Friday, March 28, 2014

Beeks line: Edward Fitzrandolph, gateway immigrant

There is a lot of information on line about this gentleman, but I'm going to give a brief recap here because it's a possible a family member will read about him here for the first time.  This is a condensed version of his life.  He is important in the genealogy world because he was an immigrant in the Winthrop fleet of 1630, and because he has lines that tie him back to Scottish royalty (a direct descendent of William I of Scotland).

Edward Fitzrandolph, often referred to as Junior, was born to Edward Fitzrandolph and Francis Howis or Howes on July 8, 1607 (this may be his christening date) at Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottingham, England.  Frances was Edward's third wife, so some of his brothers and sisters are more correctly called half brothers and sisters.  It appears that Edward had five full brothers and sisters:  Anthony, Ales (Alice), Christopher, Joseph, and John.  Edward was the oldest of them.

In 1630, when Edward was about 23 years old, he came to Massachusetts with the Winthrop fleet.  The Winthrop Fleet was a group of 8 ships, containing about 800 Puritans, that came to settle the Massachusetts Bay colony (not to be confused with Plymouth Colony).  He was settled at Scituate, Massachusetts, with his home being the 38th home built there.  He married Elizabeth Blossom there on May 10, 1637.  Her parents were Elder Thomas Blossom and Ann Heilson, who were passengers on the Speedwell, the ship that was forced to turn back after setting sail with the Mayflower.  Her parents returned to Holland, where Elizabeth was born. 

Edward and Elizabeth had at least 12 children, all born in Barnstable, where they had moved in 1639.  He lived in Barnstable and then West Barnstable until 1669, when he and six of the children moved to Piscataway, New Jersey.  It isn't known why he moved to Piscataway. Perhaps it was economics or perhaps it was religion. His son Nathaniel had married Mary Holley, and this family was Quaker. Perhaps Edward, or Elizabeth, or both, had Quaker leanings and were ready to be a little more free in their religious practices.  Perhaps it was for economics, or perhaps they had simply been approached and asked to help plant a new colony, much as we would ask someone reliable to help plant a new church. 

It is believed that Edward died in 1674 or 1675.  After a second marriage, Elizabeth was buried beside him in 1713, in what is now St James Churchyard in Piscataway. Their stones were lost when a skirmish was fought there during the Revolutionary War, and breastworks were thrown up against the British.  When the area was cleared after the war, the stones weren't found, so even in death, this couple was giving to the cause of their chosen homeland. 

He is referred to as a "yeoman", which would be a farmer of some importance.  I have not found that he was ever made a freeman of the colony, although that is possible.  He did bear arms and was available for military duty. 

I've used James Savage's Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, quotes from The Descendants of Edward Fitzrandolph and Elizabeth Blossom 1630-1950 by Louise Aymar Christian, and Genealogies of Barnstable Families by Amos Otis for this brief discussion. 

Here's the rather lengthy line of descent:

Edward Fitzrandolph-Elizabeth Blossom
Nathaniel Fitzrandolph-Mary Holley
Samuel Fitzrandolph-Mary Jones
Prudence Fitzrandolph-Shubael Smith
Mary Smith-Jonathan Dunham
Samuel Dunham-Hannah Ruble
Jacob Dunham-Catherine Goodnight
Samuel Goodnight Dunham-Eliza Reese
Margaret Catherine Dunham-Harvey Aldridge
Gretta Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Beeks children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren