Person:John Smith (421)

m. Abt 1631
  1. Mary Smith1630 - 1703
m. Abt 1654
  1. Mary Smith1655 -
  2. John Smith1656 - Aft 1686/87
  3. Waitstill Smith1658 - 1747
  4. Deliverance Smith1660/61 -
  5. Samuel Smith1662 -
  6. Sarah Smith1665 -
  7. Abigail Smith1668 -
  8. Joseph Smith1671 - Abt 1671
Facts and Events
Name[1] Quartermaster John Smith
Gender Male
Birth? Abt 1595 Toxeth Parish, Lancashire, Englandtraditionally, but probably wrong
Alt Birth? ABT 1605 Devon, , England
Marriage Abt 1631 to Dorothy Unknown
Immigration? 23 May 1635 From Bristol
Marriage Abt 1654 to Catherine Unknown
Will[1] 10 Dec 1676
Death[2] 29 Apr 1678 Dorchester, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
Probate[1] 25 Jul 1678

Identity of Wives

Source:Glover, Anna. Glover Memorials and Genealogies : An Account of John Glover of Dorchester, Massachusetts and His Descendants, with a Brief Sketch of, in a footnote on p. 165, suggests this John Smith had three wives: first the Mary Ryder who was listed as his wife in the passenger list of the James, then a second wife named Mary who was mother of "several sons and daughters", and third wife, widow Katherine Pelton. Under this scenario, it is impossible to tell which children go with which wife, the popular dividing line between Mary#2 and Katherine being between Waitstill in 1658 and Deliverance in 1661. Fortunately for our sanity, all of this spousal speculation is probably incorrect!

It should be noted that there are some fairly obvious inconsistencies in the Glover Genealogies which makes it a questionable source to start with. But some or all of this arrangements appears in many sources describing Quartermaster John Smith. A thorough analysis by Anderson[3] refutes most of it.

Note: none of the birth/baptism records give the name of the mother. In 1636, John and Dorothy Smith are named as members of a church, and the name Katherine is known from John's will and various probate documents. Other than this, there is no record of the name of John Smith's wives.

John and first wife are mentioned as immigrating with daughter Mary in 1635, so the existence of the first wife and approximate marriage time is confirmed, if not her name. It is known that John remarried about 1654 because of church records mentioning his recent marriage, and the baptism of another daughter named Mary would be unlikely if it wasn't a different wife.

Since church records clearly name John's wife as Dorothy in 1636, there is no choice but to assume that Richard Mather's mention of Mary in 1635 referred to the daughter. Thus the first wife was Dorothy, not Mary, and there wasn't ever any evidence given to support Ryder as a maiden name.

There is no evidence that the death record found in Boston (i.e., not Dorchester) for "Mary wife of John Smith" on 11 Jan 1658 applies to Quartermaster John. This is the only basis for thinking there was a second wife Mary.

The maiden name of Katherine is not known, and Pelton appears to be based on early assumptions that the younger of the two daughters named Mary that are mentioned in John's will must have been a step-daughter.

The above analysis represents the simplest interpretation of known facts. Many aspects of this presentation raise doubts and make it clear we don't have the whole picture yet. For example, the eldest daughter Mary was born 24 years before the second daughter Mary, with no known children inbetween. The most likely motive for naming two daughters Mary would seem to be having a second wife with that name.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Pope, Charles Henry. Pioneers of Massachusetts (1620-1650): A Descriptive List, Drawn from Records of the Colonies, Towns and Churches. (Boston: The Author, 1900), p. 421.

    John Smith came in the James from Bristol 23 May 1635 with wife Mary and settled at Dorchester. He d. 29 Apr 1678, Will dated 10 Dec 1676, probated 25 Jul 1678, names wife Katharine, daughter Mary Pelton, son John, other children and refers to daughter Mary Hinckley.
    [Note: this source incorrectly identifies the wife Katharine as Katharine Morrel, d/o Isaac. The will of Isaac Morrel names his grandchildren proving she married John Smith of Reading/Chelsea, not this John Smith.]

  2. Boston (Massachusetts). Record Commissioners. A Report of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston: Containing Dorchester Births, Marriages, and Deaths to the End of 1825. (Boston, Massachusetts: Rockwell and Churchill, city printers, 1890), p. 29.

    1676. John Smith Died Sept'r 17th 76.
    1678. Quarter M'r John Smith Died April 29th 1678.
    [The will cited by Pope proves the second date belongs to this John Smith. The first date belongs to the John Smith Jr. whose left a widow Miriam and six children: James, Mary, Anna, Miriam, Sarah and David (see Source:Dorchester, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States. Dorchester Births, Marriages, and Deaths to the End of 1825, p. 192, p. 194).]

  3. "John Smith", in Anderson, Robert Charles; George F. Sanborn; and Melinde Lutz Sanborn. The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635. (NEHGS, 1999-2011), 6:373-387.

    [Required reading for those interested in this person. This is a long entry because it attempts to sort out the often-wrong, definitely-confusing information that has been published by Quartermaster John Smith (particularly by Source:Noyes, Charles Phelps. Noyes-Gilman Ancestry).]
    John Smith, "Origin: unknown", b. by 1606, d. Dorchester 29 Apr 1678, m. (1) by 1631 Dorothy ---, m. (2) "late 1654" Katherine ---.