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Elizabeth Gardiner

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Kingston, South Kingstown, Kings, Rhode Islandmap
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Elizabeth Gardiner Cottrell Tanner

By Randolph R. Beebe © Jan 2022.


The subject of this essay is Elizabeth (Unknown) Tanner (1688-aft.1752) and the purpose of this essay is to gather and analyze the presently available source information regarding Elizabeth in order to build a credible biography. An extended objective is to then examine the available evidence in order to determine if it is presently possible to deduce a most probable maiden surname, heretofore unknown, and her parental lineage.

Overview of prior research

There a number of published genealogies which provide an account of Elizabeth Unknown Gardiner Thurber H. Bierce Caroline Robinson George Tanner

Other, more recent research papers on Elizabeth Unknown may exist, but it is difficult to do a targeted search as her maiden surname remains a mystery, hence what presently does exist, is indexed to one of her two or possibly three husbands.

Open Questions

  1. What was her maiden name?
  2. Who were her parents?
  3. Who were her children? Did Elizabeth and Wm Tanner have any children?

Detailed Life Story

The date of birth and parents of Elizabeth Gardiner Cottrell Tanner of this profile are unknown. However, a reasonable estimate of her birth date may be asserted to be about 1688, based on the 1708 birthdate of her first child, Elizabeth Gardiner. Many family trees declare that she married, first, George Gardiner and Caroline Robinson in her "jjj" asserts that Elizabeth's first husband was George Gardiner II. However a critical examination of the historical evidence reveals that this is an assumption, and that the assumption is probably incorrect. What the record of evidence reveals, is that Elizabeth ___ of this profile had a daughter Elizabeth Gardiner, but the name of her father is never revealed in any of the n documents where Elizabeth and her daughter Elizabeth Gardiner are associated together. As colonial records rarely omit the name of the father or identify only the mother of a child; this genealogical artifact strongly suggests that Elizabeth (of this profile) was surnamed Gardiner, by birth, and that her daughter Elizabeth Gardiner was born out of wedlock. It then follows that the father of her first child may or may not have been surnamed Gardiner. This assertion of illegitimacy is further substantiated by the (date) Seventh Day Baptist (SDB) records where the membership rolls identify her as Elizabeth Gardiner Tanner, at date in time when she was married to William Tanner Sr. This Gardiner surname was added to the SDB rolls to provide identity differentiation between her and her step daughter-in-law Elizabeth (Reynolds) Tanner, wife of William Tanner Jr., both of whom were contemporaneously associated with the SDB. At this date, Elizabeth was the widow of John Cottrell and married to William Tanner Sr., thus if the SDB roll was using her married surname for identity clarification, she should have been identified as Elizabeth Cottrell Tanner; but, because Gardiner was used as her surname for identity clarification, the SDB record strongly supports the assertion that her maiden surname was indeed Gardiner. Therefore, as the analysis of the available evidence provides a much better-than-even probability that her maiden surname was Gardiner, though there is certainly room for debate on this assertion, this profile will opt to identify her as having been born Elizabeth Gardiner.

In her Gardiner Genealogy, Caroline Robinson cites a bequest in the dd will of George Gardiner II to a "granddaughter Elizabeth Gardiner, daughter of ____ deceased"; Robinson then deduces that she must have been the daughter of George's son George Gardiner III Assuming, for a moment, the assertion that she was born a Gardiner in the Narragansett region of Rhode Island, then her father would have also been a Gardiner and her father must have been born sometime prior to about 1670. This assumption limits the scope of possible fathers for Elizabeth to one of the sons of George Gardiner I, and as noted previously, George Gardiner II, in his will, named the daughter of Elizabeth, i.e. Elizabeth Gardiner, as his grandchild. in his will. Caroline Robinson explains this bequest as

The first child of Elizabeth Gardiner was born in 1708 and was also named Elizabeth Gardiner (II), and hence Elizabeth may have been married to the father of her first child, but if and only if his surname was Gardiner. Caroline Robinson speculates the father of this child was George Gardiner as Elizabeth Gardiner III was named as a granddaughter of George I, in his will. However, this granddaughter relationship would also if Elizabeth was a daughter to George, or if granddaughter Elizabeth was the child of his son George outside of a marriage relationship.

About four years after the birth of her first child, the father of Elizabeth Gardiner was out of the picture, (whether deceased or whether derelict in supporting an illegitimate daughter is unknown) because on Sept 5, 1712 Elizabeth was married to John Cottrell, Sr. John and Elizabeth Cottrell became the parents of three children, but in 1721 tragedy struck the family as her husband John Cottrell died an early death at the age of 39, and Elizabeth, now in her mid-thirties became a widowed mother of four minor children aged 4 to 14. In 1722 or 1723, William Tanner Sr. now a man sixty five years of age and also recently widowed having a household with at least six minor children with no mate to assist with their care, extended a proposal of marriage to Elizabeth Cottrell. This marriage instantly formed a household of at least twelve people, ie. William and Elizabeth, plus at least ten of their children.


The following is an account of the of the children of Elizabeth ____ Cottrell Tanner; she was the birth-mother of at least four children and the step-mother to at least another 12 children, as a result of her marriages to John Cottrell and William Tanner Sr. it is entirely possible and probable that she had other children not counted in the records as there appear to be significant gaps in the birth dates of her offspring; it is also worth noting that an examination of the records indicates that Elizabeth probably was of child-bearing age when she married William Tanner Sr. and it is possible, even probable, that she may have been the birth mother of one or more of his children:

