The Dunham Genealogy was compiled by Isaac Watson Dunham, and published in Hartford, Connecticut in 1907. A copy of the Genealogy was owned by William Curtis Dunham, passed down to his son, Lewis; Lewis's daughter, Dorothy; and Dorothy's son John Dunham Duguid. The authenticity of the information in the Genealogy was never questioned until the summer of 2000, when investigations were made on the Internet about details missing from the book.
It has been learned that Isaac died before completing his genealogical work, and his heirs were not careful in assembling his research into a book. There is information and speculation in the book that has no supporting documentation. Nowadays, genealogists expect to find corroborating evidence before establishing relationships on a family tree.
The I.W. Dunham Genealogy states that John Dunham was born in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England, in the year 1588-9. Scrooby was the center of Pilgrim worship, and the home of Pilgrim organizer William Brewster. According to the Dunham Genealogy these Dunhams were related to the royalist Zouche family. William Zouche had been appointed to arrest the pilgrim separatists, and Sir Edward Zouche was chairman of the commission engaged in settling New England. The Genealogy states that John Dunham married Abigail Wood in Leyden, Holland, October 17, 1619. A son, John was born in 1620, near the time of the Pilgrim departure in the Mayflower.
In the early seventeenth century the Dutch East India Company held a monopoly on the spice trade, and huge profits were being made on cloves, nutmeg and mace. Amsterdam was the wealthiest city in Europe, far more cosmopolitan than London, and there was tolerance for a variety of religious beliefs. The Pilgrims fled to Holland in 1608 to avoid persecution from King James I, who was enforcing Episcopacy on all his subjects. But, like refugees everywhere they found life hard in Holland. Most of them had been farmers without skills or trades, and they had to find employment in the lowest paying jobs in textile, metal and leather.
After many years in Leyden the Pilgrims began to feel it was time to move on, and some favored establishing a colony in the New World. Guiana in the Caribbean was considered, but Virginia became the final choice. The First Virginia Company had gone bankrupt, and was unable to provide transportation. The Dutch New Amsterdam Company came forward with an offer for settlement at their trading post at the mouth of the Hudson River. At that point Thomas Weston, a friend of the Pilgrims in London presented them with proposal to find investors and raise funds to form a Second Virginia Company. This would settle the northern half of the original Virginia grant, and would be called New England. The Leyden leaders decided this was where the congregation should go, because there was no Anglican Church there, and they hoped to make profit by the good fishing in the area.
On July 21, 1620 the Pilgrim vanguard sailed from Delft Haven on board the Speedwell, a small vessel of 60 tons. On board were fewer than fifty persons, not a sixth of the Leyden community. Almost half were children. Putting in at Southampton they anchored beside the larger Mayflower which had arrived from London the previous week. On August 5th the two ships tacked out of the harbor.
After purchase in Delft Haven the Speedwell had been fitted with new, larger masts. Perhaps that was the problem, because she was unseaworthy and twice the two ships had to return to England. Finally, it was decided to go on without her, and about 30 of the Speedwell's passengers transferred to the Mayflower, the rest returning to Holland. The Mayflower passengers were not Pilgrims, and were unknown to the brethren from the Speedwell. On September 6, 1620 the Mayflower embarked for the last time from Plymouth for the New World. After a rough and dangerous crossing they sighted Cape Cod on November 10th, and made landfall at the present Provincetown harbor the following day.
There were a few malcontents among the non-Pilgrims who declared that when they were put ashore they would go their own way, and that no one had the power to command them. The result of this mutiny was one of the great documents of American history -- the Mayflower Compact. It was drawn up by the Pilgrim leaders, and was probably William Brewster's handiwork. The signers "solemly & mutually in ye presence of God, and of one another, covenant & combine ourselves togeather into a civill body politik, ....for ye general good of ye Colonie, ....unto which we promise all due submission and obedience."
Not everyone signed the compact, women were excluded, and certainly John Dunham was not one of them. One of the names on the Compact was John Goodman. There is some mystery surrounding this John Goodman. He was supposed to have died during the first winter, but in 1623 he apparently was awarded a garden plot in the colony. The I.W. Dunham book speculates that "John Goodman" was in fact John Dunham, He was living under an alias because of his ties to the Zouche family. He continued to use the alias until the death of James I.
From the book The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers by Charles Edward Banks (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1962) comes the following:
John Goodman came from Leyden and died without issue in the first winter. The statement which appears in the Dunham Genealogy that this was a name assumed by Deacon John Dunham, a later emigrant, as a mask to hide his identity, is an absurd suggestion without the slightest documentary evidence. In fact, it is completely disproved by the Leyden records.
No equivocation there. John Dunham did not come from Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, was not related to the Zouches, and probably had no reason to disguise his identity. There are other errors in the Genealogy even concerning the people living at the time the book was compiled. For example, Lewis Gordon Dunham was listed as Lewis Bramter Dunham. The information that follows makes use of the best data that is available in the year 2000.
Deacon John Dunham was born in 1588-89 probably in Clophill, Bedfordshire, England. The following is from an article by Robert Leigh Ward in the July, 1996 edition of The American Genealogist:
No record of the baptism on John Dunham of Clophill has been found. The International Genealogical Index reveals Dunham, Donham, and Downham entries in the parish registers of nearby Bedfordshire parishes, and just across the border in Hertfordshire.
