Many Starbuck family historians and New England researchers believed Edward Starbuck came from Derbyshire, but no original record has been found to prove that. There is an excellent possibility for his baptism in the parish records of Derby in February 1603/4, but with church records in other Starbucky Territory locations such as Sawley starting long after Edward’s birth year it’s impossible to be sure the Derby baptism belongs to him.However, corroborating evidence from DNA testing shows that Edward was from Derbyshire, or nearby, which strengthens the possibility the Derby baptism belongs to him.
Types of DNA Tests
atDNA: The DNA kits available from Ancestry, 23 & Me and other companies test autosomal-DNA, often abbreviated atDNA. This type of DNA helps us find close-ish relatives, up to approximately fifth or sixth cousins. Genealogical relationships beyond that are difficult to prove with autosomal DNA testing alone.These tests might be able to identify a common ancestor who was born about 200 years ago but that doesn’t get us back into the 1600s.
Y-DNA: What does get us back far enough is Y-DNA testing. This is for paternal (surname) lines only because it tests the Y chromosome. All males inherit it, often unchanged, from their fathers. For additional details on Y-DNA see A Little More on DNA.
Testing Starbuck Men
We used Y-DNA tests from four Starbuck men for our analysis.Testers A and B are descendants of Edward Starbuck. They were born in the United States. Testers C and D were born in England. The following table lists each tester, their genetic distance from Tester A and approximately how many generations might be between them and their common ancestor.The total genetic distance for tester D is broken down between faster changing markers (f) and slower changing markers (s). The faster changing ones are expected to mutate more rapidly and may change within a generation or two. Slower markers might pass unchanged for centuries. Where and when each tester’s last known paper trail Starbuck ancestor lived is also included.
No marriage record was found in England or New England which could be positively identified as Edward’s. Marriage records for an Edward, which predated his immigration to Dover, were found near Edward’s English origin but none were to a lady named Katherine. There is no doubt he had a wife named Katherine when he lived in Dover and on Nantucket. Beginning with a deed in 1653, three original records identified Katherine as Edward’s wife. The deeds are the only original records found thus far which include her given name. As with most records made on a woman after her marriage, no mention was made of her maiden name.
Edward & Katherine sold land to Peter Coffin (p. 1 & 2)
Despite the lack of a marriage record, Katherine has been identified with the surname Reynolds in several compiled sources, sometimes with the addition, “of Wales.” Clarence A. Torrey listed many of the histories in his New England Marriages to 1700.
Of the nine books and four issues of The Register Torrey used (all printed between 1870 and 1988), each identified Edward’s wife as Katherine Reynolds but without an original source to back their statements up.
Most family historians credit Katherine as the mother of all of Edward’s children. That may be true, but it is also possible Katherine was Edward’s second or possibly third wife. She may have been the birth mother of all or just some of Edward’s children:
Sarah, possibly born in Derby in 1631, or as late as approximately 1633
Nathaniel likely born in 1634 or 1635 based on his death in 1719 while “in his 85th year”
As noted above, there could have been a gap of up to fifteen years between Abigail and Dorcas. That spread could also have been as few as eight or nine years if Abigail was born in 1639 and Dorcas before 1648. If Jethro was born earlier than 1651, his birth could conceivably fill an eight- or nine-year gap since Edward’s wife (or wives) were having children approximately every three or four years.
Is it possible to give the same land away twice? Is it legal? Usually, the answer to those questions is a resounding, “NO!” But in the case of land apportioned to Edward Starbuck in colonial Dover the quick answer is, “Yes, he did.” But the real question is why and how did he do that? To find a reason, we must study Edward’s land grants in the Dover town records and Rockingham County deeds.
Edward Starbuck’s Back River Land
This is the timeline of the land Edward Starbuck received along the Back River which flowed on the west side of Dover Neck:
1642-Edward Starbuck received 20 acres on the Back River (entered in the town books at some point after 1647 when they restarted after the early records were lost)
1652-The twenty acres were still in Edward’s possession (entered in the town books in the 1690s)
1652-1662-Edward Starbuck gave Joseph Austin the Back River land during this period (no record of the event was placed in the town records until a later one which implied the action)
1663-Joseph Austin’s probate inventory includes his Back River property
1664-Edward Starbuck regifted the Back River land to Humphrey Varney (recorded in Dover town records, and in Rockingham deeds in 1699)
1696-Humphrey Varney sold the land he received as a gift to William Blackstone (recorded 1699)
Unfortunately, Edward Starbuck did not leave us a neat and tidy answer for this question. Since it isn’t possible to ask him, we must examine Edward’s actions and what he wrote for clues.
To begin, we need some background on Dover before and during Edward’s time there and provide evidence of how the town’s religious leanings shifted from non-allied or Church of England conformist to puritan:
Dover’s Early Years
1621-1626 Wealthy merchants set up a council in the southwest of England to establish profit-making plantations in North America.A fishery was created near what later became Dover, but no church was built, and no minister was brought in.The business failed financially because costs outweighed profits and many of the early residents left.
1627-1629 Edward Hilton helped renew efforts to make Dover profitable.His brother, Richard (who’d had disagreements with Plymouth Colony’s separatists), moved north to join him.The Hiltons were Church of England conformist.
Although the previous post asserted Edward Starbuck was a puritan, that term is nebulous in colonial America. By the 1640s, the English Reformation (Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic Church) had been evolving for over 100 years.The monarchs covering that span had variously supported and tried to reverse the course of religious reform. It is little wonder the average members of the Church of England espoused a variety of religious concerns. Those who wanted to see the services and ordinances of the church less ritualized and more “pure,” gained support from both commoners and gentry. However, by 1633 William Laud was the Archbishop of Canterbury and he was pushing back against those who supported reform, with the aim of imposing his Arminian forms of worship.
Separatists and Puritans
Two groups in particular, the Separatists (who founded the Plymouth Colony) and Puritans (who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony) left England respectively in 1620 and 1630. They both left for religious reasons, but those reasons were not identical. The authorities fined and imprisoned Separatists to the extent than many had to leave England, fleeing first to Holland and then to what became Plymouth Plantation. They did not want any nationally established Church of England.
The first two posts in this series showed Edward Starbuck was essentially a puritan, and that he also had a belief in credobaptism, for which he got into trouble with the Massachusetts Bay authorities. (See Parts 1and 2.)
Edward’s adherence to believer’s baptism and the later association of the Starbuck surname with Quakers in both Dover and on Nantucket has led some family historians to label him a Baptist or Quaker. There was, however, no established Baptist or Quaker congregation in Dover nor on Nantucket during Edward’s lifetime, so it’s easy enough to answer this question with a simple, “no,” but this is also an opportunity to dive a little deeper into what it is about Edward’s life that caused some to connect him with those denominations.
Edward arrived in Dover about 1638 and is connected to the establishment of the first church by Hansard Knollys.Edward was one of the first Elders in the Dover church.Hansard Knollys did not stay in Dover for long. Conflicts with another minister, Thomas Larkham, was a significant factor in Knollys’ return to England about 1641.Knollys went on to work as a chaplain in Oliver Cromwell’s army, survived arrest during the Restoration, and then left England for a while.Upon his return he preached in London, was arrested again, and later released. The doctrine he taught was most closely aligned with Baptist beliefs and he took part in efforts in the late 1600s to consolidate the Baptists. Edward’s association with Hansard Knollys coupled with his belief in credobaptism may have led some to believe he was a Baptist.
However, the first Baptist church in America was not organized until approximately 1638, when Roger Williams’s Providence congregation was labeled Baptist.Although Baptist doctrine and congregations grew from there, Dover did not have a Baptist church until 1824 and Nantucket did not have one until 1841.There were obviously individuals in Dover who held anabaptist beliefs before 1824, Edward being one of them, but they were not organized into a group calling themselves Baptists before 1824.While Edward can be described as an anabaptist, and he was associated with the church Hansard Knollys established, it is too much of a stretch to call him a Baptist.
A possible baptism was found for Sarah Starbuck in the parish of Derby St. Peter in 1631.This parish borders the one in which a possible baptism was found for her father, Edward. A baptism in 1631 made 1648-1652 a reasonable time frame for Sarah’s first marriage. There is no marriage record for Sarah and Joseph Austin, but the birth of their first child, Deborah, indicated a marriage around 1649.
Most of the confusion regarding Sarah comes from mistakes made in various family histories. Sometimes she was labeled Esther Starbuck and other times the fictional Esther was named as her sister. One of the most common mistakes was making “Esther” the wife of William Storer/Story. No proof of an Esther Starbuck has been found in records made on the Starbuck family in the 1600s. Each of Edward’s children had several documented records made within his or her lifetime, but no records exist for an Esther except in histories compiled by later researchers.
Sarah Starbuck did not, at any time, marry William Storer/Story. Sarah married (1) Joseph Austin about 1649.Joseph Austin’s will was written 25 Jan 1662/3, and his widow was appointed executor 1 July 1663, therefore Sarah Starbuck Austin was still a widow as of July 1663.
Nathaniel’s first appearance in Dover’s town records was a land grant from the town of Dover which added to the land his father had already given him, making a total of 200 acres for him in Dover. The date for the event was given only as 1656, which wasn’t recorded until 22 December 1658 in the town records.Although parents could deed or bequeath land to a child at any age, according to English law at that time, that child could not do anything with the land until the age of twenty-one without parental/guardian consent.Because of that, towns were unlikely to grant a patent or permission for land use to anyone under the age of twenty-one. Nathaniel also appeared in the Dover tax records on 21 July 1657, an indication he had taxable property by then and was accountable for it.These records would indicate Nathaniel was born in the mid-1630s.
Nathaniel’s, and his sister Abigail’s, first appearance in the New Hampshire State Papers was as witnesses to their parents’ sale of land to Peter Coffin on 20 July 1653.There was no specific age or gender requirement for being a witness, but common sense made it unlikely a very young child would perform that task. Both signed with an X, but neither the marks nor the witnessing was an indication of age.
Nathaniel was deposed in court on 27 June 1661 concerning a statement made by William Furber three or four years previously about ownership of a parcel of Furber’s land.In the deposition, the Nathaniel Starbuck was described as, “ageged about twenty-five years,” placing his birth about 1636 or shortly before.
No baptism record was found for Abigail Starbuck in England or New England. Abigail first appeared in a public record with Nathaniel, her brother, in a 20 July 1653 deed.She and her brother, Nathaniel, were witnesses to their parents’ sale of land to Peter Coffin. There was no specific age or gender requirement for being a witness, but common sense made it unlikely a very young child would perform that task. Both signed with an X, but that was not an indication of age.
Abigail’s marriage to Peter Coffin was not recorded in any vital record. Torrey’s book on New England marriages prior to 1700 listed the possible years of 1655 and 1657 with three possible locations: Dover, New Hampshire; Salisbury, Massachusetts; and Exeter, New Hampshire.The sources used by Torrey to arrive at those conclusions included the following: