Other spouses of spouses

Alicia Crane WilliamsFive new Early New England Families Study Project sketches have just been posted:

Principal Individual Location(s) Spouse(s)
Hilton, William Plymouth, Maine, Newbury, Charlestown Sarah Greenleaf; Mehitable Nowell
Jenney, Samuel Plymouth, Portsmouth, R.I., Dartmouth Susannah Wood; Anne/Anna Lettice
Warner, Daniel Ipswich Elizabeth [Denne?], Faith (____) Browne, Ellen (Pell) (Boynton) (Jewett)
Warner, John Ipswich, Brookfield, Hadley Priscilla Symonds
Woodbury, Humphrey Salem, Beverly Elizabeth Hunter

Much like the shiny new cars we buy, the Early New England Families sketches are prepared with a certain “planned obsolescence” in mind. They are summaries of what I found in my review of sources at the time they were compiled, but inevitably there will be some errors, omissions, and new research that will affect the sketches. Because they are published in electronic form on the website, we have the freedom to make as many timely updates as needed. In some cases these may be small typos that are fixed without comment, in some cases the update can be made to one page without affecting the pagination and indexing of the whole, and in other cases there may be major revisions necessitating a new version of the sketch. When updates and revisions are done, the date will be noted on the last page of the sketch.

For example, in the process of compiling the upcoming sketch for Elizabeth (Newgate) (Oliver) Jackson, who has already appeared in the sketch of her first husband, John Oliver, I discovered that I skimmed over details about her second husband, Edward Jackson, and their children, and missed Elizabeth’s will, which of course has relevance to her Oliver children. Thus a revised Oliver sketch is being prepared.

The Red Flag that I missed in this case could be called “Other Spouses of Spouses.” When we trace one line, we can be focused too narrowly and dismiss collateral family.  Granted, these “yours, mine, and ours” families can get complicated. Take William Harlow for example. His third wife inherited a dozen step-children from his first two marriages, then married a second man as his second wife and finally a third man as his third wife – inheriting more step-children along the way!

Researching the families of the first wife of a third wife’s third husband may seem beyond any interest to the family you are tracing, but bite the bullet and get all the information you can.  Look at Scott Steward’s family in his Vita Brevis posts as a great example!

Alicia Crane Williams

About Alicia Crane Williams

Alicia is the lead genealogist on the new NEHGS study project, Early New England Families, 1641-1700. Prior to joining the NEHGS staff, she compiled and edited numerous important genealogical publications including The Mayflower Descendant, the Alden Family Five Generations project, and the Harlow Family : Descendants of Sgt. William Harlow (1624/5-1691) of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Alicia has served as Historian of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, Assistant Historian General at the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and as Genealogist of the Alden Kindred of America. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree in History from Northeastern University. In October 2016, Alicia was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists.

6 thoughts on “Other spouses of spouses

  1. I’ve learned so much by tracing not only siblings but yes, also spouses of spouses whose children often did move with them which just recently happened with my Massachusetts Smith family and helped prove a lineage for a previously unknown cousin. I’ve also found some unusual family connections that would work well in a modern day fiction novel – interesting.

  2. Such omissions are as well contained in published bibliographies. For example the 3 volume tome prepared by Underhill – “Descendants of Edward Small of New England, and the allied families, with tracings of English ancestry (1910)”, detailed the first wife and family of my great – great – great- Grandfather. Reuben Small ( Huldah Lazdell / Lassell but only briefly mentioned a second wife, Sarah “Patch” Spencer (my family). Heck of a block to overcome with my original skipping of an entire generation. I think that the late Jim Small would be honored if I posted a link to our 10 year effort —I do plan to give this update officially to Boston !

    http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~smalljd/lines/reuben-me.html

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