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Nathan Holmes of Hamilton, New York

I’ve finally gotten around to turning my web pages about Nathan Holmes into an actual document, with source citations. Nothing that would ever be mistaken for a professional article or anything, but at least it’s something that can be printed, handed off to Luddites, stuck in a safety deposit box for five hundred years, whatever, and it has some indication where to find the evidence supporting the story (though, perhaps, you’ll have to check different repositories five hundred years from now). I expect to continue tweaking this document until I’m too dead to work on it any more but it’s available in its current form, in PDF format, at, which should redirect to


Lawyers and Gentlemen

Hm. I got the idea of doing some searching for Ham[m]ond[e] in the AALT indexes and found a couple sort of interesting entries:

From 1510:

Side Image County Pleas Plaintiffs Defendants
f 887 Essex common recovery Meyny, John, gent; Strangman, John, senior; Hern, John; Edmond, John; Purfotte, Thomas; Baker, Thomas Hamond, Reginald, gent

That’s presumably our man Reggie right there in the Defendants column. “Common recovery” is the term for a hilariously underhanded way to get around an entail on a property (that is, its automatic passing by operation of law to an heir pre-determined by the settlement deed). As explained on Wikipedia:

As a preliminary, there needed to be a conveyance of the land. The owner (in tail) of the land A conveyed it to someone else B (known as the tenant in precipe) to the intent that a third person C (known as the demandant) might sue for it. C accordingly issued a writ against B. In court, B defended his right saying (correctly) that he had acquired it from A. A (now called the vouchee) was called upon to vouch for his right to the land. He alleged that he had acquired it from D (a person known as the common vouchee). D asked for time and failed to appear subsequently; alternatively, he dashed out of the court. In either case, the judgment was that C should recover the land, and that D should compensate B with land of equal value. However, D was chosen because he was a ‘man of straw‘ with no property at all, so that the judgment against him was valueless, and it was never enforced. The result was thus that C recovered land in fee simple, which A had owned in only fee tail; thus, the entail was barred.

And from 1536:

Side Image County Pleas Plaintiffs Defendants
f 2643 London debt de Vere, Elizabeth, Countess of Oxford Hamond, Brisingham, of Parva Regn, Essex, gent

Plaintiff Elizabeth here would have been the former Elizabeth Trussell, wife (second wife, of course!) of John de Vere, the 15th Earl of Oxford, and mother of John de Vere, the 16th Earl of Oxford — hence the mother in law of Margery Golding. Defendant Brisingham Hamond? No clue, except he’s mentioned as being from Colchester in a property transaction from the same year. Selling, maybe to pay off the Countess? Anyway, I’m guessing he was related to Reggie. And what and where is Parva Regn? Also no clue.



Ladies and Gentlemen

This is apropos of nothing whatsoever, really, but I find it just interesting enough to mention it.

One of the Holmes in 15th century London was Sir Thomas Holme, Clarenceaux King of Arms from 1476–1493. Not necessarily any relation to my male line, but not necessarily not, either. A later holder of that office (1534–1536) was Thomas Tonge, who lived from 1480 to 1536. His wife Susanna White evidently was born about 1510 in Hutton, Essex and died around 1565. Since that seems to make her younger than Elizabeth Tonge, a daughter of Thomas born, almost certainly, before 1500, presumably she was not his first wife, but she’s the only one recorded.

Elizabeth also was married more than once. Her second husband was John Golding, and their third child was a daughter named Margery, born about 1526 in Belchamp St Paul, Essex. Elizabeth died in 1527 and John continued our trend by marrying again, to Ursula Marston. As for Margery, she married Edward de Vere, 16th Earl of Oxford (1516–1562) as his (wait for it) second wife. She became the mother of the 17th Earl, and after the Earl died she (yep) married again, to Sir Charles Tyrrel (d. 1570). Sir Charles, if the information I have here is right (don’t count on it), was a great great grandson of William Tyrell, brother of the elder Humphrey Tyrell and uncle of the younger Humphrey, one of whom was one of the feoffees on William Holme’s property purchase in Ramsden Bellhouse, Essex, in 1499.

And as for Elizabeth’s first husband, he was Reginald Hammond, or Hammonde, or Hamonde, and he presumably is the same Reginald Hamonde, Gentleman, who wrote his will in 1514 in… Ramsden Bellhouse.

Ramsden Bellhouse seems a pretty small and insignificant place, but here it is connected with the Clarenceaux King of Arms and the Earl of Oxford. I have no evidence William Holme, presumed son Thomas, or the latter’s brother John (the humble and indebted tailor — indebted in 1529, in fact, to one Edward Tyrell; no guesses from me how he was related to Sir Charles) had anything to do with either, or with Reginald Hammond, but maybe they weren’t as isolated from the outside world as I thought.

King revived

I was looking at this site and discovered something forgotten: A draft of a blog post nearly 3 years old. I think I was holding off on completing it and posting it pending, I hoped, confirmation John COOK’s wife was indeed Barbara KING. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten that confirmation.

Well, with some light editing, here it is:

I went through the deed records for the 28 Chenango County land transactions involving Charles KING I could find. In most of them the parties of the first part — the grantors — included the wives. They were never included in the grantees, though. Which probably says interesting things about societal views of both women and property, but let’s not get into that.

In two land sales in 1812, and the aforementioned one in 1817 (with most of the children of Gideon and Jane COOK as grantors), Charles’s wife is listed as Susannah. There’s one sale in 1819 (the aforementioned one with George KING, John COOK, and two others) where no one’s wife is mentioned. Then in all but two of Charles’s twelve sales from 1821 on, his wife’s name is given as Sally. In one sale, in 1834, her name is given as Sarah — but she apparently signed it Sally. Then in Charles’s last land transaction, in 1843, no wife’s name is mentioned at all.

So that seems pretty clear. Charles was married first (or earlier, anyway) to Susannah COOK. Assuming for now they didn’t divorce, Susannah must have died between 1817 and 1821, and Charles married someone named Sarah, nicknamed Sally. She perhaps died in 1842 or 1843, and Charles perhaps died soon after.

Apropos of nothing, but just interesting, was a record from 1823:

Whereas Charles King… did… present a petition to John Tracy Esquire, first Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in and for the County of Chenango, showing that William R. King, late of said town and county, was indebted to him in the sum of one hundred dollars and upwards above all discounts. And that the said William R. King had departed this state, or was concealed within the same, with intent to defraud his Creditors. And also, praying for a warrant from said Judge in pursuance of the Statute in such Cases made and provided to the Sheriff of said County, commanding him to attach and safely keep all the estate, real and personal of the said William R. King in whatsoever part of said County the same might be found…

And so on, the outcome of which was that 75 acres of land belonging to William R. KING, who along with Elhanan W. KING had purchased land from George KING and who I suppose was a son or grandson of George, was seized by the county and sold to Charles, who almost immediately sold it (with George and Elhanan also listed as grantors) at a substantial profit.

Quite the family. This, and single mothers in two consecutive generations… maybe I shouldn’t assume Susannah and Charles weren’t divorced. It’d fit the 19th century soap opera they look like they were living.

All right. Still don’t have documentation of the name of John COOK’s wife but let’s just assume for the moment she was indeed Barbara KING.

In principle she could have been daughter of someone other than George KING. I don’t believe it. Who? She almost certainly didn’t marry until around 1804 or perhaps a year or two earlier, but that means her marriage to John happened while he was living in Norwich. She probably lived there too. But excluding John and George H. KING (they came from Massachusetts, not Rhode Island, and had no daughters named Barbara) and Hiram KING (John’s son, and too young), the only KING left in the 1800 or 1810 Norwich census was George. He came from Glocester, RI. He was old enough to be Barbara’s father. From the censuses it’s clear he lived very near Gideon and John COOK. So did Charles COOK, who was probably George’s son, certainly George’s partner in some land transactions, and husband of John’s sister Susannah.

I just don’t believe there was some phantom KING lurking around, providing a daughter to marry and no other trace.

So, all right, I’m taking it as more or less established that Barbara was George’s daughter. Let’s inquire into George.

As noted, there were triplets born in Scituate, RI on 25 Nov 1755: Hope, Patience, and George KING, children of Isaac KING. I don’t know what became of Hope, but Patience married Benjamin ALDRICH and, as I mentioned in a comment on my previous post, they moved to Norwich, NY! Here’s her gravestone: From the censuses it seems they didn’t live particularly close to George, but they did live in the same town.

In addition, another child of Isaac, also named Isaac, lived for a while in Chenango County. Not in Norwich, but it appears at least one and maybe a few of his children were in Norwich — an Appleby KING is there in the census for 1830 and 1840, and I’m guessing that was Isaac’s son of that name.

And there was an Isaac KING living in Norwich, in 1820, very close to George and Charles. He was a head of household. (And he was, if the census is to be believed, between 10 and 15 years of age! There were other members of the household including a woman age 25 to 44, but Isaac was named as head. Strange.) Most likely a grandson of George; named after George’s father?

But, as I said, there unfortunately is a gravestone in Scituate for George — or so it’s reported.

However, I’m having doubts. I can’t find any other good references for George’s death in 1756. I can find another listing for the same cemetery. It shows two fewer burials than Absent are the triplets’ father Isaac, and George. That site looks to be fairly carefully and thoroughly done. I trust it more. Face it, is a useful resource, but is prone to errors — if there isn’t a legible picture of the inscription, it’s best regarded with skepticism. I’ve communicated with the creator of the page for George’s grave, but she hasn’t settled my concerns.

Isaac died in 1757. He wrote a will, but he wrote it in 1752, so not surprisingly he failed to mention the triplets. His wife, Sarah MOON KING, survived him and married Joseph JENCKES. I’ve seen no mention of a will written by either that might name George, but there is mention of estate proceedings, the records of which might name next of kin.

Unfortunately I’m spoiled; for most of New York, microfilmed probate and land records are available online at Not so for Rhode Island. So to adequately research George, I’d have to do one of four things… order microfilms from Salt Lake City and view them at the local Family History Center, a painfully long, slow process; carve out time to go spend a few weekdays in the Providence County courthouse; hire a Providence area genealogist to do the searching for me… or punt until such time as the microfilms get digitized and put online. None of which, almost three years after writing the first draft of this post, has yet happened. But at least I’m posting this.



A crack in the Dunn wall? (part 2)

A little more digging. Per Findagrave, Comfort RECORD buried in Smyrna, Chenango, New York died 1850 age 82 (so born around 1768). He had a daughter Ruth RECORD (1792–1862) who married a BARBER and a son Joseph S. RECORD (1796–1862). Joseph was in the 1855 state census; he was born in Rhode Island. He was in Chenango by 1807. Could have been in Petersburg, Rensselaer, New York in 1800.

So this Comfort RECORD, who could be the same as the Richmond, RI head of household in 1790, had a daughter Ruth, but of course being the same age as Anna DUNN she’s sort of out of the running to be her mother. Then John RECORD of Richmond in 1790 is our best candidate for our Ruth RECORD’s father, and Anna RECORD of Richmond in 1800, born 1745 or earlier, could be Ruth’s mother. If so then Smith BAILY next door(ish) seemingly wasn’t her brother, but maybe he was a cousin. Alternately, perhaps Anna was John’s sister or other relative, and the second over-45 woman in Anna’s household was Ruth’s mother, one of Smith’s sisters.

Well, it all seems possible.

A John DUNN and a John P. DUNN (or DUN) household lived in Smyrna in 1810 and 1820; John P was still there in 1830. John was the elder of these, born 1765 to 1774; in 1810 there were two women 16–25 in his household. (Anna DUNN would have been 17 then; she married Solomon COLLINS in January 1820.)

A crack in the Dunn wall?

I’ve been thinking about John DUNN and Ruth RECORD again lately, poking through FamilySearch (I’m not paying for at the moment). May have finally hit something.

This is to some degree because I recently got an email from someone researching BORDEN. Solomon COLLINS was a grandson of Elizabeth BORDEN, sometimes also spelled BURDEN apparently, and his first child was named Solomon Burden COLLINS.

While looking that up, though, I noticed his second child was Sally Bailey COLLINS. There don’t appear to be any BAILEYs in Solomon’s ancestry that I know of. (None of his grandparents, anyway; I’m missing one great grandmother’s surname.) But…

Anna DUNN was Solomon’s wife; John DUNN and Ruth RECORD were her parents, and I’ve started to persuade myself they were from Richmond, RI. There was a John DUNN there, and a John and a Comfort RECORDS, in the 1790 census as heads of household.

Were there BAILEYs? In 1790, heads of household named BAILEY lived in Kent (East and West Greenwich, Coventry, Little Compton), Providence, Newport (Newport, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Middletown), and Washington (North Kingston and… Richmond). Just one in Richmond, named Smith BAILY, on page 132, and the very next name in the census is: John RECORDS. Comfort RECORDS is four households further down.

Well, that’s interesting.

Smith BAILEY was born 1745 in Richmond, son of Richard BAILEY and Abigail WOODMANSEE. He seems not to be listed in the 1800 census. At Geni there are no wives or descendants listed for Smith, and the 132 descendants shown for Richard include no DUNNs or RECORDs. So I’m not sure yet what to make of this, but if this is coincidence it’s a whopper of one.

Speculation time? My hypothesis was:

Anna DUNN (b. 1792) had parents John DUNN and Ruth RECORD; parents of Ruth were John RECORD and Anna _____. John DUNN and Ruth RECORD probably were born ca. 1760 so John RECORD would have been born around 1730.

Presumably the BAILEY in the family, if there was one, wasn’t very far back, so … maybe Anna BAILEY was the name of the wife of John RECORD. Recall there was an Anna RECORD head of household in Richmond in 1800. She was over 45, and if she was Ruth’s mother she too would have been born probably around 1730 or so. Before Smith. Unhappily the known daughters of Richard BAILEY don’t include an Anna. Hm. Okay, the idea needs some work.

