« AnteriorContinuar »
REASONS FOR GENEALOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS.
[COMMUNICATED FOR THE REGISTER.)
Perhaps at no time since the settlement of our country, has the public mind been so deeply interested in genealogical research as it is at the present. There is now perceived among all classes, a growing disposition to make inquiries respecting the past. The National and State archives are compelled to surrender the treasures which for centuries have been locked up in their musty embrace. On every side individuals are to be found, who are ransacking the homesteads of their fathers, to acquire materials for biography and to settle the questions respecting their ancestors which inquisitiveness suggests.
Some of these individuals appear to be urged on by curiosity alone. If, through their inquiries, they ascertain that they have descended from an old and celebrated family, the discovered fact seems to repay them for all the toil at the expense of which that fact may be brought to light. To establish their claim to descent from some noted warrior of the age of chivalry, or from some distinguished statesman of a later date, they are willing, not only to spend laborious days and sleepless nights, but their purses are open, and their gratitude is freely expressed, to any one who shall furnish them with a link to perfect the chain which may connect them with their supposed ancestors.
A family pride, either innate or acquired, leads other inquirers to their task. It is the height of their ambition to be able to trace their lineage to the first settlers of our country. To have derived their existence from the noble band who left a home rendered insupportable by religious persecution, and crossed the stormy Atlantic in the frail Mayflower, is to them a source of the highest pleasure. In their efforts to establish this derivation, facts of great importance in the local history of our country have been elicited. These efforts have given birth to most of our town histories, whereby materials, invalua. ble to our future historiographers and biographers are preserved from the ravages of time. These men in consequence of their researches become the nuclei of associations for historical, genealogical, and biographical pursuits, which, here and there, are springing into existence. These associations are awakening the mass of the people to a sense of the importance of the objects for which they were formed. Many young men, naturally enthusiastic in every thing they undertake, have caught the spirit of antiquarian research. From them we have much to hope. New modes of investigation may be projected, new plans for arranging and preserving historical and genealogical discoveries may be proposed, and new deductions from these discoveries may be made. Such are some of the advantages which may be confidently predicted as the result of these labors in the genealogical field.
Other inquirers are inclined to the study of genealogy from the argumentum ad pecuniam. The vast amount of property which remains in abeyance in the old world, has arrested their attention. Every announcement of estates wanting heirs stimulates anew their investigations; and the presiding genius of the age suggests to them the possibility of finding themselves entitled to this upclaimed property.
How important, then, that a genealogical record should exist, where
in the heirs of families should have a permanent place! How many bitter controversies respecting heirship would thereby be prevented! How many fraudulent distributions of property would thus be de. feated! How many of those who have been rendered destitute by the deceptions of false claimanis, would be restored to their legal rights, if such a record had been hitherto properly kept !
The disputes of heirs relative to the distribution of estates have frequently occasioned difficulty in our civil courts. In some cases property has been carried to collateral heirs, because lineal descend. ants could not sufficiently prove their derivation, and in other cases, those who would have inherited at law as the representatives of a deceased parent, are excluded by the intrigues of living co-heirs. Frauds, as the reports of our courls attest, have been perpetrated by those, who, from a similarity of name, though unrelated, have enboidened themselves to step in and exclude others who were legally entitled to the property, but who were unable to furnish sufficient evidence to establish their claim.
The steamers from England often bring news of the extinguish. ment of European resident heirs to estates in that country; and much money has been expended in the research of ancestry, by our own citizens, who have imagined themselves to be the true heirs to this property. The families, from which the greater number of these estates descend, are old families; branches of which came to this country prior to the commencement of the eighteenth century, and the trans-atlantic branch of the stock has run out. When this is the case, it is of high importance that the American descendants of these families should be able, clearly and conclusively, to prove their derivation. In this view, is it not a matter of surprise, that until the present year, the publication of a journal which could furnish information of so important a character as that which now demands so great a share of the public attention, has been delayed?
A Register which shall contain " Biographical Memoirs, Sketches, and Notices of persons who came to North America, especially to New England, before. Anno Domini 1700; showing from what places in Europe they came, their Families there, and their descendants in this country;" which shall give "full and minute Genealogical Memoirs and Tables, showing the lineage and descent of Families, from the earliest dates to which they can be authentically traced down to the present time, with their branches and connections,” cannot but be in. valuable. If properly conducted, if the severest scrutiny is exercised by the writers over the materials which come under their notice, in the preparation of genealogical articles, the Register will become an authority in our courts, and will save immense amounts of money to the large number of individuals, who are attempting to trace their descent from European families. The policy of the law which invests, first, lineal descendants with intestate estates, and in the absence of lineal descendants, carries the estates to collateral heirs, in preserence to an escheat to the State, is generally admitted. Were it not so, one great incentive to industry would be destroyed. The desire of securing their offspring against want, is a prevalent characteristic of New England parents. Assiduity and energy in the pursuit of wealth, which have overcome so many obstacles in our inhospitable climate, have their origin in the desire to advance the interests of pos. terity. How desirable, then, in order to carry out these views, does the
Genealogical Register become! Such a publication affords the only perinanent depository for such records as will serve to insure the correct distribution of the property of deceased persons; and no parent who wishes the avails of his labors to be transmitted to his remote descendants can fail to perceive the utility of such a work, or can decline to furnish such information for its columns, as will enable those who come after him to prove their descent.
The frauds continually practised by those who assume to be heirs 10 every unclaimed estate, have become a matter of notoriety in English legal practice; and though there are many estates now in abeyance in England for want of discovered legal heirs, the bar and the bench in England are exceedingly distrustful of the evidence forwarded by claimants in this country. No doubt many of these claimants are sincere in the belief that they are true heirs to those estates; but the evidence upon which that belief is founded generally proves to be of too unsatisfactory a character to procure a judgment of the English tribunals in their favor; whereas, had materials been previously collected and given to the world through the columns of an authoritative periodical, the evidence thus furnished would be almost irresistible to any court of law,
We can ask with confidence the attention of all travellers to this journal. Communications relative to the antiquities of the countries they may visit; descriptions of monuments which exist, with the inscriptions thereon; and such information as they may communicate respecting themselves which may be interesting to ihe families 10 which they belong : all these will be within the scope of this work. It needs but an announcement of these facts, to obtain from those in. terested, communications which will not only throw light upon the pedigree of families, but will contain many accounts interesting 10 genealogists, biographers, and historians, which otherwise would be swept into oblivion; and in this department of the periodical, the public will find amusing, entertaining, and instructive pages. In this view of it, the New England Historical and Genealogical Register should be extensively patronized; and we are happy to learn that thus far it meets with the decided approbation of the community.
“Our ancestors, though not perfect and infallible in all respects, were a religious, brave, and virtuous set of men, whose love of liberty, civil and religious, brought them from their native land into the American deserts." - Rev. Dr. Mayhew's Election Sermon, 1754.
" To let the memory of these men die is injurious to posterity; by depriving them of what might contribute to promote their steadiness to their principles, under hardships and severities." - Rev. Dr. E. Calamy's Preface to his Account of Ejected Ministers.
COMPLETE LIST OF CONGREGATIONAL MINISTERS IN TIIE EASTERN PART OF ROCKING
IIAM COUNTY, NEW HAMPSHIRE, FROM ITS SETTLEMENT TO THE PRESENT TIME; TO-
BY THE REV. JONATHAN FRENCH OF NORTH HAMPTON.
(Continued from page 46.)
EXETER. The settlement of Exeter commenced in 1638. The founder and first minister of the place was the Rev. John Wheelwright, mentioned by Dr. Belknap as a gentleman of learning, piety, and zeal." He came from Lincolnshire, England, and landed at Boston, Ms., May 26, 1636. " He and Mary, his wife, were admitted to the Boston church, on the 12th of June.” A settlement had been made, as early as 1625, at Mount Wollaston, afterwards Brain
In 1634, Boston was enlarged, so as to include 'Mount Wollaston. Mr. Wheelwright became preacher to the people at that place. These circumstances account for his being mentioned in some publications, as having removed to New Hampshire from Braintree ; and in others from the church in Boston. Antinomian sentiments were impuied 10 Mr. Wheelwright. He was a brother of the famous Mrs. Ann Hutchinson, whose Antinomian zeal brought her into public notice. At a Fast in Boston, in December, 1636, Mr. Wheel. wright preached one of the sermons. It gave offence, as it was judged to reflect on ministers and magistrates. He was said to have asserted, “ that they walked in such a way of salvation as was no better than a covenant of works :" and also, that “he exhorted such as were under a covenant of grace to combat them, as their greatest enemies." (Neal's New Eng., Vol. I. p. 186.)
Mr. Wheelwright was suminoned, by the civil court, “lo give in his answer explicitly, whether he would acknowledge his offence, in preaching his late seditious sermon, or abide the sentence of the court." His answer was, “ thai he had been guilty of no sedition nor contempt; that he had delivered nothing but the truth of Christ; and, for the application of his doctrine, that was made by others, and not by himself, he was not responsibie.” (Neal's N. E., I. 190.)
Not being inclined to comply with the request of the court, that he would, "out of a regard to the public peace, leave the Colony, of his own accord,” he was sentenced" to be disfranchised, to be banished the jurisdiction, and to be taken into custody immediately, unless he should give security to depart before the end of March.” Appeal not being admitted, and declining to give bail, he was taken into custody, but released the next day, on " declaring himself wille ing to submit to a simple banishment.”, (Neal's N. E., I, 19.1.)
Mr. Wheelwright, having purchased lands of the Indians at Squamscot Falls, with a number of his adherents began a plantation in 1638, which, according to agreement made with Mason's agent, they called Exeter.
" Having obtained a dismission from the church in Boston, they formed themselves into a church; and judging themselves without the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, they combined into a separate body politic,” &c. (Belknap, I. 37.). This combination continued three years. The names of those dismissed from Boston were John Wheelwright, Richard Merrys, Richard Bulgar, Philemon Purmont, Isaac Gosse, Christopher Marshall, George Baytes, Thomas Wardell, Williain Wardell.[
(Dr. Belknap from Boston Chh. Records.) 66 When Exeter came under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, Mr. Wheelwright, being still under sentence of banishment, with those of his church who were resolved to adhere to him, removed into the Province of Maine, and settled at Wells. He was soon after restored, upon a slight acknowledgment, to the freedom of the Colony; and in 1647 accepted an invitation from the church in Hampton, and settled as colleague with Mr. Dalton.” “ After his dismission from Hampton church he went to England, where he was in favor with Cromwell, with whom he had in early life been associated at the University of Cambridge in England. After Charles II. came to the throne, Mr. Wheelwright returned to New England, and took up his residence at Salisbury, where he died, November 15, 1679, aged, probably, about 85 years.” [Dow's Hist. Address at Hampton.)
Neal, although his sympathies were with the opponents of Wheelwright, mentions him as being "afterwards an useful minister in the town of Hampton.” Dr. Cotton Mather, while he justifies the proceedings of the court against Mr. Wheelwright, accounts him “a man that had the root of the matter in him.” Having quoted at large Mr. Wheelwright's address to the government, Dr. Mather says, “ Upon this most ingenious acknowledgement, he was restored unto his former liberty, and interest among the people of God; anů