RESOLVED: What is the evidence for the origin, parentage, and migration of William Holton of Hartford and Northampton?

+7 votes

Anderson's Great Migration (GM3:246) explicitly rejects the claim that William Holton of Hartford and Northampton was the "William Haulton" who came from Ipswich to New England on the Francis in 1634. Anderson further states that there is no evidence for William Holton's presence in New England prior to ca. 1646, going so far as to say that the widely-cited 1639 landholder record in Hartford was in error/added later.

William Holton's WikiTree profile repeats both of the above rejected claims. It further asserts that William was the son of Edward Holton and Constance Adkindson, b. Ipswich (England) April 28, 1610. It cites as its source... Geni.

There's a detailed and tantalizing quote naming Deacon William Holton as a founder in Northfield, but it's undated and unsourced, and it turns out Northfield was settled in 1673.

All of the claims about William Holton have been very widely reproduced, not just in unsourced online trees like we usually see, but in numerous authoritative-seeming books. His name is even carved on the founders' monument in Hartford! One cannot blame genealogists for accepting what looks like evidence.

How should we reconcile the rejection of Anderson (PGM's primary and accepted source) with all these unsourced and unproven claims?

Finally, even if William Holton arrived later in New England, it's certainly still possible that he was the son born in 1610 in Ipswich to Edward and Constance. Where is the evidence of this birth, and what is the evidence connecting that birth with this William?

WikiTree profile: William Holton
in Genealogy Help by Cheryl Hammond G2G6 Mach 3 (35.5k points)
edited by Cheryl Hammond

3 Answers

+6 votes
Best answer

Got it! I ordered and received a copy of the article mentioned by John S.:

Joan A. Hunter, "William Holton of Hartford, Connecticut and Northampton, Massachusetts: With Discussion of his Prior History and Probable English Origin," in The Genealogist, vol. 25, no. 1 (Spring 2011), pp. 3-28.

It's later than Anderson (William Haulton is profiled in GM3, 2003) and the American Society of Genealogists I believe y'all said is a reliable/high-quality source, so it merits consideration for PGM. Here are the relevant conclusions:

  • William Holton who sailed from Ipswich on the Francis 1634 was probably the William Holton baptized at Nayland 1610, son of Edward Holton (mother not recorded).
  • There were two Edward Holtons in Nayland of the appropriate age; William was probably the son of Edward bap. 1570, son of John, who m. Constance Adkinson 1598.

Regarding the above, "No evidence was found that would disprove this identification, but it cannot be regarded as fully proven."

  • William Holton of the Francis probably settled in Newtown (Cambridge) upon arrival, though he is absent from records there.
  • William Holton of the Francis definitely owned land in Hartford by 1640, and was probably one of the original settlers around 1636.

William Holton of Hartford was already known to have migrated to Northampton in May 1653.

The author cites Nayland records; the passenger lists of the Francis and the Elizabeth (which sailed together from Ipswich); research performed in 1937 by Suffolk genealogist Lilian J. Redstone; Hartford land records, in which she demonstrates a few errors and omissions by Anderson; and movements of allied families from Nayland to Newtown to Hartford which William Holton may have paralleled.

Finally, William Holton's wife, Mary, is still thoroughly unknown and is definitely not Mary Winche.

It looks pretty good. What say you, PGM? :)

by Cheryl Hammond G2G6 Mach 3 (35.5k points)
selected by Cheryl Hammond
(Fun fact: the Holtons are my spouse's family, and Lilian J. Redstone of Suffolk also researched my own Blodgett family, also of Nayland.)
Go for it Cheryl. Thank you for ordering the article.
+4 votes

The evidence, such as it is, is in an article in "The Genealogist", the semi-annual journal of the American Society of Genealogists: 

Joan A. Hunter, "William Holton of Hartford, Connecticut and Northampton, Massachusetts: With Discussion of his Prior History and Probable English Origin," in The Genealogist, vol. 25, no. 1 (Spring 2011), pp. 3-28.

by Living Schmeeckle G2G6 Pilot (106k points)
Dang! They don't make this journal available in anything other than print form. I once emailed them asking about that and got a very rude answer.

John, do you have a hard copy? If not, anyone?
Exactly what I was hoping for! Awesome find, John... now we just need to find it. Jillaine, libraries?
Looks like they've modernized a bit:

I'll see about ordering one.
I read it at the Seattle Public Library, printed a hard copy but didn't keep it when I moved to Saudi Arabia a month ago.  I'm descended from Sarah UNKNOWN-50305, wife of William Clarke of Northampton, Massachusetts, who is plausibly assumed to have been the sister of William Holton.  Too bad Hunter's article doesn't shed any light on that angle.
Saudi Arabia?! What are you doing there, John? That's a big change! I bet it is really really really hot there right now.

Hi Jillaine, Saudi is my latest adventure as an ESL teacher.  It certainly is hot, comparable to Phoenix, Arizona -- without Arizona's distinctive Saguaro cactuses, but I'm in an oasis area with lots of palm trees, and camels, too:

+4 votes

If the profile is PGM, we go with Anderson (unless more recent research has been conducted). We need to get our hands on the 2011 article by Hunter that John S alerted us to. Depending on its quality (and I assume it's high if ASG published it), its findings-- if different-- would trump Anderson.
by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (929k points)

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