There are a number of mysteries concerning members of the early Packard generations. I have devoted some effort to a few of those. When enough evidence has been gathered to solve one of those mysteries I will present that evidence here, in the Packard message boards and mailing list. Bear in mind that I have not finished research on the mystery discussed here. I still need to fill in many details, but the essential facts have been made clear.
The first mystery concerns Nicholas Jones, son of Jael Packard and grandson of immigrants Samuel and Elizabeth (___) Packard. For many years Packard researchers have known that Jael married, as his second wife, John Smith of Taunton. Researchers also knew that she had a son, named in John Smith's 1690 will as "Nicholas Joanes my wife's son" [Bristol Co. Probate Records 1:47; abstracted in Rounds, Bristol Co. Probate Abstracts 1:4]. Researchers have assumed that Jael was married twice, first to an unknown man named Jones who was Nicholas' father. That assumption is incorrect - Jael had only one husband, John Smith, and her son Nicholas was illegitimate.
When I first turned my attention to Jael some years ago one record, cited by many researchers, caught my eye, and it seems that other researchers had not realized its import. It is the record of Jael's marriage to John Smith, found among the Taunton marriages in Plymouth Colony Records 8:59, and in Taunton VR 2:356, 440. That record's transcription, as published in MD 20:53, reads "John Smith senir married to Jaell Packer of Bridgwater the 15th of November 1672." Note that she was called "Jaell Packer," not "Jaell Jones" as she would have been termed had she earlier married a man named Jones. This led me to question the assumption of two marriages for Jael.
The evidence that Nicholas Jones was illegitimate is found in the Plymouth Colony court records, from the session of March 4, 1672/1673:
"The condition, that if the said Thomas Jones doe appeer att the Court of his magestie to be holden att Plymouth in June next, to make further answare to what may be required of him in reference to the charge and accussation of Jaell Smith, wherin she chargeth him to have committed vncleanes with her, and that hee, the said Jones, depart not the said Court without lycence; that then, et cetera." [PCR 5:112].
Further details concerning this court case, and other details concerning Nicholas and his father, will form part of an article which I am preparing for publication. For now I will note only two points. The first is that John Smith's will named Nicholas before naming John's own sons (he had two surviving sons in 1690, both by Jael, as his only son by his first wife, Lydia Eliot, had died in 1673) or mentioning his four unnamed daughters. This may indicate a particular fondness of John for Nicholas, or it may be that John reared and regarded Nicholas as his son, and named him first as he was older than his step-brothers John and Seth. Naming sons first, then daughters, in birth order was common in wills of that time. The second point is a record apparently not noticed by other researchers, among the Taunton births under "Unidentified": "-----, Nicklos [dup. Nicholas], step ch. "Farmer Smith," Feb. 21, 1672." [Taunton VR 1:476]. This record was entered at least several months after the fact, as Jael and John were married 15-Nov-1672 (and so the record should be read as 21-Feb-1671/72). I can find no likely identification of "Farmer Smith" with anyone other than John Smith.