Lawrence & Susannah Wilkinson, Early Settlers of Providence, RI

I’ve known about my Wilkinson connection for many years, as Joanna Wilkinson married Israel Thornton in Rhode Island and then, with many other Rhode Island families, headed to Nova Scotia, which today is New Brunswick, Canada.

I’ve neglected to share the earliest generations of the Wilkinson family, so I am rectifying that oversight today.

As far as I can determine, two books, both published a long time ago, provide the basis for most of the genealogical information found online today.

The first book, Memoirs of the Wilkinson Family, by Israel Wilkinson was written way back in 1869.

The second tome, Genealogy of Wilkinson and Kindred Families, by Marcellus McEwin Wilkinson, was published almost a century later in 1849.

The problem with both books is that some of the information in them has been debunked – particularly the royal descents – and claims are made about people, places and events that have no documentation to support them.

Therefore, I am not going to contribute to misinformation that multiplies like a rabbit online and will reference questionable details without discussing them in depth.

There is agreement that Lawrence Wilkinson was the immigrant ancestor of my Rhode Island branch of the Wilkinson family. It also seems generally accepted that Lawrence may have called Lanchester, County Durham, England home and that it is likely he was a Royalist during the English Civil War.

Lawrence’s date of birth is unknown. Church registers from Lanchester dating from 1603-1653 has been lost and no American colonial record, such as court depositions, in which Lawrence stated his age, has been found.

If Lawrence was around the age of 25 when he married AND if Susannah was his only wife, then he was probably born  around 1624.

Next, little is known about Lawrence’s wife, other than her name was Susannah and she predeceased him, not being named in his estate administration. However, if Susannah married at a typical age for young ladies in that time period, then she was probably born c1628.

Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700 posits that her maiden name might have been Smith and that her father MIGHT be Christopher Smith of Rhode Island, but no proof has been found.

Next, there is some doubt as to both the date that Lawrence Wilkinson arrived in the colonies and whether he was married before settling in Rhode Island.

Lawrence Wilkinson signed the Original Compact of the Settlers of Rhode Island, dated 1645, so many report that he was in Rhode Island by that time. HOWEVER, historians have noted that some men signed the document LATER than 1645. Therefore, it can only be said that Lawrence was in Rhode Island by 1651, when he first appears in Providence, Rhode Island.

This gap of years is important for a second reason. Lawrence and Susannah married c1649 and their probable first child, son Samuel, was born c1650.

Lawrence deeded the gift of his homestead to his son, Josias in 1691, the year before he died.

Lawrence passed away intestate on 9 August 1692 in Providence, Rhode Island.

It is thought that Lawrence and Susannah had about six children – there is also a question about the existence of one of them.

Also, many online trees have exact dates of birth for the children. I’ve not found primary records with those dates, so I am including only the years of birth. It is believed that all children were born in Providence, with the possible exception of Samuel.


1. Samuel, probably first born, c1650, but whether in England or Rhode Island is unknown; died intestate on 27 August 1727, Providence, Rhode Island; probably married (?Plain) Wickenden, daughter of Rev. William Wickenden, c1674.
2. Susannah, born c1652; died young.
3. John, born c1654; died 10 April 1708, Providence, Rhode Island, intestate; married Deborah Whipple, c1669. His estate inventory was completed on 30 April 1708 and wife, Deborah was the administratrix. Deborah was probably born c1658; died after 7 September 1713, when she is mentioned in a Providence Council meeting regarding the estate of her deceased son, Josias Wilkinson.
4. Joanna, born c1657,  called Joamia in the 1949 book, probably a publisher error. There is doubt as to whether Joanna ever existed. If she did, she apparently died young and without children.
5. Josias, born c1660, died 10 June 1692, Providence, Rhode Island, intestate; married Hannah (?Tyler). Note that Josias died only ONE DAY after his father. Hannah married (2) Joseph Tucker, before 24 December 1699. More on that in a moment.
6. Susannah, born c1662; married (1) Edward Boss, before 1685, possibly Newport, Rhode Island (2) James Angell

Before ending this family sketch, details need to be shared about the estate administration of Josias Wilkinson. It is peculiar that, as a young man, he died but one day after his father, Lawrence. His death date is found in the Providence estate administration records, which make no mention of his cause of death.

Initally, Edward Smith and John Williams served as administrators of Josias’s estate. However, by 24 December 1699, Joseph Tucker, stepfather to Josias’s only heir, daughter Hannah, and his wife, Hannah, widow of Josias, petitioned the court regarding the estate.

However, the administration of Josias’s estate continued for many years, likely because his daughter, Hannah, was very young when her father died.

Eventually, the court concluded that Joseph Tucker allowed the real estate that was little Hannah’s legacy to go to ruin and he was failing to even provide proper clothing.

Joseph Tucker died by 8 April 1707, when his wife Hannah was named adminstratrix of his estate. John Wilkinson and Sylvanus Scott completed the estate inventory.

As of June 19, 1710, Hannah Wilkinson, daughter of Josias, was still a minor and the Providence Council appointed Eleazer Arnold as her sole guardian.

By 7 September 1713, John Wilkinson was overseer of Josias’s estate.

Josias’s daughter, Hannah, married John Dexter.

Thus, there are many gaps in our knowledge of the origin and lives of Lawrence Wilkinson, wife Susannah, and their children.

If anyone has more recent, documented research, I would love to hear from you.


My AppGen Experience: Half Way Through the Class

In early February, I wrote about my pleasure and excitement when I was successfully enrolled in Advanced Swedish Research offered by the relatively new (second semester) virtual education opportunity, the Applied Genealogy Institute.

AppGen, for short, provides genealogical education opportunities described as “Learn by Doing.”

I promised to share my thoughts and impressions part way through the class and then provide an overall review when the class ended.

First, each of the classes offered by the Institute consists of four sessions, which in reality in 3 weeks long since Class 1 is Day One with three remaining weeks.

Advanced Swedish Research meets on March 14, 21, 28 and April 4 from 3:00-6:30 p.m. (Pacific Time). This afternoon, I will attend Class 3.

What to expect in terms of format and material covered was clearly outlined in the class summary posted before the enrollment process began.

My Impressions

Instructor Jill Morelli clearly defined expectations and requirements for this class. Given the Scavenger Hunt/Homework assignment each week, my current thought is that 4 sessions is a good amount of time.

Class has begun promptly at 3:00 with 14 participants. (Class limit is 15.) An updated agenda has been provided each morning before class. I really liked that Jill added a lesson on Probate Records after many of us noted in the pre-class questionnaire that we’d like to know more about them.

Each session is a blend of lecture and hands on research, finding persons and details in early Swedish records, which can be found either on the Swedish National Archives (free) or ArkivDigital, by subscription and the company provided an extremely inexpensive subscription for the duration of the class – US$16!

Given that this is an advanced class, the work load isn’t insignificant, which I expected and with which I am comfortable. I am retired and do genealogy for hours every day, so this isn’t an issue.

The Scavenger Hunt takes me a few hours; the remaining hours of the homework is dedicated to our own (guided) research. I have to admit that I found a great rabbit hole this week on ArkivDigital and spent so many hours poring through records that, although I finished the Scavenger Hunt and began writing up my personal research, I didn’t have time to finish it before emailing it in yesterday morning.

I probably spent around 25 hours last week – maybe even 30 –  working on the assignment – but, bear in mind that many of those hours were of my own choosing to follow the BSO (bright, shiny object).

My initial stated research goal was to find where and when my 5X great grandfather Anders Molin (1740-1786+) died. That’s idealistic as a number of his descendants have been hunting for years without success.

My second goal is to develop skill using more advanced Swedish records, which this class is providing.

In summary, I’m very pleased with my class at the mid-point. It’s a small group and, although we don’t socialize much, there is plenty of opportunity to have good class discussions and to ask as many questions as necessary.

Jill Morelli, the instructor, is also available during the week in between class sessions and has promptly answered my email queries.

More to come after the class concludes on 4 April 2022, but I am more than happy with my experience so far.


Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Fearless Females Education

March has just flown by and we have arrived at the last Saturday of this moth, which is also Women’s History Monty. Being Saturday, it is time for Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun and our challenge this week directly ties into our own women’s history.

1)  It’s National Women’s History Month, so I’m going to use today’s prompt from Lisa Alzo.  What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.

This prompt is somewhat of a quickie for me. I was the first female in my family tree to attend college, where I earned both a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education at the University of Rhode Island and Spanish and a Master of Science degree in bilingual special education at Fordham University.

My mother, Doris Priscilla (Adams) Sabo attended Rutgers University, but didn’t earn a degree. She also attended and graduated from Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School and had a career as a secretary promoted to officer manager for a company that made the copper rollers used to print fabrics.

My paternal grandmother, Julia (Scerbak) Sabo, only had the opportunity to finish fourth grade. In the 1800s and earlier, there were no schools in the Rusyn villages. Education only arrived at some of them in the 1890s, when Nana was a small girl, and then only went as high as fourth grade.

In spite of no opportunity for higher education, Nana was a sharp lad who kept the books for the family meat business. I also have memories of standing next to her in the A&P Grocery Store. As the checker entered the cost of her food items using the register, Nana mentally added up the bill. I remember more than once, she told the checker he was wrong and to re-calculate. However, I don’t ever remember Nana being wrong!

My maternal grandmother, Hazel Ethel (Coleman) Adams , completed two years of high school before having to get a job and earn some money. She was very artistic and musical. She loved to paint and played the piano beautifully.

None of my earlier paternal Rusyn ancestors attended any school at all.

On the maternal side of the tree, great grandmother Annie (Stuart) Adams, who grew up in the small Maine village of Meddybemps, completed 8th grade, per the 1940 census. Annie eventually became the owner of a successful ladies’ accessories shop in Calais, Maine.

My other maternal great grandmother, Anna (Jensen) Coleman, was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and, as far as I know, attended school there until the family emigrated to the United States in 1884 when Anna was 12 years old.

Whether she attended school in Maine, where the family settled, is not known. The 1900 census confirms that Anna could read, write and speak English (as could her father.)

I don’t know anything about any talents or interests that Anna had, as she died when my grandmother was just 15 years old when she was a homemaker raising her two children.

I have been able to prove that other maternal female ancestors were literate enough to at least sign their names. The earlier ancestor that I know of, Katherine (Marbury) Scott, born c1610, and the sister of Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson, were daughters of clergyman Francis Marbury. It is known that both girls, unusual for the time, were taught to read and write.

That’s it for this week’s SNGF challenge. Thank you to Lisa Alzo and Randy Seaver for a fun topic to close out Women’s History Month.