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Massachusetts Magistrate 


Did he marry the daughter 
of the third Earl of Lincoln? 


By Klroy McKendrce Avery 



John Humfrey 


On the seventh of October, 1911, the New York Times 
printed a "special" communication from Cleveland saying that 
Elroy M. Avery had "discovered" that John D. Rockefeller "is 
a direct descendant of the first three Earls of Lincoln, and 
before that of some of the early Kings, ^(^ <mbf i^^ Efigland, 
but of Scotland and France." X.>-Jt0^1X0 

Two days later, the Times published a longer "special" 
from Cleveland, in which it said that 

"Here is the pedigree as Mr. Avery gave it out to-night: 

George Plahtagenet, Duke of Clarence, married and had a 
daughter, Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, who married Sir 
Richard Pole, K. G., and had a son, Henry Pole, Baron Monta- 
cato, who married Lady Neville, and his daughter, Catharine 
Pole, married Francis Hastings, second Earl of Huntingdon, 
and had a daughter, Catherine Hastings, who married Henry 
Clinton, second Earl of Lincoln. 

Thomas Clinton, third Earl of Lincoln, their son, married 
and had a daughter, Susan Clinton, who married Gen. John 
Humphvoy, sword bearer of the Court of Justice of Trial of 
Clmrles I., and nl'terward Lieutenant Governor of Massachu- 
setts. Their daughter, Ann Humphrey, married William 
Palmes, whose daughter, Susan Palmes, married Oct. 27, 1686, 
Samuel Avery, born Aug. 14, 1666. Their son, Humphrey 
Avery, born July 4, 1699, married Feb. 5, 1724, Jerusha Morgan, 
whose son, Solomon Avery, born June 17, 1729, married Hannah 
Punderson and had a son. Miles Avery, born in 1769, at Nor- 
wich, Conn. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and 
married Malinda Pixley and had a daughter, Lucy Avery, who 
married Godfrey Rockefeller and had a son, William Avery 
Rockefeller, who married Eliza Davison, and had a son, John 
Davison Rockefeller, born July 8, 1839." 

John Humfrey 

On the day after that (Oct. 10, 1911), the Times had a still 
longer article concerning "the family tree provided for John D. 
Rockefeller by Elroy M. Avery of 2831 Woodhill Road, Cleve- 
land, and author of historical works." This article (which 
occupies about two columns of the Times, forty-two inches, 
running measure) sets forth that "No one really knows who 
married Lady Susan Clinton, as the English records simply 
state that she took as her husband one Humphreys of Kent. 
Mr. Rockefeller's genealogist has identified this gentleman with 
Col. John Humphrey' of the Boston Colony, and in so doing, in 
Mr. Dickinson's opinion, has exhibited considerable boldness." 

Then follows a letter signed Wharton Dickinson, for whom 
the Times vouches as "a well-known genealogical authority." In 
this letter and the two or three. that he subsequently added, Mr. 
Dickinson quotes old writers on the early peerage of England, 
such as Collins, Burke, etc., and one American book, the "Hum- 
phrey Genealogy." His citations from his English authorities 
go to show that Thomas, the third Earl of Lincoln, was born 
in 1571, that he died in 1618-19, and that he was the father of 
eight sons and nine daughters, including "Susan who married 

Humphreys of the County of Kent." The first two 

sons died young, and the next son, Theophilus, became the 
fourth Earl of Lincoln. Four of the daughters died young. It 
is stated that Susan was the seventh daughter, and perhaps 
she was, allliough none of the authorities cited give the date of 
her birth, and neither Mr. Dickinson nor T know when she was 
born. Lacking'' a dale that is essential to his argument, Mv. 
Dickinson turns to the "Humphrey Genealogy" and saj's that 
therein he finds the statement "that John Humfrey, Jr., was 20 
years of age in 1641, putting his birth in 1621." Assuming 
that this date, 1621, is correct, and affirming that the Lady 
Su.san "could not possibly have been born before 1610" (a 
matter concerning which he knows absolutely nothing) he wisely 
doubts that "she could have had a son born in 1621" and 
concludes that it was impossible that the Massachusetts magi- 
strate was the son-in-lrw of the third Earl of Lincohi, that 

' Tlie name is variously spelled Humfrey, Humphrey, and Hum- 

Massachusetts Magistrate 

there must have been two John Humphreys, that one of them 
married the daughter of the earl, and that the other came over 
sea with wife and children in 1634. From what he calls "The 
Humphrey Genealog-y"- he then culls the names of John, Ann, 
Dorcas, Sarah, Theophilus, Thomas, Joseph, and Lydia, the 
eight children of "Col. John Humfrey of the Boston Colony, 
Assistant to the Governor," and triumphantly asks, "How does 
it come that Col. Humfrey did not have a daughter, Susan, 
named after her illustrious mother?" 

The foregoing constitutes the w^hole case of the denying 
critic of the Susanna Palmes pedigree. After giving Mr. Dickin- 
son's letter, the Times article continues: "Once Mr. Avery had 
overlooked these difficulties that Mr. Dickinson has raised and 
had assumed the identity of Humphrey of Kent and John 
Humphrey of Boston, his course was plain sailing." Here then 
we have the problem in a nutshell : Was the Hiunphrey of Kent 
who married the claugliter of the third Earl of Lincoln identical 
v'ith the John Humfrey of Boston? 

