Category Archives: Somes

William Somes (c1573-1617), Buckinghamshire & Bedfordshire, England

I am always very thankful when someone publishes details about new research findings, particularly when ancestral towns in Europe are identified.

In 2012, Timothy M. Farr published an article “The English Origins of Morris Somes of Gloucester, Massachusetts: A Reconsideration” in The American Genealogist, volume 86:3, pages 161-169.

Because of Mr. Farr’s work, the parentage of Morris Somes was updated (from 1945 and 1977 work) to prove his ancestral home and provide the name of his father and siblings.

Thank you, Timothy M. Farr!

William Somes was born c1573, England and was buried 4 April 1617, Hardmead, Buckinghamshire, England. the name of his wife is unknown.


1. Elizabeth, named before her brothers in her father’s estate, so born c1598, if the eldest child; unmarried in 1617
2. William, likely the one baptized 5 October 1600, Astwood, Buckinghamshire, England, living in 1617
3. Morris Somes, baptized 21 September 1607, Hardmead, Buckinghamshire, England; died 13 January 1688/89, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts; married (1) Marjorie Johnson, 4 June 1636, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, England (2) Elizabeth Kendall, daughter of John, 26 June 1648, Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts
4. Richard, baptized 21 October 1610, Hardmead, Buckinghamshire, England; living in 1617

This post is short and to the point, but it extends Morris Somes’ ancestry back into England in the 1500s.

The article provides many further Somes’ church book entries, which may indicate further family relationships. It can be accessed on American Ancestors by subscription.


Morris Somes, Buckinghamshire, England to Gloucester, MA, 1600s

Morris Somes was baptized 21 September 1607 in Hardmead, Buckinghamshire, England, the son of William Somes and an unidentified mother.

Morris, the immigrant ancestor to Massachusetts c1640, has many descendants today, given his two marriages and eleven children, eight of whom married and had children.

Morris Somes married (1) Marjorie Johnson, 4 June 1635, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, England, where he apparently settled for several years.

Cranfield is about 35 miles from Hardmead, so not an unlikely destination, but distant enough where Morris wasn’t going to be commuting back and forth!

Marjorie Johnson was born c1614, likely in or near Cranfield, but neither a birth/baptismal record has been located nor are the names of her parents proven.

Morris Somes and Marjorie Johnson were the parents of (probably) four children, one born in England and three in Massachusetts.


1. Mary, baptized 1 May 1636 ; died before 1642, both in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, England
2. Mary, baptized 1 March 1642, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, England; married John Hammond, 17 October 1660. Little is known about the Hammonds. They have no children born in Gloucester, Massachusetts and no death record is found for Mary. John died before 21 October 1723, Essex County, Massachusetts when John Hammond administered his estate.
3. Sarah, born 15 June 1643, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts; died 11 May 1689, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts; married Henry Witham, 15 June 1665, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
4. ?Timothy – Timothy is assigned as a son of Morris Somes. His mother is said to be Elizabeth Kendall. However, his is more likely the son of Marjorie Johnson and she possibly died giving birth to him. Timothy married Jane Stanewood, 2 April 1672, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts. He was likely at least 21 when married, so born no later than 1651. His father married Elizabeth, second wife, on 26 June 1647. She then gave birth to documented children in 1648, 1649, 1651, 1654, 1656 and 1658, leaving no space for Timothy.

Marjorie (Johnson) Somes died 22 January 1656/47 in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts.

With three small children, Morris married (2) Elizabeth Kendall, daughter of John, on 27 June 1647, in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts or possibly Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts.

They were the parents of seven children.


  1. John, born 22 April 1648, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts; married Hannah Shattuck,  c1671
  2. Lydia, born 3 October 1649. Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts; died 23 January 1711, probably Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts; married Joseph Williams, before 14 February 1669/70
  3. Nathaniel, born 27 July 1651; died before 30 September 1690 when an inventory (since lost) was taken of his estate; unmarried
  4. Patience, born 10 March 1653 (Gloucester Vital Records Tan Books say 10 March 1652, but given the birth date of Nathaniel, 1653 is more likely); married Samuel Topliff, 5 October 1671, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts
  5. Joseph, born 3 December 1654, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts; died 19 December 1675 in the Great Swamp fight, Fort Narragansett, Rhode Island during King Philip’s War; unmarried. (Gloucester Tan Books
  6. Abigail, born 6 May 1656, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts; married Anthony Bennett, c1674. (Gloucester Tan Books say 6 May 1655, but unlikely given that Joseph was born in December 1654, just five months previous.)
  7. Hannah, born 3 September 1658, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts. Online trees give Hannah a husband, but with a marriage date of 1669, when she would have only been 11 years old. Not likely, so nothing further has been found.