  1. ) Child of Elizabeth Gardiner and an unknown father, probably George Gardiner III:
    1. ) Elizabeth (Gardiner) Bentley (abt.1708-); born 1708; m. John Bentley {Were there two Elizabeth Gardiners one married to a John Bentley and another married to John Cottrell Jr? more records needed.}
  2. ) Children of John Cottrell, Sr. and Elizabeth ____ Gardiner
    1. ) Mary (Cottrell) Tanner (1710-) married stepson Nathan Tanner (1710-bef.1752).
    2. ) Hannah (Cottrell) Clarke (1718-1808) m. Joshua Clarke (1717-1793).
  3. ) Step child by her marriage to John Cottrell Sr.:
    1. ) John Cottrell III (abt.1712-abt.1778) married Elizabeth Gardiner {Note: there appear to be two contemporary John Cottrells who married about this time, George Tanner asserts John Jr. married Elizabeth Gardiner his step sister, but other records say it was Elizabeth Gardiner dau. of Jeremiah Gardiner.}
  4. ) Children of William Tanner and Elizabeth ____ Gardiner Cottrell
    1. ) None. {Asserted without proof. Willliam and Elizabeth were married about 1722, This is means Wm would have been about 65 and Elizabeth would have been about 34. None of the birthdates nor identities of the youngest children of Wm Tanner have been established with any kind of certainty; therefore it is possible, even likely, that Elizabeth ____ Gardiner Cottrell Tanner may have been the mother of one or more of his youngest children.}
  5. ) Step-children by her marriage to Wm Tanner:
    1. ) William Tanner Jr. (abt.1686-aft.1757)
    2. ) Jane (Tanner) West (abt.1690-aft.1758)
    3. ) Benjamin Tanner (1692-1767)
    4. ) John Tanner (abt.1694-aft.1777)
    5. ) Mary (Tanner) Willette (bef.1696-)
    6. ) Avis (Tanner) Barber (1700-1777)
    7. ) Francis Tanner (1708-abt.1777)
    8. ) Nathan Tanner (1710-bef.1752) and son-in-law.
    9. ) Anna Tanner (1712-)
    10. ) Rebecca (Tanner) Brand (1714-)
    11. ) Elizabeth (Tanner) Berdick (1717-)
    12. ) Abigail Tanner (1719-)

Life events from Primary Records

The early life of the Elizabeth of this profile remains a mystery, as the only known and gathered (as of Jan 2022) primary records providing irrefutable factual information are associated with her adult life and a number of these records are from the North Kingstown, Rhode Island set of vital records were by damaged by fire, and the fire obliterated key information leaving important information gaps .


Elizabeth Gardinor is baptized into the SDB church on September 1705. [1] This is the first known record for Elizabeth and establishes that in 1705 she was either a Gardiner by birth, or that she had been married to a Gardiner by 1705, or both, that is to say she was born a Gardiner and also married to a Gardiner.

In, 1705, she is also shown on the membership roll of the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Newport, Rhode Island in Arnold V7. This may or may not mean that she was a resident of Newport at this time (Many members of the early Newport SDB church lived in Kingstown and Westerly.) However, IF she was of Newport on this date it would suggest she may have been a descendant of the Newport Gardiner family rather than the Gardiners of King;'s County. This opens the possibility that she may have been Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Gardiner of Swansea, Mass/Newport Rhode Island [2] Research other records show this Elizabeth Gardiner married a Thurston, how solid is the evidence?


There are two online derivative primary sources presently available which document the birth of Elizabeth Gardiner, the daughter of Elizabeth of this profile, They are as follows:

  1. ) Arnold's [3] Vital Record, Vol 5: records the birth of her daughter as follows: "Elizabeth Gardiner, daughter of Elizabeth ____ born 17 May 1708."
  2. ) Whereas Cole's History of King County [4] records this same event as: "Elizabeth Gardner, daughter of Elizabeth Gardner was born May 17th, 1708." So the question arises whether the original document includes the Elizabeth's surname as Gardiner, or did Cole make an assumption and add it to the text?

This document establishes that Elizabeth ___ or Gardiner became a mother on the seventeenth of May in 1708, and therefore there is a high probability that the Elizabeth of this profile was born on or before 1690. Colonial society was patriarchal and the birth records were nearly universal in naming the father of the child, frequently included the mother, but almost never omitted the name of the father and opting only for the name of the mother. It is possible the omission of the father's name is because he died prior to his daughter's birth, but when a birth record was recorded in this latter fashion, it was often unwritten, but understood "code" for an illegitimate birth. This record for Elizabeth and her daughter Elizabeth Gardiner is one of those rare exceptions, and though the record in and of itself is not proof that the birth was illegitimate, it provides circumstantial evidence that this may have been the case. Assuming illegitimacy is the correct interpretation of the event, then the Gardiner surname received by the daughter would have also been the maiden surname of her mother, Elizabeth. This does not preclude the father to have also been surnamed Gardiner, but the omission of the father's name was not accidental and provides a clear indication that there was something unusual about this birth, perhaps the father was deceased or perhaps he failed to uphold his moral duty to his daughter and the mother of his child. If the daughter was illegitimate, then the child's Gardiner surname is NOT an identity clue to link her to her father.

  • Elizabeth Gardiner appears as a charter member of the Westerly SDB in 1708, and her name continues to be identified as a member of this church through 1740. Assuming this SDB membership record is for the Elizabeth Gardiner who was baptized into the church in 1705 and who gave birth in 1708 to the daughter Elizabeth Gardiner (above); then if the birth of her daughter was illegitimate, one would expect to see this event recorded as a church discipline event in the letters and annals of the Church. In 2017, Janet Thorngate published the contents of the extant letters of this SDB church and while there are records of church disciplinary action for things such as failing to attend church gatherings, the SDB records are silent on the birth of this child. Furthermore, considering the rigor the church fathers used to pursue other much less onerous misdeeds of their flock at this point in time; the facts are that the church records are silent about what would have been overt fornication and beyond that, Elizabeth Gardiner was admitted as a charter member of the church in 1708, the year her daughter was born. Both of these facts affirm Elizabeth Gardiner must have been married when she gave birth to her daughter Elizabeth in 1708. This, of course, begs the question of why then wasn't the father named in the birth record of her child, with the best remaining answer being that the father was deceased at the time of the daughter's birth.


