The wife of John Guilford: Susanna Norton, Nolton or Knowlton?

+8 votes

John Guilford (born around 1615) settled in Hingham, Mass. by around 1650 at the latest.  It has been claimed that the Mary Guilford who died in Hingham in 1660 (before John died later that year) was his wife, but Mary was most likely his widowed mother.  (Per the Guilford genealogy, p. 9)

The Guilford genealogy states that John's wife was Susanna Norton, daughter of William and Ann Norton.   It gives a list of sources to back up its contentions, without being clear about the spelling of the surname.  See  Did the name appear as "Norton" in the cited original records?

One citation, repeated twice, is Suffolk Deeds, Book xiii, p. 258.  According to the Guilford genealogy, this shows that Paul Giulford sold land that he had inherited from his grandfather William Norton.  But the (printed) record spells the name NoLton: it's on familysearch at,361839601

Another citation refers to a complant against Samuel Ward by Anne, widow of William Norton; the (printed) actual record is here:  

Did the original record read "Norton" or "Nolton"?

The book Errata and Addenda to Dr. Stocking's History and Genealogy of the Knowltons, pp. 1-2, comes down in favor of the view that "Norton" is a mis-reading of "Nolton," which is essentially the same as "Knowlton."  See

A relevant quote: "Sept. 26, 1668, 'Ann Tucker, late wife of William Nolton,' presents an inventory of the estate of her late husband, William Nolton.  Widow Ann Tucker d. Oct. 8, 1675, leaving a will dated Sept. 21, proved Oct. 26 1675, giving all her property to 'Paul Gilford, her grandchild, and Susanna Jewell, grandchild, sister of Paul.'"

A relevant page from the original Knowlton genealogy, recounting the family legend about the death at sea of William Knowlton, is here:

So... is the surname of the wife of John Guilford Norton, Nolton, or Knowlton?  And -- is there any evidence for the given name of the wife of John Guilford?


WikiTree profile: Susanna Norton
asked in Genealogy Help by J S G2G6 Mach 9 (92.7k points)
edited by J S
Is the William Knowlton who supposedly died on the voyage the same William who was allotted the land in Hingham sold by Paul Gilford?

Frankly I don't believe a word I've read in that Knowlton book.

Okay, here's my contribution toward sorting out what's what with this family, and what should be done.

First of all, the legendary sea captain story that appears in the Knowlton genealogy is buttressed (if we may use that word by the following quote from page 20:  "Captain William was at least part owner of the ship in which he sailed for America.  He died on the voyage, probably not far from Nova Scotia, for a land surveyor, Alphonso Wells by name, in the employ of the Canadian government, brought word to the Canadian Knowltons that, when surveying land in Shelburne in 1839, he had found an ancient head-stone there bearing the name of William Knowlton, 1632.... Tradition also says that his ship was sold here, and that his widow and children proceeded to Massachusetts, probably to Hingham, the following year, where his widow is said to have remarried."  See

I would like to suggest that we retain the legendary William Knowlton-84 as the "uncertain" father of brothers William, Thomas, and John Knowlton of Ipswich, including a notation that there is no reason to take the "sea captain" story seriously.  It seems to be well-established that the three Knowlton brothers of Ipswich were indeed brothers, per Ashbel Woodward, "Memoir of Col. Thomas Knowlton, with a Genealogy of the Knowlton Family," NEHGR vol. 15, p. 344. 

I'd like to suggest that the legendary Captain William, properly identified as legendary, is a suitable placeholder to tie together the three real Knowlton brothers on WikiTree.  I'd also like to suggest that Capt. William's wife and parents be detached, with the customary "disputed" notations in Capt. William's profile.

Now, regarding the Nolton/Norton family of Hingham, the death of William "Norton" is recorded in the Rev. Peter Hobart's journal, published in NEHGR, 121:11 (1967).  Of course we don't know if the original said "Norton" or Nolton."  But Anderson goes with Nolton, and of course Anderson is our guiding light on such matters.  This means that a new profile for William Nolton should to be created, with a paragraph differentiating him from the legendary Captain William, and showing the alternate spelling of "Norton."

This is because the History Hingham conflates William "Norton" (freeman in Hingham 1636) with William Knowlton of Ipswich (d. 1694); see

Regarding Anderson's "slip of the pen" regarding Susanna and Paul Guilford, there seems to be no documentary evidence showing that they were children of John Gilford who died at Hingham in 1660, as recorded in Rev. Peter Hoart's journal published in NEHGR, vol. 121 (1967).  The baptisms of Susanna and Paul appear in Rev. Hobart's journal, but without mentioning the parents.  So it seems that John Guilford should be marked as the "uncertain" father of Paul and Susanna.

On 21 Dec. 1681 Paul Guilford and wife Susanna of Hingham sold three acres of land to John Chubbuck, the land being part of his house lot, "which had been given by the inhabitants of the said town of Hingham to William Nolton his grandfather."  Per Suffolk County Deeds, vol. 13, p. 258 at http://,361839601

Reviving this thread since I am looking at all this for the first time and "bewailing" (to borrow a favorite Stocking quote) the confusion or even fabrication over Captain Bill.

It appears as though some of this conversation was had out by Knowltons in the late 90s and I will see about getting hold of them, but have a look here (not at the actual tree, but the comments, particularly from Elizabeth Knowlton)

I've also put the Stocking genealogy online after having it scanned and it's linked on Wikitree. I'm working on the errata but I don't have a hardcopy of that so am trying to reduce the size of the PDF that is available online and possibly OCR it as well (and then go through and apply it to the handful of Knowltons I've added from Stocking, not knowing what a free-for-all of a source it was).

At any rate I'm going to lend some time and effort to getting this resolved.

Hi Samuel! I changed Knowlton-84 from False Ancestor to Uncertain Existence, since he's still attached to "real" profiles (parents).

John S's proposal was to have him as the Uncertain father of three brothers (who existed), which would mean he'd need to be kept in Uncertain Existence (attached to "real" profiles). However, he can go back to False Ancestor (or whatever the category/template becomes - see [this G2G discussion]) once he has no attachments to "real" profiles. (Profile for wife Ann, Unknown-380508, can stay attached - the earlier comment about an Ann married to a William Nolton doesn't apply to that profile... see for Ann m William Nolton.)

Cheers, Liz

Hi Liz,

That's fine - though as far as I know, his parents are completely fictional as well; I haven't spent any time on them. If the whole lot of them are fake, should they remain attached and be false ancestors?

I know who to ask, but right now the sources on the parents are all either broken links or based on the same garbage source as Captain William.
yup, if the parents are also fiction, they need to have explanations, etc. too.

Do you know if Dr. Charles Stocking has a category like others who published genealogies that were partly if not wholly fake? (See categories under - if Stocking doesn't have one, maybe he should? Then the Uncertain & False ones can have the template & ones that are real can have a note in their bio.)

I don't see anything on the profiles for Knowlton-84's parents to suggest they're false also (and John S's comment that they should be detached implies they were real - but it may be the comment was made about different parents, same as the wife mentioned being a different profile than currently attached).

If they are probably false also, would you add {{Uncertain Existence}} and post to G2G for discussion (either from their profile or from Knowlton-84, noting how far into the branches you believe the false line extends).

It looks like the parents are real, so William has been detached. His two "sons" (Samuel and Robert) are not real and have pending merges that need to be approved and then he'll be a standalone profile.

2 Answers

+3 votes
Anderson (Great Migration) calls her father Nolton. Stating "Savage and Pope included information on this immigrant scattered about under the surnames Knowlton and Norton, mixed in with information on other men of the same or similar names [Savage 3:43; Pope 275, 332]. We have adopted Nolton as the standard spelling of the surname, as that was used consistently in the probate records." {Anderson, Robert Charles. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume V, M-P}

Child of William Nolton: "Susanna Nolton, b. say 1631; m. by 1651 Paul Gilford"
answered by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1m points)
It does say Paul. But it seems that Paul was the grandson of William son of Susanna (Nolton) Guilford. Just to confuse things Paul seems to be married to a Susanna (Pullen) also.

Slip of the pen by Anderson? He was talking about them Paul and Susanna in the paragraph above
Actually, a careless error by Anderson, although the name of the son-in-law of Widow Ann (----)(Nolton) Tucker nowhere appears.  I added my suggestions for the profiles under RJ's answer above.
+1 vote
there is solid evidence that mary Norton or knowlton was married to William Guilford, not john Guilford.  William died in Maryland in the 1650's.  mary and her children moved back to mass. where mary died c.1660.
answered by

I'd be pleased to see the evidence.  The Guilford Genealogy at mentions William Guilford of Maryland, but it also repeats the groundless claim that Susanna Norton married John Guilford.

there are several sources, including land records and several provincial court records.   a good one that lists the entire family-- mary, William, paul and Susannah can be found in the Maryland state archives: also, the new early settlers of Maryland by dr. carson gibb..

the family arrived by ship to st. marys co where they settled on the Patuxent river and grew tobacco. mary was widowed about 1659.  it seems William was lost as sea--possibly his own ship.
Thank you!  I found the family's immigration/transport record in the Supplement to Early Settlers of Maryland.

Related questions

0 votes
1 answer
+4 votes
2 answers
46 views asked Jul 29, 2014 in Genealogy Help by anonymous
+4 votes
2 answers
+3 votes
1 answer
+12 votes
5 answers
60 views asked Apr 17 in Photos by Sherry Clough G2G1 (1.3k points)
+2 votes
1 answer

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright