On a recent trip to Salt Lake City, I took along a list of questions to work on. I hoped to demonstrate directly that Alexander Nowell, the prominent English Puritan, actually had interactions with his grandnephew, Increase Nowell of Charlestown, Massachusetts (1593-1655), who was about nine years old when Alexander died in 1602. My first step was to locate and read Alexander’s will.
There was nothing there about Increase, but the will included a lengthy codicil dedicated to the estate of John Deane of Great Maplestead, Essex. In 1585, Alexander was appointed guardian to young John, who was born about 1583. At the time of Alexander’s will, about twenty years later, John would have just reached his majority. I think I must have read Alexander’s will many years ago, but this connection had not then meant anything to me.
The importance is that John Deane was the older half-brother of Margaret Tyndall, who in 1618 would become John Winthrop’s third wife. This marriage took place more than ten years after Alexander Nowell’s death, but an early history of Great Maplestead says that Alexander used to spend his summers at Great Maplestead with the Deanes and Tyndalls in the 1590s. I think I can make a good case that once John Winthrop had the Great Maplestead connection, following his marriage in 1618, he heard many stories about Alexander Nowell, and that the connection with Increase Nowell may go back farther than we had thought.
My proposed book title employs the word pedigrees in two senses, with regard to biological and to intellectual ancestry; in other words, the strands of continuity in Puritan thought that parallel and are intertwined with the family links. As you can see, deep roots and Puritan pedigrees.
Robert Charles Anderson’s new book is tentatively entitled Puritan Pedigrees: The Deep Roots of the Great Migration to New England.