Elizabeth Gardiner is on the 1712 and 9 Sept 1712 membership rolls of the Westerly SDB.


The North Kingstown, Rhode Island Vital Records, by Arnold [3] also record the marriage of Elizabeth Gardiner and ____ Cottrell Sr., but, once again, fire damage to the North Kingstown records has obliterated important information including the marriage date:

  • ____ Cottrell married Elizabeth Gardiner on Dec ____ by William Hall

The context and information contained in this vital record provides a near certain correlation of this marriage to the Elizabeth of this profile; unfortunately fire damage to the date entry establishes the need for supplemental information in order to set a reasonable range of dates for this marriage. Elizabeth Gardiner is registered as Elizabeth Gardiner on the 9 Sept 1712 SDB membership roll and as Elizabeth Gardiner Cottrell in the 1718 roll, therefore, by concatenating the SDB membership data with this partial marriage record, it may be known that her marriage to John Cottrell could not have occurred prior to Dec 1712, nor later than Dec 1717. It should be possible to further narrow this range of marriage dates by analyzing the birthdates for the children of this Cottrell marriage. Unfortunately, the only child of this marriage with a known, reliable, and independently sourced birth date is Hannah (Cottrell) Clarke (1718-1808) whose tombstone establishes a 1718 date of birth. The will of John Cottrell Sr. names son John Cottrell Jr. as his executor and this assignment provides strong evidence (see below) that his son John Cottrell Jr. was not the child of Elizabeth, and the date of birth of John Cottrell Sr.'s daughter Mary is no more certain that this marriage date and thus of no value to narrow the date range of this marriage.


Elizabeth (Gardiner) Cottrell is on the SDB church membership roll, she is now identified as married to Cottrell affirming her marriage to John Cottrell occurred prior to this date.


In April of 1721 John Cottrell Sr., the husband of Elizabeth of this profile wrote his Last Will and Testament; Bierce (pg 97) [5] provides an abbreviated transcription of this document from which the following excerpt is quoted:

... "I give and bequeath to Elizabeth Cottrell wife 1/3 part of all my movable and furniture thereunto belonging. Give to my Daughter-in-law Elizabeth feather bed with furniture to the same, mare and one chair and the same movable estate I give to my two daughters (Mary) Cottrell and Hannah Cottrell. Give my son John Cottrell all my set of shoe makers tools and make him my executor and my wife to be my executrix..."

This document establishes the living heirs of John Cottrell Sr. on this date to be his wife Elizabeth (of this profile), his son John Cottrell Jr.; his daughters Mary and Hannah, and his step-daughter Elizabeth. Therefore, this document binds together the previous cited documents in that his wife Elizabeth was the mother of Elizabeth

John Cottrell Sr. names his son John Cottrell Jr. as a co-executor of his will and by doing so establishes that his son John Cottrell Jr. must have been at or close to twenty one years of age in 1721. Stated another way, John Cottrell Jr. was born around 1700 and therefore could NOT have been the son of Elizabeth (Gardiner) Cottrell. If John Cottrell Jr. was born in in 1712 as suggested in many family trees and secondary documents, he would have been only nine years of age in 1721 and totally unqualified to act as executor, and would NEVER have been named by his father as executor. Rather, this will establishes that John Cottrell Jr. must have been the son of John Cottrell Sr. by an earlier relationship; possibly the son of his first wife Mary Arnold but this too is doubtful as the present Wikitree date of birth for Mary Arnold infers she would have only been about 13 years of age in 1700, the date of birth inferred by the will of John Cottrell Sr. This opens the door to the possibility that John Cottrell Jr. may have been an illegitimate child, the son of John Cottrell Sr. and an unknown mother in their teen years.


Shortly after the death of her husband John Cottrell, Elizabeth Gardiner Cottrell was married to William Tanner in 1722 or 1723. Marriage to William Tanner Sr.


In her 1919 Gardiner Genealogy, The Gardiners of Narragansett, Caroline Robinson provides in note 47 on page 213 a narrative on the information she has been able to gather on Elizabeth ____ Gardiner of this profile. This note quotes from the last Will and Testament of George Gardiner II (1647-1724), in which he bequeaths the sum of £15 to a "granddaughter Elizabeth Gardiner, daughter of ____ deceased." Robinson does not provide a date for this probate record, but writes in her biography of George Gardiner II that he died in 1724. As of January 2022, a scanned image of the original George Gardiner II will document has not been found on the internet to enable cross-examination; but the work of Caroline Robinson has proven to be robust and there is little doubt that she examined the original document and accurately quoted it contents.


William Tanner is listed on the 1730 Census with a full house. Confirms the marriage with Elizabeth and the full-house.


William Tanner sets up his retirement and long term care plan for himself and his wife Elizabeth Gardiner Cottrell Tanner

On 25 August 1731, William Tanner, at the age of about 70, sets up his full retirement plan by gifting the balance, i.e. the northwestern half (60 acres), of his South Kingstown farm and his entire estate, in a set of deeds to his 21 year old son, Nathaniel, in exchange "for the more comfortable living and maintaining for me and my family in my old age." [2] (page 9). It is worth noting that both of these deeds were witnessed by William's son Francis Tanner and Isaac Sheldon, the son of John Sheldon (an adjacent neighbor by reason of Hall purchase). The reason William chose Nathan as the family caregiver in 1731 is unknown, but was likely based on the wisdom of a father in understanding the nature and character of his children. The 1730 census reveals that this transfer immediately placed Nathan in the position of providing for a household of nine people, though he had not yet married (he married his step-sister Mary Cottrell in 1734). In the end, it is very clear that William chose wisely, for even to his death Nathan Tanner continued to honor this agreement with his father; for in Nathan's [7] 1752 will it is found that he continues to care for his father's widow (Nathan's step-mother and mother-in-law), Elizabeth Gardiner Cottrell, with a bequest to her for an annual sum of £5, to be taken from the profit of his estate after his death. Finally, it should be noted that the acreage sum of the two gifted farms was 120 acres, or 20 acres more than cited in the 1693 Wm Tanner purchase deed; the explanation for this change is that the Committee for the disposal of the "vacant lands" changed the property boundaries in 1708, and this change appears to have benefited William Tanner with an extra 20 acres.


Step-son Nathan Tanner, marries Mary Cottrell his step sister and the daughter of Elizabeth


March 1738. William Tanner consents to a quitclaim deed for 25 acres belonging to the former husband of his wife, Elizabeth ____ Gardiner Cottrell Tanner for the benefit of his stepson, John Cottrell {III}, stepson of his wife Elizabeth and son of her former husband, John Cottrell II.


Elizabeth Gardiner Tanner appears in the 1740 membership roll of the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Westerly, Rhode Island.


Nathan Tanner step-son and son-in-law writes his last will and testament, leaves an income provision for his mother.

  • Give and bequeath to my Said mother, Elizabeth Tanner, ye Sum of five pounds in money, old tenor to be paid yearly During her life by my Executor, out of the profits of my Land.

These documents, then, form the basis from which subsequent genealogists have published secondary genealogies which attempt to interpret the information in these documents into a cohesive narrative. In general, most of the secondary genealogies have adopted the view that Elizabeth, of an unknown maiden surname, married first an unknown Gardiner, perhaps George, with whom she had a daughter Elizabeth; she married second John Cottrell with whom she had Hannah, Mary and John Jr. and finally, later in life, married William Tanner Sr. e.g.;

# George Tanner (1905)
# Caroline Robinson
  1. Bierce


The death date of Elizabeth Gardiner Cottrell Tanner is unknown; however, she is mentioned in the 15 Mar 1752 last will and testament of her stepson and son-in-law Nathan Tanner, clearly establishing that Elizabeth was alive when his will was written. Therefore it may be known that she died sometime after 15 Mar 1752. [6]

The Cottrell Family

  • Nicholas Cottrell patriarch of the family. His Feb 1680 Will names sons: Nicholas, John (ca 1650-ca 1709), Gershom, Elizer, and James. Daughters Mary, & Hannah. Wife Martha.

Genealogical Records

The following section of this profile provides detailed information found in the various cited sources. The purpose of this section is to provide the reader access to the information contained within the cited sources; to identify source data conflicts and identify the origin of data errors; and, finally, to provide a platform to analyze, cross-correlate, and comment on important aspects of the cited historical data record.

Vital Records

  1. ) North Kingstown Births; page 73; Elizabeth Gardiner, daughter of Elizabeth ____ born 17 May 1708.
  2. ) North Kingstown marriages; page 18; ____ Cottrell married Elizabeth Gardiner on Dec ____ by William Hall.
  3. ) North Kingstown Births; page 69; The North Kingstown Vital records do NOT include children for John and Elizabeth Cottrell; note that the NK records include vital records for both North and South Kingstown prior to 1722.

Marriage Records

  1. ) Some Early Marriages Recorded at South Kingston, R.I.; Page 285: Thomas Barber and Avis Tanner were married on the 18th day of April 1723 at South Kingston, RI. by Rowse Helme, Justice of the Peace
  2. ) Some Early Marriages Recorded at South Kingston, R.I.; Page 286: Francis Tanner and March Tosh were married February 26, 1728 at South Kingston, RI. by Rowse Helme, Justice of the Peace
  3. ) Some Early Marriages Recorded at South Kingston, R.I.; Page 286: William Tanner and Elisabeth Cottrell were married 1722[?]* at South Kingston, RI. by Rowse Helme, Justice of the Peace. *Only the tops of the last two digits visible.

Church Records

  1. ) First Sabbatarian Church of Hopkinton, ; Page 114: Tanners listed on the Hopkinton Sabbatarian Baptist Membership Roll: The dates are from the revised list of members at the time given.
    1. ) Charter Members 1708: William and Mary Jr. {Editorial these name entries have traditionally been interpreted as being William Tanner Sr. and Mary Babcock. However, as it is highly probable that Mary (Babcock) Tanner died at least a year prior to the birth of Francis, son of Wm and 3rd wife Elizabeth, in 3 July 1708; it follows that she was deceased prior to the 1708 Charter Membership date and this entry could not be for her. At present, (21 Sept 2019) a scanned image of the original membership document is not available for review; and this is important because if the original document is written as "William and Mary Tanner Jr.," then it would be certain that these charter members were William Tanner Jr. and his first wife Mary (Unknown) Tanner, rather than his father William Tanner Sr. and Mary Babcock. It seems intuitively obvious that Mary Jr. is an artifact of Arnold's transcription process as there have been zero observations of any use of the Jr. designation used with a female first name in thousands of reviewed profiles, not to mention that Jr. has no meaning in the context of female descendancy. As William Tanner Jr. was born in 1686, he would have been 22, fully of age for church membership and marriage in 1708; and it would also identify Mary ____ as his first wife. As a further argument that this Wm Tanner is Wm Tanner Jr., there is no record of an Elizabeth Tanner, the 1707-1719 third wife of Wm Tanner Sr. in the SDB rolls, but then Elizabeth Gardiner Tanner the fourth wife and widow (post 1730) of Wm Tanner Sr. appears on the roll in 1740 ten years after his death. }
    2. ) 5 Sept 1712: Benjamin, Mary Jr., Mary, William. {Editorial: based on the comments for the charter members: Benjamin, Mary and William {Jr.} would be the children of William & Mary (Babcock) Tanner Sr.; and Mary Jr. would be the first wife of William Tanner Jr. The assertion that Mary Jr. is the wife of Wm Tanner Jr. is made stronger being present in the 1712 roll, as the 20 Feb 1709 birth of Nathan Tanner, son of Wm Sr. and Elizabeth benchmarks with certainty the demise of Mary Babcock prior to this date, i.e. Mary Babcock was not alive to be on the church roll in 1712.}
    3. ) 1712: William Tanner, Mary Tanner Jr. "{William and Mary Tanner Jr.?}
      1. ) page 103: Elizabeth Gardiner (Charter member 1708, 1712, & 9 Sept 1712
    4. ) 1718: Benjamin Tanner, Mary, William, Jean. {Benjamin, Mary, William, Jean--is probably the Jane Tanner in the Soule source; children of Wm Tanner Sr. Note Mary Jr. first wife of William Tanner Jr. is missing from the church membership roll and presumed deceased.}
      1. ) page 103: Elizabeth (Gardiner) Cottrell.
    5. ) 1740: Benjamin, Mary, William, Elizabeth Gardiner, Joannah, Joannah (2nd), Joseph, Nathan. {Benjamin, Mary, Nathan, and William Jr., are children of William Tanner Sr. Elizabeth Gardiner Tanner, is very possibly the widow of William Tanner Sr. and John Cottrell, with a strong indication that her maiden name was Gardiner. Joannah, Joannah 2nd, and Joseph--Unknown}
    6. ) before 1750: Content (by her father John Maxson), Francis, ____ wife of Francis, Mary.
    7. ) July, 1768: Content, Mary.
  2. ) {'IMPORTANT EDITORIAL NOTE: In the Tanner listing in this SDBC membership record Elizabeth of this profile is identified as Elizabeth Gardiner Tanner. There are at at least x other women identified on this membership roll identified by this same by first name-second name-married name method in this SDBC directory. In every instance this second name may be demonstrated to be the maiden name of the person listed, therefore providing extremely strong circumstantial evidence that Elizabeth's maiden name was indeed Gardiner:
    1. ) Elizabeth Davis Brand: Elizabeth (Davis) Brand (1717-abt.1753)
    2. ) Tasey Clarke Burdick
    3. ) Dorothy Maxson Burdick
    4. ) Rebecca Brand Church Rebecca (Brand) Church (1710-aft.1741)
    5. ) Elizabeth Babcock Clarke
    6. ) Mary Burdick Clarke
    7. ) Elizabeth Lewis Crandall: Elizabeth (Lewis) Crandall (1717-bef.1772)
    8. ) Hannah Lewis Crumb: Hannah (Lewis) Crumb (1708-1793)
    9. ) Mary Crandall Langworthy: Mary (Crandall) Langworthy (1711-abt.1766)
    10. ) Mary Langworthy Lanphear: Mary (Langworthy) Lanphere (1718-)
    11. ) Mary Crandall Lewis
    12. ) Priscilla Crandall Lockwood
    13. ) Hannah Randall Maxson
    14. ) Elizabeth Brand Millard
    15. ) Eunice Greenman Niles
    16. ) Mary Maxson Stillman Mary (Maxson) Stillman (1718-1797)
    17. ) Rebecca Larkin VArs Rebekah (Larkin) Vars (1687-1778)
    18. ) Elizabeth Maxson Davis

  • Secondary Transcription of a Primary Source, Jane F. Fiske, Rhode Island Roots, Vol 10, No. 1, [9] Data Extract:
  1. ) 1730 Census, South Kingstown, R.I.; page 8: 1730 South Kingstown enumerations:
    1. ) William Tanner, Whites: 9, Blacks: 0, Negroes: 0.
    2. ) Benja Tanner, Whites: 11, Blacks: 0, Negroes: 0.

Death Records

Caution: As of January 2022, this find a grave profile concatenates the identities of Elizabeth (Colgrove?) Tanner and Elizabeth (Gardiner?) Cottrell Tanner into a single person and consequently is a significant source of confusion and misinformation. The Find A Grave profile does cite other source material and provides a photograph of the field stone memorial for E. T.; which may be the burial place for William Tanner's third or fourth wife both named Elizabeth. However, this FAG profile and biography has the family structure completely conflated and confused. William Tanner Sr. was married to Elizabeth (Gardiner?) Cottrell after her husband, John Cottrell, died about 1721. This profile has been cited to pinpoint the origin of a common genealogical mis-information source which is adding errors and confusion to many private family trees.