As these and several other articles printed in the Times 
concerning the royal pedigree of the wife of Samuel Avery 
contain much that is erroneous, and as, owing to the prominence 
of one of the descendants of our Samuel and Susanna, the criti- 
cisms were widely copied by newspapers from Boston Bay to 
the Golden Gate (and by some printed in Europe), generally 
with implied acceptance of their conclusiveness, and sometimes 
with etlilorial comment, wise and otherwise, a reply Si.ems to be 
in order. The hunenlable and wide-spread unfamiliarity with 
the historical literature of colonial Massachusetts thus mani- 
fested fully justifies any earnest and honest attempt to throw 
a little light into some of the dark corners. As the pedigree 
pertains to the Groton (Connecticut) line of Averys, and as I 
am the historian of that clan, and as I am charged with the 
authorship of the pedigree in question, it clearly falls to me to 
make answer. Ov.'ing to the sudden death of my wife in 

^ The correct title of the book, which was published at New York in 
1S83, is The Humphreys Family in America. Its author was Frederick 
Humphreys, JM. I)., tlic m.i.nufacturer of the homeopathic remedies known 
as the Humphreys Specifics. He died in 1900. 

John Humfrey 

December, 1911, the reply was delayed and, when it was sent, 
the Times declined to publish it on account of its length. The 
reply thus sent measured less by a third than did the several 
articles in attack that had been printed in that journal. The 
New York Times certainly is one of greatest of American 
newspapers, but even the great have their limitations. The 
reply thus rejected is the chief corner-stone of this pamphlet. 

The Times introduces the pedigree with the statement that 
it is "as Mr. Avery gave it out to-night." It begins with the 
Duke of Clarence and ends with John D. Rockefeller. This 
pedigree was not given out by me. The first part thereof was 
evidently abridged from the royal ancestry of Susanna Palmes 
the wife of Samuel Avery, as printed in a family history pub- 
lished by H. D. L. Sweet of Syracuse, in 1894. Mr. Sweet 
copied the ancestral line from another family history that was 
published in 1887. The latter part of the abridged pedigree 
consists of a continuation of the line from Susanna (Palmes) 
Avery to Mr. Rockefeller. Every item of the pedigree as printed 
in the Times and charged to me is included in Mr. Sweet's book. 
It is worthy of notice that this pedigree, which is a quarter 
of a century old, was mutilated by cutting off the first twenty- 
three generations, thus eliminating sixteen kings of England, 
one king of Scotland, and the daughters of a king of Castile, 
a king of France, and an emperor of Germany, and beginning, 
in the twonty-fourlh generation, with the unfortunate George 
IMantagenct, the Duke of Clarence. 

As the present historian of the Averys of Groton, I am 
rewriting Mr. Sweet's work. Aware of the unpleasant suspicion 
that is attached to some American royal pedigrees, I decided 
not to reprint the Susanna Palmes ancestry unless I could have 
it verified by the highest authority in such nlatters, the Herald's 
College at London, a crown office. I forwarded to the college 
certified copies of testimony taken in Massachusetts courts, and 
got the certificate. This pedigree, thus revised, corrected, and 
certified, will first be printed in my "The Groton Avery Clan," 
now in press. At my request, Mr. Rockefeller helped me to pay 
the charges of the Herald's College. Other than this, he has 

Massachusetts Magistrate 

had nothing to do with the pedigree in question. As the 
pedigree that I am going to publish contains the link hammered 
by Wharton Dickinson, I undertake to show the identity herein- 
before mentioned, not as a matter of personal controversy or 
family pride, but as an historical fact. 

Before I pass on to the main point at issue, I rise, just for 
a moment, to a question of personal privilege. In an article 
printed October 11, the Tiincs says that "According to the 
family tree put forward by Elroy M. Avery of Cleveland for 
himself and Mr. Rockefeller they are both descended from John 
Humphrey of Boston." As already stated, this family tree was 
not put forward by me. Nor is it true that we "are both 
descended from John Humphrey of Boston." Mr. Rockefeller 
is; I am not. I have never pretended to have a royal pedigree 
and am quite satisfied with the fact that, prior to his migration, 
my first American Avery ancestor was an English weaver. 

The discussion of this question naturally divides itself into 
two parts : 

First, An examination of the grounds on which such identity 
is denied. 

Second, A statement of the reasons why such identity is 


It is no part of my duty to tell when the Lady Susan was 
born, when she was married, or when her first child was born. 
It is enough for me, in this discussion, to prove that she married 
the John Humphrey who, in 1634, came to Massachusetts as an 
assistant to the governor. Having done that, my case is com- 
plete and 1 might safely leave the puzzles to Mr. Dickinson as 
profitable exercises in his chosen field. But I venture one or two 
friendly suggestions. The assurance of the Times that "the 
genealogists do not state in what order the children came or at 
what intervals," and that "it is impossible to state accurately 
the year in which Lady Susan first saw the light," is worthy 
of acceptance by Mr. Dickinson, who, in his citation from 
Collins' Peerage, numbers the children as he names them; in 
Ihe copy of Collins before me there are no such numbers. The 
several authorities cited by the critic do not agree as to the 
number of the children, their names, or the order in which 
they are named. But they all give first the list of sons and 
then the list of daughters. In each case, the sons who died 
are named before the sons who lived, and the daughters who 
died before the daughters who lived. It is not incumbent upon 
us to believe tliat all of the sons wove born before any of the 
tliiiijvhtrrs, or tli;\( (ho sons who died wore born before any of 
tile sons who livod, or that the daughters who died were born 
before any of the daughters who lived. Yet Mr. Dickinson 
accepts all of these improbabilities to the end that he may 
bring in Susan as the seventh daughter and next to the youngest 
child. I that the Lady Susan, wife of "Humphreys of 
Kent," could hardly have been a mother at ten years of age, but 
she might have been a mother at seventeen or eighteen, and it 
is easy to arrange the names of the children in strict conformity 
with all the known facts and with some of the inferences in 
such a way as to show that the Lady Susan was born as early 
as 1603 or 1604, instead of in 1610 or 1615, as claimed by Mr. 
Dickinson. Of course, it is not certain that any one of the 
several possible lists thus framed is correct, but it may be correct, 

Massachusetts Magistrate 

and my guesswork is just as legitimate as Wharton Dickinson's. 
Then, too, there are the possibilities of several sets of twins, 
which smoothes the way to further flights of fancy. But, as 
will appear more plainly further on, it matters little, in the 
present discussion, whether or not the Lady Susan was or could 
have been the mother of the John Humfrey, who, it is alleged, 
was born about 1621. 

In Mr. Dickinson's first letter to the Times he makes the im- 
portant declaration that "In the Humphrey Genealogy, Page 
89, it is stated that John Humfrey, Jr., was 20 years of age in 
1641, putting his birth in 1621." Mr. Dickinson's quotation 
is inaccurate. Dr. Humphrey's statement is that the bon John 
"was probably twenty or thereabouts at that date." The "prob- 
ably" and "thereabouts" of the book lack the positiveness of 
the citation of the critic. But a previously unnoted piece of 
evidence was brought out at the December (1911) meeting of 
The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, showing that on March 

14, 1649-50, "Humphrey, ( ), gent, of kin to (Theo- 

philus, 4th) Earl of Lincoln, and a son of a colonel" was "created 
M. A. by dispensation" by Oxford University, his parentage 
being given a:; "Sarah" — a mistake '"or Susan — "daughter of 

Thomas, ijrd Earl of Lincoln, married to Humphreys, 

of the county of Kent, esq."-'. To this quotation is added the 
editorial statement that "the recipient of the honorary degree 
was cleaily that Colonel John Humri'oy, tlie eldest S(<n of Colonel 
John Humrrey the Massachusetts magistrate, who in 1641 was 
jidniitled a member of the Ancieiit and Honorable Artillery 
Company in Boston. "^ But even this affirmation of the Oxford 
records that the Lady Susan was the mother of the son John 
doubtless must give way before the proof that the said John 
was the son of Elizabeth, the first wife of the Massachusetts 
magistrate who married the Lady Susan as his second wife. In 
the Visitation of Dorset, 1623, page 57, appears the pedigree 
of a John Humfrey. This John Humfrey qs recorded as son 

■■* Foster, Alumni iJxonienses, vol. 2, p. 7G6. t '\ i 

■ *■ h 

' See Publications of The Colonial Society of Massachusetts.^ vol. 14, 

pp. IIG, 117, and Robert? Ilistox-y of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery 

Comfyany, vol. 1, p. ]1(J. :,. 

10 John Humfrey 

and heir of "Michael Humfrey of Chaldon in com. Dorset," and 
aged then 26 years, with wife Elizabeth, daughter of "Herbert 
Pelham of Compton in com. Dorset," and John Humfrey, aged 
one year.'- Comparison of the signature to this pedigree with 
the signature of John Humfrey to a letter written in 1630" to 
his brother-in-Iaw% Isaac Johnson, shows clearly the identity 
of the husband of Elizabeth Pelham in 1623 with the husband 
of the Lady Susan Clinton in 1630. The two autographs may 
be seen side by side in the New England Historical and 
Genealogical Register, vol. 65, p. 86, and justify the statement 
there made that "any expert in hand writing would pronounce 
them belonging to the same hand." Moreover, the arms in the 
seal following the signature of 1623 appear to be the same as 
those accompanying that of 1630. Still further corroborative 
t^uggestion lies in the fact that, in the list of the Cape Ann 
adventurers, submitted by John White, Oct. 12, 1634, appear the 
names of this Michael Humfrey, deceased, and of "John Hum- 
frey, gent., living in New England."' If this identity is ac- 
cepted, and it seems to be definitely established, it knocks the 
keystone from Wharton Dickinson's elaborate arch and leaves 
it in irretrievable ruin. Unfortunately, I do not know just when 
John Humfrey married his second wife, or just when his daugh- 
ter, Ann, was born, but it is to be noticed that this first wife, 
Elizabeth Pelham, was the daughter of Herbert Pelham by his 
second wife, Elizabeth West, daughter of Thomas, liOrd De la 
W'arr, and llmt Ihr (lesocndMuls of C'olonel .lolui Humfrey by 
(Ilia lirsl wfie (if there are any) have a royal ancestry through 
the Pelham-West line. I have the assurance of one who is 
probably the leading New England genealogist and antiquarian 
now living that these statements concerning Elizabeth Pelham 
are probably correct, and the offer of another genealogist dis- 
tinguished for his English research work to furnish me with 
proof of the facts. I Unfortunately, I can ill afford to pay the 
price asked for the proof, and the whole matter is quite aside , 
from the question under discussion. 

