Riggs #7440

Edward Riggs (1589-1672)

Born in Roydon, Essex, England.  Arrived in Massachusetts in 1633 and later settled in Milford, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey and

English St George flag animationElizabeth Holmes (1595-1635)

Born in Nazeing, Essex, England.  Arrived in Massachusetts in 1633 and died in 1635.

Riggs #7440

 

English Origins:

Researchers have done a significant amount of work to identify the English family of my immigrant ancestor Edward Riggs (1589-1673).  More than one plausible theory has been advanced in the published literature.  Much evidence points to origins in the area of Roydon and Nazeing in Essex, England, but there is also evidence to support connections to the region of Hawkhead, Lancashire.  The argument for Hawkshead origins is supported by DNA evidence of a familial relationship between the descendants of Edward and descendants of Thomas Riggs of Hawkshead who was in Gloucester, Massachusetts by about 1658 (refer to the work of Anderson and Smith, citied below).  However, the theories are not necessarily contradictory, as Edward (or an ancestor, i.e. father or grandfather, for example) may have migrated from Hawkshead to Essex prior to Edward’s emigration to America from that location.

Nazeing is a village in west Essex bordering on the County of Hertfordshire, and just north of the town of Waltham Abbey. The parish church, dedicated to All Saints, is built on a headland on the northern boundary of the parish some distance from the main part of the village, and dates from the 12th century. Externally the building is of flint and rubble, patched with brick and partly plastered. The early 16th century tower is of red brick with blue diamond shaped patterns on the south face the embattled top is reached by a stair turret. From the top there is a splendid view over Nazeing towards Hertfordshire. The name of Nazeing appears in the Domesday Book as “Nassingham”. The original Saxon settlement was probably near the church. Both Nazeing and its church were closely associated with Waltham Abbey. There is a strong American connection with Nazeing. In 1631 the Pilgrim Fathers sailed to New England in ‘Lyon’. Among them was John Eliot (1604-1690) “The Indian Apostle.”

Nazeing is a village in west Essex bordering on the County of Hertfordshire, and just north of the town of Waltham Abbey. The parish church, dedicated to All Saints, is built on a headland on the northern boundary of the parish some distance from the main part of the village, and dates from the 12th century. Externally the building is of flint and rubble, patched with brick and partly plastered. The early 16th century tower is of red brick with blue diamond shaped patterns on the south face the embattled top is reached by a stair turret. From the top there is a splendid view over Nazeing towards Hertfordshire. The name of Nazeing appears in the Domesday Book as “Nassingham”. The original Saxon settlement was probably near the church. Both Nazeing and its church were closely associated with Waltham Abbey. There is a strong American connection with Nazeing. In 1631 the Pilgrim Fathers sailed to New England in ‘Lyon’. Among them was John Eliot (1604-1690) “The Indian Apostle.”

Jared L. Olar, on his RootsWeb page [this link is not working as of 4 Mar 2016], includes a good summary of the state of our knowledge of the English origins of the various Riggs families that settled in America in the early 17th century:

The “Riggs” surname is of English origin, and etymologically “Riggs” is the same as the word “ridge.”  Going back to the Middle Ages, persons or families in England who dwelled at or near a line of hills or a ridge would come to be surnamed “Rigg,” “Rigge,” “Riggs,” “Rigges,” “Ridges,” “Ryges,” “Ryggys,” or one of the other numerous spelling variations of this name.  Consequently, the name is rather common in England, and can also be found in Scotland and Ireland – of course, most of these families are not related to each other at all.  When England began to colonize North America beginning in the 1600s, several Riggs families migrated to Massachusetts and other English colonies.  One of those families came from Nazeing Parish, Essex, England, and settled at Roxbury near Boston in the 1600s, later moving to Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York[1].  Another Riggs family came around the same time from Hawkshead, Lancashire, England, and settled in Gloucester, Massachusetts, later moving to Maine.  A third Riggs family first appears in history in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  Remarkably, DNA tests of the Y chromosome of male descendants of these three families have established that the Nazeing Riggs family, the Hawkshead Riggs family, and the Prince George’s County family were cousins in the male line.

To learn more about the Riggs surname and Riggs genealogy, see the website of Alvy Ray Smith, FASG, whose research represents the latest and best study of the Nazeing, Hawkshead, and Prince George’s County Riggs families.[2]

Geoff Riggs has very plausibly argued that our immigrant ancestor Edward Riggs (1589-1672) was a son of Richard Riggs (a.k.a. Richard Miles), son of Miles Riggs of Roydon Parish, Essex, adjacent to Nazeing Parish.[3]  I am inclined towards that hypothesis, on account of the geographical proximity of Nazeing and Roydon and in consideration of suggestive onomastics.  However, Alvy R. Smith and Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, have proposed alternate hypotheses that would connect Edward Riggs of Nazeing with the Hawkshead Riggs family, with whom the Nazeing family is now known to share a common male ancestor.  Thomas Riggs (1633-1722), son of Robert Riggs (or Rigge) of Hawkshead Parish, Lancashire, came to Massachusetts circa 1656 and settled in Gloucester.  There is no evidence, nor any reason to believe that Edward and Thomas knew they were cousins or… ever met, and in truth their kinship might have been a few degrees apart.  Smith and Anderson have proposed that our ancestor Edward Riggs could have been the Edward Rigge, baptized 6 May 1593 in Hawkshead, Lancashire, son of Richard Rigge of Hawkshead. Alternatively, they suggest that our Edward could have been another Edward Rigge, baptized 25 July 1594 in Hawkshead, son of James Rigge of Hawkshead.[4]  The surname of Rigge or Riggs appears very frequently in Hawkshead from the start of the parish registers there in 1568, whereas the Riggs surname is not as common in the Nazeing and Roydon areas of Essex, which suggests that perhaps our Edward or his recent ancestors moved to Essex from Lancashire at some point.

In addition to the proven genetic kinship of the Nazeing and Hawkshead families, Smith has shown that a third Riggs family in the United States – the family of James Riggs (circa 1662-circa 1744) of Prince George’s County, Maryland – is yet another branch of this same Riggs family.  Earlier Riggs genealogists had suggested that James Riggs may have been a descendant of Edward Riggs of Nazeing, but the results of y-DNA testing indicate that James Riggs was genetically closer to Thomas Riggs of Hawkshead than he was to Edward Riggs.  Consequently, James must have been either a descendant of Thomas Riggs or else was closely related to Thomas in the male line.[5]

Although the genetic kinship of the Nazeing, Hawkshead, and Prince George’s County families has been established, we cannot at this time show how these three Riggs families were connected (and likely may never be able to do so).

The Riggs Family Surname Study[6] includes source notes in brackets, such as “[S1]”. Refer to explanations located at — > Source Notes for the Immediate Descendants of Miles Riggs of Roydon.  These notes are posted here with gratitude to the Riggs Family Surname Study.  Much of the material that follows is the property (© 1999-2002) of Geoff Riggs [as the RIGGS Surname Study] and other original contributors.  Per the legal notice of the website of the Riggs Family Surname Study, this information may be exchanged between other researchers BUT must not be sold in any form whatsoever (intellectual property rights reserved).

I have included citations from this resource for many of the relevant documents, in order to assist anyone who wishes to track down references and personally check the sources. I have not personally viewed all of them myself.

Below, I have listed some helpful secondary published sources for this family line:

Geoff Riggs asserts that the earliest known progenitor of this family, found in the records of the parish churches of Roydon, is Miles Riggs (Rigges), who was buried at Roydon on 7 Sep 1583[S1].  The Parish Registers for Roydon commence in 1567, and therefore there is no record of Miles‘ baptism or marriage, or of the baptisms of his children.  Miles was one of the witnesses to the Will of Elizabeth Borely on 15 Apr 1564[S2].  He would have had to be “of age” at that time and therefore was born prior to about 1544.  Furthermore, since Richard Riggs, Miles‘ probable son, was born before 1557, Miles would probably have been born before 1536 or so.  Miles‘ wife Agnes was buried at Roydon on 26 Mar 1579, as Angnes the wife of Miles Ridges.[S1]

The persons documented here were the only persons with the surname Rigg(e)s or Ridge(s) that have been found recorded in the Parish Registers of the immediate locality.  We can therefore reasonably assume that they were related as part of a single family.  Based on that assumption, the probable child of Miles and Agnes is Richard Riggs.  The Roydon Parish Registers show a number of entries for the christenings and burials of sons and daughters of a Richard “Ridges” (Rigges / Riggs) between 1578 and 1589 (and for the burial of his wife in 1603).[S1]  It can therefore be assumed that Richard was most likely born before 1557 but, because the Parish Registers for Roydon do not commence until 1567, there is no record of his baptism.

Richard RIDGES married at Roydon, Essex on 5 Sep 1575 to Elizabeth Chamberlyn.  Her surname in the parish register is partially faint, and it was initially thought to be “Chambers” on the microfilm.  However, the senior archivist at Essex Record Office exceptionally produced the original register for the researcher to scrutinize, and close examination shows the surname was probably “Chamberlyn”.[S1].

Elizabeth Riggs, wife of Richard, was buried at Roydon, Essex on 25 Mar 1603.[S1]  No record has been found in the Roydon Parish Register for Richard‘s death but, by inference (since Elizabeth when buried was described as his wife and not as a widow), he must have still been living in March 1603.

In 1589, Richard “Rigges” was a juror for the half-hundred of Harlow at the Petty Sessions court held there on 1 Oct 1589.  He and his fellow jurors reported that an inhabitant of Roydon keeps an alehouse and there sells bread and ale without license, contrary to the form of the Statute, but that in all other vill(age)s and hamlets, all is well.[S13]

The Roydon Parish Register shows the christenings and burials for the sons and daughters of Richard Riggs and Elizabeth Chamberlyn, as follows:

