Saturday, January 17, 2015

What I learned from another blog that helped me write this Surname Saturday post ~ TOMPKINS of Salem, Massachusetts

Recently I read on the NEHGS blog “Vita Brevis” that the Early New England Families Study Project database on the website had been updated with seven new family sketches.  I’m always excited by these updates, and carefully scan the listed names for matches to my own family tree.  This time I hit the jackpot when I saw the name of John Tompkins of Salem, Massachusetts.

I had a lot of information on John Tompkins gleaned from vital records, the Great Migration series, some local histories and compiled genealogies.  Of course, this new sketch mentioned lots of other interesting tidbits.  In fact, there were five pages in his sketch, so if you are truly interested in John Tompkins as an ancestor or as a historical figure, you might want to head over to the Early New England Study Project database and check it out for yourself!

Robert Charles Anderson’s work on the Great Migration series includes families up to 1635, and there are plans to include the families up through 1640.  The Early New England Families Study Project, according to the NEHGS website “will focus on individuals who emigrated in 1641 or later, but our sketches will be grouped by year of marriage rather than immigration.”  There will be some overlap as this project will treat all marriages, including the children and descendants of some Great Migration passengers, up through 1700.   This  includes the marriages listed in Clarence Almon Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700, as well as non-white and non-Puritan marriages, and new families identified since Torrey’s book was published. 

Ralph Tompkins(about 1585 – 1666), my 10th great grandfather, arrived in Massachusetts as a passenger on the Truelove on 19 September 1635 with is wife and three children.  He has an extensive sketch in the Great Migration Volume VII.   I descend from his eldest son, John Tompkins (1609 – 1681), my 9th great grandfather, who was not on that passenger list, was briefly mentioned in the Great Migration book, and followed with the longer sketch at the Early New England Study Project.    Ralph first lived in Dorchester, and then in Salem.  His son John was received as an inhabitant of Salem in 1637 and granted land for a household of two at the town meeting on 25 December 1637 (so he must have been married).  On 29 January 1637/8 he was granted 5 acres. 

I descend from two daughters of John Tompkins: Sarah, who married John Waters; and Mary, who married John Felton.   Sarah’s grand daughter married a descendant of the 1692 witch trial victim, George Jacobs (1612 – 1692), and Mary’s grand daughter married a descendant of the witch trial victim, John Proctor (1631 – 1692).  Both of my lineages from Ralph Tompkins stayed in Salem for  ten generations until my grandfather, Donald Munroe Wilkinson,  was born in Salem in 1895.  My Salem ancestors touched all kinds of early Salem history, from early settlement, through the witch trials, to the great age of the China Trade, abolitionists, industrialists, factory workers and ministers.  

My Tompkins genealogy:

Generation 1: Ralph Tompkins, born about 1585, died before 15 November 1666 in Massachusetts; married first on 6 November 1608 in Wendover, Buckinghamshire, England to Katherine Foster, daughter of Peter Foster, mother of the Tompkins children.  She died after 3 April 1642 and he married second to a sister of Samuel Aburne.  Six children.

Generation 2: John Tompkins, born about 1609 in England and died 23 June 1681 in Salem, Massachusetts; married first to Margaret Unknown, mother of his children; married second in September 1673 in Salem to Mary Unknown, widow of Thomas Read.  Ten children.

Lineage A:

Generation 3:  Sarah Tompkins, baptized on 1 January 1643 in Salem, died after 1707 in Salem; married on 1 August 1663 in Salem to John Waters, son of Richard Waters and Rejoice Plaise.  He was baptized on 27 November 1640 in Salem and died between 14 February 1706/7 and 1 March 1707/8 in Salem. Ten children.

Generation 4: John Waters and Mary Unknown
Generation 5: Lydia Waters and John Proctor
Generation 6: Lydia Proctor and Jonathan Flint
Generation 7: John Flint and Phebe Flint (first cousins)
Generation 8: Olive Flint and Luther Simonds Munroe
Generation 9: Phebe Cross Munroe and Robert Wilson Wilkinson
Generation 10: Albert Munroe Wilkinson and Isabella Lyons Bill
Generation 11: Donald Munroe Wilkinson and Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)

Lineage B:

Generation 3:  Mary Tompkins, baptized on 29 April 1649 in Salem, died 12 December 1688 in Salem; married on 29 September 1670 in Salem to John Felton, son of Nathaniel Felton and Mary Skelton.  He was born 3 September 1648 in Salem and died 19 February 1717/18 in Salem.  Seven children.

Generation 4: Nathaniel Felton and Elizabeth Foot
Generation 5: Malachi Felton and Abigail Jacobs
Generation 6: Sarah Felton and Robert Wilson
Generation 7: Robert Wilson Wilkinson and Phebe Cross Munroe (see above)

For the truly curious:

"Vita Brevis"  the blog by the New England Historic Genealogical Society 

The Early New England Study Project database at the New England Historic Genealogy Society website (membership needed for access)

The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England 1634 – 1635, by Robert Charles Anderson, Volume VII, pages 68 – 72 “Ralph Tomkins”

“The Family of Jonas Humfrey of Dorchester, Massachusetts with notes on the origins of Ralph and Katherine (Foster) Tompkins of Dorchester and Thomas Foster of Weymouth, Massachusetts,” The American Genealogist, Volume 68, pages 14 – 22.

The URL for this post is
Copyright © 2015, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. I've also been helped by these sketches. I'm very grateful to the researchers for compiling them and making them available at NEHGS.

  2. Heather: Nice post and a reminder to all with early New England roots to check in to this database regularly! [This post is mention in today's Saturday Serendipity.]

    1. Thanks so much, John! I always love it when I make your list of the week!

  3. I am always so jealous of people with New England ancestors. Those resources sound amazing! I've read the sketches you pointed to and they are filled with information that bring an ancestor to life.