The First Generations
Although earlier records of Parmelees have been found on the Continent who may very well be our ancestors, their relationships with our proven family have not been established with certainty. With my finds in Lewes and the records I've collected over the years about our Colonial ancestors, I've concluded that these three generations of our family are the last in England and the first in America.
Our name can only be found in two areas of England during this era: south of London in Lewes, and up north, near the border with Scotland, in Middleton-in-Teesdale. The northern family's given, or first names don't fit in with the Connecticut family's, but those in the south, found in Lewes parish records, do. Parmelee records that survive at All Saints, right, run from 1572 to 1620 and those at St. Michael from 1628 to 1638 (with one in 1610). No Parmelee records can be found in Lewes after November, 1638, shortly before John Sr. left for New England and helped found Guilford, Conn.
I'm fairly certain the vast majority of North American Parmelees of various spellings can call Lewes their ancestral home, while the smaller Parmley family that first settled in Pennsylvania and then moved to the Midwest and Salt Lake City, are tied to Middleton-in-Teesdale. The two families may be linked in England but as of yet, I don't know how.
Probably born before 1554. His burial was recorded May 1, 1583, at All Saints, Lewes, Sussex [now East Sussex]. He was married Jan. 11, 1572, at All Saints to Alice RUSSELL. I have found no record of her death nor a second marriage.
Their children, recorded at All Saints:
Baptized Aug. 30, 1584, at All Saints. Yes, after his father died; it also looks as if his mother waited a few months to do the christening. His will, dated Nov. 8, 1659, was filed at New Haven, Conn., with an inventory dated Jan. 2, 1659/60, and valued at £78, 13s. Records show he had at least five wives and 13 children, only three of whom are known to have survived childhood.
The Trayton family was in possession of the property from the mid 15th century through 1770. The building stands on the site of Church of the Holy Trinity and long has housed the offices of attorneys, proctor, notaries and solicitors, as it did when I visited in 1997.
On Feb. 15, 1616, John, again identified as a bricklayer, witnessed the sureties of marriage of one of his first wife's brothers, husbandryman Thomas Howell of Kingston Near Lewes, to maiden Judith Garrett, of the same, according to records of the Archdeaconry of Lewes.
John's family quit All Saints and moved to the new St. Michael church, right, built by merchant and Puritan sympathizer John Stansfield, shortly after it opened. But John soon ran into trouble with church authorities.
In the 1630s, restoration of the "sacrament of the altar," which meant moving communion tables back to their pre-Reformation locations, had become a flash point within the Church of England. The new Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, arrived at Lewes' St. Thomas-in-the-Cliffe in 1634 and decreed that, among other things, its table be place in a north-south position at the upper end of the chancel and "rayled in with a decent Rayle to keep off dogs and to free it from other pollutions." Other churchwardens throughout Lewes were expected to follow suit. Two years later, those of St. Michael still had not.
When the Archdeaconry Court of Lewes convened at St. Michael on July 19, 1637, diocesan chancellor William Nevill was horrified to see that the table remained in its east-west position and personally moved it north-south. A week later, someone who surely thought the table's altar-wise positioning looked popish moved it back.
On Aug. 1, parish clerk Abel Bodle was summoned to the judge's office of the court and asked: "By whom or by whose appointment the communion Table was removed and altered since the last Court day, it being then set by Doctor Nevill North and South, and now standing East and West."
Bodle replied that "on Satterday the xxvjth [26th] of July last past, about seven of the clock at night, John Parmely, one of the church wardens of the sayd parrishe came to him and demanded the key of the Church Dore, which he thereupon delivered unto him. And he [John] went forthwith from him with the sayd key unto the church, And did charge this respondent [Bodle] that when he came the next morning into the church whatsoever he saw there, hee should not meddle to alter anything in the church.
"And afterwards the same evening the sayd Parmely sent the key unto this respondent [Bodle] by his apprentice, whose name hee knoweth not, And hee [Bodle] sayth further, That the next morning being Sonday, when he came into the church aforesaid, he found and sawe the communion Table, which Doctor Neville had the last Court day viz. the xixth [19th] of July, with his own hands placed in the east end of the chancel north and south, removed and set from the wall East and West as now it standeth."
The parish was ordered to pay 7 shillings for John's absolution, and it appears not everyone had supported his strike against popery. The following year, after he had ceased to be a churchwarden, John and wife Joane were accused of "living in incontinency before their marriage," a serious offense among Puritans. The only evidence offered was the birth of daughter Rachael, baptized Nov. 5, 1638, "within one or two and thirty weeks next after their [April 3, 1638] marriage" about one month premature. The charge was apparently rejected. But John decided he'd had enough of England.
With daughters Hannah, 7, and Mary, 5, most likely in tow, John would have been about 55 when boarded the St. John, which set sail out of London on May 20, 1639, under Capt. Richard Russell and arrived between July 10 and 15 at New Haven. Whether wife Joane made the voyage remains a mystery. I have yet to find a burial for her in England nor a mention of her in Connecticut.
John was among the signers of Guilford's Plantation Covenant, dated June 1, 1639, while the St. John and an unnamed second ship were at sea. Most of the signers were from counties Kent and Surrey, members of the flock of The Rev. Henry Whitfield of St. Margaret's in Ockley Parish, Surrey, who became the party's spiritual leader. That fall they founded Guilford, just east of New Haven. John's original 2½-acre home lot at the north end of the Village Green is now occupied by the 1st Congregational Church, left.
John was one of many who testified about a shoemaker's shoddy workmanship at a 1647 New Haven hearing. He was voted a freeman at Guilford on May 22, 1649. He returned to New Haven, where he was married for the final time in 1653 and was admitted as a freeman Aug. 8, 1659.
Their children, recorded at All Saints:
- - - - -
John was married second April 29, 1630, at St. Michael to Hannah WILBUR. She was buried Feb. 20, 1634/35, at St. Michael.
- - - - -
John was married third to Elizabeth HOLTER on June 1, 1635, at St. Michael. She was baptized March 25, 1610/11, the daughter of John Holter, at St. Thomas-à-Becket, Cliffe in Lewes, and buried Sept. 1, 1637 at St. Michael.
Their children, recorded at St. Michael:
I'm wondering if this 11th child, John, was named for his half-brother John who left two years earlier for America. One fellow genealogist says it was not that rare for a man to have more than one son with the same name -- virtually always when he had multiple wives -- and named "the younger" and "the elder."
- - - - -
John was married fourth to Joane COBDEN, on April 3, 1638, at St. Michael. I have found no mention of her in Connecticut; she probably died in England.
Their child, recorded at St. Michael:
Rachael's burial is the last Parmelee entry found in Lewes. John's ship set sail from London on May 20, 1639.
- - - - -
John's fifth wife was Elizabeth (----) BRADLEY, widow of Daniel Bradley, whom he married Nov. 8, 1653, at New Haven. She died in January 1683 at New Haven. (Her maiden name may have been SHEAFFE but this has not been proven.) On Jan. 20, 1661, New Haven Colony appointed a committee to seat people in the Meeting House; "Sister Parmely" shares the "little short seat" next to the wall with "Sister Allen." [Mrs. John Allen was Ellen, Elizabeth's daughter with Daniel Bradley.] Elizabeth's third husband was widower John EVARTS, whom she married May 27, 1663, at Guilford; he died May 10, 1669, making her a widow a third time.
Baptized Sept. 6, 1612, at All Saints, Lewes. His will, dated Dec. 20, 1684, was inventoried Feb. 8, 1687/88, in Guilford in the amount of £259, 4s. He had 10 children and at least 74 grandchildren.
"Jo. Palmerley" is listed as a 20-year-old passenger on the Elizabeth and Anne, the first member of the family to immigrate to America, arriving four years before his father. Master Roger Coop/Cowper/Cooper was at the helm when it was cleared to leave the Port of London on April 13, 1635 -- the Winthrop Society says it left in mid-May -- and arrived at the Charlestown section of Boston late that spring or early summer. No other family members are listed on that roster.
He was one of the original settlers of Guilford, his first home lot being a 1½-acre parcel on the east side of Crooked Lane, the fourth lot north of Buck Lane. He took the oath of freeman in Guilford on Feb. 14, 1649/50, a little less than a year after his father did. He became the drummer of Guilford's train band, the colony's chief defense unit, and served as sexton for many years, "warning" settlers to meetings and church services by beating his drum. Guilford town records show that he was sued in 1648 by a fellow planter who complained that John's hogs had rooted through his corn.
And for reporting to train band practice while intoxicated:
John was married first to Rebecca ---, probably in England. She was born --- and died Sept. 24 or 29, 1651, at Guilford. (It has not been proven that her maiden name was EATON.)
Their child, born at Guilford:
- - - - -
John was married second to Anna (---) PLAINE/PLAIN, the widow of William Plaine/Plain, in Guilford in 1651.
William, another signer of the Plantation Covenant, appears on the very first page of Guilford's town records, Aug. 14, 1645, as the witness to a deal over a load of hay between the Rev. Whitfield and Goodman: Crittenden, and was given the OK to "carry out ye works of ye dammer" Sept. 4, 1645, as the town built a mill. Months after being appointed the village chimney inspector and sweep on Jan. 8, 1645/46, William found himself in serious trouble:
- - - - -
John's was married third to Hannah about 1659. Hannah died Jan. 8, 1687/88, in Guilford.
On Jan. 26, 1684, John "with the consent of Hannah his wife" agreed to sell Richard Huball, formerly of Guilford and now of Fairfield, a parcel "of upland and marsh lying and being in the great plaine in Guilford" containing 2¼ acres, more or less. The agreement, in Guilford Land Records, Vol, B, p. 231, gives the boundaries as "the highway on the east running back to the marsh lands of John Bishop on the west bounded by the lands of John Fowler on the north and by the lands of George Bartlett on the south." John and Hannah signed with their marks, above.
The clause "with the consent of Hannah his wife" would indicate John was transferring the title of land that Hannah likely obtained by inheritance. Since this parcel would have been considered part of her dower and returned to her if John died, she had to consent to the sale. Married women in colonial America were not allowed to transfer property on their own, but once a widow, she could transfer title under her own signature.
Just who did Hannah inherit the property from? Both hers and Widow Plaine's parcels were in Guilford's great plain. We're they related?
John and Hannah's children, all born in Guilford, were:
John Jr.'s 10 children make up the major branches of the largest North American Parmelee family.