If you have traced your line back to Thomas and Dorothy, and hope to go further in your research, you need to be aware of the problems that exist in the written histories and genealogys. There are two theorys, I am aware of, at this time. From my reading, nothing yet is proven.
Consider the book published in 1997 by the esteemed New England Historic Genealogical Society - Katharine W. Hiam, "Burgess Genealogy: Descendants of the Four Sons of Thomas Burgess and Dorothy (Waynes)Burgess"
- First argument
These are the ancestors according to the research and book of Paul F Burgess, The Burgess History Tree. I offer them here just as I extracted them from his book for your consideration.
- Second argument
I'm very grateful for the time, travel, cost and energy for all of these involved genealogist and authors. They are most gracious in sharing their hard work and understanding for my edification. For my records I go back no further than Thomas and Dorothy Burgess at this time.
- As for me
(last saved 8 October 1993)
Joe and Joyce Burgess Email: Joe Burgess
"Thomas and Dorothy Burgess and their young family came from Cornwall, England in (or not far from) 1630 and settled in Lynn (or Salem), Massachusetts Bay Colony." All Burgess researchers have seen similar statements - and some have accepted part or all as fact. Our purpose in this article is to question (and perhaps generate some discussion about) the Cornwall origin, but first let us look briefly at the supposed arrival date of the Burgess family in New England.
"I do not know who was the first one responsible for the assertion that Thomas came to these shores about 1630, lived in Lynn or Salem, within Essex County, Mass., thence to Plymouth Colony with the Saugus (then part of Lynn) group. But there seems not an iota of documentary proof for the idea. My careful study shows no evidence that Thomas was ever of the Bay Colony; it is apparently just an example of those myths oft repeated, sans checking, by the copiests." These words are found in Burgess Lineage, a typescript prepared for a client in 1957-1958 by Winifred Lovering Holman, S.B., F.A.S.G., whose manuscript collection is now in the NEHGS Library in Boston. (Miss Holman later married Frank R. Dodge and we will refer to her hereafter as Mrs. Dodge. We consider her discussion of the early Burgess generations in this country to be the most authoritative and best documented we have seen and will cite it several more times in the following paragraphs.) For the first chapter alone, devoted to the progenitor, Thomas Burgess or Burge, she reviewed nearly ninety references and cited many of them. The first official record for Thomas Burgess places him in Duxbury on 3 July 1637 and shortly thereafter he is found in Sandwich. Until we see an iota or two of documentary proof, we must consider any statement of Thomas' presence in New England much prior to this date as conjecture.
For a time we too believed it very likely that Thomas was from Cornwall; we now consider it only a possibility. We began our genealogical pursuits in 1985 while living in Saudi Arabia where there are no genealogical libraries and our alternative was to create our own. One of our early acquisitions was the three volume Genealogies of Mayflower Families from the New England Historical and Genealogical Record, selected and introduced by Gary Boyd Roberts and published in 1985 by the Genealogical Publishing Company., Inc. A check of the indices quickly led us to Volume III and the article, "Ezra Perry of Sandwich, Mass." by Lydia B. (Phinney) Brownson and Maclean W. McLean. On page 4, first published in The Register, Vol. 115 (Apr. 1961), we found "Elizabeth (Burges) Perry, born probably in or near Truro, Cornwall, England, about 1629, was the only daughter of Thomas and Dorothy Burges of Sandwich." The compilers did not disclose the basis for this probability, but we were elated; we had a clue!
Not long after, we received a letter from a newly discovered cousin telling us that another cousin had told her that our Thomas was believed to have been the son of Thomas Jr. and Elizabeth (Pye) Burges of Truro, Cornwall and the grandson of Thomas and Honner (Sidman) Burges, also of Truro. Because of the Perry/Cornwall link, we had already planned to visit Truro on our next trip to England and we immediately wrote to the unknown cousin, asking for more information about the Truro Thomas and the possibility that he could be identical to the Thomas who married Dorothy Waynes in Tanfield, co. York, in 1628.
Our letter was forwarded to R. A. Lovell, Jr., then the Archivist/Historian at the Sandwich (Mass.) Archives & Historical Center. He replied, "We have resource material on many Cape Cod families, and try to establish what is proven and detailed, as against what is claimed or hopeful. Unfortunately much that is in print and has been used by many researchers is not in the proven category." Mr. Lovell included in his reply a copy of a 15 April 1964 letter found in the Burgess material in Mrs. Dodge's papers in the NEHGS. The author, Benjamin F.Wilbour (also a descendant of Thomas and Dorothy Burgess), told Mrs. Dodge of his discovery of the Thomas Burgess and Dorothy Waynes marriage record and added, "In the Hartford Times someone tied him up to the Burgess family of Truro in Cornwall who had a Thos. bapt. 1601... I think this very wrong, as people did not marry out of their class then, and "Goodman" Burgess who could not sign his name would hardly come from the gentry." Mr. Lovell, referring to Mr. Wilbour, stated "He therefore feels, as we do, that it is much more likely that our Thomas was the one who married Dorthy Waynes in York in 1628. However, there is no proof either way."
