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.