A sheaf is a large bundle in which cereal plants are bound after reaping so they are convenient for threshing out the grain. In heraldry, a wheat sheaf is called a 'garb'.
The garb (or wheat-sheaf), signifies plenty and commendable hospitality in the bearer. It may also mean that the harvest of the bearer’s hopes is secured. One of the earliest appearances of garbs in heraldry was on the seal of Ranulph, Earl of Chester who died in 1232.
Garbs became identified thereafter with the Earldom of Chester, though they also appear in the arms of other families, some with a distant connection to the Earls and some without, as well as in armories of other countries.
The chevron represents the foot of a house, derived from the French work ‘chevron’ meaning rafter. It signifies protection.
The chevron was granted to those who had participated in some notable enterprise, had built churches or fortresses, or had accomplished some work requiring faithful service.
The color RED signifies Warrior or martyr; Military strength and magnanimity. The color BLUE (or AZURE) signifies Truth and loyalty. WHITE signifies Peace and sincerity.
"Thomas Sheffield lived in Bedfordshire County, England, when he wrote in a book on February 28, (1832), a record of his children. He didn't record his or his wives birthdates. The four children listed below are assumed to be of a first marriage. John born July ll, 1812; Rachel born July 14, 1814; Joel born November 16, 1817; and Dorcus, no record of date of birth. The other four children listed below are assumed to be of his second marriage. Elijah born October 7, 1821; Elisha born February 17, 1824; Benjamin born March 28, 1828; and Ruth born October 15, 1832."
The Search for Thomas Sheffield
Thomas Sheffield and his family are known to have come from Bedfordshire per a brief mention as recounted from a book Thomas left. Beyond an incomplete description of Thomas' children and birth dates, Thomas does not record any marriage information or historical information about his family. No baptism or birth record for a Thomas Sheffield in 1791 has been located that might also identify where Thomas was born or who his parent's were.
Sheffield Family baptisms in Bedfordshire (1746-1875): MapList (PDF)
Thomas Sheffield's son Elisha's second wedding to Cynthia Long leaves us with the surname of Thomas' bride, Ann Stratton. We are then able to find a marriage dated 1817 which comes after the births of some of his children indicating that Thomas been married previously.
A search conducted by the Bedford Borough Council attempted to locate Thomas Sheffield (b. 1791) in England and his missing family members which yielded several possible Thomas Sheffield candidates to have been born or baptized in Bedfordshire:
Though it was never confirmed by Thomas, it has been evidenced that he had two wives and produced two families after the connection to his second wife Ann Stratton was made.
Searching nearby Buckinghamshire where Thomas' 2nd wedding occurred in Clifton-Reynes is where we find COE baptism records listing a John Sheffield (b. 1812) and Rachel Sheffield (b. 1814). We also find a marriage between a Thomas Sheffield & Elizabeth Pilgrim in 1811 in Sherington very near to Clifton-Reynes.
From Thomas' first marriage registration in Sherington, we find what appears to be a sister Elizabeth Sheffield (b. 1796) who marries a John Tandy this same year (1811) and relocates to Newport Pagnell. A search of her and her life hasn't yielded any new information about possible siblings or parents who were not recorded as witnesses to their respective weddings.
Elizabeth Sheffield Tandy indicates that she is from Sherington on later census data, and on her wedding register. On Thomas and Elizabeth Pilgrims wedding registry, it is noted that both are listed as having been from the parish of Sherington also. No other records were located for the Sheffield or Pilgrim surname in Sherington during this time period.
Of Thos' first children were born to Elizabeth Pilgrim (b. 1791). John (b. 1812), and Rachel (b. 1814) were baptized in Chicheley along with Thomas (1813). Elizabeth Pilgrim Sheffield dies in 1815 and is buried in Sherington where they had been married in 1811.
On 28 Feb 1817, Thomas marries Ann Stratton in Clifton Reynes. To them were born son Joel (b. 1817), Benjamin (b. 1820), Elijah (b. 1821) & Elisha (b. 1824) and daughter Ruth (b. 1832). Though Thomas lists a daughter Dorcas, no record of her has been located.
1839 John proceeds family and emigrates to Michigan perhaps through Canada
1841 We find a marriage between a Joseph Jones and Rachel Sheffield in 1841 in Cardington, Bedfordshire. Death registers for both individuals indicate that they were non-conformists (presumed Baptist)
1841 Thomas and presumed surviving family emigrate and arrive in the US (Jun 22)
n 18th of May, 1841, we see a Thomas Sheffield accompanied by his wife Ann(e) along with their three children, Elisha, Elijah & Ruth making their way from Bedfordshire bound for the New York. From London, they boarded a small sailing vessel named the ship Ontario and said goodbye to their native England.
It was presumed that John Sheffield preceeded the family as he was not listed on the 1841 manifest. As we see later, John rejoins the family sometime between 1860-1863 in Jefferson, WI having resided in Houghton, MI prior and married in Detroit before that. We find in his obituary that he came to the US in 1839. We see also on an 1896 voter registration, that brother Elijah curiously claims that he came to the US in 1839 (though he gives different years for his US naturalization 1840, 1846 and 1848). Elisha's obituary confirms the family came to the US in 1841.
Note that the birth year for Thomas & Ann is listed as 1792, not 1791. His wife's name is recorded as 'Anne' instead of 'Ann'. The birth years for the children match. We do not find other Sheffield families with similar names in Bedfordshire at this time.
The Sheffield family members manage to dock safely in New York on June 22nd 1841 as the ship Ontario's 151 passenger manifest records (Elisha states that he arrived on the 21st). Transatlantic crossings in the day were often arduous and long, as in this case in which the travel time was 35/34 days at sea per Elisha's entry.
Elisha (and the family presumably) make their way from New York to Detroit arriving on the 3rd of July, 1841.
We know that Elisha's half brother John Sheffield (b. 1812) came ahead of the family per his obituary in 1939 and find he'd settled in Detroit, Michigan by 1841 per his marriage to Margaret Anderson. Elisha indicates that (he) traveled by train from Detroit to Dexter, Michigan 60 miles further north arriving on July 5th two days later. (Though Elisha doesn't specify, we might presume the entire family made this journey together).
In 1844, (Elisha) leaves Michigan headed for Wisconsin and indicates the travel time to arrive at their destination takes 35 days (by road?). John and his family will remain in Michigan until after the death of his 1st wife Margaret in 1862.
It may be worth noting that we see in several instances starting with Dexter, MI that Elisha and some of his siblings lived in cities that were sympathetic to the abolitionist movement. It was also noted that the Seventh Day Baptists were involved with these efforts, as were the Methodists.
Michigan Territory (inc. part Wisconsin Terr.) ca. 1844
Although major Indian conflicts (see "bad axe massacre") had largely ended by the early 1830's, it seems there were still lingering problems in subsequent years as recounted by Franklin Southwick in his vivid memoir.
Drawing from notes he left, Elisha spends his youth (though an adult by 1842) in (Ft.) Madison, WI with the family. We find several land grants for Elijah in Milwaukee first in 1846 and thru subsequent years until 1852. Elisha follows Elijah garnering a land grant in 1849 for himself.
Between 1846-1852 is when Thomas' children acquire land grants in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and leave Iowa. An 1855 census, records a 'Thoams Sheffield' living in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, and Elisha as well.
By 1850, we see son Elijah (b. 1821) has married and is living in Albion, Dane County, WI. Elisha (b. 1824) and his new bride relocate to Koshkonong, Jefferson County, WI located in south central Wisconsin territory.
Map showing newly constructed train tracks in Wisconsin by 1859
1860 was likely a particularly bitter year for the family. Father Thomas dies suddenly along with Elijah's wife Ann Chapman and their young daughter Martha. John Sheffield's first wife Margaret Anderson dies too. Cornelia, Elijah's only surviving issue at the time, is sent to live with the Brown family nearby.
Non-Anglican parish records did not always end up in the hands of the local parish register. This may account for why we find so few records for Thomas and his ancestry, though numerous Sheffield families are shown throughout the region in Thomas' day.