  1. Mary ye daughter of Richard Myles was baptized at Roydon on 30 Jul 1576.[S1]  However, the researcher believes that this entry refers to the baptism of Mary the daughter of Richard the son of MILES [RIGGS].  A Mary Riggs married a Robert Camp at Roydon, Essex on 12 Jun 1603, some 27 years after this baptism.[S1].  No other baptism of a Mary Rigg(e)s, Mary Rygg(e)s, or even Mary Ridge(s), can be found in the Roydon Parish Registers, nor has one been found in those of the adjoining parishes.  No other reference to the surname of Miles or Myles has been found in the Roydon Parish Registers or those of the adjoining parishes (except for the baptism of Richard the sonne of Richard Miles referred to below).  Mary the daughter of Richard “Myles” was baptized 11 months after Richard Riggs was married.  The Riggs researcher explains that “The process of having a permanent, hereditary surname, instead of using a ‘byname’ to describe and differentiate between individuals, occurred later in some rural areas than it did in towns.  The process was still in a transitional phase in Roydon at the end of the sixteenth century: a man who had a ‘patronymic byname’ would use his father’s Christian name, and that is how the vicar described Richard when Mary was baptized”.
  2. Elizabeth, baptized at Roydon on 22 Oct 1578 (the daughter of Richard “RIDGES”.[S1].  This daughter is probably the Elizabeth “RIDGE” was buried at Roydon on 16 Nov 1581, however, the source documents are not entirely clear on this point.  She is entered in the Register as the daughter of William Ridge and, if this were correct, then William might have been another son of Miles.  However there are no further entries referring to a William Ridge(s) or Rigg(e)s in the Register.
  3. Richard, the sonne of Richard Miles was baptized at Roydon on 24 Sep 1581.[S1]  However, I believe that he was the son of Richard the son of Miles Riggs.  As in the case of Mary Riggs above, the vicar attributed to Richard his father’s Christian name (Miles) as a ‘patronymic byname’.  No entry has been found of his burial or marriage, or of the baptisms of any children of his.
  4. Francis – Frauncis was baptized at Roydon on 17 Apr 1583 as the son of Richard Rigges.[S1]
  5. Ralph – Ralphe was baptized at Roydon on 19 Jun 1586, as the son of Richard Rigges.[S1]  He was buried, as “Rallph RIGGES” son of Richard, at Roydon on 8 Oct 1586.[S1]
  6. Edward Riggs, baptized at Roydon, Essex on 30 Mar 1589. This is “Edward of Nazeing”, who migrated to America in 1633 to become “Edward of Roxbury”.  Edward appears later in the parish records of Nazeing, adjacent to Roydon: On 16 Sep 1618 at All Saints Church, Nazeing Parish, Essex, Edward married (1st) Elizabeth Holmes, who was baptized 13 Dec 1590 at All Saints Church, Nazeing.  Edward and Elizabeth had five known children, all baptized at Nazeing Parish from 1619-1632.[S1]  His lineage is continued below.

The articles by Smith and Anderson do not deny the possibility that Edward Riggs was the son of Richard Riggs and Elizabeth Chamberlyn.  However, they allow for the possibility that “Edward of Roxbury” could be a different man from Edward, son of Richard, identified above.  Specifically, they propose that Edward might have been one of two males named Edward “Rigge” baptized in Hawkshead, Lancashire (now Cumbria) on 6 May 1593 (son of Richard) on 25 Jul 1594 (son of James), respectively.  I will not dwell on the details, which the reader is invited to explore in the article cited above (“Proposed Hawkshead, Lancashire, Origins of Edward Riggs of Roxbury, Massachusetts and Thomas Riggs of Gloucester”).  In that article, they assert that DNA tests have established that Thomas Riggs in Gloucester, Massachusetts, by 1658 was genetically related to Edward.  Since Thomas Riggs was baptized as Thomas Rigge in Hawkshead, then Edward too might have been baptized there, or else his parents or grandparents might have been, before emigrating to Essex, and then to America in 1633.

 

Edward Riggs, my immigrant ancestor:

Entry in the Parish Register of Nazeing, Essex - it says merely "The sonne of Richard Riggs" (baptized 30 Mar 1589)

Entry in the Parish Register of Nazeing, Essex – it says merely “The sonne of Richard Riggs” (baptized 30 Mar 1589)

Although the entry for Edward Riggs (above) in the Roydon Parish Register says merely The sonne of Richard Riggs,[S1] researchers have concluded that this is Edward.  They base this conclusion on the following facts:

  • Roydon parish is very near to Nazeing parish, sharing a common boundary. Other adjacent parishes were searched for this time period, and none of their Registers contain a baptism for Edward, nor were any other entries for a Riggs / Rigges found.
  • Edward’s wife, Elizabeth Holmes, was baptized at Nazeing 21 months later, in December 1590 [S3][S4], and therefore the timing of this baptism in March 1589 is appropriate.
  • Two of Edward and Elizabeth‘s daughters were named Mary and Lydia.  These were the names of Edward‘s sister Mary and his sister-in-law Lydia (the wife of his brother Francis).  [Another of their daughters was named Elizabeth but, as Edward‘s sister Elizabeth died in infancy before he was born, this daughter was more probably named after his wife.]

On 16 Sep 1618, Edward married (1st) Elizabeth Holmes at All Saints Church, Nazeing (adjacent to Roydon), Essex, England.  Elizabeth Holmes was baptized at All Saints, Nazeing on 13 Dec 1590, and she would have been about 28 years of age at marriage, lending weight to Edward‘s being the one baptized at Roydon in 1589.  Elizabeth was almost certainly the sister of George Holmes, who was baptized at All Saints, Nazeing on 21 Jul 1594, both, apparently children of George and Elizabeth Holmes.  Elizabeth’s brother, George, died at Roxbury, Massachusetts before 30 Jan 1651/2, when his will was proved.[12]

Welcome to Roxbury (Boston), Massachusetts

Welcome to Roxbury (Boston), Massachusetts

In 1633, a group of Puritans from the area of Nazeing, which included Edward Riggs, Elizabeth his wife and their family, left England and sailed to the port of Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Within a couple of years, it appears that Elizabeth‘s brother George Holmes and his family also joined the Roxbury settlers[13].  Their New England neighbors referred to them as “the Nazeing Christians”.  Edward’s family probably sailed from London, possibly aboard the William & Jane or the Mary & Jane[14], which landed at the port of Boston in the summer of 1633.  Edward and his family were among the very early settlers in Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, where Edward was admitted as a Freeman and a member of the Puritan Church.  Roxbury was the place where a number of other families from Nazeing also settled, collectively referred to at that time as the “Nazeing Christians”[S5].  Roxbury, which initially became a separate township on the Boston outskirts, is now part of the city itself.

First Church in Roxbury (now a Unitarian Universalist congregation) - Churches have stood on this site continuously since 1632. The church building seen today, built in 1804, is the fifth.

First Church in Roxbury (now a Unitarian Universalist congregation) – Churches have stood on this site continuously since 1632. The church building seen today, built in 1804, is the fifth.

At the time of the Riggs family arrived in New England, the area was still a wilderness, and about one in three perished during or soon after their voyage.[S7]  Within a few months of landing in New England, death started to afflict Edward‘s family, and three of his five children as well as his wife all died within 30 months of their arriving.  One of the Riggs daughters, Lydia, died very shortly after their arrival in August of 1633.  Her death was the first recorded death in the old Roxbury Church records, where she was buried.  The Church still remains today, but no Riggs grave-marker stones have survived in the small graveyard that exists today.  Another daughter Elizabeth died in May of 1634.  A son John died in October 1634.  Edward‘s wife Elizabeth died in August 1635[15].  Shortly afterward, Edward remarried another woman named Elizabeth, according to Wallace, and a recent eminent researcher makes out a strong case that Edward‘s second wife was an Elizabeth Wise.  His daughter Mary was only 3 when her mother died, which makes it understandable for him to want to re-marry quickly.  There were no known children from this second marriage.

The only entry in the marriage records of Roxbury for a Riggs is an entry on 5 Apr 1635 between Edward and Elizabeth Roosa[16], which Savage[17] said was between Edward and Elizabeth Rooke (and on 5 Apr 1636).  Geoff Riggs (the RIGGS Surname Study) believes this marriage of Edward and Elizabeth was that of Edward of Roxbury’s son to Elizabeth Rose.

Edward was admitted as a member of the Puritan church at Roxbury “#100 on Eliot’s list, near the end of those that came in 1633”[18] and was admitted as a Freeman on 14 May1634[19].  Freemen were the only colonists who were franchised to vote.  They generally had to be mature male church-members and had to attest to having experienced a transforming spiritual experience by God’s grace, as confirmed by church leaders.

First Church of Roxbury / John Eliot Square: The oldest wood frame church in Boston, this 1804 structure is the fifth meetinghouse on this site since the first church was built in 1632. The architect, William Blaney, was a church member and housewright. The land around it is a fragment of the original Roxbury town common. Its most famous pastor was Reverend John Eliot (1604-1690), the missionary to the Algonquin Indians. Due to Eliot's work, First Church in Roxbury was one of only three churches in the Puritan Massachusetts era to admit Native Americans as full members. photo credit: John Phelan

First Church of Roxbury / John Eliot Square: The oldest wood frame church in Boston, this 1804 structure is the fifth meetinghouse on this site since the first church was built in 1632. The architect, William Blaney, was a church member and housewright. The land around it is a fragment of the original Roxbury town common. Its most famous pastor was Reverend John Eliot (1604-1690), the missionary to the Algonquin Indians. Due to Eliot’s work, First Church in Roxbury was one of only three churches in the Puritan Massachusetts era to admit Native Americans as full members. photo credit: John Phelan

According to the valuation of his land holdings in the Roxbury estate list in the 1640s[20], Edward was one of the least affluent men in Roxbury.  The Roxbury land inventory around 1652[21] did not include anything acquired by him other than through the usual sequence of grants.

Anderson quotes the death of Elizabeth, wife of Edward Riggs on 2 Sep 1669[22] – the burial date is quoted in the Roxbury Vital Records as the 2nd day of the 7th month 1669[23].  Wallace correctly says she died in 1669, but Savage[24] quotes the year as 1666.  Edward junior’s wife must still have been alive on 2 Sep 1670, when Edward senior made his Will including a bequest to my daughter-in-law my son Edward Riggs his wife.  So the Elizabeth buried in 1669 must have been Edward senior’s second wife.

Anderson quotes Edward‘s death on 5 Mar 1672[25] – the burial date is quoted in the Roxbury Vital Records as the 5th day of the 1st month 1671-2.  Savage quotes Edward‘s burial as on 5 Mar 1672.  Edward‘s Will dated 2 Sep 1670[26], which he “signed” by making his mark, was proved on 6 Mar 1672[27].

Wallace correctly states that all his children except Mary had predeceased him by the time he made his Will, based on the wording of its bequests.  Savage, however, was incorrect in theorizing when discussing Edward’s children that “it may be concluded that … all died before him.”

The Swamp Fight Monument, dedicated in 1904 by the Connecticut Society of Colonial Wars, today sits on a small triangle of land along the Post Road, near a Peoples’ United Bank branch and a popular Dunkin’ Donuts outlet. A large stone monument bears the simple inscription on its east face that “the great Swamp Fight here ended the Pequot War.”

The Swamp Fight Monument, dedicated in 1904 by the Connecticut Society of Colonial Wars, today sits on a small triangle of land along the Post Road, near a Peoples’ United Bank branch and a popular Dunkin’ Donuts outlet. A large stone monument bears the simple inscription on its east face that “the great Swamp Fight here ended the Pequot War.”

