An approaching anniversary

Another anniversary is approaching. In April it will be six years since the first Early New England Families Study Project sketches were published on AmericanAncestors. While many of you have been following the project all these years, it is probably a good time to do a little recapping for newer readers.

The Early New England Family Study Project was conceived as a companion to the Great Migration Study Project and a fitting use for the massive compilation done by Clarence Almon Torrey, published by NEHGS in the four-volume New England Marriages Prior to 1700, which is also available as an AmericanAncestors database. Torrey’s work covers information gleaned from thousands of books, periodicals, and manuscripts in the NEHGS library about couples who lived in New England from 1620 through 1700. The total number of marriages treated by Torrey is estimated to be 37,000!

The Great Migration Study Project, begun by Robert Charles Anderson in 1988, treats individuals and their families who came to New England from 1620 through 1640, grouped by year of arrival. Early New England Families was assigned everyone else, to be arranged by year of marriage beginning with 1641. While this seemed like a practical idea at the time, to me at least [okay, those of you who expressed doubts get a nickel], it turned out to be much too awkward for any number of reasons.

Many of the couple’s dates of marriage are unknown, which means that vague estimates have to be used – which makes it difficult to arrange sketches strictly by date. Many of the individuals who arrived after 1640 were married before they emigrated, but I had not counted them in my original survey, when I was concentrating on marriages in New England. I had also not fully included the second generation of Great Migration immigrants, only briefly treated as children of “featured” individuals in that project, who all have to be treated on their own in Early Families, regardless of their date of marriage.

In these first five years of the project, one hundred sketches of Early New England families have been published in the database on AmericanAncestors. The first fifty were also printed in book form in 2015 as Early New England Families 1641-1700, Volume 1, and the second volume covering the next fifty families is being prepared for publication in 2019.

...I am expanding my research to include groups of families and/or neighbors with common research sources in order to be more efficient with my time.

Starting with the third set of fifty sketches, I have made some adjustments. I am still beginning with couples who were married by 1642, but I am expanding my research to include groups of families and/or neighbors with common research sources in order to be more efficient with my time.

The new sketches will also be trimmed down a little, although by no means sacrificed to expediency. Longer transcriptions of wills, deeds, or other biographical material will be abstracted or cross-referenced to sources in which they were previously published. Information on family members who are treated in Great Migration or other Early New England Families sketches, or well documented in periodical articles, particularly those published in the Register, will also be cross-referenced to avoid duplicating what is already in print.

The first cluster, which I call the “Lord Cluster,” will have four sketches that will all be published at the same time in the next month: William Lord of Hartford and Saybrook, Connecticut; his second wife, Lydia (Buckland) Browne; her first husband, John Browne of Rehoboth; and Lydia’s third husband, Thomas Dunk of Saybrook. I think you will find this group quite interesting. In future posts I will fill you in on some of the tribulations and successes of the new system.

Alicia Crane Williams

About Alicia Crane Williams

Alicia Crane Williams, FASG, Lead Genealogist of Early Families of New England Study Project, has compiled and edited numerous important genealogical publications including The Mayflower Descendant and the Alden Family “Silver Book” Five Generations project of the Mayflower Society. Most recently, she is the author of the 2017 edition of The Babson Genealogy, 1606-2017, Descendants of Thomas and Isabel Babson who first arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637. Alicia has served as Historian of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, Assistant Historian General at the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and as Genealogist of the Alden Kindred of America. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in History from Northeastern University.View all posts by Alicia Crane Williams