Family:William Varney and Bridget Deverell (2)

Facts and Events
Marriage[1][2] 7 Apr 1629 Windsor, Berkshire, England
abt 1631
ca 1633
Btw 1654-1672
abt 1636-37
ca 1641


Who Was Bridget?

William Varney’s wife’s name was Bridget, as indicated in the Probate Record for his estate. Three identities for Bridget have been suggested:
as Bridget Knight, daughter of Walter Knight;
as Bridget Parsons, widow of James Parsons and mother of the Jeffrey Parsons who married Sarah Vinson;
and as Bridget Deverell.

The identification of Bridget as the widow of James Parsons has been disproven. Her identification as the daughter of Walter Knight has been challenged and lacks any credible support or documentation. Her identification as Bridge Deverell, while a possibility, should be treated with some caution.

Bridget as Bridget Knight - Not Credible

Bridget’s identification as Bridget Knight was provided by Tingley in a family history published in 1935.[3] [4] Tingley claimed that Bridget was born about 1611, the daughter of Walter Knight, and that she and William Varney married 4 May 1629 in Salem, Massachusetts. Tingley cited no sources nor provided any evidence for his identification or other statements.

Tingley’s identification of Bridget was questioned by Torrey but not refuted.[5] More recently, it has been challenged by Barber and Delory.[2] They argue that Bridget, based on her statements of her age, was too old to be the daughter of Walter Knight, based on his statements of his age. Further, that Bridget’s own statement of her age is consistent with the range of her childbearing years; and that her known childbearing years are not consistent with the birth date given by Tingley. Similarly, The Great Migration Project has been unable to identify the name of Walter Knight's wife, nor any evidence that he even had children.[7]

Another problem is where and when Bridget and William Varney met and married. Walter Knight was living in Massachusetts before Bridget married and, if Bridget was his daughter, it is likely that Bridget was also living in Massachusetts before her marriage. However, there is no record of William Varney in Massachusetts or elsewhere in New England prior to 1649.

Without documentation, then, the identification of Bridget as Bridget Knight is inconsistent with documentation that is available for Walter Knight, William Varney, and Bridget wife of William Varney. In fact, it is questionable that any such person as Bridget Knight even existed.

Bridget as Bridget Parsons - Disproven

Torrey identifies Bridget as Bridget Parsons, a possible widow, with undertain birth dates.[5] Bridget’s identification as Bridget Parsons is presumably based on her will, which mentions, along with her children by William Varney, her “son” Jeffrey Parsons.[8]

Many Varney family histories have also followed that assumption to state that William and Bridget were married in Barbados,[6] where Jeffrey Parsons stated that he moved at an early age. This would resolve the problem of how and where Bridget and William Varney met and married. However, the assumption that Bridget is the mother of Jeffrey Parsons or directly connected to him has been disproven by Willis Parsons.[9] There is no documentation or other evidence, then, to support the identification of Bridget as Bridget Parsons. (See Bridget Deverell for further discussion of her will.)

Without Bridget’s connection to Jeffrey Parsons, there is also no reason to suppose that William and Bridget were married in Barbados. Nor are there any records in Barbados to suggest that either William or Bridget were ever there, although early records for Barbados are patchy.[2] (All available early baptisms and marriages for Barbados have been extracted for the International Genealogical Index where they can be searched.)

Bridget as Bridget Deverell -Tentative

Barber and Delorey have suggested that Bridget “is probably” the Bridget Deverell who married a William Varney on 7 April 1629 in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, Berkshire, England.[2] They were able to find a baptismal record for Bridget that is consistent with her age as reported by herself and as estimated from her child bearing years. And the marriage date is surprisingly close to that initially suggested by Tingley.

Allthough further documentation would be desirable, the identification of Bridget as Bridget Deverell presently seems the most plausible identification for the wife of William Varney.

  1. Baptism, Marriage and Burial Registers of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. FHL #0924802, in Church of England. St. George's Chapel (Windsor Castle, Berkshire); Elisabeth R Poyser; and E. H. (Edmund Horace) Fellowes. The baptism, marriage and burial registers of St. George's Chapel, Windsor, p. 103 (Marriages), Secondary quality.

    "William Varney and Bridget Deverell of the Parishe of St. Georg wthin the Castle of Windsor, were marryed here the vijth of Aprill. Anno domini: 1629 by virtue of a Lycence granted from the Deane and Praebendries"

    St. George's Chapel was apparently popular for marriages at the time, serving not only residents of the Castle and "of the parish" outside the Castle, but from other parishes and communities as well. The wording in some entries clearly differentiates those who are "of the Castle" from those who are "of the parish" or from other parishes. Unfortunately, the entry for William and Bridget is less clear.

  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Barber, Kathleen Canney, and Janet Ireland Delorey. William Varney of Ipswich and Gloucester, Massachusetts. The American Genealogist. (Jul 2006), Secondary quality.
  3. Frye, Marian McCauley, and Harold E Frye. The Tingley family revised: being a record of the descendants of Samuel Tingley (____-1666) of Malden, Mass. in both the male and female lines. (Elkton, Virginia: M.M. Frye, c1970-2001 (Ann Arbor, Michigan : Edwards Brothers)), V.1, p.20, Secondary quality.
  4. Tingley, Raymon Meyers. Some ancestral lines: being a record of some of the ancestors of Guilford Solon Tingley and his wife Martha Pamelia Meyers. (Rutland, Vermont: Tuttle Publishing Co., 1935), Secondary quality.

    William Varney, of Ipswich, Mass. . . .Married 29 May 1629, Bridget, dau of Walter and Elizabeth Knight of Salem, Mass, b. 1611 England

  5. 5.0 5.1 Torrey, Clarence Almon. New England Marriages Prior to 1700. (1963), Secondary quality.

    VARNEY William ( -1654, Salem) & Bridget PARSONS [KNIGHT?] ( - 1672, Gloucester), wid?; b 1641?, b 1644, 4 May 1629?, b 1634; Ipswich/Gloucester/Salem

  6. Collacott, Margaret Oliver. The ancestors and descendants of Zephaniah and Silence Alden Hathaway: with notes on allied families. (Mentor, Ohio: unknown, 1961), Secondary quality.
  7. Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995), pp. 1139-1142, Secondary quality.

    Walter Knight. Origin unknown, arrived about 1626, married by 1642, name of wife unknown, no known children

  8. Massachusetts (Colony). Quarterly Courts (Essex County). Records and files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts. (Salem, Massachusetts: The Essex Institute, 1911-1925, 1975), Vol. 5, p. 119, Secondary quality.
  9. “Jeffery Parsons of Loddiswell, Devonshire and Gloucester, Massachusetts”, by Willis S. Parsons, in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society), Vol 142, July 1988, Secondary quality.