I have started working on the family of James Gibbs of Bristol, Rhode Island. I was surprised to find that Torrey, in New England Marriages Prior to 1700, lists only one source: "Gibbs 3", and that in fact the source seems to be mislabeled in the official Torrey source list.
The information Torrey gives -- James married Sarah by 1691 in Bristol to Sarah possibly born in 1674 -- clearly comes from p.3 of the booklet "Family Record of James and Sarah Gibbs of Bristol, Mass". But the official source list says "Gibbs" refers to "A Golden Legacy to the Gibbs Family in America". Am I correct in thinking this source list is mistaken?
Main question: my main question concerns James's son John, born October 1699. The "Family Record of James and Sarah Gibbs" says he relocated to Newport around 1760 and died by 1762, with no source. On the other hand, there is a nice photo of a headstone in Swan Point Cemetery in Providence
where one can clearly see the same birth month as given in the booklet and a death year of 1771. American Ancestors shows a probate record for a John Gibbs in 1771, but only an index record -- not the actually probate records.
I'd love to see those probate records -- is there a way to do find out what is in them without going to Providence?
There are interesting side-notes. 1) The booklet says John's widows brothers lived in Providence and, together with her son, conveyed a property in Bristol to another party in early 1772 -- we see the Providence connection and the fit with a death date of 1771. 2) The booklet says James the father probably came from Bristol, not Frome as many had said. This is on the basis of a fascinating report by Columbus Smith in the book "A Golden Legacy etc." mentioned above. He was hired by a bunch of American Gibbses to go to England and investigate claims that these Gibbses had a large sum of unclaimed estate money coming to them. They paid Columbus handsomely to investigate, and he knocks down all sorts of rumors about where this money may have come from. The first rumor is that there were Gibbses in Frome, and he has a certified statement that he had tracked down all of the burials in the Parish of Frome. There is a meager list of such burials, and on this basis the booklet assumes that James could not have been from Frome. But of course, James was not buried at Frome, and since there were some Gibbses living in Frome, this seems like no basis at all. On the other hand, it is hard to argue with what a man (i.e. John Gibbs) puts on his headstone. Could it be that the author of the booklet did not want to assign this burial to John because it would hurt his Bristol-origin theory?