Research notes

In March, several posts in the TGS blog were related to new findings that came from a review of digitized records at the Sherborn Parish in Dorset, UK. The following image is from the “Research Notes” section of the Thomas Gardner profile on WikiTree and provides list of the findings. Notice that the list includes the notice of the marriage of Thomas Gardner and Margaret Frier on 28 Apr 1617. Too, their children’s baptisms are listed by name up to Miriam in the order as we saw both with Dr. Frank’s publications as well as that of the Great Migration project of the NEHGS. The only name missing is for Joseph, as the records in the period where we would expect his baptism to be recorded are smudged. So, finding his baptism record pends further work.

Thomas Gardner Profile at WikiTree

This list can be augmented with the Essex County record for Seeth’s birth in Salem. That means that all of the children, minus the last one, were born in England which leads to having 1633/34 as the time of the arrival of the Gardner family. WikiTree is being used as they have a project that is documenting Great Migration families. To date, there were too many unknowns to allow a good edit of the profiles of Thomas and Margaret.

In fact, recently, there was discussion about whether Margaret was the mother. This discussion is documented at WikiTree and the TGS blog. Since we showed in 2014 that we had a record of the marriage the decision was to keep Margaret and Damaris as the two wives. The Great Migration publication had three wives with the mother being unknown. At that time, only the first three sons had baptism records that were indexed. So, the notion was that Thomas and Margaret had come over with John being born in 1624 here.

The indexing still lags. In February of this year, Bob Dunlap reported on WikiTree that he had gone through several hundreds of unindexed images looking for Gardner and gave his findings. This news precipitated a G2G: Comments on Thomas Gardner of Salem 1591-1674. WikiTree stresses good research and has a focus on sources and is where some interesting work is being done.

Those there who have watched the Gardner controversies decided that this is the opportunity to split the profile in two. One profile (see above link) would be for the husband of Margaret and father of the children. The other would be for an unknown person: Gardner-924. As you look at this profile, consider that it is mostly commentary. One thing for certain, the Great Migration project was wrong with respect to the two wives, though there were several prominent genealogists who weighed in otherwise on the matter, over the years. Too, this profile points fingers at the work of prior authors. We will address that issue, in time, as things settle down. As we want to document the full history of the debate for Gardner research.

As a reminder, our work has been to gather information and to try to resolve the issues while firming up what is known. That still stands; we did a summary of our position in a post titled “Square One?” and suggested how we will alter our research focus given the new information. For instance, over our time, there is information that we saw that has been ignored. These need to be brought to view.

For one, John is quoted by the original Folger gent on Nantucket as saying that his father, Thomas, had told them that they had come from Sherborn. In fact, the Governor of the time said that John and Richard could give the name Sherborn to a location on Nantucket which raised some controversy. Too, Rev. Hubbard was there and talked to the principals, such as Roger Conant and Thomas. The Rev. wrote that Gardner was at Cape Ann, for about a year. Research by the Paine family (descendants of son George) indicated that Thomas had gone back.

From the beginning, we followed Dr. Frank’s work which was partly reinforced by Anderson’s (Great Migration). But, too, we can be assisted by technology which can make more information available; we have seen this in the last decade where more information is available over time. So, our research will now look more closely at origins.

Rev. Felt noted Margaret’s existence back in the early 1800s. He must have heard of this from someone who had traveled and seen the records. Lots of people traveled since the start of the U.S. One problem with the internet is that it might facilitate communications but sites change (or disappear) for various reasons. Things we saw earlier went away. Of course, we can grab old stuff from archives, like the “wayback” storage.

Motivation for our work? There is a lot. Look at the image. Notice that John’s baptism has a note. We thought, earlier, that it might have been for the fact that his birth here was recorded later at the Parish. But, John could have been born while Thomas was away. Or, did Margaret come over with the family and they returned?

With the split of the profiles, we can concentrate on the time from Salem to now using Thomas and Margaret. The other profile will be there to use as we focus, finally, on origins. For one? We now know where to start.

Please send email to with respect to what is known or to commentary on this matter.