Climbing My Family Tree, Part Eight

Immigrants Edmund Rice & Thomasine Frost Rice, Thomas King & Ann Collins King, and Samuel Rice & Elizabeth King Rice

The Rice and King families immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony from England in 1638. The two families became extensively entwined when three Rice boys married three King girls. Samuel Rice King (my seven times great-grandfather) was born into the Rice family, and then was adopted into the King family. Because of this adoption 350 years ago, my mother was born Patricia Louise King, as opposed to Patricia Louise Rice.

Although the two families immigrated just eighteen years after the Mayflower, their history in the New World was vastly different from that of their Pilgrim neighbors to the south. The Rice and King families were Puritans, not Separatists, and their family histories involved deadly encounters with the native populations, in stark contrast to the relatively peaceful interactions in Plymouth.

The family story is one of war against the Natives, resulting in a succession of retaliatory attacks including killings, burning settlements to the ground, and the kidnapping of five young Rice children. 

Edmund Rice (my nine times great-grandfather) was born in Suffolk, England in 1594. There, he was identified as a landholder and a Yeoman. He enjoyed a social standing somewhere in between the gentry class and the peasant laborers.

At the age of 24, Edmund Rice married Thomasine Frost. The couple had nine children in England. Seven of them survived to immigrate with them. At the time of the sailing, the children ranged in age from 17, to just a few months old. Samuel Rice (my eight times great-grandfather) was four years old when he made the arduous cross Atlantic journey.

The name of the ship and the exact date of arrival are unknown.

Thomas King (also a nine times great-grandfather of mine), was the patriarch of the King family in New England. He was born in Dorset, England in 1605. He married Anne Collins at the age of 19. They brought six children with them when they immigrated to Massachusetts, about the same time as the Rice family. Elizabeth King Rice (My eight times great-grandmother), sailed with them. She would have been three or four years old at the time.

Samuel Rice and Elizabeth King Rice grew up in Sudbury, Massachusetts and were the second of the three Rice-King nuptials, marrying in 1655. Two weeks after Elizabeth delivered her sixth child in 1667 (my seven times great-grandfather, Samuel Rice), she suddenly died, leaving Samuel Sr. to raise five children ranging from 2 to 11, as well as a newborn infant.

Samuel Sr. turned to his “brother and sister King” to raise the newborn child, namely Peter King, and his wife, Sarah. The couple had been childless. They formally adopted Samuel and he became Samuel Rice King. For two generations, the last names of Samuel and his descendants were listed on official records as “Rice alias King,” and with the third generation, the surname simply became “King.

Together, the King and the Rice families were prominent citizens of Sudbury, Massachusetts, and then went on to found the nearby town of Marlborough. Both families acquired vast amounts of land.

Edmund Rice and Thomas King were prominent in the Puritan religion, both serving as Deacons. The Puritans agreed with the Pilgrim Separatists that the Church of England was on the wrong path, but rather than removing themselves from the church (separating), they wished to reform the church from within.

The Puritans held a very strict, very conservative worldview, and Edmund Rice and Thomas King, in their roles as Selectmen, in both Sudbury and Marlborough, passed very strict laws, imposing severe restrictions upon private life and public conduct, based on their church morals. Laws were passed regarding dress, leisure activities, and conduct on the Sabbath. Punishments were harsh, most often involving some form of public humiliation. Consequences ranged from wearing a scarlet letter, to spending time in the town stockades, to hanging.

The Rice and King families experienced many deadly encounters with Native tribes residing in the area that the Europeans re-named New England.

The location where the Pilgrims established Plymouth had been uninhabited upon their arrival in 1620 (the Pawtuxet tribe that had resided there had been wiped out from a European-spread epidemic in the years before). In contrast, their sister colony to the north developed a thirst for land inhabited by Native peoples that could never be quenched.

Thousands of English immigrants streamed into the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the Seventeenth Century. Native tribes were forced to move farther and farther west, to make way for the farms of the new settlers. More often than not, the payment for native land was not a fair price, and many times the land was outright stolen. Frequently the land was “purchased” whether or not the Indian tribes living there were willing to sell. This created a great deal of tension between the two cultures.

The result was a progression of small skirmishes, and no fewer than two major conflicts, including King Philip’s War (1675-1676) and Queen Anne’s War (1701 and 1714). Each of the clashes had a major impact on the Rice and King families.

On March 26, 1675, Marlborough came under Indian attack. It was Sunday, and the settlers were gathered in worship. The preacher, suffering from a toothache, stepped outside for a moment, only to discover Indians taking position around the Meeting House. He shouted a warning. As the Europeans made their escape toward a nearby fortified house, they came under fire, one taking a bullet in the elbow, but no one was killed. The town was destroyed. Almost every structure was burned to the ground, the livestock were slaughtered, the fruit trees hacked down.

Several family members lost spouses in the conflicts, and many of the widows and widowers remarried. Samuel Rice’s third wife was the widow of James Hosmer of Concord, who was slain defending Sudbury from Indian attack in 1676.

On August 8, 1704, during Queen Anne’s War, five of Samuel Rice’s nephews were kidnapped by a tribe of Mohawk Indians. Three brothers, Silas, age 9, Timothy, age 7, and Nahor, age 5, were out playing in a flax field with their cousins Ashur, age 10, and Adonijah, age 8. Seven or eight Natives sprang from the trees and grabbed the boys, carrying them away.

Nahor, the youngest, was killed in the scuffle. Somehow his head was struck upon a rock and he was left for dead. Some reports claim he was the victim of tomohawks. The other four boys were marched more than 300 miles north to Kahnawake, Canada (not far from Montreal).

Ashur and Adonijah’s parents sold their house and farm to pay their son’s ransom and Ashur was returned to them four years later. It is unknown why the other boys were not ransomed as well, although it is likely the other boys did not want to leave, having accepted their new culture and way of life.

The three remaining boys were adopted into the Mohawk tribe and eventually married wives of Native descent. Adonijah became Asaudugooton, and Silas became Tookanowras.

Young Timothy became Oughtsorangoughton, and eventually became a Chief among his adopted people. Thirty-six years later he returned to Marlborough. He had no memory of the English language, but did remember many of the sights and people from his youth. He refused to stay, returning instead to his tribe in Canada.

The differences between the European and Native cultures are most striking. Indians, who converted to Christianity, the so-called “Praying Indians,” were still seen as savages; they were still believed to be less than fully human in the eyes of the Europeans.

In contrast, the Europeans who were kidnapped and forced to live with the Mohawks, were eventually accepted into the culture with full rights and privileges, even to the point of becoming Chief among them.

One of my reference sources is Edmund Rice and His Family, by Elsie Hawes Smith, published in 1938. The book was commissioned by the descendants of Edmund Rice. Smith captures the factual events of the Rice family through an easy-flowing prose. At times the words have almost a Nursery Rhyme tone, even when she is describing images of disturbing violence and destruction.

Not surprisingly, the book is very one-sided. Every event is viewed from the perspective of the Rice clan. Native populations are described as “savage.” Smith laments over the plights of the English immigrants, and the anguish of the mothers who lost husbands and children, but offers no sympathy for the Natives, who not only lost lives, but also lost their land, with many tribes on the verge of extinction.

We cannot be certain as to why the Rice and King families immigrated to America. We know taxes in England were high and opportunities were comparatively few. With so many Puritans immigrating, there was fear King Charles I might close the door to any further migration.

The Rice family has been heavily researched over the years. Decedents of Edmund Rice have established a membership association. The family has held an annual reunion each September in Massachusetts for the past 100 years.

As a descendant of Edmund Rice, I am thought to be one of an estimated 4.4 million of his descendants in the United States today—some sites estimate the number to be much higher, and of course, it continues to grow exponentially with each generation. We truly are a nation of immigrants!


Has your family benefited from immigration to America? Do you believe our diverse population makes us stronger? Do you want to be part of the solution? Consider the following:

Catholic Charities of Portland is reaching out to individuals and families that must leave their homeland due to a fear of persecution. The Refugee Resettlement Program works to ensure that refugees are properly resettled and adjusted to their new home in Portland, Oregon. To learn more about their work, and to support their efforts, click on the link below:

Did you enjoy this post? Please like and share. I would love to hear from you!  -Alan


My Family Tree:

  1. Edmund Rice & Thomasine Frost Rice // Thomas King & Ann Collins King


  1. Samuel Rice & Elizabeth King Rice (biological) // Peter King & Sarah Rice (adopted)


  1. Lieutenant Samuel Rice (alias King)


  1. Peter King


  1. Benjamin King


  1. Ebenezer King


  1. Amos Dakin King


  1. Charles Henry King


  1. Arthur Howard King


  1. Charles Ausburn King


  1. Patricia Louise King


  1. Me (Alan deMeurers)


Running count of my direct immigrants from Europe to North America = 26


Reference Links:;view=1up;seq=15–farms-on-powder-hill



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