Rabbit holes can be great fun to chase down, but they are more fun when there is a clear path in and out.
I’m not sure if I accomplished much or not. After finishing up my posts earlier in the week on Loyalist Jonathan Parker, I started looking for more recent research done by other people. It was enough to send me running for the Advil, as the family data online looks to be copy and paste, merge, confuse people with the same name and create new people – like “Jonathan Benjamin Parker” – who I don’t think ever even existed.
My question is this: Can the descendants of Elisha Parker of Barnstable, Massachusetts, Woodbridge, New Jersey and Staten Island, New York be connected to, with documentation, the Parker Loyalists who sailed on the ship Camel in 1783 from New York to New Brunswick, Canada? Or, is this connection just wishful thinking on the parts of many people?
Using the ship’s passenger lists, I created a hypothesis that formed a possible family configuration that looked like this:
- Jonathan Parker (Sr.) – he appeared alone on the 1783 ship’s list for the Camel. I surmised that he could possibly be the father of Benjamin. If he was the father of Benjamin, he likely was born before 1720.
- Benjamin Parker – with a wife, 3 children over the age of 10 and 2 under the age of 10. If his children were, say, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15, then he could possibly be the father of Jonathan Parker Jr. He might or might not be the father of other Parkers on the list, but if he is the father of Jonathan, then Benjamin was probably born not later than 1743 and possibly quite a bit before then.
- Jonathan Parker Jr., born c1764, based on his age on the 1811 militia list of Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada.
My Benjamin was a son of Jonathan Jr. With this hypothesis, it looks like there was a father-son naming pattern happening here. My theory is based on two documents which actually exist – the passenger list of 1783 and the militia list of 1811. My theory also looks reasonable and provides me with a research plan of sorts.
I became quite excited as I followed various links on line which led me to many MANY people who have created chaos with records that I have found because they obviously copied each other’s mistakes.
It has been written (NOT PROVEN) that these Parker Loyalists descend from:
- Elisha Parker who married Elizabeth Hinckley in Barnstable, Massachusetts on 15 July 1657. Massachusetts records include this marriage so this information is correct. some attribute three wives to this man, Elizabeth, plus (2) Hannah Rolfe, who an Elisha married on 26 March 1691 in Woodbridge, New Jersey and (3) Ursula Craig, who he married after Hannah died on 14 October 1696 and before Elisha’s and Ursula’s daughter, Elizabeth, was born on 21 March 1698. I believe that Hannah and Ursula married the son of Elisha and Elizabeth Hinckley. The son Elisha was born in November 1660. See below where I discuss land deeds in Staten Island.
- Thomas Parker who married Mary (some say Mott, but I find no proof). This Thomas was born 15 May 1658 in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Some say he was born in Middlesex County, New Jersey, but his birth and that of brother Elisha and sister Sarah are recorded in Barnstable.
Here is where things get messy. Most say they don’t know what happened to Thomas, but also say he is the father of Benjamin, born 4 January 1692 in Woodbridge, Middlesex County, New Jersey.
It is a documented fact that Elisha Parker left Barnstable sometime after daughter Sarah was born in March 1662 and before son Samuel was born on 3 March 1669. It is said he removed to Staten Island for those seven years, but the only land records found there for him were both for purchases in 1682, not 1662.
Back to Thomas. Thomas and Mary likely married c1681. They had the following children, whose births are recorded in the vital records of Woodbridge, New Jersey:
- Thomas, born 9 March 1682
- Elisha, born 20 August 1684
- Daniel, born 1 May 1686
- Joseph, born 18 September 1690
- Benjamin, born 4 January 1692
- George, twin, born 30 March 1695
- Mary, twin, born 30 March 1695
There are Parker records found in Woodbridge and Perth Amboy, New Jersey, both in Middlesex County and in Staten Island, Richmond County, New York. Geographically, these places are very close.
Woodbridge and Perth Amboy are both directly across the river from Staten Island.
The land deeds for Richmond County, New York are digitized and online on FamilySearch. An index check turned up two deeds for Elisha Parker and wife Elizabeth, dated 18 November 1694 and 23 September 1696. Both deeds say they were of Staten Island.
Notice this is Elisha and his wife Elizabeth, mentioned in deeds dated 1694 and 1696. Elisha Jr. must be the man who married Hannah in 1691, as I stated above. These two men are the only Elisha Parkers in the neighborhood.
It appears that Elisha Sr. and wife Elizabeth may have remained in Staten Island for the remainder of their lives.
Elisha Parker Jr. wrote his will in 1709 in Woodbridge, New Jersey, but it was not proved until 1717. He named wife Ursula, son John (whose mother was Hannah Rolfe) and his children by Ursula, who was expecting a child at the time. He mentions the possibility of his “transitory life” on Earth ending soon, but does not say what prompted that belief. He appears to have survived well past that date, though, given the date his will was recorded.
There is one land deed for Thomas Parker, no wife mentioned, dated 6 February 1695, buying property, and a second deed dated 18 May 1696, where he is selling land. In both deeds, he is called a resident of Woodbridge, New Jersey, so it appears he didn’t move to New York, or if he did, it was for a very short period of time.
Warning Here: Genealogy without proof is mythology
All these lineages continue with the possible Loyalists:
3. Benjamin Parker, born 4 January 1692 married ?
4. Jonathan Parker, born c1714; died c1792. This is supposedly the single Jonathan Parker on the Camel list, the man who is designated as Jonathan Sr.
5. Benjamin Parker, born 1745; died 1816; married Rachel “Thropp.” Her surname is probably Thorp, based on Middlesex County, New Jersey records proving Thorps lived there, if Benjamin did actually marry this person. This would be the Benjamin on the Camel list with a wife and five children.
I spent many hours in the Family History Library searching through early new Jersey records.
The big question: What did I find? The short answer: Not much
My plan was to pick up the trail of Benjamin born in 1692 or else to find land or court records for the Jonathan Parker born c1714 and Benjamin born c1742. They were nowhere to be found buying or selling land, nor were they found in wills or probate records.
However, I found one very tantalizing clue in one deed book abstract:
Monmouth County, New Jersey, 1762
Robert “Mack Clanen” appoints Thomas Morrall, both of Monmouth County, New Jersey to “recover and receive” according to account and sum, debts owed to him by a whole list of people including JONATHAN PARKER and BENJAMIN PARKER, who appears in the list immediately following Jonathan.
If these are my Jonathan and Benjamin, in 1762, Jonathan would be way more than legal age, he’d be about 47 years old, and Benjamin would be in his mid 20’s.
Unfortunately, court minutes for Monmouth County do not begin until 1785 and there are no Jonathan or Benjamin Parkers to be found in them; estate records don’t begin until 1800.
I have found nothing to even suggest that the Parker lineage proposed by many and outlined above is not correct, but the only shred of information I have found to support it is the 1762 Monmouth County entry on 24 June 1762 filed by Robert “Mack Clanen.”
This seems to be the end of the paper trail for Jonathan and Benjamin Parker. I don’t know any Parker descendants personally, but this might be a case where DNA testing could conclusively disprove a familial connection with Elisha Parker of Barnstable or provide further support for the theory that the Campobello Parkers share a common ancestor with the Parkers of Monmouth and Middlesex Counties, New Jersey.
In any case, neither Jonathan nor Benjamin Parker appear in any Middlesex or Monmouth County, New Jersey records nor in those of Richmond County, New York in the post-Revolutionary War era.