What is the proof that Ambrose was son of Nathaniel Fish?

+3 votes
In my preliminary review of the published research, I don't find evidence of a son Ambrose by Nathaniel. Anyone know where this link comes from?
WikiTree profile: Ambrose Fish
in Genealogy Help by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (784k points)

One source for the claim that Ambrose was son of Nathaniel Fish is Mrs. John E. Barclay's "Hannah (Swift) Tobey, daughter of William2 Swift, and the family of Ambrose2 Fish, of Sandwich, Mass.," in ''The American Genealogist,'' 35 (Jan 1959):40-42. BUT the author does not cite proof for Ambrose being son of Nathaniel; she just states it.

Plymouth Court records (PCR 5:245-46): for 30 Oct 1677 describe a charge brought against Ambrose Fish for raping "Lydia Fish, the daughter of Mr Nathaniel Fish." One would think that if Ambrose was accused of raping his own sister, that the relationship would have been named in the court case.

More likely, this might have been Ambrose, the younger brother of Nathaniel Fish, who came to America later than his brothers. I no longer believe this to be possible.

To add more information to the Fish discussion, but certainly not to solve anything... In Simeon L. Deyo's ''History of Barnstable County'', pp. 266-268:
He lists the "ten men of Saugus" who were given the right to settle at Shaume, now Sandwich, in 1637. He goes on to list the "three score" additional who were allowed to settle subsequently. In that second list are John, Jonathan and Nathaniel Fish.
He then lists 1643's 'able to bear arms', men aged 16-60, and in that list are again John, Jonathan and Nathaniel Fish.

Then he states: "The towns of the colony were required in 1654 to procure books for recording divisions and purchases of land, after which the records of Sandwich were more properly kept. The reader has been given the names of the original three-score families and the military roll which included the young men; now after the lapse of a few years, when the records, bounding each freeman's land have been arranged, we find the following named persons had land in addition to those alluded to: Jedediah Allen, William Allen, William Bassett, Nehamiah Bessie, Job Bourne, Michael Blackwell, John Bodfish, Samuel Briggs, Jacob Burge, Joseph Burge, Ambrose Fish, John Gibbs, William Gifford, Robert Harper, Edward Hoxie, Lodo. Hoxie, John Jenkins, James Skiff jr., Isaac Turner, and Thomas Tobey sr."

This seems to be the first mention of an Ambrose Fish, who either had not arrived by 1643, or was not yet age 16, but had and was by 1654.
Bobbi, I'm just now grokking your post.  Six weeks later.  If there was an adult Ambrose Fish there in 1654 it would not have been Ambrose who married Hannah Swift as the latter would have only been about 4 years old.  It does suggest the presence of another Ambrose in town.  Can we be certain of the 1654 date?

Grokking? I've just learned a new word today! As for the 1654 date, the page can be viewed here: http://archive.org/stream/historyofbarnsta00indeyo#page/267/mode/1up  As for Deyo's work, I've found few mistakes and his accuracy is actually pretty amazing. I would have to suggest a long, slow slog through the old town records to verify if Ambrose Fish's name appears in the earlier records. I have no theory about who this Ambrose of 1654 is, nor his relationship to Nathaniel. I would suggest that one of the descendants of Ambrose might want to go back and research Nathaniel's brother Ambrose, baptised East Farndon 18 Oct 1613, to see if there is any further information about him. He definitely did not travel with Nathaniel, John & Jonathan. I also want to stress that he would also *not* be a good candidate for the husband of Hannah Swift, as he'd be fathering children at age 63-75 years, and would have been age 62 to Hannah's 23 at marriage, and a rapist at age 64. None of it impossible, but none of it likely.

I have an additional comment on the issue of Ambrose Fish's rape of Lydia. He was "to suffer corporall punishment by being publickly whipt att the post," in an era when rape was a hanging offence. The court specifically stated that the conviction was based on his word against hers, but obviously sided with her and gave him a whipping instead of a hanging or conversely letting him off. More important to this situation, I think, is their wording: that he "did wickedly, and contrary to the order of nature, ... by force carnally know and rauish Lydia Fish". That, to me, says incest, not just rape. Compare that wording with the wording on other cases, such as sodomy and buggery, it seems to me that the case may have been incest, but they didn't have enough proof (lacking another witness) to call it rape & incest. For a good batch of these cases see: http://www.histarch.illinois.edu/plymouth/Lauria2.html also see the commentary on Lydia's case here: http://www.histarch.illinois.edu/plymouth/Domestic.html under Sexual Abuse.


Your point about "wickedly, and contrary to the order of nature" does suggest something other than an "average" (ahem) rape. Especially the contrary to the order of nature.

I have no doubt that he's somehow related to her and the other Fish(es). We just can't confirm -- yet -- that he was son of Nathaniel.

What's bugging me is that Mrs. Barclay has an otherwise well cited article. She's clearly a careful researcher. Why didn't she cite her source for Ambrose being son of Nathaniel?

And Bobbi, didn't you send me scans of the NYGB article you referenced below (by John Dean Fish)? For the life of me, I cannot find them. (AmericanAncestors.org has a lot of NYGBR articles, but not volume 53.)
Never mind; found it online for free! woo hoo:
(see next message)

4 Answers

+2 votes

Jillliain, Any comment on the article by John Dean Fish, "The FISH Family of Great Bowden in Leicestershire, England," The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record Vol. 53:53-68 (1922), that states Nathaniel's brother Ambrose died intestate, and in 1628 his estate was administered, he being called "of Carlton" parish in Northamptonshire, England? I do not have a copy of the article, unfortunately. But if this is correct, obviously Nathaniel's brother never made it to Sandwich. I would also argue that Ambrose, born in 1613, *might* have found it difficult to father children born as late as 1689, when he'd have been in his mid 70's.  ======== An update on the NYGBR article: I misspoke. Rereading it, I find that the Ambrose who died in 1628 was *not* Nathaniel's brother, but instead his uncle instead. Mea culpa!   My next question is then: is there any indication that Nathaniel's brother Ambrose came to the colonies? I have not found anything which says he did.

by Bobbie Hall G2G6 Pilot (211k points)

So I spent some time with the 1922 NYGBR article and came up with this outline:

John FISH b abt 1555; d1623; might be son of an Augustine; m. abt 1577 [marriage record not found, but all children's baptisms found] Margaret (maybe Craddock); she d. 28Apr 1630. They had the following children:

  1. Augustine Fish (oldest) bpt 11 Jun 1578; ; he was bur. 29 Apr 1646; he m Christian (who was bur. 2 Jan 1657/8 and had many children:
    1. Ann (aka Agnes), bpt 27 Jan 1602/3; m 14 Jun 1622 William Hollicke (var. spellings)
    2. John, bp 6 Feb 1604/5; bur 15 Aug1663
    3. Thomas, bp 15 Aug 1607
    4. Margaret bp 10 SEp 1609; m bef 1646 Robert Sly
    5. Jarvis; bpt 13 Oct 1611; not infathers 1646 will
    6. Dorothy bpt 11 Feb 1613/4; m bef 1658 Edward Marriott
    7. William bpt 15 Sep 1616 --> New Windsor, CT by 1642; in father's will, called "of New England"
    8. Bartholomew, bpt 5 Jul 1618; nfr aft 1658
    9. Katherine, bpt 22 Apr 1621
    10. Christian (female), bpt 24 Feb 1622/3; m bef 1658 ___ Hinchley
    11. Elizabeth, bpt 27 Oct 1625
  2. William Fish, bp 9 Mar 1580/1; bur 13 Sep 1658; m (possibly multiple times) m 1620 Ann Parsons; a child born in 1636 names the mother Agnes (but sometimes Anne=Agnes) Children:
    1. Edmond bpt 15 Aug 1606
    2. Bridget,bpt 17 Dec 1608; m 1627 Miles Smith
    3. Anne bpt 10 Sep 1612; m abt 1642/3 Richard Branston
    4. Katherine, bpt 2 Apr 1615
    5. Margaret, bpt 1 Dec 1617
    6. Susanna, bpt 14 Oct 1621; m. Thomas Branson. Two daughtesr
    7. Thomas, bpt 7 Sep 1623
    8. Hester, bpt 23 Mar 1625/6
    9. John bp 1 Jul 1629
    10. Daniel bp 23 Oct 1631; bur 21 Oct 1631 [can't be right]
    11. Hannah, bpt 10 Feb 1632/3; m 1654 George Becket
    12. Joseph bpt 7 Aug 1636
  3. Katherine Fish bp 15 Apr 1582; m ____ Garvoise
  4. Thomas bp 18 May 1584; m 1609 Mary Sprggie of Lubbenham, she was bpr 24 Jan 1685/6 Children:
    1. Craddock Fish, bpt 9 Aug 1612; m Elizabeth who was bur 28 Mar 1666
    2. Ambrose, bp 18 Oct 1613;  [He's probably too old to be the Ambrose who m. Hannah (Swift) Tobie abt 1675; and possibly too old to be the Ambrose who raped Lydia, daughter of Nathanial Fish in 1677]
    3. Jonathan, bpt 16 Feb 1615/6; one of those who settled Sandwich, MA
    4. John (twin?), bpt 20 Jun 1619; one of those who settled Sandwich, MA
    5. Nathaniel (twin?), bpt 20 Jun 1619; one of those who settled Sandwich, MA
    6. Esther, bpt 21 Dec 1622
    7. Hannah, bpt 5 Oct 1625
  5. Sarah Fish, bp 11 Apr 1586; m. 6 Aug 1604 John Johnson
  6. Ambrose Fish, clergyman; bp 6 Jul 1588; d bef 1628 in England when estate was administered; "of Carlton;" m bef 1630; Children included (order not certain)
    1. John mentioned in will of grandmother Margaret (Craddock?) Fish
    2. Katherine, bpt 3 Apr 1627 in Market Harborough
  7. Mary bp 20 Dec 1589; dy
  8. Elizabeth Fish; bpt 15 Nov 1591; m. 6 Feb 1616/7 Edward Marston
  9. Francis (son), bp 29 Oct 1593; married; only had daughters:
    1. Jane, bpt 5 Feb 1619/20; bur 6 Feb 1619/20
    2. Katherine, bp 14 Apr 1622
    3. Sarah, bpt 18 Dec 1625
  10. Anne Fish bp 2 June 1596
  11. Alice Fish bp 6 Nov 1597; m. 24 Feb 1617/8 Robert Fish of Market Harborough; he was born 1593, son of a Thomas Fish of Harborough; he was bur 20 Dec 1639; children:
    1. Thomas bpt 1 Jan 1618/9; emigratd to Portsmouth, Rhode Island
    2. John bpt 21 Jan 1620/1; emigrated to Mystic, CT where he d 1689
    3. Ruth, bpt 1 Sep 1622
    4. Mary, bpt 24 Jan 1623/4; bur 14 May 1624
    5. Mary bpt 24 Apr 1625
    6. Joseph, bp 17 Sep 1626
    7. Nathan[iel?] bpt 7 Mar 1629/30; bur 4 Oct 1631
    8. Tabitha, bpt 8 May 1630; bur 23 Mar 1657/8; can't be right unless she was a twin.
    9. Hannah, bpt 24 Nov 1633
    10. Christian (f); bpt 10 Dec 1637
    11. Benjamin, bpt 11 Aug 1639
  12. Mary bp 8 Dec 1599; m Marice Dix 
  13. John Fish bp 26 Jan 1601/2; m bef 1630; had at least:
    1. John, oldest son, bpt 16 Dec 1626
    2. Joseph, youngest son, bpt 1 Jan 1628/9
    3. Dorcas, bpt 24 Mar 1630/1
    4. Benjaming bpt 26 Jan 1633/4
+2 votes