' Harleian MS. IIGG, fo. 9b. ^'*^ 

• Mass. Historical Society Collections, vol. G, pi. 1. 

' New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. fil, p. 280. 

Massachusetts Magistrate 11 

Then there is Mr. Dickinson's merry query, Why did not 
Col. Humfrey have a daughter, Susan, named after her illus- 
trious mother? The implied argument is not conclusive; a 
great many parents fail to name a daughter for the mother. I 
think that an examination of almost any family history will 
show that they who do not name a daughter for the mother are 
more numerous than are they who do. Moreover, the very list 
given by Mr. Dickinson shows that this "John Humphrey of 
the Boston Colony," whom the critic is trying to discredit, 
named his fifth son Theophilus for the brother of the Lady 
Susan, his sixth son Thomas for the father of the Lady Susan, 
and two daughters Ann and Dorcas for two of the sisters of the 
Lady Susan. This which he did is very much more significant 
than that which he did not. 

In his letter, dated October 9, 1911, and printed in the 
Times of the following day, Mr. Dickinson points to the record 
of the marriage license of Thomas Sewell to Susan Humfrey, 
widow of John Humfrey, London, Sept. 10, 1624, and asks, 
"How about this?" I find it not easy to answer as courteously 
as I desire. This widow could not have been the daughter of 
the Earl of Lincoln, for Mr. Wharton Dickinson solemnly affirms 
that the Lady Susan "could not possibly have been born before 
1610 and most likely as late as 1615." Ergo, she could not 
have been a widow ready for a second marriage in 1624. Nor 
could she have been the widow of Col. John Hnmfrey who 
oauio wilii his wife to Boston in 1631. The evident and suffi- 
cient answer is that slie was another Susan who had married 
another John Humfrey. County Kent was a veritable hot-bed 
of Humphreys; John Humphrey was doubtless a common name 
then and there as it is now and here. 

T have no doubt that Mr. Dickinson made an honest effort 
to find all that could be found about the "obscure person" who 
married the Lady Susan and the person of the same name who 
became a Massachusetts magistrate. The trouble with his quest 
seems to be that he did not look in the right places. His ancient 
chroniclers of the British peerage, extinct, dormant, and ex- 
istent, Burke, Collins, et al., could hardly be expected to tell 
much about an untitled Englishman who left England for Amer- 


So much for the discussion of the grounds for Mr. Dickin- 
son's denial of the identity that I am trying to maintain. On 
our way from this realm of maze and mystery into the domain 
of authentic history, it is probable that a brief historical outline 
will enable some of the readers of this pamphlet to follow, more 
easily than they otherwise would, the evidence t?iat I am about 
to offer. In 1606, King James I. of England granted the first 
charter of Virginia. This charter gave lands along the North 
American coast to two companies, one of which has its head- 
quarters at London and the other at Plymouth, England. In 
1620, the Plj-mouth company was reorganized as the Council 
for New England. In 1628, this Plymouth Council "granted 
to six patentees, of whom John Humphrey and John Endicott 
were destined to be most prominent, territory extending from 
the Atlantic to the Western Ocean, and in width from a line 
running three miles north of the Merrimac to one running three 
miles south of the Charles. This was the Massachusetts Bay 
Company.'"* Then, under date of March 4, 1628-29, King 
Charles I. granted the famous charter of Massachusetts Bay. 
In the followintv August, tlie company adcipteil a resolution for 
(lie Irausfer of iln' chartor ani.1 I he govornnicut from England 
U) Ni'w England, thus making necessary the election of oflicers 
who v/ere willing to migrate to Massachusetts. This charter 
provided that "from henceforth for ever, there shalbe one 
Governor, one Deputy Governor, and eighteene Assistants of the 
same Company." In October of that year, John Winthrop was 
chosen governor and John Humfrey was chosen deputy-governor 
of the company. Bat Humfrey did not come to America with 
Winthrop and the charter, and, on the eve of embarkation^ 
Thomas Dudley was chosen (March 23, 1630) deputy-governor 
in Humfrey 's stead.'' 

' J. Franklin Jameson's Dictionary of United States History, p. 405. 
• Massachusetts Colony Records, vol. 1, pp. 10, 70. 

