I have just made a significant breakthrough in my family history research. I felt a need to find out about Theoda Wells’ ancestry and had no parents or siblings for her – just a husband, James Ticknor, about whom I knew very much. I put a star on her name in my Grandmpther, Clara Frances King’s fan chart. I like fan charts because they show a little information about a lot of people in a way that is easy to understand and easy to spot gaps. These are taken from my family history on FamilySearch.org.
My research into Theoda’s roots have shown she has at least 6 ancestors who came to America aboard the Mayflower including 3 signers of the Mayflower Compact and their wives.
The signers of the Mayflower Compact include:
|The signers of the Mayflower Compact||include:|
|John Carver||Edward Tilley||Degory Priest|
|William Bradford||John Tilley (11GGF)||Thomas Williams|
|Edward Winslow||Francis Cooke||Gilbert Winslow|
|William Brewster||Thomas Rogers||Edmund Margesson|
|Isaac Allerton||Thomas Tinker||Peter Browne|
|Myles Standish||John Rigsdale||Richard Britteridge|
|John Alden||Edward Fuller||George Soule|
|Samuel Fuller||John Turner||Richard Clarke|
|Christopher Martin||Francis Eaton||Richard Gardiner|
|William Mullins||James Chilton||John Allerton|
|William White (11GGF)||John Crackstone||Thomas English|
|Richard Warren||John Billington||Edward Doty|
|John Howland (10GGF)||Moses Fletcher||Edward Leister|
|Stephen Hopkins||John Goodman|
I have highlighted those who are known ancestors of Theoda Wells my sons’ and daughters’ 5th great grandmother (5GGM) in blue. The line to Theoda is through my father:
Charles King Roushar ⇐ Clara Frances King ⇐ Charles Franklin King ⇐ David Wilson King ⇐ Asenath Ticknor ⇐ Theoda Wells
- William White’s and Susanna Jackson White’s son Peregrine was born shipboard, so he crossed the Atlantic in-utero (in a very brave Susanna).
- John Howland fell overboard mid-journey, and was rescued. He married Elizabeth Tilley, who was also aboard.
- Both Theoda Wells and her husband, James Ticknor are related to John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley through different lines.
- The Winslows may be relatives as well but I am still researching them.
“The Mayflower was supposed to accompany another ship, the Speedwell, to America, but the Speedwell proved too leaky for the voyage so the Mayflower proceeded alone. Departing on 6 September 1620, the ship was at sea for 66 days, arriving November 9. The ship and crew overwintered with the Pilgrims and departed back for England on 5 April 1621, arriving back to England on May 6” (Mayflower History).
This has been the result of hundreds of hours of research, and I will continue giving it two or three hours every week, as it is a great diversion for me. I originally drafted this on November 25, 2018, and have since updated it with more details. As historical research deserves context, I’ve tied in major historical events, such as the Hundred Years War fought between our own York and Valois ancestors on opposite sides of the English Channel, and the Wars of the Roses.
This is the Mayflower Compact:
In ye name of God Amen· We whose names are vnderwriten, the loyall subjects of our dread soueraigne Lord King James by ye grace of God, of great Britaine, franc, & Ireland king, defender of ye faith, &c Haueing vndertaken, for ye glorie of God, and aduancemente of ye christian ^faith and honour of our king & countrie, a voyage to plant ye first colonie in ye Northerne parts of Virginia· doe by these presents solemnly & mutualy in ye presence of God, and one of another, couenant, & combine our selues togeather into a ciuill body politick; for ye our better ordering, & preseruation & furtherance of ye ends aforesaid; and by vertue hearof, to enacte, constitute, and frame shuch just & equall lawes, ordinances, Acts, constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete & conuenient for ye generall good of ye colonie: vnto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witnes wherof we haue herevnder subscribed our names at Cape Codd ye ·11· of Nouember, in ye year of ye raigne of our soueraigne Lord king James of England, france, & Ireland ye eighteenth and of Scotland ye fiftie fourth. Ano: Dom ·1620·|
While the Thanksgiving story about all the good will between the colonist settlers and the natives has been embellished ad absurdum, it isn’t a total fabrication. I found at least a few of our ancestors or their cousins who married indigenous people, and that feels positive. The real upshot, in my estimation, is that we, of all nations, have a national holiday of thanksgiving that is not for any one religion or group. There are many harvest festivals, and one might argue that ours is another copy. But the ones I have witnessed are public fetes, while ours is celebrated cozily in the home. I like that intimacy, and I’m willing to suspend judgement on my ancestors to celebrate family each November as winter closes in.
Today I was able to fill in all of Eleazer Wells lineage, and Joanna Cole to make a relatively good fan. This afternoon, before I was able to load the information on their parents, it looked more like a turkey than a fan:
I highlighted the Mayflower travelers with stars. We have the names of many of the ships our people rode.
Theoda’s husband was James Ticknor. He has an illustrious lineage as well, including Mayflower folks, so I thought I’d include it in this story.
Allow me to explain the stars on James Ticknor’s lineage. John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley are explained above. Alice Freeman is one of our most direct link to the Kings of England of the Windsor and Hanover lines. This goes through the Throckmortons and Giffards. I will show below how the Wells line brings us to Plantagenets. (For Brit royal ancestry, go to https://fabpedigree.com/willa1.htm and find 5 Giffards, 14 Throckmortons, and many others showing in the chart below.)
Back to James Ticknor’s fan chart: Reverend John Lothrop was a great reformer and his story is fascinating, including imprisonment in England for heresy. John Lothrop’s heritage is interesting. It appears that he has nearly 2 million American descendants living today. Besides being our 10th great grandfather, his direct decedents include U.S. Presidents:
- Ulysses S. Grant (and also General of the North’s efforts to end slavery)
- Franklin D. Roosevelt (the President that helped defeat Hitler)
|· William Howard Taft
· Millard Fillmore
|· George H.W. Bush
· George W. Bush
|· George Romney
· Mitt Romney
· Jon Huntsman, Jr
· Jeb Bush
|· Thomas E. Dewey
· Pierre Samuel DuPont
· Thomas H. Kean
· Sarah Palin
- Former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
- American Novelist, Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Inventor of the Cotton Gin, Eli Whitney, Jr. (whose invention would end the need for slave labor in picking cotton)
- Founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Joseph Smith
I find the puzzle of family history work thoroughly fascinating, and I have built on work done by many others before me, including many of my Roushar and Dooley relatives, and Ann’s Haggen relatives. Thanks to everyone for sharing.
A core tool for managing my research is called “Ancestral Quest” and it makes it easy for me to correlate information from many sources. In that tool I have over 12,400 names from my lines and my wife’s lines, though the connections in my FamilySearch.org tree include more like 15,000 – 25,000 names, with one line going back to ADAM and EVE (through the Kings of England who may have fudged here and there…).
I mentioned the line that goes from the Wells family (back to Theoda who prompted my research) to the Plantagenet family of English royalty. Some of the records are not credible to me, showing mothers bearing children for 50+ years. For example, Elizabeth Bryan is said to have married Baron Thomas of Welles in 1535 (at age 34 which is not young for child bearing – though her birthdate may be incorrect). Some records show the following children:
|Likely biological children||20 year gap indicates grandkids||22 year gap from Jane Welles|
|Viscount John Welles 1537-1618||John Wills ???||Hugh Welles 1594-1660|
|Ann Welles 1538-???||Thomas Welles 1562-1659|
|John Wells 1539-1572||Robert Welles 1568-1619|
|Robert Welles 1540-1617||Jane Welles 1572-1669|
|Walter Welles 1542-???|
These two twenty plus year gaps in birthdates suggest that the people may very well be grand children and great-grandchildren. The repetition of the name Robert Welles, though common when the child dies in infancy or childhood, is extremely unlikely for surviving siblings. Therefor it is pretty easy to assume that the Robert Welles born in 1568 was the nephew or child of the Robert Welles born in 1540.
Baron Thomas Welles would be Theoda’s 6th great grandfather (6GGF) if, indeed, the records turn out to be accurate. Or there may be some missing generations in between, or they may be unrelated. I can believe these are all Elizabeth Bryan’s descendants. My current research is to try to find the truth about the sons and daughters of Baron Thomas of Welles and Elizabeth Bryan.
There is another family in this group that is prolific beyond belief, but this time on the other side of the pond. Thomas Welles IV, Theoda’s great-great-great grandfather (3GGF) married Mary Beardsley (then 20 years old) in 1651 in Hartford, Connecticut, British Colonial America. The records are pretty clear about who, when and where. It gets tricky when we look at the size of the brood.
Apparent biological children of Thomas Welles IV ii and Mary Beardsley
|Thomas Welles 1652-1691||John Welles 1660-1680||Hannah Welles 1667-1733**|
|Mary Wells 1653-1658[*]||Joanna Welles 1661-1728||Ebenezer Welles Sr 1668-1707**|
|Sarah Wells 1655-1676||Samuel Welles 1662-1690||Daniel Welles 1669-1670*|
|John Wells 1656-1657*||Mary Welles 1664-1751||Ephraim Wells 1671-1748|
|Captain Jonathan Wells 1658-1739[**]||Lieutenant Noah Welles 1666-1712**||Joshua Wells 1673-1676*|
|Mary Wells 1658-16648||Martha Welles 1666-???||Mary Wells 1675-1675*|
Chronologically and biologically, these records may be correct. But knowing the toll on a mother of bearing and rearing many children, this seems extraordinary to me. I can understand her leaving off childbearing after the infant death of her third Mary, and relaxing to raise the surviving children for the last 16 years of her life. The French Canadian Guimond line through my mother, Pat Dooley, has several families of this girth. In modern context, it is well-nigh unthinkable.
[*] Death at young age accounts for recurring name use – somewhat common in times of high infant mortality
[**] Very well documented persons – and Lieutenant Noah Welles is in our direct line
Some records show Richard Plantagenet and Cecily Neville, Duchess of York with 20 children, three named Mary. They are my 16th great grandparents and lived through the Wars of Roses. At least two of their sons ruled England.
Genealogy gets more difficult the further back you go, but the times and places in history inhabited by some of these people were quite treacherous and ambiguous while they were living. Take, for example, King Edward IV of York (my 15GGF). Even while he was a sitting monarch, his paternity was challenged. The historical record leaves huge gaps and mysteries that may never be resolved without appeal to a higher power. And that contributes to the fun. I’m into fiction and fantasy, and the popular Game of Thrones series of books and films appears to borrow liberally from the events of that era.
On a related note, Henry VIII Tudor is Edward IV’s grandson through daughter Elizabeth Plantagenet. She married Henry VII in 1455. Mary Queen of Scots is their great granddaughter. Henry and Anne Boleyn bore Elizabeth I Tudor, Queen of England, who plays a significant role in the drama of Mary, Queen of Scots – subject of a film that’s currently popular. A tree diagram that shows the connections between Elizabeth and Mary and is available at: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/A_History_of_the_British_Monarchy/Genealogical_Tables.
Here is the Line to the Plantagenets. As you can see (almost), King Edward of York is Thomas Welles IV’s 4th great grandfather (4GGF). We are connected through his daughter, Cecily. The picture on the right is Cecily, and I have shown her husband, John Welles’ coat of arms.
I see records showing that Edward IV of York and his wife Elizabeth had 13 children. The Plantagenet line includes Edwards and Richards in kingly succession, this one, the 4th of that name, was the first Yorkist King. He was King twice, with a brief hiatus from ’70 to ’71. He was known for the Wars of the Roses in which the houses of Lancaster (red rose) and York (white rose) struggled for control of England. The outcome of all this fighting was that France was ruled by House Valois (see Charles Capet, Count of Valois: 21GGF), and later House Orléans, and England by the Tudors.
The beauty of a completed fan chart is amazing, and this one for King Edward IV runs from the mid-1400s back to the late 1200s, though, as suggested above, may have errors.
This lineage shows profoundly the connections to other European capitals – connections that were long a matter of significant pride among royals. It is interesting to note Edward’s great-great grandmother Philippa of Hainaut is of House Valois but lived in Windsor Castle while their families feuded.
Even though this lineage has been a matter of public record for centuries, there are still significant gaps and ambiguities. Here is another fan for the same family, different wife. The gaps in Edwards lines are due to conflicting records.
The name “Plantagenet” sounds French, and it is. Edward IV was born in Rouen, France. His great-great-grandfather, Edward III (1312-1377), claimed the throne of France beginning in 1328. That did not work out exactly the way he planned, as the House of Valois asserted their authority and there was a little war between the French and English for a century. As mentioned earlier, Philippa Hainault, daughter of Jeanne de Valois Countess of Hainault lived in Windsor Castle during the Hundred Years War.
Back to James Ticknor’s 4th great-grandmother Alice Freeman. Alice Freeman is my 10th great-grandmother, and is also Lady Diana Spencer’s 10th great-grandmother. Following her line back to Thomas Giffard’s father, John, we have a direct line to the current royals in the United Kingdom. Alice Freeman ⇐ Margaret Edwards ⇐ Edward Edwards (Alwalton) ⇐ Susanna Samwell ⇐ Amy Gifford ⇐ Thomas Gifford of Twyford (15GGF).
Thomas Gifford of Twyford is His Royal Highness, Prince Charles’ 14th great uncle. His father, John Gifford is HRH Prince Charles’ 14th great-grandfather. I suspect John Gifford’s wife, Agnes Winslow, may tie us to other Mayflower people.
 Winslows in our line: I’ve found 26 Winslow and Wyncelow people from the 1400s, 1500s, and 1600s in England.
It is interesting that while World-Wars I and II were wracking Europe, the current royal line decided to abandon references to their Saxe-Gotha and Saxe-Coburg lineage and rename the family the House of Windsor, reflecting one of the favorite castles and some of the ancestors. This diminished UK’s formal connections to Europe, connections which are again declining with “Brexit”.
I mentioned the Throckmortons. Here’s a little more detail. To get here from Alice Freeman ⇐ Margaret Edwards ⇐ Edward Edwards ⇐ Anne Gifford ⇐ Thomas Gifford ⇐ Agnes Winslow ⇐ John de Throckmorton.
John Throckmorton is His Royal Highness Prince Charles’ 16th great grandfather I’ve seen pictures of some of these folks’ castles on the internet and I’d love to tour them someday. But for now, I’m pleased to know we’re family.
Gaps in my information about Theoda Wells prompted this recent round of searching, and it has filled out the historical record regarding my lineage through my Dad and his Mom.
Not long ago, I went to Zilhausen to see where the Herres and the Bizers grew up (see my prior post). It was fascinating for me, even though I was unable to find information about the Epplers I was hoping to add. I did learn about the Hohenzollern family dynasty that was based only a dozen kilometers from Grandma Clara’s ancestral home. Ann and I are going to Ireland for the first time next spring and hope to fill out more information on my Dooley line.
Why should I care so much about all these folks who are no longer around? Well, I do care, and I believe they are still alive in another sphere. If I’m wrong, then the work I’ve done to find out about them has just been a pleasant diversion. I do not think that going back this far in history will lead to any medical, philosophical or social progress, though near-term family history and migration patterns may. If I’m right, then in the future course of eternity, as I encounter these people, I know many of the questions I will ask them about their sojourn on Earth. I place a lot of stock in people’s stories, so if it works out as I expect, much of the joy of heaven will be sharing it with them.