  • Primary Source, (burial); Secondary Source (biography), Find A Grave Index [10] Data Summary:
  1. ) Find A Grave: Memorial #77357403: Elizabeth (Colgrove) Tanner was born in 1688 at Kingston, Washington County, Rhode Island, USA., and she died 10 Nov 1745 (aged 56–57) at Kingston, Washington County, Rhode Island, USA. {Mostly incorrect or asserted without evidence. There is zero evidence that Elizabeth (____) Cottrell Tanner was born nee Colgrove; there is circumstantial evidence to suggest she may have been a Gardiner by birth. The FAG date and place of birth appear to be probable, but they are both postulates based on other information; no reliable sources have been found to substantiate these assertions. Likewise no reliable information has been found to substantiate the 10 Nov 1745 death date or place assertion. However, it is known that she was alive at the time the will of her son-in-law and stepson Nathan Tanner was written on 15 Mar 1752 at South Kingstown, so the 1745 date of death is plausible, but not substantiated.}
    1. ) Marriage. Elizabeth married John Cottrell (1682–1721) in 1712, and then to William Francis Tanner (1657–1740) in 1723. {Correct, but it is highly unlikely Wm. had the middle name Francis.}
    2. ) Children:
      1. ) Mary (Cottrill) Tanner (1715–1755)
      2. ) Hannah (Cottrell) Clark (1718–1808)
  2. ) BURIAL. Elizabeth (Colgrove) Tanner {Incorrect, maiden name was NOT Colgrove.} was buried in the Tanner Cemetery at South Kingstown, Washington County, Rhode Island, USA. {This burial assertion may or may not be correct, but probably is incorrect. As William Tanner was married to two women named Elizabeth, this memorial stone may be for his third wife Elizabeth Unknown, possibly Colgrove, or his fourth wife Elizabeth Unknown, possibly Gardiner. It seems most probable that this memorial is for his third wife because it would be more probable for a remarried widow, e.g. Elizabeth Cottrell, to be buried near the husband of her children, and in this case that husband would have been John Cottrell.}
    1. ) Find a Grave Notes: "Married William Tanner in 1707. Daughter of Francis and Anna of Westerly, RI in South Kingstown. {Incorrect: Elizabeth, possibly Colgrove, was married to Wm Tanner ca. 1707; Elizabeth (Gardiner?) Cottrell was married John Cottrell in 1712, then to Wm Tanner about 1723; as stated in the FAG spouse data fields.} Elizabeth was married 3 times. {May or may not be correct, the best evidence available indicates that Elizabeth was NOT married to the father of her first child.} 1st marriage to Gardiner, 2nd to John Cottrell, Sr. and then to William Tanner. Elizabeth had 3 daughters: Elizabeth Gardiner who married John Cottrell Jr. Mary Gardiner who married Nathan Tanner; and Hannah Cottrell who married Joshua Clark. (1910 Tanner book. pg. 8) {Correct for the Elizabeth (Gardiner?) Cottrell Tanner of this Wikitree profile.} Elizabeth and William Tanner had 3 children: Francis Tanner, and Nathan Tanner. {Incorrect: the Elizabeth (Cottrell) Tanner of this (Wikitree) profile was married to John Cottrell and having babies with him when Francis and Nathan Tanner, sons of Wm. Tanner, were born.} Elizabeth was buried in the cemetery on their farm in S. Kingstown. {Probably incorrect; this memorial stone is more likely to have been for the third wife of Wm. Tanner.} Her stone was photographed 10/2011. "
    2. ) [Elizabeth Tanner Tombstone Photo:] Inscription, "E. T."

Probate Records

  1. ) Last Will and Testament of Nathan Tanner: In the name of God, Amen, ye 15th day of March AD 1752. I Nathan Tanner of Westerly, in ye County of Kings, County and Colony of Rhode Island, yeoman: Being Crassy? of body, but of perfect mind and memory, Thanks be given Unto God for the Same...
    1. ) Item: I give & bequeath to Mary Tanner my Dearly Beloved wife all my movable estate (after expenses) forever, likewise one third part of ye profits of my Land, together with ye best Room of ye house During her Life.... Mary Tanner (wife) and David Tanner (Son) Executrix and Executor.
    2. ) Item: Give and bequeath to my Said mother, Elizabeth Tanner, ye Sum of five pounds in money, old tenor to be paid yearly During her life by my Executor, out of the profits of my Land. {Note his mother cited here is Elizabeth (Gardiner Cottrell) Tanner; she was his mother in the sense of 1) step mother, 2) mother-in-law, and 3) mother who cared for him during his teen years; but not his birth mother who died prior to 1722/3. Nathan uses the term mother in an inclusive sense as did Francis with regard to his brother Benjamin in his will. Furthermore, this bequest affirms that his father William Tanner Sr. was deceased (prior to 15 March 1752) and not present to provide for his widow, and that Elizabeth Gardiner Cottrell Tanner was very much alive as late as 15 March 1752.}
    3. ) Item: I give and bequeath to David my beloved Son (wearing apparal) and a parcel of Land...To be under his control until such time as sons Nathan and Abel reach 21 year, then portioned to them each a third.
    4. ) Item I give and bequeath unto Nathan Tanner my beloved son ye North part of ye Remainder of my old Farm, the division line....
    5. ) Item: I give and bequeath unto my beloved son Abel Tanner all the Remaining part of my Land, it being the south part of my Farm With buildings & Fence and containing by Estimation One Hundred Twenty Acres, be it more or less.
    6. ) Item: I bequeath all my Books to my Wife and three Sons to be equally divided Amongst them.
    7. ) Item: my Will is that if either of my Sons should not Live to the age of Twenty One years or should leave us before, That his part Shall be equally Divided between the other two Sons, their heirs and assigns forever.
    8. ) Signed by witnesses: John McArtor, Frances Tanner, Samuel Laekia, and Joshua Clarke (1717-1793).
    9. ) Witnesses John McArtor, Frances Tanner, and Joshua Clarke (1717-1793) appear before the Town Council 27 April 1752 and testify that the document was authentic, the will is proved and recorded.

Published Genealogical Information

Note the publication date shown for each of the cited genealogies. This date establishes the availability date of the publication for subsequent and hence establishes a hierarchy of who influenced who in the various ensuing narratives. That is to say the sequence of publication is important to establish who and when the various genealogical assertions and guesses where introduced into the biography narrative for Elizabeth Gardiner Cottrell Tanner.