Massachusetts Magistrate 13 

At the time of the great Puritan migration thus begun by 
Winthrop and his associates, the head of the house of CHnton 
was Theophilus, the fourth Earl of Lincohi, and many facts 
attest the interest of the family in New England colonization. 
For example, it is undisputed that one of the earl's sisters 
married John, the son and heir of the famous Sir Ferdinando 
Gorges, probably the premier land-grabber of his day. It is 
not disputed that another sister, Arbella, married Isaac Johnson 
and that they both came out with Winthrop in 1630, and both 
died in the first year in America, and that Winthrop's flag-ship 
was named for her. It is not disputed that the earl's faithful 
steward, Thomas Dudley, came over with Governor Winthrop 
as deputy-governor of the colonj^ and that Simon Bradstreet, 
who had been trained in the duties of a steward by Dudley in 
the household of the earl, also came. What more natural, nay, 
inevitable, than the conclusion that the John Humphrey who 
was one of the six original patentees of Massachusetts (1628) 
and who was mentioned by name fourteen times in the Massa- 
chusetts charter of 1629, and who now was so closely associated 
with the emigrants above named, was another brother-in-law 
of the earl? Had he not been allied to the Clinton family, some 
one would have noted the identity of name which would have 
been remarkable because of the lack of identity of person. But 
I need not lean on "natural conclusions," for I have direct and 
;uith(ii-il;itiv(> tfstiinony lo introdiu'c. 

'There now remains for me to show by proof incontrovertible 
that the John Humphrey of the Massachusetts company and 
colony did marry Susan, the daughter of the third Earl of 
Lincoln — a task so simple that I hesitate to lay the proof before 
my readers. I first turn (perhaps from force of habit) to a 
comprehensive and convenient work edited by Gen. James Grant 
Wilson and the late John Fiske'^ and in it read, among other 
things recorded of John Humphrey, that he was chosen deputy- 
governor of Massachusetts "and came to New England in 1634, 
with his wife. Lady Susan, daughter of the Earl of Lincoln." 
Then comes John Gorham Palfrey" who tells of the election of 

'" AppJeton's Cycloprcdia of American Biop^raphy, vol. 3, p. 311. 
" Compendious History of New England, vol. 1, p. lOG. 

14 John Humfrey 

Winthrop as governor and Humphrey as deputy-governor, and 
adds that "Humphrey was a gentleman of special parts, of 
learning and activity, and a godly man; in the home of his 
father-in-law, Thomas, third Earl of Lincoln, the head, in that 
day, of the now ducal house of Newcastle, he had been the 
familiar companion of the patriotic nobles. Of the Assistants, 
Isaac Johnson, esteemed the richest of the emigrants, was an- 
other son-in-law of Lord Lincoln, and a landholder in three 

John Humphrey lived at Saugus (now Lynn),. the historian 
of wiiich town^- says that "Mr. John Plumfrey was a native of 
Dorchester in Dorsetshire, England, a lawyer, and a man of 
considerable wealth and good reputation. He married Susan, 
the second daughter of Thomas, Earl of Lincoln, and sister of 
Frances, the wife of Mr. John Gorges, and of Arabella, the wife 
of Mr. Isaac Johnson." 

Hildredth says" that in 1628 "John Humphrey, a brother-in- 
law of the Earl of Lincoln, John Endicott, and four others, 
gentlemen of Dorchester, obtained at White's instigation, from 
the Council for New England, a grant of the coast between 
Laconia on the one side and the Plymouth patent on the other, 
including the whole of Massachusetts Bay." Under date of 
1634, he further says'-': "While the court was still sitting, six 
'great ships' arrived, 'with store of passengers and cattle,' fol- 
lowed within a month by fifteen more. John Humphrey, one 
of tlie original patentees of the company, but wlio had hitherto 
remained at home, came out in one of these ships, with his wife, 
the Lady Susan." 

Dean Dudley, who spent a year in England collecting mate- 
rial, examining pedigrees, parish registers, wills, local histories, 
etc., says'=: "Earl Theophilus Clinton was the fifth in descent 
from Edmund Dudley, the minister of Henry VIL One of the 
sisters of Theophilus married John Gorges, son and heir of Sir 
Ferdinando; another married John Humphrey, who was among 

'"■ History of Lj-nn, pp. 197, 198. 

" History of the United States, edition of 1887, vol. 1, chap. 7, p. 177. 

" Ibid, p. 217. 

" History of the Dudley Family, p. 53. 

Massachusetts Magistrate 15 

our pilgrim [Puritan] fathers; and the celebrated Arbella, for 
whom one of their first ships was named and who came over in 
it and died at Salem in 1630, was another sister of Theophilus, 
being the wife of Isaac Johnson, who died soon after at Boston, 

George E. Ellis says^** that "Winthrop, Saltonstall, Hum- 
phrey, Jolmson, and Dudley had no need to seek any bettering 
of their fortunes. Winthrop had his manor and freehold, and 
his right of church presentation in the parish of his ancestors; 
Humphrey and Johnson were the husbands of daughters of the 
Earl of Lincoln ; and Dudley held the responsible ofiice of his 
steward." ^ l!b'4(>416 

In a description of the passengers in the "Arbella " William 
Carlos Martyn says' ^ of Humphrey, "who is here to bid his 
friends God speed," that "he is a son-in-law of the Earl of 
Lincoln, the head, in that day, of the now ducal house of 

Charles Francis Adams speaks^^ of Cradock and Saltonstall 
w^ho w^'ere in England when the Gorges and Gardiner petition 
was making trouble and adds: "With them was John Humphrey, 
formerly deputy governor, and one of the original patentees of 
the company, who had married a daughter of the Earl of 

Augustine Jones'^ speaks of "Isaac Johnson, the brother-in- 
law of the [fourth] earl" and of "Lady Susan Humphrey, a 
s'k^ter of the Eavl of Lincoln. , . . Her hr.-^band, John 
lluinplu\'y, was one o( the six original ]")atentoos." 

The "Kecords of the Company of the Massachusetts Bay," 
as contained in the first volume of the archives of the common- 
wealth of Massachusetts, are printed in the third volume of 
the "Transactions and Collections of the American Antiquarian 
Society" (Archiieologia Americana), published at Worcester, 
Mass., in 1857. On the fiftieth page of the chapter on the 

" The Puritan Age and Paile in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay^ 
p. 233. 

" History of the Pilgrim Fathers of New England, pp. 278 et seq. 
'* Three Episodes of Massachusetts History, p. 265, 
" Life and Vv'nrk of Thomas Dudley, pp. 45, 46, 

16 John Humfrey 

origin of the company, it is stated that "John Humphrey was a 
son-in-law of Thomas, third Earl of Lincoln, having married 
his daughter Susan." 

James Savage speaks-" of the arrival of John Humphrey at 
Boston in 1634, and says that "with him, besides his wife, 
Susan, daughter of the illustrious Thomas Clinton, third Earl 
of Lincoln, and some children, Ann, Dorcas, and Sarah, he 
brought money, goods and cattle, for the Colony." 

In a note on page 307, vol. 31, New England Historical and 
Genealogical Register, the editor says that the wife of Col. 
John Humphrey was the Lady Susan, the daughter of the Earl 
of Lincoln. Many similar citations might be made from the 
pages of the Register. 

In a note on page 15 of the "History of the Colony of 
Massachusetts Bay, from the First Settlement thereof in 1628 
until its incorporation with the Colony of Plimouth, Province 
of Main, &c. by the Charter of King William and Queen Mary 
in 1691," by Mr. Hutchinson, Lieutenant Governor of the Massa- 
chusetts Province (second edition, 1765), one may read: "Mr. 
Humphrey was early engaged. He was one of the six original 
patentees of the Council of Plimouth. He was prevented from 
coming over with the charter. Pie married the Lady Susan, 
daugliter of the Earl of Lincoln and brought her with their 
children to New England in 1632 [1634] and was immediately 
chosen an assistant." 

In a life of Thomas Dudley, "written probably by Cotton 
MatluT"-' — and. if so, written before 1728 — we read that "Mr. 
Humphreys, who had married one of the Earl of Lincoln's 
sisters, found himself so encumbered with businesses that he 
could not be ready to come along with the rest, in the year 

On October 11, 1682, the Massachusetts general court 
grant(Hl to the Ptcv. William Hubbard, minister of Ipswich, fifty 
pounds "as a manifestation of thankfulness" for the preparation 

'" Genoalopiciil Dictionary of the First Settlors of Isew England 
(majrnum opus), vol. 5, p. 40G. 

"' Proceeding's of the Massachusetts Historical Society, series 1, vol. 
11, p. 21G. 

Massachusetts Magistrate 17 

of his "General History of New England from Discovery to 
MDCLXXX." This history is printed in the Collections of the 
Massachusetts Historical Society, series 2, vol. 5. On page 170 
(edition of 1848), Hubbard says: "That very year when that 
discovery was made came into New England several persons 
of note, amongst ^vhom was Mr. Humphrey, who though he was 
formerly chosen Deputy Governor, came not over till the year 
1634, bringing along with him his noble consort, the Lady 
Susan, sister to the Earl of Lincoln." It is very probable that 
Hubbard was personally acquainted with Humfrey. 

The testimony of J. A. Doyle is especially valuable, being 
given by an English student from an English point of view. 
Doyle was a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, England. He 
says--: "More than one of Winthrop's associates was, like him- 
self, abandoning ease, wealth, and the possibility of a brilliant 
public career. Such were the Deputy-Governor, John Hum- 
phrey, and Isaac Johnson. Slightly, if at all, lower "in rank ^vas 
Thomas Dudley, a stern Puritan who had served in the Huguenot 
army under Henry the Fourth. All thesr> were connected with 
the Earl of Lincoln, the head of a great Protestant family, 
Humphrey and Johnson as his sons-in-law, Dudley as the steward 
of his household." 

Pishy Thompson, another English historical writer, in 
speaking of the Clinton family, says--: "Tv/o ladies of this 
family, Lady Arabella, the wife of Isaac Johnson of Clipstone, 
in Rutlandshire, and Lady Susanna, the wife of John Humfrey, 
two (if the dnn.'rhtiTs of Thomas, the third Earl, removed them- 
selves to the new country in the prime of life." 

In the first part of The Humphreys Family in America, the 
very book quoted by the Times' critic, one may find half a dozen 
quotations, notes, etc., each plainly stating that John Humphrey 
was a son-in-law of the Earl of Lincoln. More startling still 
is this statement of Dr. Humphreys: "I have in my possession 
a deed signed by her [Ann, the daughter of John Humphrey 

" The Puritan Colonies, vol. i, p. 101. 

-^ History and Antiquities of Boston [in Lincolnshire, England] and 
the Hundred of Skirbeck (London, 1856), p. 80. 

18 John Hiimfrey 

and the mother of Susanna Palmes] and signed with the arms 
of the house of Lincoln." 

I could easily add much testimony to the same effect, but 
(to spare myself the labor of writing and the cost of printing, 
and not recklessly to abuse the patience of the reader) I come 
next to my star witness, the "History of New England," written 
by John Winthrop, the second governor of the company and the 
first governor of the colony of Massachusetts Bay. The "His- 
tory" is in the form of a journal and covers every important 
occurrence from Winthrop's first embarking for America in 
1630 to the year 1644. The first volume of this work was pub- 
lished at Hartford in 1790. The original manuscript was found 
in the tower of the Old South Church in Boston in 1816. The 
copy before me was prepared from the original manuscript by 
James Savage, the president of the Massachusetts Historical 
Society and one of the best known and most highly credited 
antiquaries of the last century. This contemporary evidence 
contains frequent references to John Humfrey and, as Winthrop 
was personally acquainted with Humfrey and doubtless with 
the family of the Earl of Lincoln, its statements are beyond 
question true and conclusive. 

Under date of Sept. 30, 1630, Winthrop says-* : "About two 
in the morning, Mr. Isaac Johnson died ; his wife, the lady 
Arbella, of the house of Lincoln, being dead about one month 
before." In a foot-note on the same page, Mr, Savage explains 
thnt the Lady Arbella, the wife of Isaac Johiison, was the 
(huivrhtor of the third Earl of Lincoln and that her sister, Susan, 
maniod John Plumfrey. Passing over one or two similar refer- 
ences to Humphrey, we find,-'' under date of July, 1634, this 
all-important record: "Mr. Humfrey and the lady Susan, his 
wife, one of the Earl of Lincoln's sisters, arrived here." The 
journal contains many other allusions to Humfrey, but this is 
enough to establish the identity of John Humfrey, the Massa- 
chusetts magistrate, with John Humfrey, the husband of the 
Lady Susan. 

The History of New Englaiid from 1630-1649, edition of 1853, p. 40. 
Ibid, p. 160. 

Massachusetts Magistrate 19 

If, however, some doubting critic fears that Governor Win- 
throp did not know Humfrey in England and that he might 
have been mistaken when he made this entry in his journal, let 
him turn to Alexander Young's "Chronicles of the First Planters 
of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay from 1623-1636." He will 
fmd therein abundant and conclusive evidence that Winthrop 
and Humfrey came into frequent personal contact in England, 
that they both signed the famous Agreement at Cambridge 
(August 26, 1629) , that Humfrey was one of the four candidates 
for governor at the meeting when Winthrop was elected gov- 
ernor and Humfrey deputy-governor (Oct. 20, 1629), and that, 
from October 15, 1629, to March 18, 1630, they were both pres- 
ent at eight different meetings of the company.-"^ 

At its meeting in December, 1911, the Colonial Society of 
Massachusetts kindly listened to the reading of a paper prepared 
by me concerning this disputed identity. The members present 
seemed to agree with my conclusions and several of the most 
prominent voiced such agreement and added confirmatory testi- 
mony. The editor of the society's publications printed a resume 
of the paper and wrote to me saying: "Winthrop was intimately 
acquainted with Humfrey, and his statement is in itself ample 
proof," and that "The New York genealogist whom you do not 
mention by name may think there is some doubt in the matter, 
but we in this part of the country know there is none ; and such 
being the case, it is needless to slay the slain in the Transactions 
of the Colonial Society." This seems to be severe as to me and 
absolutely cruel as to Mr. Wharton Dickinson. But it comes 
pretty near pulling the ollicial approval of the society on the 
afTirmation of the identity in question, although the assumption 
that every one in that "part of the country" is as well informed 
on the subject as are the members of the Colonial Society of 
Massachusetts is, possibly, too flattering to the attainments of 
the people of the Old Bay State. Moreover, ^^aere are many 
fairly intelligent persons who do not live in ea^rn Massachu- 
setts, and, as already stated, some of them (even Some newspaper 
scribes) were led astray of the critic of the Neiv York Times. 

^ Massachusetts Colony Records, vol. 1, pp. 54, 5G, 58, GO, 61, 63, 
67, 69. 

