Three new sketches have been uploaded to the Early New England Families database for Tristram Coffin, his mother, and one of his sisters.
Tristram Coffin, age 32, and his wife Dionis (Stevens) Coffin, about the same age, brought their five children – ranging in age from 12 to 1 – from Brixton in Devon to New England by October 1642, when the death of the youngest child was recorded in Haverhill. They had four more children born in New England.
Also travelling with Tristram and his family was his widowed mother, Joan (Kember) Coffin, about age 58, whose husband Peter Coffin had died in 1628 leaving her with seven children and one “on the way.” (That child, unfortunately, died, probably soon after birth.) Although Tristram, then age eighteen and the eldest child, was heir to a significant estate from his father, he would choose to leave England just at the time when the “Great Migration” of Puritans abandoning England because of persecution by the King was ending.
The Puritans were now strong enough to engage with the Royalists supporting the King in the “Parliamentary Wars” that would lead to the overthrow and death of the King, and the establishment, at least briefly, of the “Commonwealth” under Oliver Cromwell. Tristram, who was a Royalist, was removing his family from the dangers of the war. The efficacy of his decision to leave home was almost immediately confirmed by the death of his only surviving brother, John Coffin, in the Siege of Plymouth that began in 1642.
Two of Tristram’s unmarried sisters, Eunice and Mary, also came to New England with the family group. A family manuscript states that Eunice married a William Butler, about whom we know nothing. He was not the man of that name who settled in Hartford.
Mary Coffin married Alexander Adams, a shipwright of Boston, and they had seven children. After Alexander’s death in 1677, the manuscript tells us Mary married William Wade of Boston, about whom we also know very little, and we do not know what became of them after that.
He eventually became the Governor of Nantucket and was the second richest man on the island – after his son Peter Coffin.
Tristram Coffin was an influential member of the New England community, living in Salisbury, Haverhill, and Newbury before buying, with several of his sons, a large chunk of Nantucket Island. He eventually became the Governor of Nantucket and was the second richest man on the island – after his son Peter Coffin. The family intermarried with other founding families of Nantucket, including the Starbucks. Daughter Mary (Coffin) Starbuck, wife of Nathaniel Starbuck, became a noted Quaker preacher and leader of the Quaker community on the Island.
If we restrict our genealogical story to just one line of descent, we risk missing a great deal of important and interesting family lore. Much better to start now and make a regular habit of fleshing out your genealogical skeletons with extended family connections while you are researching. You never know what, or who, you may find!
 Romola Johnson Cristal, “The Parkman Family Bible,” The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 138 : 134; “The Parkman Manuscript,” The Essex Genealogist 8 : 172; Robert Charles Anderson, George Freeman Sanborn, Jr., and Melinde Lutz Sanborn, The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England 1634-1635, 3 vols. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1999), 1: 516.