Friday, August 9, 2013

Elizabeth --?--, the Wife of John Goodrich (1616-1680) of Wethersfield, Connecticut

A reader wrote in a comment to  Listing My Elizabeth LNU Elusive Ancestors (posted 1 August 2013):

"Re: * Elizabeth (~1620 to 1670), married to John Goodrich (1616 to 1680)

"I have a John Goodrich, 1623–1680, of Wethersfield, CT, and son of John Goodrich & Margery Howe. Is this the same as yours? If so, the Elizabeth he married is identified as Elizabeth Edwards, d/o Thomas Edwards & Elizabeth Busfield (Charles Collard Adams, Middletown Upper Houses)."

Thank you for the tip.  I've seen it before, and have not accepted that relationship.  I recall seeing an article in a peer reviewed publication (I'm thinking NEHGR or TAG (The American Genealogist))  that disputed the claim and had some sources to support the position.  I will have to go find it!

I was curious, so I went and found my Goodrich paper file in a binder hiding in my bookcases.  It had these two pages from The American Genealogist, Volume 9, pages 44-45 (1932) (accessed on the American Ancestors website:

The article, by eminent genealogist Donald Lines Jacobus, provides analysis of the evidence, including:

"No record evidence has been seen for the statement that Elizabeth was a daughter of Thomas Edwards, nor does anything appear to indicate that she was an Edwards at all.  Thomas Edwards died in 1683 aged about 62, by Wethersfield records.  This fixes his date of birth approximately in 1621, hence it was impossible for him to be the father of Elizabeth who was married to John Goodrich  by 1645.  Records of the estate of Thomas Edwards prove that he had a daughter Ruth who married Samuel Hale, and indicates quite clearly that she was his only child who survived to have issue; see Manwaring's Early Connecticut Probate Records, vol. 1, page 300, and vol. 2, page 194.  Ruth (Edwards) Hale was born about 1652, by her age at death, which is in harmony with the birth of her father, Thomas Edwards, in about 1621.  The dates of Elizabeth make it impossible to place her as sister of Ruth, and daughter of Thomas."


"Goodwin's statement, which has been reprinted without reflection or investigation by many subsequent authorities, has no basis in fact. The maiden name of Elizabeth, the first wife of John Goodrich, is unknown."

That is why I did not assign Elizabeth with the surname Edwards, or provide a relationship to Thomas Edwards (1621-1683) of Wethersfield, Connecticut.  There is the possibility that Elizabeth was a sister of Thomas Edwards.  

Other authored works note that after Elizabeth (--?--) Goodrich died in 1670, her minor children were sent to Sudbury to live with Thomas and Katherine (--?--) Read;  it is possible that Elizabeth and Katherine were related, perhaps sisters.  

There are 82 Ancestry Member Trees that have Elizabeth (ca 1620-1670) as a wife of John Goodrich (born 1616, plus/minus 2 years).  Of those 82, 67 call her Elizabeth Edwards.  A search for Elizabeth Edwards (born 1620 plus/minus two years), provides 93 matches.  Of those, 40 claim her father was Thomas Edwards, and 2 claimed her father was John Edwards.  

As many have noted, there is a tremendous temptation to "go along with the crowd" when searching for parents of an ancestor - "look, here's a maiden name" and then "look, they have a parents name."  "Genea-seduction is everywhere!"

The wise and experienced researcher will conduct an extensive literature search to find published surname and locality books, periodical articles, manuscripts, and other records in order to find research that may have been performed by other researchers.  In some cases, as Jacobus points out above, a researcher publishes erroneous information and it gets carried on by other authors, and at some point that information gets entered into some online family trees.  

The Goodrich Family in America surname book is available online at and Google Books.  all issues of the New England Genealogical and Historical Register (from 1847 to the present) and most issues of The American Genealogist (from 1932 to about 2000), and several other periodical runs, are available online at American Ancestors, and are searchable.  The books and periodicals are also available on the shelf at many local, regional and national libraries.

True confession:  Yes, I too have sinned in the past, and even the present.  I try to find those offending conclusions and use them only when I can find confirming evidence in records or in authored works (I tend to trust authored works with source citations to original records).  It's a laborious process sometimes, and I feel sorry to lop off a branch on the family tree, but it has to be done.  That review and evaluation process is why I seem to have a lot of females (especially) with no maiden name - hundreds of them!  They are, of course, research opportunities!

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


wendy said...

Randy - thanks for the tip about the Goodrich book. John Goodrich & Margerie Howe are my 9th gr-grandparents via their son William. Again - lots of research on my part needs to be done in order to be convinced of that.

Dona said...

Thank you for finding that article. I hadn't seen it as yet, and I appreciate getting the analysis that proves the "authority" was wrong in this case. And it shows us how we should be analyzing the relationships in our trees.

Geolover said...

The corrective article is a good example of a researcher's doing more a more comprehensive search of available records. The evaluation also included more attention to details in the records, a nice lesson in bringing all of the accessible information to bear in reaching conclusions.

Randy's noting this corrective article is, in turn, in the same spirit of doing as exhaustive a search for information as is feasible. Respected, peer-reviewed genealogical journals are full of such revisions, which may appear only a year or many decades after publication of earlier conclusions regarding an individual or part of a family.

At the same time, a great many published accounts evaporate when evaluated as to the extent accurately based on evidence.

The careful genealogist should always be ready to Question Authority!

Penelope Sanchez said...

Wife of John Goodrich was NOT daughter of Thomas Edwards of Wethersfield. Earlier information reported that Elizabeth, wife of John Goodrich, was a daughter of Thomas Edwards of Wethersfield.

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