  1. ) 1910 Tanner Genealogy; Page 6:
  2. ) 1910 Tanner Genealogy; Page 10:
    1. ) Inventory and disposal of Wm Tanner Estate: An inventory of the estate of William Tanner of South Kingstown, Rhode Island is presented, noting that the inventory was "Taken and disposed of ye twenty-third day of December Anno Domini 1730." {This document has all of the earmarks of a probate record and, if so, benchmarks the death of Wm Tanner at or just slightly prior to this date. However the 23 Dec 1730 is the same date as the land deed transferring land from Wm to son John (shown below). So how could he sign a land deed if he was deceased. }
    2. ) Land deed to son John: Next a land deed transferring ownership of 75 acres of land from Wm Tanner to John Tanner, Blacksmith, on 23 Dec 1730, signed by Wm and Elizabeth Tanner and witnessed by Francis Tanner, and Isaac Sheldin is presented.
    3. ) Seventh Day Baptist Church Membership Roll: Also the 1910 text provides a full account of the information in the membership roll of the Westerly (Hopkinton) Seventh Day Baptist church [8] and asserts that William Tanner was a founder and constituent member of the SDB Church. {Editorial note: refer to the SDB membership roll data extraction [8]; Analysis of the SDBC membership data suggests the members were Wm Tanner Jr. and his siblings, rather than William Tanner Sr.}
  3. ) 1910 Tanner Genealogy; Page 14-15: Plan of the William Tanner burial place in South Kingstown RI.
    1. ) The burial place of the early Tanners is on the original farm owned by William Tanner Sr. and is in an open field near the "Great River" and a short distance from the walled grave yard. The most north westerly grave is that of William Tanner, marked with a rude granite field stone, engraved with the letters W. T. Adjacent are two graves marked M. T and E. T. {Note: only two of Wm's four wives are noted to be buried here. There is no grave identified for ___ (Tibbitts) Tanner and there is only one Elizabeth Tanner grave. It is likely that Elizabeth Cottrill Tanner was buried at the side John Cottrill (location unknown) as it is customary for a wife to be buried beside the husband with whom she bore children.} At the foot of these graves are four small graves, probably the children of William Tanner as the custom was to bury young children at the foot of their parent's graves. {From the list of children, having no adult records are Anna, Abigail, Rachael, and Dorcas. Perhaps buried here}
    2. ) Eastward of these short graves are three graves, the middle one marked J. T., the one to the right indistinct, but may be J.T., and the one on the left clearly S. T. These are undoubtedly the graves of John Tanner, son of William, and his first and second wives, Jean and Susannah.
    3. ) About sixteen paces west of the northwest corner of the walled enclosure and about twenty three paces to the north are the graves of Josias Tanner, and at the right one marked A.T., Amy Tanner, and at the left one of the one marked J.T., is one marked P.T for Phebe Tanner, the wives of Josias. {The detailed description of locating graves by a number of paces from a walled enclosure provides powerful evidence that the author George Tanner visited this graveyard and that he made a detailed record of his observations from the time of his visit. It also affirms that he was physically present in South Kingstown to collect genealogical evidence from town records.}
  • 1919: Secondary source, Robinson, Caroline Elizabeth. The Gardiners of Narragansett:, Providence, Rhode Island, 1919. Pages 6, 213.
  • Secondary Source, Caroline Elizabeth Robinson, The Gardiners of Narragansett [12] Data Extract:
  1. ) Gardiner Genealogy; page 17: George Gardiner (abt.1670-bef.1716) (32), son of George Gardiner Jr. (1647-1724), married and had a daughter:
    1. ) Elizabeth Gardiner (157); who was baptized in 1725, then as an adult. She was mentioned in her grandfather's will. She married John Bentley, and lived in Hopkinton. (see Note 47.)
  2. ) Gardiner Genealogy; Notes, page 213: Note 47. Elizabeth Gardiner.
    1. ) In the will of George Gardiner, 2, the sum of £15 was given to "granddaughter Elizabeth Gardiner, daughter of ____ deceased." It is almost certain that this Elizabeth Gardiner was a daughter of George Gardiner 3. (George, 2; George, 1). George Gardiner, 3, married before 1705 Elizabeth (possibly Cottrell). They had a daughter, Elizabeth, said to have been born 17 May 1708. She married, 30 May 1727 John Bentley. On 26 Oct 1730, when Mrs. Bentley must have reached the age of more than twenty one years, she and her husband, John, deeded to Isaac Gardiner "one hundred acres being all that tract of land our honored grandfather gave said wife by deed dated (Oct. 19) 1709, and signed by our grandfather George G____." About 1712 George Gardiner, 3, died and before 1718, his widow married a Cottrell (perhaps her cousin). She is almost certainly the Elizabeth Cottrell who was baptized into the Seventh Day Baptist Church, at Newport, in 1705, and who, in 1718, is called "Elizabeth Gardiner, alias Cottrell," being the wife of John Cottrell. In his will, proved 1721, John Cottrell mentions his "daugher-in-law {i.e. stepdaughter) Elizabeth ____" (name burned away), meaning, doubtless, Elizabeth Gardiner, who became Mrs. Bentley. After the death of John Cottrell, his widow, about 1722, married third William Tanner.
  1. ) Bierce Genealogy; Page 97: John Cottrell, son of John, b. 22 March 1682. Married 1 Feb 1708/9 Mary Arnold, daughter of Oliver and Phebe (Cook) Arnold, of Jamestown, RI born 10 March 1687; died 1710. His second marriage was to Elizabeth {____} Gardiner, widow, who had a daughter Elizabeth Gardiner by her previous marriage. Elizabeth (Gardiner) Cottrell, then married for her third husband, William Tanner in 1722.
    1. ) Children of John Cottrell and Elizabeth ____ Gardiner:
      1. ) John Cottrell; b. ca. 1712; m, 1731 Elizabeth Gardiner (b. 26 Nov 1714), dau. of Jeremiah and Grace Lawton Gardiner
      2. ) Mary Cottrell, b. 1715, married Nathan Tanner, 28 May 1734.
      3. ) Hannah Cottrell, b. 1719 married Joshua Clarke pastor of the Hopkinton SDB. Buried in SDB minister's circle.
  2. ) Bierce Genealogy; Page 97: Transcription of the will of John Cottrell III (husband of Elizabeth of this profile) proved April 1721. Will is from North Kingston Probate book six pages 59, 60. Quote verbatim from Bierce:
    1. ) "Yeoman being of sound mind and memory and therefore--mortality of my body and knowing for all men come to Dye Do make this my Last will and Testament that Principaly and First of all I Give my soule to the hand of God that my body I recommend to the earth to the Decent Christian Burial at the Discresion of my Executor and Executress hereafter named touching such worldly estate where Pleased God to Bless me in this life, my Debts and Funeral Charges Paid, I give, dispose of the same in the following manner. I give and bequeath to Elizabeth Cottrell wife 1/3 part of all my movable with furniture there-unto belongin. Give to my Daughter-in-law Elizabeth feather bed with furniture to the same, mare, and one chair and the same movable estate I give to my two daughters (Mary) Cottrell and Hannah Cottrell. Give to my son John Cottrell all my set of shoe makers tools and make him my executor and my wife to be my executrix of this my last will and testament. Ratifying and confirming this to be my last will and Testament in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal day and year first above written. mark of John Cottrell.
  3. ) Bierce Genealogy; Page 98: March 1738. William Tanner consents to a quitclaim deed for 25 acres belonging to the former husband of his wife, Elizabeth ____ Gardiner Cottrell Tanner for the benefit of his stepson, John Cottrell {III}, son of his wife Elizabeth and her former husband, John Cottrell II.

