Evidence for parents of Nathaniel Thayer, b. 1640, wife of Abigail Harvey

+1 vote

In regard to Nathaniel Thayer and why there is so much confusion: Aside from the family geneaologist for the Thayer Family Association, Patricia Thayer Muno, who has cited her source for changing the parents of Nathaniel Thayer, from Richard, to William, there is also a book written on the Thayer family from Thornsbury, that, upon careful reading, you will find both of the Nathaniel Thayers, who were cousins, along with who the  parents were of each Nathaniel.

In one of Patricia's books on the Thayer family, she had first documented Nathaniel, who married Abigail Harvey, with parent, Richard Thayer. Three years after she published her book, she realized there were two Nathaniels, and that the Nathaniel who married Abigail Harvey was actually the son of William Thayer and Mary Kellaway. Unfortunately, many family trees still contain the misinformation--showing Nathaniel as the son of Richard. Find A Grave was also infected with these errors, due to people either not following the update, or never getting it.

The book where you can find the Thayer information is: The Thayer Family of Thornbury: a study trying its reconstitution. Originally written in 1907, by Thomas Thayer Ojeda.

These two sources are better than anything that has come since, and, I think, are our best bet for correcting the profiles. I have seen that people are saying the book source is too speculative. However, it, along with Patricia's work, may be all we have to go with, since there was a huge fire in the 1800's, that is said to have burned up most of the early records in Thornbury. 

WikiTree profile: Nathaniel Thayer
in The Tree House by Elizabeth Jesse G2G Rookie (250 points)

In the now-closed duplicate discussion, RJ Horace posted:

In Google black and white


or in luscious peach


I just received a phone call from the Historical Museum in Taunton. They are sending me a form to have someone do the research on Nathaniel, as I cannot travel to Taunton right now. If it is not too terribly costly, I will do this.

1 Answer

+2 votes
Elizabeth, can you provide the reasoning behind how Patricia Thayer Muno came to the conclusion as to the parents of Nathaniel?

Also, things were fine until you mentioned Ojeda.  His book is filled so many errors and unsubstantiated guesses that it should not be used for anything.  There have been more modern treatments of the Thayer family (including Muno) which should be used instead.
by Joe Cochoit G2G6 Pilot (225k points)

Please see for a more complete discussion of the errors made by Ojeda:

Note that these articles primarily concerned the earlier English ancestry of the Thayers and not necessarily the problem of the parentage of Nathaniel Thayer.  Still the methods and the records Ojeda was using were completely unreliable.  If Muno identified the parents of Nathaniel, I would be interested in her reasoning.
Hi--Well, maybe the book has errors, but it does support what Patricia claims in regard to the two Nathaniels and their parents. Her sources were different though, and they have been cited before on here, somewhere. However, the letter I found from her was posted on Geni.com, under Nathaniel's profile, in the discussion section (by the way, Geni has the incorrect birth dates, still, for Nathaniel, last I checked). The letter explained Patricia's findings. This form does not seem to allow me to copy and paste the letter. I did send it to M. Cole, though.

So, Nathaniel Thayer of Taunton, Massachusetts is presumed to be the Nathanial Thayer baptized 10 May 1640 at Thornbury, but this not actually known with certainty.  He is presumed to be the son of William Thayer and Mary Kellaway (again, why?), but this is not actually known.  The problem in this case and in most of Thayer genealogy is that the Thornbury parish registers do not name the parents, i.e. the 1640 baptism record does not say his father was named William, it could have been anyone.

Here is what Muno actually says:

  • "Nathaniel Thayer of Taunton, the subject of this compilation, was christened at St. Mary's Church in Thornbury, Gloucestershire, England on 10 May 1640. In that record, only the names of the Godparents are given and not the names of the parents. He is, undoubtedly, the son of William Thayer and Mary Kellaway. William was a brother of the immigrants, Richard and Thomas Thayer, the three being sons of Richard Thayer and Miss ( ) Dimery. Although there is no documentary proof of these relationships, the Thornbury data has been thoroughly researched by the "Family Institute of Research" which was hired by the Ezra Taft Benson Family Association, and the evidence found points to the indication these relationships are correct, as all other children in the parish of Thornbury by the name of Nathaniel appear to have died in early childhood."

So this is a really soft identification by Patricia Thayer Muno.  It may be best to leave him with no parents.  If we add parents, we need a full discussion on the profile as to the uncertainty.

She also gave more information for her theory. I see it was copied in the Separating the Two Conflated Nathaniels thread. You have to scroll down to see it. Maybe you are correct. Perhaps the information is too "soft". Then again, it all is, without DNA or a blood test :).

Here is the info from the other thread:

Here is the source for this 2003 finding:

A History of the Doggett/Daggett Family 1894,  
compiled by Samuel Bradlee Doggett, copyright 1894, page 75.

From this source, we read the following:

"John Doggett settled 1st in Watertown in 1630. He removed to Rehoboth in about 1646. The 9th of the 12th mo., 1646, at a meeting of the townsmen, .....

The same day, it was agreed that Edward Sale, John Doggett, William Sabin, John Peram, and WILLIAM THAYER shall have leave to set up a "weier" upon the cove before William Devill's house, and one upon Pawtucket river."

This William Thayer could have been none other than the father of Nathaniel Thayer who settled in Taunton, Bristol, MA. It is highly likely that he may also have been the father of Benjamin TAYER family of RI.

With William's last child born in England in 1644 and the above information, it is estimated that William, and at least his son Nathaniel, immigrated to America in about 1645.

So, perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't see any connection between this evidence and Nathaniel Thayer of Taunton.  I'm not sure that you can conclude much except there was a man in Rehoboth named William Thayer in 1646 who may have some connection to the other men mentioned.  It doesn't really provide any connection between this William Thayer and the William Tayer of Thornbury.  (Except maybe the fact that there isn't a contemporaneous record for William Tayer in England).

Its an interesting piece of evidence that could provide direction for further research, but I don't know that if supports the conclusions she states so strongly.  What am I missing?

I actually agree with you both that the evidence is not perfect, which bothers me somewhat, as well. However, all these highly experienced genealogists are making this claim. So, who am I, with my limited experience, to say they are wrong?

In fact, I do not much care who Nathaniel's parents were, except that it might effect who his children were, and THIS, is what I really need to prove to be content that my tree is correct. I also see no hard proofs that he had, for instance, a daughter, Mary, who married James Burt. I can only see that he had a son, and of course his name was also Nathaniel.
I have just spoken with a man at the Historical Museum in Taunton. He is sending me a form so I can have them research what they have for Nathaniel. I will proceed if this is not too terribly costly.

"So, who am I, with my limited experience, to say they are wrong?"

The burden of proof is on the person making the claim.  The fact that the person may be more experienced, doesn't really lessen the standard of proof.  Experienced and good, even rigorous genealogists will on occasion fail to call out an assumption or leap that they've made...and may end up having to correct themselves later (like the case of mistaking two separate Nathaniel Thayers for one).

And I am so appreciative of the work that Patricia Thayer Muno has done.  The corrections to the Thayer Memorial are invaluable.  And the information I use from her is in formats that do not include sources, but I almost never have difficulty finding primary sources to support her information. But in this case, I feel like she failed to convince me.

If these claims were being made in a journal such as TAG or NEHGR, I think they would be presented differently, say maybe "Clues to the English Origins of Nathaniel Thayer of Taunton" rather than a definitive, proven relationship.

Anyway, I believe you have every right to question claims of another researcher, even an more experienced one.

"I have just spoken with a man at the Historical Museum in Taunton. He is sending me a form so I can have them research what they have for Nathaniel. I will proceed if this is not too terribly costly."

It will be interesting to see what they have.  I was going to start a separate answer, and try to pull out just the primary evidence we have on Nathaniel of Taunton.  That could be useful if you do decide to submit a request.

I am going to follow through with having Taunton research this for us.
I have submitted the questions to Taunton for researching.

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