I’ve actually found a digital image of the page that records the births of Patience and Abigail.

The years are clearly 1653 and 1655. However, these births may have been entered a lengthy time after they happened because this is the bottom half of a page of a family grouping for Morris Somes, not a chronological entry of town births.

The years 1653 and 1655 don’t fit given the birth dates of the other children and I believe somewhere in the clerk’s records a mistake was made. It’s possible that whoever gave the birth information to the town clerk made the mistake and it was recorded for posterity.

Morris Somes died 13 January 1688/89 in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts.



Henry Witham & Sarah Somes, Gloucester, MA, 1600s

Today’s family sketch, the last concerning the Witham family discusses Henry Witham and his wife, Sarah Somes.

Henry Witham was born maybe c1643, probably in England.

There are many websites and online trees that not only give an exact date of birth for Henry in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts, but also name his father and mother, complete with a maiden name.

There are also online trees that provide Witham grandparents for Henry, both grandfather and grandmother, complete with a maiden name.

However, there is a huge stumbling block with this information. I can find no evidence whatsoever that there was an Witham in Massachusetts prior to Henry Witham.

Part of the problem is that someone found a probate mention for Thomas Wathen in 1652/53 and decided that surname was really Witham. Well, I happen to know it’s not because I have actual Wathens in my own family tree.

In addition to undocumented parents and grandparents for Henry, these online trees come filled with three siblings for him, too. I dare not repeat their names, as I don’t want to contribute to populating family trees with non-existent people, but I have found no evidence to support siblings for Henry. That includes a brother, given an exact date of birth in Gloucester, but which is not found in Gloucester town records.

Some try to assign Peter Witham of York, Maine in the 1600s as Henry’s father. The issue there is that Peter Witham married Redigon Clark in Boston in 1652. There is no evidence of a prior marriage and Peter isn’t old enough to be Henry’s father.

Witham is a surname that appears in multiple English counties so there is no reason to assume any familial relationship between Peter and Henry, but it is not impossible. The given name Peter does not appear in the descendants of Henry Witham.

The only “sources” I find for these parents and grandparents of Henry Witham are links that go in circles to other online trees. There is not a single primary source, nay, not even a secondary source, for any ancestors of Henry Witham.

Therefore, I will start again.

Henry Witham was born no later than 1643 and likely several years earlier in the 1630s, probably in England, and married Sarah Somes on 15 June 1665 in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts.

Sarah was born 15 June 1643, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts, the daughter of Morris Somes and Marjorie Johnson, who emigrated from the Buckinghamshire/Bedfordshire border towns of Hardmead and Cranfield in England and settled in Massachusetts.

Henry Witham died before 4 April 1695, probably in Gloucester. His son Thomas sold land on that date that is identified as having belonged to his father, Henry, deceased.

Sarah predeceased her husband, passing away on 11 May 1689, also in Gloucester.

Henry and Sarah were the parents of five children, all sons, but only three lived to adulthood. Their family was quite small given the number of children most other couples had in this time period.

Children: (All events in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts)

1. Thomas, born 29 September 1666; died 1 August 1736; married Abigail Babson, 8 July 1691.

2. Henry, born 27 October 1668; died 27 April 1702; married Lydia Younglove, widow of Samuel Griffin, 23 October 1691

3. John, born 19 February 1670/71; died 18 June 1671

4. Samuel, born 26 January 1671/72; died after 1713, when his son, John, died 5 January 1713/14. John is called son of Samuel, not of Samuel deceased; married Rebecca ____dner, who has been called Rebecca Gardner, 5 December 1705. Nothing further is found, as there are no land deeds or probate records for any Samuel Witham.

5. Joseph, born 21 December 1676; no further record

It is evident that Henry and Sarah had but three sons who lived to adulthood and it is possible that Samuel might not have had any surviving children as no further record of Rebecca can be found.

If you are descended from Henry Witham and Sarah Somes and have made any further progress documenting this family, I would love to hear from you.