Edward served as a sergeant in the Pequot War of 1637 and was commended for his bravery during the war, as it says in a letter from John Winthrop to William Bradford dated 28 July 1637:

…they gave order to surround the swamp, it being about a mile around; but Lieutenant Davenport, and some twelve more, not hearing that command, fell into the swamp among the Indians. The swamp was so thick with shrub wood, and so boggy with all, that some of them stuck fast, and received many shot. Lieutenant Davenport was dangerously wounded about his armhole and another shot in the head, so as fainting, they were in great danger to have been taken by the Indians, but Sergeant Rigges, and Jeffery and two or three more rescued them, and slew diverse of the Indians with their swords.

Samuel Drake’s History and Antiquities of Boston (1856) says that action took place on 13 July 1637:

Animated by success, the English, by the aid of their Indian allies, were able to scour the country far and wide. At length, coming to ‘a small Indian town seated by the side of a hideous swamp, into which they all slipt, as well Pequots as natives of the place.’ . . . Order was given to surround the swamp, but Lieutenant Davenport, rushing into the swamp with some twelve others, came near being cut off. He was ‘sorely wounded,’ as were two Ipswich men, John Wedgwood and Thomas Sherman. They were rescued at great peril by Serjeant Riggs of Roxbury.

According to Drake, the hideous swamp was located in Fairfield, Connecticut, on the coast of Long Island Sound.  George M. Bodge, in his Soldiers in King Philip’s War (1906), locates the action at “Unquowa” (Uncoway), “now within the town of Fairfield.”  According to Robert Charles Anderson, FASG, Fairfield was founded in 1640 and was called “Uncoway” by the Indians.

Starting with John H. Wallace in 1901, Riggs genealogists have identified Serjeant Riggs of Roxbury of the Pequot War as this Edward‘s eldest son Edward who was born in 1619.  However, Alvy R. Smith has observed that the younger Edward would have been only 18 years old in July 1637, and it would be highly unusual for an 18-year-old colonist to hold that military rank.  Consequently it is more likely the elder Edward who was praised by Winthrop for his bravery, and the same Edward who is listed in a 15 Oct 1662 order of the Supreme Judicial Court at Boston among those who served in the Pequot Wars.  The order of the Deputies approved land grants as rewards for the soldiers’ service, but the magistrates did not consent to the order.

Edward‘s will is dated 2 Sep 1670, and he died on 5 Jan 1671/72.  He was survived by a daughter (Mary) who married Benjamin Twitchell, and a son, Edward, from whom my line descends (see below).  There was another daughter who married an Allen, and the reference in Edward‘s will was to the children of his deceased daughter, Mrs. Allen.

Edward Riggs (II), son of Edward and Elizabeth Riggs, was baptized 17 Oct. 1619 in Nazeing Parish, Essex, England and died between 10 Jun 1669 and 25 Jan 1670 in Newark, New Jersey.  Edward came to Roxbury, Massachusetts, with his parents and younger siblings in 1633.  Perhaps as early as 1641, Edward married Elizabeth, born 1621 in England, died sometime after 2 July 1670, perhaps in Newark, New Jersey.  (Several genealogists have misidentified this Elizabeth as Elizabeth Rose / Roosa, who actually married Sgt. Edward Riggs‘ father Edward – his second wife, most likely).

Earlier genealogists stated that Edward (II) became one of the original planters of Milford, Connecticut, in 1640.  However, he does not appear in the Milford town records until 1646, so he probably came to Milford with a later group of settlers, not with the original planters.  Edward‘s younger children were likely been born in Milford.  Edward also helped to found the Derby Plantation in Connecticut in 1655.  In Derby Plantation, Edward located his homestead on a hill which came to be known as “Riggs’ Hill,” which was still in the possession of his descendants as late as 1900.  In 1661, the year following King Charles II’s restoration to the English and Scottish thrones, Charles II sent emissaries to search along the coast of Connecticut and New Haven for William Goffe and Edward Whalley, two members of the illegal English Parliament that had condemned and executed his father King Charles I.  According to tradition, Edward helped to hide and protect Goffe and Whalley.

Early settlers’ plots – Newark, New Jersey

Early settlers’ plots – Newark, New Jersey

Newark in 1668, from William H. Shaw, History of Essex and Hudson Counties, New Jersey (1884)

Newark in 1668, from William H. Shaw, History of Essex and Hudson Counties, New Jersey (1884)

"Puritan landing in May 1666, at Newark, New Jersey, United States" - Settlers Monument, Fairmont Cemetery, Newark (photo credit: dinopup, Jan 2005)

“The Landing at Newark. May 1666” – Settlers Monument, Fairmont Cemetery, Newark (photo credit: dinopup, Jan 2005)

Edward later became one of the founders of Newark, New Jersey, in May 1666. Newark was founded in 1666 by Connecticut Puritans led by Robert Treat from the New Haven Colony to avoid losing political power to others not of their own church after the union of the Connecticut and New Haven colonies. It was the third settlement founded in New Jersey, after Bergen Township (later dissolved into Hudson County) and Elizabethtown (modern-day Elizabeth). They sought to establish a colony with strict church rules similar to the one they had established in Milford, Connecticut. Treat wanted to name the community “Milford.” Another settler, Abraham Pierson, said the community reflecting the new task at hand should be named “New Ark” for “New Ark of the Covenant.” The name was shortened to Newark. References to the name “New Ark” are found in preserved letters written by historical figures such as James McHenry dated as late as 1787. Treat and the party bought the property on the Passaic River from the Hackensack Indians by exchanging:

“Fifty Double Hands Of Powder, One Hundred Bars Of Lead, Twenty Axes, Twenty Coats, Ten Guns, Twenty Pistolls, Ten Kettles, Ten Swords, Four Blanks, Four Barrells Of Beer, Ten Pairs Of Breeches, Fifty Knives, Twenty Howes, Eight Hundred And Fifty Fathem Of Wampum, Two Ankors Of Licquers Or Something Equivolent And Three Trooper’s Coats; And To The Top Of The Mountain For Two Guns, Three Coats And Thirteen Horns Of Rum.” [inscribed on the monument marking the remains of early settlers reinterred by the City of Newark in Fairmont Cemetery, 620 Central Avenue, Newark]

Beginning in 1668, Edward is referred to in the Newark records with the military rank of “Serj.” or “Sarj.” Edward Riggs.  This led earlier genealogists to assume that he was the “Sgt. Riggs of Roxbury of the Pequot War”, and that his bravery during that war had caused him to be known for the rest of his life as “Sgt. Riggs.”  However, as explained above, the Sgt. Riggs of the Pequot War was the immigrant Edward, father of this Edward.

A Widow Riggs who is mentioned in the records of the Newark Town Meetings on 25 Jan 1670 and 2 July 1670 is apparently Monument marking the remains Edward‘s widow Elizabeth.  She later remarried to Caleb Carwithie, but there were no children of that marriage.

Edward and Elizabeth Riggs (II) had at least four children:

  1. Samuel, born about 1642 and married Sarah Baldwin, daughter of Richard Baldwin. They had 9 children. Sarah died and Samuel married again to a widow, Sarah Washburn. Samuel’s family remained in Connecticut.
  2. Joseph, born about 1644 and married Hannah Browne, daughter of John Browne. After Joseph died in 1689, his widow married (2nd) Aaron Thompson.
  3. Mary, born in about 1646 and married (1st) George Day and (2nd) Anthony Olef.
  4. Edward Riggs (III), see below.

Edward Riggs (III), son of Sgt. Edward and Elizabeth Riggs, was born about 1650.  Edward‘s date of death is unknown, but he was still living on 10 Apr 1696 when he was granted 100 acres by the East New Jersey proprietors.  Karen Bryant says he died in 1716 in Newark, New Jersey.  It is possible that he is the Edward Riggs who witnessed the will of William Brant of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, on 21 Jan 1708/9.  On the other hand, a Widow Riggs who might be Edward‘s wife is mentioned on 1 May 1697 – if she was Edward‘s wife, he must have died before that date.  Edward‘s wife was certainly named Mary (earlier speculation that Mary was the daughter of a Daniel Munn has been shown to be in error). Geoff Riggs writes:

“In 1667, Edward and his family followed his father Edward’s family from Derby, Connecticut, to Newark, N.J., where they were amongst the original settlers — he and his brother Joseph were the first to obtain grants of outside lands from the town authorities. He was assigned a home lot in Newark and, though he was not as educated as his two younger brothers, he succeeded in accumulating other landed property there, which he subsequently distributed among his children. In his land conveyances, he was often designated as a ‘planter.’”

Old tradition and earlier genealogical works assign 10 or 11 children to Edward and Mary, but at this time only two of those children, Edward and Joseph, have been positively identified in surviving contemporary records (with tentative evidence for two others, James and Samuel, and a possible reference to the youngest child Charity).  Those children, given in their traditional order of birth, are:

  • Anna, born about 1662 and married J. Gage.
  • James, born about 1664.
  • Mary, born about 1666 and married Joseph Lindsley.
  • Edward Riggs (IV), see below.
  • Lydia
  • Joseph, born about 1675.
  • Martha, born about 1677 and married S. Freeman.
  • Elizabeth, born about 1678 and married John Lyon.
  • John, born about 1679 and married Frances Colburn.
  • Samuel, born about 1681.
  • Charity, born about 1685 and married John Bowers.

Edward Riggs (IV) was born about 1668 in Newark, New Jersey.  In about 1692, he married Aphia Stoughton.  Wallace states that traditionally Edward had 8 sons “but we have never been able to identify more than 3 of them fully.”  A road record “located him at the end of the mountain and near the village of Milburn, and in 1708 he settled at Basking Ridge”, Somerset County, New Jersey.

Wallace lists the children of Edward Riggs (IV) and Aphia Stoughton as follows:

  • Edward, born about 1693, traditional and not fully traced.
  • Daniel, born about 1695, traditional and not fully traced.
  • Samuel, born about 1695, traditional and not fully traced.
  • Thomas, born 13 Dec 1701, married Eunice Morris.
  • Joseph Riggs, born about 1703, married Jane Plumb of Newark; no issue.
  • Mary Riggs, born about 1707, married Daniel Morris.
  • David, born about 1709, married Elizabeth Cox, daughter of Philip Cox.

The lineage of Mary Riggs and Daniel Morris is continued under the heading of John Morris ( -1677) and Elizabeth Harrison (1626-1669).

 

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[1] My Riggs genealogy traces back to that family.

[2] http://www.alvyray.com/Riggs/default.htm

[3] http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~riggs/USAEdw1.htm#top [this link is not working as of 4 Mar 2016]

[4] See Smith’s and Anderson’s “Proposed Hawkshead, Lancashire, Origins of Edward Riggs of Roxbury, Massachusetts, and Thomas Riggs of Gloucester,” in The American Genealogist 82(2007):120-29.

