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Francis Nichols of Sedgeberrow, Worcester, England


Francis Nichols of Sedgeberrow, Worcester, England
By Linus Joseph Dewald Jr., Editor
Summer 2001 and Revised 7 Oct 2001

Note: This article updates and replaces our earlier Fall 1999 article on Francis Nichols.
Update of 7 Oct 2001:
    By email of 7 Oct 2001, Jon K. Nichols provided us with additional information from the Bible, referred to earlier. He says that ". . . the Bible says that Isaac is the son of Francis. . ." but does not name Francis' parents or place of origin, thus leaving unanswered the question whether Francis is the Francis from Sedgeberrow.

    Conclusion? It seems more likely than not that Sgt. Francis Nichols has Sedgeberrow roots, but the several problems posed in our article, below, remain unanswered.


Update of 1 Oct 2001:   By email of 30 Sep 2001, Marilyn NicholsTrumbull brings new information to our attention.
  1. She has a copy of the Nichols entries in the Parish register of Sedgeberrow. She says Francis and his family left Sedgeberrow before her direct line ancestor, Caleb, was born. Caleb was apparently b. c. 1623, but where? It apparently was not in MA since Marilyn indicates that Francis was "in Mass. as early as 1635..." We have sent her an email asking if she has information where Francis was between 1623 and 1635.

  2. Isaac's Bible was discovered in CT with births, baptisms, etc. recorded. We do not yet know if those entries include those of Isaac's parents and siblings. If so such a listing, if in the Bible, would remove any possible doubt as to Francis' Sedgeberrow roots. We have asked Marilyn for additional information about those entries.

  3. Marilyn's cousin, Jon K. Nichols of MI, is doing a follow-up investigation to view and copy those documents. We have asked Marilyn if he has an email address so we can coordinate with him.

  4. Finally, she also indicated that, along with the bible, was stored a "bondodlier" (bandolier?) and sword which may have been those of Sgt. Francis. An expert in antique weapons could date both items for us to determine whether they are sufficiently old to be those of Sgt. Francis.

Original Article of 23 Feb 2001

We recently became aware of information which, if verifiable, solves a 370 year old mystery: the identity of the parents of Francis Nichols,, father of John Nichols and grandfather of Hester Nichols who married John Prentice. Neil D. Thompson, CG, FASG, in the October, 2000 issue of "The American Genealogist" [Vol. 75, No. 4], traces Francis' roots back to about 1510 as set out below:  (But see Fn. 1)

1. Thomas Nycholls of Sedgeberrow, co. Worcester, was born c. 1510 and perhaps at, or in the vicinity of Sedgeberrow. Thomas died between 27 Nov 1558 (when he executed his Will) and 4 Apr 1559 (when the Will was proved). He married c. 1535, Elinor; she was buried as Elinor Nichols, widow, at Sedgeberrow on 8 Jun 1592. Children of Thomas and Elinor included:

  • John Nycholls, b. c. 1542. . . . . . . . [2]

2. John Nichols, son of Thomas, was born c. 1542, perhaps at or near Sedgeberrow. John was buried at Sedgeberrow on 6 Aug 1597. He married Joan, who was buried at Sedgeberrow on 29 Nov 1697 as widow and "once the wife of John Nicholes." Children of John and Joan included:

  • Francis Nichols, bap. 25 May 1575. . . . . . . . . [3]

3. Francis Nichols was bap. at Sedgeberrow on 25 May 1575; he died before 8 Jan 1650/1. He settled at Stratford, Connecticut, by 10 Oct 1639, when he was appointed sergeant of the Stratford trainband, and that same year was listed with his three sons (John, Isaac, and Caleb) among the 17 first settlers of Stratford.

Francis Nichols married, 1st, at Sedgeberrow on 24 Jan 1599/1600, "Francis" Wimarke. She was bap. there on 2 Nov 1577 and apparently died before the family's removed to New England. She was a daughter of Robert Wimarke of Sedgeberrow. Francis Nichols and his first wife had a number of children, all but the youngest bap. at Sedgeberrow.

  • John Nichols, bap. 16 May 1601. Thompson's article says he is the John Nichols who d. at Fairfield Ct. before 19 Jun 1655.   (But see Fn. 2)

  • Jane Nichols, bap. 3 Nov 1603, living Hempstead, N.Y., 16 Feb 1666/7; m. co. Worcester (probably Bengeworth) about 1625, William Washburn, bap. Bengeworth, 9 Nov. 1601, d. before 11 June 1659. (See Fn. 3)

  • Henry Nichols, bap. 19 Nov. 1605, bur. 21 Dec 1606.

  • Anne Nichols, bap. 18 Oct. 1606, bur. 25 Oct. 1606.

  • Margaret Nichols, bap. 4 Jan 1608/9. (See Fn. 4)

  • Francis Nichols, bap. 25 Aug. 1611. (See Fn. 4)

  • Joseph Nichols (twin), bap. 31 Aug. 1614, bur. 2 Sept. 1614.

  • Jonathan Nichols (twin), bap. 31 Aug. 1614, bur. 4 Sept. 1614.

  • Sarah Nichols, bap. 12. Nov. 1615. Thompson says only that she is "probably" the heretofore unidentified daughter of Francis Nichols who m., as his 1st wife, Richard Mills of Wethersfield, Stratford, and Stamford, CT.

  • Isaac Nichols, bap 27 Dec 1617. (See Fn. 5)

  • Caleb Nichols, b. c. 1623, but apparently bap. at some location other than Sedgeberrow. Thompson's article says he is the Caleb Nichols who m. Anne Ward and d. at Fairfield Ct. (But see Fn. 6)

There still exists a large time gap between 1623 (when Caleb was apparently born) and 1639 when Francis Nichols appears in Stratford, CT records. No information has yet been produced which accounts for Francis' activities during those years.

After Francis' emigration to American, he married, 2nd, c. 1649 as her first husband, Ann Wines. She was born c. 1632 and was living on 4 Mar 1693/4, daughter of Barnabas and Ann (Eddy) Wines of Southold, Suffolk County, New York, who after his death married, 2nd, John Elton, third, John Tooker, and fourth, John Youngs Esq., all of Southold. Child of Frances and Ann (Wines) Nichols:

  • Ann Nichols (again), b. about 1650; m. by 4 Feb. 1677/8, Christopher Youngs of Southold, b. Salem, Mass., 1643/4, d. Southold, 5 Dec 1698, son of Christopher and Priscilla (Elvin) Youngs. Issue.

Conclusion

While Thompson's article might correctly identify Francis Nichols' ancestry, there are some troubling aspects to it:

  • There is no direct evidence that the Sedgeberrow Francis Nichols ever emigrated to America; the only evidence is indirect and based only on two of his children (John and Isaac) having the same names as those of Francis Nichols of Stratford, CT.

  • "John" is a common name which would have been found in a great many Nichols families in England. That leaves only "Isaac" as a common denominator.

  • There is no evidence that the Sedgeberrow Francis ever had a son named Caleb.

Fn. 1. Thompson's article acknowledges that it is predicated on two Nichols' Wills made prior to the commencement of the registers of the parish of Sedgeberrow, co. Worcester. The article leaves some uncertainty when it says:

    "...one appears to be that of the grandfather of the emigrant. Thomas Nycholls of Sedgeberrow, husbandman, whose will was dated 27 November 1558 and proved on 4 April 1559, mentioned sons William, John, Henry and Nicholas Nichols, daughters Julyan and Margery (married names not given), and son-in-law James Alyson. A John Nycholls was also a witness to this will. The testator' wife Elynor and son William were appointed executors.

    "On the assumption, based largely on the pattern of Christian names given to the children and grandchildren of John Nichols, father of the emigrant, that this is the correct identification, the family may be reconstructed." (italics added)

If the assumption were to fail, then the identification of Francis Nichols' ancestry would also fail.

The Sedgeberrow parish registers are said to be available on LDS microfilm (#0905307 is written on first page).

Fn. 2. The name, "John," was a common name at that time and place and is of little help in identifying relationships. Additionally, it is unclear whether John was married when Francis' sons first appear in 1639 Stratford, CT records. The Sedgeberrow John would have been 38 at that time. If he were unmarried by 1838, that would have been unusual.

Fn. 3. There is no present evidence that Jane and her husband emigrated to America. If they had also emigrated, that would have provided some corroborating circumstantial evidence that her father, Francis Nichols, is the one who emigrated to Stratford, CT.

Fn. 4. There is no present evidence that Margaret or Francis Jr. emigrated to America. If they had also emigrated, that would have provided some corroborating circumstantial evidence that her father, Francis Nichols, is the one who emigrated to Stratford, CT.

Fn. 5. The name, "Isaac," was not a common name at that time and place and is one clue that his father may have emigrated to American. Additionally, it is unclear whether Isaac, b. 1617, was married when Francis' sons first appear in 1639 Stratford, CT records. The Sedgeberrow Isaac would have been 22 at that time. It would not be unusual to be a bachelor at that age.

Fn. 6. This is the most troubling part of the article since Thompson offers no evidence that the Sedgeberrow Francis ever had a son named "Caleb."

Correspondence:   If you have any information about the folks mentioned in this article, please send your information to us at the Prentice Newsletter. Be sure to give the full title and date of this article in the Subject line of the email.

Caution: If you don't use the above email link, your email to us may be deleted as spam by our email filter.


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