Wyman Genealogy – Paternal Grandfather Charles Percival Wyman, from East Pubnico, Nova Scotia - Overview
I am just about at the end (later edit: no I wasn’t), at the arbitrary boundary I have set of stopping once a line has crossed the Atlantic and I can see where in England – almost always England – that group comes from. I traced some lines on Jean’s father’s side back well into the 13th C and now regret it. It’s unreliable, with way too many people living to be more than a hundred; or being born in one place, moving 300 miles away to get married and have their first child, then moving back home to have six more children, including the last one at 47 years old, and then die there. And oh yes, the names don’t quite match, record to record. But mostly, I just don’t care that much. Not anymore. Every time I think I am at the end, I see there is another line I haven’t followed. I think there are over 1000 names that I’ve entered in ancestry at this point. The fun part of genealogy at close relations is to know the stories. I’m sure some of these 1000 people have simply awesome stories, too. Yet at this point I am not curious. I like looking at the broad sweeps of things, though, so I will have a stab at tying our people into History.
The short version is yes, we have Mayflower ancestors, including William Brewster, and a few on the next ship, the Anne. We have seven (eight. nine) different lines that trace back to the least-respectable of the Mayflower passengers, Stephen Hopkins, who Shakespeare wrote about in “The Tempest” – five through his daughter Constance and three through his son Giles (and one through daughter Deborah, by second wife Elizabeth Fisher, also a Mayflower passenger). And yes that does mean some second and third cousin marriages back near the beginning. There is a first cousin marriage among the Crowells, and another among the Spinneys which look weird on a tree diagram. John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley were both on the Mayflower and married here. There is probably nobility back earlier in England, which I will mention later, but nothing very big just before everyone came over. Very little else shows up in any line – just Puritans, the occasional Quaker, and the seafarers* that brought them and decided to stay.
The lines that come down closest to us are Wyman, Neat, Eaton, and Crowell. I think that’s pronounced “Crole” or “Cro-ell” not “Crauwell.” In my head I think of those as four large categories. The next-closest are Spinney and Larkin from Nova Scotia, and Robbins and Benton from central Massachusetts. I sort of vaguely think of those as categories of their own, but certainly after that I just regard it as a wash, just name after name. I get far back into a tracing, into Mayo or Waterhouse or Diamond, and I can’t remember what line it’s in. I may just make an alphabetical list of names in our tree at the end.
The Great Migration – The David Hackett Fischer Albion’s Seed overview is very, very good, and I am working from that. Half of the immigrants to New England came from the easternmost parts of England: Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, and Kent. Less often, they came from the counties bordering those: Cambridge, Bedford, Lincolnshire. Lastly, they came from everywhere else in England (not much from Scotland, Ireland, Wales. Those would come later). They trickled in at first, then from 1625 to 1643 20,000 poured into New England, and it stopped abruptly. Because of the English Civil War, after 1643 the Cavaliers went to Virginia instead. Very brief and intense migrations, both. The New Englanders had few with titles and few very poor. Few servants and very few slaves, even though it was legal. It was a middle-class migration of entire families, in contrast to Virginia or Pennsylvania. They arrived at an area that had recently had 70% of its population wiped out by disease. We now know that those were diseases spread by earlier traders, mostly in Maine and the Maritimes, but there was no germ theory them, and the Natives were devastated emotionally as well. Half the villages were empty. It is a typical response when warring tribes encounter a newly arriving tribe, that they don’t band together to fight off the intruder, but tend to each try to use the intruder to their own local advantage. It happened during the Crusades, when some local Arab tribes allied with the Europeans to try to kick out the other Muslims, such as the Seljuks. Ronald Reagan said that if Martians attacked the Earth the nations of the world would band together, but I think he was wrong. We might all calculate whether they would help us against our enemies here. The devastated New England natives often allied with the English in hopes of kicking out Narragansetts or Mohicans. Other tribes favored the French or Dutch traders. The first fifty years were remarkably peaceful between settlers and Natives, especially in contrast to how ugly it was back in Europe or just 100 miles inland in the US among other native tribes. That peacefulness stopped in 1673, and you can begin to see military titles creep in among our ancestors, where they had been absent before.
So, 20,000 intense Puritans and sympathisers; they had lots of children once they started surviving the winters; and hardly anyone else came in for a hundred years after. Our people fit this mold very tightly. They came to Massachusetts, and though a few crept up the coast to Portsmouth or Kittery, it’s mostly all Massachusetts until free land in Nova Scotia showed up - because the English had kicked the Arcadians out and made them become Cajuns in New Orleans instead. Apparently the Miqmaqs were happy at first, because they hated the French. I haven’t asked my Miqmaq friends what the final opinion was on that. Whenever a line of ours doesn’t evaporate and I can get it back before 1640 it goes to England, arrival here a few years before or after 1635. The immigrant ancestor usually came from one of the main counties I mentioned above, and came with family.
