Saturday, May 21, 2011


[Ancestral Link: Lura Minnie Parker (Stagge), daughter of Minnie May Elmer (Parker), daughter of Mark Alfred Elmer, son of William Parker, son of John Elmer, son of Mary Kibbe (Elmer), daughter of Daniel Kibbe, son of James Kibbe, son of Rachel Cook (Kibbe), daughter of Judith Birdsall (Cook), daughter of Henry Birdsall, son of Henry Birdsall.]

Henry Birdsall History and Will

Henry, son of Henry, who made a will in 1625 in England and died in 1631, leaving things to children William, Thomas and Mary, with no mention of Henry. However, since the oldest son, named for his father, received his share when leaving for the new world in about 1628.

The Birdsall family home is thought to be near Malton, East Riding, Yorkshire, England. The first American records of Henry are from 1632 after arriving in Boston with son Nathan and daughter Judith. He was a member of the First Church of Salem. In 1643 he removed to New Haven. His will is recorded in probate records in Essex county. vol. 1, p. 123.

Name: Family History Library
Salt Lake City, UT 84150 USA

Title: Ancestral File (TM)
Author: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Publication: June 1998 (c), data as of 5 JANUARY 1998
Abbrev: Ancestral File (TM

Conflicting Information

The following article by Wendy Bentley appeared in the July 2006 issue of the Phineas Wolcott Cook Family Newsletter.

Henry Birdsall (Burchall) (1578-1651)

As in the case of our ancestor, Henry Cook, mystery and doubt are woven into the life history of his father-in-law. Henry Birdsall. A number of years ago the Cook Newsletter published a picture of the imposing Birdsall Mansion in Yorkshire England. Indeed there is a Henry Birdsall born in 1550 in East Riding, Yorkshire, England who has seven children born there, but none are named Henry.

The Ancestral File lists this Henry however as the father of our Henry and records that Henry Jr. (AFN:8QKF-LF) is christened in St. Stephen Parish in Norwich in 1578. Is it logical that the aristocratic Henry Birdsall with his wife, Alice De Doncaster, both of Yorkshire would have their first child christened two shires (about 150 miles) away, when their other seven children were christened in Yorkshire?

Our Henry does report that he was married in St. Stephen Parrish Church in Norwich, Norfolk England April 9, 1610 to Agnes Kempe. Their first child, Judith, is christened there a year later. But, after making a thorough search of the parish records for Christenings we have found no evidence indicating that a Henry Birdsall was born there in 1578. In fact the Birdsall name is very rare in the Norwich area.

According to Founders of Early American Families: Emigrants from Europe 1607-1657, Henry is born in 1582, immigrates in 1632 and settles in Salem by 1636. Their information claims to have been acquired from the Birdsall family members, but gives no hint as to where Henry was born. Unfortunately, the official church christening, marriage and death records in the 1500's are few. The original records are difficult, and in some cases impossible to read, and death records for Norwich are not found in Salt Lake's Family History Library. If our Henry was born in 1578 he would have been 32 years old and Agnes a mere 18 at the time of their marriage. If he was born in 1582, he would have been ten years her senior when they marry, a more likely scenario.

The Ancestral file inaccurately lists him as having been married previously to Margaret Britwin. Yet, we know that Margaret was married to William Kempe the 25th of April 1562, and she is the grandmother of Henry's wife, Agnes. The Kempe family hails from Carleton-Rode, Norfolk, 12.4 miles southwest of the center of Norwich. There is a good marriage index in which we found the marriage records for Agnes' father, Stephen Kempe, to her mother, Agnes Alexandar in the parish church 25 July 1591, and of her grandfather, William Kempe and grandmother, Margaret Britwin, 29 years earlier in the same church.

Upon their marriage Henry and Agnes settle in the center of Norwich. We have a copy of the original christening record in St. Stephen for Judith on 2 June 1611. Anne is born five years later and christened at St. John, Timberhill, Norfolk, on the 24th of May 1616. Nathan is christened four years after Anne at St. Andrew, the 3rd of September 1620. All three parishes are within four or five blocks of each other in the heart of Norwich.

The Birdsall name is only listed five times in Norwich records. Our Henry at the time of his marriage to Agnes, the christening of his three children and there is one more curious entry in the marriage records. " Henry Birshall and Ann Griffin 1 April 1627. It is conceivable that Agnes dies after Nathan's birth leaving Henry with a young family and that he does remarry before coming to New England. As mentioned before our Family History Library in Salt Lake has no death records for that area during that time period. According to the Great Migration, Immigrants to New England 1634-1635, however, Henry arrived in Boston in 1635 with his wife, Agnes Kempe and children, Judith, Anne and Nathan. Another source, Founders of Early American Families, 1607-1657, claims Henry arrived in 1632. Such differences ware common among colonial scholars as ship captains were not required to turn in passenger lists until 1820, and hence the dates are often recorded years later according to the memories of passengers or their descendants.

Salem did not begin keeping death records until 1650, and only a very few deaths are listed in Boston's vital Records between 1630 to 1699. The names of Agnes and Anne are not mentioned in any of these. Judith married at the age of 28 and Nathan at the age of 25. No record exists of a marriage for Anne and so we can logically assume she passed away before she was 30 years old (1646).

What we do know is that: "most emigrants, then whether male or female, married or single, household head or servant -- eventually conformed to the common pattern in settling, New England. They would spend their first year or two moving about the region, and most would finally choose for their permanent home a newly founded community where they might still obtain farms near the town center and enjoy proprietary privileges. There they would stay and improve the family farms that eventually supported their children and even many of their grandchildren.

This pattern of short-run mobility followed by long-run persistence characterized 8 out of 10 household heads."

On December 14, 1637 Henry is allotted 15 acres in Boston. He is referred to as a "freeman," which meant that he had full rights to vote and participate as a citizen. We also know that he had at least some education and could read as "books" are listed in his inventory at the time of his death. By 1638 he had moved to Salem approximately 15 miles away and is admitted into the Salem Church. He was made a freeman in Salem's community May 2, 1638. He serves as a juryman in the Quarter Court January 25th 1639. In 1644 he is hired to sweep the church and keep it clean, proof that he was an affiliated Puritan. That same year his daughter, Judith, is married to Henry Cook. His son, Nathan marries Temperance Baldwin the next year and they settle in Oyster Bay, New York.

There is one more baffling piece of information listed in the book, New England marriages. Prior to 1700, Henry Birdsall is listed as marrying a third time to a "?" who was born in 1623 of Salem. This would make her three years younger than his youngest child. There is no date attached to their marriage, nor name.

In 1649, now 71 years old, Henry buys a house, shop and one acre of land from his father-in-law, Henry Cook for ten dollars. He dies two years later, 17 September 1651. Included in his inventory taken at the time of his death are the following interesting items: 2 swine, a feather bed, an old sword and musket, books and 'tools for his trade' but we are not told the nature of that trade." A complete list of his inventory can be found on page 3 of Pioneers of Massachusetts.
Unfortunately, although he made a will, it has been lost. Perhaps it would have told us if he left a wife, and how old he was when he died.

There is a book published by the Library of Congress which documents our Birdsall line from 1926 back to Henry in Salem. It does not go back into England, however, we were able to go through the descending pedigree, check the names through the IGI, and complete the ordinancy work for 412 individuals.

Henry Birdsall and family
from Roots web


Just when Henry Birdsall left England and came to America is not known, but records show that he was admitted to the Church in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1638, and on March 2, 1638, he was made a freeman, and at the Quarter Court, held January 25, 1639, he officiated as a juryman.

The name of Nathan Birdsall, son of Henry, appears on the Long Island records at East Hampton, July 5, 1653. He married about the year 1650 Temperance Baldwin, the daughter of Elizabeth Alsop and Richard Baldwin and he died about 1698, having assigned property to his sons, Stephen and Henry. Nathan Birdsall, also had four other sons, Stephen, Benjamin, William and Nathan Jr.

Benjamin, the oldest son of Nathan, is recorded first in the Oyster Bay records, February 20, 1684-85, showing that he and his brother Stephen were of the Syndicate formed for the purpose of purchasing 100 acres of land from the Indians.

Nathan, son of Benjamin, was born 1705, and married April 12, 1726, Jane Langdon, daughter of John Langdon, both residents of Hempstead, Long Island. Soon after the family removed to Westchester County, New York, but Nathan in 1728 settled in Quaker Hill, Dutchess County, New York, arriving there with one child by way of Purchase, New York, and his name appears on the Quaker records there. Some of the family settled at Chappaqua, New York, and in the near vicinity where many of the descendants still reside.

The name Birdsall is decidedly English, Bel, to Birdsall - in the Doomesday Book - Btiteshala, Brit's or Brid's, meaning "Slope Land." (source: excerpt from : Ada C. Haight, The Richard Washburn Family Genealogy, Ossining, New York. 1937, pages 13-14.
found on

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