The Case for a New York Connection for Benjamin Griswold Hildreth b. South Carolina 1802
Please note that the conclusions of this paper while based on verifiable historical documents must rely on deductive reasoning at certain key points.These points will require additional research before we can say with certainty that the conclusions are correct.If anyone has information to either support or correct any part of this paper please contact me and/or post such information on-line.
Conclusion: There is sufficient historical evidence for Benjamin Griswold Hildreth’s parents to be from New York, and, for Benjamin Griswold Hildreth to be a descendent of Thomas Hildreth d 1657 Southampton, Suffolk County, New York.
Citations and reasoning:
1) Benjamin Griswold Hildreth
a) As an historical person.We have ample evidence for Benjamin Griswold Hildreth starting with the records of his and his sister Ann’s christening in the Independent Congregational Church in Charleston, multiple census records in Alabama, family records, records of his marriage to Jemima Dowling and their children, grandchildren, great grand children, etc.Most of this material is available on-line through any of the genealogy sites.From this early material, perhaps the most significant facts we gather are the name Griswold and that Benjamin Griswold Hildreth’s parents are Benjamin and Mary Hildreth.
b) Parents are named Benjamin and Mary Hildreth.The christening records establish BGH’s parents’ names as Benjamin (“SC/NY”) and Mary Hildreth.A frustratingly common combination in Hildreth genealogy.
c) Griswold is a unique name in Hildreth genealogy.To date, other than as a given name for our Benjamin Griswold Hildreth and one additional reference which I’ll discuss later, I’ve not been able to find the name Griswold (or any variation) in any Hildreth records, Hildreth Family Association material, on-line genealogy sites, New York Historical Society records, Southampton and Suffolk County New York records or any other source.Thus we have two lingering questions, (i) where did the name Griswold originate and (ii) why did Benjamin-SC/NY give this name to his son.
a) Benjamin-SC/NY Hildreth and wife Mary as historical persons.Other than the South Carolina records included in pages 8 and 9 of The Hildreth Familywe find no mention of Benjamin-SC/NY or his wife Mary.Additionally, prior to 1801 we can find no mention of the Hildreth name in any South Carolina record other than a single reference to the marriage of Eddy Hildreth, a widow, to Arenout Schermerhoorne in 1749, page 220 South Carolina Marriagesand page 6 The Hildreth Family.
i) Conclusion:Benjamin-SC/NY Hildreth immigrated to South Carolina before 1801 when we first see mention of his and his wife Mary’s names as parents of Ann in her baptismal record April 5, 1801.
b) Origin of the name Griswold.In the New York Historical Society, Abstracts of Unrecorded Wills, Vol. XI, Prior to 1790 we find:
i) “ In the name of God, Amen. I, THOMAS WRIGHT, being in sound mind. I will and order that after a reasonable time after my decease, at discretion of my executors, all my estate, real and personal, be sold, except the homestead wherein I lately lived, and the negro man "Peet," which is reserved for my wife during the time of 25 years. I also except a negro girl for my wife, and I also leave her all her wearing apparell and effects which she had when I married her. I leave to my daughter Sarah a negro wench "Tamer," and another to my daughter Elizabeth. When my homestead is sold the proceeds I bequeath as follows. To my wife Mary, two shares. To my daughter Elizabeth, two shares. To my daughter Sally, and my sons, Stephen and Thomas, each one share. And lastly I leave to my trusty and loving friends, Benjamin Hildreth, Sr., and Thomas Griswold (emphasis mine), whom I make executors, the sum of œ50, and I also make my wife executor. Dated December 1, 1776. Witnesses Caleb Sutton, Joseph Thorne, Elizabeth Drake. “
ii) Conclusion: We can establish an origin of the name Griswold with respect to a specific Hildreth.
c) Has reason to name a son Griswold.From the Thomas Wright Will we can glean two pertinent pieces of information:
i) We know that Benjamin Hildreth, Sr. was of sufficient age in 1776 to have children and as such it would be highly unlikely that Benjamin, Sr. is the same person Benjamin-SC/NY whose son Benjamin Griswold was born 28 years later.
ii) As we have Benjamin Hildreth, Sr., then there must be a Benjamin Hildreth, Jr. and it would not be unreasonable to have Benjamin Hildreth, Jr. as a candidate to be Benjamin-SC/NY.An argument against Benjamin Hildreth, Jr. being Benjamin-SC/NY is that there is no use of the Jr. suffix in any of the records citing Benjamin-SC/NY in the South Carolina material.
(1) Conclusion: Whether Benjamin-SC/NY is Benjamin, Jr. above or the son of Benjamin, Jr., either individual would have reason to name a son in honor of a close friend of Benjamin, Sr.Additionally, we can determine that Thomas Griswold was alive in 1800:Thomas Griswold found in: US - Census Index (1800) Township:New York Ward 5 County:New York State:New YorkRoll:23Page:781Image:158.00 .
(2) Conclusion:The name Griswold establishes a direct relationship between Benjamin Griswold Hildreth and Benjamin Hildreth, Sr. of New York.
3) Who is Benjamin Hildreth, Sr. and how does he relate to Thomas Hildreth.
a) As an historical person.We have already established Benjamin Hildreth, Sr. as an historical person alive in New York in 1776 by the Will of Thomas Wright above.
b) Is Benjamin Hildreth, Sr. the same person as Benjamin Hildreth son of Nathan(died 1746) and Sarah Hildreth.In The Hildreth Family page 7 it is stated “*Benjamin, the son of Nathan and Sarah, Married.Mary [?]*.They had two children: *Ann [Betty] b 1801*.*Benjamin b March 15th, 1802, d November 25th, 1868*”.Unfortunately, there is no corroborating material to support this line of reasoning in The Hildreth Family, nor is there comment or support for the use of the name Griswold.We’ve seen that Benjamin Hildreth, Sr. already had a son (Benjamin Hildreth, Jr.) in 1776 and to then have another son 26 years later in 1802 would seem unlikely.Furthermore, Benjamin son of Nathan would be at least 58 years old when Benjamin Griswold Hildreth is born.Pages 10-A through 10-E of The Hildreth Family provide copies of certain wills, though the purpose of their inclusion is not stated:
(1) Benjamin Hildreth, New York, Distiller.As this will is dated April 18, 1790 and proved November 29, 1793, Benjamin Hildreth – the Distiller would be dead 5 years before Benjamin Griswold Hildreth is born so it is clear that Benjamin Hildreth – theDistiller is not the father of Benjamin Griswold Hildreth.The will does make provision for Benjamin Hildreth – the Distiller’s son’s children as it states that “..my son Benjamin, deceased,…part intended to be devised to the children of my son Benjamin,….as soon as the said children shall respectively arrive at lawful age the equal portion shall be paid him or her by my executors.”So we see that as of the date his will is written, Benjamin Hildreth – the Distiller has had a son Benjamin who had died and that this son Benjamin had two children, a son and a daughter.Therefore, this Benjamin, son of Benjamin Hildreth – the Distiller, could not be the father of Benjamin Griswold Hildreth as he is deceased prior to April 18, 1790, the date of the will.
(2) Conclusion: If we wish to include Benjamin Hildreth – the Distiller in the lineage of Benjamin Griswold Hildreth, then we would need to have:
(a) Benjamin Hildreth – the Distiller be Benjamin Hildreth, Sr. of Thomas Wright’s will
(b) Benjamin Hildreth – the Distiller’s son Benjamin Hildreth would need to be Benjamin Hildreth, Jr. inferred by Thomas Wright’s will
(c) Since Benjamin Hildreth, son of Benjamin Hildreth – the Distiller had died prior to April 18, 1790, we would need his son to be the Benjamin Hildreth-SC/NY who is the father of Benjamin Griswold Hildreth.Thus the line from Benjamin Hildreth – theDistiller would be:
(i) Benjamin Hildreth – the Distiller as Benjamin Hildreth, Sr. father of Benjamin Hildreth Jr.
(ii) Benjamin Hildreth, Jr. as father of Benjamin Hildreth-SC/NY
(iii) Benjamin Hildreth-SC/NY as father of Benjamin Griswold Hildreth.This lineage would reconcile the dates and relationships between the various Benjamins.
c) Is Benjamin Hildreth, Sr. the same person as the son of Benjamin Hildreth the Tailor who died in 1737/8.An alternate postulation as to who Benjamin Hildreth, Sr. might be lies with the person Benjamin Hildreth of New York “taylor”.Again, from the New York Historical Society, Abstracts of Unrecorded Wills, Vol. XI, Prior to 1790 we find Page 127.“--In the name of God, Amen, January 22, 1730. I, BENJAMIN HILDRETH, of New York, "taylor," being sick, I leave to my wife Eda, all my estate, real and personal, during her life, with power to sell, and to use the money for the better educating and bringing up of my children. After her decease, all the estate remaining is to go to my children, Joseph, Benjamin, Mary, and Elizabeth, ‘but if hereafter I shall fortune to have any more children,’ they are to have an equal part. I make my wife Eda, executor.Witnesses, Cornelius Low, John Kelly, John Troup, Jr. Proved, March 22, 1737/8. “This will provides us with a few interesting points:
i) Benjamin Hildreth – the Tailor, who dies in 1737/8 has a son Benjamin who might well be Benjamin, Sr. of Thomas Wright’s will.
ii) Benjamin Hildreth – the Tailor’s wife is Eda.In The Hildreth Family page 6 the marriage of Arenout Schermerhoorne to Eddy Hildreth January 20th, 1749, Charleston, S. C. is noted with the speculation this could be the widow of Nathan Hildreth.As we are given that Nathan Hildreth married Sarah ? on page 297 of Howell’s The Early History of Southampton, L.I.along with the facts that Benjamin Hildreth – the Tailor’s wife was Eda and that Benjamin Hildreth – the Tailor died shortly before March 22, 1737/8, it is more likely that the Eddy Hildreth referred to as marrying Arenout Schermerhoorne is Eda rather than Sarah.This point supports the recitation on page 9 of The Hildreth Family with respect to Benjamin Griswold Hildreth being indentured to Elizabeth McBride an aunt of Ann and Benjamin and we note from Benjamin Hildreth – the Tailor’s will that he has a daughter Elizabeth.
iii) Conclusion:If we have Benjamin Hildreth – the Tailor in Benjamin Griswold Hildreth’s lineage then:
(1) Benjamin Hildreth – the Tailor’s son Benjamin Hildreth would be Benjamin Hildreth, Sr. of Thomas Wright’s will,
(2) Benjamin Hildreth the son of Benjamin Hildreth – the Tailor would need to have a son who would be Benjamin Hildreth, Jr. inferred by Thomas Wright’s will who would be Benjamin Hildreth-SC/NY and would be the father of Benjamin Griswold Hildreth,
(3) Eda, the wife of Benjamin Hildreth – the Tailor would be Eddy Hildreth who marries Arenout Schermerhoorne in 1749 in South Carolina, and,
(4) Elizabeth Hildreth, daughter of Benjamin Hildreth – the Tailor, would be the wife of McBride and the aunt (great aunt) to whom Benjamin Griswold Hildreth was indentured.This lineage ties together the names, dates and locations of the various Benjamin Hildreths as well as other persons.
d) A son of Thomas or a son of Richard.If it were clear that our Benjamin Hildreth, Sr. of Thomas Wright’s will resided in Southampton, Suffolk County then we could comfortably state that he would be a descendent of Thomas Hildreth of Southampton.But since we find both Benjamin Hildreth – the Distiller and Benjamin Hildreth, Sr. in New York County, e.g., New York City, and not Southampton, Suffolk County we should evaluate whether the lineage is to Thomas or Richard.
