Blended wives

“Two ladies and an officer seated at tea,” 1715. Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

After reading Alicia Crane Williams’ recent post on Nathaniel Glover of Dorchester, I was reminded of a Glover ancestor of my own, Uriah Glover of Long Island, New York. Looking back through my notes and revisiting “all things Uriah,” I recalled that Uriah’s first wife Sarah Hopkins was an alleged descendant of that old tempest himself, Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins.

Since I’m always on the hunt for any elusive Mayflower line, I had to check it out. Unfortunately, I recalled that this possible connection had already been long since debunked, and my chances of picking up another line to Plymouth Rock were (yet again) quickly dashed against said rock.[1] Regardless of those crashing waves, I wanted to take a closer look at the lives of Uriah and Sarah and see what I could find out about them. I figured I could always use another “supplemental” in the General Society of my many unproven lineages anyway. (Wink!)

My ancestor Uriah Glover was likely born about 1704 on Shelter Island in Suffolk County, New York. I found no record of this; just his implied age at the time of his marriage to Sarah Hopkins, and the hint that “the Glovers” had been on Long Island for several decades prior.[2] Their marriage is mentioned in a couple of sources, and while the proof for Sarah’s Mayflower ancestry quickly dissolves, their marriage record gives a reasonable starting point to their lives. However, in looking for any additional records to tell Uriah’s story, the only thing I could find was a transcription of his will and a (presumed) baptismal record for his youngest son Charles in 1749. Uriah’s will, drawn up in 1762, lists bequests to six of his children and to his wife Martha. There is no further mention any wife called Sarah.[3]

Sarah Hopkins’s debunked Mayflower ancestry.

Strangely, and with the usual lack of proof, many family trees divide Uriah’s six children into two groups, three children by each wife. These trees allege a date of death for Uriah’s first wife Sarah (Hopkins) Glover as “sometime around 1736” and attribute the birth of Uriah’s last three children to his wife Martha. Yet I could find no record of Sarah’s death anywhere,[4] and little in the way of birth dates for his children. Additionally, I was unable to locate any marriage record for “the widower” Uriah Glover to anyone (let alone to someone named Martha) before or after the time frame 1726-62. I realize that this doesn’t mean anything, yet it appears that the only proof of the wives of Uriah Glover are in the record of his first marriage to Sarah and that he happened to refer to a wife called Martha when he prepared his will.

Still, the internet trolls be damned! With no death record for Sarah (Hopkins) Glover, and without even the “reasonable hearsay” of a timeline for his wife Martha, many of these family trees go on to blend his two wives into one. In these family trees she is referred to literally as “Martha-Sarah” (Hopkins) Glover. (I suppose this moniker eliminates the problem of no death record for either wife, or for any marriage record of Martha to Uriah.) In these trees this “Martha-Sarah” Glover conglomeration is, like Martha herself, presumed living at the time of probate (1769). This “blended wife” hypothesis then conflicts with trees that assume Uriah’s wife Sarah died circa 1736. Still, the multiple “working theories” of (a) Sarah (Hopkins) Glover died young, (b) his second wife Martha was the mother of three of his children, and (c) that “Martha-Sarah” (whatever genealogical combo-platter with fries that is) actually existed all seem to discount another possibility.

For me, that possibility is that either of his wives could have been the mother of all of his children. While my personal genealogical bias is that Sarah (Hopkins) Glover was the children’s mother, and that he simply married Martha late in life … it truly could be either way. At the time Uriah Glover prepared his will (1762), he would have been roughly sixty years of age, and Sarah was evidently dead. Since there is no answer to the question When did Sarah die?, and since there is no mention of any “Mrs. Martha Glover” before this time (1762), we have no way of knowing who the mother of his children was.

It’s just as easy to postulate that Uriah married Martha in 1726 as it is in 1761. It is also just as reasonable to assume that Sarah (Hopkins) Glover died in childbirth with his last child (son Charles, born in 1749), and that he married Martha post-1749. There is no record that Martha was Charles’s mother. The record only states that Uriah was his father.[5] Because of this, and perhaps just for me, it becomes plausible that Martha was not the mother of any of his children, and that she was only Uriah’s wife at the time he drew up his will.

So, in my effort to clarify “all things Uriah,” I decided to put down what (for me) are the clearest assumptions about Uriah’s life based on the records I was able to find. Believe me, I know that there are and must be other records out there, and that my unorthodox attempt at a quasi-genealogical summary here must be adjusted if not proven wrong. In the meantime, and in the absence of any “blended wives,” I thought I would share with you what I’ve confected with regard to the unsweetened facts of Uriah’s life.


Uriah Glover was born ca. 1704, likely in Suffolk County on New York’s Long Island, and died before 20 November 1769, likely at Roxbury in Morris County, New Jersey. His parents are only speculated. He married, first, at Southold, Suffolk County 26 March 1725, Sarah Hopkins, daughter of William Hopkins and his wife Rebecca Havens.[6] She died after 1726. He married, second (likely at Morris County, New Jersey before 1762), Martha ____.

Uriah Glover names the following children in his will. Their birth order is uncertain:

  1. Rebecca Glover, b. after 1725 and d. after 1769. She m._____Hull, probably a kinsman of her sister Martha’s husband Samuel.[7]
  2. John Glover, b. after 1725 and d. after 1769, possibly the man who m. at Morristown, N.J. 14 Sept. 1747, Martha Lyon.[8]
  3. Deborah Glover, b. after 1725 and d. after 1769.
  4. Uriah Glover, b. ca. 1740[9] and d. at Lost River, Orange Co., Indiana 11 June 1830.[10]
  5. Martha Glover, b. ca. 1744; likely the same woman who m. Samuel Hull ca. 1758-64[11] and d. in Licking Co., Ohio 14 May 1825.[12]
  6. Charles Glover, bp. at Morristown, N.J. 6 Aug. 1749 and d. after 1769; n.f.r.

Now, I wish I could tell you that I have miraculously found the hidden key that not only fills in the blanks for Uriah and Sarah but also somehow connects my Glover kin back to Stephen Hopkins; obviously I can’t do that yet. What I hope to have done is to ‘distill the facts,’ dispelling random birth dates for children and any assumed dates (and lives) for wives and mothers along with the way. I also wanted to “banish the blended wife” that I found in Uriah’s tale.

It’s okay to say that “we don’t know” something. Further, if we must extrapolate a genealogical theory, let it be a bare-bones one. If you will, let it be one that doesn’t reflect any more supposition than is necessary, and for God’s sake, please don’t let it be one that comes with any “combo-platter with fries” kinfolk or blended wives. To blend people is to manufacture people to fit any scenario. To accept this means we might as well give up genealogy and go back to logging Big Foot sightings in our own backyard. (No offense to Big Foot, as of course he or she is – or they are – always welcome here!)

A couple of weeks ago, Chris Child mentioned the problem of manufactured middle names and promised a “genealogical rant” about such things. As I complete this post about my ancestor Uriah Glover and my problem with his (often) blended wives, I can see that I may need to do a bit of time in the family history stockade for this myself. However, in attempting to tell Uriah’s story, I still believe that if I can be patient enough for new facts to arrive, I just might get lucky and end up discovering that runaway Mayflower line I’ve been looking for. In any event, there’s an eighteenth-century jailer from Suffolk County, Long Island at my door who time-traveled here to put me in said pillory.

Egads! It seems that I’m being charged with offending a “blended wife” or two. Guess I’d better run!


[1] John D. Austin, F.A.S.G., Mayflower Families in Progress: Family of Stephen Hopkins, 3rd ed. (Plymouth, Mass.: General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 2001), 6: 9. “[No] proof has been found and it appears most unlikely that this man was identical with William Hopkins (1660-1718) of Shelter Island, NY, who married Rebecca Havens.”

[2] Henry B. Hoff, Long Island Source Records from The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1987), p. 259.

[3] Jacob E. Mallman, Historical Papers on Shelter Island and its Presbyterian Church, with genealogical tables… (New York: A.M. Bustard Co., 1899), p. 182.

[4] No source was found to confirm that Sarah (Hopkins) Glover was dead by 1736 (or by any date before or after), only that Uriah Glover had remarried “Martha _____.”

[5] History of the First Presbyterian Church, Morristown, N.J. (Morristown: Banner Stream Print, 1885), 2: 86, for the baptism of Charles Glover, son of Uriah.

[6] There was some discussion that her maiden name is unknown. I have deferred to the reference to her in Austin, Mayflower Families in Progress: Family of Stephen Hopkins, 3rd ed., vol. 6 [Note 1].

[7] By reference to her name in Uriah’s will only.

[8] History of the First Presbyterian Church, Morristown, N.J., 2: 148.

[9] Indiana Magazine of History 35 [1939]: 352, statement made by John B. Glover, great grandson of Uriah Glover II: “My great grandfather was born in Long Island in 1740.”

[10] Margaret R. Waters, Revolutionary Soldiers Buried in Indiana (1949): with Supplement (1954) (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1999), p. 40. See also FindAGrave memorial no. 6649156.

[11] Col. Charles H. Weygant, The Hull Family in America (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1913), p. 275.

[12] memorial no. 103857979 for Martha (Glover) Hull.

About Jeff Record

Jeff Record received a B.A. degree in Philosophy from Santa Clara University, and works as a teaching assistant with special needs children at a local school. He recently co-authored with Christopher C. Child, “William and Lydia (Swift) Young of Windham, Connecticut: A John Howland and Richard Warren Line,” for the Mayflower Descendant. Jeff enjoys helping his ancestors complete their unfinished business, and successfully petitioned the Secretary of the Army to overturn a 150 year old dishonorable Civil War discharge. A former Elder with the Mother Lode Colony of Mayflower Descendants in the State of California, Jeff and his wife currently live with their Golden Retriever near California’s Gold Country where he continues to explore, discover, and research family history.

20 thoughts on “Blended wives

  1. Always a pleasure to read. The next time someone says “I cannot stand to read dry lists of ancestors,” I will send that person one of your posts.

  2. Okay. Here is my “genealogical rant” or pet peeve, using your post as an example. The will was probated on 20 November 1869. In your summary you have four of the children dying after 1869. I see similar examples all the time.

    How do we KNOW that each of these four children died AFTER 1869? Why couldn’t one or more of these four children have died on 21 November 1869 or 25 December 1869 or any other day in 1869 after 20 November 1869?

    For that matter, why couldn’t any of these children have died on 20 November 1869 but after the will was probated that day, or even before the probate of the will with Uriah simply not getting around to changing his will to acknowledge the death? Doesn’t the “Lib. K, p. 216” above simply describe what the will says, rather than what the distributions actually were?

    In these situations, I will put in my own sketch that a person either died on or after 20 November 1869 or simply that a person died after 1868.

    1. Well said Dennis, well said. I stand corrected here as the circumstances and format you describe are both logical and practical. I will take your words to heart! Thank you – your words serve to improve all of our work here.

  3. Oh yes!! The when in doubt just blend. I have those. Plural. I stick with my own research and list each – IF I’ve found a reason for a 2nd spouse.

  4. “It’s okay to say that ‘we don’t know’ something.”

    Yes, thank you! I wish more people were comfortable with this idea that sometimes *not enough information* is the only factual conclusion, and anything beyond that is guesswork. Also, informed guesses are not inherently bad, but they should certainly be clearly communicated as guesses. When people are afraid to admit that we just don’t know something, it makes keeping genealogy conclusions honest a more difficult task.

  5. The name Glover and Hull are strongly associated with Massachusetts early history. Perhaps Uriah was not born on LI?

    1. Ah yes, Alicia you have caught me! It is indeed. No doubt, the original theory behind those trees is “probably” correct with regard to both Sarah and Martha. I guess my concern was with “the blending of the wives,” and that I wanted to strip away as much supposition from either of them in so far as I could see it. I wanted to “tear the brick wall down” and start over rather than charge through it (??) Lord, I hope that makes sense! Hey, I really appreciate you weighing in here ACW!!!!

    2. I wondered about that too, although a line of demarcation might equally occur between Uriah and the next oldest child. It might be that Martha was named for her mother, especially if she followed a child named for her father. But I suppose Martha was not an uncommon name at the time…

  6. Descendants of Obed Wm DENHAM have a “slash” first name for his mother that’s NOT a case of “blended wives”, but a woman whose name alternates in records as Hannah or Nancy, so we call her “Hannah/Nancy” or “Nancy/Hannah”. By her first husband, Obed’s father, she had four children. After his death she married a LOWDERBAUGH and had one child, son Miles. She married a third time to a BROOKHEART and had one more child, daughter Amanda. The last two appear in records with some or all of their DENHAM half-sibs as “brother” or “sister”, so we can verify “Hannah/Nancy” was the mother of all six. Much of the verification of the sibs’ relationship came from the letters in the archives of historical society from a Civil War soldier named VARNER to the “folks back home” in which he referred to several of Hannah/Nancy’s children as “cousins”. After much head-scratching we figured out the soldier was a paternal first cousin of Miles or Amanda, and per local customs he considered their half-sibs his cousins too. All this to say not all “important” records will be found in the dusty stacks in the back rooms of courthouses. The historical society accepted the Varner Letters as an addition to their CW History files, not for their genealogical value.

  7. I hate it when I see this, too. In the late 1800s, a Willoughby genealogist said one of their early women married a Canfield—”probably Samuel,” with no evidence. Jacobus promptly perpetuated the theory, even though their Willoughby was named Sarah and Samuel’s wife was known as Elizabeth. Thousands of family trees name Elizabeth Sarah Willoughby as Samuel’s wife, in order to get around this inconvenient fact.

    It never made sense to me, since the Willoughbys were in Boston at the time and the Canfields were Puritans in southwestern Connecticut. A few researchers have discovered a daughter Elizabeth Canfield listed in a Miles Merwin will. The families hung out in the same places with the same people, so that’s what I’m going with. I’ve found that mapping is a huge help with breaking down these colonial issues.

    But genealogical change is slow. I’ve found that once people have a name in their tree, they’re usually reluctant to go back and look at it again.

    1. Some of the mid-1800s Willoughbys settled temporarily in the Agenda, Kansas area long enough to marry into my Penticos and have a cemetery named after them before moving on to Oregon. I’ll have to check my Pentico-Willoughby notes for Elizabeths!

      1. Samuel and Elizabeth married about 1669 in New England, so that field is pretty limited. Two researchers published their findings on this puzzle in The Register, finding that Sarah Willoughby likely married Samuel’s cousin Nathan instead.

        “The Camfield Husband of Sarah Willoughby and the Wife of Samuel Canfield, of Norwalk, Conn.”, MacEwen (1964)

        “Genealogical Notes: The Canfield, Willoughby and Merwin Marriages,” Denison (1984)

  8. Thank you for this. I have a number of 17th ancestor families with multiple wives and children seeming to be spread out – with the the records it is frustrating. Things seem to get much better in the 18th c. and so I appreciate your thoughts on this subject.

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