Here are the oddities and exceptions. We had a lot of ancestors on Cape Cod, and it is largely from that group that the Nova Scotians came. Many of them were seafarers, which shouldn’t have surprised me. We think of colonists as settling down onto farms or into towns, but of course the money in Massachusetts was being made in trading fish, then other goods. We had very few ancestors from the cities at all. Almost none from Boston, or Salem, or Dedham. There were also a fair number from the North Shore, from Essex and Newburyport and even Hampton. Connecticut shows up twice. Long Island twice. Rhode Island once. Two of the seafarers died in Maryland, and one on a bay in Mexico, but their wives lived after and died here. On the other side of the Atlantic, we did have a disproportionate number of immigrants from Devon and Gloucestershire, I assume sailing out of Bristol. Larkin is an Irish name, and ours was a sea captain from the Isle of Wight, so that may have been a temporary stopover for him. There was one thin line on a branch of the Neats that came from Wales, and a single Welshman on a Crowell line. One Scotsman, no Irish, no French - though “Delano” may be from de Lannoy and Mayo may be from Mahieu (now Mayhew in New Hampshire) and originally around Lille, France. The immigrants from Holland all had English names and were from Leiden between 1620-1650, so likely the Puritan group that settled there.
We do have a nice assortment of Puritan names such as Deliverance, Patience, Hate-evil, Endurance, Mercy, Thankful, and Hope, plus all the obscurer Biblical names such as Ephraim and Bethia. Hatevil Nutter is a name you could not give a Puritan in a book (okay, maybe Kurt Vonnegut or WP Kinsella could get away with it), but it’s real. We have a Captain Jonathan Sparrow, which is very cool. He was son-in-law to Governor Thomas Prence, who changed his name from “Prince” upon arrival because he did not want titles of nobility in the New World. That’s a real founder effect that became part of the new America 150 years later.
Damn. I just found I have only pushed the Neat and Eaton, etc lines back to about 1750. I have a lot more work to do on all those. Maybe an Italian or something will show up there. After all this work I might be only half done.
I found it frustrating to evaluate the efforts of other researchers. They appear in a list of hints, and often are clearly just copying each other. Which is what I am doing, so I’m not complaining, just wary. I paid close attention to records and proofs back through the great-grandparents, but the farther back I go, I just start taking people’s word for it if there seemed to be agreement and few documents. If someone was referencing a DAR or SAR tracing I felt pretty confident about that. But my heart sank when I got back to the original settlers and I kept seeing places of birth in Massachusetts before 1620. These researchers I have been trusting are not keeping track of actual events, such as oh, the Mayflower. It may not be so bad. If someone were to ask them “What’s the earliest Massachusetts date you’re going to accept?” a lot of them might go, “Ohhh, right! Nothing before 1620.” But the fact remains that they didn’t do it. Hopefully, they were just working from a gravestone that said 1598-1642 in Barnstable and just reflexively thought well, I haven’t got anything else, so I’ll just guess Barnstable. BTW, the Puritans still reckoned the New Year as beginning at the vernal equinox, so you will often see records kept that way. Born 1712/13 means born over the late fall and winter, so in our counting Nov 10 would go to 1712, Jan 9 would be 1713. I notice that most of the researchers don’t know this. Or perhaps they are just trying to record on their tree exactly what is written in the primary source.
I’m also not liking what’s being accepted for ages of death, marriage, and childbirth. People living to more than a hundred are rare even now. Very rare then. They must be confusing two people of the same name. Also, women giving birth at 46 – possible, but so many?, or Puritans marrying at 14. Yes, there are cultures that do that, and people sorta wave their hands now and say “Well, they married young then.” But they didn’t. Not in Massachusetts. The average age for men was 26, for women 23. There would be exceptions, especially near the seaports, and people who wouldn’t give a fig what the church in town said, but rare, very rare. Statistic: In Concord, Hingham, and Sudbury from 1650-1680 the number of brides pregnant on their wedding day was zero, as measured by number of births within the next nine months. Zero is a ridiculously low number for whole towns in successive decades. Puritans might have been very open in their diaries about how important and how much fun married sex was, but their strictness otherwise is according to stereotype. No one was letting young people have a moment’s privacy precisely because they knew what would be up with normal people. All that stuff about bundling was over a hundred years later. No minister in Massachusetts was approving marriages at 14 or even 16. So when I saw one with a 44 year old man and his 14 year old wife supposedly being the parents of one of my Waterhouses, I knew that was just nuts. These are friggin’ Puritans. They would have whipped the man for suggesting it. The Quakers were even worse in those days**. There were Quakers on the Cape, and we have a few of those in the tree. Different in those days, busting into churches and pouring blood on the altars. Good times.
Also, too many wide discrepancies in ages. I can swallow a few 36-year-old wives marrying 18-year-old boys, and I don’t know which ones are the mistakes, but there just can’t be that many. Second-cousin marriages in small communities I can generally accept, at least in the first few generations when there just weren’t that many choices. The early Wymans and Richardsons, from neighboring towns in Norfolk, England, seemed to marry each other in Woburn a lot, and in Nova Scotia, Nickersons kept showing up in everyone’s line. It makes the branches a little denser in those areas.
Nobility. The titles get watered down each generation. Only one (or two) gets to be the Earl, and while the others get to be knights, their children don’t always get to inherit the title and in a few generations no one has any honorific. Yet these were the wealthier families, whose children were best fed and didn’t have to do the most dangerous jobs, so they survived at higher rates. Add in that the births of the wealthy were more likely to be recorded and remembered, and it is unsurprising that everyone traces back to some lord or lady. So while I intuitively know that some of these lines somewhere are going to trace back to really cool historical figures, I just can’t be bothered. Some relatives very near in our family tree were not respectable, so borrowing honor and status at a long distance seems very weird.
* We use “seafarers” because it now includes some women, but mostly to avoid the pun.
** If they were giving you a Scarlet A, it was branded into your forehead, later your thumb. Now that’s scarlet.