i) Richard Hildreth.As a founder of Chelmsford, MA and progenitor of the Massachusetts Hildreths there is a great deal of evidence including reference on page 143 of A Genealogical Register of the First Settlers Of New-England“Hildreth, Richard, Cambridge, freeman 1642, was a petitioner for the grant of Chelmsford in 1653, where many of his descendants have resided.Sarah, his wife, d. 15 June, 1644, and by another, Elizabeth, he had Sarah, b. 8 Aug. 1648.”In the 1600’s and 1700’s the descendents of Richard spread slowly through New England, primarily Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont.In later years emigration included northern and western New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other mid-western states and parts of the upper south (see Genealogical and Biographical Sketches of the Hildreth Familyand The Hildreth Family Association – Fifth Publication ).In these materials there is no reference to a descendent of Richard Hildreth named Benjamin in the Long Island, New York or New York, New York areas in the 1600’s or 1700’s.Therefore we can conclude that the Benjamin Hildreths of Long Island, New York and New York, New York are the descendents of Thomas Hildreth.
ii) Thomas Hildreth.We first see Thomas in Southampton, Suffolk County, in 1643 – page 31 The Early History of Southampton.The descendents of Thomas spread throughout Long Island, in to New York City, Connecticut and New Jersey during the 1600’s and 1700’s.Though at this time nothing specifically precludes any of Thomas’ male children as being in the lineage of Benjamin Hildreth, Sr. and thus Benjamin Griswold Hildreth, of all the genealogies enumerated on pages 297-299 of The Early History of Southampton, the ones having a Benjamin and most likely fitting the time line to have Benjamin Hildreth, Sr. of Thomas Wright’s will as a descendant are highlighted below – Benjamin, son of Joseph, son of Thomas; and, Benjamin, son of Nathan, son of Joseph, son of Thomas.
(1) Thomas d. 1647 had w. Hannah
(a) Joseph m. Hannah Jessup
(i) Joseph b. July 27,1679 (no further records provided)
(ii) Benjamin b. Sept. 22, 1681 (no further record provided)
(iii) Nathan b. March 17,1684-5 m. Sarah
(iv) Ephraim b. 1689 d. Jan. 19, 1771 m. Abigail
(v) Daniel (no further records provided)
(vi) Jonathan (no further records provided)
(vii) Joseph w. Hannah
(viii) John (no further records provided)
(b) Hannah (no further records provided)
(i) James d. about 1722 m. Deborah
(d) Peter (no further records provided)
Again, we draw the conclusion that Benjamin Griswold Hildreth’s parents were from New York and that he is a descendent of Thomas Hildreth of Southampton, Suffolk County, New York.Absent new documentation coming forth filling in the blanks one way to affirm or deny the Benjamin Griswold Hildreth – Thomas Hildreth connection is through DNA comparison.The best comparison would be to have a direct male heir of Benjamin Griswold Hildreth and a direct male heir of Thomas Hildreth take DNA samples for comparison.This is something I would gladly do but since I descend through the female side of Benjamin Griswold Hildreth (Benjamin Griswold Hildreth, Travis Zacheus Hildreth, George Travis Hildreth, Erie Mae Hildreth, Foy Byrd, me) I would not provide strong evidence.Any volunteers?
The Hildreth Family complied by James Wilson Newman, Sr. and William Alton Newman, Sr., Gateway Press, Inc. Baltimore, MD 1989
South Carolina Marriages – 1688-1799, compiled by Brent H. Holcomb, Genealogical Publishing Company, 2006 Baltimore, MD
The Early History of Southampton, L.I., New York with Genealogies by George Rogers Howell, M.A., Weed, Parsons and Company, 1897 Reprinted by The Apple Manor Press, Markham, Virginia
A Genealogical Register of the First Settlers of New-England by John Farmer, Carter Andrews & Co., Lancaster, Mass. 1829
Genealogical and Biographical Sketches of the Hildreth Family – From the year 1652 Down to the Year 1840, by Dr. Samuel P. Hildreth, Marietta, Ohio 1840.Reprint by Higginson Book Company, Salem, MA
Fifth Publication of the Hildreth Family Association, Genealogical and Historical Data Relating to Richard Hildreth (1605-1693), Freeman, 1643 Cambridge and Chelmsford, Mass., Thomas Hildreth (died 1657), of Long Island Southampton, N.Y., compiled by George Adams Parkhurst and Barbara Hildreth Parkhurst, published by The Hildreth Family Association 1984