08 April 2013

Bigamy in New London

Comments after the jump.

 Thomas Fitch

 Arrival: 1635 London to Boston, Mass
 Birth: 4 Feb 1760 in Bozrah, New London, Connecticut
 Marriage: 10 Mar 1782 to Freelove Smith in Lyme, New London, Connecticut
 Marriage: 1784 to Elizabeth Ellis in New London, Connecticut
 Marriage: 1784 to Mary Fitch
 Marriage: 1826 to Hannah Newton
 Residence: 1850 (U.S. Census) in Montville, New London, Connecticut
 Death: 2 Sep 1855 in Chesterfield, New London, Connecticut

 All children born in New London, Connecticut except * which don't have a birth place listed.

 Freelove Smith (1763-1783)
 ✿ William Fitch, B: 1783

 Elizabeth Ellis (1763-1824)
 ✿ Clarissa Fitch, B: 1786
 ✿ Asa Fitch, B: 1790
 ✿ Margaret Fitch, B: 1793
 ✿ Margaret Fitch Harvey, B: 1793
 ✿ Russell Fitch, B: 1798
 ✿ Sophia Fitch, B: 1800
 ✿ George Fitch, B: 1805

 Mary Fitch (1759-1851)
 ✿ Nancy Fitch, B: 1785
 ✿ Lizzie Loulval Fitch, B: 1786 (female)
 ✿ Loulval Fitch, B: 1786 (male)
 ✿ John Fitch, B: 1789
 ✿ Freelove Fitch, B: 1789
 ✿ James Fitch, B: 1790
 ✿ Mercy Fitch, B: 1795 (female)*
 ✿ Mercy Mary Fitch, B: 1795 (male)*
 ✿ Thomas Fitch, B: 1797
 ✿ Edwin Rufus Fitch, B: 1797

 Hannah Newton (1763-1850)

ⓑⓐⓡⓚⓘⓝⓖ  ⓤⓟ  ⓣⓗⓔ  ⓦⓡⓞⓝⓖ  ⓣⓡⓔⓔ

The clearest sign of a clickophile here is having an event, arrival in America, that occurs before the person is born. Here are a couple more:

Duplicate Children

Margaret Fitch & Margaret Fitch Harvey both born in 1793.
Lizzie Loulval Fitch (female) & Loulval Fitch (male) both born in 1786.
Mercy Fitch (male) & Mercy Mary Fitch (female) both born 1795.
The differences in each pair are key (i.e. different surnames, male vs. female) so the computer would show them as separate people and someone not paying attention would just click away without noticing. It's possible that Lizzie and Loulval are twins but I'm fairly certain the Margarets are not.


Marrying two women in the same year and having children with both women over the next 20 years is highly unlikely. Not all men named Thomas Fitch in Connecticut are the same person.
If Thomas' paternal line on this tree is correct...I know, I know, it's not likely but go with me on this. If Thomas' line on this tree is correct his great-great-great-grandfather is also named Thomas Fitch. So how many of Thomas' sons named one of their sons Thomas and how many of them named a son Thomas? You get the idea. Then think of the era. Families tended to stay in the same area for generations. Even if half of the Fitches left New London, Connecticut there could still be plenty of men named Thomas Fitch to drive their descendants crazy trying to sort them all out. That's what we do though, sort them out. We compare the details, research each family, and determine, to the best of our ability, which one is most likely our ancestor. Unfortunately that's not what clickophiles do. 

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  1. Yesterday, I visited Freelove and Thomas's grave in CHesterfield Cemetery, Monteville, CT. Thomas married poor Freelove Smith, who died in childbirth less than a year after her marriage. Thomas subsequently married Mary Allen Fitch, who lived a long time and produced many children. He had only one child, William, by Freelove (he survived the childbirth), who moved to Ohio, was residing there in 1850. I have pictures of the gravestone of his parents, with one wife on each side of the family marker.

  2. For Thomas Fitch of Montville,from Norwich Vital Records:
    Benjah's birth: https://archive.org/details/vitalrecordsofno01norwi/page/52
    Thomas's birth: https://archive.org/details/vitalrecordsofno01norwi/page/356
    This Thomas has a clear birth date of 1761 and a record of his parentage. He married first Freelove Smith, who died within the year giving birth, but the son, William, survived. A year later, he married Marry Allen. Thomas died in 1855.

    For Thomas Fitch of Preston (of which we find little) Preston Vital Records:

    This Preston Fitch was age 87 when in died in 1850. Therefore, he was born in 1763, not 1761. This Preston Fitch married twice, first Elizabeth, then Hannah. So far, I have been unable to trace his parents, unlike the Montville Fitch, who has vital statistics linking him to his father Benajah.

    In addition to this, my family has a letter written by Maria Starr Fitch (1842-1932) who lived still in Norwich and attested to Thomas Fitch of Montville being Benajah's son. Note that she would have been a child while Thomas was still alive.

  3. @ Unknown: Thanks for that extremely timely post. Just this week -- because of the m. of Thomas of Preston to Hannah (Newton) Williams, whose family I'm researching -- I have been trying to separate the two Thomas Fitches, and that letter from Maria Starr Fitch would seem to be the key piece of evidence: the 4 Feb. 1761 birth record, by itself, would seem possibly to tie either of the Thomases to Benajah & Sarah (or have I missed something?). Any clue at all as to the parents of the Preston fellow??? ... If you would possibly be willing to email me a scan of the letter, I am at worldgarden (at) igc (dot) org.

  4. ... and, following up: I see that Baker's report, in his History of Montville, of the two marriages of Thomas -- to Freelove Smith and then Mary Allen -- also connect him specifically to Benajah. That comes close to cinching it, _if_ one can assume that H.A. Baker was working from actual vital records. The problem is that the marriage _doesn't_ appear among the Norwich VRs, and I cannot find it via FamilySearch, Ancestry, or NEHGS. This may seem picky... but the fact is that the old histories are no less subject to error -- in the absence of primary sources such as VRs or family records -- than are modern online trees. Thus the letter would be strong closing evidence, if, Unknown, you're willing to make a digitized version available; or if you can point me to an actual VR or other original source for the marriage. Anything you can do will be much appreciated: I would like the genealogy on which I'm working to meet professional standards and be airtight.

  5. ... and just to (hopefully) wrap this up: the 1996 work, Descendants of the Reverend James Fitch, by John T. Fitch and Patricia M. Geisler [available online via archive (dot) org in limited preview], p. 332, contains what looks very much like an ironclad argument that Thomas _of Preston_ was actually the son of Jerabah and Sarah (Palmer) Fitch of that town. Land transactions and a receipt tie this Thomas a) to Preston, and b) to a son named Asa; Thomas of Montville had no recorded son of that name. This supports an 1899 DAR lineage book -- essentially contemporaneous with the Baker History of Montville -- which controverts Baker and clearly shows the line down from Jerabah of Preston to Thomas of Preston. I frankly cannot see a way around this evidence; it has reversed my view.