These pages of the stilson book will be the forward and the Before New England, more to come on other pages. And thankyou again for you patience as I put this together.Forgive me while I try to get the Links right, some may not go exactly to the right spots. p.4
Over the past years the name William Stilson has surfaced on occasion. It was published in at leat one source that William was the father of Vincent Stilson. The Banks Dictionary of early immigrants lists both a William Stetson and a William Stilson (1601-1691). Information of William Stetson is described, but none for William Stilson. Banks died before completing his research, however, it could be speculated that it was a duplication of the same person, namely William Stetson. This is also confirmed by Massachusetts probate records which frequently list information regarding William Stetson i court records. It can be fairly well assumed that he is the same person, however, the spelling of his name ranges from "Stetson" to "Stitson" to "Stiltson" and more.p.5
In the Charlestown Genealogies and Estates volume he is listed as STILSON, William followed by "Stitson" and "Stetson". It lists his occupation as ferrymen, and he was probably also a merchant. His first wife was Elizabeth Harris, his second was Mary Norton (m. August 22, 1670 per IGI files/temple sealing record.) New England marriages lists the unionof Elizabeth Harris and William in America. If William were the father of Vincent, then it would have meant he had married previously in England and had a son vincent there.
William Stetson's will was filed April 23, 1688 in Charlestown, Massachusetts. The book PIONEERS OF MASSACHUSETTS by Charles Henry Pope, published in 1900, has drawn from a variety of public records to record the early settlers of that state between 1620 and 1650. The name Stilson does not appear, but there are several references to William. The most important is a short biography and a copy of his will. It reads: William Stetson, Yeoman, Boston, propr. 1687 rem. to Charlestown before 1640; propr. next to Winnisimmet bounds. Deacon. Had accounts with persons in Bristol, England, January 1640. He m. 1) widow Elizabeth Harris 2) Mary widow of Zechariah Hill, whose ch. Thomas, Daniel and Ann are callled cousins by Richard Eels in 1639. His will dated 12 April 1668, prob. 21 November 1692 bequeaths to John, Thomas, William and Daniel Harris and Anna, wife of Elias Maverick, ch. of his first wife; to Sarah Norton, daughter of his late wife Mary; to Deborah, wife of Matthew Griffen and Zechariah and Abraham, sons of her former husband, Zechariah Hill, to kinsmen Elias Hill and Abigail his wife; to Sarah Johnson who now dwells with me; Negro Sambo shall have his freedom. Another listing shows the will of Elias Maverick, m. to Anna Harris, (presumably the daughter of Williams first wife) and lists Deacon William Stetson as overseer of his estate.
William Charles Tisllson, Notes on Stilson genealogy quote from a letter by Donald Lines Jacobus, a noted genealogist of the era. He replies, "The Descendants of Cornet Robert Stetson, by Oscar Frank Stetson, page 9, states that Deacon William Stetson beame an inhabitant of Charlestown in 1632 and was admitted to the church with his wife Elizabeth in 1633; states his second marriage to the widow Mary (Norton) Hill, and states his death. He states that William became wealthy, that he had no children of his own."
The evidence seems very strong that there is no connection between William and Vincent. There is no mention of Vicent or any of the other family members in any land documents, court proceedings and most importantly, the last will and testatment of William Stetson. Both William Charles Stillson and Bertha Taft-Keith had come to similar conclusions.
BEFORE NEW ENGLAND
What little information we have to date about the origins of Vincent Stilson comes from a variety of sources: FROM THE RESEARCH OF WILLIAM CHARLES STILLSON IN HIS BOOK PUBLISHED IN 1939: "From the meager information available regarding Vincent I it is almost impossible to follow the thread of his life. Probably he was born in England about 1620-25. One may assume this because he is listed among the "principal after planters" in Milford, Conn. in 1646."And more... The following is an excerpt from a letter I (William Charles Stillson) received from William Earl Stilson, under date of February 2, 1927. "I looked up the family history a few years ago, but have lost track of my notes. Vincent came to America in 1648, settled in Malden, Massachusetts, and was a smithy by trade. He had some sons and by the time of the Revolutionary War there were a number of Stilsons who served in the American Army. I believe all the Stilsons are of the same original stock, though of course I have no real proof. The names Amos, Anson, Frank, William and David are all family names."p.6
FROM BERTHA TAFT KEITH: It is believed that Vincent was of English origin, but his birthplace is unknown. The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. 51, pages 29-34, refers to him as Lieutenant Vincent Stilson.
Jacobus explains in the volume by William Charles Stillson: "I suppose it would be hard to find his English origin withoug undertaking expensive research abroad. I have seen no evidence that he held commissioned rank, though he is probably the preson referred to as Sergt. Stilson in Essex County Court Records. I have not seen evidence that Vincent was ever in Milford until about 1680."
