Saturday, May 17, 2014

Surname Saturday ~ BURNHAM of Chebacco Parish, Ipswich (now Essex), Massachusetts


I have a plethora of BURNHAM ancestors.  In order to write this Surname Saturday post I had to review my BURNHAM lineages and count them up.  I had estimated that I had half dozen lines from the BURNHAM brothers who immigrated to America in the 1630s.  I was wrong.  After combing through the family tree I counted up eight Burnham lineages from just two of the three brothers (supposedly brothers - see the note below)!

If you are interested in tangled colonial lines then this post is for you.  The tiny town of Essex, Massachusetts (formerly known as the Chebacco Parish of Ipswich) has very few surnames in its lists of vital records.  In the 1820 census, there were 43 different surnames in Essex, but the six most common were BURNHAM, ANDREWS, LOW, STORY, CHOATE and COGSWELL, which account for half of the 1820 census.  You will see all six of these surnames often in my family tree.   This lineage starts in the 1630s and stays in Ipswich and Essex right down to my mother, who was born in Ipswich.

Last Christmas I met David H. Burnham, a trustee of the New England Historic Genealogical society, and also a descendant of the Chebacco Parish (Essex) BURNHAMs.  He told me that he was one of a half dozen BURNHAMs in his Essex kindergarten class, and that there was a saying in Essex “If you aren’t a BURNHAM or an ANDREWS, there must be a STORY!”     
My Burnham genealogy:

Hold onto your hat!  There are eight lineages of BURNHAMS here, all ancestors of my maternal grandfather, Stanley Elmer Allen (1904 - 1982):

According to the book The Burnham Family: Or Genealogical Records of the Descendants of the Four Emigrants of the Name, Three Burnham brothers arrived on the ship Angel Gabriel with the other passengers, and made their way to Ipswich (Chebacco Parish) in Massachusetts.  Their kinship is not clear.

Generation 1:   Speculation:  Robert Burnham, born about 1581 in Norwich, England; married Mary Andrews.  She was born about 1585 and died about 1635 in Norwich.   The three sons who came on the ship Angel Gabriel are John, Thomas and Robert.  The captain of the ship was supposed to be their maternal uncle, Captain Robert Andrews.  The kinship of the three Burnham men has not been proven to be brothers, but it is clear they were close kin.

Lineage A:

Generation 2:  Deacon John Burnham, born about 1616 in England, died 5 November 1694 in the Chebacco Parish, Ipswich, Massachusetts; married Mary Unknown.

Generation 3: John Burnham, born about 1650 in Ipswich, died 11 January 1708 in Ipswich; married about 1677 to Sarah (Graves?). 

Generation 4: John Burnham, born about 1685, died 24 November 1749 in Ipswich; married as his third wife to Anne Choate on 21 October 1710 in Ipswich.  She was the daughter of Thomas Choate and Mary Varney, born 22 May 1691 in Ipswich, died 15 August 1739 in Ipswich.

Generation 5: Jeremiah Burnham, born about 1716 in Ipswich, died 1760; married on 2 December 1736 to Abigail Andrews, daughter of John Andrews and Elizabeth Story.

Generation 6:  Abigail Burnham, born 12 April 1741 in Ipswich; married 24 November 1763 in Ipswich to Isaac Allen, son of William Allen and Mary Ingalls. He was baptized 3 August 1740 in Ipswich.

Generation 7: Joseph Allen m. Judith Burnham
Generation 8: Joseph Allen m. Orpha Andrews
Generation 9: Joseph Gilman Allen m. Sarah Burnham Mears
Generation 10: Joseph Elmer Allen m. Carrie Maude Batchelder
Generation 11: Stanley Elmer Allen m. Gertrude Matilda Hitchings (my grandparents)

Lineage B:

Generation 2:  Lieutenant Thomas Burnham, born 1623 in Norwich, England, died 19 June 1694 in the Chebacco Parish of Ipswich; married about 1643 to Mary Lawrence, daughter of Thomas Lawrence and Joan Antrobus.  She was baptized on 10 April 1625 at St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England, and died 27 March 1715 in Ipswich.

Generation 3: John Burnham, born 1648 and died 12 January 1704 in the Chebacco Parish; married on 6 June 1668 to  Elizabeth Wells, daughter of Thomas Wells and Abigail Warner.  She was born 31 July 1646 in Ipswich and died 9 June 1731. I descend from three of John’s children: John, Thomas and David.

Lineage B1:

Generation 4: John Burnham, born 8 April 1671 in Ipswich, died October 1706 in Ipswich; married on 13 April 1693 in Ipswich to Sarah Choate, daughter of John Choate and Ann Unknown.

Generation 5: John Burnham, born 8 April 1693, his father’s birthday, in Ipswich; married on 20 October 1722 in Ipswich to Rachel Smith.

Generation 6: Dorothy Burnham, born about 1737 in the Chebacco Parish, died 7 April 1789 in Ipswich; married on 3 April 1761 to Abner Poland.

Generation 7:  Abner Poland, jr. m. Sarah Burnham
Generation 8: Sally Poland m. Henry Burnham
Generation 9: Sarah Ann Burnham m. Samuel Mears
Generation 10: Sarah Burnham Mears m. Joseph Gilman Allen (see above)

Lineage B2:

Generation 4: Thomas Burnham born 30 September 1673 in Ipswich, died 16 December 1748; married on 30 September 1700 in Ipswich to Susannah Boardman.  She was born 5 April 1681 and died 1748.

Generation 5: Stephen Burnham, born about 1715 in the Chebacco Parish, and died 1790 probably in Milford, New Hampshire; married on 16 August 1735 in Ipswich to Mary Andrews, daughter of Thomas Andrews and Mary Smith.

Generation 6: Colonel Joshua Burnham, born 26 January 1754 in Gloucester, Massachusetts, died 7 June 1835 in Milford, New Hampshire; married on 21 January 1779 to Jemima Wyman, daughter of Increase Wyman and Catherine Unknown.

Generation 7: Jemima Burnham, born 9 May 1793 (twin to Thomas Burnham) in Milford, New Hampshire, died 5 August 1868 in South Boston, Massachusetts; married on 22 November 1810 in Boston to Romanus Emerson, son of John Emerson and Katherine Eaton.  He was born 1 September 1782 in Townsend, Massachusetts, died 10 October 1852 in South Boston.

Generation 8: George Emerson m. Mary Esther Younger
Generation 9: Mary Katharine Emerson m. George E. Batchelder
Generation 10: Carrie Maude Batchelder m. Joseph Elmer Allen (see above)

Lineage B3:

Generation 4: David Burnham, born 20 October 1688, died 2 February 1770; married on 2 July 1711 to Elizabeth Perkins, daughter of Jacob Perkins and Elizabeth Sparks. She was born 18 March 1691 in Ipswich.  I descend from two of their sons, David and Westley.

Lineage B3a:

Generation 5: David Burnham, born 17 June 1714 in Ipswich, died 27 December 1802 in Ipswich; married on 25 September 1734 in Ipswich to Elizabeth Marshall, daughter of Benjamin Marshall and Bethiah Goodhue.  She was born in 1715 and died 15 November 1801 in Ipswich.

Generation 6: Amos Burnham, born 13 July 1735 in Ipswich, died 28 November 1788 when he drowned in Chebacco Pond; married on 27 January 1757 in Ipswich to Sarah Giddings, daughter of Thomas Giddings and Martha Smith.

Generation 7: Judith Burnham, born 14 January 1782 in Essex, died 26 October 1848 in Essex; married on 5 April 1799 in Ipswich to Joseph Allen, son of Isaac Allen and Abigail Burnham (see above)

Lineage B3b:

Generation 5: Westley Burnham, born October 1719, died 28 June 1797; married on 10 November 1743 to Deborah Story, daughter of Zachariah Story and Rachel Andrews.  She was born in 1723 and died 24 November 1821.  I descend from two of their children: Westley and Sarah Burnham.

Generation 6: Westley Burnham, born 27 August 1747 in Chebacco Parish, died 1 September 1835; married Molly Woodbury, daughter of Robert Woodbury and Hannah Preston/Presson.  She was born 29 July 1749 in Beverly, Massachusetts, died 27 April 1830 in Essex.  I descend from two of their sons, Asa and Henry.

Lineage B3bi:

Generation 7:  Asa Burnham, born 9 September 1778, died 23 May 1850; married on 24 December 1801 in Ipswich to Polly Bray, daughter of Humphrey Bray and Molly Herrick.  She was born about October 1779 in Gloucester, Massachusetts. 

Generation 8: Lydia W. Burnham, born 19 September 1802 in Essex, died 5 September 1864 in Essex; married on 29 March 1823 in Essex to Samuel Mears, son of Alexander Mears and Martha Poland.  He was born about 1798 in Essex and died 28 August 1879 in Essex.

Generation 9: Samuel Mears m. Sarah Ann Burnham, daughter of Henry Burnham and Sally Poland (see below)

Generation 10: Sarah Burnham Mears m. Joseph Gilman Allen (see above)

Lineage B3bii:

Generation 8:  Henry Burnham born 23 June 1783 in Essex, died 1 July 1867 in Essex; married on 2 May 1805 in Essex to Sally Poland, daughter of Abner Poland and Sarah Burnham (1st cousins) (see above)

Generation 9: Sarah Ann Burnham, born 23 October 1821, died 23 January 1848 in Hamilton, Massachusetts; married on 20 April 1844 in Essex to Samuel Mears (see above)


For more information on the BURNHAM family:

The Burnham Family: Or the Genealogical Records of the Descendants of the Four Emigrants of the Name, who were among the early settlers in America , by Roderick Henry Burnham, Hartford, Connecticut, Press of Case, Lockwood & Brainard, 1869. (available to read online at Google books)

There are many articles on the Connecticut BURNHAM family (no known relation) in The American Genealogist and The Connecticut Nutmegger, but no one has written about the Essex County BURNHAMs.  There are many articles and books on some of the allied families (CHOATE, WALLIS, MARSHALL, COGSWELL, etc.which mention BURNHAM marriages and list the BURNHAM children of these marriages, which is very helpful.  The vital records of Ipswich, Essex, Gloucester and Hamilton are very good, but the tendency of the BURNHAMS to recycle first names such as John, Thomas and David make it very confusing. 

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Copyright 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. So, Heather, do like boats? With all that Burnham blood, you MUST like boats! That's truly amazing, the number of Burnham ancestors you have!!

    1. As a matter of fact, I have several blog posts about the Burnham boatyard and my ship builder ancestors. Check out these: and

  2. Wondering how Henry Burnham 1783-1867 fits in the Burnham family tree?? send reply to Seems I am logged in here with my sons gmail address.

    1. Dear Anne, I'm not sure who is your Henry Burnham. I'll leave this comment here and perhaps someone else can help you. Good luck!

  3. Hi

    My great-great-grandparents were Mary Elizabeth Burnham (1827-1870), from Salem, MA, and Stephen Bradshaw Ives (1827-1884), also of Salem. I have not been able to find out much about Mary Elizabeth Burnham, except that her mother was Lydia Cloutman. She was obviously one of the Essex County Burnhams, but I don't know precisely she fits in. Also, coincidentally or not, I have another, John Cogswell, who was also on the Angel Gabriel in 1635.

    David Leicester

  4. Hi Heather (or should I say Cousin Heather),
    One of Stephen's sons, Capt. David Burnham - brother to your Joshua, was an early settler of Reading, VT where he owned a tavern. I am descended from his line. He must have visited relatives in Milford, NH because his 2nd wife was Elizabeth Burns from that area.
    Genealogy is fantastic - and so is your blog!

    1. Thanks for reading my blog! And for commenting, Cousin Jennifer!