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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Burgess Family of Cornwall and Sandwich, MA

                                                                 Thornton Burgess

Thomas Burgess (1577-bef 1626) married Elizabeth Pye (1579 – c. 1629) and thus began a family of children that spanned over 23 years. Thomas was a merchant and Mayor of Truro, Cornwall. He must have prospered, as his probated will left 300 £ sterling to his daughter Honor, who was about the age of 7, in addition to bequests to his other children. He mentions 13 of his 21 children in his will: daus. Honor, Anne, Constance, Isabel; sons Robert, John, Henry, Caleb, Josua, Humprhrey, James, Elisha and Thomas.    His will specifically mentions his brothers-in-law, Anthony Pye and George Phippen. Anthony is his wife’s brother and George was married to his wife’s sister, Joan Pye. 

As I got more deeply involved in this family I realized that there were more connections than I had bargained for. I need to start one generation further back, with Thomas’ parents: Thomas and Honor Sidnam Burgess.

They had at least 7 Burgess children as follows:
*Thomas (1577-1626) m. Elizabeth Pye, d/o Anthony and Constance Pound Pye
Anne (1578 – c. 1623) m. Robert Trethewey
          Their daughter Elizabeth Trethewey m. Anthony Pye, s/o Anthony and           Constance Pound Pye
Richard (c. 1589-?) m. Constance Danyell
Humphrey (c. 1591- bef 1635) m. Anne Trenwith
Henry (1594-?) m. Jane Pye, d/o Anthony and Constance Pound Pye
John (bef 1598- ?)
Jane (bef 1599-?)m. Ephraim Poynter

Now to proceed with the family of Thomas and Elizabeth Pye Burgess. Of their 21 children, I have only followed their son, another Thomas. We know he was the immigrant, arriving in Salem, MA about 1630, then moving to Lynn, Duxbury and finally settling at Sandwich.

Thomas and Elizabeth Pye Burgess had 21 children:
Jane (1599-?)
*Thomas (1601-1684) m. Dorothy Unknown
Robert (1602-?)
John (b. & d. bef 1605)
John (1605-?)
Henry (1607-?)
Anne (1606-?)
Christina (1608-?)
Samuel (1609-?)
Ellis (1610-?)
Calip (Caleb) (1611-?)
Joshua (1611-?)
Humphrey (1612-?)
Constance (1614-?)
Frances (1615- bef. 1626)
Jacob (1616- bef. 1626)
Elizabeth (1617- bef. 1620)
Honor (1618-?)
Elisha (1619-?)
Elizabeth (1620-?)
Isabel (1622-?)

It appears that at least four of the children died young. Maybe someday, I’ll attempt to track down some of the other family members, just to see how many of them did survive to adulthood.

The family genealogy does say that Thomas arrived in Salem with a young family, given credence to his being married in England. I persist in using Dorothy Unknown as this man’s wife. There is much controversy over her last name and so far, no proof, no records, nothing whatsoever to validate a last name for her.

*Thomas and Dorothy Unknown Burgess had 5 children:
Thomas (1628-1617)
Elizabeth (1629-1717)
*John (1630-1701)

From this point, I’ll just mention one member of each generation. I do have the names of the siblings so if anyone is interested in a more expanded description of each generation, email me at

*John Burgess married Mary Worden in 1657. They had 10 children. 
Their son, *Samuel (1666-1753) married Elizabeth Hopkins, a gt. granddaughter of Stephen Hopkins, the Pilgrim. 

*Samuel and Elizabeth had 9 children.
Their son *Thomas (1721-1815) married Mary Covill. Thomas and Mary had 7 children.
Their son *Covill married Lydia Crowell in 1780.  Covill and Lydia had 7 children. Their son *Perez married Lydia Swift and they had 5 children.
Their son *Charles married Ann Nye. These two were the grandparents of Thornton Burgess, the author. Charles and Ann named one of their sons Thornton (Sr.).
This Thornton married Caroline Haywood. Their only child, Thornton, Jr., was born Jan 14 1874. Thornton Sr. died that same year at the age of 24, leaving his young wife and son in rather dire straits. They continued to live in a humble state, either with relatives or paying rent. Even as a youngster, Thornton worked at odd jobs to help earn money. Many of those jobs involved trapping, herding cows, working in the woods and other outdoor environments.  This experience provided the backdrop for many of his stories.
He married Nina Osborne and they had one son in 1906. Nina died soon after and Thornton was left to raise his son alone. It’s believed that many of his stories were written as bedtime tales for his son. Thornton eventually remarried, but had no further children of his own.

I grew up hearing the stories he wrote and then eventually, reading them on my own. Sometimes as a bedtime story my father would weave a tale with many of  Burgess’ characters in it and I was the heroine, of course. I attribute this to my life long love of all animals and my sense of awe of all things in nature.
When I discovered I shared a common ancestor with Thornton Burgess, I felt a satisfying sense of connection and I thought – ‘Now I get it.”

A second post follows this with a list of the book titles that Thornton Burgess wrote.

Burgess Genealogy, Memorial of the Family of Thomas and Dorothy Burgess,
          Who were Settled at Sandwich in the Plymouth Colony in 1637
          Boston, 1865.

The Visitation of Cornwall, 1530. 1573 & 1620, Vivian

Genealogical Gleanings in England vol. 2

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