Other cousins, in more recent correspondence, have observed that certainly our Thomas, who "served the town in every office, humble or honorable, from road-surveyor to deputy to the Court at Plymouth" and who was called a chief man of the town, must have been literate. They point out that because of age and other infirmities, many literate persons have signed their wills with a mark and that others, especially those with strong religious convictions, signed their wills with a mark closely resembling a cross. Others, citing such works as Rev. Dr. Ebenezer Burgess' Burgess Genealogy, Memorial of the Family of Thomas and Dorothy Burgess, who were Settled at Sandwich, in the Plymouth Colony, in 1637 (Boston: Press of T. R. Marvin & Son, 1865) and Dr. Barry Hovey Burgess' Burgess Genealogy, Kings County, Nova Scotia Branch of the Descendants of Thomas and Dorothy Burgess who came from England in 1630 and settled in Sandwich, Massachusetts (New York: Chas. E. Fitchett, 1941), claim that Thomas actually signed his will with his signature. True, the wills as printed in these volumes contain no indication that they were signed with a mark and the witnesses to the will made oath "that they saw Thomas Burgess sign, seal and declare this to be his last Will and Testament." Dr. Ebenezer Burgess included the notation, "Orthography slightly amended." Dr. Barey Hovey copied from Dr. Ebenezer Burgess and added, "The compiler has searched in vain for the original document, in the hope of here presenting a photostatic copy. He fails to see any advantage in altering its orthography, for which, in those days, there were no established rules; in fact, a variety of spelling was considered by some a mark of literary skill. The purpose of any document is to convey its intent in unmistakable terms, and in this respect the will of Thomas Burgess compares most favorably with present-day documents, many of which are so encumbered with complicated legal phrases that their interpretation would defy the wisdom of Socrates."
Mrs. Dodge, in Burgess Lineage, gives us a copy of the will with unaltered orthography, with this caveat: "This seems to be an imperfect copy; it is from the official copies of the Plymouth Colony Wills, Mass. Archives, made from the volumes on file at Plymouth, Mass. The Rev. Ebenezer Burgess in his book on the family may have used the copy in the volumes at Plymouth." In addition to the unaltered orthography, the version given by Mrs. Dodge contains a significant difference: "Thomas Burg his T mark (seal)." We thus establish that not only did Thomas sign his will with his mark, but that his mark was not an "X" or a cross, but a "T." At the time he "signed" his will, Thomas was over 80 years of age and his inability to then write his full name is not proof of illiteracy. To establish that fact, we must look at earlier documents bearing his mark.
Mrs. Dodge states, "It is entirely clear that neither Thomas or his son, Jacob2 Burgess, were able to write; few could sign their names in that epoch." In her chapter on Thomas, she cites documents spanning a full thirty years before the date of Thomas' will. It will be noted that in each instance where his mark is described, it is a "T":
o 5 April 1654 - Thomas Burgis of Sandwidge sold land to ffrancis Allen of Sandwidge, acknowlidged by Thomas Burgess senir and Dorothy his wife before Myles Standish: "The marke of Tho T Burgis."
o 27 Dec 1654 - Thomas Burgis of Sandwidge sold land to John Jenkens of Sandwidge: "Thomas Burgis mark."
o 11 Jul 1667 - Thomas Burge witnessed, by mark, an Indian deed.
o 28 May 1668 - An indenture between Thomas Burg and Edmond ffreeman senr: "The mark of Thomas T Burg senior." Mrs. Dodge included a photocopy of a reduced photograph of this indenture, clearly showing Thomas' mark as a "T."
o 4 Oct 1682 - Inventory of the estate of Mr. Edmond Freeman, late of Sandwich deceased: witnessed by the "Mark of Thomas Burge senir.
o 4 Apr 1684 - Will of Thomas Burg Senr: "Thomas Burg his T mark."
On our final departure from Saudi Arabia in 1987 we spent a week in the library of the Society of Genealogists in London and then enjoyed a one-on-one tutorial with Gary Boyd Roberts at NEHGS, followed a few weeks later by a week long Come Home to New England Seminar, also at NEHGS. Thomas Burgess was no stranger to any of the professional genealogists who assisted us during those weeks; all advised us that given their knowledge of the resources available in their respective libraries, our limited time would be better spent researching other families where we would be far more likely to be successful. A genealogist at the Society of Genealogists pointed out the improbability of our Thomas being the son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Pye) Burgess, noting that in the will of the latter Thomas, written 22 April 1626, his son Thomas was listed last of six sons who had not yet "accomplished the age of one and twenty," suggesting that he was the youngest, born probably not much before 1613 and quite likely several years later. This conclusion was supported by the 1620 Visitation of Truro, listing no Thomas among the children of Thomas and Elizabeth (Pye) Burgess.
Thanks to the advice to look elsewhere, we gathered so much data on other ancestral families during our week and a day at NEHGS that over five years later we are still entering that data into our computer files. In late 1991 we discovered or were discovered by several new Burgess cousins, causing us to look anew at our Burgess data. Edith Spencer, one of our new cousins, reminded us of the Truro Visitation and Cornwall wills - which we had almost forgotten until dusting off our notes - and inspiring us to a renewed effort in talking to our computer. Some of our new cousins are convinced of the Cornwall origin, some share our doubts, and some "just don't know what to believe." Our advice: don't believe anything until it is proven!
Notes for Thomas Burgess
Marriage: Parish of Chester-le-Street, Tanfield, England 1628 to Dorothy (Waynes? - this is a question) according to "The Burgess History Tree" by Paul F. Burgess, she is Dorothy Waynes or Pippen.
INFORMATION: The source of Thomas Burgess born 16 Aug 1601
Truro, Cornwall, England is the book "The Burgess History Tree" by Paul
F. Burgess. The research then offered in this book is the source
of his parentage.
Notes for Dorothy (---)
POSSIBLE SURNAME OF DOROTHY, WIFE OF THOMAS BURGESS:
A Thomas Burgess and a Dorothy Waynes were married in Tanfield, York,
England, in 1628, according to a record from "Paver's Marriage Licenses" as listed in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Vol. 20, Pg. 74, 1909.
Winifred Lovering Holman's "Burgess Lineage, 1957-1958," a typescript in the New England Historic-Genealogical Society library, gives Dorothy Phippen as being the wife of this Thomas Burgess.
Children of Thomas BURGESS and Dorothy (---) were as follows:
i Thomas Burgess , , born abt 1627 in Truro, Cornwall, England; died 1687.
ii John Burgess , , born abt 1628 in Truro, Cornwall, England; died 1701 in Yarmouth, Barnstable, Massachusetts. BIRTHPLACE: Although two of the listings in the Ancestral File use Sandwich, MA as the birthplace of this John Burgess, it appears that he was probably born in England and was part of the "young family" of Thomas Burgess that arrived in Salem, MA about 1630. In 1657 John Burgess was admitted freeman. In 1661 served as grand juror. Removed to Yarmouth, MA and was deputy to the court at Plymouth in 1680.
iii Elizabeth Burgess , , born abt 1631 in Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts; died 26 Sep 1717. BIRTH: Burgess Genealogy, Memorial to the family of Thomas and Dorothy Burgess, by Ebenezer Burgess gives birth as abt 1631, Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts. The Burgess History Tree, by Paul F. Burgess gives birth as abt. 1629, Truro, Cornwall, England.
iv Jacob Burgess , , born abt 1633 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts; died 17 Mar 1719. Born Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts in previous research
v Joseph Burgess , , born abt 1637 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts; died Aug 1695. Born Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts in previous research.
2. Thomas2 BURGESS , born abt 1570 in Truro, Cornwall, England; died 22 Apr 1626 in Truro, Cornwall, England; buried 7 May 1626 in Truro, Cornwall, England, son of 4. Thomas Burgess and 5. Honor (Sidnam) Burgess. He married on 27 Nov 1598 3. Elizabeth Pye ((---)) Burgess , born abt 1570 in Boddinicke, Cornwall, England, daughter of 6. Anthony Pye and 7. Constance (Pound) Pye.
Children of Thomas BURGESS and Elizabeth Pye (---) were as follows:
1 i Thomas1 Burgess , , , born 16 Aug 1601; christened 1603 in Truro, Cornwall, England; died 13 Feb 1685 in Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts; buried in Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts.
4. Thomas3 BURGESS , born abt 1550 in Truro, Cornwall, England; died 13 Aug 1623 in Truro, Cornwall, England, son of 8. Ellice Burgess. He married abt 1570 in Truro, Cornwall, England 5. Honor (SIDNAM) Burgess , born abt 1550 in Tregonie, Cornwall, England; buried 1 Jan 1632/33 in Truro, Cornwall, England, daughter of 9. Humphrey Sidnam and 10. Miss (Pye) Sidnam.
Children of Thomas BURGESS and Honor SIDNAM were as follows:
2 i Thomas2 Burgess , born abt 1570 in Truro, Cornwall, England; died 22 Apr 1626 in Truro, Cornwall, England; buried 7 May 1626 in Truro, Cornwall, England.
ii Henry2 Burgess .
iii Humphrey2 Burgess , died 1635.
iv Richard2 Burgess .
v Ann2 Burgess .
vi John (Josias?)2 Burgess , born 12 Jul 1598 in Truro, Cornwall, England.
vii Jane2 Burgess , born 12 Aug 1599 in Truro, Cornwall, England.
6. Anthony3 PYE He married 7. Constance (POUND) Pye .
Children of Anthony PYE and Constance POUND were as follows:
3 i Elizabeth Pye2 (---) , born abt 1570 in Boddinicke, Cornwall, England.
8. Ellice4 BURGESS , born abt 1530 in Truro, Cornwall, England He married unknown.
Children of Ellice BURGESS were as follows:
4 i Thomas3 Burgess , born abt 1550 in Truro, Cornwall, England; died 13 Aug 1623 in Truro, Cornwall, England.
9. Humphrey4 SIDNAM He married 10. Miss (PYE) Sidnam .
Children of Humphrey SIDNAM and Miss PYE were as follows:
5 i Honor3 Sidnam , born abt 1550 in Tregonie, Cornwall, England; buried 1 Jan 1632/33 in Truro, Cornwall, England.