Category Archives: Europe

William Vassall, England to Massachusetts

map_england_1660-1892 (1)William Vassall was born on August 27, 1592, in Stepney, Middlesex, England. He was the son of John Vassal (the builder and owner of the Mayflower) and Anne Russell. The Vassall’s were of French descent. John Vassal who was born in Caen, Normandie, France about 1524 converted from Catholicism to Protestantism and had to flee France due to persecution.

William married Anna King in London, England in 1613. He was a merchant working for the Massachusetts Bay Company. He first came to America in 1630 on the Arabella and he returned to England in the fall of that year.

In July 1635 he brought his wife and 7 children to Massachusetts on the ship “Blessing”. ma bay colonyThey settled in Roxbury, but they moved to Scituate around November 1636. He was the first to build a home here. By 1637 they joined the local Church. He and Anna took the oath of allegiance to the Plymouth colony on February 1, 1638, and they received 150 acres of land for doing so. While living here he was on the committee to consider the division of lands, the committee to resolve orders, he was an arbiter, a deputy, he served on the Council of War and he was listed as one of the men who were able to own and bear arms. They moved to Marshfield in 1643 and William became a town officer.

William did not agree with the attitude of Mass. Bay and Plymouth governments towards persons whose opinions in politics and religion differed from the Puritan line. He used his influences for greater charity toward the Quakers, etc. The elders expressed their disapproval towards his outspokenness. The church of Plymouth sent him a message by way of John Cook, which is recorded in the book of the Second Church, Scituate, dated April 14, 1645; hoping he would desist from proceedings intended, and questioned if they would commune with him if he continued. He went to England in 1646 with a petition to Parliament for the liberty of English subjects.” (NEH&GR, Jan 1863, page 58)

barbadosmapHe returned to Scituate in 1647 however, being provoked by the persecution to which the Quakers were subjected, he returned to England with most of his family. Later he and Anna went to Barbados and he died there in 1657. William’s son, Captain John Vassall, sold the Situate estate in 1661, but the daughters married and remained in this country.

One of William’s daughters, Judith, married Resolved White who came to America aboard the Mayflower with his parents William and Susannah (Jackson) White.

William Vassall is my 10th Great Grandfather.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on History and You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter




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Filed under Ancestry, Barbados, Europe, Family History, Family Search, French Huguenot, Genealogy, History, Massachuettes, Mayflower, McGowan, Smith, Uncategorized, William Vassall

There Is One Thing Wrong With “Who Do You Think You Are?”

family tree, who do you think you areI really enjoy the program “Who Do You Think You Are?”  I have even gotten my non-genealogy enthusiast husband to watch it with me each week. I know there is some controversy about the program only highlighting “famous” persons and how these people can handle all these wonderful old documents, with white gloves on of course. They fly to the places their Ancestors came from and visit the places they lived and where they were buried. All in all it is a good show. The bonus is it is bringing more of the younger generations into the Genealogy fold.

So why am I writing this blog? Because, no matter how good the program is, there are some drawbacks to it. Let me explain. My husband comes from a very large family. They are spread out across the country from Alaska, to New York to Florida and even down into Mexico. I have been working on his family’s genealogy for over 5 years. I put together a private family page on Facebook and have posted my findings. I even put together a beautiful book for my in-laws which included photos, documents and stories.  Several of my husband’s siblings have asked for copies and the word that I am a Genealogist has gotten out.

One of my husband’s cousins, who I only met once at her Grandmother’s funeral, recently contacted me. She had heard about the Facebook page and asked if I could let her have accessEurope to it. Then she asked if I could maybe find some information about her father’s side of the family. After a couple of days she asked me if I could also find anything on her maternal Grandfathers side. She gave me what little information she had about them so I faced the challenge and felt pretty good about what I discovered. Then a week later she asked if I could also research her husband’s family. Again she only had limited information about them. I was amazed at how diverse their families were. Her father’s Ancestors came over from Ireland in 1865. Her maternal Grandfathers side came from Mexico, Poland and Germany! Her husband’s family emigrated here in 1967 from Italy.

So where is the problem? After giving me the sparse information that she had about both her family and her husband’s family, she contacts me 3 days later and is upset that I hadn’t found more data. I had traced her husband’s family back to the mid 1800’s in Italy; her father’s Ancestors back to 1834 in Ireland and her mother’s paternal side back to 1845 Germany. I told her it could take years to find and document these lines; it can’t be done in a week. Her response? “Well, on ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ they can find it faster than that.”

watchingTV1After I quit laughing, dried the tears from my eyes and counted to 10, I let her in on a little secret. It is a television program! We have no idea how long it actually took to find the information they have. They also have a large staff and researchers working on the tree. We also don’t know if they screen the “famous” people to make sure their Ancestors are the easier ones to find. I also told her, that as much as I would love to, I really couldn’t afford to fly to Ireland, Germany, Poland or Mexico to do research.  I explained that I could throw a tree together for her if she really didn’t care about having proof that these people belonged to her. Thankfully, she understood what I was saying and told me to take my time and do it right.

So, from where I am sitting I can see some of the problems this wonderful television show can cause for us. We already live in an instant gratification world. Everything should be quick, easy and available on the internet. By showing how a person can find not only their Ancestors, but documentation, stories and photos in a one hour program, people are lead to believe that this is how it is. Maybe there should be a “disclaimer” included in either the opening or closing of the program that explains that in real life it takes longer than one hour to create your family tree. In the meantime, I will just hope that future clients will be open to the fact that genealogy does take time and is a lot of work.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.






Filed under Ancestry, Europe, Family History, Family Search, Genealogy, Mexico, Who Do You Think You Are