What can be done about Snow-259 (Peter Brown connection)?

+8 votes
Mary Snow, granddaughter of Peter Brown who was a Mayflower passenger, is connected to John Rickard as her husband. According to the silver Mayflower book, her husband was Samuel Rickard and there are no known records of her descendants. All of the sources listed are for John Rickard and his wife Mary Cooke and their children or they are unsourced family trees. I posted a comment and sent messages to the profile managers. Otherwise, I hesitate to make changes myself because it is a Mayflower Project profile. How can this be corrected?
WikiTree profile: Mary Rickard
in The Tree House by Leila Schutz G2G2 (2.8k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith

Some background:

There were two John Rickards (first cousins, Rickard-98 and Rickard-186) born in Plymouth in the 1650s and both of them married women named Mary. One of the two Marys was Mary Cooke (granddaughter of another Mayflower descendant); the difficulty of correctly sorting the two Johns and the two Marys is indicated by the existence of a Mayflower Quarterly article entitled "Which John Rickard married Mary Cooke?". As discussed in the profiles for the two John Rickards, a comparison of signatures on several documents is the strongest evidence for the conclusion that Rickard-98 (born 1657) is the John Rickard who married Mary Cooke.

This question relates to the other Mary (the one who wasn't Mary Cooke) who married John Rickard-186 (born 1652) in about 1676. Sources such as Torrey's New England Marriages have identified her as Mary Snow (Torrey had a question mark next to her name), daughter of William Snow and Rebecca Browne. That's the connection that's currently made on the G2G profiles.

The silver book from the Mayflower is very clear. It's not a question of which John Mary Snow married, she married Samuel Rickard. This is the official position of the Mayflower Society. I checked.

Hi, Leila. As I noted in my answer below, various other people's transcriptions of the silver book identify the Snow girl who married Samuel Rickard as Rebecca, not Mary.

The WikiTree profile for Rebecca Snow shows her (not Mary) as the wife of Samuel Rickard.

3 Answers

+3 votes
They even list in the bio about problems with john rickard and deacon john rickard getting crossed over. I'm guessing it is still going on. Letting them know by email and comment is the best way to handle it for now but if nothing gets fixed I'd contact those behind the mayflower project.
by Steven Tibbetts G2G6 Pilot (310k points)
+2 votes

Leila, I don't seem to have access to the ''Mayflower Families through Five Generations'' (2002) volume that you cited. You state that it shows that Mary Snow married Samuel Rickard in 1689 (which I think would be rather old, but not impossible, for the first marriage of a woman born in about 1658). But I did find some online genealogy pages, including https://www.geni.com/people/Rebecca-Snow/6000000000115881238 , that quote and cite that page. They indicate that the book says that Mary was alive as late as 1699 but did not marry, and that Samuel Rickard married Mary's sister Rebecca Snow. Are you perhaps getting Mary and Rebecca confused? Here's the statement on  that Geni webpage:

Robert S. Wakefield, editor, “Mayflower Families through Five Generations: Peter Brown” (Plymouth Massachusetts, 2002) 7:22 is the definitive source for the genealogy of Peter Brown. He lists eight children born to William Snow and Rebecca Brown Snow: (1.) Mary Snow b. ca 1656 d. 1699+ unm.; (2.) LydiaSnow b. ca1658 d.1699+ unm.; (3) William Snow b. ca 1660 m. 1686 Naomi Whitman; (4) Joseph Snow b. ca 1762 m. ca 1689 Hopestill ALDEN; (5) Hannah Snow b. ca 1664 m1. 1683 Giles RICKARD m2. 1713/4 Joseph Howes; (6) Benjamin Snow b. ca 1669 m1. 1693 Elizabeth ALDEN m2. 1705 Sarah (Allen) Cary; (7) Rebecca Snow b. ca 1671 m. 1689 Samuel RICKARD; and (8.)James Snow b. ca 1674 d, 1690 on Canadian Expedition.

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Further to the above, I find that Mayflower Descendant, vol. 1, page 211, has records of the births in Plymouth of two daughters of "Samuel Recard and Rebekah Rickard his wife" in 1691 and 1693: https://www.americanancestors.org/databases/mayflower-descendant-the/image/?volumeId=12165&pageName=211&rId=137477420

And Plymouth Church Records show that Rebekah, wife of Samuel Rickard, was admitted to the church in Plymouth in March 1692: https://www.americanancestors.org/databases/plymouth-ma-first-church-records-1620-1859/image/?volumeId=7391&pageName=345&rId=132508625
+1 vote

I found discussion of the basis for identifying Mary Snow as John Rickard's wife in a footnote on page 39 of Wakefield, Robert S. "The Tilson Family of Plymouth Colony." The American Genealogist, vol. 69 (1994), pages 37 ff.

In the footnote, Robert Wakefield quoted Hubert K. Shaw's 1955 book Families of the Pilgrims: Peter Brown as stating that Mary Snow "probably married John Rickard, but conclusive proof has not been discovered." Wakefield speculated that "this opinion is apparently based on the fact that Mary's sisters Hannah and Rebecca married Giles and Samuel Rickard." He asserted, "While possible, this assumption is not accepted by by the Mayflower Society."

I've added that information to Mary Snow's profile. This tells me that:

  1. The identification of Mary Snow as the wife of John Rickard and Mary Snow is uncertain, but has a plausible basis and has been rather widely accepted.
  2. A descendant of John Rickard and his wife Mary can't use this ancestry join the Mayflower Society.

It seems to me that it's entirely appropriate for WikiTree to show the connection of Mary Snow to John Rickard, but it's a good idea to make it clear that the Mayflower Society doesn't accept this for membership.

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
I came to essentially the same conclusion as Jillaine (before seeing her message).

The Snows had a daughter Mary, so that relationship should not be marked uncertain.

John Rickard had a wife Mary, and there's sufficient evidence suggesting that she was Mary Snow that it seems wrong to call her "Mary Unknown," but there's uncertainty about her identity.  If only we could mark a spouse as "uncertain," the marriage of Mary Snow to John Rickard should be marked "uncertain." (Maybe that feature will be added someday...)

Particularly because descendants of John and Mary Rickard can't claim Mayflower ancestry via Mary Snow according the Society rules, there needs to be an "uncertain" qualifier in the lineage. The logical place for this is in the mother connection for the children of John and Mary. (We know that the mother was Mary, but we don't know for sure that she was Mary Snow.)

I'll go add the uncertain parameter for the mother of all of the children.

PS - For the record, I'm neither a profile manager nor a trusted list member for this profile, and I'm not a member of the Mayflower project. It's only because of past participation in this G2G thread that I saw the discussion. If it's OK with the profile managers, I will add myself as an additional profile manager (but I would want Chet to stick around, too).
I am not understanding this at all.  

William Snow had a daughter Mary.  John Rickard had a wife Mary.  Therefore they are the same person?!

This is not sufficient evidence that they are the same person.  There is no evidence at all.

Mary Snow needs to be disconnected as a wife of John Rickard.  A new wife Mary Unknown needs to be created.  A discussion of the possibility that she is Mary Snow can be added to the biography along with all the evidence or lack thereof.  To leave them connected, even if marked 'Uncertain,' is just creating false and unproven lines in wikitree.

The first sentence on Mary Snow's profile reads: "Mary Snow was a daughter of William Snow and his wife, Rebecca Brown(e), who was a daughter of Mayflower passenger Peter Brown(e)."  And this is the problem.  Anyone who runs a report will show a false line to a Mayflower passenger, and anyone who reads the profile will read that she is the granddaughter of a Mayflower passenger.   Marking the connection uncertain and the qualifications later in the biography are not good enough given the lack of evidence.

This is exactly why these sort of highly speculative lines should not be in wikitree.  What is a possibility based on weak associations becomes stated as fact.  It creates false lines and perpetuates myths.

I will repeat what I said in 2017: It is clear at this point though that there is NO evidence at all that Mary, the wife of John Rickard, had a LNAB of Snow.  It has always been speculation without evidence.  I think she needs to be Mary Unknown, disconnected from her parents, and appropriate notes put on the profile.

While we are at it, there is no evidence that her second husband existed.  He is almost certainly a confusion with the Ephraim Tinkham who married Mary Brown.  Without better evidence of his existence, he should be disconnected and merged away.

(I concur about Ephraim Tinkham. I also wish we could mark a spouse Uncertain.)

Joe, the evidence that Mary Snow is a candidate for the wife of John Rickard includes: 

  • Two of Mary's sisters (Hannah and Rebecca) married Rickard brothers 
  • Two of John Rickard's children carried names that appeared not in Rickard's family but in the William Snow family. I believe they were Lydia and Joseph(?)-- need to check. 
  • Proximity. 
  • A respected author admits the possibility. 
Not strong evidence, admittedly. But it could be argued that this is sufficient to meet Wikitree's "Uncertain" criteria. The Uncertain status has been applied using far less. (Ambrose Fish comes to mind.)
I'll admit Mary Snow is a candidate and a possibility to be the unknown wife of John Rickard.  Everyone named Mary is.  I don't think there is anywhere close to enough evidence to keep them attached and marked as uncertain.  Better to just discuss the possibility in the biography.

Are you even sure Hannah and Rebecca are daughters of William Snow?  The NEHGR article on the Snow family makes them daughters of Nicholas Snow, and the GM article on Nicholas Snow notes he has three children living who are unaccounted for.

Which respected author are you referring to?  Robert Wakefield who rejects the identification as having no evidence both in NEHGR articles and in the Mayflower books?  Why would you want to keep a line with this weak of evidence when it has been specifically rejected as unproven in research articles on the family and by the Mayflower Society?
Ellen, I added some commentary which more appropriately discusses the speculative nature of the identification of Mary as Mary Snow.  You deleted it.  I have added it back.

The first sentence of this profile cannot say she is Mary Snow without qualification.


Chet, as profile manager, has stated that the profile represents Mary, daughter of William Snow and Rebecca Browne. So anything in the profile supporting that does belong in the profile.

What is not proven is that Mary Snow was Mary, the wife of John Rickard or mother of his children.

William's will names daughters Mary, Lydia, Hannah, Rebecca. 


And once again, a set of very reasonable and experienced researchers come to logger heads over WikiTree's Uncertain policy.


Sigh... The profile was created (not by me) to represent Mary Snow, the daughter of William Snow and Rebecca Browne.

As near as I can determine, the theory that Mary Snow might have been the "Mary" who married John Rickard (son of Giles Rickard) originated on the Snow/Browne side of the aisle.

On the Rickard side of the aisle, the main topic of interest regarding this family's marriages has been distinguishing the two contemporary John Rickards (who sometimes have been treated as one person, married to Mary Cooke) and determining which one of them married Mary Cooke. I would wager that the majority of people who trace ancestry to John Rickard believe that they are Mayflower descendants through Mary Cooke, and are unaware of Mary Snow (whom I first thought of as "the Mary who wasn't Mary Cooke" -- it was a Snow/Brown/Mayflower relative who told me she was Mary Snow).

The identification of Mary Snow as the probable wife of John Rickard is not one of those wild speculations where somebody finds a girl named Mary born within 25 miles who has no further record, then decides to make her the Mary who was the wife of their ancestor. The Rickard and Snow families were residents of the town of Plymouth when it was a close-knit small town for which there is reasonably good accounting of all of the families (missing records notwithstanding); William Snow's daughter Mary was still living and apparently married when William made his will in 1699 (the will did not make provision for her as an unmarried daughter); John Rickard was married to a girl named Mary whose last name is not recorded; two sisters of Mary Snow are known to have married brothers of John Rickard; and I've noted that a couple of the children of John Rickard and wife Mary had names found in earlier generations of the Snow family but not in the Rickard family. With all that circumstantial evidence (and approximately a century of smart genealogists suggesting the connection), I think it's entirely reasonable to tentatively identify Mary Snow as having married John Rickard. (If they didn't marry each other, then we would need to conjure up both an unrecorded woman named Mary in Plymouth for John Rickard to marry and an unrecorded man for Mary Snow to have married.) If this was a garden-variety ancestor (not a Mayflower descendant), I don't think we'd hesitate to endorse the approach of connecting her to the husband but describing the connection as tentative/uncertain.

Since the profile was created to represent Mary Snow, I happen to think it should be allowed to remain as Mary Snow's profile, with the inclusion of information about her tentatively identified marriage. That means it should start out with her birth and parents. The subsequent text regarding the uncertainty about her marriage occupies a large proportion of her biography, so it doesn't need to be duplicated in the first paragraph, too. Furthermore, given the longstanding difficulty distinguishing the two Marys who married the two John Rickards, I can imagine that additional confusion could be created by starting Mary Snow's biography with a statement like "The name of the wife of John Rickard was Mary, though her identity beyond this is uncertain at best" (what Joe added as the first sentence).

I don't see any confusion at all.  And no, the profile does not represent the only Mary, the daughter of William Snow.  It represents Mary the daughter of William Snow, Mary the wife of John Rickard and Mary the mother of the Rickard children.  Though possible, it is not clear these are all the same person.  As long as there is only one profile then it must make clear the uncertainty.

If you tell me this profile only represents Mary Snow without qualification, then I will have to disconnect her and create Mary Unknown.  This is frankly what should be done anyways.  No, your circumstantial evidence does not impress me or sway me.  Just like the MC project follows Richardson unless new evidence is found, and the PGM project follows Anderson unless new evidence is found, the Mayflower project follows the Silver books and published research articles.  That the wife of John Rickard is Mary Snow has been specifically rejected as unproven, and wikitree should follow this lead.  I can only imagine that the only reason the Mayflower project has not already detached Mary is to not hurt the feelings of two experienced wikitree contributors.  If we allow her to remain attached to John Rickard, it can only be with appropriate notes as to the uncertainty (which I have added).

It seems to me you are doing genealogy backwards.  By stating the profile represents Mary Snow and removing the uncertainty, you are starting with the Snow family and working down.  In genealogy we prove one generation to the next working up.  Working up, this profile represents the wife John Rickard and the mother of the Rickard children, it is incumbent on us to provide the Genealogical Proof that she is Mary Snow.  I have no problems with using circumstantial evidence to make connections, but the circumstantial evidence in this case is not convincing.

Joe, I have to disagree that anyone is trying to avoid hurting others' feelings. For me, this is a policy issue-- when and when not to use the Uncertain button and keep relationships connected or disconnected.

I wish the Uncertain help text gave us clearer guidance here. My reading of it in this case suggests keeping the relationships and marking them uncertain.  But this isn't the first time that two sets of researchers read the same data and interpret it completely differently. In this case, one set reads the evidence and thinks there is reasonable evidence to use the Uncertain connection. Another set looks at the same evidence and says no way, not enough. I'm tempted to demand that Mr Whitten who introduced the Uncertain tag be the arbiter.

Frankly, on this one I don't give a hoot. I'm not a descendant. But if this situation doesn't qualify for Uncertain, I *do* have a direct-line ancestor with far less evidence than this where I was bullied into accepting Uncertain by another experienced researcher ( who has since left the building).

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