[5] See Smith’s 2012 study, James Riggs (c1662-c1744) of Prince George’s County, Maryland, and His Descendants to 2011.)

[6] Refer to the work of Geoff Riggs: http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~riggs/ESSMls_S.htm#1 [this link is not working as of 4 Mar 2016]

[7] In addition to his genealogical interests, Alvy Ray Smith is a noted pioneer in computer graphics. He is co-founder, with Edwin Catmull, of the animation studio Pixar, financed by Steve Jobs.

[8] Samuel H. Congar, “Genealogical Notices of the First Settlers of Newark,” Collections of the New Jersey Historical Society, Vol. VI. – Supplement, Part 4 (Newark, 1866), p. 118, 131.

[9] Samuel Orcutt and Ambrose Beardsley, The History of the Old Town of Derby, Connecticut: 1642-1880 (Springfield, Massachusetts: Press of Springfield Publishing Co.) 1880, p. 753-56.

[10] Charles Henry Cory, [each volume has a different title], 4 vols. (1937), vol. 2: Lineal Ancestors of Rhonda (Axtell) Cory, mother of Captain James Cory: Genealogical, Historical and Biographical, 2:251-70.

[11] Nathan Grier Parke II, The Ancestry of Rev. Nathan Grier and his Wife, Ann Elizabeth Gildersleeve, ed. By Donald Lines Jacobus (Woodstock, Vermont: N. G. Parke), 1959, p. 106-12.

[12] Savage’s Dictionary[S5] reports that George Holmes or Homes was made Freeman of Roxbury, MA, on 22 May 1639, and lists children born to George and his wife in Roxbury.  Savage also says that he may have had an older child or children, and reports that a John Holmes of Dorchester, Massachusetts, “son probably of George, by wife Sarah, who was a member of the church of Roxbury, had George baptized there 10 Jul 1670”.  Savage’s Dictionary[S5] states that George Holmes or Homes died of fever 2 Feb 1646 saying “though Farmer, obeying the town records, says 18 Dec 1645”.  In George’s will, he said “And my request is to my Dearly beloved brethren Elder Heath, brothr Eliot & brothr Parks our Deakens and my brothr Ruggles & brothr Riggs to be my overseers to counsell and guide my wife in all her affairs”.[S16] Note that “brothr Eliot…& my brothr Ruggles” were two of the “Nazeing Christians”. “Mr. John Eliot deposed before Court, 30 Nov 1651 that George Holmes was of a disposing mind the yeare 1646 or thereabouts”.[S16] So George and his family followed his sister Elizabeth and her husband in emigrating from Nazeing to Roxbury, but not until a few years later, since his son John was baptized in Nazeing in Sep 1637.

[13] The following baptisms entered in the Parish Registers at Nazeing[S3] appear to be Elizabeth’s four brothers and her niece and nephew: George Homes (21 Jul 1594), Samuell Holmes (24 Dec 1598), John Holmes (29 Mar 1601), Christopher Holmes (24 Apr 1604), “Lydia Holmes daughter to George Holmes and” (blank space) “his wife” (26 Jul 1635) and “John Homes sonne to George Homes an his wife”(sic) (24 Sep 1637). Note that George’s daughter Lydia was given the same Christian name as Edward and Elizabeth’s eldest daughter. Savage’s Dictionary[S5] reports that George Holmes or Homes was made Freeman of Roxbury on 22 May 1639, and lists children born to George and his wife in Roxbury. Savage also says that he may have had an older child or children, and reports that a John Holmes of Dorchester, Massachusetts, “son probably of George, by wife Sarah, who was a member of the church of Roxbury, had George baptized there 10JLY1670”. Savage’s Dictionary[S5] states that George Holmes or Homes died of fever 2 Feb 1646 saying “though Farmer, obeying the town records, says 18 Dec 1645”. In George’s will, he said “And my request is to my Dearly beloved brethren Elder Heath, brothr Eliot & brothr Parks our Deakens and my brothr Ruggles & brothr Riggs to be my overseers to counsell and guide my wife in all her affairs”.[S16] Note that “brothr Eliot…& my brothr Ruggles” were two of the “Nazeing Christians”. “Mr. John Eliot deposed before Court, 30 Nov 1651 that George Holmes was of a disposing mind the yeare 1646 or thereabouts”.[S16] So George and his family followed his sister Elizabeth and her husband in emigrating from Nazeing to Roxbury, but not until a few years later, since his son John was baptized in Nazeing in September 1637.

[14] Passenger lists for the 1633 voyages of the William & Jane or the Mary & Jane are not available. The Riggs family does not appear on any other existing passenger lists of the period. Early in 1634, Archbishop William Laud made it mandatory for all persons emigrating to New England to swear allegiance to Church and King before their departure from England. Lists were kept of the passengers’ oaths and most were prepared at the customs house at the English port where they embarked.[S9] These Lists Of Passenger Oaths tell us on which ship the settlers sailed. Usually they give the place where they were sworn (mostly their home town) and often age and occupation. However, these Lists weren’t introduced until a year after Edward and his family had departed and so there is no record of which ship they sailed on. Savage[S5] states that John Graves – like Edward, one of the “Nazeing Christians” who settled in Roxbury – had landed with his family in May 1633 and Savage goes on to say that “The William & Jane came in that month but as Winthrop says she brought only thirty passengers. I think these came, perhaps, that month in the other ship Mary & Jane, which had 196″. (Under his entry for a Mary Downing, Savage says that William Coddington came on the Mary & Jane in May 1633: Coddington later established Rhode Island after standing down as Treasurer of the Massachusetts Colony because of religious differences, and was twice Governor of RI).[S5] However, the William & Jane was captained by William Bundocke[S6], and he later captained the Hopewell which brought the Eliot and Ruggles families – more “Nazeing Christians” – in April 1635[S5][S10] (a ship called the Hopewell had also sailed to New England as part of the original Winthrop fleet in 1630).[S30] So Edward and his family (and John Graves and his family) may have sailed on the William & Jane.

