My Earliest Documented Ancestor

I thought it would be fun to identify my earliest documented ancestor. I have a royal line or two, but I wanted to find my earliest every day person who has some kind of solid documentation of his or her life.

I never merge information from other trees and I only add records from the 1500s that I find in professional publications like the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s publication, The Register. That’s pretty much my “go to” source for verifying my earliest lines.

Given that my dad’s side is Slovak and the earliest church records don’t even hit the year 1800, I knew that this ancestor would be on my mom’s colonial lines, which are all centered in England.

I opened up RootsMagic 7 and chose REPORTS, then CHARTS and then TIMELINE CHART. I included every and generated a report. All that was left to do was scroll and keep an eye on the left side of the chart for the people whose lives touched the late 1400s and early 1500s.


RootsMagic 7 Timeline

I found the winner – John Bate of Lydd, Kent, England, who died between 31 July and 17 September 1522! In 1897, Isaac C. Bates, Esq. published the earliest lines of the Bate/Bates family in the New England Historic Genealogical Register (Volume 51: 268-272) under Genealogical Gleanings in England. A full list of wills found in English records was cited.

My immigrant ancestor was James Bate, baptized on 2 December 1582 in Lydd. He married Alice Glover on 13 September 1603 and they had nine children born to them before they sailed for Massachusetts in 1635.

James and Alice are my 9X great grandparents. However, the NEHGR article takes the line back FOUR more generations.

The parents of James Bate were James Bate and Mary (Martine?) on 6 June 1580. They had thirteen children – Robert, Anna, Anna again, John, Thomas, Edward, Clement, Joseph, Mary, Isaac, Rachel Martha and James. At least five of those children died young.

The parents of James Bate were John Bate, born c1521, who married (1) Mildred Ward, 28 October 1546 and (2) Mary Bennett, 15 June 1579.

The parents of John Bate, born c1521, were Andrew Bate, who was born probably no later than 1496, given the estimated year of John’s birth and died about 22 February 1532/33 and an unknown wife. Andrew had six known children, Joan, Simon, William, Katherine and Thomas, along with John.

The parents of Andrew Bate were John Bate and an unknown wife. Again, estimating that John might have been about 25 at the age of marriage, he was probably born no later than 1471! John had two sons, Thomas and Andrew. John died between 31 July and 17 September 1522.

The article even lists a number of Bate wills found in Kent. The earliest for Henry Bate is dated 1485!

It is impossible to tell if his father John Bate is the man who died in 1522 – probably not since Henry has a wife and children, but John could be the son of James Bate, the son of Thomas Bate or the son of John Bate Jr., any of which would extend this Bate line back at least one more generation.

John Bate is easily my earliest documented ancestor. Who is yours?

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