Who was James Ralph's first wife?

+2 votes

I've been fleshing out James Ralph's page and have an interesting question regarding who his first wife (and mother of Mary  (Ralph) Garrigues (abt.1724-1788)) was.

At the moment, I have Rebecca  (Ogden) Ralph (abt.1684-) listed as his wife. This is based on the entry in William Wheeler's 'Ogden Family in America', but I'm questioning this.

Other sources have listed Hannah  Ogden (1702-1730) and Wikipedia categorically states:

that the first solid fact about Ralph is his marriage to Mary Ogden in 1724 in Elizabethtown

but does not provide a source for this "solid fact". Just yesterday I mentioned this on the Wikipedia talk page for James Ralph since Wikipedia is supposed to have sources for everything.

Where this gets interesting is in John Shipley's 1964 paper James Ralph's Place and Date of Birth in which he makes a very strong case for Ralph being born in England in 1705.

In this paper, he states

According to tradition, Ralph was born in 1705. this date has been challenged, but evidence recently uncovered tends to support tradition. [...] married, it turns out from other sources, to a woman apparently ten or more years older than he and born in the early 1690's. To rectify an obvious untoward situation, the year 1695 was put forward as the date of Ralph's own birth.

This woman would, of course, be Rebecca  (Ogden) Ralph (abt.1684-) and the other sources appear to all have roots in the Wheeler book. However, Occam's razor leads me to think that if his wife were actually Hannah  Ogden (1702-1730)  then this adjustment to his age would be unnecessary.

I have not dug deeper into either Rebecca or Hannah yet, but apparently (per the trees in WikiTree), Hannah's family were Quakers, while Rebecca's were not. Mary  (Ralph) Garrigues (abt.1724-1788) was raised Quaker by one of these two women, so if I'm interpreting this correctly, that also makes Hannah a more likely candidate.

Mary seems to be a common nickname for Hannah, but not for Rebecca, so this would also align with the "solid fact" mentioned in Wikipedia.

It seems to me that the identification by Wheeler of James Ralph as having married Rebecca Ogden was an error and that error lead to an adjustment of his birth year in many modern sources.


WikiTree profile: James Ralph
in Genealogy Help by Chris Garrigues G2G1 (1.1k points)
retagged by Chris Garrigues
Do you have access to the appropriate Quaker meeting minutes via Ancestry or another source? Traditionally you should find marriage intentions given both at the meeting Hannah's family attended as well as his (if they were different meetings).
I've searched Ancestry to no avail.

Also, James Ralph was not a quaker, but his daughter was.

Not all meeting minutes in this time period and location are transcribed and not all are available as images at Ancestry. Most of the rest are at the TriCollege Library Quaker collection but only some are accessible online, only some have been indexed, etc. That's probably the next place to look if you haven't already.

If Ralph married a Quaker in this time period and himself was not one you will most probably find a record of disownment for marriage out of unity for the wife. In some cases where a marriage out of unity occurred you will find the resolution involved the husband becoming Quaker after the marriage.

According to one  Benjamin Franklin, who you may be familiar with, Ralph had "some discontent with his wife's relations, he purposed to leave her on their hands and never return again."

He, and Franklin, then set sail for England and he never returned, although Franklin remained a friend of the family and was close to both the daughter and her husband later in life.

So...no, he did not become a Quaker. This "discontent" may or may not have been around his not being a Quaker.

That gave me a great and hearty laugh, Chris. I wonder how that 'some discontent with his wife's relations' might get phrased today...
Ben Franklin definitely had a way with words, even by 21st century standards.

James Ralph appears pretty notably in Franklin's autobiography. It's fun to read.
I've just reached out to Swarthmore College about the TriCollege Library. Thank you for that recommendation.

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