By Duane A. Boggs
October 9, 2009
This is a theory about the wife of Thomas Burrows (ca. 1676-1763; a/k/a Burroughs, Burrowes, and even Burrus and Barrows) of Jamaica, Long Island, New York and Hopewell/Amwell, Hunterdon County, New Jersey. I propose, as a THEORY only and to be used for further research, that the first Mrs. Thomas Burrows was Charity Woolsey, b. ca. 1679-1685 to George and Hannah (maiden name unknown, some say Van Zandt) Woolsey on Long Island.
There is no direct evidence that I have yet found, in the form of marriage records, wills or deeds, that explicitly states the name of the first wife of Thomas (he was married a second time, in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, in 1733, to Mercy (Furman) Moore, the widow of Gershom Moore). His FIRST wife was the mother of all his children, however.
The indirect (or circumstantial) evidence is of five kinds. First, there is geographical proximity, not only in origin but in migration. Second, there is timing. Third, there are family naming patterns. Fourth, there is social interaction. Fifth, there is the elimination of alternative possibilities. I will address each in turn.
A.Thomas Burrows, born about 1676, was a son of Edward and Mary (Higby) Burrows of Jamaica, Long Island. (He is not to be confused with an older Thomas Burroughs, a pewterer, who married Mary Whitehead and had a daughter Mary, but died about 1703 in New York.It is possible that this older Thomas was an uncle or other relation, but that is speculative at this time.). Thomas is mentioned in a 1702 list as Thomas “junior” (i.e., younger than the other Thomas, who also lived in the area). His father Edward, in his 1705 Last Will and Testament, gave Thomas land near Thomas’s home in Jamaica. Thomas was already married by this time. His likely marriage was about 1701, with his oldest son being named Thomas. Thomas was also named executor in the will of his mother in 1711 (as a widow, she had remarried, to Thomas Oakley). Fairly soon after 1712, Thomas and family had migrated to Hunterdon County, New Jersey (probably to land his father had owned and given to two of Thomas’s brothers in his will, but which Thomas must have purchased from them.)
B.Charity Woolsey was, as of this writing, the HYPOTHETICAL daughter of George and Hannah (MNU) Woolsey of Jamaica, Long Island. Some researchers estimate George’s and Hannah’s date of marriage as 1678 (when George would have been about 26).Given my current knowledge, the full family (i.e., ALL of the children) of George and Hannah have not yet been definitively determined.Generally accepted as their children are George “Jr.” (born ca. 1682), Hannah (b. ca. 1684) and Benjamin (b. ca. 1687).Some researchers have suggested other children Joseph, Daniel and possibly a Sarah.George “Jr.” (b. ca. 1682) and his wife, Hannah (Smith) Woolsey, migrated to Hunterdon County.
C.The land of Thomas Burrows adjoined the land of George Woolsey in Hunterdon County.
Timing gives credence to the theory here. Thomas, born circa 1676, was married circa 1702 in the Jamaica area. His wife was likely younger than he, and surely at least age 16 at marriage, so likely born between 1676 and 1685.I would propose, as a THEORY, that Charity Woolsey might have been born about 1679-1680, between a year after her parents’ marriage, but two years before their son George in 1682.
Thomas Burrows and Hannah’s brother George relocated from Newtown/Jamaica to Hunterdon at about the same time (although estimates of their dates of migration vary).
In the history of American migration, families (including in-laws) often moved in groups, either simultaneously, or sometimes in “shifts”, “stages” or “waves”, with family following family after the initial “beachhead”.
The oldest daughter of Thomas Burrows, born about 1704-1705, was named Charity and a later daughter was named Hannah.The sons of Thomas Burrows were named Edward, Thomas, Stephen, Eden and John.In some families, there are certain traditions about naming the children.Among these sons, Edward was named for his paternal grandfather, Thomas was named for his father (i.e., he was a “jr.”), Stephen, Eden and possibly John, were named for Thomas’s brothers.There was no daughter Mary, named for Thomas’s mother, Mary (Higby) Burroughs.It is almost as if Thomas claimed the right to name his sons and may have relinquished naming rights of his daughters to his wife.At that time, it was not unusual for a woman to name a daughter after herself (e.g., a Charity “Jr.”), and many women also tried to name a daughter for baby’s maternal grandmother.The second daughter of Thomas and HYPO-Charity, named Hannah, could have been named for Hannah (MNU) Woolsey, the (proposed) maternal grandmother.(It is also possible that Hannah was named for Thomas’s sister Hannah (Burroughs) Hinman.).
Of the known GRANDdaughters of Thomas Burrows, there were four named Charity and three named Hannah.
In his Last Will and Testament in 1758 and the codicil in 1761 (both probated in 1764), Thomas left daughter Hannah 15 pounds and one-fourth of his moveable estate while giving his daughter Charity only one-fourth of the moveable estate. Thomas also made specific bequests of ten pounds each to three daughters of his daughter Hannah, namely Rachel, Rebecca and Charity Disborrough (Hannah had married a Disbrow, probably Benjamin).
In his will, Thomas made a specific bequest of five pounds to granddaughter Hannah (Stout) Brinsley, daughter of Zebulon and Charity (Burrows) Stout, despite the fact that she was not fatherless (like Rachel, Rebecca, Charity and Foster Burrows, children of the late Thomas Burrows “junior”).
