How Religious Intolerance Got Me Pregnant With My Husband’s Cousin


What? What the hell does that mean? you say. I shall explain.

As you may or may not know, I’ve been doing genealogy for about 1o years or so. As any other genealogist, I am always wondering if I’m related to anyone I know and over the years I have not found anyone. I’ve also tried to figure out if I may be my own cousin, or my own Grandpa, as the song goes, but alas, this discovery has not been made yet. Recently though, I figured out some things that might very well make me my husband’s cousin – what fun! This seemed to vex the spouse a but, but made me slightly giddy deep down inside.

See, it all begins back in the 1600’s in a little town called Plymouth. There settled a whole gaggle of folks who were trying to escape the religious intolerance of England. Of course, this didn’t mean they liked any else’s religion, it just meant that they preferred theirs and wanted to have their own place just for themselves. And so, in 1629 on the second voyage of the Mayflower (yes, there were two), came Thomas Blossom, my husband’s 12th great grandfather. He was a Puritan, of course, and Deacon of the church in Plymouth Colony. He had a daughter named Elizabeth who married Edward FitzRandolph in 1637 and one of their kids was Nathaniel FitzRandolph, my husband’s 9th and 10th great grandfather. Yeah, well, more about that later.

In the meantime, back in England, was the widow Anne Perkins, my 11th great grandmother. She had been married to a dude named John and had three kids by him, one being John Bryant in 1618, my 10th great grandfather. The story goes that John Sr. died and the family lawyer, John Doane, who was also widowed, told Anne that if he married her he would take her and the boys to Plymouth where they could be as happy as Puritans were permitted to be without going to hell. Anne agreed and in 1630 they arrived on the Handmaid.

John Doane, my 11th great step-grandfather was as popular among the Colonial Puritans as was his friend Thomas Blossom. Doane even replaced poor Thomas as the church deacon in 1633 when Tommy died of fever during an epidemic in the colony that year. So, if they were such good friends, then I bet there had to be at least one intermarriage, right? That means I must be my hubby’s cuz – but who and how?

Not so fast, rabbit. It seems that the Blossom grandkids were, dare I say, upstarts! Apparently, Nathaniel, the eldest of the FitzRandolph kids became… a Quaker! It’s been thought that he switched over when he married Mary Holley, but who knows. What we do know is that the Puritan’s hated Quakers, – a lot. They persecuted them horribly and in 1658 even tried to outlaw them by seizing boatloads of Quakers trying to land at Sandwich. Around 1677, Nate was one of the people who asked for tolerance of the Society of Friends, a Quaker organization,  in Massachusetts, but the Puritans told him that this wasn’t gonna happen and so he packed up the wife and kids and moved them all to Woodbridge, NJ where he was followed by many of his siblings. My ancestors stayed in Mass and are the Bryants of Scituate, some of whom went to Maine.

So there you have it, my ancestors hated my husband’s (in-laws, sheesh!), they moved really far away from each other, the Quakers became Presbyterians, the Puritans became Baptists, and so would never, ever hook up until years later when no one cared or even knew anything about this stuff. The end.

But wait, what about that weird double great grandpa thing and how does that make my daughter my husband’s cousin or something. Oh, right… that. Well, it seems that the FitzRandolphs like to keep things in the family. It wasn’t a Quaker thing, they frowned upon that quite a bit and even discouraged the marriages of second cousins. The FitzRandolphs didn’t seem to care much and I have found at least two instances of FR cousins gettin’ hitched and makin’ babies. The situation that concerns us here is that of Nathaniel the Quaker lover. He was born in 1642 and had a son named Samuel born in 1668, who is also 8th and 9th great grandfather at the same time of my husband making him the 10th and 11th of our daughter.  Nate and Sammy had lots of descendants. Grace FR, born 1727 was a  great-granddaughter of Nate while Francis FR, born 1738, was a granddaughter of Sam. The girls are fourth cousins once removed. At least I think they are removed. Well, anyhow, they both got married and had lots of kids and in 1820, Grace’s great granddaughter, Lettie Thornell married Francis’ grandson, Stewart Crowell. Stewart and Lettie’s daughter married a guy whose family came to America way after the FitzRandolphs did and who was absolutely no relation to any of them. But the damage was done. This fella married a girl who was her own cousin – or was she her own aunt?

So, there you have it. Because my ancestors chased my husband’s ancestors out of Plymouth colony over 300 years ago, we met in NY and got married. And because my husband’s acestors didn’t pay attention to what the hell they were doing, I got pregnant with his like 15th cousin a gajillion times removed. Or his niece, I dunno.

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One Response to How Religious Intolerance Got Me Pregnant With My Husband’s Cousin

  1. wagnerowicz says:

    for any one who cares, and I suspect it’s only like three people, I recently found a book about the genealogy of the Hodsdon family of MA and ME – old Nick Hodsdon was my 9th great grandpa. Well, it appears that I am also my own and my daughter’s cousin while being myself and her mother at the same time. BUT you will all be relieved to know that as far as am aware, I am NOT related to my husband other than via that whole marriage situation. So there.

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