John Holmes article published

Finally, Denwood Nathan Stacy Holmes’s article, ‘“The Black Sheep of Some Good Family”: The Essex Ancestry of John Holmes, Gentleman, Messenger of the Plymouth Court’ has been published in the Spring 2017 New England Historical and Genealogical Register. I’m not a member of NEHGS and haven’t seen the actual published article, but I’ve seen various drafts including a recent one presumably very similar if not identical to it. I’ve been awaiting this article since December 2014 when Denwood sent me a draft after I contacted him about his post at which sketches the arguments he makes more thoroughly in the new article.

Up until the more recent drafts the article was a good deal longer; NEHGS lately decided they wanted him to split it into two. So there’s a good deal more information about John’s Essex ancestry still to be published. More importantly, I think, there’s additional evidence connecting John of Plymouth with Thomas of Colchester. It seems incongruous to me that they didn’t want that in the first article, but that was their decision.

I’ve withheld discussion of Denwood’s findings in any detail while awaiting publication, and now I guess I’ll still not write about some of it until the second part appears eventually. But to give you the gist of it:

John of Plymouth arrived there by 1632, but after 1629. His son John is documented; Nathaniel is not identified in the records as his son but has generally been believed to be (and yDNA of descendants of both sons match.) Likewise the Sara Holmes who died in 1650 is believed to be John’s wife. John was Messenger of the Plymouth Court, a position whose duties included that of jailkeeper. He’s referred to as “Mister” and “gentleman” and was better off financially than the majority of the Plymouth colonists, but he apparently had a drinking problem and was the plaintiff in a couple of what now would be called nuisance lawsuits, leading to speculation he was “the black sheep of some good family”. But which family was unknown.

Mackenzie in 1912 asserted John was the son of a Thomas Holmes from Colchester, but didn’t offer any evidence. There was indeed a Thomas Holmes, maltster, from Colchester whose son John was baptized in 1603, but was this the same John? The only known connection between John of Plymouth and the town of Colchester was that he had an indentured servant from there. Thomas also was a “Mister” or “gentleman”, indicating elevated social status, and he was keeper of the Essex county gaol in Colchester Castle, an intriguing similarity, but not conclusive.

Then a few years ago Denwood found the will, dated 1652, of Susan Morton, daughter of Thomas and widow of Tobias Moreton. Her principal legatee was Thomas son of her brother John Holmes, but she also mentions two other sons of John: John and Nathaniel. John is a common enough name, of course, especially among sons of men named John, but the biblical name Nathaniel was uncommon at the time — and principally used in Puritan-leaning families of which Thomas the maltster’s seems to have been one.

Tobias Moreton’s will was written in 1629 and witnessed by both Thomas and John Holmes. This is the last evidence of John in England — meshing pretty well with the timing of the first appearance of John in Plymouth. The year before, the birth of John son of John and Sarah Holmes — another name match — was recorded; Thomas son of John was enrolled in Colchester School in 1641, but it appears by then he was being raised by his aunt Susan.

As for John’s black sheep status, that seems amply confirmed. In Thomas’s will his modest bequest appears to have been added as an afterthought, and Susan’s will has this juicy stipulation:

And my mind and will is that my said nephew Thomas Holmes shall yearly pay out of the premises to his father, my brother John Holmes during his natural life, the sum of five pounds of lawful money of England to be paid to him half yearly by equal portions, viz. at Michaelmas and at the our Lady Day each year, or within twenty days next after either of the aforesaid times. And if the said John Holmes my brother shall any way sue, molest, or trouble my said nephew his son, for any matter or thing whatsoever touching or concerning my estates other than for the non due payment of his yearly legacy aforementioned, then my mind and will is that the said John my brother shall be deprived of all benefit of this my will.

Whatever John did or failed to do to antagonize his sister is unknown, but it must have been serious. Serious enough to send him and his wife to America, leaving their son behind? Maybe.

So, comparing John of Plymouth and John of Colchester: Names of two sons match. Names of wives match (but see below). One was a jailkeeper and the other was son of one. Both were “gentlemen”. Both had Puritan connections. Both had Colchester connections. One disappeared from England shortly before the other appeared in America. Both seemed to be “black sheep”. If that’s not enough, as I said, wait for the second article for more evidence the two were the same.

Denwood mentions a couple of interesting possibilities in his article: First, though young Thomas’s mother was “Sarah” and John of Plymouth’s wife was “Sara”, were they the same woman? There was a gap of about eight years between the births of Thomas in Colchester and John in Plymouth, maybe accounted for by John’s marrying twice. There’s also the question of where John was when he died. There’s no record of his death or burial. He was last mentioned (as living) in Plymouth in 1651, and perhaps the wording of Susan’s will suggests he was back in England in 1652.