On the minus side, Thomas Burrows did not have a son named George. However, it appears that several of the children of George and Hannah (MNU) Woolsey did not name a son George.Neither George Jr. nor Benjamin named a son George, although Hannah (Woolsey) Bayles reportedly did.Further research on children of the potential siblings Joseph and Daniel might shed more light on the passing along of the name George. IF the Sarah who married John Woolsey, son of Thomas and Ruth (Bayles) Woolsey was indeed a daughter of George and Hannah (MNU) Woolsey, and thus marrying her first cousin, the only son (named in John’s will) was a Gilbert Woolsey, so this Sarah did not name a son George (if she was even a daughter of George).Of all the postings on World Connect (www.rootsweb.com) about the family of Joseph and Deborah (Coles) Woolsey, they are assigned daughters Hannah and Sarah, but no son George.In partial conclusion, the fact that Thomas Burroughs did not name a son George does NOT take anything away from the THEORY presented here.
In 1756, Thomas Burrows (son of Thomas and HYPO-Charity Woolsey) died in Hunterdon County, leaving a widow Mary and several minor children.His brother Stephen Burrows was an administrator of the estate, but his co-administrator was Jeremiah Woolsey, son of George and Hannah (Smith) Woolsey.
In 1758, Thomas Burrows (b. ca. 1676 and widower of HYPO-Charity Woolsey) wrote a will and one of the three witnesses was this same Jeremiah Woolsey, son of George and Hannah (Smith) Woolsey.
In 1761, the will of George Woolsey of Hunterdon (Jeremiah’s father) was witnessed by Stephen “Barrows” [sic—Burrows], son of Thomas and HYPO-Charity Woolsey.
In 1773, the estate of the late Job Burrowes, son of Thomas and Mary, grandson of Thomas and theoretical Hannah, was inventoried in Hunterdon County by Stephen Burrowes and Jeremiah Woolsey. This Stephen Burrows is likely the decedent’s uncle (rather than his brother, who was named as co-executor with brother Foster Burrowes) and the Jeremiah Woolsey is presumably the son of George and Hannah (Smith) Woolsey.
The connection between Stephen Burrows and Jeremiah Woolsey in these four instances, spanning 16 years, could mean more than mere status as neighbors (or even friends). It could indicate a family relationship, especially in the context of family concerns such as wills and estates. The two men might have been first cousins. If this were the case, then Jeremiah Woolsey was the nephew of Thomas Burrows (the 1764 decedent) and Stephen Burrows was the nephew of George Woolsey (whose will he witnessed). This would be the case if George Woolsey’s sister, HYPO-Charity, had married Thomas Burrows.
Benjamin Woolsey (b. ca. 1687), brother of George “Jr.” and of HYPO-Charity, married Abigail Taylor ca. 1714 in/near Jamaica, Long Island.Abigail Taylor was the daughter of John and Mary (Whitehead) Taylor, and after her father’s death, her mother married as her second husband the widower Thomas Burroughs, the pewterer.Abigail’s mother then had another child, Mary Burroughs.Thus, Abigail Taylor had two step-brothers, Thomas and Joel Burroughs, and a half-sister, Mary Burroughs.After Abigail’s stepfather died, her mother married for a third time, to William Urquhart.IF this Thomas Burroughs was related (perhaps as an uncle?) to Thomas Burroughs, son of Edward, then there was another quasi-Burroughs-Woolsey connection through the marriage of Abigail Taylor and Benjamin Woolsey.
5.Elimination of alternative possibilities.
In my search for Mrs. Thomas Burrows, I searched for women named Charity (based on certain naming patterns in the Burrows family) but found no likely candidates. I then searched for women named Hannah. I focused on families known to be living in the Jamaica area in about 1702. I then further refined the search for those families that also had migrated to Hunterdon. I considered many women named Charity or Hannah, including the surnames Alburtus, Alsop, Bayleys, Carpenter, Case, Clark, Davis, Deane, Denton, Doughty, Field(s), Firmin/Furman, Haight, Hallet, Halstead, Haviland, Hedger, Hinchman, Hunt, Jackson, Johnson, Lawrence, Moore, Owen, Pearsall, Reed, Reeder, Searing, Smith, Sprague, Stringham, Thorne, Titus, Townsend, Way, White, Willetts, Woolsey and Wright. By process of elimination (based on timing, alternative marriages, etc.) I narrowed the field to just one final candidate: HYPOTHETICAL Charity Woolsey.
6. The name “Charity”
The name “Charity” is, of course, one of the “virtue” names given to daughters primarily by New England Puritans.As far as I can determine, the name “Charity” had never been used in the Woolsey family in colonial New York from about 1647 until about 1680, when I am proposing that it was introduced as a “popular” name rather than one bearing family significance.Interestingly, researchers report that Sarah (Woolsey) Hallett (Mrs. William), daughter of George and Rebecca (Cornell) Woolsey (and thus sister of the George born in 1652, who married Hannah (MNU) ca. 1678) named a daughter Charity Hallett in March 1684/85 while living in the area of Newtown, Long Island (not all that far from Jamaica).As far as I can tell, the name “Charity” had not been previously used in the Hallett family, so it is obvious that the Long Islanders were beginning to use the name “Charity” for their daughters.This Charity Hallett would have been a first cousin (and near contemporary) of the HYPO-Charity Woolsey I am proposing.
Does anyone have any information that would support or disprove this theory? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.