Monday, April 29, 2013

The Merry Widow, Elizabeth Porter (1689 - 1789)

It all started out very innocently.  I joined a Facebook group to discuss a specific ancestor, and someone asked me about Mark Haskell and his wife Elizabeth Giddings.  Mark Haskell (1687 – 1775) is my 7th great grandfather, but I couldn’t find a wife named Elizabeth Giddings.  It turns out his father was also named Mark Haskell, and his wife was Elizabeth Giddings.  Mark, Jr. had married my 7th great grandmother Martha Tuthill in 1710, and then a widow named Elizabeth in 1767.  I took another look at this widow… and opened a very large can of worms!

Elizabeth Porter was born in June 1689, the daughter of John Porter and Lydia Herrick of Wenham, Massachusetts.  She first married Daniel Gilbert, and the marriage intention was dated 2 December 1710 in Ipswich.  Daniel died on 2 November 1723.   Then Elizabeth married Joseph Goodhue on 1 November 1727 in Ipswich.  Joseph died in 1739.  Next she married John Burnham on 9 October 1740 in Ispwich.  He died in 1749, leaving her free to marry Mark Haskell as mentioned above.  She lived to be about 100 years old (no proof of this age has been found).

What made this discovery odd to me, was that all these men were already in my family tree.  I didn’t have to add a single name, just link them together in the database because I already had them there.  I didn’t even have to add her parents and grandparents, because they were already relatives, too.

1)   Lydia Woodbury, Elizabeth’s maternal grandmother, is the sister to Humphrey Woodbury (1609 – 1686), my 10th great grandfather. So that means Elizabeth herself is a distant cousin.

2)    First husband, Daniel Gilbert (1680 – 1723) is a 2nd cousin, 8 generations removed.  Our common ancestor is his great grandparents, John Black and wife, Susanna, of Beverly, Massachusetts.

3.) Second husband, Joseph Goodhue (1685 – 1773), is the brother of my 7th great grandmother, Bethiah Goodhue, wife of Benjamin Marshall.

4.) Third husband, John Burnham (1695 – 1749) is my 7th great grandfather, along with his first wife, Anne Choate (my 7th great grandmother).  So this means Elizabeth Porter was married to two of my 7th great grandfathers!

5.) Fourth husband, Mark Haskell (1687 – 1775) is my 7th great grandfather, as stated above.

6.)   Elizabeth’s son, Daniel Goodhue, born 1728, married Hannah Giddings, a 2nd cousin 7 generations removed.

7.)  Elizabeth’s grandson, Daniel Goodhue (1759 – 1803) married Hannah Shatswell,  a descendant of John Shastswell (1574- 1646), my 11th great grandfather.

All this tangle because of a simple comment made by someone on Facebook, which caused me to search out all of Elizabeth’s previous marriages!  Always check out every clue, for you never know where it will lead you…

For more information see:

The History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann: Including the Town of Rockport, by John James Babson,  1860

Chronicles of the Haskell Family, by Ira J Haskell, 1985 (Chapter 16 has Mark Haskell, my ancestor, it is available online at and )

Vital records of Ipswich and other various towns in Essex County

Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Heather, such a cute article! It seems that the gene pool of colonial America was not like an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and rather like a frog pond, so there would naturally be some overlap.

    Janice Brown

  2. So Elizabeth (fill in the blank) is probably the Elizabeth Giddings that your Facebook friend mentioned. We have many sequential marriages in our family tree, but usually 3 is the maximum. It's like Chaucer's character, The Wife of Bath. : )