20 John Humfrey 

Just a few words in conclusion. It is pretty certain that 
Col. John Humfrey of Massachusetts had a son John, that said 
son was a year old at the date of the Dorset Visitation of 1623, 
and that his mother was Elizabeth, the daughter of Herbert 
Pelham and the first wife of our Massachusetts magistrate. It 
is not known when the Lady Susan Clinton, the second wife, was 
born. It is not certain that she was the seventh of the nine 
daughters, as the critic assumes; the "History of Lynn" says 
that she was the second daughter. The arrangement of the 
names of the seventeen children as given by Collins, evidentl>'' 
is not chronological. In fact, there is nothing to show that most 
of the nine daughters were not born prior to the birth of Theo- 
philus, the third son and the fourth earl, and early enough to 
have become the second wife of Colonel John Humfrey and the 
mother of seven of his children, one of whom, as we have seen 
used the Lincoln coat of arms in sealing a formal legal document. 
Still less is there any reason for us to assume, as Mr. Dickinson 
practically asks us to assume, that, as the Lady Susan was not 
likely to have been a mother at the age of eleven years, John 
Winthrop, a personal acquaintance of John Humfrey and his 
wife, and a long line of historians from Hubbard and Hutchinson 
to Hildredth, Doyle, and Fiske, either did not know what they 
were talking about or that (probably being bribed by Mr. 
Rockefeller) they deliberately entered into a conspiracy to dis- 
tort the facts. I trust that I may be excused for having, in this 
particular instance, more confidence in the positive statement 
of Governor Winthrop than I have in the infevences of the 
critic who is more or less responsible for all this trouble. 

I desire to express my gratitude to Dr. Melville M. Bigelow, 
editor of the Province Laws of Massachusetts, to J. Gardner 
Bartlett of the New England Historic Genealogical Society's 
committee on English Research, to Albert Matthews, editor of 
the Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and 
to Henry E. Woods, former editor of the New England Historical 
and Genealogical Register and now commissioner of public rec- 
ords of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for many favors 
and valuable assistance given in my study of this question. 

Cleveland, June, 1912. 


A few months ago, I sent a letter to the editor of the Boston 
Transcript who, with a degree of fairness that I am glad to 
believe is characteristic, printed it on the editorial page of that 
able journal (November 22, 1911) without change and with the 
addition of a generous note. As that letter contains a definite 
statement of some facts that I should like to put on more 
permanent record, I here give so much thereof as is not covered 
in the preceding pages of this pamphlet. 

To the Editor of the Transcript: 

A New England friend has sent to me a newspaper clipping 
which I understand to be taken from the editorial columns of 
the Transcript of October 10, last. The article has the caption 
"John D.'s Sad Error," and is evidently based on articles printed 
in the Neiv York Times in which I am represented as having 
"given out" a certain pedigree that shows that Mr. Rockefeller 
is a descendant of kings, and that this family tree was "put 
forward by Elroy M. Avery of Cleveland for himself and Mr. 
Rockefeller." Some of these articles, for there are several of 
them, contain communications from Mr. Wharton Dickinson 
alleging that one of the links in the ancestral chain is fatally 
defective. Owing to the prominence of Mr. Rockefeller, the 
pedigree and criticism have been reproduced in numerous news- 
papers with comments wise and otherwise. There have been 
allusions to "purveyors of pedigrees for rich men," and your 
own article speaks of mo as Mr. Rockcfollor's genealogist and 
as "liis hired man." If 1 had been guilty of the fraudulent 
fabrication of a pedigree for any person, I would be fair game 
for any editorial sportsman. If I have not thus erred, I think 
that you ought to make as full reparation as is consistent with 
your grip on "The Dogma of Journalistic Inerrancy." 

As the present family historian, for Mr. Sweet is dead, I am 
rewriting Mr. Sweet's work and bringing it down to the present 
time as well as I can do so. It is a "labor of love" ; I know of no 

22 John Humfrey 

one who ever published a family history except at a pecuniary 
loss. I decided not to reprint the royal pedigree of the wife of 
Samuel Avery unless I could have it verified by the highest 
Authority in such matters — the College of Heralds at London, 
a crown office. Certified copies of court testimony and other 
evidences were secured by me and forwarded to London at the 
cost of much effort and some money. I got the certificate and, 
at my request, Mr. Rockefeller helped me pay for it. He has 
not manifested as much interest in the matter as have many 
others ; not as much as I then expected that he would manifest. 
The pedigree, revised, corrected, and certified by the College 
of Heralds, will first be published in my "The Groton Avery 
Clan," now in press. 

The Trayiscript speaks of me as Mr. Rockefeller's genealo- 
gist. This is true only in so far as Mr. Rockefeller is a member 
of the Groton Avery clan. I have not gone a step out of my way 
to trace his pedigree; I have ignored his ancestry back of the 
point where it joins the Avery line. 

The Transcript calls me Mr. Rockefeller's "hired man." 
This is wholly unwarranted. Mr. Rockefeller has never hired 
me; he has never paid me a cent for services rendered to him 
in this or any other matter ; he has not promised to do so ; I do 
not expect that he will do so; I know of no reason why he should 
do so. 1 am Iho historian of the Groton Avorys and am serving 
them to the best of my ability; I am not the genealogist of Mr. 
Rockefeller or of his family and am serving them only because 
they are so fortunate as to have places in the Groton Avery clan. 
I hope that this is satisfactorily definite. 

ClevelaJid, Nov. 17, 1911. Elroy M. Avery. 

Mr. Avery lius takei i>ur pliMisantry rather too aerioudly. In respect to the 
portions of the article in whicli errors have been made, we regret tfie-se very 
much, but there was no intention to reflect in any way discreditably upon a 
scholar so well known as Mr. Averv. Tkk Editoi;. 

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