Monday, November 1, 2010

Madness Monday - Will the Real Abigail Cary Please Stand Up!

The past couple of weeks I have gone absolutely mad trying to put an end to the controversy of the identity of Deacon John Cary's wife Abigail.

John Cary, Jr., how he is most referred to in town records, was born 4 November 1645 in Duxbury, Plymouth, Massachusetts and was the son of John Cary and Elizabeth Godfrey who arrived in Plymouth Colony around 1634.

When he went to Bristol, he became the Deacon of the first Congregational church there and remained so until his death in 1721.

John Cary, Jr was married 7 Dec 1670 in Bridgewater, Plymouth, Massachusetts to Abigail Penniman, however there are those that still subscribe to the notion that he was married to Abigail Allen, daughter of Samuel and Margaret French Allen (Samuel Allen has his own conflicts).

It all started in 1866 when a man by the name of Bradford Kingman, Esq. of Brookline, Mass wrote and published the book HISTORY OF NORTH BRIDGEWATER. He listed on page 463 in the Family Register section that John Cary, Jr. and Abigail Allen were married Dec. 7, 1670. He gives no clue as to where this particular information came from.

A year later this same information is published in the NEHGR in vol. 21 in the article, "Marriages in the Town of Bridgewater Previous to its Division".

In 1916 NEHGS published "Vital Records of Bridgewater Massachusetts To The Year 1850",vol II - Marriages and Deaths.
Their entry for John Cary reads like this: 
John Jr. and ____ ____[Abigail Allen, P.R.103.].
The two blank lines mean that the wife was unnamed in the original record. The information in brackets refers to the private record from "Marriages in the Town of Bridgewater Previous to its Division" mentioned above.

In 1900, "The Mayflower Descendant" published THE VITAL RECORDS OF BRIDGEWATER, MASS. literally transcribed from the original records by George Ernest Bowman who has been described as the greatest genealogical scholar of Plymouth Colony. The original entry for John Cary reads as follows:

The Day and yeare of the Berth of the children of John Cary Junior heare in the towne of Bridgwater is as ffolloweth and his mariage was the 7th of Desember 1670

Finally, in "New England Marriages Prior to 1700", published by Clarence Almon Torrey and Elizabeth Petty Bentley in 1985, the entry reads: 
CARY, John (1645-1721) & [Abigail] [PENNIMAN/ALLEN?] (1651-) (PENNIMAN prob cousin Mrs. BARDAY); 7 Dec 1670, ?6 Dec 1670; Bridgewater/Bristol, RI
(I don't even know what all that means.)

So here you have four different sources for the same marriage and none of them match! The most obvious marriage source to go with is the literal transcription of the original record, but you cannot name his wife at this point. 

*note of interest - professional genealogist prefer citing the 
version of Bridgewater Vital Records published in The Mayflower Descendant from 1900 to 1914 in preference to the two-volume set published in 1916 by NEHGS.

So thereafter any published works about Deacon John Cary had Abigail Allen slapped right in as his wife without regard to the original record.

For proof that Abigail Penniman was John Cary's wife we look to the probate records. 

The will of Abigail Cary of Brist., Widow "being aged," dated 7 May 1722 and prob. 12 Feb 1729/30. Only dau. Abigail Wife of Samuel Howland of Brist. Grdaus: Abigail Cary dau. of son John dcd., Abigail Cary dau. of my son Eleazer, Abigail Cary, dau. of my son James, Abigail Cary, dau. of my son Benjamin, Abigail Howland, dau of my son-in-law Samuel Howland & Jemima Cary dau. of my son Josiah.  My husb. Deacon John Cary dcd. Our eldest son John Cary dcd, grson. John Cary son of my son John Cary. Witns Charles Church, Samuel Smith, & Henery Bragg [6:353/4].
--Inv. of est. of Abigail Cary of Brist. dated 12 Feb 1729/30, pres by Benjamin Cary & Samuel Howland, execs, mentions Abigail dau. of John Cary, Abigail dau of Eleazor Cary & Abigail dau. of Samuel Howland {6:354/5}

...Bristol County, Mass Probate Records, by H. L. Peter Rounds, page 180

In the will of "Lidia Wight", Abigail's mother, dated 22 Dec 1673 and proved 27 July 1676 she noted "as for that small portion of worldly goods which the Lord hath graciously given & left by the last will of my former husband James Penniman I have according to my best understanding faithfully performed his will & have truly paid unto my five daughters which are married, the full sum of twenty pounds to each of them," and bequeathed the £80 which was due to her from "my son Samuel Penniman which is the remainder of the price of the several parcels of land which I have sold to him as appears by deed" as follows: £20 to "my daughter Mary Penniman"; £10 to "my daughter Lydia Addams"; £10 to "my daughter Sarah Robinson"; £10 to "my daughter Bethiah Allen"; £10 to "my daughter Hannah Hall"; £10 to "my daughter Abigail Carie"; and £10 and a great kettle to "my daughter Mary Penniman"; "my son Samuel Penniman" to be sole executor and "my loving cousins Jacob Eliot and Theophilus Frary" to be overseers.

The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. Vol. 1-3. Boston, MA, USA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995. 

John Cary and Increase Robinson, the husband of Sarah Penniman, were among the commisioners who divided the estate of Lt. John Hall of Taunton, husband of Hannah Penniman, on 29 Dec 1694.

In May of 1692 Increase and Sarah Robinson "conveyed to John Cary of Bristol in consideration of thirty pounds, twenty acres of land in Bristol." Sarah Robinson is Abigail Penniman's sister.

Source: The Robinsons and their kin folk

 By Robinson Genealogical Society, 
Robinson Family Genealogical and Historical 
Association, page 18.

The following excerpt is from the 
original bond of the estate of 
Increase Robinson:

The above James Adams is the son of 
Edward and Lydia Penniman Adams.

The Robinsons and their kin folk

 By Robinson Genealogical Society, Robinson Family Genealogical and Historical Association, page 25.

According to this message at Genforum, John Cary of Bristol deeded land in Bridgewater to the heirs of Increase Robinson, my brother-in-law," deceased, on 25 May 1704.  I am still trying to track this record down.

There is also another publication I am trying to track down.   Clifford L. Stott has provided evidence and careful arguments for the identity of the spouses of James Penniman's daughters in "The American Genealogist "71 (1996): 12-18.

There has also been a misconception that Abigail Penniman was married to a Samuel Neale. Braintree records, p 719, includes the marriage of an Abigail Penniman to Samuel Neil in Braintree on 18 April 1678.  An examination of a microfilm of the original record shows that she was actually "Abigaill Beniamin" (FHL film#940,974)

The above information, I believe, is sufficient enough to prove that Abigail Penniman, daughter of James and Lydia Elliot Penniman, is indeed the wife of Deacon John Cary.

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