AMBROSE FISH (d. 1691) of Sandwich, MA. Parents: Nathaniel Fish and Mehitable Fish (Miller) b. 1624 d. 1660. Ambrose Fish died in 1691. He married Hannah Swift in 1664. The Plymouth Court records (PCR 5:245-46): for 30 Oct 1677 say: Att this Court, Ambrose Fish was indicted by the name of Ambrose Fish, for that hee, having not the fear of God before his eyes, did wickedly, and contrary to the order of nature, on the twelveth day of July last past before the date hereof, in his own house in Sandwich, in this colony of New Plymouth, by force carnally know and ravish Lydia Fish, the daughter of Mr Nathaniel Fish, of Sandwich aforesaid, and against her will, she being then in the peace of God and of the Kinge. The grand jury found billa vera. The verdict of the jury of life and death was as followeth: Namely, if one euidence with concurring circumstances be good in law, we find him guilty. But if one evidence, with concurring circumstances, be not good in law, we find him not quilty. Upon consideration of the verdict, the Court sentenced him, the said Ambrose Fish, to suffer corporale punishment by being publicly whipped at the post, which accordingly was inflicted, and the prisoner released. Inventory was taken on Ambrose's estate on 11 Sep 1691. Children of Ambrose Fish and Hannah Swift: Ephraim Fish was born on 1 Dec 1676 in Sandwich. He died there on 17 Oct 1677. Abiah Fish was born on 2 Sep 1678 in Sandwich. She married Samuel Tobey about 1695/6. Samuel was her stepbrother, the son of Thomas Tobey and Martha Knott. Children of Samuel and Abiah: Joanna, Cornelius, Tabitha, Zaccheus, Ruth, Jonathan, Eliakim, Samuel, Thomas, Elisha. Mehitable Fish was born on 19 May 1680 in Sandwich. She married Gershom Tobey on 29 Apr 1697. Gershom was her stepbrother, the son of Thomas Tobey and Martha Knott. Children of Gershom and Mehitable: Jerusha, Temperance, Silas, Barnabas, Ephraim, Mehitable. Seth Fish was born about 1682. He married Mary Turner. Johanna Fish was born on 20 May 1689 in Sandwich. She married Eliakim Tupper about 1706. Eliakim was the son of Capt. Thomas Tupper and Martha Mayhew.   

by J F G2G4 (4.5k points)

The first (extant) land record for a Fish in Sandwich is dated 1772. Nothing prior extant in Barnstable County, per the online records index : http://www.barnstabledeeds.org/

That seems like a good solution, Jillaine. Is there a "standard practice" within WikiTree for something like this situation? And thank you for your considerable help, you've made me go back and recheck all my facts, always a good thing.
Actually, standard practice is to disconnect unproven family members and link to them in the narrative.
Almost two years later, I've detached Ambrose from any parents; an explanation is in the bio.
And I've re-attached him.  Jillaine, I provided my assessment at the bottom of this thread in December 2013 -- answering your objection -- and you never replied to my rebuttal of your point of view.  I hope you will agree that it was a mistake in this situation for you to unilaterally detach Nathaniel as Ambrose's father.
Response below. But sorry I don't agree. And it wasn't unilateral: I was following standard PGM policy. While Ambrose isn't a PGM, Nathaniel is.
Bobbie Hall, are you still around?

In one of your responses above, you listed Fish probate records from the time period. Have you looked into probate records of the parents of individuals who married INTO the Fish family?

I don't have anything to say on the genealogy here -- there's no way I can participate at the level of you guys -- and I'm not ready to comment on changes to policies yet.

But, I do want to make one small point. We have to be so careful with our wording when there is a disagreement. It's really easy for misunderstandings and mistakes to escalate into conflicts.

