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The efforts made by the NEW ENGLAND HISTORIC GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY, through its Committee on English Research, to procure funds sufficient to enable it to make an exhaustive search of the English Records, on a plan never before attempted, for everything which concerns the family history of the early settlers of this country; its great good fortune in securing the services of the eminent antiquary, HENRY FITZGILBERT WATERS; his peculiar qualifications for the task, and the superiority of the method adopted by him, are all set forth in the NEW ENGLAND HISTORICAL AND GENEALOGICAL REGISTER for July, 1883 (xxxvii., 305); July, 1884 (xxxviii., 339); and January, 1888 (xlii., 40).
Mr. Waters sailed for England May 5, 1883, and at once entered upon his great work. The step thus taken was a most important one, and marked a new departure in genealogical research. The notes printed in the REGISTER for July, 1883 (xxxvii., 233), were the results of Mr. Waters's first few days' work among the records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Somerset House, London. They arrived here barely in time for publication in that number of the REGISTER, and were a foretaste of what was to Before a twelvemonth had passed he had accumulated a vast amount of historical and genealogical material, including abstracts of more than six hundred wills relating to American families, and he has since then industriously added to his invaluable collections, until they are now unequalled both in extent and in importance.
Some of the results of his researches, under the title of "Genealogical Gleanings in England," have been given to the public in the NEW ENGLAND HISTORICAL AND GENEALOGICAL REGISTER, the organ of the Society. It has now been deemed advisable to reprint some of these "Gleanings" in a form more convenient for reference. The present volumes include the various instalments published in the REGISTER from July, 1883, to January, 1899, inclusive.
In addition to these genealogical researches, Mr. Waters has made historical discoveries of the highest value. We owe to him the finding of the Winthrop map and the Maverick MS., two of
the most important contributions made in our day to our early colonial history. For an account of the former, the reader is referred to the "Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society" for June, 1884 (xxi., 211), and the REGISTER for July, 1884 (xxxviii., 342). The Maverick MS. was printed in the "Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society" for October, 1884 (xxi., 231), and in the REGISTER for January, 1885 (xxxix., 33). These discoveries excited great attention among historical students, not only in this country, but also in England.
Mr. Waters also contributed "Papers in Egerton MS. 2395," to the REGISTER for April, 1886 (xl., 175); the will of Alexander Selkirk - the real Robinson Crusoe to the REGISTER for October, 1896 (1., 539), and the will of Thomas Hobson, carrier ("Hobson's choice, that or none"), to the REGISTER for October, 1898 (lii., 487). A facsimile of the will of Alexander Selkirk may be found in the REGISTER for April, 1897 (li., 150).
Mr. Waters also made a most valuable collection of "Extracts from Marriage Licenses granted by the Bishop of London, 1598 to 1639," which he intended should be printed in the REGISTER as an instalment of these Gleanings, but being unable, much to his regret, "to get it before the genealogical world through that channel," and as it seemed to him "too valuable not to be published," he contributed it to the Historical Collections of the Essex Institute (xxviii., 57-150).
To some of the various instalments of Gleanings published in the REGISTER I added certain explanatory remarks by way of introduction, and these remarks it has been thought advisable to reprint here in this preface, in order not to break the continuity of Mr. Waters's notes.
The article in the REGISTER for July, 1883 (xxxvii., 233-240) (pp. 1-8 this book), was introduced by a note from which the following extract is made:
It has been found almost impossible heretofore, in most cases, to establish satisfactorily the relationship between English and American families of the same name, and this failure to connect has been to the American genealogist the source of his greatest trouble. The searches now undertaken promise for the first time to meet and overcome this difficulty. The method adopted by Mr. Waters, so different from that of his predecessors, cannot fail to bring to light information which must necessarily have escaped the attention of all other investigators.
The article on "John Harvard and his Ancestry," Part I., in the REGISTER for July, 1885 (xxxix., 265) (pp. 117-134 this book), was preceded by the following introductory note:
The Committee on English Research of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, under whose direction Mr. Waters is now pursu
ing his investigations in England, have on more than one occasion asserted that the method of search adopted by him - so different from that of his predecessors would without fail enable him to bring to light what had escaped the notice of all other antiquaries. Striking proofs of the correctness of this statement have been already afforded by the remarkable discoveries Mr. Waters has hitherto made, and the following paper, in which the parentage and ancestry of John Harvard are for the first time conclusively shown, will add still another.
In 1842 the late James Savage, President of the Massachusetts Historical Society and author of the "Genealogical Dictionary of New England," went to England for the express purpose of ascertaining what could be learned of the early history of John Harvard; but although Mr. Everett, then our minister to the court of St. James, rendered every assistance in his power, no trace of Harvard could be found, except his signature on taking his degrees at the University of Cambridge. Mr. Savage tells us that he would gladly have given five hundred dollars to get five lines about him in any capacity, public or private. Since that date others have made efforts equally unavailing. The late Col. Joseph L. Chester, in a letter written the year before his death to the editor of the REGISTER (REGISTER, XXXVI., 319), says that he had carried about with him daily for many years a bit of pedigree of Harvard in the hope of being able to perfect it; that he thought he had found the will of the father of John Harvard, but could not yet prove it; that he disliked to put forward a mere theory, but hoped to. come upon further evidence some day.
At a meeting of the New England Historic Genealogical Society held in Boston, June 3, 1885, a paper by Miss Frances B. James, of Cambridge, Mass., was read, on "John Harvard's English Home, a Caveat in Behalf of Devonshire." It contained the results of some researches made by her in the summer of 1883, in Plymtree, co. Devon, England, where there formerly lived a family of Harward or Harvard, but no claim was made by her that any relationship could be shown to exist between this family and that of John Harvard.
Mr. William Rendle, in an article in the "Genealogist" for April, 1884, on "Harvard University, U. S., and the Harvards of Southwark," gives a list of certain Harvards of the Parish of St. Saviour's noted by him, but he failed to find the baptism of John Harvard, and was unable to connect him with this family of Harvards. In the South London "Press" for April 11, 1885, and in the "Athenæum" for April 18, 1885, Mr. Rendle has something further to say about the Harvards. He gives the date of baptism of a John Harvye, whom he says he believes to be the founder of Harvard College, but is unable to prove the fact, and offers no evidence to support. it. These articles, however, contain nothing new. Everything of importance in them had been previously made known to us by Mr. Waters. The record of this very baptism had been already found by him, and a copy of it sent to the committee. Mr. Rendle's knowledge of it seems to have been obtained from a person to whom Mr. Waters had mentioned it as a discovery of his own, and its appropriation by Mr. Rendle without acknowledgment, and its publication in this manner, was certainly a most extraordinary proceeding.
It had long been known that there was a family of Harvards in St. Saviour's Parish, Southwark; that John, son of Richard, was baptized
there 11 Dec., 1606; another John, son of Robert, baptized 29 Nov., 1607; another John, son of John, baptized 2 Feb., 1611; and still another John, son of John, baptized 10 April, 1614; but whether the benefactor of the College was one of these, or whether he was of Southwark at all, has not been known, until now at last the proof is presented to us by Mr. Waters. Colonel Chester, as we have seen, years ago surmised that he was the son of Robert Harvard, but, like a true genealogist, waited for evidence before making a positive statement. Probably nearly every one in America who was interested in Harvard, and had given the subject much thought, suspected, at least, if not believed, that he was the son of Robert Harvard, of Southwark. So that Mr. Rendle offers nothing new and merely adds his belief to theirs, for which he fails to offer evidence. That Southwark was a field for persecution, and therefore its people must have been ready to emigrate to New England, carries no weight, for there was persecution in other parts of England; and it would be difficult for Mr. Rendle or any other investigator to show that more people came to New England for religion's sake from the county of Surrey than from the counties of Somerset, Dorset, or Wilts, in all of which Harvards were to be found. Could he say that John Harvard was not from either of these counties, or from St. Katherine's near the Tower in co. Middlesex where a family of Harvards lived, or that he was not the son of Robert Harvey, alias Harverde, of Rugby in Warwickshire?
Mr. Waters, however, is the first to show conclusively that John Harvard, from whom the College takes its name, was one of the sons of Robert Harvard of the parish of St. Saviour's, Southwark, London, and Katherine (Rogers) Harvard his wife, and that he was baptized in that parish Nov. 29, 1607. Ample proof of this is afforded by the documentary evidence now for the first time published, to which the attention of the reader is directed. The parentage of John Harvard is no longer a mystery. Mr. Waters gives us here, among others, the wills of his father and mother, his brother Thomas Harvard, his uncle Thomas Harvard, his aunt by marriage Margaret Harvard, his stepfathers John Elletson and Richard Yearwood, and his father-in-law John Sadler.
But although so much has been accomplished that a few months ago would have been thought impossible, much remains to be done. There are other fields of research as yet unexplored, which will richly repay all the expenditure of time and labor which a thorough investigation of them will require.
The expense of the search thus far has been met by voluntary contributions of the Alumni, particularly the Harvard Club of New York.
The article in the REGISTER for October, 1885 (xxxix., 325) (pp. 134-145 this book), was introduced by the following note:
The following is the tenth in the remarkable series of papers contributed to the REGISTER by Mr. Waters, and modestly styled by him "Genealogical Gleanings in England." The article on "John Harvard and his Ancestry," published in the REGISTER for July last, although it appears under a separate title, was the ninth in that series.
There is no need to enlarge upon the importance of Mr. Waters's dis
coveries in relation to John Harvard; but it will not be out of place to make the announcement here that Harvard College, in grateful recognition of his patient labors in these investigations, conferred upon him on Commencement Day, June 24, 1885, the honorary degree of Master of Arts. The words of President Eliot on that occasion were:
Henricum Fitz-Gilbert Waters investigatorem antiquitatis curiosum, de Universitate ob genus Johannis Harvard feliciter exquisitum bene meritum, artium magistrum causa honoris.
At the Commencement Dinner President Eliot said:
The class of 1855, this day thirty years out of college, the class which boasts Agassiz the naturalist, Francis C. Barlow the general, Theodore Lyman the independent, and Phillips Brooks the great preacher and large minded man, has won a new distinction this year. One of its members, Henry Fitzgilbert Waters, genealogist and antiquarian, has discovered, by most patient and ingenious research, the family of John Harvard. We have only known about our first benefactor that he was a master of arts of Emmanuel College, and a non-conforming minister, that he had a well chosen library of three hundred volumes and some property, and that he was admitted a freeman in this colony in November, 1637, and died at Charlestown within a year, leaving his library and half of his estate to the infant college at Cambridge, which was thereafter called by his name. Nothing has been known about his family or the sources of his property, until now, when Mr. Waters has brought to light the wills of his father, two step-fathers, mother, brother, uncle, aunt, and father-in-law, besides other documents of importance in connection with these wills.
John Harvard, whose faith and piety planted this institution, was baptized in the parish of St. Saviour's, Southwark, London, Nov. 29, 1607, being the son of Robert Harvard, a well-to-do butcher, and Katherine Rogers. The mother's maiden name was discovered through the will of William Ward, a goldsmith, who, in 1624, bequeathed a ring of gold to the value of 20s. to his brother Robert Harvard. Rose Rogers, the wife of William Ward, was the sister of Katherine Rogers, John Harvard's mother, so that William Ward could speak of Robert Harvard as his brother. The father, youngest brother, and older brother of our benefactor died in 1625, perhaps of the plague which raged that year in London, and the father disposed by will of a property considerable for those days, the widow and her two surviving sons receiving most of it. Katherine Harvard married John Elletson, a cooper, in January, 1626; but he died in the following June, leaving another considerable property to his widow Katherine. In December, 1627, John Harvard was entered at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, at the age of twenty, presumably by the advice of the Rev. Mr. Morton or the Rev. Mr. Archer, ministers of the parish of St. Saviour's, both of whom are remembered in the will of John Harvard's mother and in that of his brother Thomas. Five years later this mother appears as the widow and principal heir of Richard Yearwood, a grocer, who was mentioned in the will of her first husband, Robert Harvard, as 66 my good neighbor and friend Richard Yearwood." In July, 1635, Katherine (Harvard) (Elletson) Yearwood made her will and died, leaving her property, which had been derived from her three husbands, the butcher, the cooper, and the grocer, chiefly to her two sons, John and Thomas Harvard, with a preference, however, for the elder son," John Harvard, clarke." In this year John took his master's degree at Cambridge. In February, 1637, he appears married to Ann Sadler, seven years younger than himself, and the daughter of a clergyman settled at Ringmer in Sussex. In July, 1636, John's younger brother Thomas, a cloth worker, being "sick and weak in body," made his will, in which he disposed of a fair property, a good portion of which he gave to his well beloved brother John. The executors named in this will were his brother John and Nicholas Morton, preacher; but when the will was proved on the 5th of May, 1637, only Mr. Morton appeared, John Harvard having sailed