Is Theophilus Field the 4th GGF of Thomas Jefferson?

+3 votes

The 'bible' of a certain line of Field ancestry is Frederick C. Pierce's "Field genealogy; being the record of all the Field family in America, whose ancestors were in this country prior to 1700..."  It is voluminous in scope, but somewhat short on primary sources.

Pres. Jefferson's ancestry to his 3rd GGF, James Field-479, an immigrant from England, is reasonably well established.  As far as I've been able to determine, Pierce is the primary source that all other sources use showing that James' father was Theophilus Field-487, a corrupt bishop and the son of puritan pioneer John Field-1908.  See James, #6768, at page 1057 and 1059

Wikitree profiles followed this line until sometime last year when a member decided to switch James' father to someone else without explanation.  This was later discovered and James' parents were disconnected altogether with a note.  I'm late to the party and just realized that this happened and am trying to research without success.

Is there other evidence of the connection between James, the immigrant, and Theophilus?  I haven't found any so far.  Is the Pierce book sufficient to re-establish the link?  I've seen far worse evidence used.  Looking for the input of others familiar with this line or willing to research.  Thank you.

WikiTree profile: James Field
in Genealogy Help by Kerry Larson G2G6 Pilot (187k points)

There is a NEHGS journal called the Register.  It is reported to have articles written by George McCracken in July and October 1959 that reviews the Pierce book.  If anyone has access and can check for pertinent material, I would be grateful.

A book with info that I don't have access to that has info on p. 118:

Field, William S. Sweet Lands of Liberty: A Historiogenealogy of Selected Branches of the Field, Douglas and Stockton Families of England, Canada, and America. Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, 2004.

Some tantalizing snippet views on Google Books:

The book explains the fact that Field has the son of Theophilus, James, with a birth of 1598, but per the muster on the Swan, James give his birth as 1602 or 1603.    It is explaining why James is NOT the son of Theophilus

Robin, thanks for sharing that.  However, I think you mean that Pierce has William, another purported son of Theophilus, as born in 1598.  Do you have access to the book?  If so, can you provide more details?  Thanks!

1598 is a miscalculation.  It's based on taking the age in the muster as the age at immigration, when it's actually the age at the date of the muster.  A very common mistake.

But it's not like there's a record of the bishop having a son William born in 1598, who is therefore too old to be the immigrant.  No record of the bishop's 6 kids seems to have been found yet.  William and James are listed purely on the assertion that the immigrants are his.

3 Answers

+1 vote
The parents were removed by the leader of the US Presidents project as there was no proof of either set of parents shown.   A note on the profile explains that Theophilus is the "most likely" father, but we are looking for evidence of this before re-connecting.
by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (751k points)
Theophilus only had one wife, Alice, and they were married in 1612. The DOB on James is 1604
+2 votes
The 1624/5 record is a census, not a passenger list.  It doesn't say James snuck out of England disguised as a servant.  It says he was a servant in the Wilcox/Slater household in Elizabeth City.

No further record of him is mentioned.

Looks like the hard part might be to show that he was the father of Major Peter, who was obviously a gentleman of substance.
by Living Horace G2G6 Pilot (572k points)
RJ, thanks for weighing in with an important point that he wasn't just posing as a servant, that he actually was one.  Pierce seems to be trying hard to explain away the class distinction by saying, "Many who subsequently became prominent in the affairs of Virginia Colony came over as servants, which allowed them to pass with friends without securing a certificate to the effect that they were good and lawful subjects to the king and the Church of England."  If true, we should see many examples of this.  Are there any others I wonder?
We wouldn't know, unless there are passenger lists from the English end that include the servants, as well as the people who were interviewed and approved.

James the immigrant is given two sons, James and Peter.  A lot is known about Peter.  Nothing at all about James, but he's given a son Theophilus.

Nothing is known about Theophilus either.  There's a kind of hint that he's buried in Blandford church, but I think that's actually the next Theophilus, who's supposed to be his son.

Theo #1 is given 3 sons.  Theo #2, James and Alexander.  Theo #2 was a minister.  Nothing is known about James.  There's an odd story about Alexander's wife that only makes sense if it was her sons who emigrated.  I suspect Alexander was a Scot and doesn't belong here.

So basically Pierce has Theo #2, and #3 and #4, and wants to link them to the bishop, but he doesn't have the wherewithal.  So he makes the best of the 1624 immigrant and then makes up two unrecorded generations to fill the gap, attaching Major Peter along the way.

I was reading about the two Theophilus's (Theophili?) of the Bristol Parish (  Just the name makes me wonder about a relationship to the English bishop, but a link between James the immigrant and Theophilus (purported father) or even with Maj. Peter Field (purported son) does seem increasingly tenuous.

There's probably a link.  But there are 3 generations missing.  They're probably in England somewhere, not in Virginia.  Theo #2 was a minister, but I don't think Virginia had any system for raising home-grown ministers.
+2 votes

Page 1056 and 1057 of Field Genealogy,  Vol II, by Frederick Clifton

Pierce, mentioned in the project shows  ‘Bishop Theophilus Field’

to be the father.  I took photos of 16 pages of that history with my ipad

at Clayton Library.   I just don’t remember how to put them on.

Also Find MyPast has transcription showing Theophilus in 1612 to

Alisiam Playfere, probably ‘Alice’.

by Kathryn Spencer G2G6 (7.9k points)

Kerry has already posted the link to the book

But what the book really shows is that Fred Pierce would like the Bishop to be the father, but he couldn't find any evidence.

James Field was just one of hundreds of servants in the 1624/5 Muster about whom nothing else is known.  He doesn't appear to have had a land grant or left a will.  There's no record of a marriage.  Never even witnessed a will.  There's no further trace of him at all.  This happened to a lot of servants in early Virginia.

There's no way to link him with any of his claimed descendants.  There's no evidence that Major Peter was James's son.  Seems very unlikely.  Peter was of the educated class.  Mostly they came out from England.  The sort of early Virginians who sent their kids to be educated in England weren't the sort to be invisible in the records.

There's no evidence that James's claimed son James ever existed at all.

With no clues from Virginia, there's no way to find James the immigrant in England.  If we could make a list of all the James Fields born in England in the right time frame, we'd have no way to know which was the right one.  But the Bishop's son wouldn't be on the list, because there's no evidence that the Bishop had a son called James.

This sort of thing is entirely par for the course in these old books.  Every family wanted its back story.  In a few cases, one could be found, but in most cases one had to be concocted.  Concocting them became an industry.

But the word hasn't got around that these books aren't to be trusted.  They had small print runs and were only intended for "family" consumption, ie male-line descendants, who had the surname.  But the henreditary societies and the Mormons encouraged the circulation of bad genealogy for many years.  The lines were picked up by descendants of daughters who never saw the books to see how lame they were.  And nobody interested themselves in what actually existed in the original records.

Sorry, I have to have this rant every so often.

Those are important points you made.  I agree some of the old books areprobably irrelevant.  With modern day technology, which scans many documents,  there is the possibility of finding some we thought lost.

Seeing is not always believing, is it.  Having your eyes and expertise on these records and books is a valuable asset to us all.  Many thanks for the detailed response.  It is very helpful.

Kathryn Miller Spencer-35831
RJ, that's an excellent summation of the state of knowledge.  Thanks very much for sharing your expertise.
Well, I got quite a shock with DNA to find out I am related to the USA De la Field's, as my family came from Bethnal Green, London up to 1907 or so. I was told they were Hugeonots. But that went out the door with the DNA. But Thomas Field 1694 did marry a Hugeonot. So I have tracked everyone on the DNA list from various sources, over a hundred, and they all arrive at John the Astronomer. Thomas 1696, to my best knowledge was married at Threadneedle Church, French protestant, and I have actual physical paper that backs up that Thomas 1743 and David 1784 were his descendants. I have the dates of death of both Thomas and jane his wife in David's handwriting.  So once I found I was related to all of you I knew where to look for Thomas's birth. Every other Thomas was eliminated by death or other means, and I came to Thomas St. Giles 1694, and that tracked back, John 1665 St. Giles   John 1628 St. Giles..John  son of Theophilus  So I see nothing to suggest that anyone knew of a family for John 1600. But my DNA is like between 11 cM and 18 cM connected, and the London crowd in the time between John the Astronomer and the people who left for the USA is very slim. In short I have 10 years into looking into this.  Thomas 1694 had son Thomas 1743, St Matthews, who had son David 1784, who had son John 1820 and James 1818 (who left for Australia). John 1820 was one of the founding employees of the Royal Livers Friendly Society, and his son William, 1854 was the Sr Managing Member of the Management Committee, who was in charge when the Royal Livers Building was built and completed 1911. He died 1916. His son William came to Canada with his wife.  If anyone wishes to dispute my path, well I would rather hear about it now, but I have over 60 DNA markers back to John the Astronomer's family.

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