m. 12 Nov 1741 Sutton, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
Facts and Events
Identity of Wife
There appears to be two William and Elizabeth Perkins in Topsfield: Family:William Perkins and Elizabeth Towne (1) and Family:William Perkins and Elizabeth Nelson (1). Only one of these couples moved to Sutton, where one of the William Perkins d. 1741, and whose widow married Cornelius Putnam, and later Deacon Jonathan Newell. The other couple stayed in Topsfield.
Given a 50/50 chance to get it right, it appears that Eben Putnam picked the wrong one when he selected Elizabeth Nelson as the one who moved to Sutton (see below for reasons). Whether Putnam is the oldest source, or whether he copied this from something even older (like the Perkins source mentioned below), this incorrect pairing is repeated in source after source, none of whom provide a shred of evidence. Since these sources do not explain what evidence caused them to pick Elizabeth Nelson, we can only try to assemble the primary facts and see if they support their conclusion. They do not.
What we know for sure (by the answer to the petition, cited here) is that Cornelius m. the widow of William Perkins, and his son Cornelius Jr. m. the daughter of that William Perkins. Both women were named Elizabeth. We know from Sutton records that the father married the widow in 1741, and the son married his step-sister in 1753. The important fact to be extracted from all this is that the Elizabeth who married Cornelius Putnam had a daughter Elizabeth who was old enough to marry by 1753, so this daughter Elizabeth was probably born by 1735. This seems to rule out Elizabeth Nelson who didn't marry her husband until 1734 and whose first child appears to be Apphia born in 1736 and whose daughter Elizabeth was born in 1739. Thus, one must conclude it was Elizabeth Towne, who married her husband in early 1732, and whose second child, Elizabeth, was born in 1734.
The following tables attempts to allocate the various records for William and Elizabeth Perkins in Topsfield and Sutton to the two couples. Green shows those recorded events that go with William and Elizabeth (Towne) Perkins, red for those that go with William and Elizabeth (Nelson) Perkins.
Daughter Eunice, apparently of the Sutton family, doesn't have a recorded birth, but is baptized in Topsfield in 1736. If one assumes Eunice was born in Topsfield in 1736, this doesn't fit smoothly into either family, and could cause someone to suspect the existence of yet a third family! But this seems doubtful as there is no other sign of such a family. As a Eunice Perkins was assigned a guardian in Sutton in 1742, and married in Sutton 1762, it seems almost certain that she belongs to the Sutton couple. It seems likely Eunice was born earlier than 1736, perhaps in 1735 between sister Elizabeth in 1734 and sister Abigail in 1736 (remotely, she could be a twin of Abigail, but then why wasn't Abigail mentioned in the baptism of Eunice and why wasn't Eunice recorded with Abigail's birth?) Eunice's baptism in Topsfield, just 17 days after Abigail's birth in Sutton, seems unlikely given the 2-3 day travel required, suggesting perhaps that Abigail's birth was recorded after the fact after the family had moved to Sutton, and probably actually occurred in Topsfield. Since the other family had a daughter Apphia in 1736, fitting Eunice into that family has all the same issues without being able to explain her presence in Sutton in 1742, so her inclusion in the Sutton family seems the most probable arrangement.
Source:Perkins, George Augustus. Family of John Perkins of Ipswich, Mass assumes the William Perkins who married Elizabeth Nelson is the one who moved to Sutton and whose widow married Cornelius Putnam. However he shows no daughter Elizabeth, and since that is one of the things we know for sure about the Elizabeth who married Cornelius Putnam, his credibility is somewhat damaged. He does not mention the other William Perkins who married Elizabeth Towne, apparently being unaware of them. Further he adds all the Perkins children mentioned in Sutton to this family whether there was evidence they belonged to this family or not. Thus, this source adds a son Jacob, b. abt 1735, (Jacob and Sarah Perkins had three children by 1761); and a daughter Martha, b. abt. 1738, who m. 1757 Jonathan Wait (see below for the correct identification of Jacob and Martha). This has the effect of leaving no room to add Elizabeth to this family even though she is the one for whom there is evidence of her belonging.
The americanancestors.org index of Worcester probate shows William Perkins of Sutton's 1740 probate file to be #46007, and has guardian files listed for "Unis", Elizabeth, Mary and Abigail. Given that a marriage in 1732 (or even 1734), all children would be minors and need a guardian. Therefore, it appears that William Perkins of Sutton only had those four daughters. This appears to provide an authoritative listing of the children in the Sutton family and confirm that Jacob and Martha do not belong in this family.
Who are the Jacob and Martha given by Perkins? Noting that Jacob had no son named William, but did name a daughter Martha, one might surmise that Jacob and Martha may be brother and sister, but are probably not children of William Perkins. Source:White, Almira Larkin. Genealogy of the Descendants of John White of Wenham and Lancaster, Massachusetts, p. 100 mentions a Jacob Perkins of Wenham who married 1758 Sarah Kimball and moved to Sutton. This source includes two daughters Lucy and Sarah, born in Wenham, which match the two oldest children of Jacob and Sarah Perkins baptized in Sutton. He was the son of Thomas Perkins and Elizabeth Fowler, b. 1731, and he had a younger sister Martha Perkins, b. 1734. So this appears to confirm that Jacob and Martha were not children of William. Note that according to Perkins, on Part 3, p. 24, Jacob #61, s/o Thomas, m. Wenham 1758 Sarah and moved to Sutton, while on Part 2, p. 22 Jacob #62, s/o William, marries Sarah in Sutton "about 1760" and has children. Apparently, Perkins missed the baptisms of Lucy and Sarah, b. in Wenham, then baptised in Sutton, according to the respective VRs. Further he reports the death of Jacob #61's wife Sarah 19 May 1760 when the Wenham VRs clearly report this as the death of his daughter Sarah. (This sloppiness further damages the credibility of Perkins.)
Source:Towne, Edwin Eugene. Descendants of William Towne, Who Came to America on or About 1630 and Settled in Salem, Mass doesn't seem to mention an Elizabeth Towne who married a William Perkins, but does include an Elizabeth Towne, d/o John Towne and Elizabeth Rae, b. Topsfield 22 Nov 1711, and nothing further on her. She would be of the right age to marry in 1732, and so is probably the Elizabeth who married William Perkins, and then later, Cornelius Putnam and Jonathan Newell.
Source:Topsfield Historical Society. Historical Collections of the Topsfield Historical Society, p. 23, has a document dated 23 Nov 1782 where Jacob Towne of Topsfield says his "Brother William Perkins" died the day before. This could be pertinent if Jacob Towne turned out to be a brother of the Elizabeth Towne who married William Perkins. But this is probably the Jacob Towne who m. 1766 Elizabeth Perkins. A death record for William Perkins on 22 Nov 1782 says he is unmarried and 60 years old, which makes him the son of Timothy Perkins and Kezia Perkins, as is the Elizabeth who married Jacob Towne. So this is not relevant to either of the William and Elizabeth Perkins in Topsfield..