry of Colonel John Harrington Stevens and his wife Frances Helen Miller, 1: 261-75. For the Eddy generations, see The Eddy Family in America, 114-15, 190 (in addition of the Lippitt genealogy mentioned above).

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.

6 thoughts on “Renew and Return

  1. While not descended from him – but with connections via the Meigs/Stone and Meigs/Bradley/Stone marriages – I’ve been fascinated by Return Jonathan Meigs’ “collection” of names, and how the family carried them along. Like Renew, so much of their time. AND, thanking their parents for names that are easy to find and follow.

  2. Renew (Weeks) Carpenter also had a first cousin once removed (first cousin of her father) Return Clap.

    Chris, I have seen several articles over the last few years stating that Elizabeth, wife of William Weeks, was not Elizabeth Atherton, as asserted in many older genealogies. Can you point me in the direction of the source that demonstrates that error? I have taken the Athertons out of my tree (I also descend from Benjamin and Renew), but I like to have documentation on why past researcher were wrong.

    1. Hi Jim, thanks for pointing out another Return!

      See Volume 1, page 273 of the Stevens- Miller genealogy I mention, available here –

      Elizabeth (______) Weeks married secondly Timothy Mather, who was also widowed. His first wife was Elizabeth Atherton, daughter of Maj. Humphrey and Mary (Wales) Atherton. This probably related in some way to how our Elizabeth’s maiden name was misattributed. I also descend from Humphrey and Mary Atherton through their daughter Isabel, wife of Nathaniel Wales.

  3. My husband discovered the Knockum Hill cemetery when bike riding. He showed me a photo of “an interesting headstone” and I realized it belonged to an ancestor. (I also descend from Jotham and Desire (Martin) Carpenter.) I loved the quiet spot with a beautiful view. Now I’m interested to learn that there is a footstone ; do you know if the “five – page summary” is available anywhere?

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