From the Ref. Historical Sketches of Milford, page 13, by Mrs. Sherman and included in the work by William Charles Stillson we have: " It is thought that many of the Milford settlers may have come with the John Davenpor group, but as there is no list of his followers, this cannot be proved. Most of the planters of Milford were from Essex Co., Mass. and York Co. Many of the first group were from Weathersfield, Conn. Little is known of Vincent Stilson but that he appears in Marblehead between 1668 and 1674. He appears to have been one of the early planters for on the list of "principal after planters" from 1646 to 1660 is the name of Vincent Stilson. He died 1690. Every planter was compelled to bear his proportion of the expense of settling and laying out lots and received land in proportion to the amount he had contributed."
A successful visit to the Archives of Milford achieved the following success for Stilson/Stillson family researcher Frank Stilson of Massachusetts. The original document was obtained for viewing that shows the plots assigned to the Milford colonists:
Dated 1646 it reads, "Vincent Stilson (name listed in margin) then followed by: Vincent Stilson hath given to him by the town for a homelott a parcel of land lying in the northwest corner of Clarke Inclosure containing three roods of land be it more or less being bounded with Gerorge Clarke Jr., East, a high way North, and Comon East and South. It is granted to him with these conditions, namely that he build upon it ____ ____ ____ ____ not sell it, without the town's consent.
STILSON DESCENDANTS: One Stilson descendant reports that Vincent was born between 1620 and 1625 near Herefordshire, England, that borders on Wales. Another states that they may have come from Scotland or may have been of English-Scotch descent. Another Stilson descendent, Janice Hanson, writes the following information, her source is unknown. "Vincent Stilson born between 1620-1625 near Herefordshire, England... possibly of Scotch-English descent."
Mark Kennedy Windover, a professional genalogist was contacted in 1992. He specializes in research in the British Isles. In looking over the information on Vincent and his possible origins he writes:p.7
"I would certainly agree that there is no apparent connection between Vincent Stilson and William Stetson. William's will makes that quite clear. In fact, it does not appear to me that Vincent is closely related to any of the Stetsons who settled in New England in the 17th century."
Mr. Windover continues, "The surname Stil(l)son certainly is an unusual one. It would seem to have Anglo-Saxon origin, but that is only a guess. More to the point, either of the family traditions, that the immigrant ancestor of Englis (Herefordshire) or Scottish heritage might be correct. The name Vincent itself is an English one. However, I note the names Vincent gave to his children include some which are favorites of Scots, such as James, Agnes and Hugh. Then again, Hugh is a name which is commonly used in Wales too, and Herefordshire is just along the Welsh border. The use of the name Moses clearly marks him as a Puritan. Charles, Mary and Susanna are common English names. If all this seems confusing, it certainly does indicate thata ny of the theories about Vincent"s background might be accurate. I believe that the military title Vincent seems to have borne is probably related to the militia in New England. I therefore doubt seriously that British military records would help."
After conducting some preliminary research Mark Kennedy Windover reported that there was no thread found as to the origins of Vincent. The name "Stilson" appears in a variety of areas in early England, but in very scattered regions. Mark reports that it is a very rare name in the British isles and feels it is a British name. As to the origins of the name Stilson, his instinct tells him it may be patronymic, but the basis for it is questionable. It isn't an obvious variation of a personal name. There are old English names of Stiles or Stil. Vincent is an unusual name for an English man, he notes, for a man of that timeperiod. He also noted that the names of the chldren were varied. Hugh being a Britannic name while Moses is not a British name but the name of a good puritan.
The only lead we possess is the possible connection with Hereforshire and a birth perhaps around 1620. We have been unable to locate any passenger registries bearing the name of Vincent. It could be that he accompanied another family to America, thus his name might not have been registered.
Mrs. Sherman in the Historical Sketches of Milford, page 13, writes: "It is thought that many of the Milford settlers may have come with the John Davenport groupd, but as there is no list of his followers, this cannot be proved. Most of the planters of Milford were from Essex Co., Mass and York Co.Many of the first group were from Weathersfield, Conn. Liitle is known of Vincent Stilson but that he was i Marlehead between 1668 and 1674. He appears to have been one of the early planters for on the list of "principal after planters" from 1646 to 1660 is the name of Vincent Stilson. He died in 1690. Every planter was compelled to bear his portion of the expense of settling and laing out lots and received land in proportion to the amount he contributed."