[15] Roxbury’s Vital Records show that Elizabeth, Edward’s wife, was buried at Roxbury in Oct 1635. (Wallace says Aug, possibly because it was entered in the records as “(8) 1635” according to the usual method of recording months in Puritan Church Records, but Savage[S5] quotes the correct month). Based on the date of her baptism, Elizabeth was 44 when she died.

[16] Item 128 Roxbury Vital Records ms copy at New England Historic Gen Soc., Boston – cited by Anderson: pp. 1583-1585 of The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. Vol. III (P-Z) by Robert Charles Anderson, pub. by New England Historic Gen. Soc., Boston, c1995 [SISBN 0-8808-2044-6] – copy examined in SOG Lib. and photoc. Bod Lib.

[17] “Savage’s Dictionary” Full title: A Gen Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, Showing Three Generations of Those who Came before May, 1692, on the Basis of Farmer’s Register by James Savage, former President Of The Mass. Historical Soc., Vol. III, K-R. Orig. pub. Boston, 1860-1862, repr. GPC 1965, 1969, 1977, 1981, 1986, 1990 [SISBN 0-8063-0309-3]. Electronic version adapted under the direction of Robert Kraft © July 1994 – this is viewable on-line at www.usgennet.org/usa/topic/newengland/savage/.

[18] “The First Freemen of Massachusetts Bay Commonwealth, 1630-1636” page on The Winthrop Society web-site: viewable on-line (as at APR2000) at www.winthropsociety.org/freemen.htm

[19] “The First Freemen of Massachusetts Bay Commonwealth, 1630-1636” page on The Winthrop Society web-site: viewable on-line (as at APR2000) at www.winthropsociety.org/freemen.htm; also “List of Freemen”, p. 92 NEHGR Vol. 3, pub. for NEHGS 1849 – copy examined at SoG Lib., refce. US/NE/PER, May 2004. Searchable online (by NEHGS members) at www.newenglandancestors.org/research/database/register/.

[20] Entry 4 Roxbury Book of Possessions, pp11-51 in 6th Report of the Boston Record Commissioners pub Boston 1884 – cited by Anderson: pp. 1583-1585 of The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. Vol. III (P-Z) by Robert Charles Anderson, pub. by New England Historic Gen. Soc., Boston, c1995 [SISBN 0-8808-2044-6] – copy examined in SOG Lib. and photoc. Bod Lib.

[21] Entry 37 Roxbury Book of Possessions, pp11-51 in 6th Report of the Boston Record Commissioners pub Boston 1884 – cited by Anderson: pp. 1583-1585 of The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. Vol. III (P-Z) by Robert Charles Anderson, pub. by New England Historic Gen. Soc., Boston, c1995 [SISBN 0-8808-2044-6] – copy examined in SOG Lib. and photoc. Bod Lib.

[22] Entry 179 Roxbury Land & Church Records, pp. 14-19 in 6th Report of the Boston Record Commissioners pub Boston 1884 – cited by Anderson: pp. 1583-1585 of The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. Vol. III (P-Z) by Robert Charles Anderson, pub. by New England Historic Gen. Soc., Boston, c1995 [SISBN 0-8808-2044-6] – copy examined in SOG Lib. and photoc. Bod Lib.

[23] Roxbury Vital Records – info suppl. Bob Bowers USGenWeb MA Look-up Volunteer; The Pioneers of Massachusetts, Charles Henry Pope (Pastor, First Church, Charlestown, Boston), orig. pub. Boston 1900, repr. 1965-1977 – copy examined in SOG Lib.

[24] “Savage’s Dictionary” Full title: A Gen Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, Showing Three Generations of Those who Came before May, 1692, on the Basis of Farmer’s Register by James Savage, former President Of The Mass. Historical Soc., Vol. III, K-R. Orig. pub. Boston, 1860-1862, repr. GPC 1965, 1969, 1977, 1981, 1986, 1990 [SISBN 0-8063-0309-3]. Electronic version adapted under the direction of Robert Kraft © July 1994 – this is viewable on-line at www.usgennet.org/usa/topic/newengland/savage/.

[25] Entry 179 Roxbury Land & Church Records, pp. 14-19 in 6th Report of the Boston Record Commissioners pub Boston 1884 – cited by Anderson: pp. 1583-1585 of The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. Vol. III (P-Z) by Robert Charles Anderson, pub. by New England Historic Gen. Soc., Boston, c1995 [SISBN 0-8808-2044-6] – copy examined in SOG Lib. and photoc. Bod Lib.

[26] Genealogy of the RIGGS FAMILY (described as Vol.1 but no further vol. pub.) by John H. Wallace and pub. by the author 1901 – LDS FHLC with mfm available for loan.

[27] pp. 1583-1585 of The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. Vol. III (P-Z) by Robert Charles Anderson, pub. by New England Historic Gen. Soc., Boston, c1995 [SISBN 0-8808-2044-6] – copy examined in SOG Lib. and photoc. Bod Lib.

 

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