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Bridgham Family History

Includes information on the descendents of Henry Bridgham

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Welcome to the Bridgham Family Tree (pronouced BRIDGE-um, not BRIG-um, BRIG-ham, or BRIDGE-ham). This web site contains a family tree consisting of the descendents of Henry and Ursula (Brett) Bridgham. Henry Bridgham is the earliest known Bridgham of record. He was born about 1580 in Thelnethan, England. It can only be assumed that his father, whose name is unknown, was born in the nearby village of Bridgham in Norfolk, England. It is easy to imagine that he introduced himself (let's call him Henry also) as "Henry, of Bridgham." as was the custom of the day. Eventually, the "of" was dropped, and he became known simply as Henry Bridgham.

Henry's son, also a Henry, imigrated to the colonies in 1641. According to Elmer Bridgham, Henry was a "Dissenter," or "Nonconformist," one of a sect that rebelled against the establishment of the Church of England. In today's society, we would probably consider that to be a cult, but in those days, they sought religious freedom in the new land. Henry followed one of the sect's leaders, Jonathan Burr to America, where he planted roots in Boston, set up a tannery, married Elizabeth Harding, and became a stabalizing influence in this young city.

Later generations moved to Rhode Island and Maine, where the largest number of Bridghams are still living. Today, we can be found living in most of the states. As far as can be determined, all the Bridghams in America today are descended from Henry and Elizabeth; therefore thay are all related. Very few families can make that claim.

Although the Bridgham line goes back no further than 1583, some maternal lines go back much further. Many Bridghams are descended from Joseph Bridgham and Abigail Willard. She is the great-granddaughter of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins of the Mayflower, immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in "The Courtship of Miles Standish".

John Bridgham (1729 to 1815) was a Captain in the Revolutionary War. All of his descendents are eligible for membership in the DAR ("Daughters of the American Revolution").

Ebenezer Bridgham (1743 to about 1794) had the misfortune of siding with the British during the Revolutionary War. He and his family and hundreds of other Loyalists were banished to Canada after the war, with orders never to return. Little is known of his descendants, other than one daughter, Henriette who married a Frenchman, Joseph Alexis Cazin D'Honincthun and moved to France where today there are hundreds of French cousins who are probably unaware that they are descended from an American Bridgham.

There are still a few Bridghams in England, but little is known about them. They may also be descended from Henry and Ursula, or from one of Henry's brothers. Or they may be unrelated, being descended from another village emmigrant who also introduced himself as being "of Bridgham." I have found a few Australians who acknowledge being descended from Bridghams, but no Australians who actually go by that surname.

The biggest remaining family mystery of the origin of Hezekiah Bridgham... It is not known how, if at all, he fits into the family tree. Was he a son of one of the early Bridghams of Boston? Did he immigrate to America on his own? Is he even descended from Henry and Ursula?

Many family trees include "Mary Bridgham" or "Mary Bridgum," wife of Thomas Benedict (1617 to 1689). There in fact was a Mary Bridgham living about that time, but there is no good evidence that this is the same one that married Thomas Benedict. On the contrary, there are records that show that Mary Bridgham married George Wiffen. Most family trees have conflicting information regarding Mary's parents. For these reasons, I have not included the wife of Thomas Benedict in this genealogy.

There is no evidence that the family name of Bridgham is derived from, or has changed into, any other family name. In particular, there is no known relationship between the name Bridgham and Brigham. "Bridgeham" is a common mispelling of the name. Most Bridgehams found in census and other historical records are really Bridghams. Today, there are much fewer Bridgehams than there are Bridghams. A recent search of AltaVista People Finder listed 186 Bridghams and only 3 Bridgehams (and over a thousand Brighams).

Other "colateral" family names that are prominent in this tree are Backus, Bassett, Buck, Clark, Coburn, Deming, Dunning, Holyoke, Lay, Martin, Marvin, Tillotson, and Willey.

There are bound to be mistakes in this family tree. If you find any, please feel free to notify the author, Joel Bridgham. I have tried to source as many of the facts as I could, but you will find some without sources. Also, you will find a number of contradictory facts, as is normal in genealogical records. Rather than try to guess which ones are and are not correct, I have included them all.

If you are interested in pursuing genealogy on your own, I highly recommend Cyndi's List as a good starting point for references to other resources, and the Family Search of the Mormon Church. Ancestry.com provides online access to census images (some years are indexed), but you must subscribe to see them. RootsWeb.com is a non-profit organization that uses volunteers to collect and post genealogical information.

 

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Site last updated : 7th July 2002