38. Token Ancestors: Coinage by the Youngs, Munford, and Samm Families

This holiday season, as you shop for gifts or dinner trimmings, spare a moment to think about the money you are spending. Not the amount, but the kind. Paper money is a relatively modern innnovation in the western world, being rooted in banknotes issued in the mid-1600s. But the coins you carry in your pocket or purse are in most ways similar to coins as they have existed throughout the ages, all the way down from the 6th century B.C. Varying in denomination, they allow for small change to be made as the leftover from larger purchases.

In one important way, however, our coins vary considerably from earlier ones. Early coins were minted under the theory that their face value should equal the value of their metal content. Thus they were typically made of gold or silver. For example, in early medieval England, 240 silver pennies could be minted from a pound of silver — thereby giving rise to the unit we call the English pound sterling [2].   In contrast, most modern coins are minted with face values greatly exceeding the value of their metal content. Today in the U.S., the “melt value” is only 2 cents for a dime, 4 cents for a quarter, and 8 cents for a half dollar [1].

We have, in other words, switched from a theory of content value to a theory of token value when it comes to coins. This switch occurred surprisingly recently, with 1964 being the last year that the U.S. struck silver dimes, quarters, and half dollars.

The late switch is surprising for how long it took to come about, because the theory of content value had repeatedly proved problematic when it came to ensuring a supply of coins. Over a span of centuries, governments were frequently forced to debase their coinage to relieve shortages. Debasement typically involved reducing the silver content of smaller-denomination coins. The reasons for most of the shortages are controversial (e.g., compare [3] with [10]), but one factor was that as fluctuations in prices occurred, at some point the value of a coin’s metal content would exceed its face value. At that point coins would be melted down, disappearing from circulation [3].

A 17th Century Shortage

One of the historical shortages affords genealogical connections. By the mid-17th century a persistent shortage of small denomination coins had developed in England. This had been a long time in coming. As early as the time of Queen Elizabeth, who reigned 1558-1603, patterns had been drawn up for the issue of copper coins but nothing had come of it [4]. Coin shortages became particularly acute during the English Civil War (1643-1651), when minting ceased [11].

By 1648, shortages had become so severe that merchants took matters into their own hands and began issuing coin-like tokens of their own, a practice that continued in most places until 1672. The tokens were given as change, and were often honored locally in other establishments, at least over an adjoining street or two. In theory they could be exchanged for official royal coinage, although the extent to which that actually occurred is unclear [4].

Ancestral Involvement

Three of our known ancestors or near-ancestors were involved in the issuing of trade tokens, as they were called, each valued at a farthing (a quarter of a penny). In Norwich, co. Norfolk, England, on the eastern side of the country, ancestor Anne Youngs (d. 1681), a grocer, issued a token under her married name Anne Munford. It showed her name as “ANN MVNFORD” with The Grocer’s Arms on one side, and on the reverse, “IN NORWICH – A.M. [her initials]”. A photograph appears at https://norfolktokenproject.wordpress.com/portfolio/williamson-174. Anne is a direct ancestor through the Bowers, Thomas, Jordan, and Pleasants families [5].

Also in Norwich, Anne’s son George Munford, who had been admitted a freeman of the city in 1653, issued his own grocer’s token. On one side it showed “GEORGE MYNFORD” with a merchant’s mark, and on the other, “OF NORWICH 1657” with The Grocer’s Arms [5]. A photograph appears at https://norfolktokenproject.wordpress.com/portfolio/williamson-175.

Further west, John Samm (d. aft 1695) issued a token in Clifton, co. Bedford, in 1664. It showed his wife’s initial as “H”, and displayed the Drapers’ Arms [4], indicating he was a draper (i.e., a cloth or clothing merchant). John is a direct ancestor through the Bowers, Stayman, and Stake families [5]. At least for the moment, a photograph appears at https://www.copperbark.com/products/bedfordshire-28-clifton-john-samm-1664.

Although these three ancestors and near-ancestors were either grocers or drapers, trade tokens were not limited to those occupations. Williamson [4] listed nearly a hundred livelihoods represented by tokens.

trade token Thomas Wood
Example of a farthing trade token, issued by Thomas Wood, a vintner of Oxford, in 1652. Made of copper alloy, it weighs less than a gram and is about 1.5 cm in diameter. Wood also ran a tennis court, and a tennis racquet is depicted.


Even after trade tokens began to be issued, the English government dithered. In 1649, the Council of State recorded, “The business of farthing tokens is to be considered to-morrow” — an interesting phrasing given that it implied abandonment of the theory of content value. In 1650, the Council declared, “Farthings ought to be issued.” A year after that, as if to stengthen their resolve, a report was presented to the Council giving reasons, which were summarized by a later writer [4]:

The report commenced by stating that money is the public means to set a price upon all things between man and man, and experience hath sufficiently proved in all ages that small money is so needful to the poorer sort that all nations have endeavoured to have it. It continues to recommend small pieces as ministering of frugality, whereupon men can have a farthing’s worth and are not constrained to buy more of anything than they stand in need of, their feeding being from hand to mouth; it recommends it on the ground of charity, saying that many are deprived of alms for want of farthings and half-farthings, for many would give a farthing who are not disposed to give a penny or twopence, or to lose time in staying to change money whereby they may contract a noisome smell or the disease of the poor. [4]

Further discussion took place in 1652, but it was not until 1672 that a royal proclamation was finally issued for the minting of copper farthings and halfpence. At the same time the use of private tokens was outlawed, which was obeyed with two notable exceptions where usage continued for a few more years (i.e., the city of Chester, and Ireland). When those practices ended, the time of the 17th-century trade token had passed.

Today it is possible to collect trade tokens. A “good fine” example of the John Samm farthing came up for auction in 2012, with an expected sale price of £40-50 [6]. A “very fine” example at the aforementioned http://www.copperbark.com site is currently priced at £100. A George Munford 1657 farthing came up for auction in 2013 [7], and an Anne Munford farthing sold in 2015 [8].

A Final Comment

I’ll end with one last comment about those coins in your pocket. As I wrote at the head of this article, most modern coins have face values greatly exceeding the value of their metal content. The penny is a notable exception. Its metal is worth 8 tenths of a cent, only a small difference in value [1]. After accounting for all expenses, it already costs more than one cent to manufacture a new penny. Ongoing debates over the coin’s future and its possible elimination are eerily reminiscent of the protracted deliberations of the Council of State over the farthing nearly 400 years ago, right down to the possible effect on charities [9].

Oh, and about those farthings? Britain hasn’t seen a new one since 1956, and they are no longer legal tender.

Descent from the ancestors mentioned in this posting, and what is known of their own forebears, is detailed in The Omnibus Ancestry (available for download at Lulu). Full references are given there.


[1] Information retrieved from http://www.coinflation.com/coins/basemetal_calc.php (2017).

[2] Information retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pound_sterling#Anglo-Saxon (2017).

[3] Sargent, T.J., & Velde, F.R. (2002). The Big Problem of Small Change. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

[4] Williamson, G.C. (1889). Trade Tokens Issued in the Seventeenth Century. London: Elliot Stock.

[5] Boles, D.B. (2017). The Omnibus Ancestry: 619 Documented American and European Lines. Available for download through Lulu.

[6] Information retrieved from https://www.dnw.co.uk/media/auction_catalogues/Tokens%2011%20Apr%2012.pdf (2017).

[7] Information retrieved from https://www.dnw.co.uk/media/auction_catalogues/Tokens%202%20Oct%2013.pdf (2017).

[8] Information retrieved from http://rarecoinsandtokens.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=166&products_id=856 (2017).

[9] Information retrieved from https://www.thespruce.com/the-penny-debate-768872 (2017).

[10] Information retrieved from http://www.lse.ac.uk/Economic-History/Assets/Documents/WorkingPapers/Economic-History/2008/WP107.pdf (2017).

[11] Information retrieved from http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~fordingtondorset/Files2/Dorchestertradetoken.html (2017).

Picture credit: Modification of “17th century trade token of Thomas Wood, 1652“, by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, photographer Chris Edbury, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. The Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) is a voluntary programme run by the United Kingdom government to record the increasing numbers of small finds of archaeological interest found by members of the public. The scheme started in 1997 and now covers most of England and Wales. Finds are published at https://finds.org.uk.


19. Four Pilgrim Ancestors: Life, Death, and Thanksgiving for the Howland-Tilley Family at Plymouth

First Thanksgiving

A  favorite post from 2015. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Genealogist's Craft

For the ancestry of the Howland, Tilley and Dickinson families, see The Omnibus Ancestry, available for download through Lulu. For a dramatization of the events described here, see Saints & Strangers, a National Geographic mini-series debuting on November 22nd, 2015. Vere Tindale plays John Howland, and Jessica Sutton plays Lizzie (Elizabeth) Tilley.

On 11 November 1620, the Mayflower anchored off Cape Cod of what is now Massachusetts, carrying 101 passengers. That very day 41 of the men signed the Mayflower Compact, agreeing both to combine into “a civil body politic” to enact laws for the general good, and to obey those laws [2]. It has been called the first written constitution in the world [3].

Among the signers were John Howland and John Tilley [2]. John Howland came as the servant of John Carver, who was shortly to become the first Governor of Plymouth Colony [3]. The…

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37. Happy Halloween! The Tale of the McQueen Candles

Readers of this blog know that my ancestral McQueens, of Pollochaig, co. Inverness, Scotland, had a reputation of the supernatural. Two Halloweens ago I related the story of the McQueen witch (“18. Witches, Wizards, Ghosts, and Things That Go Bump in the Night”). This year I’d like to relay the tale of the McQueen candles, complete with an abducted wife, fairy enchantments, and otherworldly revenge — and for my ancestors, the loss of their magical candles.

The story was recorded in 1835. I know it from its reproduction 60 years later. I have only lightly edited that telling, deleting a few words and splitting long paragraphs into shorter ones for ease of reading. Enjoy!

Reproduced nearly verbatim from Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, vol. 20, pp. 35-7, 1894-6.

About the beginning of the 18th century the wife of one of the tenants in Druim-a-ghadha, upon the estate of Dunmaglass, had been carried away by the fairies, and was said to have been taken by them into a small hillock in that neighbourhood called ‘Tomnashangan,’ or the Ants Hill, and had been absent from her family for nearly a year.

No person, however, could tell exactly where she was, although their suspicion fell upon the fairies, and that she must be with them in the hill now mentioned. Several attempts were made to discover her, and none were bold enough to encounter the residence of the fairies.

At last Captain William Macgillivray, alias the Captain Baan, i.e, ‘White,’ son of Farquhar Macgillivray of Dunmaglass, who was resident at the spot, volunteered his services to endeavour to get the woman released from her long captivity in the ‘Fairy Hill’ if it was possible that she could be there.

The Captain being informed that John Dhu (M’Chuile) Macqueen of Pollachaik was familiar and on good terms with the fairies, and that he had wax candles in which there was a particular virtue, he despatched a messenger to the far-famed Pollachaik for one of his candles in order to assist him in discovering the lost female.


The candle was given by Pollachaik to the messenger, who got particular instructions never to look behind him until he reached home, otherwise something might happen to him, and he would lose the candle. This person heard so much noise like that of horses and carriages, accompanied with music and loud cries of ‘Catch him, catch him’ at Craiganuan, near Moyhall, that he was so frightened that he could not help looking behind him, and although he saw nothing, he lost the candle, then he made the best of his way home.

A second courier was despatched, who received another candle, and the same injunctions. In coming through the same place as the former, he withstood all the noise he heard there, but at a place near Farr it was ten times worse, and, not being able to withstand taking a peep over his shoulder, he lost the object of his message.

In this predicament it became necessary to send a third bearer to Pollachaik for another candle, which he also got, but on coming to the River Findhorn, it was so large that he could not cross, so that he was obliged to go back to the Laird [John Macqueen] for his advice, who, upon coming down to the bank of the river, desired the man to throw a stone upon the opposite side of the river, and no sooner was this done than much to his astonishment he found himself also there.

The River Findhorn at Pollochaig

He then proceeded upon his journey, and having taken a different route across the hills, even here he occasionally heard considerable noise, but he had the courage never to look behind him, and accordingly he put the virtued candle into the hands of the Captain Baan.

The Captain being now possessed of Pollochaik’s wax candle, he one evening approached the hillock, and having discovered where the entry was, he entered the passage to the fairy habitation, and passing a press [tight place] in the entrance, it is said that the candle immediately lighted of its own accord, and he discovered that the good lady, the object of his mission, was busily engaged in a reel, and the whole party singing and dancing, and dressed in neat green jackets, bedgowns, &c.

The Fairy Dance.cropped
The Fairy Dance, by Robert Alexander Hillingford

The Captain took her out of one of the reels, and upon obtaining the open air, he told her how very unhappy her husband and friends were at the length of time she had been absent from them, but the woman had been so enchanted and enraptured with the society she had been in, that she seemed to think she had been only absent one night, instead of a year, from her own house.

When the Captain brought her off with him, the fairies were so enraged that they said ‘they would keep him in view.’ The woman was brought to her disconsolate husband, and the candle was faithfully preserved in the family for successive generations in order to keep off all fairies, witches, brownies and water kelpies in all time to come.

Some time afterwards, as the Captain was riding home at night by the west end of Lochduntelchaig, he was attacked and severely beaten by some people he could not recognise. He got home to his own house, but never recovered, and it is said that the mare he rode was worse to him than even those that attacked him; so he ordered her to be shot the following day…

The third and successful bearer of the candle was Archibald Macgillivray alias ‘Gillespie Luath,’ i.e., Swift or fast Archibald…. Pollochaik said to him that he would have preferred the Captain to have sent for his fold of cattle than for the candle.

The ancestry of John McQueen, of Pollochaig, and of his wife Anne and son Dugal, is extensively traced and referenced in The Omnibus Ancestry (available for download at Lulu).

Picture credits:

Candles — Public domain.

The River Findhorn — Personal photo.

The Fairy Dance — Public domain.


36. Revisiting the McQueen Estate of Pollochaig

The ancestry of Dugal McQueen is extensively traced and referenced in The Omnibus Ancestry (available for download at Lulu).

Recently I came across two antique photographs of Pollochaig (Polochaig) [1], the home of our McQueen ancestors. That was the location in co. Inverness, Scotland, where Dugal McQueen (ca 1670?-1746) was raised before his capture at the Battle of Preston (1715) and his overseas exile to Maryland [2].

Aerial view of Pollochaig, northward, in 1910

Both photos were taken in 1910, looking northward from elevations that reveal quite a bit of the land associated with the property. The buildings were then in a good state of preservation, unlike in 2016 when my wife and I visited the tumbled-down ruins.

A close inspection of the photographed buildings suggests that most of the interpretation I previously published was basically correct (see “26. A Visit to the Home of the McQueens of Pollochaig”). I wrote of the lower building, the one shown in the first aerial view:

There appeared to be one large chamber with an attached byre…. There was no evidence of a hearth at any of the walls…. Perhaps the structure was simply a barn…


The intact structure in 1910, shown immediately above though with some blurring due to enlargement, did in fact have a large opening into a byre (animal barn) that comprised at least part of it. It is possible that the opening originally had doors to provide better protection against the elements. The entire structure, in the form of a backward “L”, was clearly unheated, as there were no chimneys. The rightward short leg of the “L” appeared to have an upper door to a hay loft.

Aerial view of Pollochaig fields, northward, in 1910

The second elevated picture is of particular interest in showing the house. After viewing its ruins in 2016, I wrote:

On inspection it became apparent that the upper, more distant structure had been a house, because a hearth and the lower remains of a chimney were built into the north end. One entrance, at least, had been through a door on the east side.


That interpretation appears to be correct, although the house also had a hearth at the south end as evidenced by a second chimney. I hadn’t been able to discern its remains in 2016, that end lying in almost complete ruin. The single entrance must have been on the east side, as there are only windows on the west side. It is clear that the house was quite modest, not much more than a cottage.

That in turn raises the question of whether there might have been a grander structure on the site at one time. As it happens, the remains of a much larger structure are in fact evident. They lie directly opposite, across the Findhorn River. They are visible in a blowup from the first picture, shown below.


They also appeared in one of my photographs, as a gray line across the river.

Shenachie, viewed from Pollochaig

Recently an anonymous visitor interpreted the remains on both sides, having located an informant:

A former local resident, born in 1922 in the glen, reports that although current maps mark Shenachie on the west bank of the river, the ruin was known as Polochaig and it is the grass covered ruins directly opposite over the river that are Shenachie. He says that Shenachie was once occupied by MacQueen, credited with killing the last wolf in the area. [3]

The “MacQueen” so mentioned was Dougal McQueen, our Dugal’s nephew, reputed to have killed Scotland’s last wolf about the year 1743 after it had devoured two children. If the legend is correct, Shenachie only passed into the hands of the McQueens at that time.  For the chief of Mackintosh [4], delighted that Dugal had killed the wolf in a dirk-to-fang struggle aided by a greyhound, is credited with saying:

“My noble Pollochock!” cried the chief in ecstacy; “the deed was worthy of thee! In memorial of thy hardihood, I here bestow upon thee Seannachan, to yield meal for thy good greyhound in all time coming.” [5]

The legend goes on to say that Sennachan was “directly opposite to Pollochock” and that its name means “the old field”.

In modern times, however, “Sennachan” has been transformed to “Shenachie”. In light of the story of the McQueen wolf, and another story about a McQueen witch (see “18. Witches, Wizards, Ghosts, and Things That Go Bump in the Night”), one has to wonder whether Scottish humor was at work in the transformation, for “Shenachie” can be translated as “teller of tales” [6].

Of course Mackintosh’s gift was literally of a field, and so it might be objected that the ruins at Shenachie could have been of a manor house held by the McQueens. This speculation, though, is dashed by the testimony of the traveller who recorded the wolf legend in 1830. He insisted that “the ruins of the interesting little mansion-house of Pollochock” were on the opposite side [5]. Thus it appears that McQueen descendants including me will have to be content with the manor, if it rises to that status, across the river at Pollochaig.

There is actually a hint in the historical record that the visible Shenachie ruins may have been of something other than a building. The following section of an Ordnance Survey map, surveyed in 1869-70, shows the Pollochaig buildings as filled-in polygons, but two larger polygons across the river as unfilled [7]. That probably indicates that they were not buildings at all but rather small, enclosed, rock-walled fields used for penning livestock. There does appear to have been a building represented by a filled-in rectangle between the two enclosures, but it was little, apparently between the sizes of the barn and house at Pollochaig. Possibly it was a sheep shed, with the enclosed fields having been of use during shearing.

Polochaig Ordnance Survey map.date.1869-70.cropped
Portion of an Ordnance Survey map, 1869-70

The same area was shown in a 1900 revision, below. Inexplicably, the Polochaig name had been changed to Shenachie.

Pollochaig.Shenachie.1900.Ordnance Survey
Portion of an Ordnance Survey map, 1900 revision

Also notable on both of the Ordnance Survey maps is a ford, located just south of all the buildings. That ford still existed in 1910, and a blowup of the first aerial view faintly shows a rope strung across the location.


Showing that some things never change, in 2016 there was a modern rope and pulley system at the same place so that one could, in theory, cross with dry feet while seated. Unfortunately as a visitor has advised:

The rope and pulley system used to cross the river there is kept locked, and the option to wade across at a ford is only possible if the river is low. [3]

My wife and I would certainly not have wanted to ford the river when we visited, for it was on one of the wildest, wettest, coldest days we’ve experienced in a Scottish summer. But now that I know more about the role of Shenachie in McQueen history, namely as a reward won for killing a homicidal wolf, I think I’d like to dip my feet on some upcoming, warm summer day.

I end this article with one last picture, a view of the Findhorn River looking south from Pollochaig. It truly does justify the description in 1897 as ” Pollochaig … a pretty Highland place” [8].

Southward view from Pollochaig


[1] Information retrieved from http://geoscenic.bgs.ac.uk & linked pages (2017).

[2] Boles, D.B. (2017). The Omnibus Ancestry: 619 Documented American and European Lines. Available for download through Lulu.

[3] Information retrieved from http://www.heritagepaths.co.uk/description.php?path=%20326 (2017).

[4] In 1743 the chief was Angus Mackintosh (d. 1770), a great-grandson of Sir Lachlan Mackintosh (information retrieved from http://www.thepeerage.com/p45051.htm#i450509 & linked pages, 2017), who was also the great-great-grandfather of Dougal McQueen of wolf fame (Boles, 2017, op.cit., & Lulu). The two descendants were therefore 2nd cousins once removed.

[5] The Westminster Review, vol. 13-14, Oct 1830, p. 364.

[6] Information retrieved from http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/shenachie (2017).

[7] Satellite imagery available on Google Maps shows the same outlines that appear on the Ordnance Survey maps. The gray line on my modern photo appears to correspond to the upper of the two enclosed polygons.

[8] Fraser-Mackintosh, C. (1897). Antiquarian Notes, Historical, Genealogical, and Social (Second Series): Inverness-shire Parish by Parish. Inverness: A. & W. Mackenzie.

Picture credits:

Aerial view of Pollochaig, northward, in 1910, and blowups: British Geological Survey, image P000376, copyright by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), used with permission.

Aerial view of Pollochaig fields, northward, in 1910, and blowup: British Geological Survey, image P000375, copyright by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), used with permission.

Shenachie, taken from Pollochaig: Personal photo.

Portion of an Ordnance Survey map, 1869-70: Modication (sectional blowup) of a map retrieved from http://maps.nls.uk/view/74427045 (2017). Used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

Portion of an Ordnance Survey map, 1900 revision: Modication (sectional blowup) of a map retrieved from http://maps.nls.uk/view/75832309 (2017). Used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

Southward view from Pollochaig: Personal photo.

35. Shiver Me Timbers! Thar Be Pirates In the Family Tree

The Conklin family were direct ancestors, and the Conklin pirates cousins, by way of the Bowers descent from the Speece and Robinson families. The descent, and many more, are fully described and referenced in the book The Omnibus Ancestry: 619 Documented American and European Lines. It is available for download through Lulu.

Over 20 years ago, “Talk Like a Pirate Day”, September 19th, was spontaneously invented by two racquetball players who somehow fell into a string of on-the-court comments like “That be a fine cannonade”. Finding it made the game more entertaining, they decided to start a new holiday, and arbitrarily selected the birthday of an ex-wife for its celebration. It languished for several years until humorist and columnist Dave Barry took up the — um, quill? — in 2002 and publicized it. The rest is history, and “International Talk Like a Pirate Day” is now practiced, tongue in cheek, across the world [1,2].

As it turns out, it is possible to Descend From a Pirate too.

Captain Kidd

William Kidd (abt 1645-1701) was a Scot who by 1689 was sailing the Caribbean as part of a mixed French and English pirate crew under Capt. Jean Fantin [3,10]. He soon became a captain himself, only to lose his ship when his crew abandoned him ashore. It was in pursuit of them that he sailed to New York, arriving in early 1691. Having just missed them, he settled there, and married for the third time [10].

In 1695 Kidd decided to seek a royal commission as a privateer. England was at war with France, and privateers were considered legitimate instruments of war. Traveling to London, he won the patronage of Robert Livingston, a fellow New Yorker who had also just come to the city, and more importantly, of the Earl of Bellomont. The three men hatched a plan premised on Kidd commanding a ship in order to capture pirates. Bellomont was to obtain the necessary commission, with the other two helping to finance the scheme [10].

Under their agreement, Kidd was to deliver any captured pirate ship, along with its booty, to Boston where Bellomont expected to be Governor of Massachusetts Bay. There, it was anticipated, the booty would be declared a prize of war and the proceeds distributed. As the scheme developed, two commissions were found to be required, one making Kidd a privateer and the other allowing him to hunt pirates. But in the end Bellomont was successful in obtaining them [10].

Having outfitted a new ship, the Adventure Galley, Kidd sailed from England in April 1696 with about 60 men. They were soon in New York. There he filled out his crew, recruiting about 90 men who came to him from as far as Philadelphia and New Jersey [10].

Capt. William Kidd

Articles of Agreement and Voyage

Thus it was that first cousin several-times-removed Jacob Conklin (1676/7-1754), a native of Huntington, Long Island, New York, served as a seaman under the infamous Capt. Kidd. The articles of agreement under which the crew operated make fascinating reading, and they were followed by the signatures of all [4]:


Other provisions included 600 pieces of eight “or six able Slaves” for loss of an eye, leg, or arm; loss of a share and whatever corporal punishment the Captain and majority of the crew saw fit, for disobeying a command or breeding mutiny; loss of a share and banishment to the first inhabited island for stealing; and significantly given later events, immediate sharing of any money or treasure taken aboard ship [8].

Down the list of signatures appeared [4]:


Although descendants later admitted that Jacob served as a pirate, they maintained that he had been unwillingly impressed into service under Capt. Kidd [6]. This reassuring assertion, however, must be considered false for three reasons. First, while Kidd possessed an English commission to suppress piracy, he was not a naval officer with the authority to impress sailors. Second, the Governor of New York wrote in a letter in 1697 that when Kidd recruited there, “many flocked to him from all parts, men of desperate fortunes and necessities, in expectation of getting vast treasure” [9]. Kidd, in other words, hardly needed impression to complete his crew. Finally, as we will see from subsequent events, Jacob Conklin had no aversion to the use of ill-gotten gains.

Kidd’s fateful voyage to the Indian Ocean by way of the Cape of Good Hope began in September 1696. It did not have an auspicious beginning. Somewhere between a fifth and a third of the crew were lost to cholera on the Comoros Islands off east Africa, and others were lost to desertion [3,8,10].

Finding his enterprise failing, and probably facing pressure from his crew, Kidd sailed to the Red Sea and began attacking ships that fell outside the scope of his mission. In January 1698 he used the ruse of flying French colors to capture the Quedagh Merchant, an Indian ship that was “loaded with satins, muslins, gold, silver, an incredible variety of East Indian merchandise, and well as extremely valuable silks” [3]. He had hit the jackpot, but as a pirate, not a pirate hunter.

Renaming the Quedagh Merchant as the Adventure Prize, Kidd then retreated to the island of Saint Marie off Madagascar. His men insisted on and got a division of the loot, scooping money into their hats, and making off with bales of cloth many of which were sold locally for liquor and supplies [10]. It is at Saint Marie that Kidd encountered his first actual pirate of the voyage, Robert Culliford. According to a later account apparently based on trial testimony by two of Kidd’s crewmen, instead of attacking Culliford in accordance with the mission, Kidd drank his health and gifted him with an anchor and guns [3].

Wanting to continue in the quest for booty, most of Kidd’s crew deserted to sail with Culliford, presumably taking their shares with them. Only about 20 free men and boys, and a few slaves, remained to crew the Adventure Galley [10]. Given later events, Jacob Conklin must have been among the few sailors who remained with Kidd.

Finding the Adventure Galley worm-eaten, Kidd burned it to recover its iron fittings, and returned to the Caribbean aboard Adventure Prize. Having learned that he was considered a wanted pirate, he sold many of his textiles and abandoned the ship. Expecting to clear his name, he purchased a sloop and continued toward New York. In June 1699, he was in Oyster Bay off Long Island [3,10].

There crewman Jacob Conklin made an important decision:

. . . Conklin and others, having been sent on shore for water, hid themselves and did not return to the ship. Doubtless they feared Kidd’s arrest and trial, and dreaded lest they might be punished with him. They were for some time secreted among the Indians. [5]


Jacob had made a wise decision, because Kidd was lured to Boston, where he was arrested in July and sent to England for trial. Found guilty of murder and five acts of piracy, he was hanged in May 1701. His chained body was left suspended for three years alongside the River Thames, as a warning against piracy. Six crewmates were also convicted, but were pardoned just prior to their hanging [3,10]. Eight, however, died in jail [10].

Jacob Conklin’s sojourn with the Indians clearly did not last long. He resurfaced by late August 1699, to begin a spree of land purchases [6]. As a footnote to town records attests:

He bought large tracts of land, chiefly about Half Hollow Hills… How he acquired the large sums of money which he disbursed during this period in the purchase of lands was a mystery never fully solved. [7]

One can of course hazard a guess where a 22-year-old, who had been on a pirate voyage since the age of 19, had obtained the money. How much might he have had? Four of Kidd’s men, captured in 1699 at the Cape of Good Hope, had an average of £600 apiece with them [10]. Each had made a small fortune. In any case when Jacob Conklin died in 1754, he was “probably the richest man in Huntington” [6].

Yet Jacob was not the only member of the family to have the reputation of a pirate. His brother Thomas Conklin (1674/5-1734) was referred to as such in 1698, in a letter from the Governor of Connecticut to the Governor of New York and Massachusetts:

My Lord, upon ye advice your Lordship gave me of one Josiah Rayner, a pirate, being in this collony … I immediately granted a writ to ye high sheriff for ye seazing and aprehending of him since wch I am informed … he ye sd Rayner with one Tho Conclin (reported to be a pirate allsoe) who came from Long Island … did go through some of ye ypper town in this collony pretending to be bound for Boston… [6]

We descend from the Conklin family of Long Island through the Speece and Robinson lines. Jacob and Thomas Conklin were first cousins of our direct Conklin ancestor. Their own descendants, and those of close relatives, provide many a potential genealogy-qualified participant in “International Talk Like a Pirate Day”. So on September 19th, all hands hoay!


[1] Information retrieved from http://www.talklikeapirate.com/wordpress/sample-page (2017).

[2] Information retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Talk_Like_a_Pirate_Day (2017).

[3] Information retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kidd (2017).

[4] Headlam, C. (1910). Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series. America and West Indies, 1700. London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, vol. 18.

[5] Ross, P. (1902). A History of Long Island From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time. NY: The Lewis Publishing Co., p. 976.

[6] The American Genealogist, vols. 21-22 (1944-6).

[7] Huntington Town Records… 1688-1775 (1888). Huntington, Long Island: The “Long Islander” Print, vol. 2.

[8] Information retrieved from http://captainkidd.org/Part%206.html & linked pages (2017).

[9] Fortescue, J.W. (1904). Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, America and West Indies, 15 May 1696 – 31 October, 1697. London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, vol. 10.

[10] Ritchie, R.C. (1986). Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Picture attributions: All are in the public domain.

34. A Collection of Ancestral Houses

I almost titled this blog entry “Old Haunts”, but there are no ghosts that I know of, other family stories notwithstanding (i.e., “18. Witches, Wizards, Ghosts, and Things That Go Bump in the Night“). Instead I offer a selection of old houses some of which have miraculously survived hundreds of years. Each is connected in some way to ancestors of our family. Sometimes they lived there, sometimes close relatives lived there, and sometimes a story about the place concerned them. All are places that can either be visited, viewed from a discrete distance, or appreciated on the web.

The ancestral lines mentioned here appear in the The Omnibus Ancestry: 619 Documented American and European Lines (referenced as OA), available through Lulu. It updates and corrects, in brief form, a number of previous works. All are available either for download through Lulu.com, or through Bolesbooks.

Dungan Family: The Jeremiah Dungan House

Jeremiah Dungan settled in what is now Washington county, Tennesee, about 1777. He received two land patents from the Watauga Association, then the semi-autonomous government of northeast Tennessee, and built a house and mill. Both survive. The house, with walls 3 feet thick at the base, built from local limestone, remains in use as a private residence. Although it is frequently said to date from 1778, a 1784 grant indicates he was not then living in it. Thus it may be a few years more recent. It can be viewed from Watauga Road about a half mile west of the road’s crossing of the Watauga River. It is across from St. John Milling Company, housed in what was once Jeremiah’s mill.

We descend from Jeremiah Dungan through the Foster and Smith families.

The Jeremiah Dungan House

Gosnold Family: Otley Hall, Otley, co. Suffolk, England

One of the most recently discovered entries in my ancestral homes list is Otley Hall, seat of the Gosnold family of Otley, co. Suffolk, England. We descend from the Gosnolds through the Snyder and Harbour families, back to the Dameron family and beyond.

The hall is said to be “the oldest house in Suffolk to survive largely intact” [5]. We descend from the original Gosnold proprietor, named John, who resided there as early as 1430, and from his namesake son John, who styled himself of Otley in his will dated January 1510/1. The house dates to the 15th century, but its great hall was rebuilt in 1512 shortly after the second John’s death [OA, 4].

As of July, the house was up for sale, with 9.55 acres of grounds and a moat, at the asking price of £2,500,000 [3]. Several gorgeous pictures appear at http://www.otleyhall.co.uk and at http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/otley-hall-in-suffolk-is-for-sale-take-a-look-around-this-2-5-million-tudor-property-1-5111468. Although it is still a private home, and if sold may remain so, as of this writing it is still possible to book tours on the http://www.otleyhall.co.uk website.

Herr Family: The Hans Herr House, town of Willow Street, Pennsylvania

We descend from the Herr family through the Speeces and Staymans. The “Hans Herr” house, so named because it was lived in by that grand-ancestor, was actually built by his son Christian, also our ancestor, in 1719. A photograph of the house is used on the cover of the Omnibus Ancestry, and is reproduced here. It is now a tourable museum [8].

Herr, Hans house
The Hans Herr House

Howland Family: The John Howland Farm and House, Rocky Nook, Kingston, Massachusetts

John Howland was a Mayflower passenger, and is our ancestor through the Boles and Dickason/Dickison/Dickinson families. Although a house in which he and his wife Elizabeth lived late in life still exists and is itself of great interest, I have written about it previously (see blog entry “19. Four Pilgrim Ancestors: Life, Death, and Thanksgiving for the Howland-Tilley Family at Plymouth“). Here I mention their farm site, located at Rocky Nook, Kingston, Massachusetts. They lived in a house at the site from 1638 to at least 1667. The house itself does not survive, but its surrounds have been excavated several times, and there are markers that can be viewed. The location is said to be “deep in the Nook” with signs pointing to it. An address and map are available [6], as are some pictures [7].

Parker Family: The William Parker House

William Parker, a Hickey and Robinson family ancestor, immigrated in 1633 aboard the ship James, settling first at Dover, New Hampshire. In 1636 he was one of the original proprietors of Hartford, Connecticut, but a few years later moved to Saybrook in the same colony. A house now located at 680 Middlesex Turnpike, Saybrook, is attributed to him as the 1636 proprietor, with a construction year of 1679, according to papers filed for its designation as a Historical Place.

There is some controversy, however, as to both its date of construction and its owner. Wikipedia gives the same year but attributes its building to his son William; while a sign on the premises states that the house was built in 1646, which if true would certainly have been by the father. Either way, whether built by the father or the son, it seems clear that the father William Parker would have been in the house numerous times before his death in 1686 [OA].

Google Street View affords a good image of the house as of 2011. Another image, made in 2016, accompanies. The house appears to be part of a commercial enterprise, but it is not clear whether the inside can be toured.

Parker House trimmed
The William Parker House

Schenck Family: Brooklyn Museum and Wyckoff House Museum, Brooklyn, New York

We descend from the Schencks through the Foster and Ellis families. Roelof Martense Schenck immigrated to New Netherland in 1650 from the Netherlands, later settling in what is now Flatlands, Long Island.   He was a magistrate, or schepen, at two different times, and played a role in the transition to English rule. In 1685 he became the sheriff of Kings county.

Presumbly before his death in 1705, Roelof would have regularly visited two houses that survive today. One was that of his brother Jan. It was built about 1675, and remarkably, it survives today — inside the Brooklyn Museum!

The second house Roelof would have visited was that of his father-in-law (by his second marriage), Pieter Claesen Wyckoff. This much-renovated circa 1652 house in Flatlands is now a museum, and is one of the oldest structures in New York City [OA]. Both of these houses, of course, can be visited.

The Jan Schenck House inside the Brooklyn Museum

Stake Family: M&T Bank, York, Pennsylvania

This is an unusual entry in the list, because it is not a house but a bank. Not only that, it is a modern building. Nevertheless, the entry is appropriate even though the history is convoluted.

George Stake was a licensed tavern keeper in York, Pennsylvania, in 1761-8, and apparently beyond, because several years after his death in 1789 his 3-story brick house and half lot, known as the Indian Queen Inn, was exposed to public sale. It had seen some history for in 1781, during the Revolutionary War, it served as the headquarters of Gen. “Mad Anthony” Wayne.

In 1814 the Indian Queen Hotel, manifestly the same building, was acquired by York Bank, ultimately becoming a branch of the York National Bank and Trust Company. It is as a branch of M&T Bank that the 3-story brick structure can today be viewed at 107 West Market Street, near the colonial courthouse. But the final twist to the story is that the brick building is not the original one constructed by George Stake — it is an exact replica! [OA]

We descend from George Stake through the Speece and Stayman families [OA].

Witmer Family: The Witmer Tavern, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Benjamin Witmer immigrated to America in 1716, and settled in Conestoga township, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. He later acquired property in East Lampeter township, where in 1725 he built a one-story-plus-loft building to augment a log cabin. Part of this structure was incorporated into the Witmer Tavern operated by Benjamin’s son John before 1758. Benjamin lived there and willed the property to John. John’s son Henry completed renovation of the tavern in 1773 [OA, 9].

The property was until recently operated as a bed-and-breakfast, but appears now to be a private residence. It can be viewed from Old Philadelphia Pike, on which it is located about 1200 feet east of the Highway 30 interchange.

We descend from Benjamin Witmer through the Speece and Stayman families [OA].

Witmer Tavern
The Witmer Tavern

Wolcott family: The Standford House, Centre Hall, Pennsylvania

The family of John Wolcott of Centre co, Pa, a Hickey and Robinson family ancestor, figured into a heartbreaking story concerning the Standford family. Sometime before May 1778, at the height of Indian raids on Pennsylvania settlements as part of the Revolutionary War, their young daughter, Polly Standford, had been visiting John’s family when she volunteered, “Mrs. Wolcott, if the Indians ever come this way I shall run down to your house for you have so many guns” [2]. Soon after the entire Standford family was massacred, and Polly was found dead and scalped — on the path to the Wolcott house [OA].

Nothing is left of that house, but the Standford cabin where Polly lived still stands on the west side of Rimmey Road, north of Earlystown Road. If you visit, please be respectful and view it from the road, as the cabin is in private hands and is still inhabited.

Yate family: Lyford Grange, Lyford, Oxfordshire, England

Finally, we come to a property that likely can be neither visited nor viewed, but which has a stunning web presence — for the moment. Lyford Grange was the home of the Catholic Yates family, ancestors through our Linton and Lazear connections. Our ancestor Francis Yate (d. 1588) is mentioned in the PDF of an extensive realtor’s brochure available at https://478mm2px10u4940wo2u51ita-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Particulars-1.pdf. I would not be surprised if the brochure is soon removed from the web, for the property recently sold, for £8,000,000. The gorgeous estate includes a substantial 8-bedroom manor house, a total of 477 acres, and numerous agricultural buildings including grain storage and drying facilities [1].

The house is of historical note because in 1581, near the height of the most severe penal statutes against Catholicism, the priest Edmund Campion was discovered hiding in a “priest’s hole” in the wall above the gateway. He was arrested, taken to the Tower of London, tortured, condemned, and hanged, drawn, and quartered. Francis Yate, the owner of the property, had already been imprisoned in the Tower in 1580 for recusancy (i.e., refusing to attend Church of England services), and died there. His wife was likewise imprisoned after the arrest of Campion, who was canonized by the Catholic church in 1970 [OA].

Houses in Previous Blog Entries

I haven’t included a number of houses that have figured into earlier blog entries. These include:

In addition, there are a number of castles owned by noble and royal families covered in the Omnibus Ancestry, that have not been included in the list.


[1] Information retrieved from https://www.adkin.co.uk/property/lyford-grange-lyford-wantageoxon-ox12-0eq, and the linked brochure (2017).

[2] Information retrieved from http://www.wolcottfamily.com/watertown.html (2017).

[3] Information retrieved from http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/otley-hall-in-suffolk-is-for-sale-take-a-look-around-this-2-5-million-tudor-property-1-5111468 (2017).

[4] Information retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/advice/propertymarket/3306652/A-very-special-relationship.html (2017).

[5] Information retrieved from http://www.otleyhall.co.uk (2017).

[6] Information retrieved from http://www.seeplymouth.com/events/john-howlands-rocky-nook-property-walking-tour (2017).

[7] Information retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/pg/themayflowersociety/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1576269195770641 (2017).

[8] Information retrieved from https://www.hansherr.org (2017).

[9] Boles, D.B., & Boles, H.W. (2000). Stayman-McCrosky Ancestry. Tuscaloosa, AL: private print. Available at http://sites.google.com/site/bolesbooksgen.


33. Three Fates at the Battle of Pinkie

The three soldiers mentioned in this article were all direct ancestors, by way of the Bowers descent from the McQueen and Mackintosh families. This descent, and many more stemming from the Mackintoshes, are fully described and referenced in the book The Omnibus Ancestry: 619 Documented American and European Lines. It is available for download through Lulu.  Below, it is referenced as “OA”.

On 16-17 September, the Scottish Battlefields Trust will recreate the 1547 Battle of Pinkie. An announcement appears at http://www.scotsman.com/news/bloody-battle-between-scots-and-english-to-be-staged-again-1-4535901. This promises to be an interesting historical spectacle for those fortunate enough to find themselves in Scotland at the time.

More formally known as the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, the battle was part of the “Rough Wooing” of Scotland by King Henry VIII of England and his successors, undertaken in part to secure the marriage of the Princess Mary (later the famous Mary, Queen of Scots) to Henry’s son Edward. The battle, fought near Musselburgh, co. Midlothian, Scotland, was between a Scottish army variously estimated at 22,000 to 36,000, and an English army of about 17,000 men.

In spite of its numerical superiority, the poorly positioned Scottish army was subjected to fire from three sides, and the result was slaughter . It continued, in the practice of the time, during the army’s disordered retreat. Some 6000-15,000 Scots were killed and another 2000 taken prisoner, against a few hundred English deaths. The English, however, did not achieve their marriage goal because the Scottish would not agree to terms, and Mary was smuggled out of the country to France [1].

I’d like to highlight three ancestors who are known to have been at the Battle of Pinkie, and who met very different fates.

Archibald Campbell

Archibald Campbell (1502-1558), “the Red”, was the 4th Earl of Argyll. He held a number of offices under King James V of Scotland, including Justice-General, Master of the King’s Household, and Master of the King’s wine-cellar. At the battle of Pinkie, he commanded the right wing with 4000 Highland troops. He is said to have served with distinction, and as a result was rewarded with the greatest share of the estates of the Earl of Lennox, who had joined the English and suffered forfeiture for that reason. Later in life, Archibald joined the Reformed faith under the influence of John Knox. His sword, bearing a 1543 date, was in an Edinburgh museum as of 1884.

We descend from Archibald Campbell by way of a direct Mackintosh intermarriage [OA, 2,3].

Campbell sword
Sword of Archibald Campbell

 John Mackenzie

John Mackenzie (1480-1561) was the 9th chief of Kintail in co. Ross and Cromarty, Scotland. He was a survivor of the Battle of Flodden in 1513, where it is said he was captured but escaped. He was shortly after appointed Guardian of Wester Ross, and sometime after 1538 was a courtier of Mary of Guise, the Queen of King James V of Scotland — and the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots. Answering the muster of the Earl of Arran in 1547, although advanced in years, he was captured at the Battle of Pinkie, and released after payment of a considerable ransom.

We descend from John Mackenzie through a direct Mackintosh intermarriage [OA, 4].

Andrew Halyburton

Andrew Halyburton (ca 1527?-1547) was of Pictur, in Ketting parish on the border of Forfarshire with Perthshire. Very little is known of this young man besides his marriage to Margaret Maule, by whom he had a son George, our ancestor. However, it is known that he died at the Battle of Pinkie, among the thousands of unfortunates to lose their lives in that conflict.

We descend from Andrew Halyburton through Mackintosh -> Graham -> Halyburton linkages [OA].

Please keep these ancestors in mind as we mark the 470th anniversary of the Battle of Pinkie.


[1] Information retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Pinkie_Cleugh (2017).

[2] Information retrieved from https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=Archibald%20Campbell,%204th%20Earl%20of%20Argyll&item_type=topic (2017).

[3] Information retrieved from https://archive.org/stream/historyofcampbel00newy/historyofcampbel00newy_djvu.txt (2017).

[4] Information retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Mackenzie,_9th_of_Kintail (2017).

Picture attribution

Sword of Archibald Campbell: Believed to be in the public domain.