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Perkins Research Vacation

Two weeks off work with my spouse unavailable to travel. What is a person to do? In my case, you arrange a genealogy research vacation. No better family to focus than the Perkins line. Interesting stories, that go back far in time, into exotic locales. Without further ado, here is how I spent 12 days of vacation on the study of this one name.

Before the Trip
Four books, described in the photos below, provide the necessary ground work for the trip. The landmark book, “The Family of John Perkins of Ipswich” by George A. Perkins tracks Generations 1 through 5. Caroline Perkins in “The Descendants of Edward Perkins” (ironically named because our Perkins family has nothing to do with Edward Perkins) picks up the trail with generation 6, Francis Perkins. “Busha’s Romance” uncovers invaluable Jamaica facts, while “The History of Kings County” by Arthur W. H. Eaton provides Nova Scotia insights. Links are provided to the relevant passages of the old books that are off copyright.

Day 1: Landed in Boston Logan Airport
Landed at Logan airport, an appropriate place to start because John and Judith Perkins likely settled nearby after arriving from Hillmorton, England. One of the earlier references to John Perkins states: “that no person whatsoever shall shoot at fowl upon Pullen Point or Noddles Iseland, but that the said places shall be reserved for John Perkins to take fowl with nets”.  Both Pullen Point and Noddles Island (underlined in red on the 1775 map) are located next to the airport.

Day 2: Perkins Island, Ipswich Museum, Alexander Knight House, John Perkins Cane and Bible
A quick early morning drive down Perkins Row leads to the Ipswich Sanctuary where a canoe can be rented for the 45 minute trip to Perkins Island, owned by Quartermaster John Perkins. A great way to overcome the jet lag. Afternoon took me on the “Ipswich Walk” past a mural depicting a history of Ipswich, including a scene where the first Puritans, which included John Perkins, settled Agawan (the Indian name for Ipswich). Afternoon was spent at the Ipswich Museum. Although most visitors consider the historic colonel Whipple House the main attraction here, it is the tiny Alexander Knight House that stood out. Alexander Knight, whose daughter, Hannah, married Isaac Perkins, is our direct ancestor. After hitting hard times in Ipswich, the town took pity and decided to built him a tiny house in 1657, per a plan preserved in the town record. In 2015, the towns people again came together to built this house from the same blueprint – this time as an exhibit to illustrate a colonel house of the common man. According to the museum personnel, I was the first descendant to visit. Maybe family members should be entitled to lodge there. Or not. It’s really small.

The highlight of the tour came at the end of the afternoon with an examination of the John Perkins cane and bible that had been pulled from the archive. The cane has the inscription “i * p” (where i is an early form of j) engraved in the silver handle. Parts of the bible date back to 1599 in London. The good book, too fragile to open, has a wood cover dotted with small woodworm holes. Hold it and you get a sense of a deeply committed man who took a huge risk travelling with his family to America to freely practice his Puritan religion.


Day 3: Chebacco (now Essex) Massachusetts, Ipswich Gravesites and Old Houses
10 miles southeast of Ipswich lies Essex Massachusetts, where Isaac Perkins settled. When he and his son, Abraham, lived here, the area was still part of Ipswich, known as Chebacco. Isaac would have been expected to make the long journey to attend church in Ipswich until a local church was granted in 1683. I visited the Chebacco Old Burying Ground, followed by the more recent Spring Street Cemetery. One gets a sense how many Perkins settled this area by the large number gravestones bearing the family name. All likely descend from John and Judith Perkins.

In the afternoon, it was back to Ipswich to visit various landmarks. The Ipswich Old Burying Ground has no direct ancestors, but you can find gravestones for some ancient aunts and uncles. Then off to the site of the original John Perkins land grant. His youngest son, Jacob Perkins, inherited the land from his father and built a house on this property. The Perkins-Hodgkins house, built around 1700, sits on the foundation of the Jacob Perkins house. It has remained in the family, and has never been sold. Across the street is the original property of Quartermaster John Perkins.  Two quick days in Massachusetts, but time now to prepare for a quick night flight to Halifax in Nova Scotia.


A quick word about Abraham Perkins who married Elizabeth Ely. A drive to New London county, Connecticut would have been necessary to follow the Perkins path completely . Abraham moved from Chebacco to Lyme with his brother and two sisters. In Lyme he married Elizabeth Ely, namesake of the many Ely’s that would follow. If Abraham made this move in pursuit of better land, then he likely blew it (only one son remained by the next generation). Around 1758, the townspeople in New London county began negotiating with Nova Scotia government officials about free land in exchange for creating a town. There is a fabulous town plot done in 1760 bearing the name of Abraham Perkins that suggests that he, not his son Francis, may have been looking to leave Lyme.  Given one extra day, I would have driven to Lyme, and stayed with my family who live nearby. Ironically, I stiffed them to pursue my family research.

Francis Perkins, not his father Abraham, settled from New London County, CT in Horton. He traveled with his wife’s father, our direct ancestor Benjamin Peck, and two brothers, Cyrus and Benjamin Sr. It gets confusing because there were three generations of Benjamin Pecks with the middle one known as Benjamin Peck Sr (the father came to Nova Scotia, but returned to Connecticut around the time of the Revolutionary War). Also confusing are the collection of towns in the area. Horton generally refers to the township comprising Grand Pre, Wolfville, Kentville and New Minas. Hortonville, as the small village was called, consisted of a small collection of houses, but really does not stand out anymore. There is a Horton Landing that has monuments to the Acadians and the Planters who settled the area.

The rest of the trip focused on Francis Perkins and his descendants. The reader will need the chart below to keep track of all the various names. Francis had three sons. Ely, my ancestor, got the land, and remained in Nova Scotia. The second son, Dr. William Francis Perkins, was trained in England to be a doctor, and settled in Jamaica. The third, Rev Cyrus Peck Perkins, son served as the first minister of the Anglican church in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.

Day 4: Nova Scotia Archive in Halifax, Grand Pre World Heritage Site, Map-maker, Overnight in Grand Pre
The National Archives houses most of the original documents associated with Nova Scotia history. Four hours does not provide enough research time. I did manage to collect some documents pertaining to the formation of Horton. Highlight was an original land grant to Francis Perkins for 1/2 lot in Horton. Not all of these land grants survived so it was nice to see this beautifully penned document on a large 36″ x 24″ sheet of onion paper.

After lunch, it was time to drive to the other side of the island to the Minas Basin, the site where our ancestors settled around 1762. The Grand Pre National National Historic Site is dedicated to the 10,000 French Acadians who were expelled by the British. They looked at me with horror when asked if they had any information about the 6,000 New England planters who settle the land afterwards.

Marcel Morin works as a cartographer. His unique style graces the Grand Pre Park Brouchure. He also took the original Horton plot map and overlaid it over his illustration of the current terrain. Look at this map and you will see the location of the original Abraham Perkins land grant. I visited Marcel and his wife for about an hour. They live in Grand Pre in an original Planter house owned by Jeremiah Calkins, originally located three houses down from the Perkins lot. Marcel demonstrated how many of the features shown in this 1760 map exist to this day, including many roads. 

Day 5: Horton Landing, Acadia University in Wolfville, Kings County Historical Museum in Kentville, Night in Aylesford
Started the day at Hortonville. Using the Marcel Morin map, pinpointed the location of the Francis Perkins house, located at the end of a dead-end road, overlooking the Horton Landing monuments. They evoke a full range of emotions for the Planters’ fortune and for the Acadians’ misfortune. A few miles west lies Wolfville, named after the DeWolfe family, including Nathan DeWolfe,  another direct ancestor, whose daughter, Sarah, married Ely Perkins. A Baptist Church serves as a marker. Nathan lived across the street, and is buried in the Wolfville Burying Ground next door. Here also sits Acadia University, home of the study center dedicated to the study of New England Planters. Had a great conversion with Wendy Robicheau, one of the archivist. She explained that the Acadians refused to sign a loyalty oath offered by the English, because they not want to appear disloyal against their fellow Frenchmen. The Acadians come across as pawns in a chess match. It never ends well in chess for pawns.

The Kings County Historical Museum was the next stop to explore the settlements of Ely Perkins and his descendants. Prior to my visit, I had some information based the 1914 Eaton’s Kings County Book. Benjamin Peck Sr gave property on his farm to create the Oak Grove Cemetery. Eaton further writes: “On the ‘Roy farm’, between Kentville and New Minas, which was originally the grant of Eli Perkins, stood the Perkins grantee house. Half a mile to the west, on the high road, stood the Benjamin Peck House, afterward enlarged or completely rebuilt, by Capt. Joseph Barss…” 

So how did Ely get to this location from the town plot in Hortonville? Originally, the Governor of Nova Scotia thought that the planters would be concentrated in the town plot since they would co-exist with the Acadians. However, that plan changed after the expulsion. The planters received four different types of land in their allocation: The town plot, tillage (for planting), pasture (for grazing) and forest (for lumber). After they arrived, a huge flurry of buying and selling of these lots erupted. The historical museum has a photocopy of a map that shows the complexity of the original land allotment. Many planters may have built a small abode on the town plot when they first arrived, but they would have quickly settled directly near their farm.

The Kings County Historical Museum has an entire wall covered by the spectacular A.F. Church Township Map of Kings County Nova Scotia, which details the area in 1872, and this map includes the location of two Roy farms and the Barss house. The local historian at the Museum knew the place well: go down the highway to the Bowling Alley at the intersection of appropriately named Roy Ave.

It’s hard to imagine how this region looked back in the day since the highway is lined with modern stores. However, you can cross the nearby Cornwallis River and look back to be rewarded with view of the dykeland and fertile farmland still in use. Likewise, the nearby Oak Grove Cemetery gives a serene nod to the past. Found were the Peck family gravestones, including Benjamin and Cyrus Peck, brothers to Elizabeth (Peck) Perkins. Behind these engraved stones are a series of smaller stones used for infants with initials like “HP”, “BP”, “SP” and “MP”. We will never know for certain, but these may be the children of Ely and Sarah Perkins who are said to have died young.

That evening was spent in the middle of Aylesford, Nova Scotia, final home of Ely Perkins along with son William Francis Perkins, named after his uncle, the Jamaican doctor. Grandson James Perkins was born here in 1824. It is written in the Caroline Perkins Book, that Ely “managed to let most of his property slip through his fingers”. The author likely refers to the move from fertile Kentville to Aylesford. After Ely died, William Francis farmed here and a few other nearby locals before moving his family to Ontario in 1844. Aylesford remains remote farmland far from any towns. My Airbnb hosts could not have been more gracious. They invited me for dinner, then we drove for ice cream.

Day 6: Billstown Baptist Cemetery, Halls Harbor, Night in Hillsdale House, Garrison Graveyard tour
An important set of gravestones can be found in Billstown Baptist Church Cemetery.  We see Sarah (DeWolfe) Perkins Farnsworth, widow of Ely Perkins and, later, Joel Farnsworth, who went to live with her daughter Lucilla (Perkins) Cogswell and grandson Edmund J Cogswell until her death at the age of 92. Sarah, Lucilla and Edmund were the keepers of the family history of Francis. I have long suspected that they provided the very accurate information published in the 1914 Caroline Perkins book. More about Edmund later. 

A quick side trip to Halls Harbor to witness low tide in the bay of Fundy. Then time to drive from Kings County to Annapolis County. I skipped the Randal Burying ground, where Ely and Francis are said to have been buried. It lays in the middle of a sand quarry where trespassing is discouraged. Soon I arrived Annapolis Royal where the Rev. Cyrus Peck Perkins settled as the first rector of the local church. I lodged at Hillsdale house, once owned and operated by William B Perkins. Within easy walking distance are St Lukes church, the DeGrannes house, the oldest wooden building in Nova Scotia used as a rectory by Cyrus Perkins, and the Fort Anne with its accompanying Garrison graveyard where Mary (Woodbury) Perkins is buried. Annapolis Royal started as Military town with Fort Anne defending British interests after they captured it from the French in 1710. Annapolis Royal served as the British capital of Nova Scotia until Halifax took its place in 1749. Ultimately Annapolis Royal has transformed into a quaint summer tourist town. History contributes significantly to the town’s tourism business.

Time in the late afternoon to track down the bulk of the Perkins gravestones located in the Woodlawn Cemetery. The size of the lots and monuments shows the prominence of this family. The night concluded with the popular Garrison Graveyard tour led by a member of the Annapolis historical society. An extremely knowledgeable individual, he knew much about Rev Cyrus Perkins, William B Perkins and Charlotte Isabel Perkins.

Day 7: O’Dell Museum
A lot of pre-trip research got done with the help of Lois Jenkins of the Annapolis Historical Museum. Found out that the Rev Cyrus Perkins was forced out of his position as first rector due to some combination of drinking, womanizing, or sheer financial incompetence. He relocated near Halifax where his wife is buried (see Day 4)  before settling in England where he died in a yachting accident in 1825. His descendants, who remained in Annapolis, went into the hotel business. William B Perkins initially committed  the Queen Hotel in 1873. Cyrus A Perkins took over, sold it in 1895 and then purchased the Hillsdale House in 1897. Cyrus’s children remained loyal to the hospitality and history business. Charlotte Perkins, who never married, become a well-known author and historian of Annapolis Royal. She wrote “The Romance of Old Annapolis Royal” in 1952. She also recorded the inscriptions of the stone in the Garrison graveyard. Mary Elizabeth Perkins married Carmen O’Dell whose father built the house that would become the O’Dell House Museum. William R Perkins continued operating the Hillsdale House during the summer, then would work in Florida hotels during the winter. William R. Perkins’ death in 1972 marked the end of the Perkins family presence in Annapolis Royal. 

The museum has a file on the Perkins surname where I found a letter written by Cyrus Wilfred Perkins (brother of my great grandmother Olive) to William R Perkins in 1963.  It is an interesting read. Cyrus found the correct relative, but his version of the history had been mauled by time (he thought that the Perkins family came from Virginia).

Day 8: Falmouth Jamaica, Walkerswood
Up early for a pre-dawn flight from Nova Scotia to Jamaica. Then off to Falmouth on my way to my new lodging with the help of Dennis, my driver for the next three days.  Dr William Francis Perkins settled in Falmouth, and married Henrietta Harcorne, wife of a military man. Falmouth sat at the center of the sugar trade. It attracted wealthy merchants, and the people that catered to their needs. Dr William Francis Perkins fit well in this social circle. He had two daughters who would return to Canada to be raised by an uncle, Charles Cranston Dixon, after Henrietta died. Three sons remained in Jamaica:

  • Cyrus Francis Perkins: A printer who wrote a serialized monthly antislavery story. “Busha’s Romance” was repackaged as a novel by Canadian academics with the help of Lilly Perkins, the last of her family line. She left all her family papers to the National Archives. 
  • Henry Perkins: The original landowner in Walkerswood. All of the known individuals with the surname Perkins descend from this line. 
  • Phillip Perkins:  He has been a man of mystery. My research indicated that Philip settled as a carpenter in a town of Bryant’s Hill in Clarendon Parish.

In Falmouth, I visited the church where the early family of William Francis Perkins was buried. The outside of the church looks like a disaster area with unkempt gravestones amid the Spanish Needle weeds. Our search revealed no gravestone marked Perkins, not surprising since Busha’s Mistress mentions that the graves got covered during a church addition. Fortunately, we got to tour the inside of the church – it’s still in good shape. We finished Falmouth with a drive around town. I later learned I should have driven Duke street because the original medical office of Dr Perkins still stands there.

Then on to Walkerswood, my home for the next three nights. Such a scenic ride along the coast to Ocho Rios, then inland though the lush jungle greenery of Fern Gully. After reaching elevation in the rolling hills, a left turn down a dirt road for 1/2 mile brought me to Perkins Sweet Pepper Cottage. Denyse Perkins was my host, and she could not have been nicer. She knew about my family research interests, and had arranged my driver Dennis, and had notified other family members. “Mrs. P”, as everyone called her, had earn the respect of the entire community, because she has spent her time and effort supporting the town. She was instrumental in growing the local Walkerwood Spice Factory into a viable company. Her husband, Earl Perkins, now a little forgetful, is son Francis George, grandson of George Francis. Fun to see how long the name “Francis” survived.

The cottage had all the luxuries of home: full kitchen, washer & dryer, internet. At night you fall asleep to the sounds of insects and frogs. In the morning you awake to the chickens and goats. The cottage was part of a larger Perkins estate that included names like Mt Hermon and Batchelors Pen. I cannot say I fully understand all the various parts yet. From the cottage you overlook the acreage that remains in the family.

Day 9: Drive around island in search of Bryans Hill
Philip Perkins lists Bryant’s (or Bryan’s) Hill as his home town. Yet Google Maps lists no such town. Using latitude and longitude of a train station that once existed there, Dennis drove me there along the curvy rural roads. Despite the threat of rain, the locals walked along the streets in their Sunday best to attend one the many churches that lined the roads. After 2 hours, we arrived – the town that still exists! (Google doesn’t know everything yet). Eric, a local who owned a little shop, never heard of any Perkins’, but was familiar with surnames Brennan and Dunkley, families of some of the Perkins women. The return trip took us around to nearby larger town Chapelton and May Pen where member of this branch of the family later located.

That night when I reviewed my trip with Denyse, we were looking through a 1940’s Jamaica Who’s Who, where we happened onto a entry for Joseph Pinchin, son of Earlimph Perkins. My research indicates that children of Robert Cyrus and Caroline (Black) Perkins, married into the Chinese community, who settled in Jamaica during a later wave of immigration.

Day 10:  RGD for wills, National Archives in Spanish Town
A day for research. Dennis only needed to drop me off in Spanish Town in the morning, and pick me up in the afternoon. The Registrar General’s Department (RGD) houses the wills. Four separate ledgers allowed me to identify five different Perkins wills (click on the icon to the read the original will).

Getting around Spanish Town can be tricky, even for a simple one mile cab ride from the RGD to the National Archives. No Uber here. Fortunately, the kind staff worried about my safety enough to have an office manager personally drive me to the National Archives. There I was rewarded with the Lilly Perkins Papers, as mentioned in the book “Busha’s Mistress”. I was hoping to find some additional information, and was not disappointed. With a listing of over 100 items and examination limited to 3 items at a time, I again could have used some more time. However, I was extremely excited by what I found.

Day 11: Back to the National Archives, meet Relatives
By this time, Denyse had arranged some visits with the George Francis Perkins descendants who lived in Kingston.  She also expressed interest in the Spanish Town archives. We started the day with the quick drive through the pasture to see the George Francis Perkins gravesite. The humid, hot Jamaican climate can take a terrible toll on structures, particularly cemeteries.  We then transitioned to the coldest site in Jamaica – the Archives requires low temperature for document preservation. Bundles in our sweaters, we reviewed the documents found yesterday, then started the photocopying process.

After a nice lunch, we then got the opportunity to meet some other living Perkins Descendants, more children of Francis George Perkins and Beryl Smallhorn).  It’s hard to report on a conversation has become a fun, whirlwind blur. They did seem impressed by my gift of the family tree printed on a 36″ sheet of paper showing all known descendants of Dr. W.F. Perkins. 

Day 12: Lunch with Kingston Relatives
I had thought about going to the National Library in Kingston to look through old newspapers, but got a better offer after word had spread to more of the family in the Kingston area. Had a delightful lunch with the descendants of Kenneth George Perkins. The 36″ Dr. W.F. Perkins chart was again presented. They brought a photo of the old Dr Francis Perkins office building that I missed in Falmouth and a copy of “Busha’s Mistress”. They mentioned Mutty Perkins, the famous radio personality. Other topics were covered, now forgotten in the excitement of the moment. Then it was time to go. Billy and Helen kindly gave me a lift to the Kingston airport. It marked a successful end to twelve days of genealogy bliss.

Postscript: What was learned from the wills and Lilly Perkins Archive

  • Henry Franklin Cyrus Perkins names a lot children in his will, including many new ones. No additional information about them has been discovered yet.
  • Lilly gives a wonderful description of Philip Perkins, but indicated he remained single, while my research indicates that he likely had children. 
  • Lilly gives additional information about a second child of Cyrus Francis Perkins, Jane Perkins, who married a Charles Smith. Using today’s genealogy tools, I managed to identify them. Although Lilly thought they moved to Canada, it looks like they remained in Jamaica.
  • Lilly thought that the Dr W.F. Perkins had another daughter who became Madame de St Remy. I find no supporting evidence. William F Perkins only mentions two daughters in his will. I did find a reference to a Caroline Dixon who married Edmund de St Remy. Likely that Madame de St Remy is connected to Charles Cranston Dixon who raised the two Perkins daughters.
  • Lilly talks about some bad blood between Cyrus Francis Perkins side vs the Henry Perkins side. Cyrus remarried the widow Jane (Lloyd) Scotland who was a sister to Henry’s wife, Mary Elizabeth Lloyd  (their last name might also be Thompson as indicated in her will).  Cyrus and his son died before Jane. She was expected to pass some of the proceeding of the estate to Cyrus’s grandson, but instead she passed everything to Henry’s children, Henry Franklin Perkins and George Francis Perkins, therefore cutting out Lilly’s side. There is a scratched out section in her family history where Lilly writes some harsh words about Henry.

Perkins of Hillmorton, UK

Between 1475 and 1631, our Perkins ancestors lived in Hillmorton, Warwickshire, England. These individuals have been quite well documented through wills and church records, and this research appears quite accurate despite its age. If you look at the history of the time in the village of Hillmorton, the county of Warwickshire and the country of England, you can piece together a coherent story of their lives. Here are the five generations of the Perkins family line that are documented:

1.Thomas Perkins (1475 – 1528) & Alice (1481 – 1538), 3 known children
2.Henry Perkins (1500 – 1546) and Elizabeth, 3 known children
3.Thomas Perkins (1527 – 1591) & Alice Kebble (1527 – 1613), 8 known children
4.Henry Perkins (1555 – 1608) & Elizabeth Sawbridge (1564 – 1607), 15 known children
5a.Thomas Perkins (1582 – 1658) & Elizabeth, 5 known children
5b.John Perkins (1583 – 1654), our ancestor and brother of Thomas, left for America in 1631

Wills of the Perkins Family
Each of the families left a will (the first Henry left a will but it got lost). The language may be stilted and the spelling strange, but these wills provide the best description of their lives.

To the high altar, 8d… To the mother churches of Coventry and Lichfield, 4d. each… To the parish church of Hillmorton, 6s. 8d… To his wife Alice, all his lands and tenements in the towns of Fylds, Hillmorton and Lylborne [in Northamptonshire] as long as she continueth in widowhood. If she marry, Henry, his son, shall have the said lands and tenements, but if he die without lawful issue, they shall remain to Jone and Jelyan, his daughters, and their heirs. If they die without issue, the tail lands and tenements shall remain to the next heirs and the fee simple lands and tenements to the inhabitants of the town of Hillmorton for ever, to the best use that can be provided for the pleasure of God and for the health of his soul and all Christian souls.
My body to be buried within the parish church of Saint John the Baptist of Hillmorton aforesaid, my mortuary in main aisle. the high altar 12d…church of Hillmorton 6s 8d. Also to every one of my godchildren 2d. Also to Jane Sleyter my daughter a pair of flaxen sheets, a pair of hurden sheets, a flaxen table cloth, a hurden table cloth, a tawny gown, a vilet kirtle, an hairoin, 3 kerchiefs, a cow & a yearlin bullock, and also to Julia Compton my daughter a pair of flaxen sheets, a pair of hurden sheets, a flaxen table cloth, and hurden table cloth, my best gown, a birnett tawny kirtle, 3 kerchiefs, a pair of beds, a pot, a pan and my silvered harness girdle. The residue…I give unto Henry Perkins my son whim I make my sole executor…Make John Stokes, clerk, Thomas Clerk & Richard Smyth supervisors…witness: John Brendon, clerk, George Dobbs, William Freman, Thomas Dunkle, & Richard Bassett with diverse others. The inventory dated 10 Oct. 1538 amounted to £36 2s 1d.

Missing. An abstract of the will was made in 1894 that mentioned a son Thomas. This reference is now missing.
To John Perkyns my son and to the heirs male of his body lawfully begotten or to be begotten…my house in Hillmorton late occupied by Thomas Bassett, together with one orchard and a close lying on the back side, and one half-yard of arable land with meadows, pastures and commons thereto belonging… To Henry Perkins my eldest son all the residue of my houses, lands, tenements and hereditaments… Unto Alice my now welbeloved wife all my household stuff, furniture in the parlor or chamber where we used to lie (one coffer with his evidences excepted) and the use of the said chamber as long as she keepeth herself a widow…To William Perkins my son 10s…to Thomas Perkins my son 10s…unto my son Edward Perkins fortie pounds four years after my death…to my son Luke fortie pounds ten years after my death…to my son Isaac fortie pounds…to every of my son’s children a ewe and a young lamb…unto my brother Krebbles wife a ewe and a lamb… to Thomas Kebble, a lamb… to my brother William Perkins a ewe and a lamb…residue to Henry Perkins my son whom I make sole executor. The inventory amounted to £192 10s 0s
Administration on Henry’s estate was granted to his son Thomas on 5 Apr 1609. A bond was given for the tuition of Margaret, Edward, Anne (Agnes), Sarah, Francis, William, Lucy (Luke), Elizabeth, James (Jacob) and “the other children”. John was of age and married so he is not mentioned. Inventory was taken on 22 Mar 1608 by Rowland Wilcox, gentleman, and Thomas Perkins, John Sawbridge, Thomas Compton and William Burnam, yeomen. Henry’s estate amounted to £336 8s 8d.

To his wife Elizabeth £10 and a joined bed in the chamber over the old parlor. To his son Francis, £10, and to Francis’ son Francis, 30s. To his daughter Anne Hanslope, £5, and to all her sons and daughters 30s. each at age of 21. To his daughter Marie Bromich, £5, and to her sons and daughters 30s. each at age of 21. To the sons and daughters of his son Henry, such portions as his executors shall think fit to raise for them. Carts, plows, etc. to his grandson Thomas, heir of his son Henry, deceased, provided he help the executors to bring up his brothers and sisters. To the poor of Hillmorton, 20s. Residue to his sons Francis Perkins and Nicholas Hanslope, the executors. Overseer: Thomas Marriott gentleman. Codicil, Oct. 1658: Thomas Perkins gave the £5 given to his daughter Anne Hanslope, who had died, to her children.

Putting the Pieces Together
Hillmorton is a small village near Rugby. Two key institutions that were influential to this town were the manor and its associated Church of St. John the Baptist, both originally controlled by the Astley family. The church still stands. The manor is gone. To understand the lives of the Perkins family let’s start by looking at some significant events of Tudor/Stuart time, followed by a look at many aspects of Tudor/Stuart life.

A Time Line of Historical Events

MIDDLE AGES 1154 -1485
1265Thomas de Astley obtains the grant of a weekly market on Saturday in Hillmorton
1485Henry Tudor defeats Richard III to become Henry VII
TUDOR PERIOD 1485-1603
1509Henry VIII succeeds to throne after death of Henry VII
1534Henry VIII becomes supreme head of Church of England. Dissolves monasteries
1548Nine year old Edward VI becomes king after death of Henry VIII
1553Mary becomes queen after death of Edward VI. Moves country back to Catholicism
1558Elizabeth I becomes queen after death of Mary, considered a time of prosperity
1603James I of Scotland accedes to crown after death of Elizabeth I
1607Midland Revolt in Warwickshire, including Hillmorton, with husbandman protesting the increasing enclosing of land
1620Pilgrims to America
1625Charles I becomes king after death of James I
1631John and Judith (Gater) Perkins to America on ship Lyon
1633In Hillmorton, Mary Astley “said to be responsible to the decay of fifteen houses and 250 acres of arable land”.
1636Isaac Perkins, uncle to John Perkins to America, settling in Ipswich.
1642Start of English Civil War

Class Structure
The Aristocrasy sat at the top of the social heap. This included the King, Queen, Dukes, Earls, Baron. Title was passed to the oldest son. The others moved to the gentry class keeping the aristocracy a managable size for the monarch to control. The aristocracy don’t show up in Hillmorton but their influence was vast. Religion, laws, wars were largely decided and controlled at this level.

Gentry class, were the roughly 5% of the upper crust. They were represented by large landholders, clergy, merchants and the well educated. They are the class that could bear a coat of arms and carry swords. For this privilege they were expected to pay fees to the Monarchy. In return, they were included in the Parliament where policy and laws were set. Within the Gentry class there were many different strata, from Knight, Baronet, Esquire down to Gentleman. As the name implies the, “landed gentry” held a lot of land they used to generate income.  Title also passed to the eldest son with the other sons taking lesser gentry titles by joining the military, university or church.

In the case of Hillmorton, the Astley family rested at the top of the social order. Thomas Astley was a knight who was granted Hillmorton land in 1265. At that time he was allowed by the aristocracy to provide a fair which was a additional means to generate income. When he married his second wife, Edita Constable, he acquired even more land located in Constable Melton. At that point the headquarters for the family moved there. Hillmorton manor was inhabited by esquires and gentlemen of the Astley family.

Yeomen were the middle class farmers. They owned land, which they passed to their family. They could also accumulate (and lose) wealth. If a yeoman became prosperous enough, he could become a gentleman, but many chose to remain yeoman regarding it preferable (and cheaper) to be a highly regarded yeoman than a low ranking gentleman. In a small town like Hillmorton, the yeomen and the gentry would mingle in church settings or business transactions

By all accounts the Perkins families of Hillmorton were of the yeomen class. The wills indicate that they owned land. The first Thomas Perkins referenced property across several counties, a possible clue to his ancestry. The second Thomas Perkins leased some of his farmland and raised sheep.

Husbandmen, Laborers
Husbandmen were simple farmers, considered a step below yeomen. They rented the land to farm, and were beholden to gentry and yeomen for their living. Labourers and peasents were considered the bottom of the social order.

Hillmorton was a farming community. To describe the economics, it important to understand the phenomena of “enclosures”. As mentioned above, most of the land was controlled by landed gentry. Originally they generated revenue by renting portions to yeomen, husbandmen and laborers to raise crops. Over time, the wealthy wanted more direct control to improve profitability of their land. This produced incentives to enclose the land and destroy existing homes and communities, causing much distress with the masses. Beginning in 1489, laws were passed in Warwickshire in an attempt to preserves land and villages. Additional “Commissions of Inquiry” were formed in 1515 and 1548, but depopulation continued as evidenced by the 1607 Midland Revolt where 3000 individuals gathered in Hillmorton to protest. One account places the blame with Mary Astley (likely Mary (Waldegrave) Astley, widow of Isaac) for enclosing 750 acres. However, her penalty was small (£40), and enclosing continued because Mary Astley was again accused of enclosing 250 acres in 1639.

Yeomen, too, could benefit from enclosure, depending on their abilities as businessman. They could engage in small acts of enclosing, and they could acquire additional land from other landholders.  There are several clues that the Perkins families were successful yeomen. First, the value of their estates increased with time. Second, the will of the second Henry Perkins is interesting because it focuses on education, a pursuit associated with the gentry. Finally, the will of the third Thomas Perkins, oldest brother to John Perkins, describes himself as a “gentleman” when he died. Since he was the oldest male, he would have likely inherited the bulk of the estate.

Living Conditions in Warwickshire
Now, a commentary about home life in Warwickshire during the Tudor and Stuart Periods. According to “A History of Warwickshire”, a very readable history of the county by Terry Slater,  yeomen and prosperous husbandmen possessed houses with a hall and bed-chamber and perhaps a kitchen but no upper floor rooms while gentry and wealthy yeomen, lived in homes with kitchens, parlors and upstairs bedrooms. In his will the third Thomas Perkins leaves his widow “a joined bed in the chamber over the old parlor”, a description of some prosperity.  Slater also indicates that the common style of the time is a “cruck” home. Surviving examples can be found in villages near Warwickshire in towns like Stoneleigh. One can imagine that the Perkins families would have been able to upgrade as their prosperity grew by increasing the size of their cruck, adding glass windows and cooking under an attached chimney.

The will of Alice Perkins talks about her important possessions including flaxen and hurden sheets, a tawny gown, a vilet kirtle, hairoin, a birnett tawny kirtle, and silvered harness girdle. Translation is difficult, but here goes: flaxen is a soft cloth, hurden is a coarse linen, vilet is the color violet, tawny is a light tan color, burnett tawny is a dark tan color, harness girgle is a type of belt that fits around the waist, kirtle is a long medieval dress,  and hairoin refers to a hairpin. Alice sounds like a yeoman’s wife with clothes of simple brown fabrics with a few nice accessories: purple fabric, the hairpin and the silver belt.

The nicest home in town was Hillmorton manor owned by the Astleys. That building is gone. Slater suggests these older manor houses resembled a large stone farm house. A possible glimpse is provided in a 1707 drawing of Melton Constable that illustrates its original manor house as a 7 bay building.  The Hillmorton property stayed in the Astley family until it was sold by Edward Astley in 1772. Other wealthy businessman owned the manor until it eventually decayed into ruin, and was replaced by a series of row houses.

In terms of religion, the country started as Catholic, then moved to Protestant with Henry VIII. However, there were always factions within Warwickshire including active pockets of Catholics, Quakers and Puritans. The Puritans, specifically, were a hard line group that felt that the Church of England represented too much compromise with the Catholic church. In Hillmorton, there are no signs that St. John the Baptist was Puritan, but there was a vibrant Puritan movement nearby. A short 7 mile distance into the county of Leicestershire, Benjamin Childe, a puritan, was assigned in 1625 to the Rectory of Cotesbach. Francis Higginson, became the first minister of Salem after his arrival to Massachusetts in 1629. He had been a Claybrooke, Leicestershire minister (located 12 miles from Hillmorton) during his conversion to Puritanism.

The Perkins family was always prominent in the church. Several wills specified donations to the church. Even today, you can see a references to the Perkins family in the form of a posted Charity plaque inside the church and gravestones outside. More interestingly, in 1665  two prominent plaques were observed inside the church, one of which read:

Here lyeth Thomas Perkins and Alice and Elizabeth.
Our Lord save their soules from everlasting death.” Amen.

As a side note, it’s not quite clear to whom that plaque refers. Is Elizabeth a daughter or a second wife to Thomas? Also, most researchers attribute the plaque to the first Thomas and Alice Perkins (date circa 1540), and therefore speculate that Alice or Elizabeth may have been related to the Astley family. However, the second Thomas and Alice Perkins may be as likely around 1620. The other plaque refers to Richard and Margaret Tant, a surname which surfaces around 1605 in Hillmorton Parish records.

The reign of Elizabeth I was considered a time of relative peace. After her death, tensions rose in the county with Kings James I and Charles I trying  to monopolize power by ignoring their Parliament (a collection of the landed gentry) who provided financial support to the crown in return for their advice on laws. On one side there were the Parlimentations, the “Roundheads”, who were primarily Puritan versus the Royalist, or “Cavaliers” who backed the Church of England. Ultimately, the English Civil War was waged in 1642 with Warwickshire in the center of the warring sides. The Astley family were bitterly divided. Jacob Astley (son of Isaac and Mary Astley), who had joined the military, became trusted major for King Charles I. It is said that the Roundheads sharpened their swords on the church effigy of Edward Astley on their way to defeat Jacob in the battle of Naseby. On the other hand, Jacob’s eldest brother, Thomas, baronet of Hillmorton, had two sons who fought for the Parliamentarians. Although John Perkins had left for America in 1631, these same tensions may have contributed to his decision to leave Hillmorton. As a yeoman, picking sides in this dispute was difficult. Although it would appear that John Perkins would have joined the Roundheads, other members of this family could have sided with the Cavaliers if it was in their economic self interest.

The wills suggest that the Perkins family can be considered solid yeomen who benefited under the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I.  This prosperity lead to some rather large families for the second Thomas Perkins (8 surviving sons) and his son Henry (7 surviving sons), a potential problem for sons of a low birth right. The Midland Revolt further points to land being an increasingly scarce commodity due to continued enclosure in the region. The Puritan movement gave a voice of protest against the status quo of the government policies and its Church of England that ultimately led to the English Civil War.

Given these conditions in England, America would be a very tempting move for the right family. In the case of the Perkins family, two are documented. John Perkins (our ancestor) was first in 1631 on the ship Lyon. Isaac Perkins, uncle to John, arrived later around 1636. However, it was not a mass exodus since most family members remained. Even today, the church holds many references to those Perkins family that continued to prosper in the region.

John & Judith Perkins to America

The story of John and Judith (Gater) Perkins has been reported frequently over the years. John Perkins was born in Hillmorton, Warwickshire, UK in 1583 to Henry and Elizabeth (Sawbridge) Perkins. In 1608 he married Judith Gater, daughter to Michael and Isabel (Bailey) Gater.  There is very little published information about the Gater family, either her parents or their nine children. Five of the children died young. The remaining children remained in England. The following chronology shows what happened

Chronology of John and Judith Perkins
Date (DDMMYYY)Event
8 Oct 1608Marriage of John Perkins and Judith Gater
June 1629Reverends Higginson, Skelton & Bright arrived in Salem MA with 200
May 1630Winthrop arrives to America with 700
Feb 1631Perkins family arrives on ship Lyons
18 May 1631John takes oath of Freeman
2 April 1632Per Court of Assistants “It was ordered that no person whatsoever shall shoot at fowl upon Pullen Point or Noddles Iseland, but that the said places shall be reserved for John Perkins to take fowl with nets”
3 Jun 1632Birth of youngest child Lydia
7 Nov 1632Committee to set the bounds of Roxbury and Dorchester
1 Apr 1633On list of men authorized by to the court to begin the settlement of Ipswich
1634-1639In 1634 he was given 40 acres and in 1635, 3 acres of upland and 10 acres of meadow lying toward the head of Chebacco creek, also a little island of about 50 acres called More’s point on the south side of the town river. 1635 he had 10 acres on part whereof he hath built a house and 6 acres of meadow and 6 acres of upland adjoining the house lot. In 1636 he was granted 40 acres at Chebacco which he sold to Thomas Howlett in 1637, and in 1639 planting ground of 6 acres on the south side of the river.
25 May 1636Deputy to General Court for Ipswich
1641 – 1652On Essex Grand Jury: 28 Dec 1641, 26 Sep 1648, 28 Sep 1652
26 Mar 1650Being above sixty years old, is freed from ordinary training
28 Mar 1654Will of John Perkins is proved

John and Judith Perkins on board the ship “Lyon”
By the year 1624 John and Judith Perkins were living in Hillmorton with five children: John, Elizabeth, Mary, Thomas and Jacob. It is not known the exact political and religious pressure that prompted the family to emigrate to America. In his essay Dow Perkins makes a unique claim that John Perkins actually arrived at Massachusetts as part of an advanced team. There is a certain appeal to this idea. Francis Higginson, who was the gentleman preaching Puritianism only 12 miles from Hillmorton, headed the advance team. Also, it would explain how the Perkins family ended on a supply ship. If this account is true, it casts John Perkins in a very interesting light. He becomes a forebearer for the Puritan cause, willing to leave his wife and children to explore a new land. He also knew the dangers that Massachusetts presented before introducing his family to this new land.

Whatever the reasons, John Perkins boarded the ship Lyon on 1631 with his wife and their five children. The ship carried an assortment of other travelers, many of whom left their own mark on America. Two surviving written accounts form the basis of our knowledge of this trip. First comes from the famous dairy of John Winthrop. Second is a 1631 letter from Thomas Dudley back home to England.

From “The Journal of John Winthrop, 1630-1649”
Feb 5
The ship Lyon, with Mr. Wm. Pierce master, arrived at Nantasket.  She brought Mr. Williams (a godly minister) with his wife, Mr. Throgmorton, ___ Perkins,  ___ Ong, and others with their wives and children, about 20 passengers and about 200 tons of goods. She set sail from Bistow December 1. She had a very tempestuous passage, yet throu God’s mercy all her people came safe, except for ___ Waye, his son, who fell from the spritsail and could not be recovered though he kept in sight near 1/4 of an hour. Her goods also came in good condition.
Feb 10
The poorer sort of people (who lay long in tents, etc.) were much afflicted with the scurvy and may died, especially at Boston and Charlestown, but when the ship cam and brought store of juice of lemons many recovered speedily. It hath been always observed here that such fell into discontent and lingered after their former conditions in England fell into the scurvy and died.
Feb 18
Of those which went back in the ships this summer for fear of death and famine, etc., many died by the way and after they were landed, and others fell very sick and low, etc….The provisions which came to us this year came at excessive rates, in regard of the dearness of corn in England, so as every bushel of wheat meal stood us in 14s., pears (8)11s., etc.
Feb 22
We held a day of thanksgiving for this ship’s arrival by order from the Governor and Council directed to all the plantations

Letter from Deputy Governor Thomas Dudley to Lady Bridget, Countess of Lincoln, March , 1631
Upon the 5th of February, arrived here Master (William) Pierce with the ship Lyon of Bristol with supplies of victuals from England, who had set fourth from Bristol the first of December before. He had a stormy passage hither, and lost one of his sailors not far from our shore, who in a tempest having helped to take in the sprit sail, lost his hold as he was coming down and fell into the sea; where after long swimming he was drowned, to the great dolour (grief) of those in the ship, who beheld so lamentable a spectacle, without being able to minister help to him; the sea was so high and the ship drove so fast before the wind, though her sails were taken down….By this ship we also understood the death of many of those who went from us the last year to Old England, as likewise of the mortality there, whereby we see are graves in other places as well as with us. Also to increase the heap of our sorrows, we received advertisement by letters from our friends in England, and by the reports of those who came hither in this ship to abide with us, (who were about 26) that they who went discontentedly from us the last year, out of their evil affections towards us, have raised many false and scandalous reports against us, affirming us to be Brownists in religion, and ill affected to our state at home, and that these vile reports have won credit with some who formerly wished us well.

In other words, John, Judith and family arrived to a very difficult place with few provisions, disease and dispair. Scurvy was taking a toll on the inhabitants. People were leaving to go back to England. Terrible accounts of America circulated in England. However, the arrival of the Lyon marked a turning point for the Puritans. They were on the verge of declaring a fast. The arrival of the Lyon was considered somewhat a miracle.  The day of fast was turned into a day of Thanksgiving. It has even been suggested that Winthrop’s use of the word “thanksgiving” makes this occasion the basis for our current Thanksgiving holiday.

Best Estimate of those on board the Ship “Lyon”

PIERCEJohn (39)
Ship’s caption of high fame. Arrived in Plymouth ship “ANNE” in 1623 with last lot of Pilgrims. Arrived Plymouth in 1625 on ship “JACOB”. Arrived Apr 1929 on ship “MAYFLOWER” (not Pilgrim ship) with Higginson Fleet. Arrived 1631 on ship “LYON”. Sent back on “LYON” for provisions and returned on 1631 with Perkins family. Arrived again June 1632 on “LYON”. Took up his residence in Boston in 1632. Became a Town and Colony official and was engaged shipping thereafter. He compiled an Almanac for New England, a very early printed book. Killed by the Spaniards in 1641 off the island of Old Providence, Nicaragua while taking passengers for settlement.
John (47), Judith (42), John (22), Elizabeth (20), Mary (15), Thomas (9), Jacob (6)
The subject of this story
WILLIAMSRoger (27), Mary (21)
Proponent of separation of church and state. Founder of Rhode Island. Expelled from church in Salem in 1635 for radical views that civil officers could punish church offences. Established Providence on Narragansett Bay.
George (?) or John (30)
George admitted the church in 1632, then disappears, possibly returning to England. The more intriguing story is that the George is really John who shows up 5 years later. John is a good friend with Roger Williams in Salem, moved briefly to Providence, before setting in NY. The Throgs Neck Bridge is named after the land he settled.
ONGEFrances (47), Simon (12), Jacob (11), Isaac (3)
Data not very conclusive, but it’s a interesting story. Frances was a widow and shop owner in England who traveled with her three small children. She settled in Watertown. Never remarried. One wonders how she ended up on this supply ship.
PARKEWilliam (23)
His name is added later due. His father, Robert, was a personal friend of John Winthrop. William settled in Roxbury where he was an early member of its church and became a deacon.
___ WAYE“all her people came safe, except for ___ Waye, his son, who fell from the spritsail and was not recovered.” Possible son of Capt Pierce. More likely, son of Henry Way, who had arrived in Dorchester MA in 1630. Henry was a skipper and master mariner, so it logical that his son could climb the mast during the storm.

John and Judith Perkins in Boston
After his arrival, John and Judith joined the Boston church as members 107 and 108 where became a Freeman. Massachusetts, being a religious colony, required admission to the church (and being male) to participate in civic activities. Being Freeman gave John the right to vote, own land and serve on jury. No record has been found indicating where the Perkins family resided, although one interesting proclamation in 1632 suggests they lived around Boston harbor: “It was ordered that no person whatsoever shall shoot at fowl upon Pullen Point or Noddles Iseland, but that the said places shall be reserved for John Perkins to take fowl with nets”. Pullen Point later became Winthrop MA, while Noddle Island now sits under Logan airport.  Remember our Perkins forebearers the next time you fly to Boston.

The Puritan experience can be difficult to explain in a brief paragraph. Puritans, who disliked the current state of affairs in England, obtained a charter from their government for their Massachusetts Colony. They believed God had given them an opportunity to create this great example of a Utopian society (“A Model of Christian Charity” as described by Winthrop in his famous sermon). They did not focus on written rules, but focused on convenents between God and man where each church became a hub for a congregation of people, hence the formation of the Congregational Church. Political control became church/town focused. Enrollment in the church was not a birthright. One had to freely join, and you needed permission to leave the church or risk your reputation or losing property. Another convenent existed between the men of the community that promoted individual behaviors. You were expected to behave in a way that benefited your congregation. The perception that Puritan lived a life devoid of fun or humor was somewhat true. They famously refused to acknowledge Christmas, considering it a pagan rite. However, alcohol was OK in moderation, romance was encouraged, as long it was not extramarital. Stray outside the bounds, you would be publicly shamed. Misfortune manifested itself through the work of Satan which, in turn, created a fixation on witchcraft.  John Winthrop represented a perfect leader for this movement, conservative enough to banish Roger Williams to Rhode Island due to his radical teachings, but liberal enough to maintain a friendship with Roger Williams because he valued religious freedom.

John and Judith Perkins in Ipswich
Wherever their residence in Boston, the Perkins family time was short lived, because in 1634, the Perkins family helped settlement in Ipswich MA, or Agawam, as it was then known. John Winthrop Jr, a true renaissance man, led this group.  What follows is a little history of this fascinating man.

John Winthrop Jr worked through the spring and summer setting up the plantation. Unfortunately, his wife and young daughter died in the summer. Winthrop Jr lost interest in Ipswich and sailed to England. There he met Lords Say and Brooke who contracted John in 1635-36 to establish and govern a fort the the mouth of the Connecticut river, in an area later named Saybrook. At the end of his contract, John returned to Massachusetts and built an iron works at Braintree, which produced tools and utensils for the Colony. In 1640, John applied for and was granted Fishers Island and in 1644 he was authorized to start a plantation in the Pequot country. In 1645, John was in the area of Eastern Connecticut for the settlement to be called Nameaug first, then Pequot, and now known as New London. In 1646, John brought his family to Fishers Island. They wintered on the Island, and in the spring moved to Nameaug, where a house had been prepared for them. He spent the next few years in New London,  where, he received monoply powers for a grist mill he built. In 1651, John was elected an assistant to the Connecticut government, and in 1657, he was elected governor of Connecticut and ordered to Hartford. In 1661, John was sent to England to obtain a charter for Connecticut. This he did in 1663. In 1667 and again in 1670, John tried to resign his office as governor, and each time his request was denied. He continued in office until his death in 1676. Throughout all this time, John Winthrop Jr participated in a vibrant Puritan alchemy movement to develop salt making in Salem, the iron works process in Braintree and to practice medicine by concocting cures in New London.

 John Perkins was 51 at the time of his settlement in Ipswich. There he settled into life as a well regarded citizen in an area known as “Manning’s Neck”, located outside of the main village. Town records indicated he assumed the role of elder statesmen. He bought additional lands, he served on juries. As “lot-layer”, he and three others had responsibility for layout of property once the town issued a land grant – a task that required great finesse given the limited amount fertile land in the salt marches. Although a man of status, we have a description of his modest abode as “a two-room house, with a great chimney at each end, probably of wood, daubed with clay, with a loft over head floored so loosely that one could look up into it from below, and a thatch roof.” Two Perkins possession survives to this day: a cane that bears his initials and a bible.

Will of John Perkins, written 28 March 1654
“John Perkines the Elder of Ipswich being at this time sick and weak in body” bequeathed to “my eldest son John Perkines a foal…also…to my son John’s two sons John and Abraham to each of them one of my yearling heifers”; to “my son Thomas Perkines one cow and one heifer also…to his son John Perkines one ewe”; to my daughter Elizabeth Sargeant one cow and a heifer to be to her and here children after her decease”; to “my daughter Mary Bradley one cow and one heifer or a young steer…to her & to her children”; to “my daughter Lidia Bennitt one cow and one heifer or steer…to her children”; to “my grandchild Thomas Bradley one ewe”; to “my son Jacob Perkines my dwelling house together with all the outhousing and all my lands…according to a former covenant, after the decease of my wifte”; residue “to my dear wife Judith Perkines” sole executrix, “as also to dispose of some of the increase to children of my son Thomas and of my three daughters” at here direction.

The Inventory of his estate totalled £250 5s, including real estate valued at £132: “the dwelling house and the barn with outhousing,” £40 60s “land about the house about 80 acres “more land unbroke up about 14 acres,” £21; “a parcel of marsh about 6 acres,” £12; “a parcel of upland and marsh being much broken about twenty acres,” £20; “twelve acres of improved land,” £24.

John and Judith Perkins were at the forefront of the Puritan movement and spent time with its most important players.  They sailed with Roger Williams, were greeted by John Winthrop, and settled Ipswich with John Winthrop Jr, the leaders of Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut respectively. Yet they lead a humble existence in keeping with their Puritan ideals. They were “a model of Chrisitian Charity”.

John Winthrop, “The Journal of John Winthrop, 1630-1649: Abridged Edition”, Harvard University Press, 1996
“The Family of John Perkins of Ipswich, Massachusetts”, by Geo. A. Perkins, M.D., Salem, 1882
Connecticut Nutmegger, vol. 3, pgs. 427-9 by John Winthrop
“PERKINS: First of this name on American Shores 1631” by Dow W. Perkins
“New England, The Great Migration and The Great Migration Begins, 1620-1635”,, 2013. Original data: Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Volumes 1-3; The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volumes 1-6. Boston: New England Historical and Genealogical Society, 1996-2011.

Three Generations of Perkins in Ipswich, MA

3 Generations of Perkins

First Generation: Quartermaster John and Elizabeth Perkins
John Perkins Jr was part of the local militia, called the trainband, and served as its Quartermaster (kept track of military supplies). As a result, he is called Quartermaster John Perkins which helps differentiate him from his father and other John’s. Nevertheless, there is still some confusion which John Perkins is associated with some events. Elizabeth Perkins may be the former Elizabeth Eveleth born England to John and Jane (Silvester) Eveleth. It may be a huge coincidence, but there is a place in Chebacco Parish called “Perkins Hill” in early maps, but it is now called “Eveleth Hill”.

He was almost ambushed by some local Indians, when Ipswich was a very young town. Fortunately a young Indian named Robin tipped him off. After discussions with John Winthrop, it was decided that 6-8 men would hide in the brush, and scare the attackers with guns and drums. Quartermaster Perkins was credited with saving the town in those early years. The following is from a paper by Rev. Thomas Cobbet:

“About 5 or 6 years after (an intended attack upon “Nahumkeick” by the Indians) in the first planting of Ipswich (as a credible man informs me, namely Quartermaster Perkins), the Tarratines or Easterly Indians had a design to cut them off at the first, when they had but 20 or 30 men, old and young belonging to the place (and that instant most of the men had gone into the bay about their occasions not hearing thereof). It was thus one Robin, a friendly Indian, came to this John Perkins, then a young man, then living in a little hut upon his father’s island on this side of Joefrye’s Neck, and told him that on such a Thursday morning, early, there woudl come four Indians to draw him to go down the Hill to the water side, to truck with them, which if he did, he and all neare him would be cut off; for there were 40 burchen canoues, would lie out of sight, in the brow of the Hill, full of Armed Indians for that purpose; of this he forthwith acquaints Mr. John Winthrop, who then lived there, in a howse near the water, who advised him if such Indians came, to carry it ruggedly toward them, and threaten to shoot them if they would not be gone, and when their backs were turned to strike up the drum he had with him beside his two muskets, and then discharge them; that those 6 or 8 young men, who were in the marshes hard by a mowing, haveing theyr guns each of them ready charged, by them, might take the Alarme and the Indians would perceive theyr plot was discovered and haste away to sea againe; which was accordingly so acted and tooke like effect; for he told me that presently after he discovered 40 such canowes sheare off from under the Hill and make as fast as they could to sea. And no doubt many godly hearts were lifted up to heaven for deliverance, both in that deliverance at Salem and this at Ipswich.”

Quartermaster John Perkins owned the first Publishing house and Inn in town. Liquor licenses were strictly allocated so John was fortunate to get one. With John’s military background, it became a watering hole for the local men after training days. Not surprisingly, it was the scene of public displays of drunkeness and gaming that did not go over well with the locals. Sometimes shots were fired.  Complaints were brought to court. One wonders if his staid parents would have approved of this establishment.

There is a Perkins Island in Ipswich that is likely named after him. You can canoe to this island as it is now located within the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary. This island is different from the larger Perkins Island (now Treadwell Island), owned by his father.

Second Generation: Isaac and Hannah (Knight) Perkins
Isaac Perkins was born in Ipswich MA then in 1769 married Hannah Knight, daughter of Alexander and Abigail (Tuttie) Knight. Isaac Perkins presents a quiet profile compared to his father. He appears to be a successful farmer (references to him go by “Mr. Isaac Perkins”, a show of respect) able to accumulate a lot of land. His property was centered in Chebacco Parish on 100 acres of land given by his father.

The region known as Chebacco Parish is located a short distance from Ipswich. Back in the day, the First Church in Ipswich held control over the region. They required its member to attend church and to pay tithing. It was difficult and dangerous travel for people outside Ipswich so they naturally wanted to establish their own church, but the First Church was reluctant to lose a revenue source. A petition was filed in 1677 and rejected in 1679 stating that “no man shall raise a meeting house”.  So some enterprising women built a structure with the help of men from nearby communities. Ipswich government officials, having no sense of humor, arrested the women. However, the meeting house was built and eventually, in 1682, the local people were able to form Chebacco Parish. According to Essex History by 1700, Chebacco had a population of 300 and “consisted of a church, a school, a military company, five sawmills, one shipyard, three bridges, two causeways. Farming, fishing, and boat building the major occupations”. Chebacco was still under Ipswich government control until 1819 when the town of Essex was formed.

Hannah Knight was the daughter of Alexander and Abigail (Tuttie) Knight. Alexander was a prominent man who fell on hard times in Ipswich, including the death of his son in a house, possibly due to negligence. However, the town felt pity for him, due to his previous high standing and ordered that a small, basic house be built. Since the documents provided a description of the new house, and since the house represented a typical small house of the time, in 2010 the Ipswich locals decided to rebuilt the house using original tools and techniques. In the Alexander Knight house you can visit the actual replica of our ancestor’s house that was painstakingly built by the people of Ipswich.

Third Generation: Abraham and Abigail (Dodge) Perkins
The biography of Abraham Perkins is quite brief. Land is becoming more scarce, but Abraham is able to hang onto land from his father and add land from his uncle who appears to have had financial difficulty. Competition with brothers for land was not as great since only brother Jacob was a farmer. The other brother, Isaac, was a mariner. From “The Family of John Perkins of Ipswich, Mass: Complete in three parts” by George Augustus Perkins:

“Abraham Perkins was a farmer in his native place, Chebacco, and acquired a large property in farming lands. His homestead and farm adjoined that of his father. This property he bought of his uncle, Nathaniel, in 1700. His father gave him, by deed of gift, a parcel of upland and marsh, Feb. 21, 1717-18. We have no record of the time of his death, or of that of his wife.”

Abigail Dodge was granddaughter of Richard and Edith (Brayne) Dodge, a Puritan who emigrated from East Coker, Somerset, England and settled in North Beverly Mass. Richard’s brother, William Dodge, first settled the region in 1632. Richard and his son Joseph Dodge (Abigail’s father) were prominent farmers in the area. The area has many tributes to the Dodge name, including Dodge Row Road and Dodge Row cemetery where the old family farm was located.

Other Notable Perkins Stories
Any mention of the name “Perkins” in Essex County, Massachusetts during pre-Revolutionary War times will undoubtedly involved an uncle, aunt, cousin, nephew, niece of ours.  Here are a few example stories.

Perkins in the Salem Witch Trials
The Salem witch trials were between February, 1692 and May, 1693.  Mary (Perkins) Bradbury, sister to our ancestor, Quartermaster John Perkins, was accused. She was, in reality, a nice old lady who made butter for a living. However, the Bradburys’ had a long standing tiff with another local family. As might be expected, the charges were a little outlandish. She turned people in blue boars and caused shipwrecks due of poisoning of her butter. Nevertheless, she was found guilty and sentenced to die, despite a petition signed by a hundred townspeople. However, being a crafty witch, she managed to escape the prison days before her execution. Actually, the locals help her to escape.

Other Perkins were also connected to the Salem witch trials. Isaac Perkins and Nathaniel Perkins, sons of Quartermaster John Perkins, signed a petition supporting John Proctor. It did not help much because Proctor hanged. Not every Perkins was so noble. Thomas Perkins, son of Thomas and Phebe (Gould) Perkins, and therefore a nephew of Mary Bradbury and a cousin to Isaac and Nathaniel, was juror on the trials. He later signed a declaration of regret for his part in the incident.

The Burning of the Original John Perkins House
The story goes that Mehitable Brabrooke, a 16 year old serving maid, started a fire from the tobacco of her pipe. The original house of John Perkins, now owned by son Jacob, was burned to the ground on August 1668. She was prosecuted for arson. The chief witness, John Williston, 16 yr, stated the “that as they were going into the meadow to make hay Mehitable told him her mistress was angry and she had fixed her by putting a great toad into her kettle of milk.” It sound like John Williston was a possible boyfried that turned on her. They were probably going to cut grass, although the other type of “making hay” sounds more tawdry. She was sentenced to a severe whipping and a hefty fine. Mehitable survived the proceedings. She ultimately had a respectable marriage. The house was not so luckly. After it was rebuilt, it was struck by lightning in 1671.

Essex county MA offers all manner of family related activities. You can drive down Perkins Row Road to rent a canoe to paddle for lunch on Perkins Island.  You can visit the Alexander House and enter the home of a direct ancestor. You can visit the Whipple house, and hold the cane and bible owned by John Perkins Sr. You can drive down Dodge Road to access the old family farmland at Dodge Row cemetery.

Abraham & Elizabeth Perkins of Lyme, CT

In 1736, one hundred years after John and Judith arrived in America, our Perkins ancestors were again on the move. This time Abraham Perkins along with one brother and two sisters relocated from Ipswich Massachusetts to Lyme Connecticut. One suspects a motivation for improved land. Their father, Abraham, may not have had desirable land, since none of the children appear to taken over the farmstead. Besides, he had gotten some of the property in 1700 from an Uncle Nathaniel who apparently could not make it succeed. Ipswich had also experienced a population boom where the number of people doubled in Chebacco Parish from 300 in 1695 to over 600 in 1720. So in 1734, John Butler and his new wife Hannah Perkins, along with her brother James Perkins and bride Margaret Andrews sold their Ipswich MA properties and relocated to Lyme, CT situated in New London county. Single siblings Elizabeth and Abraham Perkins tagged along.

Another important development at this time may have influenced the move. 1720-1730 marked the virtual end of the Puritan movement. It had remained too rigid for its own good. It sought to keep members near a village to maintain control, and, by extension, discouraged external trade and migration. Besides, the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had been revoked in 1691 allowing individuals from other religions to enter the region. Due to actions and building mistrust of the British government, passions moved from the religious to the political arena. Yet the legacy of the Puritan movement remained, including selection of juries of local citizen, town-based meeting and legislators elected by the voters. Ezra Stiles, Congregationalist minister and 7th president of Yale, toured the Connecticut towns in 1768 and wrote the following about Lyme (source: “Extracts from the Itineraries and Other Miscellanies of Ezra Stiles, D. D.”)

“In Lyme are seven Congregations – 4 of the regular standing Chhs. [churches] – 3 of the Separates of which two are Baptists. …The Sep. in Mr. Beckwith’s Society are between a Quarter & Third of the Parish. Most or Majority of East Parish are Bapt. & Separates. Hence perhaps One Third of the whole Town may be Sep. or Baptists, & formed a Bap. Chh.”

Stiles is discussing the various factions of the Protestant church that existed in Lyme in 1768: Congregational Church, Separate Congregational church and Baptist. The Great Awakening, a religious revival, had caused fractures in the traditional church structures. All accounts of our Perkins family members remained in the mainstream Congregational church, but individuals and their ideas mixed freely.

The choice of Lyme Connecticut as a site for farming would seem misguided given the large number of rocks in the soil. Nevertheless Abraham was able to marry and provide for his family. He mentions living at the Bennet Farm in his will. The exact location of his farm has not yet been pinpointed, although one would expect it to be near his brother and brother-in-law. Their properties stood on Archer Hill and near 8 mile river, which lies near North Lyme. Abraham and Elizabeth’s biography is well told in “The Descendants of Edward Perkins of New Haven, Conn.” by Caroline Erickson Perkins in 1914. This book has a treasure trove of information about many members of this line of the Perkins family.

“Abraham Perkins was the son of Abraham (Isaac, Quartermaster John, John Perkins, Senior, of Ipswich, Mass.) was born in Ipswich in 1708, and evidently soon followed his brother James and his sisters Hannah and Elizabeth to Lyme, as he was admitted freeman there in 1741, having previously married, February 28, 1739, Elizabeth Ely. His first purchase of land in Lyme was July 4, 1741, and September 9, 1771, he deeded land to his son Abraham. A genealogical paper left by Gaius Perkins of South Woodstock, Vt., who died in 1870 at the age of 91, contained the following information: “My grandfather was Abraham Perkins. He went from Ipswich in the Bay State, to Lyme, Conn., where he married Elizabeth Ely.” He mentions the children of his great-grandfather in the following order: Abigail, James, Isaac, Abraham, Hannah, Sarah, Elizabeth and Joseph, four of whom, James, Abraham, Hannah and Elizabeth, settled in Lyme. After the death of his wife he married, July 15, 1759, Mary (Pearson), widow of Richard Ely, who died. Excepting their births, his sons Francis, Daniel and Benjamin are not mentioned in the Lyme records. They settled elsewhere. He died May 10, 1786. His will is dated April 3, 1786, and was proved September 11 following. He mentions “my beloved wife.” “my eldest daughter Betty Mather,” “my youngest daughter Sarah Pratt,” “my sons Francis Perkins, William Perkins, Daniel Perkins, Abraham Perkins, Jr., Samuel Perkins, and Joseph Perkins.”

George A Perkins in “The family of John Perkins of Ipswich, Mass”, 1889 adds that Abraham became deacon of the local Congregational church, a fact confirmed by the inscription of his original gravestone “Dea. Abraham Perkins died May 19, 1786, in the 73d year of his age.” If you visit Ely Cemetery today, the replacement stone reads “Revolutionary War / Sgt / Abraham Perkins / Lexington Alarm / Died May 10 1786 / AE 73”.

Family of Elizabeth (Ely) Perkins
Abraham arrived to Lyme as a single man and married Elizabeth Ely in 1739. She bore him eight children. Her family was one of the early settlers of Lyme. The original setter was Richard Ely of England who left a huge footprint in the area. Her father was Daniel Ely who worked his way to the top of the Connecticut militia to the rank of Major by 1739. Her mother, Mary Ann Champlin, a native of Westerly RI, died in 1725 with Elizabeth aged 7 years. Daniel would marry three more times before passing on 1776. Today one can visit the Ely Cemetery in Lyme where all manner of Elys are buried, including Abraham and Elizabeth Perkins. Remember the name “Ely” because it plays an important role in the naming of future generations.

The marriage of Abraham and Elizabeth marked the beginning of a complicated series of Perkins-Ely marriages that would be documented in the next generations.  When Elizabeth (Ely) Perkins died in 1759, Abraham remarried to Mary (Pearson) Ely, widow of Richard Ely, a cousin to Elizabeth. Abraham and Mary had three children together.

The Military Service of Abraham
Our Abraham Perkins attained a rank of Sargeant, which means he participated in the local town military structure. Starting in 1739 Connecticut developed a system of Militia Regiments within the town, called “Trained Bands”, under the command of Captain, Lieutenant, Ensign, Sergeant and Corporal. These trained bands could organize as Regiments under control of Colonel, Lt-Colonel and Major. This structure evolved during the Revolutionary war as the Regiments were organized as Brigades under the command of a Brigadier General. In particular, Our Perkins and Ely ancestors participated in the 3rd Regiment of the Connecticut before the war.

Documents show Sargent Abraham Perkins participated in the Lexington Alarm under Capt Joseph Jewitt. When the British first attacked in Lexington and Concord on 19 Apr 1775, the colonist reacted quickly in towns throughout New England by activating their local trained bands and racing to Massachusetts in a show of solidarity. However, this initial skirmish lasted only a short time. Many of these individuals who answered the alarm never served additional time. Abraham served at total of 25 days, not surprising considering Abraham’s age over 60 at the time. As a result of this service, Abraham Perkins is considered a Revolutionary War Veteran.

As a side note, most historical accounts list Abraham’s birth date as 1708. Gaius Perkins specifically lists the birth order of Abraham between siblings Isaac and Hannah supporting the 1708 birth. However, if you do the math on his gravestone, you get a birth of 1713, a date that appears more credible. Otherwise Abraham marches to Massachusetts for the Lexington Alarm at the age of 67.

Brothers and Sisters of Abraham Perkins
James Perkins and John Butler really led the migration of the Perkins family, so you can learn a lot about our Abraham by reading their biographies. James Perkins was the oldest son. He had land in Ipswich which he sold to his brother, Isaac. Per Caroline Perkins in “The Descendants of Edward Perkins of New Haven, Conn.”:

“James Perkins, son of Abraham (Isaac, Quartermaster  John , John Perkins, Senior, of Ipswich, Mass.), was the first of the name to settle in Lyme. He followed in Ipswich the occupation of ‘cordwainer,’ and on December 14, 1732, married Margaret, daughter of Deacon John and Elizabeth Andrews of Chebucco, Ipswich. In company with his brother-in-law, John Butler, who had married his sister Hannah, he went to Lyme, where, March 30, 1736, they purchased jointly of William Rathbun a tract of land comprising 294 1/4 acres on the hill called “Mount Archer,” with the dwelling house, barn, forest trees, fences, timber and stone, etc.. for £982 1s. Their families probably accompanied them as letters of dismission and recommendation were issued about that date to “Hannah, wife of John Butler,” and to “Margaret, wife of James Perkins,” dismissing them to the Third Church in Lyme. December 9, 1736, Perkins and Butler divided this purchase, quit-claiming to each other, and each one granting the other a right of way across his farm, “a pent highway for himself and his heirs to pass and repass [unreadable] with his creatures of all kinds, forever.” September 2, 1758, he bought of James Ely of Lyme, for £6 lawful money, one certain piece or tract of land in Lyme at the mouth of Eight Mile River (which empties into the Connecticut), which land was subject to overflow at high tide. April 24, 1789, he sold to his son John for £541 18.S-. two pieces or tracts of land ; one lot is where I now live, the other called the “ell” lot, containing about 50 acres, and the other lot about 96 acres, etc. Also, one other piece of land, a marsh or flat containing about two acres [unreadable] being a piece of flats or tidal land at the mouth of Eight Mile River, etc. In Lyme his occupation was farming, and this last transfer was doubtless made in anticipation of his death, which occurred a few months later. His wife’s death was previous to his own. In the “Marvin Burying Yard” may still be seen a couple of gravestones…”

Hannah Perkins married John Butler in Ipswich prior to their move to Lyme. Their biography is told in “A history of Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania“, Vol II by Oscar Jewell Harvey, 1909

“John Butler (born at Chebacco in 1708), third and youngest child of Lieut. William and Mary (Ingalls) Butler, grew to manhood in the town of Ipswich, where he was married in January, 1730, to Hannah Perkins. In 1732 John Butler and his wife and their only child, accompanied by James Perkins – a brother of Mrs. Butler – removed from Ipswich to Lyme, New London County, Connecticut. Lyme, which was originally a part of Saybrook, now covers some seven or eight miles square of territory, bounded on the west by the Connecticut River and on the south by Long Island Sound. ….  John Butler and James Perkins settled within the bounds of the North Society of Lyme, not far from the present village of Hamburg, and later Mr. Perkins became a Deacon in the Congregational Church there. At the time of their settlement they jointly purchased 290 acres of land back of Mount Archer, in the direction of the district known as Joshuatown – the north-westernmost section of Lyme, which has, from the first, borne this name, derived from Joshua, the third son of Uncas the noted sachem of the Mohegans (mentioned on page 196), who was once the lord and tenant of that rough and romantic region. About 1786 Messrs. Butler and Perkins bought in common other lands in Lyme, and in January, 1739, they made an amicable division of all their Lyme lands. In the Spring or Summer of 1755 John Butler died at Lyme, being survived by his wife, Hannah, and nine children, the youngest of whom was only three years of age. The inventory of John Butler’s estate – the bulk of which was in lands – amounted to £6,403, 8sh., in ‘money of the old tenor’ “

Like her brother Abraham, Elizabeth Perkins arrived single and married a member of the Ely family, William Ely (brother to Richard Ely and, therefore, cousin to Elizabeth Ely). History says William Ely was a poor businessman and that family members counselled Elizabeth to hid the family silver from the lenders who came to collect the family debt. She, however, refused due to her high moral character. So Elizabeth may have lost the silver, but she gained a legacy. Here is the story as presented on findagrave:

“The wife of Capt. William Ely, who acquired his military title during the French and Indian War, when he served in the 3rd Regiment of Connecticut Militia, Elizabeth Ely died at the age of 66, when the American Revolutionary War was in its final stages. Born in Chewbacco Parish, Ipswich, in colonial Massachusetts, she was the daughter of Abraham Perkins and the former Abigail Dodge. On September 16, 1737 she married William Ely, and the couple became the parents of ten children, eight of whom survived to adulthood. After nearly twenty years of married life in Lyme, Connecticut, where they struggled to eke out a living on their farm, in 1756 the Elys moved to present day Livingston, NJ, where they settled on “the Orange Mountain”. Still beset with financial difficulties, Mrs. Ely was advised by family friends to hide her heirloom silver tea service from her husband’s creditors, but being a woman of irreproachable honesty and integrity, she refused to do so. At the time of her death, Mrs. Ely’s survivors included her husband and seven of their ten children. Captain Ely died in 1802, 20 years after her death.”

Two other brothers of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph, remained in Ipswich,. Both appear to move away from a farming lifestyle. Isaac became a shoemaker, later transitioning to being a shopkeeper. Joseph started his career as a seaman. He later purchased land of a former tanner as a change to his career. He also became in Innholder.

While we don’t know a lot about Abraham and Elizabeth Perkins in Lyme, we can see that Abraham, as a newcomer to the area, attained some stature in his community as deacon of the local Congregational church and as Sargent in the Town militia. The family’s influence in the region did not extend for a long time. After the Revolutionary War, the continent was opened to exploration that allowed most of his offspring to seek land far more fertile than the rock-filled soil available in Lyme. The last male with the Perkins surname was their grandson, Abraham Ely Perkins, who settled in Wisconsin around 1850.  Their granddaughter, Elizabeth Perkins, represented the last female with the Perkins surname. She remained in Lyme and married an Ely (of course), being buried in the Ely Cemetery in 1858. Her descendants carried the Ely/Perkins legacy in Lyme roughly to the year 2000.

Francis & Elizabeth Perkins of Horton, NS

It became harder and harder to eke out a living in Colonel Connecticut as its population swelled from around 38k in 1740 to 76k in 1750 to 141k in 1760. So opportunistic New Englanders must have rejoiced when the English Governor of Nova Scotia, Charles Lawrence, posted placards offering free land. The British troops had just evicted the local French inhabitants, the Acadians, following France’s loss in the French and Indian War. Looking back, there is some regret in Canadian history since this episode involved the expulsion of many settled families including women and children. Over 10000 eventually left in 1755 including the majority of those Acadians who resettled in Louisiana and became known as the Cajuns. However, for the English Perkins family, this land presented a great opportunity since much of it was quite fertile due to the Acadian’s hard work in creating a system of dykelands in the high tidal area region. Proclamations were issued in various New England states to entice settlers. This group of 8000 individuals are called the “New England Planters”. Francis Perkins, along with many others in the area, accepted the offer. In 1761 they settled in Horton, Nova Scotia.

New London County was a particularly popular area for recruiting. Per New England tradition, the locals used a town meeting to negotiate the terms with an agent of Charles Lawrence which included the land, free transport, freedom of religion, and military protection. Initially, the signup concluded around 1758, but unrest in the region due to local Indians and rebel French delayed the settlement for a few years. During that gap, the list morphed as individuals opted to remain in Connecticut. Finally, the selected individuals, including members of the Perkins and Peck families, sailed for their new land as described by R.S Longley in “The Coming of the Planters”, 1960:

“On June 4, 1760, the main flotilla, consisting of twenty-two ships hired by the Government of Nova Scotia to transport the Connecticut Planters to Horton and Cornwallis rounded Cape Blomidon and anchored in the estuary of the Avon and Gaspereau rivers. It was escorted by a brig of war under the command of Captain Pigot. Assuming that the vessels were the usual sloops and schooners of average size, they must have carried an average of fifty passengers each, plus stock and equipment. The total cost of the Rogers and Pigot ships was about £1500. The Cornwallis settlers landed at what was Boudreau’s Bank, now Starr’s Point, and the Horton settlers at Horton Landing. At first they lived in tents and temporary shelter. Almost at once they held Town Meetings, or assemblies of grantees, at which the usual lot layers and other officials such as clerk, constable, and herdsmen were appointed. The lot layers divided the land which was drawn for in the usual way. Most heads of families received the regular share of 500 acres, but some were granted a share and a half, and a few a half-share. Each had a town lot and a portion of marshland, upland, and woodland. Soon all were busy building houses and tilling the soil.”

A couple of lists of the early settlers remain. First, the original grant of the township of Horton can be found in the files of the Nova Scotia Archives at Dalhousie University. Second, a fascinating plot of the town lot, or Palisade, survives with the names of initial settlers. The townspeople initially lived in this palisaded area for safety, but then ultimately settled on their farmed land. These lists contain some different names reflecting the changing population of Planters, but they share one big surprise: Francis Perkins name is not named, but rather it’s Abraham Perkins, presumably Francis’s father. So Abraham probably showed interest during the initial town hall meetings, and that he could have set foot in Nova Scotia. Other names on the map include various members of the family of Francis and Elizabeth, most notably her father, two brothers and an uncle.

Original GrantPalides MapRelationship to Francis Perkins (FP) or Elizabeth Peck (EP)
Abraham PerkinsAbraham PerkinsFather of FP
Joshua PerkinsNo known relationship to family
Eleaxer [sp?] MatherEleazer is father-in-law to FP’s sister Elizabeth (Perkins) Mather
Edward LoveridgeHusband of EP’s sister Esther (Peck) Loveridge
Benjamin PeckBenjamin PeckFather of EP
Benjamin Peck JrBrother of EP
Cornelius Peckmispelling of EP’s brother Cyrus Peck?
Silas Peck JrSilas PeckUncle of EP
Samuel Pecklikely, Uncle of EP
Thomas LeeHusband of EP’s sister Mehitable Peck
Nathan Dewolffather of FP & EP’s daughter-in-law, Sarah (Dewolf) Perkins

This first description of the land comes from “Extract from a letter of Lieut. Gov’r Belcher to the Lords of Trade”, 11 Jan 1762:

“This Township begun its Settlement 1760, was granted to Two Hundred proprietors. The present Families now settled in this Township are in Number One Hundred and fifty containing Nine Hundred persons. They have imported a large Stock of Cattle cut Hay sufficient for their Stock, but their Corn mostly blasted by the excessive draught this Summer. This Township contains about Five Thousand Acres of Marsh Lands, and three thousand Acres of Cleared upland. The Proprietors have divided their Lands which they judged improvable Land, and it amounts to One Hundred Acres to each Right or Share. The remainder are unimprovable Lands, two Ridges of Mountains Running thro’ the Township, the west end of this Township, Sandy barren Land, the natural growth is Spruce, Fir, White Birch, poplar and white Pine, the growth of Timber small, the Woods having been leveled by Fire about fifty years since. This Township lies on the Basin of Minas, the River Gaspero lying near the Center on which the Town is laid out, is navigable for any Vessel that can lay aground, their being Seven fathom at high Water, at low Water the Lands are in a manner dry.”

The early years proved challenging. They started without established government, churches or schools. Their main religion was Congregationalist, which meant they distrusted the British government and expected a form of Puritan self-rule based on town meetings. However, they now lived on an island, isolated from their former homeland. It took years for a minister to arrive, and he proved unpopular. This gap would give an opportunity to other religions to gain a strong foothold, most prominently the Baptist with its evangelical tone, that evolved from the Great Awakening.

The Revolutionary War occurred over 14 years after the settlement of the New England Planters. It was a very complicated situation because you had individuals sympathetic to the colonies and to the crown in both Lyme and Horton – even within the same family. But reality dictated that they could not go back home. Their means of livelihood, farming their land, lay in Canada. Nova Scotia, which almost joined the fight as the 14th colony, would remain neutral, in part, so that brother would not have to fight brother.

After the war, Nova Scotia saw a new influx of New Englanders – the Loyalists  – displaced individuals who wanted to remain loyal to the crown. Loyalists had some different values than their Planter brethren. Their religion favored Church of England with a more centralized government control, so you see political power shifting to Halifax. Initially, friction developed with the newcomers who competed for land and resources. However, as time went on, the similarities of the two group overcame the differences. After a while, both groups referred themselves as Loyalists since Canada remained proudly a British Colony.

In the context presented above, we can better understand surviving accounts of Francis and Elizabeth (Ely) Perkins. Caroline Perkins describes the family of Francis and Elizabeth (Ely) Perkins:

“FRANCIS, born Dec. 14, 1741; married Elizabeth Peck, sister of Cyrus and half-sister of Benjamin Peck. In the stirring times preceding the Revolution he was a Loyalist, and on that account found life in Lyme uncongenial, and about 1761 he and other ardent Loyalists emigrated to Horton, Kings County, Nova Scotia, where they took up or were granted lands after the expulsion of the Acadians. He was a small man, but very active; his wife was a very large woman, as were her sisters, and her brothers were also large men. His wife died in 1820 and is buried in the old Oak burying ground in Horton. After her death he sold his property and moved to Aylesford, Kings County, Nova Scotia, where his son Ely had previously settled, and about two years later, in October, 1822 or ’23, he died. He is buried in the Randal burying ground in Aylesford.”

Cyrus A Varnum, a Perkins descendant, visited relatives in Canada in 1895 and heard this surviving oral account which he wrote in his diary:

“Eli Perkin’s Father was native of Mass, one of 11 brothers, a United Empire Loyalist, the other 10 being patriots.”

These accounts have some accuracy issues. First, Francis and Elizabeth started a New England Planters, sometimes referred to as “Preloyalists”. Second, Francis likely died closer to 1821 as indicated by his surviving will. One wonders why he would not be buried with Elizabeth if she died a year earlier in 1820. Overall, however, one senses that Francis and Elizabeth ultimately succeeded in their new location. Son William Francis Perkins studied in England where he became a doctor, while Cyrus Peck Perkins joined the Anglican Clergy in Annapolis. Ely, eldest son and our ancestor, would have received his father’s land.

Family of Elizabeth (Peck) Perkins
Elizabeth (Peck) Perkins was the daughter of  Benjamin and Sarah (Champion) Peck, both names with long Lyme CT history. As mentioned, a lot of the Peck family became New England Planters. There was father Benjamin, Sr., uncle Silas, brothers Benjamin, Jr and Cyrus. The location of the farm of Benjamin, Sr and later Benjamin, Jr can readily be located because a portion of their land become a local burying ground, later renamed Oak Grove Cemetery. Elizabeth, who died around 1820, is said to be buried there. Benjamin Jr had a daughter, Olivia, who married Joseph Barass, considered Nova Scotia’s most famous privateer (pirate).

The Revolutionary War really made life complicated for this family. Elizabeth remained with husband Francis, along with her brothers Benjamin, Jr. and Cyrus. However  and her father Benjamin, Sr, returned to Lyme, where Silas fought in the War. Elizabeth’s sister, Mehitable Peck, and her husband Thomas Lee, residing in Lyme, declared themselves Loyalist and moved to Horton during the war before returning to Lyme in 1782. Elizabeth’s brother, Lee Peck, fought for the Colonists. Through it all, Benjamin Peck Sr seems to show no favoritism towards Canadian or American children in his will written in 1782.

Siblings of Frances Perkins
Francis had many brothers and brothers-in-law, some whom served in the war. William Perkins became a Captain of the Connecticut Militia apparently overseeing the construction of Fort Trumbull in New London CT.  Sarah Perkins’ husband, Nathaniel Pratt, participated in the Lexington Alarm and later in the capture of armaments from Ft Ticonderoga. Another brother, Abraham Perkins, may have suffered the heaviest price for his service where he fought in a decisive loss in the Battle of Long Island. His pension file describes a poor, ill man with little means. Service records for other family members including Daniel Perkins, Frederick Mather (husband of Elizabeth Perkins) and Samuel Perkins has not yet been found . They may or may not have participated. George Washington, after initial enthusiasm, struggled to field an army for the bulk of the war. These men may have been been part of the majority of the middle class that did not serve. After independence, almost all the family, except Abraham Jr, moved near Woodstock, Windham County, VT. The movement coincided with exploration of the Continental US that began after the war in search of better property.

Ultimately, the move from Lyme CT to Horton NS would have isolated Francis Perkins from the rest of his family. Yet the fertile land available compared to rocky Connecticut soil enabled Francis and Elizabeth to prosper despite the interruption of the Revolutionary War.  In the end, Francis and Elizabeth became outstanding Canadian citizens, loyal to the British government. Descendants were so proud of this legacy that the unusual names of Cyrus and Eli would show up for many generations.

Ely & Sarah Perkins of Kentville, NS

Ely (or Eli) Perkins was the eldest of three sons of Francis and Elizabeth (Peck) Perkins. He was born around 1762 in either Lyme CT or Nova Scotia, living in Horton NS as an infant as part of the contingent of New England Planters. Around 1789 he married Sarah DeWolf, daughter of Nathan and Anna (Prentice) DeWolf, another Planter family from Saybrook, CT. They had a least six children, possibly up to 13 with many dying young. Once again we can look at the book “The Descendants of Edward Perkins of New Haven, Conn” by Caroline Perkins, 1911 for a nice summary of the lives of Ely and Sarah:

“ELY, born in Lyme about ; married, 1788 or ’89, Sarah, youngest daughter of Nathan and (Prentice) DeWolfe of Horton, Nova Scotia, who was born about 1773. He was a large man and a farmer by occupation. His father settled him on part of his farm, which Ely afterwards sold and he removed to Aylesford, Nova Scotia. Being very easy-going in business matters, he managed to let most of his property slip through his fingers. He died suddenly of apoplexy Jan. 10, 1825, and is buried in the Randal burying ground in Aylesford. His widow married for her second husband Joel Farnsworth, and after his death she lived in Clarence, Annapolis County, N. S., for many years. Her death was on Christmas day, 1865, when she was nearly 93.”

An oral history also survives from Cyrus A Varnum who visited Canada in 1895, where he wrote the following in his diary:

“Eli and Sarah Perkins had 13 Children. Raised five: Mary Ilsly (Sophia Jay’s Mother); Lucilla Coggswell – still living at a great age in Kentville, Nova Scotia; Betsy Clark; Cyrus a teacher, who married and had issue; and William F., our grandfather. Sarah was an educated lady, some relation to Gov. at Halifax (probably his chambermaid’s daughter) and never worked much – but was a great mother. Eli Perkins has 2 bros., one a physician, the other a Church of England Minister said to have been Court Preacher to one of the Georges.”

As we look to verify these accounts, a couple of intriguing mysteries emerge. Did Ely really “let most of his property slip through his fingers”? Was Sarah Dewolf somehow related to the Governor of Halifax? Let us see what the evidence shows.


Ely and Sarah started in Horton NS. Their farm is described in “The History of Kings County Nova Scotia Heart of the Acadian Land” by Arthur Wentworth Easton, 1910

“In the first two decades of the 19th century the following were the chief houses in and near the present town [Kentville]. On the “[George] Roy farm”, between Kentville and New Minas, which was originally the grant of Eli Perkins, stood the Perkins grantee house. Half a mile to the west, on the high road, stood the Benjamin Peck House, afterward enlarged and completely rebuilt, by Capt. Joseph Barss, who married Olivia, daughter of Judge Elisha DeWolf. A few rods further west still, on a knoll from, which a charming view of the dykes could be had, stood the grantee house of Benjamin Peck’s younger brother, Cyrus Peck.”

Since we know that the Benjamin Peck donated land for the Oak Grove Cemetery, then Ely and Sarah lived about 1/2 mile east of the cemetery. The Kings County index of land records becomes useful here. Not only does it describe the location of various properties, but it shows the land transactions that occurred. Around 1809 Francis gifted three lots totaling 110 acres to his son Ely. Then around 1816 Ely acquired property in Aylesford as the heirs of Darius Brown quit claims (called a “Q.C.D.” for quit claim deed) for their land. Ely sold his land in Horton this same year, presumably to move to Aylesford. In 1821, Ely and Sarah Perkins passed property to their oldest living son William Francis Perkins. None of these transactions stands out to show bad business acumen, although one wonders if Ely found the land in Aylesford less suitable for farming compared to the fertile dykeland in Horton. Also, Ely & Sarah borrowed money in 1819 with a stated maturation in three payments by 1828. The impact of this loan of remains unclear. Yet, maybe Caroline Perkins’ account over-criticizes Ely, because father Francis and son William sell more of their land than Ely.

Perkins Land Transactions in Kings County

1809Francis PerkinsEly PerkinsH6-14New Minasdeed
1811Francis PerkinsEbenezer FitchH6-165Hortondeed
1816heirs of Darius BrownEli PerkinsH7-43AylesfordQ.C.D.
1816Ely & Francis PerkinsHenry MageeH6-529Hortondeed
1817Francis Perkins et uxDr Isaac WebsterH7-135Hortondeed
1819Ely & Sarah PerkinsKings County Loan OfficersH7-459Aylesfordmortgage
1820Francis PerkinsRev Cyrus PerkinsH7-494Hortondeed
1821Ely Perkins et uxWilliam PerkinsA1-73Aylesforddeed
1823William PerkinsStephen B DeWolfeA1-72Aylesforddeed
1824William F Perkins et uxJames IllsleyA1-137Aylesforddeed

Their residence in Aylesford was brief since Francis died in 1821 and Ely in 1825. Both father and son are reported to be buried in Randall Burying Ground. This cemetery barely survives today, described as “3 vandalized gravestones with depressions suggesting 15-20 additional graves”. No Perkins headstones survive.

Sarah then remarried Joel Farnsworth, of Clarence N.S. who died in 1843.  Sarah apparently went to live with her daughter, Lucilla (Perkins) Cogswell, since she is buried at the same Billtown Baptist church cemetery. Her gravestone inscription reads, “Sarah, wife of Joel Farnsworth, died 25 Dec 1865, aged 92 yrs”. Notice that she chose a Baptist Church burial which suggests that she and Ely might have had leaning to the Baptist church as opposed to his brothers, described below, who sided with the Church of England.

The Family of Sarah (DeWolf) Perkins
The DeWolf name is another old famous Lyme name. They can be traced back to Balthazar DeWolf who arrived in the US around 1660. Sarah was the only surviving child of Nathan and Anna (Prentice) DeWolf, but she had many step brothers and sisters as both her parents had been widowed previously. Anna Prentice had married Samuel Witter, while Nathan DeWolf married Lydia Kirtland. All these individuals were born in New London County CT. It gets confusing because the Planters, as they shared a common set of values, tended to marry within their own community. No connection to the British Governor of Halifax or the Chambermaid could be establish.

However, the idea that Sarah may be related to a high government official may have some validity. Her father, Nathan, graduated from Yale College, class of 1743. Nathan traveled with his cousins, Simeon and Jehiel, to Horton in 1761. He had trained to be a lawyer and did much of the legal paperwork required in Horton including deeds, wills and serving as Justice of the Peace. He was also a successful farmer. According to Arthur Wentworth Eaton in “The History of Kings County, Nova Scotia” , his house was located on the east side of the main post-road, opposite to the present (1887) Baptist church, at Wolfville.” His son, Elisha, who was Sarah’s half brother, carried on Nathan’s work, becoming sheriff, member of Parliament, postmaster and tax collector of Horton, whose name had morphed to “Mud Creek”. Eventually, the local townspeople objected to this unflattering characterization of their town, so in 1830 Mudville was renamed to Wolfville to honor the importance of the DeWolf name. Sarah, therefore, did come from a very educated family that participated in the local government.

The Brothers of Ely Perkins
Ely had two famous brothers. “The Descendants of Edward Perkins of New Haven, Conn” again gives very clear, concise biographies of their lives. The first brother, William Francis Perkins, became a doctor and eventually settled in another British colony, Jamaica.

“WILLIAM FRANCIS, born in Horton, N. S., about 1769, was educated at Kings College, Windsor, Nova Scotia, and in London, where he graduated as surgeon and physician; married an English lady, went to the Island of Jamaica, and settled at Falmouth. Having received an excellent education, he could adapt himself to any company. He was a fine-looking man, six feet, four inches, well built, and very neat in his appearance. His wife died in 1827, while he was on a visit to his relatives in Nova Scotia. The date of his death has not been learned. His sons were noted for their scholastic attainments, and it is believed they continued to reside at Jamaica.”

Continued research reveals additional facts. William Francis was trained as a physician in England. Then he served on a least four voyages transporting slaves from Africa to Jamaica to work the sugar fields. Four voyages was considered many as the job was quite dangerous. He eventually settled in Trelawny Jamaica as a doctor. He married Harriet Harcorne, a daughter of a military man, and their children were born in the local Anglican church. His sons remained in Jamaica, and descendants reside there to this day. The two daughters, much younger, returned to Canada to live with their uncle after their mother died. Some of the more notable descendants:

  • Cyrus Francis Perkins, printer and author of “Busha’s Mistress”, a series of newspapers articles that describes slavery in Jamaica. Later it was compiled into a single book. A Busha is a Jamaican term for an overseer of a slave plantation. It was not uncommon that they fathered children through one or more black concubines. The book represents early fictional writings about these relationships.
  • Lilly Perkins (1891 – 1991) – spinster, naturalist and academic. Butterfly “Miss Perkin’s Skipper”, Phocides (lincea) perkinsi, named after her
  • Wilmont “Motty” Perkins (1931-2012) – well known Jamaican radio talk show personality

A few comments here about the Perkins family and slavery seem in order. Canadians are considered generally anti-slavery, and no other Perkins family member is known to have owned slaves. However, William F Perkins appears no better or worse than any other white inhabitant of Falmouth. You could argue that his ship position was to keep everyone healthy regardless of race, but his attitude to black and white on board was not known. He did own 2-3 slaves in Falmouth, probably as housekeepers. His children held titles like Penkeeper, Pewkeeper and Overseer, but the significance of these titles is not yet clear. Eventually, one finds the natural intermarriage of cultures within the community including white, black and, even, Chinese. Jamaican genealogy poses difficult unique challenges for research since records remain illusive. So there is much to learn about the Jamaican branch of the Perkins family.

The second brother, Cyrus Peck Perkins, joined the Church of England. This branch remained in Nova Scotia, settling in Annapolis Royal. Per Caroline Perkins:

“CYRUS PECK, born at Horton, N. S., about 1776. There were just seven years between the ages of the first and second son, and between the second and the third son. He was educated at Kings College, Windsor, Nova Scotia, and was ordained a clergyman of the Church of England by the first Bishop Ingles, and was appointed rector of St. Luke’s Parish in Annapolis County and chaplain to His Majesty’s forces at Annapolis Royal. He married, January 11, 1810, Phebe, youngest daughter of Henry Rutherford of Digby, Nova Scotia, formerly of New York, and a member of the firm of Nash & Rutherford, brokers to the British Army. Shortly after the death of his wife, which occurred about 18??, he removed to England, where a good parish was offered to and accepted by him at Brixham, Devon. He was drowned in Tor Bay while yachting, with two of his men whose bodies were recovered, while his own was not, although every effort was made to recover it and a reward of £500 offered.”

Henry Rutherford, Cyrus’s father-in-law, was a true loyalist who left NY at the beginning of the war which suggests strong Loyalist political and religious sentiment. So now one sees the religious fractures of the Perkins family from grandfather, Abraham, of Lyme CT, a deacon of the Congregational church, to Cyrus who became a Anglican minister to Ely Perkins whose wife was buried in the Baptist church. Here are a few notable descendants of Cyrus and Phebe Perkins

  • Mary Ann Alicia Perkins, daughter of Cyrus, “was highly accomplished and when young was sent to France and Italy to complete her education. She mastered several languages, but her too close application to study affected her health and in consequence she died.” according to Caroline Perkins. In reality, documents have been uncovered that show the young woman committed for lunacy at Grove Place Asylum in Southampton England.
  • Cyrus Alexander Perkins, grandson of Cyrus Peck Perkins, become a well know innkeeper. First he ran the Queen Hotel. Then the family purchased and operated Hillsdale house which still operates to this day. These establishments were considered high-end where the visiting dignitaries would sleep on their visits to Annapolis.
  • Charlotte Isabel Perkins – great granddaughter of Cyrus and famous locally for writing pamphlets about life in Annapolis Royal, including “The Romance of Old Annapolis Royal”. Said to be a spinster. Or was she? Some additional research suggest that she may have been mother to James Perkins Sanford, who lived with Perkins family household.

Ely and Sarah Perkins offer important lessons today in the permanence of ones’ written past. Both were born over 250 years ago, and they lived in relative obscurity in rural Nova Scotia. Yet, fairly or not, their history endures and has judged Ely Perkins (“very easy-going in business matters, he managed to let most of his property slip through his fingers”) and Sarah DeWolf (“never worked much – but was a great mother”) as decent individuals, but a little spoiled and pampered for their own good.

William & Harriet Perkins of Yarmouth ONT

William Francis Perkins was born in Horton, Kings county, Nova Scotia on 31 Jan 1799 to Eli and Sarah (DeWolf) Perkins. On 3 Dec 1823 he married Harriet Byron Creelman, daughter of William and Harriet (Turner) Creelman of Horton. They had a least six children, possibly more. In 1844, William and Harriet relocated to farmland in Yarmouth township, Elgin county, Ontario. For William, his residence lasted a short time because he died on 19 Sep 1848. Harriet then remarried on 6 Jan 1856 to John Lanning, a local farmer. Harriet would live until 2 May 1879. Because of the move to Ontario, their quiet existence, and William’s early death, not a lot of history survives about this family, but let’s see if more can be added to this story.



First we refer to “The Descendants of Edward Perkins of New Haven, Conn.” by Caroline Erickson Perkins in 1914. For the previous 4 generations, this author has provide invaluable historical glimpses into our Perkins ancestry. This view of William and Harriet represents the last relevant Perkins entry from her book:

“WILLIAM FRANCIS, born in Horton; married Harriet Creelman; lives near Port Stanley, Upper Canada. Several of his children died young. The children of William Francis and Harriet (Creelman) Perkins that grew up were: JAMES, married ; lives at Petrolia, and has several children. ANN, married ; lives near LeMars, Iowa. SARAH, married Watson Welding; they live near Port Stanley Upper Canada. MARIA, married ; no children. ALONZO, born in Upper Canada, married, and lives there.”

Not much insight above. Fortunately, there we have an autobiography written in 1908 by Richard M Varnum, who married Harriet Ann Perkins (called “Ann” above) which includes his first-hand account of his inlaws William and Harriet (Creelman) Perkins. The Varnum family preserved their family history well. There is even a surviving photo, erroneously labelled “Harriet Creedman” which most likely shows Harriet Creelman Perkins with her second husband John Lanning.

“William Perkins, her father, had been dead some years at this time and two of the children were married.  The family had been in closer contact with civilization than mine in my earlier years – – which accounts for any disparity of manners that may be noticed between us.  Her education had been limited as well as my own.”

“My wife’s mother Mrs. Perkins, (at least at that time) was a most estimable woman or lady if that means any more which I deny – – one of earth’s rarest gems, always the same, affable, kind and wise friend in adversity as in prosperity.  I never saw her temper ruffled in the least, during the sixteen years of our acquaintance.  I am tempted to say this much because of the prevalent slander of mothers-in-law and because it is the exact truth.”

William Francis Perkins was undoubtedly named for his uncle, the doctor of the same name, who eventually settled in Jamaica. Kings county land records for William Perkins show his time in Nova Scotia before the move to Ontario. He purchased his first land from his father in 1823. Additional family land came from his remarried mother Sarah Farnsworth in 1828. A few years later his sold this Aylesford land to buy property in Cornwallis and Black Rock. The final sale of the Nova Scotia land is recorded in 1845. We can confirm the year of the move to Ontario as 1844 from the two youngest children since William Alonzo Perkins lists his birth as Ontario in 1845, while Maria Perkins lists her birth as Nova Scotia in 1843.

1823Ely Perkins et uxWilliam PerkinsA1-73Aylesforddeed
1823William PerkinsStephen B DeWolfeA1-72Aylesforddeed
1825William F Perkins et uxJames IllsleyA1-137Aylesforddeed
1827James Ilsley et uxWilliam F PerkinsA1-194Aylesforddeed
1828Sarah (nee Perkins) FarnsworthWilliam PerkinsA1-249AylesfordR of dower
1829Stephen DewolfeWilliam PerkinsA1-257AylesfordR of mtge
1830William PerkinsLawrence HarrisA1-325Aylesforddeed
1830William F Perkins et uxZebulon NeilyA1-336Aylesforddeed
1830James Foreman et uxWilliam F PerkinsC8-530Cornwallisdeed
1830Thomas Dykens et uxWilliam PerkinsC9-56North Mt, Cornwallisdeed
1838William F Perkins et uxRichard LeeC10-473Black Rockdeed
1840William B Almon et uxWilliam PerkinsC11-178Cornwallis Tswpdeed
1842William F PerkinsJohn BurnsC11-522North Mt, Cornwallisdeed
1845William Francis & Harriet PerkinsGeorge Bezanon13-23Cornwallisdeed

Brothers of Sisters of William Francis Perkins
All of the siblings of William Perkins remained near Nova Scotia. James Perkins died young during a fishing accident on Five Mile Island, an area of the highest tides in the Bay of Fundy. The fate of Mary (Perkins) Clark’s family represents a brick wall with her two children remaining unidentified. Mary Perkins married James Illsley, a man who married 4 times and produced 14 children. Mary was responsible for 9 of them. Cyrus Perkins became a teacher and relocated to New Brunswick. Some of this group would eventually settle in Maine. There are likely men with the Perkins surname living there today. Lucilla Perkins married Gideon Cogswell. Many of this line would settle on the West coast including Spokane WA and British Columbia. Some of the more interesting descendants include:

  • Robie Lewis Reid (1866-1945), grandson of Lucilla (Perkins) Cogswell – noted historian, book-collector and lawyer of British Columbia who had a mountain in British Columbia named after him.
  • The Cummings sisters Annie Mannon (1871-1939), Marion Morcom (1885-1974), and Bertha Caubu (1890-1950), great granddaughters of James Perkins, all managed to move from Nova Scotia and marry the richest and most powerful men in the San Francisco Bay Area. A true rags to riches story.
  • Rolla J Olin (AKA Michael Vallon) (1897-1973), great grandson of Mary (Perkins) Illsley, became a Hollywood actor
  • Philip Sydney Illsley (1896-1973), great grandson of Mary (Perkins) Illsley, known of the father of the swimming pool, earned his fortune by developing a revolutionary process of creating swimming pools

Family of Harriet Creelman
Harriet Creelman is one of seven daughters born of William and Harriet (Turner) Creelman. Her mother is another in a long time of New England Planters. In fact, both William and Harriet share a common relative, Anna Prentice, making Harriet a half cousin once removed of William. The land records shows the movement of William and Harriet Creelman while in Kings county

1774Andrew Denison et uxMathew CreelmanH2-291Horton Twspdeed
1800William Bishop Jr et uxWilliam CreelmanH4-345New Minasdeed
1801John WallaceWilliam CreelmanH4-372Grand Pre Dykedeed
1806Jonathan CraneWilliam Creelman et alH5-168Horton TwspQ.C.D.
1811Jonathan Crane et uxWilliam CreelmanH6-280Horton Twspdeed
1813William CreelmanElisha DewolfH6-373New Canaandeed
1822Thomas TurnerWilliam CreelmanC6-483Cornwallis Tswpdeed
1825William Creelman et uxRobert TrenholmH8-412Horton Twspdeed
1831William CreelmanGideon PalmerC9-84Cornwallis Tswpdeed
1831Harriet CreelmanGideon PalmerC9-114Cornwallis Tswprelease of dower

The introduction of William Creelman marks the first non-Planter into the family in many generations. Even more profound, William, whose parents arrived from Ireland, represents the first non English ancestor into the Perkins line.  The Nova Scotia Archives Website has a nice description of these Irish immigrants (

“Most people connect Irish emigration to North America with the Potato Famine of the late 1840s.  The majority coming to Nova Scotia, however, arrived in the mid-1700s or between 1815 and 1845, coming not in large groups but quietly, like the snow on a roof. The first wave arrived in the late 1750s, a time when Ireland was largely a country of tenant farmers and labourers, with an economy dependent on Great Britain and its protective tariffs. …They were called the ‘Scots-Irish’ although this is not an entirely accurate term. Most of the northern Irish who came to Nova Scotia in the 1750s and 1760s were third and fourth-generation descendants of Lowland Scots, transplanted to the northern Irish province of Ulster. They are more accurately called ‘Scots from Ireland’ or ‘Ulster Scots,’ since few of them had native Irish ancestry. These immigrants were the founders of Truro and Londonderry in Nova Scotia.  Others settled in Chignecto (on the New Brunswick border) and in Granville, New Dublin (near Bridgewater), New Donegal (Pictou) and in parts of Hants County. Archibald, Allison, Parks, Fulton and Creelman are typical family names.”

The specific lineage for William Creelman remains elusive. Most early Canadian Creelmans trace themselves to the well-documented Samuel Creelman of Colchester County, NS. However, there is no mention of our William. Further research suggests that Samuel Creelman had one or more brothers as noted by “The Irishman in Canada” by Nicholas Flood Davin, 1877:

“In 1756, three brothers, Samuel, Matthew, and Francis Creelman, emigrated from Ireland to Nova Scotia. Samuel settled in Upper Steviack, County of Colchester; the other two elsewhere; and all grew prosperous.”

Matthew Creelman shows up in a single Kings county deed in 1774. Here is the likely story of Samuel and Matthew from David Creelman, a descendant of Samuel, as derived from information compiled by Carol Campbell and “History and Genealogical Record of the First Settlers of Colchester County” by Thomas Miller.

“Samuel lived in Northern Ireland, probably in or near Coleraine, County Londonderry, and whose ancesters came from Scotland. The story prevails that a man whose surname was Ashmore received a contract to transport food to a camp of prisoners. He did this by horse on which were fitted “creels” or saddle baskets. Apparently he developed the reputation as being the “creel-man” and some of his descendants assumed this surname. When this happened we do not know but there are records of numerous Creelmans in Scotland, principally in Lanark County. Sam was married and had four children when he arrived in Halifax, NS in 1761. He probably arrived on the ship Hopewell with 350 passengers. He spent a difficult winter in Lunenburg before moving to Amherst, NS where he received a land grant of 500 acres. A person named Matthew Creelman also had a land grant in Amherst. We can speculate that it was Samuel’s younger brother but we know little except that he disposed of his property and apparently moved away.”

Harriet Creelman’s family prompted the move from Nova Scotia to Elgin county, Ontario with her sister Hannah (Creelman) Oglivie alone remaining in Nova Scotia. Her other sisters, Ann Montross, Olivia Montross, Charlotte Humphries and Sarah Scott, all settled in Elgin county Ontario. The eldest sister Margaret Palmer settled in nearby Lambton county, as did the parents William and Harriet (Turner) Creelman.

Elgin County
Elgin county, Ontario was a much more diverse area than Nova Scotia. Irish, Scottish, Germans are all buying land in the area when William F Perkins and family moved to the region. In addition, a sizable Quaker population settled from Pennsylvania. The county utilized a grid system to allocate the farms, which can be seen in the satellite views today.

William Francis and Harriet (Creelman) Perkins, who lived in relative obsurity, represent transitional figures in their move to a melting pot region of Elgin county, Ontario. There is the introduction of Irish ancestry into a line that had been solidly English. There is the first photograph of a surviving ancestor.  They were the last of our ancestors who embraced a completely agrarian lifestyle.

James & Mary Perkins of Petrolia, ONT

from “Topic Oil and Gas”, 3 May 1966, vol. 7, no. 110, pg. 8
JAMES PERKINS and his family, together with Mrs. Perkins’ brothers Isaac, Jean and James VanSickle, all of U.E. Loyalist stock, first settled in Oil Springs, and when oil fields developed at Petrolea, moved to the new fields. Mr. James Perkins, together with his sons and the Van Sickle brothers were among the early and permanent pioneers active in oil producing and drilling operations. Cyrus, the eldest son, was one of the first drillers to go to the foreign fields. He went to Germany with Bergham and McGarvey as lead drillers, taking as assistants George McIntosh, Jack Martin and other drillers. Jacob Perkins and his family followed, three years later, and these men were the pioneers in opening the Austrian and Galician fields, of which more will be written later in this series. All of the Perkins brothers were practical drillers and oil operations naturally with Eli, the youngest brother, also was in Austria for a few years, but after his father’s death returned to look after their extensive Petrolea interests. In 1885 James Perkins and his wife went to Austria to visit their sons and he was induced to visit Carlsbad baths but these proved too severe for his declining health. He never recovred from the effects of these and only lived a short time after his return to Petrolia. Mrs. James Perkins survived all her large family. Mary, her daughter, wife of Lloyd Harris, Canadian Ambassador to England, but passed away at London. Mrs. Perkins was 95 at the time of her death in 1927. She will always be rememvered for her long and active life, devoted to her church and charity. A noble woman and model mother.

from Commemorative Biographical Record, pg 518
James Perkins was born in Nova Scotia Jan. 25, 1825, and in 1846 came to Elgin County, Ont., where he engaged in farming until 1863. He then removed to Oil Springs, Lambton County, and engaged in the cattle business, and in both lines was most successfully engaged until his death, on Nov. 19, 1895. He owned considerable property in Enniskillen township, his first purchase of land being Lot 20, Concession 11, which is now owned by his son Cyrus F. Mr. Perkins was a member of the Petrolia council for many years and politically he was a Reformer. In fraternal connection he was a Mason. Both he and wife were identified with the Baptist Church, of which Mrs. Perkins was a member. On March 14, 1850, Mr. Perkins married Mary Vansickle, who was born Jan. 11, 1832, daughter of James and Susan (Minor) Vansickle, and still survives. The children of James Perkins and wife were as follows: Susan Mrs. O. Smith; Cyrus Francis, of Galicia, Austria, where he is an oil producer and a mineral valuator for the government; Jacob, an oil operator; J. Eli; and Mary, deceased, who was the wife of Loyd Harris, of the Massey-Harris Co., Brantford, Ontario.

Family of Mary Vansickle
Mary’s grandparents, Isaac and Jane Vansickle, are considered true “Loyalist” as opposed to the Perkins line which are accurately “New England Planters”. Isaac took the family from Morris County. NJ and settled an area called Jerseyville. The British government allowed individuals loyal to the crown to petitition for free land in Canada to made up for their financial losses during the war. It is interesting that Isaac remained in New Jersey for 15 years after the end of the war because most individuals found it necessary to go to Canada sooner. Here is Isaac’s petition:

Humbly sheweth that your Excellency’s petitioner resided in Morris County in the State of Jersey in America before the breaking out of the Rebellion, that he joined the Royal Standard in the year 1775 and served his Majesty as a private in the Jersey Volunteers commanded by General Skinner until the end of the same-  that he came to this Province in the year 1797 where he has since resided. Wherefore your Excellency’s petitioner most humbly prays that your excellency may be pleased to order his name to be inserted on the United Empire list.
General Skinner

Brothers of Mary Vansickle
The biography above indicate that brothers Isaac, Jean and James were also in the oil business.  Jean refers to Eugene who spent time as a foreign oiler in Borneo and Australia before settling back in Petrolia. Jamie Vansickle, great-grandson to Eugene, stills resides in Petrolia, and was kind enough to show the Perkins clan around town. Isaac and James remained in Petrolia holding jobs peripheral to the oil business. Isaac settled into Idaho with his last occupation as locomotive engineer.

Children of James and Mary Perkins
Each child has an interesting account, so only

  1. Susan married Nate Smith, a farmer. They raised a large family in Michigan.
  2. Cyrus went to Poland before settling in London, England.
  3. Jacob went to Poland where he remained.
  4. James Eli stayed in Petrolia, Ontario. His family continued in the oil business in Casper, WY.
  5. Mary Catharine married Lloyd Harris, a prominent Ontario business and political figure. She died shortly after the birth of her daughter.

More photos for this family Visit family tree Visit family tree Image Map

Jacob & Jennie Perkins of Galicia

This posting is not meant to give a complete treatment Jacob and Jennie (Jardine) Perkins. That information is covered in “The Scent of Oil: A Nicklos/Perkins Family Saga” by Gary May and Joan (Baker) Darby. However, this posting has lots of pretty photos, and includes additional snippets of information about this interesting family.

Jacob Perkins
Brief Biography from “The Scent of Oil”
“Jacob: Born Petrolia (Canada) 1854; died Humniska, Galicia, 1917. Oil entrepreneur. Lived in Galicia 28 years. Married Jenny Jardine 1876. Five children.”

Jenny Nicklos
Brief Biography from “The Scent of Oil”
“Jenny: Born Petrolia 1855; died Tulsa, Okla, 1937. Lived most of her married life in Galicia.”

Jacob Herbert Perkins (Herbert)
Brief Biography from “The Scent of Oil”
“Herbert: Born Petrolia 1881; died Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1956. Worked in the Galicia oil industry until moving his family to North America in 1938. Married Nellie Manhardt. Their children: Sigrid Tulasiewicz (1907-1987); Winifred Bulicek (1911-); Olive Jones (1915-1991).”

Cyrus Wilfred Perkins (Wilfred)
Brief Biography from “The Scent of Oil”
“Wilfred: Born Petrolia 1883; died Houston 1967. Continued his German-language education in Austria and attended university in Canada, the United States and Germany. Left for Canada and the Unitied States about 19-6 and became a professor at Coe College in Iowa. Married Beulah Field (1884-1976). Their children: Robert (1917-1993); Judith Corbett (1929-)”

Charles Perkins (Charlie)
Brief Biography from “The Scent of Oil”
“Charlie: Born Galicia 1888; died Beicz, Galicia (unknown). Spent his entire life in Galicia and worked in the oil industry. Married three times and had five children: Clair (Harry), Fred, Henryk, Jakub, and Jan.”

Edward Blake Perkins (Eddy)
Brief Biography from “The Scent of Oil”
“Eddie: Born Galacia 1895; died Houston, Texas 1969. Interned by Austrians in 1914. Married Hilda. They had no children.