Am looking for definitive proof of John Shaw, Sr. & Martha Knowles as parents of James Shaw (Shaw-9950).

+4 votes
444 views
There seems to be wide acceptance (including by the DAR, going back a century or more) that my maternal-side forebear Lt. James Shaw, ~1733- ~1783 (lost at sea) [Shaw-9950] was a son of John Shaw, Jr., & Mayflower (Brewster) descendant Martha Knowles of Eastham, MA, and later of greater Hartford, CT.  But two of us in the family have now been at work on this, off and on, over some years, and we have not found documentation.  (It may lie in private records.)  Several WT folk have already privately offered leads but the solid proof is still lacking; we'd appreciate any substantive assistance from WTers familiar with the Shaws of Eastham, Plympton, Middleborough, Martha's Vineyard, and the Hartford area... or closely-associated clans such as the Butlers of that region.

The timeline -- given a marriage in about 1752 (Banks), the age of his spouse, Rebecca Butler (b. 1730), and the birth of their first child (1755) almost demands a birth before 1735, and the DAR marker in the old Westside Cemetery of Edgartown has 1733; yet many online genealogies have 1738, 1740, or 1741.  We'd love to clear this up once and for all.  (James does not appear among the recorded children of the John & Martha marriage either in Eastham, or Hartford, in any records we've been able to find to date.  Still looking.)
WikiTree profile: James Shaw
in Genealogy Help by Christopher Childs G2G6 (9.8k points)
Just to update this old question: we've disproved the connection between Lt. James Shaw and the Eastham Shaws; the birth of their son James is recorded after they moved to CT, and he is traceable to Wilbraham, MA.  So: we are still searching for the actual parents of Lt. James Shaw, late of Edgartown, b. about 1733 and lost at sea about 1783... and any assistance will be appreciatively received.

"The Knowles Family of Eastham, Mass by Charles Thornton LIbby"

3 Answers

+3 votes
by Sharon Smith G2G2 (2.3k points)
Thanks -- we're familiar with that source -- Capt. John Shaw, brother of Lt. James Shaw, may have been born at Eastham after James if the DAR's b. 1733 is correct; but James does not appear in the Eastham record.  If James was born a little later, after John, by then the family may have moved to CT; but he does not show up among the later children, in the Hartford records.  Therein lies our problem...
I am related to William Thompson married to Mary A. SHAW, Somers, CT /Mary Shaw is buried in one of the cemeteries in Somers, CT, I believe.  It has been a while since I have worked on my family tree,  but you may contact me if you wish, via my e-mail

flygirlcesna2015@aol.com
+3 votes
Have you thought of probate records? Often when senior mariners die at work. Probate is required so relatives can claim outstanding pay and crew portions. The probate documents would state if he was married and parentage .

Alternatively ships muster rolls would have port of embarkation and sometime next of kin( rarely. )
by Peter Shaw-Truex G2G4 (4.0k points)
Thanks -- the idea of probate specifically for lost mariners is new to me; however, my fellow-researcher (my sister-in-law) has been combing the records at Ancestry and has yet to find anything for James.  We'll keep looking...
+2 votes
The Descendants of Richard Knowles 1637-1973 p. 30 shows only 3 children George b. 15 Sep 173?, Martha b. 1 Apr 1733 and John b. 18 Jun 1735 and maybe others.
by Deena Cross G2G6 Mach 2 (22.7k points)
Thanks, Deena... those are the longest-established offspring, all born in Eastham; other sources indicate an earlier son in Eastham, Richard (1731), and two daughters -- Sarah (1740) and a second Martha (1744) born at Hartford.  James could fit in if born in late 1733 (that's the DAR's year) or 1734.  We're not sure of the sources for the other online offerings (1738, 1739, 1741).

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