By G. Andrews Moriarty, A.M., LL.B., F.A.S.G., F.S.A.
In 1937 Mrs. Clara Gardner Miller and Mr. John Milton Stanton published a
genealogy of the ancestors and descendants of Stephen Gardner of Gardner's Lake,
Conn., on the bounds of New London and Norwich. This handsome volume gives an excellent
account of Stephen Gardner and his descendants, as well as of his father, Benoni Gardiner
of Narragansett, and his grandfather and emigrant ancestor, George Gardiner of Newport, R.
The authors then went further and gave the English ancestry of George Gardiner of Newport, whom they identified with a George Gardiner bapt. 15 Feb. 1599/1600 at Great Greenford, co. Middlesex, the son of the Rev. Michael Gardiner, who was rector of that parish from 16 April 1584 until his death on 22 August 1630. The purpose of this paper is solely to consider this identification. The ancestry of the Rev. Michael Gardiner, as given in this book, is beyond the scope of this article.
In the identification of our early New England settlers with their old homes, across the Atlantic, the evidences in different cases varies so much and is so diverse in its nature that general rules regarding the proof of such identifications cannot be laid down. Nevertheless, a few general principles apply to all cases. First: The burden of proof is always on the person seeking to make the identification. Second; The mere similarity of names in England and New England is not enough, even if chronology permits, to predicate an identification upon this alone. Of course if the name was a very rare or unique one, it would, if the chronology were right, be very strong evidence for the identification. In the present instance neither the name George or Gardiner or their combination is sufficiently uncommon as to come within the last considered modification of the general rule and no identification ean be based upon similarity alone of name in England and America, in this case, without further evidence.
With these general considerations, let us turn to the case in question and consider the evidence for the above cited identification. For this purpose we shall first consider the facts known about the English George Gardiner and then those known about George Gardiner of Newport.
The Rev. Michael Gardiner (son of a Henry Gardiner) married on 1 Sept. 1583 Margaret, daughter of Thomas Browne. She died 17 March 1623/4. They had the following children all baptized at Great Greenford: Henry 25 Feb. 1587/8; Michael 21 Dec. 1589; Thomas 4 March 1591/2; Anne 20 Aug. 1593; John 14 June 1595; and George 15 Feb. 1599/1600. From this list it will be seen that the Rev. Michael followed the ancient English custom of naming his eldest son for his father, his second for himself and the third for his wife's father. Of these children Henry, Michael and Thomas settled in nearby London. The will of the Rev. Michael Gardiner was not given but it was easily available in the printed volume of the Register Scrope (Am. Genealogist, April 1938, p. 244). His will dated 6 Dec. 1629 was proved 21 Sept. 1630. He names his grandchildren Mary and Martha Watersfield; his son Henry's son Michael; Thomas, George, Henry, Michael, Rebecca, Margaret, Elisabeth and Mary children of his son Thomas; and his own sons Michael, Thomas, John and George. The executor was his son Henry (P.C.C. 75 Scrope). On 28 March 1630 George Gardiner, whom our authors identify, probably correctly, with the son of the Rev. Michael, had a license to marry at St. James's Clerkenwell, London, Sarah Slaughter. This completes our account of George Gardiner of Great Greenford and London.
We now turn to the career of George Gardiner of Newport. In view of the fact that we have the baptism of George, son of the Rev. Michael, the birth date of George Gardiner of Newport becomes a matter of vital importance to the identification. There is no record, so far as is known, of the age of our Newport man-- no deposition of his has so far been unearthed and his gravestone is not in existence. Consequently his age cannot be exactly known and his approximate age can only be arrived at by inference from a full and careful study of his career in New England. The loss of the Newport records has deprived us of his will, which from an entry in the Providence records he is known to have made, as well as of much other valuable information about him. However, a careful study of the Rhode Island Colony records and other records, now in existence, enables us to give a complete list of his children, as well as much interesting material about his life.