2017. Secondary source derived from primary source information. Janet Thorngate; Baptists in North America, Vol III; Newport, Rhode Island , Seventh Day Baptists,[1] Data:

  1. ) page 99; 11 July 1705 minutes from the church meeting at the home of Benjamin Burdick; and as Benjamin Burdick is included in the initial 1708 church membership roll, it stands to reason that this meeting was in Kings County.
    1. ) ... Elizabeth gardinor was baptized September 1705.
  2. ) page 185. Elizabeth Gardner included as a 19 Oct 1708 member.

2022. Secondary Source, Randolph R. Beebe, Cross Reference: Hopkinton SDBC members to Wikitree Profiles; Wikitree free space publications, Jan 2022.

  1. ) There are x Hopkinton SDBC membership entries which use three name identification, for certain female members, including Elizabeth Gardiner of this essay. Of these x; y have wikitree profiles with sufficient source documentation to affirm that the clerk for the the SDBC were using a first name - maiden surname - current married surname format for these particular entries. Therefore, this document provides exceedingly strong circumstantial evidence that Gardiner was Elizabeth's maiden surname as well as her married name by her first husband.

Research Notes

  1. ) The following definitions and syntax conventions apply to the preceding text of this profile:
    1. ) A Primary Source contains data that was recorded by the person in the profile; or by someone known to or with first hand knowledge of that person, during the person's lifetime, death or within two generations thereafter.
    2. ) A Secondary Source is a genealogical reference created as the result of a extensive study of available source material and it provides some evidence of the source documentation used to generate the text data.
    3. ) A Tertiary Source is a genealogical data source which is a collection of genealogical information that does not cite Primary or Secondary information sources, and the data may be factual or hearsay.
    4. ) Braces {Editorial Note Example} are used to insert editorial comments; that is to say, information or clarification that is not contained in the original, cited source material.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Thorngate, Janet; Baptists in North America, Vol III; Newport, Rhode Island , Seventh Day Baptists, Mercer University Press; Macon, GA and the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society; 2017. page 99
  2. Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 24 January 2022), memorial page for Elizabeth Carr Gardner (1651–8 Dec 1697), Find a Grave Memorial ID 207858631, citing South Gardner Cemetery, Swansea, Bristol County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by S Clark (contributor 49190271) .
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Arnold, James N., Editor of the Narragansett Historical Register, Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1636-1850, Providence, RI., Narragansett HIstorical Publishing Co., 1894. Twenty one Volume set of Early Rhode Island Vital records compiled by from James Arnold. Available at:
    1. ) Vital Record of Rhode Island. 1636-1850, Volume 5. Washington County--Title page
    2. ) required Title page at Ancestry
  4. Cole, J. R.; History of Washington and Kent counties, Rhode Island, Title Page 1889. History of Washington and Kent Counties; Page 489: Elizabeth Gardner, daughter of Elizabeth Gardner was born May 17th, 1708. {Editorial Comment; the absence of a named father in these birth records implies the daughter was born out of wedlock; also note that Cole adds the surname Gardiner to the mother in his transcription of the record. This surname may or may not have been extant in the original record; Arnold's record suggests Cole assumed her surname was Gardiner.}
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bierce, Thurber H., and Cottrell, Lisle; Ancestors in the United States of Byron H. Bierce and his wife Mary Ida Cottrell of Cortland County, New York, New Jersey, New York, No Publisher, 1962.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Tanner, Nathan; Last Will and Testament of Nathan Tanner of Westerly, Kings Co., Rhode Island, Westerly, Rhode Island Town Records, 15 March AD 1752
  7. Scott, Henry Edwards, Editor; The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol. 67, Published by the Society, Boston, 1913. Public Domain. Available on line at:
    1. ) The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol. 67, Title Page, and
    2. ) The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol. 67, Title Page
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Arnold, James A., Rhode Island, Vital Extracts, 1636-1899, Vol 10, Town and Church Published under the Auspices of the General Assembly, Providence, R.I., Narragansett Historical Publishing Co., 1898.
  9. Fiske, Jane Fletcher; Rhode Island Roots, Vol 10, No. 1, "1730 Census, South Kingstown, R.I.," a quarterly publication of the Rhode Island Genealogical Society, Warwick, RI., March 1984. Available here, by membership only
  10. Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 12 January 2022), memorial page for Elizabeth Colgrove Tanner (1688–10 Nov 1745), Find a Grave Memorial ID 77357403, citing Tanner Cemetery, South Kingstown, Washington County, Rhode Island, USA ; Maintained by M Tanner (contributor 47588861) .
  11. Tanner, Rev George C. DD; William Tanner, Sr. of South Kingstown, Rhode Island and His Descendants; Faribault, Minn., Self published by the author, 1910 revised and updated edition. Public Domain
    1. ) Also available at Tanner Genealogy; at Family Search, Title Page:
  12. Robinson, Caroline E. The Gardiners of Narragansett: being a genealogy of the descendants of George Gardiner, the colonist, 1638, Providence, Rhode Island, 1919. (Public Domain), The Gardiners of Narragansett -- Title Page

Other Sources

page 56.

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