Saturday, October 15, 2011

Surname Saturday - Stilson


The first immigrant ancestor named Stilson was Vincent Stilson, from Herefordshire, England, who died sometime before 13 May 1690 in Milford, Connecticut when the inventory was dated for his will.  The Records of the Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts place him in Marblehead several times.  In Volume 6, pages 149-151 and 169, Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, dated June 1676, there are two pages of testimony in a defamation suit in which Vincent, (Vincon or Vinson) Stilson, son of the early Vincent, became involved.  Grace Stilson, wife of Vincent I, testified at the trial, and her age was given as "about 37". She is believed to have been the mother of perhaps four of the older children, and Mary, the second wife, was the mother of the second four.  The maiden names of both wives are unknown. According to Donald Lines Jacobus, the eminent genealogist, Vincent was the only early settler with the name STILSON.  

Generation 1. Vincent Stilson, born between 1620 and 1635 in Herefordshire, England; died before 13 May 1690 in Milford, Connecticut; married first to Grace, four children; married second to Mary, four more children:
            1. Vincent, b. about 1656; m. Sarah
            2. James, b. about 1658, see below
            3. Agnes, b. about 1660; m. Joseph Hawkings
            4. Mary, b. about 1670; m. George Barlow
            5. Moses, b. about 1676; m. Charity Bailey
            6. Hugh, b. about 1678; m. Martha Fenn
            7. Susanna, b. 9 November 1680
            8. Charles, b. about 1682

Generation 2. James Stilson, born about 1658, died on 2 August 1689 at Muscongus Island, now Bristol, Maine; married about 1675 to Margaret Gould, daughter of Alexander Gould and Margaret Brown,  born 1661 in New Harbor, Maine. Their children were baptized at Marblehead in 1686, but the same year James Stilson sold his land and moved to Pemaquid Maine.  Margaret had inherited the island of Muscongus and land in Bristol from her maternal grandfather, who had purchased it for “fifty skins” in 1625 from the Sagamores.  This is supposed to be the earliest Indian deed on record in Maine. In 1689 James was killed by the Indians, and  Margaret and the children were kidnapped to Canada (the infant killed on the way).  Margaret and two of the children came back with a rescue mission in 1695.  James, Jr. and Mary returned later. Margaret remarried to Thomas Pitman on 30 March 1696 in Marblehead.  Five children:
            1. James, b. about 1680, see below
            2. John, b. before May 1686
            3. Margaret, b. before May 1686
            4. Mary, b. before May 1686
            5. Infant, d. about 1689

Generation 3. James Stilson, born about 1680 at Muscongus Island, died about 1772 in New Durham, New Hampshire; married to Hannah Odiorne, daughter of John Odiorne and Mary Johnson, born at New Castle, New Hampshire.  While captive in Canada, he heard of Hannah Odiorne, who had also been a captive.  He went to see her, and gave a hat full of silver to marry her.  He has been found in the records of Quebec as Jacques Stilson dit Dutilly, and was baptized there as a Roman Catholic.  The wedding of James and Hannah is recorded in Quebec, along with the baptism of their first child. James was redeemed from the French in 1703.  Four children:
            1. Hannah, b. 2 August 1706 in Quebec, baptized “Marie Anne” (see below)
            2. Anna, b. about 1710; m. Abraham Trefethen
            3. Alice, b. about 1712; m. Samuel Clark
            4. James, b. about 1712; m. Mary True

Generation 4. Hannah Stilson, b. 2 August 1706 in Quebec, Canada, died 1776 in New Castle, New Hampshire; married on 2 May 1725 in New Castle to Thomas Mead, son of Nicholas Mead and Elizabeth, died between 23 June and 26 September 1759 probably in Portsmouth.  See my blog post about the Mead family here .  Five children.

Generation 5. Hannah Mead m. James Wilkinson
Generation 6. William Wilkinson m. Mercy Nason
Generation 7. Aaron Wilkinson m. Mercy F. Wilson
Generation 8. Robert Wilson Wilkinson m. Phebe Cross Munroe
Generation 9. Albert Munroe Wilkinson m. Isabella Lyons Bill
Generation 10. Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)

The story of Vincent Stilson has been written up in several historical sketches of early settlers of Milford, Connecticut.  Savage, in his Genealogical Dictionary of New England Vol IV, page 196 gives the following information: "Stilson, Vincent, Milford 1646 D 1690 but more than half that interval, lived away from Milford and at Marblehead is seen 1668-74".   There is one book I know of about the Stilsons- Notes on the Genealogy of the Stilson Family, compiled by William Charles Stilson in 1939.   The Odiorne family has been written up many times, and these books and articles contain much information on the James Stilson and Hannah Odiorne story.  I’ll be writing about the Odiorne lineage soon in another Surname Saturday post.

Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. A great job on the genealogy of the Stilson/Stillson family. Everything you wrote is accurate. Vincent Stilson of Milford, Connecticut
    And Marlehead, Mass was my 7th great grandfather.
    I am descended from his son James and Margaret Gould. I would be glad to help in any further work you do on this. I have been researching the family for over 35 years and have a lot of info.

    Frank Stillson
    Surprise Az. 85379

  2. Thanks, Frank. It is very nice to hear from someone who has researched the Stilson famiy extensively. I only looked at the first few generations since my line "daughtered out" so early. I'm sure that other Stilson researchers will see your name here and contact you, too. I have a lot of New Englanders reading my blog.

  3. Hi Anonymous,
    I would be interested in hearing more about the pre-colonies (England and/or Scotland) Stilson/Stillsons.
    I'm descended from Hugh Stilson (son of Vincent) who married Martha Fenn, who was the granddaughter of Jasper Gunn (also a popular topic on the web.)I understand the family had Scottish origins. Do you know any more about this?
    If you wish, contact me at or leave a reply here. Thank you so much!
    J. R.