The first statement about his parentage, which is worthy of serious consideration, is that which appeared in a publication entitled "No. 2. Gardiner, Maine, Historical Series, Silvester Gardiner" by Henry Sewell Webster, Gardiner, Maine, 1913. It is there stated, after some loose preliminary talk about mediaeval knights in Lancashire and a connection with Norman houses listed in that worthless compilation, The Battle Abbey Roll, that George Gardiner was bapt. 15 Feb. 1599/1600 and that he married Sarah Slaughter at St. James's Church, Clerkenwell, London, on 28 (sic) March 1630. It is further stated that he sailed from Bristol in the ship "Fellowship" and arrived in Boston on 29 June 1637; in October 1638 he was residing on Aquidneck; Benoni, third son of George and Sarah, was born in London in 1636 or 1637 and was, therefore, an infant at the time of the emigration. No reference or authority for these statements is given. The name of George Gardiner does not appear in the Shipping Lists preserved in the Public Record Office at London and printed, almost seventy years ago, by Hotten. He does not appear in the late Col. Banks's "Planters of the Commonwealth'' or in the latter's Topographical Dictionary of 2,885 English emigrants to leave England 1620-50. There is no mention of him in Winthrop's Journal, nor is there anything about his English origin in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. The first known fact about him is when he appeared at Portsmouth, R. I., in 1638. In view of these facts these statements cannot be given serious consideration, all the more so as they, apparently, originated with an outstanding genealogical romancer, the late Col. Asa Bird Gardiner of New York City. From this loose and unauthenticated statement we turn to what the records have to tell us about our Newport settler.
On 20:3 mo. :1638 George Gardiner was admitted an inhabitant of Aquidneck (Chapin's Doc. History of R. I., II, 117) and on the last Thursday in the 8th mot 1639 the land "which was George Gardiner's" at Portsmouth is mentioned (Portsmouth Records, p. 5). He evidently belonged to the Coddington faction, which left Portsmouth and settled Newport in 1639, as on 17 Dec. 1639 he was admitted a Freeman of Newport (Chapin, p. 664. On 12:1 mo.:1640 [1639/40] he was present at a General Court of Elections in Newport (ib., p. 95). On 16 March 1641 he was on a roll of Freemen and on 17 March 1641/2 he was chosen Constable and Senior Sergeant at Newport and on 13 :1 mot :1644 he was Lieutenant of the Newport Company (ib., pp. 120, 122, 128). The rest of his long life was passed in Newport, where he died about 1677 and certainly before 14 June 1678, when his widow Lydia remarried (Austin's Gen. Dic. of R. I., p. 81).
In view of the fact that we have no statement regarding his age, the ages of his wife and children become a matter of importance in arriving at an approximate estimation of his age. In or about 1643 or 1644 he formed a connection with Herodias (Long) Hicks, the wife of John Hicks of Weymouth and Newport and later of Newtown and Hempstead on Long Island (Savage's Gen. Dic. of N. E, Vol. II, 410). This John Hicks first appears in Weymouth about 1636-8, when he was granted land there (Weymouth Hist. Soc. No. 2, p. 276). On 14:7 mo.:1640 he was admitted a Freeman at Newport (Chapin, II, 103) and his name occurs in the list of those admitted inhabitants of Newport since 1:3 mo.:1638 (ib., 118). He was on the roll of Freemen of 16 March 1641 (ib., 120). He last appears in Newport on 7:1 mo.:1644, when he was bound to keep the peace for beating his wife Harwood (Herodias) Hicks (ib., p. 151). The cause for this conduct may be reasonably inferred as the result of her escapades with George Gardiner, as on 12 Dec. (apparently 1644) Hicks addressed a letter from Flushing to John Coggeshall on the subject of his wife's bad conduct (ib., p. 152). He subsequently obtained a divorce from her at Long Island, where he henceforth lived. He remarried and raised a family there. From this time George Gardiner and Herodias lived together as common-law man and wife until 1665, during which time they raised a large family. In the Spring of 1665 Herodias petitioned the King's Commissioners for a separation from Gardiner, which they referred to Gov. Arnold, who on 3 May 1665 laid it before the General Assembly. In this petition she calls herself Hored Long and states that upon the death of her father she was sent to London by her mother and there, unbeknownst to her friends, she was privately married to John Hicks in St. Faith's Church under "Paules Church" and a little while after was brought to New England, when she was between 13 and 14 years old and lived 2½ years at Weymouth and then came to Rhode Island about 1640, where she has lived ever since, "until she came to Pettyquamscott." Not long after her coming to Rhode Island there happened a difference between herself and John Hicks and "the authority that then was under grace saw cause to part us." She then relates that Hicks went to the Dutch, taking most of her property with him and that, not being accustomed to labour, she joined up with George Gardiner for her maintenance but was never properly married to him. She desired a separation from him and that he cease to trouble her. This the Assembly decreed after discovering that there had been no regular marriage. It further fined both the parties and passed a law to prevent such further occurrences (R. I. Colony Rec. II, 99-105). The real reason for her desire for separation, after some twenty-one years as the reputed wife of George Gardiner, appears in a petition presented to the same session of the General Assembly by Margaret Porter, the wife of John Porter, a very well-to-do inhabitant of Portsmouth, who had apparently gone over to Pettyquamscut leaving her without means of support and dependent on her children, as her petition states. She asks that her husband be made to provide for her. The Court, finding her statement to be true and that there was danger of her husband's conveying away his estate and taking to heart the sad condition of "this poor anciante matron," decreed that all conveyances made by Porter of his estate, not being recorded, shall be void and that he should not dispose of his estate, until he had made proper provision for her support. It exempted from this order certain conveyance made by Porter to Gov. Arnold, for which he had received a real and valuable consideration (ib., pp. 119-21). Subsequently, on 27 June 1665, his property was released, as he had made a proper provision for his wife and one which satisfied her (Austin, p. 155). This John Porter was one of the important citizens of Portsmouth and was one of the five Pettyquamscut purchasers of a large tract of land in the Narragansett Country from the Indian Sachems. Not long afterwards he married Herodias and, about 1671-73 made large conveyances of his Pettyquamscut lands to Herodias' children.
The children of George and Herodias were seven in number, apparently born in the following order: Benoni (certainly the eldest), Henry, George, William, Nicholas, Dorcas and Rebecca, the latter, apparently, the child at the breast, whom Herodias took with her to Weymouth, when she went there to bear witness. She was a zealous Quakeress, for which she was whipped in Boston on 11:3 mot 1658 (Bishop's New England Judged, pp. 52, 406).
Benoni testified in 1727, calling himself "aged 90 years and upwards" (Austin, p. 81). If this statement is correct, he was born in or shortly before 1637 and so could not have been the son of Herodias. However, there is no doubt but that Benoni overstated his age considerably. Anyone, who has had experience with Colonial depositions and gravestones, knows that, in nine cases out of ten, the ages given are usually some years off the true age. This variation is usually from one to four years out, but this writer has met instances where the age given is from six to ten years out. He has in mind particularly the deposition of a Marblehead man, where the age he gave himself was ten years out, and the gravestone of President John Coggeshall at Newport makes him born in 1591, whereas he was baptized at Halstead, co. Essex, on 9 Dec. 1601 (Austin, p. 49; N. E. Hist. Gen. Reg. LXXIII, 29). Of course cases of so large a discrepancy are comparatively rare.
Benoni, at the time he made this deposition, was a very old man and very old people have, as is well known, a tendency to overstate their age. Furthermore, he was not a well educated man; he usually signed with a mark. One careful antiquary in the writer's own family who was well acquainted with the Narragansett records once described him as "an illiterate old man" at the time this deposition was made. His brother, Henry, usually allowed to have been the second child of George and Herodias, deposed in March 1738 and called himself "about 93 years of age" (Austin, p. 81). This statement of his age, making himself born about 1645-6 fits far better with all the known facts. Nicholas, the fifth child, testified on 12 March 1710/1, and called himself "aged about 57 years (ib.), thus placing his birth in or about 1654; a date which would coincide very well with that given by Henry and with the other known facts.
In addition to all this there is further evidence of a very strong nature tending to show that Benoni was also a son of Herodias. After her marriage to John Porter they made large grants in the Pettyquamscut Purchase to her children by George Gardiner. On either 1 Jan. or 21 Jan. 1670/1 (cf. Austin, pp. 81, 155; Updike's Hist. of the Narragansett Church, ed. Goodwin, I, 439) John Porter and Hored his wife deeded land there to William Gardiner, "son of George," which bounded on land already deeded to his brother Henry. On 27 Dec. 1671 and on 19 May 1671 and 2 Nov. 1673 they deeded land to Nicholas Gardiner (Austin, pp. 82, 155; Updike, op. cit.). On 7 Nov. 1673 George Gardiner (son of George and Herodias) and Tabitha his wife sold land there to Nicholas Gardiner (Austin, p. 819. Prior to 1 Dec. 1679, 400 acres of land bought by Samuel Wilbor & Co. (i.e. the Pettyquamscut Purchasers, Wilbor was one of the purchasers and the son-in-law of John Porter) of the Narragansett Sachems was laid out by the Pettyquamscut Purchasers to George and "Ben" (i.e. Benoni) Gardiner (Fones Record, pp. 34-7; Updike, op. cit.). On 8 April 1692, at a meeting of the Pettyquamscut Purchasers, Benoni, George, William and Nicholas Gardner (Gardiner) and John Watson (i.e. husband of their sister Dorcas), their brother-in-law, represented themselves as, together with their brother Henry Gardner (Gardiner), assigns of John Porter deceased, one of the original purchasers, and appointed the said Henry "to sign the agreement then made by the purchasers, in his own and on their behalf" (Potter's Hist. of Narragansett, ed. 1835, p. 279). On 17 Nov. 1705 Benoni Gardiner and wife Mary, Henry Gardiner and wife Joan, George Gardiner and wife Tabitha, William Gardiner and wife Elizabeth, Nicholas Gardiner and wife Hannah and John Watson and wife Rebecca (i.e. Rebecca Gardiner his second wife) sold land in Kingstown (South Kingstown) near Point Judith Pond to John Potter, the purchase price to be paid Thomas Hicks of Flushing (Austin, p. 81). In "The Gardiners of Narragansett" by Caroline E. Robinson (at p. 204, inset) there is an old map, dated 5 Oct. 1705, showing the contiguous lands of Benoni, Henry, William, George and Nicholas Gardiner and John Watson on the west side of the Pettyquamscut River.
It is to be observed that the children of George and Herodias Gardiner came to Narragansett after her marriage with John Porter and as grantees of the said Porter; none of George Gardiner's children by his second wife came to Narragansett. Benoni was one of those who went to Narragansett as an assign of John Porter, hence there can be no doubt but that Herodias was his mother, in which case, as the eldest son of George and Herodias, he must have been born between 1643-1645;, and probably late in 1644 or the first half of 1645, while his brother Henry was probably born in 1646-7.
Not long after his separation from Herodias, George Gardiner married Lydia, daughter of Robert Ballou, formerly of Portsmouth, R. I., but then of Boston, Mass., where he died testate in 1668 (Austin, p. 12). By her he had five children. George Gardiner died about 1677, certainly after 22 Oct. 1673, when he was a juryman and before 14 June 1678, when Lydia married her second husband, William Hawkins of Providence. By him she had four more children and died prior to 17 March 1721/2, the date of Hawkins' will. (Austin, p. 318.)
The children of George and Lydia Gardiner were: 1. Joseph of Newport, R. I., who married on 30 Nov. 1693 Catherine Holmes. On 9 Jan. 1690/1, he sold land in Newport to William Hawkins of Providence, which had belonged to his father George and named his brother Peregrine in the deed. 2. Robert, of Providence, died between 17 April 1689 and 28 April 1690, leaving a will of which William Hawkins, his step-father, was executor. 3. Mary. She gave a receipt to her step-father William Hawkins on 30 Nov. 1688 for a legacy due to her under the will of her father George Gardiner, and married Archibald Walker on 18 July 1690. 4. Lydia, married Joseph Smith of Providence on 4 April 1689. 5. Peregrine. An agreement was made for his schooling on 11 June 1684 between his step-father, William Hawkins, and the Providence schoolmaster, William Turpin ("The Gardiners of Narragansett," by Robinson, pp. 3, 206-20B; Austin, pp. 82, 318.)
This completes the account of George Gardiner and his family and we can now draw some conclusions from it regarding his age. With respect to his common-law wife Herodias, this writer many years ago made a search for the parish register of St. Faiths', the church under St. Paul's Cathedral in London, in order to find the marriage of John Hicks and Herodias Long, but was unsuccessful. The register appears to have been one of those which perished in the Great Fire of 1666, but inasmuch as Hicks first appears in Weymouth in or about 1637 and as Herodias states that they lived there about 2 1/2 years before they eame to Newport in 1640, it seems reasonable to suppose that they arrived in Weymouth in the latter half of 1637 or early in 1638, and it seems further reasonable to suppose that they were married in 1637 or 1636 at earliest. When she came to Weymouth she was between 13 and 14 years old, so she was born somewhere between 1623 and 1625 and probably about 1624. As Hicks left her between 7: 1 mo: 1644 (7 March 1643/4) and 12 Dec. 1644, we may reasonably consider that Benoni, clearly their eldest child, was born about 1644-5 (possibly as early as 1643) and Henry their second child was born in 1645-7 and probably iu 1646. The children of George by Lydia Ballou were probably born at the following approximate dates: Joseph born about 1666-67; Robert, about 1667-68; Mary, about 1670; Lydia, about 1672; Peregrine, about 1674/5. We note, therefore, that George Gardiner's children were born approximately between 1644 and 1675, a period of some thirty odd years.
The following is a brief resume of the above data.
George Gardiner first appears in Portsmouth in 1638, nothing certain is known about him prior to this. He cmnmenced to live with Herodias (Long) Hieks about 1644. She was born about 1624. He was separated from her in May 1665 and married secondly about 1665-6 Lydia Ballou. He died about 1677 and certainly before 14 June 1678, leaving a will now lost.
Children of George and Herodias:
1. Benoni born 1643-45 and about 1644.
2. Henry born 1645-7 and about 1646.
3. George born about 1649.
4. William born about 1652.
5. Nicholas born about 1654.
6. Dorcas born about 1656.
7. Rebecca born about 1658.
George and Lydia had:
8. Joseph born about 1666-7.
9. Robert born about l667-8.
10. Mary born about 1670.
11. Lydia born about 1672.
12. Peregrine born about 1674-75.
Now while it would, perhaps, be possible for a man born in 1600 to have a child born as late as 1674, when he was 74 years old, it is not probable, and it is skill more improbable for a man, born in 1600, to have .five children born between 1667 and 1674, i.e. between the ages of 67 and 74 years. George Gardiner was of age in 1638 and so born prior to 1618, but the above considerations make it most likely that he was born about 1608-9 to 1615.
Conclusions. First: While, from the point of view of chronology it is possible for George Gardiner, son of the Rev. Michael Gardiner, to have been identical with George Gardiner of Newport, no evidence, beyond the similarity of names, has as yet been produced to prove that identification, and in the case of a not uncommon name like `'George Gardiner," other evidence besides this is required before the identification can be accepted as proved.
Second: As the ease stands there is considerable evidence tending to refute the identification. There is no evidence that George Gardiner of Newport had a wife Sarah, prior to his going to live with Herodias. There is no evidence as to the subsequent life of Sarah Slaughter, after her marriage in 1630, and no evidence of her death either in England or New England has been presented. Nothing is known as to George Gardiner of Clerkenwell, subsequent to his marriage with Sarah Slaughter in 1630. While George Gardiner of Newport might have been born as early as 1600, the known facts of his New England life render it most unlikely that he was born prior at earliest to 1604 or 1605 and it is far more likely that he was born between 1608 or 1609 and 1615, and the latter date seems the more probable. Lastly, there is an entry in the parish register of St. James's Clerkenwell that on 29 Oct. 1657. Rebecca, daughter of George Gardiner was buried. (Am. Gen., April 1938, pp 244, 946. ) No attempt is made to show who this George Gardiner was and, consequently, the presumption is that he may be the same George Gardiner, who in 1630, married Sarah Slaughter in this parish. At this time, 1657, our George Gardiner had been residing for at least nineteen years on Rhode Island.
Accordingly, until more evidence, both of a positive and negative nature, is forthcoming, no critical genealogist can accept the identification of George Gardiner, son of the Rev Michael Gardiner, with George Gardiner of Newport, as proved.
Note: much stress has sometimes been laid upon the spelling of the name with an 'i'' Gardiner, instead of Gardner. In view of the looseness of 17th century spelling and of the fact that the name of George Gardiner's family appears both ways, although Gardiner is the more prevalent, no significance can be attached to this.
Note: In connection with the English origin of that colorful and somewhat lurid character, Herodias Long alias Hicks alias Gardiner alias Porter, the following item from the Somersetshire Wills, Brown, 4th series, p. 58, is worthy of notice.
Will of John Aysleford 26 Jan. 1638/9, proved 23 Feb. 1638/9, names his brothers Anthony and Robert Aysleford, his lands in Little Ockenbury, his plantation in Barbados, and leaves a legacy of £5 to Odias Long.
In view of the fact that the given name "Herodias," is very rare,--this writer cannot recall another instance of its occurrence besides this one, for the obvious reason that the biblical lady was not likely to have been held in high esteem among the pious English of the seventeenth century,--this mention of Odias Long (Herodias Long) would seem a lead for further research.
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