From 1754 up to 1837 all marriages (with the exception of Quakers and Jews) had to take place in the parish church to be legitimate, and according to the vicar of St. Laud's in Sherington, spouses had to be baptized prior. Marriages of nonconformists during this period will normally have no indication of their nonconformity, though a marriage by license might be an indicator of nonconformity. (All early Sheffield marriages were by Banns)
Thomas Sheffield (b. 1791): COE (Marriage) St. Lauds, Sherington, Bucks 1811, COE (Marriage) - Clifton Reynes, Bucks 1817 COE (Baptism) before/on St. Lawrence, Chicheley, Bucks 1813. Baptist (before son Benj) - Cotton End, Cardington, Beds 1828
Elizabeth Pilgrim (b. 1791 d. 1815): COE (Marriage) - St. Lauds, Sherington, Bucks 1811, COE (Burial) - St. Laud's, Sherington, Bucks 1815
Ann Stratton (b. 1791): COE (Marriage) - St. Mary's, Clifton Reynes, Bucks 1791, Baptist (before son Benj) - Cotton End, Cardington, Beds 1828
John Sheffield (b. 1813): COE (Baptism) - St. Lawrence, Chicheley, Bucks (1812 &/or 1813), Baptist - Cotton End Baptist Congregation Hall Cardington 1835
Elijah Sheffield (b.1821): Methodist (Marriage) - Jefferson, WI 1848
Elisha Sheffield (b.1824): Advent faith, Seventh Day Adventist (Preacher) - Albion, WI 1852-~1862, Seventh Day Church of God (Preacher) 1862-1901
Benjamin Sheffield (b. 1828):
Ruth Sheffield Southwick (b.1832): Advent faith - Milton, Rock, WI (date unknown)
Dorcas Sheffield (N/A)
Thomas and Ann would've had to have been confirmed as Baptists before the birth of son Benjamin in 1828. We find evidence of an unidentified 'Sheffield' being confirmed in 1827 at the Cotton End Baptist Hall in Cardington. A 'Sheffield' present during a Cotton End Congregation meeting is recorded in 1828. Cotton End Baptist Church records the confirmation of a Thomas Sheffield in 1828 accompanied by an Elizabeth Daniels(though an unlikely match).
On Friday Jun 2nd, 1835, a John Sheffield registers with the Baptist Church at Cotton End. John Sheffield (b. 1812) would've been 23 at that time. In John's obituary ca 1900, it states that he was a Baptist. We see that Ruth Sheffield husband indicates that he is an Adventist, so we can presume Ruth was also. As all early marriages we officiated by a Justice of the Peace, we can't know their faith at that time.
The remaining descendants appear to also have been primarily practicing Baptists while many contemporary descendants follow the Seventh Day Church of God in which Thomas' son Elisha Stratton Sheffield was one of the early preachers and church organizers. In later years, the Sheffield's intermarry with other families who's roots trace back to the early Baptist beginnings in England. Several among them served as active ministers, reverends & missionaries.
The Cotton End Baptist Church was first formed in 1776 upon the Strict Communion plan which disallowed Baptism's at birth but made concessions after Mr. Thomas Taylor a Pedobaptist took charge as Deacon (Pedobaptists receive Baptism's) shortly afterwards which likely account for why Baptism records exist for both Benjamin and Ruth. It wasn't until 1832 (when Ruth was born) that the church formerly switched over to Open Communion.
US Census Collection
After the passing of Thomas, his wife Ann unlikely able to manage the farm alone, moves to their neighbor Milton Southwick's farm where she remains until her death in 1869.
Thomas Sheffield dies February 10, 1860 and was buried at Busseyville Cemetery in Sumner, Jefferson, WI cemetery alongside many other family members and acquaintances of that time. The family name 'Bussey' is connected through the marriage of Elijah and his wife Rebecca Bussey.
he headstone in the Busseyville cemetery confirms that when Thomas died in 1860, that he would've been born in 1791. Ann would be born in 1792 per the headstone. The 1860 census indicates that Thomas and Ann were both born in 1791, while the ship manifest claims they were born in 1792!. Thankfully a record for Ann Stratton's christening survives dated 24 Apr 1791, so we can presume both were born in 1791 despite these variances.
Bedford Borough Council Technical Information Services Report
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Thomas by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA.
Y-chromosome DNA test-takers in his direct paternal line on WikiTree: