The wrong Blood!

My recent post on “Philoprogenitive ancestors” resulted in several comments from readers about their own ancestors with many children. I mentioned my ancestor Simon Willard, and one reader also noted him as her own ancestor through his daughter Elizabeth. I was planning to comment back to the reader with my full line of descent (also going through Elizabeth, wife of Robert Blood), but before doing so I did a quick verification of the lineage as I had it. Long story short, Simon Willard can now be classified as one of my Former Ancestors.

“Blood’s Farms,” as shown on a historic map of Concord, Massachusetts.

The problem generation concerned my ancestors Josiah Nutting and Mary Blood, who married at Groton, Massachusetts on 13 December 1742. My family information (which was largely taken from research undertaken by my maternal great-aunt) had noted this Mary Blood was born at Groton on 9 December 1725, daughter of Ebenezer and Abigail (Chamberlain) Blood. Ebenezer was the great-grandson of Simon Willard. However, while there is a documented birth for Mary Blood in Groton in 1725 and a marriage for a woman of the same name there on 1742, I found a few online trees claiming the 1725 Mary was instead married to David Lowell, and that my Mary Blood who married in 1742 was instead the Mary Blood born at Groton on 23 August 1708, daughter of Joseph and Hannah (Sawyer) Blood. If the last part was true, then this Mary married at 34 years old. Which Mary Blood was mine?

Which Mary Blood was mine?

Fortunately, this was not difficult to resolve, in part thanks to resources now available online that were not as easily available when my great-aunt researched this family forty years ago. Within our online collection of Middlesex County, Massachusetts Probate File Papers was the estate of Ebenezer Blood in 1745, which listed his children as subscribers on a document from 1 May 1749 (see above). Ebenezer’s daughter is called Mary Lowell! So much for this Mary being my ancestor. Bye-bye Simon Willard!

To the question of who my Mary Blood actually was, I was led to a book published in 1960 (which I should have looked at years ago), The Story of the Bloods: Including an Account of the Early Generations of the family in America in genealogical lines from Robert Blood of Concord and Richard Blood of Groton by Roger Deane Harris. Concerning the Mary Blood born at Groton in 1708, Harris gives that Mary as the wife of Josiah Nutting, and he provides significant documentation to support this conclusion! Harris suspected this Mary’s father Joseph Blood had moved from Groton to Harvard, Massachusetts and had a second family after his first wife’s death (including a second daughter Mary), and abstracted all documents relating to this Joseph Blood’s family over ten pages. The key document concerning my ancestor Mary (Blood) Nutting is from Worcester County Deeds, 27:328, summarized here:

There it is! Among the “Heirs of Mrs. Hannah Blood” are my ancestors Josiah Nutting and wife Mary, so my Mary did marry Josiah at 34 years of age! Thank you, Roger Deane Harris.

Despite being both born in Groton, the two Mary Bloods were not even from the same Blood immigrant ancestor. The 1725 Mary4 Blood (Ebenezer3, Robert2-1) descended from Robert of Concord, Massachusetts, while my 1708 Mary4 Blood (Joseph3, Nathaniel2, Richard1) descended from Richard of Groton. Both Robert and Richard were from the vicinity of Nottingham, England, so while a kinship is possible, the two immigrants had no known interaction in Massachusetts.

I do get some new ancestors out of the deal, including Robert Long of Charlestown, Massachusetts, a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, and an early innholder and tavern keeper who owned the Three Cranes Tavern, which stayed in the Long family for 140 years until 1775, when most of downtown Charlestown was burned to the ground in the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Josiah and Mary (Blood) Nutting are my maternal ancestors. Interestingly, the parents of my Mary’s mother Hannah (Sawyer) Blood, Thomas and Mary (Prescott) Sawyer of Lancaster, Massachusetts, were already my ancestors (twice over) through my father. This makes my parents eighth cousins, once moved, the second closest kinship I have found to date. Bloody good!

About Christopher C. Child

Chris Child has worked for various departments at NEHGS since 1997 and became a full-time employee in July 2003. He has been a member of NEHGS since the age of eleven. He has written several articles in American Ancestors, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and The Mayflower Descendant. He is the co-editor of The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton (NEHGS, 2011), co-author of The Descendants of Judge John Lowell of Newburyport, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2011) and Ancestors and Descendants of George Rufus and Alice Nelson Pratt (Newbury Street Press, 2013), and author of The Nelson Family of Rowley, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2014). Chris holds a B.A. in history from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

18 thoughts on “The wrong Blood!

  1. Thank you for your comments about your “former ancestor”. I came across mention of one of my former ancestors just today and was reminded how painful it was to remove that whole line, which of course went back to royalty. But now I know that other ancestors were congregants of Rev. Peter Bulkeley, so there’s that. Maybe I will find another connection some day!

  2. Your journey with this family’s “Blood-line” (sorry, I couldn’t help it!) made this newbie amateur genealogist feel much better about all her wrong turns.

    Thanks! The Rev. Beth Wickenberg Ely, PhD

  3. Mr Child, Thank you for this article – and especially for the mention of the book “The Story of the Bloods . . . ” by Roger Deane Harris. I had not known of this book before. My father’s mother was a Butrick, going back to the Concord MA group. We have the Butrick book by Richard P Butrick 1979. John Buttrick (a653/) married Mary Blood (1654/5 – 1723 Stow) on 8 Apr 1679. John was a son of William and Sarah (Bateman) Buttrick and Mary was daughter/first child of Robert Blood and Elizabeth Willard that you mentioned in your article, with Elizabeth being the daughter of Maj.Simon WIllard. So I see that makes me a descendant of Simon WIllard. I don’t know anything about him as I had not yet begun researching those lines. I followed your link to google books and perused thru the book and found my Robert Blood of Concord, his wife Elizabeth WIllard, and my John Buttrick of Stow who married their daughter Mary. If you know of anyone working these lines and into Simon WIllard, would you please put them in contact with me? Thank you.
    Betty G

    1. Betty, I have the same couples in my line: Robert Blood/Elizabeth Willard and their daughter Mary married to John Buttrick. I then descend from Joseph Buttrick married to Elizabeth (?????), and their daughter Sarah married to Benjamin Davis. It everntually works it way to Pollards.

  4. Great article. One thing though, to your comment that: “Both Robert and Richard were from the vicinity of Nottingham, England, so while a kinship is possible, the two immigrants had no known interaction in Massachusetts.” I’ve been on the trail of Robert Blood (my direct ancestor) quite intensively for about a decade now. While there is no one “smoking gun” item of evidence, the circumstantial evidence is that Robert and Richard (as well as Robert’s proven brother John) were extremely closely related, with brothers being the most plausible explanation for the evidence. The single biggest known interaction the three had was that they were all co-signers, along with their probable first cousins John and William Lakin, on the 1655 petition to the General Court to establish the town of Groton.

    1. Sorry for my multiple posts. I wasn’t aware comments made over the weekend don’t appear until Monday. I thought something had gone wrong so kept trying. Live and learn.

  5. Hello Christopher, I also descend from Simon Willard via his children by his first wife Mary Sharp(e). Sarah m. Nathaniel Howard (my Mom’s line–Charlestown) & Josiah m. Hannah Hosmer (my Dad’s line–Hartford, CT). Both full siblings of the more known Rev. Samuel Willard.

  6. Hi Again, I also descend from Robert Long — first wife Sarah via daughter, Ann who m. Lt. James Convers(e). I love early New England ties! Thanks for your articles.

  7. Very good article. It really illustrates the problem with even an uncommon surname like Blood in the 17th century. That is, given a very short list of routinely-used given names, you’re going to have a lot of people of the same name in the same area. “James Blood” is even worse – there were four alive at the same time, three in the same town, and two of them died in the same year. A continuous source of confusion.

    To your comment that Robert and Richard had no known interactions in the Mass Bay Colony; in fact Robert and his proven brother John, along with Richard, were among the 10 co-signers on the 1655 petition to the General Court to establish the town of Groton. There is mounting circumstantial evidence that Richard was Robert and John’s elder brother. No smoking gun yet, but I’ve been on the case for several years now and I’m getting closer.

  8. Great article. Really illustrates the problem with even a rare surname like Blood when only a handful of given names get recycled across all branches generation after generation. One comment though: Robert and Richard Blood were co-signers (along with Robert’s proven brother John) on the 1655 petition to the General Court to create Groton. Circumstantial evidence is piling up that they were closely related, with brothers being the most plausible explanation so far.

  9. Hiii there!

    I been doing my family tree on and off for over decade, I started searching again and came across this article. I led my tree back to Robert Blood (parents James Blood& Ellen Harrison) wife Elizabeth Willard (parents Simon Willard & Mary Sharpe. From this article i have a feeling you have more information on them and i would love to chat about it! thank you in advance!

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