Elizabeth O’Neal’s May Genealogy Blog Party theme is, of course, all about Marvelous Moms.
This topic took a bit of thinking because I’ve written, often more than once, about my mother, grandmothers and even a fair number of my maternal ancestors for quite a few generations back.
Therefore, I decided to delve deep into my family tree to write about my 11X great grandmother, Isabel Wells, born about 1565, probably in Ringstead, Northamptonshire, England or in a town very close by.
She had to have been a very brave lady because at the age of 70 (which was quite ancient back in 1635), she appears on the passenger list of the Planter, a ship which made its way to Massachusetts. Her three surviving sons, Richard, John and William were also on board with their young families.
Little is known about Isabel’s family, except that she was the daughter of John Wells, also of Ringstead, who left a will probated on 25 March 1618.
Her father didn’t seem to be terribly concerned about including the given names of his children in the will, but it appears that Isabel had two sisters who lived at least long enough to marry and give birth – one possibly named Elizabeth, who married William Morton and the other who married Mr. Barwek (Barwick?).
John Wells named the following heirs:
1. John Morton, grandchild, not yet 12 years old, son of William Morton
2. William Morton, son-in-law of John Wells
3.Daughter Morton, possibly named Elizabeth, unless she was the same as Elizabeth the named granddaughter
4. Etheldred Morton, grandchild
5. Elizabeth Morton, grandchild
6. Anna Morton, grandchild
7. Custby Barwek, grandchild
8. Lewis Barwek, grandchild
9. Richard Tuttle, grandchild
10. Simon Tuttle, grandchild
11. William Tuttle, grandchild
He also named “my daughter Morton” and “my daughter Tootell,” plus William and John Wells, sons of his brother, Thomas Wells. As he left nothing to a “daughter Barwek,” it is possible that she predeceased her father, but that can’t be assumed since John Wells also had grandson John Tuttle, aged about 22 years in 1618. John Tuttle was not named in his grandfather’s will, for whatever reason.
As John Wells named no wife, she predeceased him; nor is there any indication as to whether the three daughters shared one mother. However, it seems certain that John Wells had no sons alive at the time he wrote his will. If there had been any, they would have inherited his land.
From this will, we can prove the following:
John Wells was likely born, say 1540, or within a few years of that date. He married at least once to an unknown wife who probably predeceased him. He was the father of three daughters. If the grandchildren are named based on the birth order of their mothers, then William Morton’s wife, maybe Elizabeth, was the eldest, followed by Isabel and then her sister who married Mr. Barwek (Barwick?).
John Wells also had at least one brother, Thomas, who in turn was the father of at least two boys, William and John.
Therefore, Isabel grew up in a village or small town (Ringstead today has only about 1,400 inhabitants), near extended family. While it is likely that she experienced the loss of one or more siblings, two os her sisters married, giving Isabel a number of nieces and nephews.
Her father and the Tuttle family were both living in comfortable circumstances, based on the bequests in family wills, so Isabel likely was part of what would be considered the middle class of its time.
Isabel Tuttle was listed as 70 years old on the Planter’s passenger list. There are no surviving birth or baptismal records from that region and time period. Her year of birth would have been about 1565 if her age was correct in 1635. She might have been born a bit later than 1565, maybe even as late as 1570, given that the birth of her first son is thought to have taken place about 1593. That would make her a first time mother at age 28, not old by today’s standards, but a bit older than typical for the 1500s.
Not only are birth and baptismal records non-existent for this time period, marriage records haven’t survived either. However, St. Mary’s Church, with parts of it dating to 1240 AD, is standing even today:
Isabel Wells married Simon Tuttle sometime before about 1593, the estimated year of birth for Richard Tuttle. Isabel and Simon Tuttle had at least five children, all sons:
1. Richard, born c1593; died 8 May 1640, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts; married Anne Taylor, 19 June 1622, Barnwell St. Andrew, Northampton, England
2. John, born c1596; died 30 December 1656, Carrickfergus, Antrim, Northern Ireland; married Joan Antrobus, c1627
3. Thomas, died after 20 January 1617, when he is mentioned in John Wells’ will, and before 19 December 1627, when his father states in his own will that his son William received five pounds “which fell to him by the death of his brother Thomas.” Thomas would have been of legal age for siblings to inherit, so he was likely born before 1596.
4. Simon, died between 20 January 1617, when he is an heir to his grandfather, John Wells, and 19 December 1627, when he is not mentioned in his father’s will.
5. William, born c1607; died 1673, New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut; married Elizabeth (MNU), after 1627.
Simon Tuttle died sometime between 19 December 1627, when he wrote his will, and 15 June 1630, the reputed date of his burial in Ringstead (as mentioned in Donald Lines Jacobus’ Hale House. . .)
Between Simon’s death and 1635, the Tuttle family en masse apparently made the huge decision to leave England for a new life in Massachusetts.
I can only imagine the thoughts that ran through Isabel’s mind. She was an elderly lady and knew that she didn’t have many years left. Should she stay in Ringstead, near family and friends, never to see her sons and their families again or should she leave England behind and take a chance on a new life?
I also have to wonder if Isabel was in relatively good health or if she was failing. I think regardless of her physical stamina, she couldn’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to Richard, John, William, their wives and all of her grandchildren.
Isabel Wells Tuttle most likely died during the voyage to the colonies and was buried at sea.
My line of descent:
Simon Tuttle & Elizabeth Wells
Richard Tuttle & Anne Taylor
John Tuttle & Mary Holyoke
Edward Tuttle & Abigail (MNU)
Joses Bucknam & Phebe Tuttle
James Bucknam & Mary Goddard
Joses Bucknam & Abigail Hay
Oliver Scripture & Mary Goddard Bucknam
George Rogers Tarbox & Mary Elizabeth Scripture
Calvin Segee Adams & Nellie F. Tarbox
Charles Edwin Adams & Annie Maude Stuart
Vernon Tarbox Adams & Hazel Ethel Coleman
George Michael Sabo & Doris Priscilla Adams
Linda Anne Sabo Stufflebean – me!