Who was the wife of Thomas Farnham of Andover, Massachusetts?

+5 votes

[note to Keith Hathaway: this exploration emerged from a post in this weekend's Chat]

Thomas Farnham married Elizabeth Sibborns July 8, 1660 in Andover, Essex, Massachusetts.<ref name=RWK9> Topsfield Historical Society, ''Vital Records of Andover, Massachusetts to the end of the Year 1849 Volume II Marriages and Deaths'' (Topsfield, Massachusetts 1912)(Free e-book. Available at Google Play) [https://archive.org/stream/vitalrecordsofan02ando#page/120/mode/2up p. 120] [https://archive.org/stream/vitalrecordsofan02ando#page/432/mode/2up p. 432]

Anderson, in his Great Migration profile of Thomas' father, Ralph Farnham, says this about Thomas' wife:<ref>Robert Charles Anderson, ''Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635,'' Vol II, C-F, p 494</ref>
:: "(probably "Elizabeth Seborne the daughter of our sister Mary Seborne the wife of John Seborne," baptized at Boston 11 August 1644 [BChR 295]."

This claim is also made by Russell C. Farnham<ref>"English Origins of Ralph Farnham of Ipswich, Massachusetts," in ''The American Genealogist,'' 69 (1994):36</ref> but using the 21 Oct 1642 Boston Birth record.

However, neither of these authors carefully considered that it's not clear if the 11 Aug 1644 record is a birth, baptism or a death. There was a previous record, clearly identified as a birth, for Elizabeth Searvorne, daughter of John and Mary, 21 Oct 1642 (p 13)-- this is the one used by Russell Farnham; there was also a birth or baptism for a daughter Mary on 7 Sept 1644; this daughter Mary died 7 days later (p 19). On this same page is the record "Elizabeth of John and Mary Seborne" 11 Aug 1644. The entry does not indicate birth or death (births and deaths are both listed on this same page); but could not be a birth if she had a sister born a month later; so this record for Elizabeth must be a death record, and therefore cannot be Thomas Farnham's wife.


WikiTree profile: Thomas Farnham
in Genealogy Help by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (775k points)

NOTE: This is another example of why it's important to check the original records cited by others, even when it means disproving a researcher as renowned as Robert Charles Anderson.

Nice analysis, Jillaine. I've found that those registers of both births and deaths can be challenging to interpret. Good to know I'm not the only one!

It occurs to me that the compilers of the standard Massachusetts Vital Records books were going through registries that probably were equally ambiguous, but we seldom have the opportunity to examine the original records to see what they were working from.
Yes it would be ideal to examine the originals.

Found originals of Andover VR. Her name is definitely spelled with an S. (Some descendants insist her name was Gibbons). There are Ss and Gs elsewhere on the page, in the same hand, and her last name definitely starts with an S.

"Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001," database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-8979-W787?cc=2061550&wc=Q4DH-MNT%3A353349401%2C353664501%2C1006149502 : 13 July 2016), Essex > County wide > County court births, marriages, deaths 1654-1795 > image 149 of 610; town clerk offices, Massachusetts.

After reviewing listings in Boston, MA: Births, Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths, 1630-1699, (AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015) carefully, I disagree with the conclusion that the second dates for Elizabeth and Mary Seaborne are when they died. Instead, I think the first date under the heading “City” is their birth date and the second date under the heading “First Church” is their baptism. The pages throughout the source are labeled “Births and Baptisms” with marriages and death dates usually identified as such.

We find two entries (birth and baptism) for Elizabeth:

  • page 13 – Boston, 1642, "Elizabeth of John & Mary Seavorne born 21st — 8th month"
  • page 19 – First Church, 1644, "Elizabeth of Mary & John Seborne, 11 day 9 mo."

And two entries (birth and baptism) for Mary:

  • page 18 – Boston, 1644, "Mary of John & Mary Severne born 15th — 7th month"
  • page 19 – First Church, 1644, "Mary of Mary & John Seborne, aged about 7 days, 22 day 7 mo."

Notice the three entries (birth and death in city; baptism in church) for Deborah:

  • page 20 – Boston, 1645, "Deborah of John & Mary Severne born 26th — 12th month & died 6th — 1st mo.
  • page 24 – First Church, 1646, "Deborah of Mary & John Sebborne aged about 4 days, 1 day, 1 mo."

The second baptismal dates correspond almost exactly with the entry for John Seaborn/Sibborn in Savage’s Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers or New England, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1965), 4:47 which says (quote): "Sebborn, Sibborne, Seborne, or Seaborn, John, Boston, by w. Mary, wh. join. our ch. 10 Aug. 1644, had Elizabeth bapt. next day; Mary, 22 Sept. foll. a 7 days old; and Deborah, 1 May 1646, a. 4 days old." However, it appears Savage may have mistaken the month Mary joined the church as August rather than September (as given by Elizabeth’s baptism). The three dates for Deborah are sequential: her birth on Feb 26, baptism 4 days later on Mar 1, and death several days later on Mar 6th.

Consequently, I see no reason to question the marriage of Thomas Farnum to Elizabeth daughter of John and Mary Seaborn/Sibborn.

3 Answers

+1 vote

Thomas Farnam

mentioned in the record of Thomas Farnam and Elizabeth Sebburns

Name Thomas Farnam
Spouse's Name Elizabeth Sebburns
Event Date 08 Jul 1660
Event Place Andover, Essex, Massachusetts
  • No image available

Massachusetts Marriages, 1695-1910

Indexing Project (Batch) Number M02083-4
System Origin Massachusetts-EASy
GS Film number 877468
Reference ID 56

Citing this Record

"Massachusetts Marriages, 1695-1910," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FH12-56B : 4 December 2014), Thomas Farnam and Elizabeth Sebburns, 08 Jul 1660; citing reference 56; FHL microfilm 877,468.

by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.2m points)
This record conflicts with the spelling on the published Andover marriage records (SIBBORNS):

+1 vote

Elizabeth Sibborn Farnum

Find A Grave Index

Name Elizabeth Sibborn Farnum
Maiden Name Sibborn
Event Type Burial
Event Date 1683
Event Place North Andover, Essex, Massachusetts, United States of America
Photograph Included N
Death Date 26 Aug 1683
Affiliate Record Identifier 63283989
Cemetery Old North Parish Burying Ground

The image is viewable at findagrave.com. By clicking here you will be leaving FamilySearch.org. (fees and other terms may apply)

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Find A Grave Index

Citing this Record

"Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV2W-FJ7S : 11 July 2016), Elizabeth Sibborn Farnum, 1683; Burial, North Andover, Essex, Massachusetts, United States of America, Old North Parish Burying Ground; citing record ID 63283989, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com.

by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.2m points)
+1 vote
Elizabeth Sibborn Farnum

Birth:     unknown
Death:     Aug. 26, 1683
Essex County
Massachusetts, USA

The widow of Thomas Farnum (married July 8, 1660). "Early Vital Records of Andover"
Family links:
  Thomas Farnum (1631 - 1685)*
  Mary Farnum Lovejoy (1667 - 1739)*
  Thomas Farnum (1672 - 1672)*
*Calculated relationship
Old North Parish Burying Ground
North Andover
Essex County
Massachusetts, USA
Created by: Nareen, et al
Record added: Dec 24, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 63283989

Elizabeth <i>Sibborn</i> Farnum
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Barbara Poole
by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.2m points)
Unfortunately, FAG is not listing its sources for this record.  We're trying to find original records. Appreciate your intent, though, Frank.
Yes, this is one of the MANY findagrave memorials that were created for someone who lacks a gravestone, using data gleaned from somewhere else. The sources are almost never identified, in large part because findagrave offers no methods for citing sources that aren't gravestones.
But Ellen, couldn't sources be cited in the FAG narrative?

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