We know mistakes are inevitable. We don't want to be afraid to make them. We assume that mistakes are unintentional when others make them and ask for the same understanding.
I'm certainly still around Jillaine. I have not looked into the probate records of the in-laws, generally speaking. I'll put that on my to-do list.
Thanks, Bobbie. Let me know if I can help.
+2 votes
  • ID: I31804
  • Name: Ambrose Fish
  • Surname: Fish
  • Given Name: Ambrose
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: ABT 1650
  • Death: 1691 in Sandwich, Barnstable Co., Massachusetts
  • Reference Number: S439.2
  • _UID: 36A1007A060D5447BD0EE7559C23EEE19492
  • Note:
    ! (1) "Hannah (Swift) Tobey, Daughter of William Swift, and the Family of Ambrose Fish, of Sandwich, Mass.," by Mrs. John E. Barclay, F.A.S.G., "The American Genealogist and New Haven Genealogical Magazine," Vol. 35, p.40, 42, FHL #973 D25aga. Cites: (a) Barnstable Probate, 1:47.

    ! Birth: (1) Ambrose FISH, birth record not found, was son of Nathaniel FISH by his first wife who is unknown. He was born probably about 1650.
    Marriage to Hannah SWIFT: (1) Abt 1674/5.
    Death: (1a) Sandwich, inventory of estate taken 11 Sep 1691.

    (1a) 1691, 11 Sep: Inventory taken of his estate, Sandwich, MA. Left a widow Hannah.


by J F G2G4 (4.5k points)
Thanks joe but Barclay's otherwise excellent article provides no source for her statement that Ambrose was the son of Nathaniel Fish.  I wish she had.
+2 votes
Ambrose Fish b.1650 had to be the son of Nathaniel Fish. He was the right age and his children were the right age to be Nathaniel's grandchildren.
by J F G2G4 (4.5k points)
Ah, Joe, I wish genealogy was so easy...

What disturbs me most is that 1677 court record in which Ambrose was indicted for raping Lydia, dau of Nathaniel Fish of Sandwich. There was no other Nathaniel Fish who could have been father of a Lydia. So if Ambrose WAS son of Nathaniel, he would have been raping his sister or at least his half-sister. Yet the court makes no mention of such a relationship. That absence makes me question Nathaniel as Ambrose's father. That and if he'd engaged in incest, you'd think a mere whipping would have been insufficient punishment.
My two cents worth... the unusual phrase "contrary to the order of nature" clearly implies a very close family relationship between Ambrose and Lydia; I think this record is sufficient by itself to conclude that Ambrose was Lydia's half-brother.

I imagine that Lois Barclay came to the same conclusion, but delicately refrained from citing such a sordid source.

And then there was that later article in the Connecticut Nutmegger that claimed (without any evidence) that Ambrose was Nathaniel's brother, not his son, leading to mind-boggling calculations about the age of such a man when he started his family. If I remember correctly, that Nutmegger article also included a mathematically impossible Mayflower descent for Nathaniel's second wife Lydia Miller.

For whatever it's worth, I'm descended from nine of the early Sandwich families (includng the Fish family; I'm descended from Ambrose's daughter Abiah Tobey), and I spent a lot of time studying how the early divisions among the Sandwich townsmen influenced the later Quaker unrest that convulsed the town in the 1650s.  The available records for this early period in Sandwich are extremely sparse.

I think that the 1654 Ambrose Fish was clearly a different man from the Ambrose who was convicted of raping his half-sister.  So who was he?  It appears that the 1654 list of townsmen contributing to a special project, like the earlier 1644 list, was made up primarily of sons of original settlers who were now old enough to bear their share of the town's expenses.  These lists provided a record of the young men's status as full townsmen (thus entitling them to a share in the town's common lands, which were divided many decades later).

If this is indeed the case for the 1654 Ambrose Fish -- that he had just emerged into adulthood  (born say mid-to-late 1630s) -- then he would have to have been a son of Nathaniel's eldest brother Jonathan Fish (b. 1610).  And a few years later (late 1650s) Jonathan Fish was part of the group (led by the town's minister, the Rev. William Leverich) that abandoned the strife-ridden town and headed for Long Island in the midst of the Quaker unrest, so any young adult son of Jonathan's would simply vanish from the Sandwich records, too young to have married in Sandwich.

Here's a case where two very reasonable people (both also very experienced researchers) read the same record and come away with two very different conclusions. Here's the text we're reading (from 1677):

"Att this Court, Ambrose Fish was indicted by the name of Ambrose Fish, for that hee, having not the fear of God before his eyes, did wickedly, and contrary to the order of nature, on the twelveth day of July last past before the date hereof, in his own house in Sandwich, in this colony of New Plymouth, by force carnally know and ravish Lydia Fish, the daughter of Mr Nathaniel Fish, of Sandwich aforesaid, and against her will, she being then in the peace of God and of the Kinge..."

I see the absence of any mention of relatedness between Ambrose and either Lydia or Nathaniel.  Lydia's father is referred to as Mr. Nathaniel Fish. He is not referred to as Ambrose's father or any other sort of relation to Ambrose.

Neither is Lydia called any sort of relation to Ambrose.

I do not disagree that Ambrose, Lydia and Nathaniel were likely related-- the same surname, and other evidence that "Ambrose" was a name that appeared elsewhere in the same FISH family that Nathaniel was related to strongly implies that they were of the same larger FISH family.

John reads "contrary to the order of the nature" and concludes that Ambrose must have been Lydia's sibling or half-sibling and son of Nathaniel. For the reasons I said above, I'd concur that they were likely blood relatives, but I simply see no sufficient evidence from this statement to conclude that Ambrose was son of Nathaniel.


I would also add to the mix that Ambrose names none of his children with names that appeared among his supposed siblings. We see no Nathaniel, Thomas, John, Jonathan, Lydia, Mercy, Nathan, or Elnathan as names used by Ambrose for his own children. None. For the time period, one would expect at least some recycling of family given names in the next generation.

Jillaine, thank you for resuming discussion.  I agree that studying the names of children can often lead to useful clues, but your use of this technique appears to be a superficial debating tactic ("None")  intended to bolster a pre-ordained conclusion.  I hope that you will be open to consider the following, more detailed, discussion:

Ambrose's eldest known child was named Ephraim, for his wife's brother.  That is to say, he chose not to use any of his family's customary names when naming this son.  (Maybe he had an earlier son named Nathaniel who died a few days after birth, so never recorded.  The point is, we just don't know, but it fits custom to choose a name from the father's family for the first son and a name from the mother's family for the second son.) 

And then, shortly following Ephraim's death (in the same month), came Ambrose's conviction.  I think it is very reasonable to suppose that the incident leading up to the conviction led to bad blood between Ambrose and his family (especially his father), so it isn't surprising to find a dearth family names in Ambrose's later children.  But let's consider the details:

Ambrose's next known child, and eldest known daughter, was named Abiah.  That name (a variant of Abijah -- "my father is Yahweh") doesn't appear, as far as we know, in either the Fish or the Swift families. 

Their next child was named Mehitabel, which has led to speculation that Mehitable was the name of Ambrose's mother.  (My understanding is that Nathaniel's sons John and Thomas also named daughters Mehitable, and the presence of this name among Ambrose's children is one more snippet of evidence pointing toward Nathaniel as his father.)

It appears that the next child was Seth -- a name that doesn't appear in either the Fish or the Swift family.  However, the name Seth means a replacement or compensation, so Ambrose and Hannah could have used this name as a way of remembering their earlier lost son Ephraim (and possibly another even earlier lost son).  As I'm sure you know, during this period, Biblical allusions were common in the choice of names for children.

Then there's a gap of several years (children who died in infancy?), and then a final daughter Johanna.  She would appear to have been named for Hannah's grandmother Joan Swift, who actually mentioned Hannah in her 1662 will.

WikiTree's profile for Ambrose Fish currently shows a son George, but I don't know of any source for such a son, and no further information is available.  I'm pretty sure that's a mistake.

