Is Ralph Wallen the true patriarch of Wallings in the US?

+3 votes

I posted this 5 months ago with no response:  I have a question concerning Ralph and Joyce Wallen parenting most of the Wallings in the US.  I have been working on English biographies and noticed the name patterns.  Children are named for parents and grandparents.  Why aren't there Ralphs and Joyces in the early records?  There are a ton of Thomases, James, Johns, Elizabeths, Marys and Abigails.

I have a family history, The Walling Family 1623-1945 Compiled by Maudie S. Walling, Dallas Texas. It indicated that Thomas, one of the 3 brothers, is the real patriarch.  A source for this history is from Elwood L Walling, Harrisville, R.I. 11 November 1932.

I would appreciate the opinion of a more knowledgeable person.  Thanks

WikiTree profile: Ralph Wallen
in Genealogy Help by Elaine Goodner G2G6 Mach 2 (25.3k points)
retagged by Elaine Goodner

Hi Elaine, sorry we missed your message on the profile five months ago. Maybe something else was going on that was distracting us. (Smirk.)

You raise a good point. I've marked the parents uncertain. 

There are other problems with the profile. If he came to Plymouth following the Mayflower, or had any connections with Leiden, he was not a Puritan, but a Pilgrim Separatist.

There are also references to brothers in the narrative. I'll have a project volunteer take a look. 

The narrative from Elwood L Walling, 1932 states, "Tradition says that three brothers came to this country on the ships "Ann" and "Little James". Richard Walling came in 1623, settled at Salem, Mass.(No further word of him.)  Ralph and wife Joyce landed at Plymouth in 1623, settled in Connecticut (No further word of him; however, it is believed that Wallingford, Conn. was named for his branch.)  Thomas Walling settled in Providence, RI."  This plus the naming practices make me question Ralph and Joyce's descendants.  Thank you for beginning a discussion.


3 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer

The research that I have done contradicts, in part, the narrative from Elwood Walling.  Ralph and Joyce Wallen did arrive on the Anne, which was accompanied by the Little James, at Plymouth in 1623.  Ralph was the son of Ralph and hailed from London; he and Joyce had 3 daughters and 2 sons.  He died in 1643 in Plymouth and Joyce remarried.  

Thomas D Wallen was born in 1627 in Plymouth and moved to Providence.  He married Mary Abbott and they had 5 children, one of which was Thomas Bedent Wallen, born in 1654 in East Greenwich, RI.  Thomas Bedent Wallen was a bit of a rogue and eventually settled in (fled to?) Salem, NJ around 1700.  This is the line that became the Wallings of subsequent genealogies.

I have built a tree starting with the elder Ralph to see if I can make a connection to my family (unsuccessful so far) and have much more detail if you would like it.

Hope this helps.

- Roy Wallen

by Roy Wallen G2G2 (2.0k points)
selected by Elaine Goodner
Thank you for that best explanation.  "Fled' as I understand it is correct.

I'd be interested in any more details you can share concerning stories about the younger Thomas.  I did not realize he was alleged to be a rogue too - perhaps it ran in the family (see my other post about his father).  However, I thought the younger Thomas Walling was a bit more respectable than his father - he is listed as one of those who "stayed and went not away" from Providence during King Phillip's War, staying to defend the colony against Indian attacks and therefore sharing in the prize of Indian slaves after the war; and he seems to have had a respectable estate in Providence by the 1680s.  (from the Genealogical Dictionary, He does migrate with other families to Salem County, New Jersey the early 1700s, but it seems like this was just a migration out to fresh pastures.  I think there were several related families that made that same migration around the same time.  Is there more to the story than that?
+4 votes

Have you looked at A Wallen Walling Genealogy?  The book can be borrowed for viewing from the 1st link.

by Linda Peterson G2G6 Pilot (802k points)
I looked at it.  English naming practices of that time makes me question if Ralph and Joyce are the parents of Thomas Wallen-202 and/or grandparents of Thomas Walling-4. There should be at least one or two Ralphs and Joyces in the family lines.  Is my logic flawed?
The Wallen-2 profile has a disputed origins section.  That is the profile that for Ralph married to Joyce.  Add PGM as a tag to your question, so you might get someone that is more aware of this family to shed information.
+5 votes

I agree the link between Thomas Walling and Ralph Wallen should be marked uncertain, but I think the lack of repetition of his parents names in the next generations may be explained by the fact that Thomas himself was a black sheep and probably estranged from his parents early in his life.  Ralph Wallen appears to have died when Thomas was a boy, and Thomas is listed among the first settlers who settled Rhode Island along with Roger Williams in 1636, although he would still only have been a boy at that time. (See Farmer, "First Settlers of Rhode Island." In The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. 1:4 (Oct. 1847), p. 291.; image, Internet Archive  Thomas is the only Walling that Farmer lists among the first Rhode Island settlers, so if he is correct then Thomas was probably apprenticed to one of the other initial settlers of Rhode Island as a boy, possibly after his father after died in Plymouth.  He then appears in the records from time to time after that getting in trouble because of womanizing -- e.g., in 1650, when he and another man are apprehended in Barnstable for running off with the wives of two other men:

The fourth of Aprell, 1650. Tho Wallen, Richard Carle, Gorg Way, Katheren Warner, and Mary Mills were apprehended at Barnstable, in the jurisdiction of New Plym; and on the eight day of Aprell, aforsaid, they being examined before William Bradford, gent, Gouer, Willam Collyar, and Willam Thomas, gent, Assistants, confessed yt they, the said Tho Wallen, Richard Carle, & Gorge Way did healpe away Katheren Warner & Mary Mills, who were run away from theire husbands; and for yt purpose yt Richard Carle aforsaid did steale his fathers boat, which they came away in; it was therefore ordered by the Gouer & Assistants aboue mensioned, taht the aforsaid Gorg Way, Katheren Warner, & Mary Mills should bee sent from constabel to constable to the place from whence they came, wh is a place called Winter Harbor, near Richmans Iland to the eastward; and yt Tho Wallen & Richard Carle aforsaid bee comitted to ward; all which accordingly was forthwith formed.

(Neuzil, "Women in Plymouth Colony," The Plymouth Colony Archive Project, Fall 1988 (

After this incident, there is often-cited letter from Roger Williams commenting on Thomas's sketchy past when his planned marriage to Mary Abbott was announced, in which Roger expressed his hope for Mary's sake that Thomas would "forsake his former courses." (

But that apparently did not happen, as he later appears in the Providence records again having abandoned Mary and their children in 1663.  (See Rogers et al., Early Records of the Town of Providence Vol. III (Providence: Snow & Farnham, 1893), 32-33;  images,, (

On whether Thomas was actually the son of Ralph and Joyce, I have not seen any direct evidence documenting the connection.  Most researchers who assert the connection seem to base it on the fact that Thomas appears to have been born in Plymouth or the Bay Colony and to have come from there as a boy without his parents to Rhode Island with Roger Williams and the other original settlers of Rhode Island; that Ralph and Joyce likely had children in Plymouth whose identities are unknown; that Thomas is the right age to be their child; that Ralph appears to have died when Thomas was a boy, making it plausible that he was apprenticed because the widowed Joyce could not care for him; & that there are no other known Wallen/Walling families in Plymouth or Massachussetts Bay who present likely alternative parents for him.  If any of those premises turn out not to be true, then that might open up some avenues for further research on this?


by Scott McClain G2G6 Mach 3 (32.6k points)
It seems between you and Roy Wallen this story can be put a little straighter.  Wallings seem to always be a tangled mess.  Untangling the Elisha Wallings took me a week and a ton of scratch paper.  So, if I were to try and trace them back to England should I look for Walling or Wallen?

I think you have to look for both.  I see both spellings, and other variants too.  I agree, it is very confusing!

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