Mary, wife of Thomas Skinner (c1617-1703/4): Her surname is not Godden.

+5 votes
Sometime in the not-too-distant past, someone read that Mary, the wife of Thomas Skinner of Malden (c1617-1703/4) was left a sum of money in the will of William Godden, also of Malden. This is recorded in the Middlesex town records, as well as Corey's book, the History of Malden, Massachusetts.

This person, or persons, made the assumption that because Mary was left money in William's will, she was his daughter. And, as a result of that, the surname "Godden" has been tagged on to Mary's name.

The surname "Godden," given to Mary, wife of Thomas Skinner of Malden, has been promulgated in family trees and web pages for decades with no documentation besides the reference in the will and in Corey's book.

My research has shown that William Godden left Mary the money as he had, in effect, a "(bar?) tab" at the "ordinaire" that Mary was running. There is more detailed information at her WikiTree page:

as well as her page in the FamilySearch tree:

I see that there are other presumed dates and locations on her page, but we won't bother with that at this time.

I have gone through the Chichester records and have found no record of a marriage of Thomas and Mary, let alone a marriage to a Mary Godden. The three children of Thomas and Mary are recorded in the Chichester records, and verified in records after Thomas and Mary migrated to the Malden, MA area.

Please,  can we get the surname "Godden" removed from the records as Mary's surname so we can have an accurate tree.

Thank you.
WikiTree profile: Mary Skinner
in The Tree House by Gregg Legutki G2G Crew (870 points)

3 Answers

+3 votes

Month of her death is at variance with Mary's WikiTree profile, and location is shown as Mauldon, Middlesex, MA. 

Mary Skinner

Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records

Name Mary Skinner
Event Type Death
Event Date 09 Feb 1671
Event Place Mauldon, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
Gender Female
Marital Status Married
Spouse's Name Thomas Skinner
Spouse's Gender Male


View the original document. The original may contain more information than was indexed.

Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001

Reference ID p 250
GS Film Number 892249
Digital Folder Number 004198966
Image Number 00136

Citing this Record

"Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001," database with images, FamilySearch( : 13 July 2016), Mary Skinner, 09 Feb 1671; citing Death, Mauldon, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States, , town clerk offices, Massachusetts; FHL microfilm 892,249.


by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
The records indicate 9 day 2 month as Mary's death date. We are presuming that the dates being used were "Old Style," with the first month being March. Thus, "Month 2" would be April, rather than February.
+1 vote
Yes, we can.

I would say there is a number of errors on her and her husband's profiles.  Since it would seem you have put considerable research into her are you able to correct and improve the information on the profiles?

The biography says the origins of Thomas Skinner is unknown but there is a precise birth place - I presume an error.  There is a precise marriage location - I presume an error since nothing is apparently known of the English origins of this couple.
by Joe Cochoit G2G6 Pilot (225k points)
Thank you for the response. And thank you for noticing that there has been a lot of research done on this family.

There are many assumptions based on circumstantial evidence. I would be willing to specify why dates are what they are on both Thomas Skinner and Mary his wife. There is very little documentation, but a lot of assumptions on this couple. I have spent a lot of time with the original Chichester (Sussex, England) records as well as the Malden (Massachusetts) records. There are bits and pieces of information that the original Skinner Family Association Group (SFA), organized in the early 1900s, found about this family, but hard records were minimal.

As for the "precise" birth date, birth place, marriage, etc., I did find a mention in the Malden town records where Thomas Skinner self reports his age. I presume the early researchers of the SFA used this town record as the basis for his birth year of 1617. It is believed his family was from the Chichester area (his three children were baptized there). There are indications in the Chichester records that his family was in the area from the mid-1500s, although there is nothing in those records that can verify a family tie. "Just because it looks good, doesn't mean it is."

Some years back, the current Skinner Family Association had Debrett's in England research Thomas Skinner of Malden to see if they could come up with his ancestry as it was thought they had access to more records. Debrett's concluded that there were so many Thomas Skinners born in that time period that they could not come up with any conclusive evidence as to his ancestry or where he came from.

Also, the current Skinner Family Association group is looking for his burial location in Bell Rock Cemetery in Malden, MA. A record from 1969 indicates that his headstone was visible at that time, although various trees have been published indicating that Thomas was buried at Bell Rock, but he was "moved." A lot of research has been done with this issue, and is continuing, both on the burial location of Thomas Skinner as well as Bell Rock Cemetery. (More on that later,)

So, yes, there has been a lot of research done, and there is still a lot more that can be done. However, as with all of us, life gets in the way.
0 votes

FWIW there is a huge nastygram about this on familysearch. Im sure everyone is aware of it already but I'll use it as an excuse to introduce myself as Im new around here

It reads:

Mary, the wife of "Sgt" Thomas Skinner of Malden, was NOT a child of William Godden.

There is NO PROOF that Mary, wife of Thomas SKINNER (1617-1703/4), aka Thomas SKINNER of Malden, was Mary GOODWIN, GODDEN, GOODEN, GODWIN, or any other similar name. The circumstantial evidence from The History of Malden, Massachusetts, 1633-1785, indicates that a William GODDEN left "Mary, the wife of Thomas SKINNER" a sum of money in his will (see pg 600). However, there is no indication of the town records that William was married or had any children. Some believe that Mary MAY HAVE BEEN a niece of William, but there is no evidence to support any familial relationship between William and Mary, the wife of Thomas Skinner. See more information below, as well as the copy of William Godden's will

by David Dexter G2G1 (1.2k points)

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