The first record of an Ambrose Fish in Sandwich was in 1654, when, assumedly an adult, he was given land. (Source: Simeon L. Deyo's ''History of Barnstable County'', pp. 266-268) 

While other Fish males were on the 1643 list of men able to bear arms, Ambrose was not one of them. So, as Bobbie Hall pointed out above, this Ambrose was either not an adult in 1643 (but was by 1654), or he didn't come over until after 1643 and before 1654. 

We also haven't considered that Ambrose might have been a nephew of Nathaniel. Nathaniel had a brother Ambrose, bpt 1613. What happened to him? Is he the Ambrose of 1654 who came later? Might he have had a son Ambrose?


Jillaine, the actual page from Deyo is here: https://archive.org/stream/historyofbarnsta00deyo#page/266/mode/2up  This refers to the recording of boundaries, indicating that Ambrose Fish already OWNED land in 1654.  These boundary records were part of the basis for maps of the early land holdings in Lovell's Sandwich: A Cape Cod Town (1984).

I think there is good reason to doubt any speculation that Ambrose Fish (in Sandwich in 1654) was a late-arriving nephew of Nathaniel.  First of all, we have no evidence that Nathaniel's brother Ambrose survived infancy, let alone had a namesake son.  Second, the Fish cousins who DID come later to New England all settled elsewhere.  Finally, we have to keep in mind that Sandwich, like all 17th-century New England towns, was a corporation with town lands held in common among the townsmen.  You couldn't just move to an established town and settle, because the last thing that established townsmen wanted was for penniless newcomers to move in and gain a share of the communal property that was to be part of the inheritance of their children and grandchildren.

Perhaps those 1654 boundary records, if they still exist, could give a clue about the extent of Ambrose Fish's land and who his neighbors were.  And knowledge of later owners of the land could be useful, but unfortunately the Barnstable County land records before the Revolutionary era were destroyed. 

In any case, it seems extremely unlikely that the Ambrose Fish of 1654 was the same as the Ambrose Fish who married Hannah Swift in the 1670s, because there is simply no mention of an Ambrose Fish in Sandwich in the intervening years.  Once again, it seems most likely that Ambrose Fish (of the 1654 record) moved with Jonathan Fish and Rev. William Leverich to Long Island right around this time.  (If WikiTree is accurate, the mother of Leverich's wife was a Fish, aunt of the three Fish brothers who were among the original settlers of Sandwich.)

And by the way, some people might be too easily impressed by the fact that the 1677 court record doesn't mention the relationship between Ambrose Fish on the one hand and Nathaniel and Lydia on the other.  This court record mentioned Lydia's father because at the time women were usually identified in reference to their fathers or husbands.  The court record had no reason to specify the relationship between Nathaniel and Ambrose, even if they were father and son.  EDIT: And the record's wording "contrary to the order of nature" clearly refers to the taboo against incest.

I concur that Ambrose of 1654 Sandwich was not the same man who married in 1675. I think he is more likely of the same generation as Nathaniel and not a nephew-- ie more likely a candidate for the brother Ambrose born in 1613. I don't see another candidate from those British records. I was suggesting that the later Ambrose might have been a nephew. Bottom line for me: you and I can make as many suppositions as we want but there exists at this time insufficient evidence to confirm that Ambrose who raped Lydia and Married in 1675 was the son of Nathaniel. We simply don't have enough evidence.

Jillaine, thank you for engaging with one of three points that I have brought up: We agree that Ambrose of 1654 Sandwich was not the same man who married in 1675.  Regarding who Ambrose of 1654 actually was, my supposition that he migrated to Long Island in the 1650s with Jonathan Fish and Rev. William Leverich gathers a sliver of support from the fact that there was an Ambrose Fish living in Long Island in the first half of the 18th century, per https://books.google.com/books?id'''4tsTAAAAYAAJ&pg'''PA96&lpg'''PA96&dq'''ambrose+fish+1654&source'''bl&ots'''Y5wg_KtrXr&sig'''QZA17ceBxo4BxDSz6Oct0FRBUDw&hl'''en&sa'''X&ei'''LYwsVY3sKc_ToASf5ICYBA&ved'''0CDoQ6AEwBA#v'''onepage&q'''ambrose%20fish%201654&f'''false

Regarding my other two points: Your statement about the Ambrose Fish "who married in 1675" shows that you have not considered my discussion of the names of sons in Ambrose's family, pointing to the supposition that Ephraim (born Dec. 1676 with a name from the Swift family) was actually Ambrose's second son to die in infancy, with the name of the third son -- Seth -- indicating a prayer that this son might live.  Of course I don't insist on this, but it highlights the fact that we have no reason to assume that Ambrose married in 1675.  Furthermore, 1675 was the chaotic first year of King Philip's war, making a 1675 marriage less likely.

Perhaps I need to re-phrase the third point for you to be willing to consider it; it is understandably the type of thing that people tend to shy away from.  In the above-quoted court record, the phrase "contrary to the order of nature" makes it clear that this was a case of incest, and other verbiage in the court record makes it clear that Ambrose Fish was a resident of Sandwich.


John, I agree with your assertion that the wording "contrary to the order of nature" gives strong support to the relationship of sibling or half sibling. Also, incest, if I remember reading correctly, was a death penalty if proven. Since it was his word against hers, the jury went with a severe whipping instead of a death penalty. We need a Colonial lawyer.

And regarding my point that "contrary to the order of nature" clearly indicates incest, here's a relevant quote from Eugene Aubrey Stratton's Plymouth Colony: Its History and People, p. 198-99 (cited on Lydia Fish's profile at http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Fish-515): "Ambrose Fish was probably her [Lydia's] half-brother. What is interesting is that there was no mention of incest, which leaves the relationship somewhat open to question."

My whole point is that the record does refer to incest, but the choice of language is foreign to modern researchers who aren't familiar with seventeenth-century legal jargon.  I had a similar experience when, as I researched for my master's thesis, I recovered the 1776 congressional definition of happiness: nobody else noticed it because they didn't know what to look for.

EDIT: For a scholarly introduction to the "order of nature," you can check this link: http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199934409.001.0001/acprof-9780199934409

I might disagree with the author's basic approach, because the law of nature, understood to be congruent with the divine law as revealed in the Bible, was fundamental to the English common law for centuries before the period that the author treats.


Several times throughout these threads I have commented on the "contrary to the order of nature" issue. I've hardly shied away from it. Not sure what else you're seeking. As I've already said, I think there's a likelihood that it means incest. But incest in and of itself does not mean brother/half-brother. It could mean any relation.

What's the relevance of Ambrose marrying about 1675 or before 1675 to the discussion of how strong a case there is for him being Nathaniel's son?

And yes, I think 1654 Ambrose (a different man in my opinion) likely left Sandwich given there's no record of him there after 1654 (or is there?).

Bobbie and Jillaine, in the "colonial lawyer" department, here is some discussion that will anchor any further observations on my part:

Law and Liberty in Early New England: Criminal Justice and Due Process, 1620-1692 (Google eBook)

pp. 24-5: "One glaring omission from the Puritan capital lists was the scriptural prohibition against incest.... Adoption of some of the scriptural prohibitions but not others would have been tantamount to repealing scripture.  So Massachusetts and New Plymouth enacted no incest prohibitions at all, leaving it to the magistrates to deal with the matter pragmatically.... Connecticut had no incest law until 1673, when the death penalty was prescribed for father-daughter and mother-son relationships.  The courts were authorized to deal with other forms of incest according to the seriousness of the offense. ... (p. 36) The Puritan colonies used Scripture as a backup system of law to remedy defects in the statues.... New Plymouth adopted the rule that anything not covered by statute should be dealt with by reference to Scripture."

Jillaine, the relevance of when Ambrose married is that your unsupported assumption about a 1675 date precludes the tentative conclusion that is suggested by the choice of names of his known sons.  I don't think such a preclusion is warranted, unless there is reason to believe that Ambrose Fish did NOT marry Hannah Swift before 1675.

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