Tag Archives: Tristram Coffin

A New Double Line: Coffin of Nantucket, MA

As I’ve pieced together my Coleman family, which originated in Nantucket, I’ve been able to fill in more of the missing branches and twigs on my grandmother’s portion of the family tree.

One of those branches leads to a double line of descent in the Coffin family.

Tristram Coffin, the immigrant, was the son of Peter Coffin and Joan Kember, born c1609, probably in Brixton, Devon, England. I have seen exact baptismal dates online, but not in any reliable format. He married Dionis Stevens, daughter of Robert Stevens of Brixton, Devon, England c1628-1630. The Coffins remained in Devon for the first 12 years of their married life. Several children were born to them. The year 1642 brought the beginning of the English Civil War. Tristram’s response was to emigrate to Massachusetts, taking with him his wife, five children, his widowed mother and two unmarried sisters, Eunice, who later married William Butler and Mary who married Alexander Adams, both in Massachusetts. His father, Peter, died in 1627/28, so never saw the colonies. Two other sisters, Joan and Deborah, had married and they remained in England.

Upon arrival, the Coffin family moved several times. Tristram’s mother, Joan, died in Boston in 1661. Tristram, however, might first have lived in Salisbury, next in Haverhill by 1642, then Newbury by 1653, Salisbury in 1654-55 and then a short stay on Martha’s Vineyard before moving to Nantucket permanently in 1660.

Tristram Coffin was a well respected man, as he dealt with the Indians fairly and was appointed to serve as the 1st Chief Magistrate of Nantucket on 29 June 1671.  It is thought that he proclaimed the first liquor law in America, by which it became illegal to sell alcohol to the Indians.


  1. Peter, born c1629; died 21 March 1715, Exeter, Rockingham, New Hampshire; married Abigail Starbuck, 20 August 1660. Peter owned land in Nantucket, but lived there only a short time.
  2. Tristram, born c1631; died 4 February 1704, Newbury, Essex, Massachusetts; married Judith (Greenleaf) Somerby, widow of Henry Somerby, 2 March 1652/53, Newbury, Essex, Massachusetts
  3. Elizabeth, born c1633; died 19 November 1678, Newbury, Essex, Massachusetts; married Stephen Greenleaf, 13 November 1651, Newbury, Essex, Massachusetts
  4. John, born c1635-1638; died 30 November 1642, Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts
  5. James, born c1639; died 28 July 1720, Nantucket, Massachusetts; married Mary Severance, 3 December 1663, Salisbury, Essex, Massachusetts
  6. Deborah, born 15 November 1642; died 8 December 1642, both in Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts
  7. Mary, born 20 February 1645, Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts; died 13 November 1717, Nantucket, Massachusetts; married Nathaniel Starbuck
  8. John, born 30 October 1647, Haverhill, Essex, Massachusetts; died 5 September 1711, Edgartown, Dukes, Massachusetts; married Deborah Austin.
  9. Stephen, born 10 May 1652, Newbury, Essex, Massachusetts; died 14 November 1734, Nantucket, Massachusetts; married Mary Bunker

My double line of descent is through Tristram’s and Dionis’s son, James:

  1. Tristram Coffin married Dionis Stevens
  2. James Coffin married Mary Severance
  3. Then their son Ebenezer Coffin married Eleanor Barnard and their son James married Ruth Gardner;
  4. Ebenezer’s and Eleanor’s son, Cromwell, married James’ and Ruth’s daughter, Ruth.
  5. Eunice Coffin married Joseph Coleman
  6. Joseph Coleman married Ruth Spurr
  7. Thomas Coleman married Mary Elizabeth Astle
  8. William Coleman married Sarah Moriah Crouse
  9. Hartwell Thomas Coleman married Anna Elisabeth Jensen
  10. Hazel Ethel Coleman married Vernon Tarbox Adams
  11. Doris Priscilla Adams married George Michael Sabo
  12. Linda Anne Sabo Stufflebean = Me!

James Coffin and Mary Severance had a large family, so we’ll look at them in another post.