A seven page typed sheet, the source of it unknown, was provided by one relative. It lists a bibliography which includes volumes such as Bardsley, English and Welsh Surnames. 1901; Surnames of the United Kingdon Vol. 2 by Harrison, 1918; and Registers of the Cathedral Church of Manchester, Vol 31, 1908 as well as sources more well known such as the Genealogical Dictionary by Savage. It is titledThe Name and Family of Stilson and states; "The name of STILSON is of English origin but of comparatively obscure derivation. The most probably source is of the name is in "son of the still", that is, son of the quiet, the gentle. Another possible derivation is found in "Style<" of which "Styles," meaning Style's son", is the usual genitive form. Styleson could quite easily have become Stileson and then Stilson. The fact that the name is frequently spelled in the early English records with an "e" in place of the first "i" gies rise to thepossibility that the name was originally "son of Steel", and Steel being an early variant of the ancient Danish personal name of Stall. However this may be, the first to use the patronymic was the son of one who called himself Still, STyle, or Steel.
The article continues: "In ancient English and Early American records the anem appears i the various forms of Steleson, Stelesons, Steelsonne, Steelson, Stelesonne, Stilsonn, Stillsonne, Stillsonn, Stilesonne, Stilsonne, Stielson, Stilleson, Stillson, Stilson, and others. Of these the las two are the spellings most frequently found in America in modern times. Although the family is a small one in England, the reocrds of Manchester contain numerous references to the name. (NOTE: See unplaced Stilsons for a list of some of these.) As early as 1573 Reynold Stelesons, of Manchester, had a daughter christened Elline. In 1583 Anne, widow of Franncys Steelson or Francis Stilson, was buried at Manchester. Thomas Steelson, of Manchester, married in the yar 1588 to Issabell Read; and it was probably the same Thomas who had issue in 1592 of a daughter named Elizabeth. Thomas Steleson, of Manchester, Possibly the same as the Thomas above mentioned, died in the year 1598. William Stelesonne or Stilson, also of Manchester, was buried in 1605. Generally speaking, the bearers of the anem in England belonged to the yeomanry and to the merchant class. Not particularly distinguished inpublic affairs, their records are only fragmentary and give little information concerning the family....the article continues with the information already stated on the first apperance of Vincent and notes several other Stilson persons whom the writer of the document had not placed as relatives of Vincent.
Leslie Stilson of Utah supplies us witht he following interesting accounting of the name Stilson from several surname books. One titles, Surname Book and Racial History says "Stillson - Eng., Still's son." Another book by Smith called American surnames reports that "Merely quiet men were STILL in England, Fromm in Germany and Cichon in Poland. STILL may also designate the Englishman who lived near the fishing place or trap, from Old English "Still." From the Dictionary of British Surnames by Reaney (929.4 R23d) we have Still, Stille. This may be for Stile, with a shortened vowel, but there seems to have been stiell, or still "place for catching fish" or "trap for wild animals," found in stildon (Worcs). Hence, a name for a fisherman or trapper.
One thought in pursuing the orgins of Vincent was to locate some other relatives that remained in England. The Hearth Tax book for the Herefordshire area was compiled in the late 1600's and lists only statistics, no names are mentioned. A list of parishes for Hereforshire was obtained, but the number are enormous. Some, however date back to the 1500's, but without knowing where to look, the search is futile.
Today Hereforshire is now Hereford and Worchester Counties. What English Censuses were available in the Family History Library were searched and there were no records found of Vincent or any of his possible Stilson kin i Hereford County. The records of Worchester and Herefordshire were also searched. No records of any Stilsons/Stillsons were found. With dogged determintation the 1988 microfilm of English census records of the Family History Library was checked for every county in England, Wales and Scotland. the final listing of British Stilson/Stillson found in the entire British Empire yielded a paltry few. None listed in Herefordshire County. The listing is found at the end of this book under Unplaced Stilsons.BEFORE NEW ENG & 1st GENERATION
While one company does offer heraldry for the Stilson family, it shows it as Germanic in origin. We are skeptical as to the authenticity of this coat of arms. Another source says that a careful search of all available heraldic records fails to disclose any coat of arms belonging to this family.
By 1993 we have lost a great many facts through the years, but we also have the advantage of a great deal more information being accessible, via the Family History Library, books in print, microfilm and computers. As was reported back in 1939 to William Charles Stillson, research on the heritage of Vincent Stilson in England may require a costly, hands-on approach in his land of origin.
It appears that while the Stilson/Stillson family flourished in America, it did not do as well in the homeland. So for now, the ancestry of Vincent Stilson remains in the hands of his future descendants to uncover!
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a Bible Record & cont. 3rd Generation
Maintained by Margaret Lee
4:09 PM 8/24/00
Monday, 09-Oct-2000 20:08:40 MDT