If for not other reason, John Parmelee is noted for having five wives, apparently having out-lived four of them, and for having children by each of his first four wives. He was born in Lewes, Sussex, England before September 27, 1584. His father, also John Parmelee, had died late in April (buried May 1) 1583, so his mother, Alice Russell, waited a few months to have him baptized. Perhaps she herself was ill, or she was waiting for relatives to arrive. Babies were usually but not always baptized shortly after birth. John is known to have had one sister, Margaret, who was born a little more than ten years earlier than John. There was another sister, Catherine, who would have been about five years older than John but who died as an infant.
It's not clear who raised Margaret and John. Alice apparently did not remarry, which would have been unusual for this time frame, unless her health was not good. Probably the family moved in with relatives and eventually John learned the trade of bricklaying. He supported his own family with his trade. This would have been back breaking work, just as it is today, but John was apparently a strong young man. He married at age 24 for the first time, to Anne Howell, and their marriage lasted until her death 21 years later. They had seven children together, but only one survived childhood.
John next married Hannah Wilbur in 1630. She had two children, and died on February 20, 1634, perhaps as a result of childbirth. Fifteen months later, John married Elizabeth Holter, and had three children with her. Again, all three children died young. He next married Joane Cobden, about 15 months after wife Elizabeth had died, and they had one daughter, Rachel, who was buried just five days after her 1638 baptism. It isn't known what happened to Joane, but she was probably dead when John decided to start a new life in America, or at least when he set sail.
His surviving son John was already in New England when John sailed from London on the St John on May 20, 1639. The ship went directly to New Haven, Connecticut and John Senior joined his son John Junior in Guilford. His signature was on a Plantation Covenant which was officially dated June 1, 1639, but apparently a few late-comers signed the document as they arrived in port. He was assigned a home lot at the north end of the village green, where the First Congregational Church now stands. We are told on the Town of Guilford, Connecticut's website that the homes built were no more than huts, with thatched roofs, wooden walls, and dirt floors, and the village resembled a medieval village for several generations.
John was voted a freeman about 10 years after he arrived in Guilford, but some time before 1659 he and his family moved to New Haven, where he was admitted as a freeman on August 8, 1659. His family at this time included his fifth wife, Elizabeth, whom he had married in 1653. There were fourteen years between the death of his fourth wife and the final marriage, so perhaps John had finally given himself time to grieve the loss of so many wives and so many children. John died November 8, 1659, probably at New Haven. He did leave a will and inventory but so far I haven't been able to locate it.
This brief outline leaves a lot of questions. Was John a strong Puritan church supporter? How did he support his family in Connecticut? What were the early relations with the native Americans? Was he a member of a train band or other military group? I need to find out more about John Parmelee, who sparks my compassion across these many generations.
The line of descent is:
John Parmelee-Hannah Wilbur
Hannah Parmelee-John Johnson
Mary Johnson-Matthew Bellamy
Hannah Bellamy-John Royse
Elizabeth Royse-William McCoy
James McCoy-Nancy Ann Lane
Vincent McCoy-Eleanor Jackson
Nancy-McCoy-George R Allen
Edward Allen-Edith Knott
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook