Climbing My Family Tree, Part Five

Immigrants Palmer Tingley, Anna Fosdick Tingley, & Stephen Fosdick

Palmer Tingley, my nine times great-grandfather, was born in Kingston-on-Thames, England in 1614. Palmer was a miller by trade, and at the age of 21 he boarded a ship departing London, headed for New England. The Planter set sail in mid-April, 1635, safely arriving in Boston harbor several weeks later.

Palmer was a “good churchman” and carried a certificate to prove so on his journey to America.

Two years later, Palmer fought in the Pequot War of 1637. As more and more English immigrants flooded into New England in the first half of the seventeenth century, native American populations were further displaced. The Pequots, centered on the Thames River in southeastern Connecticut, were among the more resistant of the native populations. The Pequots retaliated against those cheating them in trade, and those stealing their land, and by 1637 they had killed13 English colonists and traders. Massachusetts Bay Governor, John Endecott, responded by organizing a large military force to punish the Indians. Palmer Tingley was among this number.

Early on May 25, 1637, a good two hours before sun-up, the English colonists and their Indian allies (the Mohegan Indians aligned with the English against their Native brothers), marched on the Pequot village at Mystic, Connecticut, slaughtering almost all the inhabitants. A second Pequot village was attacked on June 5th, and a third on July 28th. In all, some 500 men, women, and children were burned or massacred.

As a reward for his services against the Pequod Indians, Palmer was granted eight acres of land in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1639. Ipswich is a coastal town in northern Massachusetts, about 30 miles north of Boston and some 15 miles south of the New Hampshire state line.

It deeply grieves me to know one of my ancestors had such little regard for his fellow human beings, simply because they looked different and did not share his world view. Like other English colonists, Palmer believed his God had mandated that the Europeans should bring Christianity to the New World. He saw the natives as nothing more than savages in need of religious conversion. Even the Indians who did convert to Christianity were perceived as being profoundly inferior to the colonists. Their lives held no value to the colonists and the native people simply stood in the way of their Christian conquest.

No official record has been found documenting Palmer’s marriage, but it is assumed he was husband to Anna (or Hanna) Fosdick, and that they were married between the years 1635 and 1640.

Anna (Hannah) was daughter of Stephen Fosdick, and both were born in Lincolnshire, England, Stephen in 1583, and Anna in 1615. The Fosdick family (Stephen, his second wife, Sarah Wetherell, and with his eight children–including my nine times great-grandmother, Anna) immigrated to Charleston, Massachusetts by 1635. The precise date of arrival and vessel is unknown. In the year 1634 alone, some twenty-one ships arrived in Boston, bringing “a great quantity of passengers and cattle” from England.

There is no official birth record, but there is strong circumstantial evidence Palmer and Anna had a son they named Samuel (my eight times great-grandfather). Samuel was born sometime before 1643 in Malden, Massachusetts, an independent community north of Boston.

There is no record of Palmer’s death or burial. Palmer’s son, Samuel, died in 1666 at the age of just 28, leaving behind two sons of his own (his second son was born seven months after his death). I have not been able to find an explanation for Samuel’s early death.

Genealogists are able to piece the family lineage together through Palmer’s wife, Anna. Anna was married to James Barrett after Palmer’s death, and she had seven more children with him. When she died in 1681, she left property to her children by James Barrett, as well as to her two grandchildren, Samuel and Thomas Tingley, and thus the family line can be legally substantiated.

In 1691 the extended family (all the surviving descendants of Palmer, Anna and James) left Charlestown for Rehboth, Massachusetts, which at the time was a frontier against the Indians on the road from Boston and Plymouth to the Providence Plantations. Rehboth is about six miles east of the Rhode Island state (colony) line.

I now jump ahead half a century to Josiah Tingley (Palmer and Anna’s two times great-grandson, and my five times great grand-father). Josiah is a contrasting figure for me to include in my immigration blog, as he emigrated from the United States to Canada (although technically, he emigrated before the United States declared independence from England, as the year was 1763).

Josiah was a staunch loyalist to the English Crown. He fought for King George II during the French and Indian War. The war stretched from 1754 to 1763, although it is unknown if Josiah fought in all nine years. We do have records that in 1758 he fought in Captain Nathan Whiting’s Second Regiment of Company 11 in Connecticut, under the command of Captain Joshua Barker.

For his services, he was awarded a grant of land, which the British had confiscated (presumably from the French) in Arcadia, Nova Scotia.

In 1759 Josiah married Jemima Crabtree and together they had a total of eight children, although two of them died as infants. In 1767 they had their fourth child, my four times great-grandmother, Jemima, undoubtedly named after her mother.

In December 1776, Josiah, tougher with his five surviving children, and his wife Jemima, nine months pregnant at the time with their youngest child, were driven into the winter woods by the “Rebels” during the Revolutionary War. Their infant son, Agreen Tinley, was born there in the cold, open forest. The Loyalists rallied and conquered the Rebels, saving Nova Scotia for the Crown.

Josiah died in 1817 at the age of 86, and is buried in Upper Sackville, Westmorland County, New Brunswick, Canada. (Sackville was originally part of Nova Scotia, but is today a part of New Brunswick.)

The family line continued to thrive in Canada, first in Nova Scotia, and then in New Brunswick, up until the time my grandmother, Hazel Weldon de Meurers, immigrated back to the United States in 1930 (See Climbing My Family Tree, Part Three).

This post, as much as any other, points out how our culture and our world view shapes our impression of “winners” and “losers,” not to mention our understanding of right and wrong.

Palmer Tingley believed he was not only authorized, but was mandated by God to colonize the New World and bring Christianity to the “savage” world. What I find most disturbing is that even when Native Americans converted to Christianity, they were still seen as “less than,” were devalued, and dehumanized. Referred to as “praying Indians,” their lives were still viewed as insignificant and dispensable. The Pequots were ambushed and massacred no differently than a pack of wolves. They were seen as a threat to the English settlements, which had to be extinguished.

Palmer Tingley and his contemporaries believed themselves to be ordained by God to rid the continent of the “savage” Pequot tribe. My world view would say God did not ordain or approve of Palmer’s actions. My best guess is that if Palmer were alive today, he would likely argue to his death that he was right in all he did and all he believed.

This lesson from my family history should give us all a moment of pause. What beliefs do we hold dear? What actions do we take believing we are right and just? What make sense to us in our present moment today, but will not withstand the test of time? When do we, in our modern-day culture, act, doing what we believe to be God’s will, when God, Himself, may abhor our actions…

And then there is Grandpa Josiah. Had the United States not won the Revolutionary War, Joshua would be listed among the heroes who fought for the Crown, and remained loyal to the end. We would read about George Washington in our history books, but instead of being heralded as the Father of our Country, he would be listed as a traitor who dared raise his sword against the King of England.

Again, this is another lesson from my family history that should give us pause. We tend to view the world in a starkly defined black and white. From our perspective, we believe ourselves to be one hundred percent accurate in what we see, feel, and believe. But looking back into history, perhaps there are many things, once believed to be black, that were actually white (or vice versa), and even more things that were neither black, or white, but were actually quite gray.

As I learn more about my family history, my personal worldview, and myself, I believe it is more important to treat my fellow human beings with respect, kindness, and dignity, and less important to be “right.”

May God have mercy on me for the “good” things I have done in His name…


My Family Tree:

  1. Stephen Fosdick


  1. Palmer Tingley & Anna Fosdick


  1. Samuel Tingley Sr.


  1. Samuel Tingley Jr.


  1. Samuel Tingley III


  1. Josiah Tingley & Jemima Crabtree


  1. Jemima Tingley


  1. Rufus Fillmore


  1. Margaret Elizabeth Fillmore


  1. Edgar Wilson Weldon


  1. Hazel Adelia Weldon (See Part Three)


  1. Weldon Paul deMeurers


  1. Me (Alan deMeurers)


Running count of my direct immigrants from Europe to North America = 14


Reference Links:


One thought on “Climbing My Family Tree, Part Five

  1. Thanks for another wonderful post. Where else could anybody get that kind of info in such a perfect approach of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such info.

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