The probate record of Richard Dunham, the elder, poulter of Langford, some seven miles from Clophill, provides significant support for the conclusion that this is the correct family and that Richard Dunham was Deacon John Dunham's father. In his will, dated 5 October 1624, Richard Dunham left his body "to be buryed in such a place as my Executores shall think convenient." He mentioned son William, son William's son Richard, son John ("my best shirte and Twenty shillings in mony to be payd him at his retorne"), daughter Anne and her son Richard; daughter Elisabeth; residue to son Richard, who was to be executor. "Father Dunham, an old man" was buried at Langford on 19 November 1624, the only entry for that surname in the published parish register. The shirt and money to be paid to John Dunham "at his retorne" shows that the testator's son was away from home; the phrase probably means no more than that John would receive his legacy if he were to return, not that he was expected to do so. At the time, John was in Leyden.
Susan, daughter of Thomas "Cainehoe," was baptized in Clophill on 12 December 1586, and this appears to be the baptism of Deacon John Dunham's first wife. Thomas Caynehoe or Kaino was buried at Clophill on 15 April 1612, and an administration for the estate of Thomas "Keynoe" of Clophill was granted on 7 May 1612 to his widow Joanne; his inventory totaled 9 pounds, 10 shillings and 8 pence. Joanne is apparently the widow Joan Keno buried at Clophill on 7 February 1630. One could speculate that Deacon John's son Thomas Dunham might have been named for Susan's father Thomas Cainho.
These records establish the first marriage of Deacon John Dunham of Plymouth, identify his wife's likely parentage, and provide a strong possibility that Richard Dunham of Langford was his father.
Henlow, Bedfordshire was the home of the brothers John and Edward Tilley, and their brother-in-law Robert Cooper, who are also found at Leyden. The Tilleys came to Plymouth, Massachusetts, on the Mayflower with their wives, John's daughter Elizabeth Tilley, and Edward's nephew Henry Sampson and niece Humility Cooper. It is very tempting to speculate that John Dunham knew the Tilley family in Henlow, and that they removed together from there to Leyden. Note that the extremely unusual forename Humility was given to a daughter in both families at about the same time. Humility Cooper was born in Holland; we do not know where John Dunham's daughter Humility was born.
Possibly the reason John Dunham was not a passenger on the Mayflower in 1620 was due to the illness or death of his wife, Susan. It would make no sense for a single father to take small children on a dangerous ocean voyage to then face the hardships of the American wilderness. John's second marriage to Abigail Ballou occurred October 22, 1622 in Leyden, two years after the departure of the Mayflower. Abigail was a witness to the marriage of her sister Anne to Nathaniel Walker in Leyden in June 15, 1624.
More Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth on the Fortune in 1621, on the Anne and the Little James in 1623, and on a different Mayflower in 1629, but John Dunham was not listed among any of the passengers. In 1630, the Handmaid dropped anchor at Plymouth with 60 on board. The brethren described these arrivals as the "weakest and poorest", which may account for why none of their names were preserved. This was the last of the Pilgrim ships, although a few more brethren strayed in from time to time. At this point organized efforts to colonize Plymouth came to an end due to lack of funding. Emphasis shifted to the well financed Puritan migration farther up the coast at Massachusetts Bay.
The arrival date in Plymouth of John and Abigail Dunham and their children is unknown, but it was probably around 1629-30, possibly on the Handmaid or as independent travelers. In 1633, John was chosen a deacon of the Church of Plymouth under Elder William Brewster.
The I.W. Dunham Genealogy shows our line descended from Deacon John and Abigail's son, Jonathan. He was perhaps their most prominent offspring. Jonathan was a missionary to the Indians along the coast as far as Maine, and was elected constable, selectman and eventually deputy to the General Court when he lived at Middleboro. He relocated to Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard in 1694 where he was ordained.
The Dunham Genealogy shows Jonathan having a son Eleazar, and indicates that we are descended from him. The book gives no details of this Eleazar, and an attempt to find out more about him was the stimulus that started this investigation in the summer of 2000. There is no evidence that Jonathan's son, Eleazar ever married or had children.
Recent research shows that we are descended from Jonathan's younger brother, Joseph, born about 1636 in Plymouth. Joseph married Mercy Morton, and their second child was Nathaniel, born about 1662 in Plymouth. Nathaniel married Mary Tilson. Their seventh child was Lemuel, born in 1705. Confusion comes from the fact that in the early days in New England most births were not recorded, and also that given names, such as Nathaniel and Jonathan were used repeatedly in all branches of the family.
In this new Dunham Genealogy the order in which the children of Deacon John have been arranged, and the dates of birth associated with each are based on their ages given at the time of death. Nevertheless, they are educated guesses. John, 1588, Joseph, 1636, Nathaniel, 1662, and Lemuel, 1705 is how it now looks. Starting with Lemuel we can be quite certain of our lineage.
Banks, Charles Edward. The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers.... Baltimore, MD.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1962
Dunham, Isaac Watson. Dunham Genealogy: Deacon John Dunham of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Hartford, Connecticut, 1907.
Mahony, Gratia Dunham. Research. Andover, Massachusetts, 2000.
Willison, George Findlay. Saints and Strangers.... New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, New York, 1945.
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