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English origins of Benjamin Hammond of Yarmouth, Sandwich, and Rochester

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 1643 to 1703
Location: Massachusetts Bay Colonymap
Surname/tag: hammond
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I've been trying to sort out the interconnected sources regarding the origins of Benjamin Hammond of Yarmouth, Sandwich, and Rochester, Mass., in records from 1643 to 1703. Here's what I've come up with so far:

  • The granddaddy of all sources is a private Memorandum Book kept by Captain Elnathan Hammond (1703-1793), grandson of Benjamin, written roughly between 1755-1781, excerpted in NEHGR 30 (1876).

Unfortunately, in his book, Elnathan reports at least two things as fact (enthusiastically, in great detail) that we now know to be wrong:

  1. That Elizabeth was sister of Sir William Penn. Disproved 1900 in NEHGR 54.
  2. That Rev. John Lothrop was talking about Benjamin's mother when he wrote, "Elizabeth Hammon, my Sister" in church records in Scituate in 1636. Disproved 1995 by Anderson: Lothrop was writing about a different Elizabeth Hammond, unrelated to Benjamin.

Claim 2 creates a further problem, since Elnathan appears to be the original source for the claim that Elizabeth, Benjamin, and his three sisters sailed on the Griffin: "in the same ship or vessel with that worthy Minister Mr. John Lothrop". We now know Lothrop wasn't their minister, and the Elizabeth Hammond known by Rev. Lothrop was a different person, so it seems nearly impossible that any Hammonds who sailed with Lothrop (if there were any) could have been related to Elnathan's family.

Here are the major sources on Benjamin that I know of, in chronological order because that matters:

Both of these are based on Elnathan's book and reproduce his two now-disproven claims. Roland does an otherwise thorough job sorting out the Lavenham/Watertown Hammonds from Benjamin's family whom he calls "William of London". Also, Roland Hammond states that there were no records kept of daughters in the famous Penn family, i.e., nothing to disprove Elnathan, as of 1894.

Uh-oh. Penn baptism records found, including daughters, no Elizabeth.

F.S. Hammond acknowledges that the famous-Penns is disproved, but says, "It is probable that her name was Elizabeth Penn, however, as there exists no satisfactory reason for doubting the general accuracy of the record kept by Capt. Elnathan Hammond and his father."

  • Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Volume 2, G-O. Boston: New England Historical and Genealogical Society, 1995, pp. 853-4.

This is the profile for the Lavenham/Watertown Hammonds, and Anderson shows that Rev. Lothrop's 1636 reference to "Elizabeth Hammon, my sister" was referring to a member of the Watertown family, not Benjamin's mother.

  • There's a Genealogy of the Family of Horatio Hammond which I haven't seen; he's apparently descended from the Lavenham/Watertown Hammonds.

Here's the remaining problem. I've looked for sources other than Elnathan to corroborate any of the following claims and I cannot find any - they all go back to Elnathan one way or another:

  • That Benjamin's parents were named William and Elizabeth
  • That Elizabeth's maiden name was Penn or Paine or Payne
  • That they were from London (and "left a good estate" there)
  • That Benjamin had sisters Elizabeth, Martha and Rachel
  • That they sailed on the Griffin
  • That Elizabeth and the sisters came to New England at all
  • That Elizabeth died in Boston and was buried there in 1640

I'm happy to trust Captain Elnathan on matters that occurred during his lifetime, but the second-hand tales of his grandparents who died in his infancy, and his great-grandparents who died decades before his father, their grandson, was even born, I'm much less inclined to accept on the Captain's word alone given the errors. It sounds more like a mythology than a genealogy.

In conclusion, I think we do not know the names of Benjamin Hammond's parents, and we do not know when or from whence in England he came.

Finally, in my searchings, I found a hint in Anderson:

  • Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Volume 2, G-O. Boston: New England Historical and Genealogical Society, 1995, p. 1280.

John Hardy, who arrived 1634, had a servant named Benjamin Hammon. Benjamin was involved in a court case (presumably in Salem) in 1640 and as a result was sentenced to serve Hardy for an additional year. F.S. Hammond reports the first record of Benjamin is found in Yarmouth in 1643. Yarmouth is not really near Salem, so it's tenuous, but the timing makes it interesting.

Originally posted as an answer on G2G, 25 Sep 2014.

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