Facts and Events
William's parentage in England has led to much confusion and various on-line genealogies which are unproven. That he was likely a member of Peter Bulkeley's congregation hints that his own origins were near Bulkeley's -- the parish of Odell, Bedford, England. Therefore, the surrounding parishes have been the subject of much research. According to TAG, p. 14:228: Newport Pagnell (Buckinghamshire) is very close to Salford (Bedfordshire), and only about five miles from Cranfield (Bedfordshire), and ten miles south of Odell (Bedfordshire).
The search for William's origins is complicated by the large number of Odell families, and specifically, men named William, in this area. The one fact that seems to unambiguously belong to the immigrant William Odell is discussed in TAG, p. 15:55: In Newport Pagnall, Buckinghamshire, England on 17 Apr 1639 William Odell and Edward Hartley were in a fight in a churchyard. Odell ended up being stabbed in the arm. They both ended up being cited in the church records for the fight. The conclusion to the church record was entered on 17 Oct 1639 “Absunt Nova Anglia” meaning that both parties were absent in New England. As there was only one William Odell known to be in New England in this time period, we must conclude that the gentleman in this fight was our William Odell. This also tells us that William left England between 17 Apr 1637 and 17 Oct 1639.
Beyond that most of the various claims are speculation.
Jacobus, who wrote several of these cited articles, ends up concluding, "But the very frequent occurrence of the name in that region makes any such identification a mere guess and utterly unproved or even buttressed by collateral or circumstantial evidence." (TAG, p. 21:78)
[The statements with missing citations appear to have been copied from an unknown source, as it is found nearly verbatim on several websites (e. g., , , ). It is unfortunate that the original source references were not preserved.]
He was purported to have married Rebecca BROWN on 4 May 1629 in Braham, Bedfordshire, England.
New England Marriages Prior to 1700 has William married to Rebecca FRANKLIN in Concord, Massachusetts, 4 May 1629 (which is prior to his supposed 1639 arrival).
Manning says he m (1) Agnes Franklin and (2) Rebecca Brown (1633).
Mais has Agnes Franklin, daughter of William and Ursula Franklin, the mother of five children by William: William (1630), Thomas (1632), John (1634), James (1640), and Rebecca (1642).
Despite saying that his wife's name is unknown, Pool goes on to say, somewhat short on specifics, that "genealogists are satisfied" that she was Rebecca Brown. Since no evidence is given, it is not known what the basis for this identification is.
Births of only two of William's children are recorded, James b. 2 Jan 1639/40 d. 1641, and Rebecca b. 17 Jul 1641 (NEHGR, p. 4:272). Besides Rebecca, the will tells us of John and William. TAG, p. 26:8 suggests the son William is the baptism in Bronham in 1630, while Pool has William b. abt. 1634, and Jacobus not until around 1644. Estimates for John's birth are equally discrepant, with Pool saying 1643, and Jacobus listing him before James, i.e., before 1640, though with no specific date. It is hard to draw conclusions about a possible marriage date based on such varying dates.
The marriage of a William Odell to Agnes Franklin on 4 May 1629 is reported in the Bronham Parish Records (TAG, p. 26:8). Given that probably only one, but at most two, children were born by 1640, ten years later, this seems too early, and may be another William Odell. Or alternately, that the first wife died, and a second marriage occurred?
Life in New England
William Odell emigrated in 1639, and initially lived in Concord, Middlesex, Massachusetts.
About 1644, William Odell, along with Benjamin Turney and many others are on a list of settlers who left Concord and moved to Fairfield. The list is dated 1645 and states that these people had recently moved. (TAG 7:12)
His son William became one of the principal proprietors of Rye, New York (NEHGR 29:203; 137:37).
William Odell died before 12 Jun 1676 when his inventory was taken. He was buried 12 Jun 1676 in Fairfield, Fairfield, Connecticut. His will mentions, among others, sons William and John and daughter Rebecca Morehouse.
William Odell is purportedly memorialized as a "Concord Planter" on a plaque in the Fairfield Public Library together with Rev. John Jones, Thomas Bulkley, Thomas Jones, John Tompkins, Daniel Bulkley, Joseph Middlebrook, Ephraim Wheeler, Thomas Wheeler, Jr., James Bennett, Richard Lettiss, John Ebats, Peter Johnson, George Squire, and Benjamin Turney. (Ridge, Bateman Connection, 173)