Jun 172015

There is conflicting evidence regarding the parents of John Gifford who married Comfort Hart.  John Gifford died in Little Compton, Rhode Island on 18 Dec 1802 “in his 95th year.”  One line claims Christopher Gifford and Deborah Perry as his parents; the other, Jeremiah Gifford and Mary Wright.

We find support for the parentage of Christopher and Deborah in the following sources:

1) Little Compton Families by Benjamin Franklin Wilbour, Vol 1, pp 277-8 1

2) Gifford family genealogies – such as Guiteras and Gifford 2

3) and perhaps most significantly in James Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island, Vol 4, part VI, p 116. 3

The claim for Jeremiah Gifford and Mary Wright can be found in a substantive work “William Gifford of Sandwich, Mass (d 1687) by Almon E Daniels and Maclean McLean published over several years in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register – volumes 128-138.  Jeremiah (#25) is found at NEHGR 129:234-237 and John (#58) at NEHGR 131:52-54. 4

As we evaluate the claim of Jeremiah and Mary as parents of this John, we find other vital records in the adjacent town of Westport, Massachusetts:

1) “John, s Jeremiah and Mary,  7 th 3 mo, 1708  CR” p 49 Westport Births 5

2) “John, s Jeremiah and Mary,  18 th 12th month, 1802 in 95th y(ear)  CR” p 274 Westport Deaths 6

Note: “CR” is the abbreviation for church records, which the source notes as Society of Friends.  See p 6 of the Westport records

3) Further support of this relationship can be found through the Mayflower connection of Mary Wright’s father, Adam Wright. See Francis Cooke of the Mayflower, The First Five Generations, by Wood, Ralph V, Jr, Picton Press, 1996, pp 483-4.

Francis Cooke of the Mayflower and several other sources include a summary of John Gifford’s will, written in 1788 and proved in 1803.  It mentions grandson, Jonathan, son of Ephriam.   We can confirm that we are looking at the same John Gifford by noting that  Little Compton Families, which identifies John Gifford’s parents as Christopher and Debroah, cites the same will.


Both the Little Compton Families and the compiled Gifford family genealogy are derivative sources.  The same can be said of the Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island citation.  On September 9, 2013 I visited the Town Clerk’s office in Little Compton Rhode Island and reviewed the available records.   The record cited by Arnold is found in a compilation of family records transcribed by Otis Gifford in 1842, 40 years after the death of John Gifford.  The records are grouped by family, in this case Christopher Gifford.  The text in Arnold follows exactly the record in the Town Clerk’s office.   I did not find any original source records.

Given that all of the sources found for the claim for Christopher and Deborah are derivative sources, and that the church record from the Friends Monthly Meeting in Westport is the most authoritative source, supported also by NEHGR and Mayflower Families, it is my conclusion that the parents of John Gifford were Jeremiah Gifford and Mary Wright.

Why would we find records of the Gifford’s in Westport, Massachusetts when they lived in Little Compton?  When we visited the Little Compton Historical Society in September 2013, the director told us that many of Gifford families lived in the vicinity of Adamsville in the very northwest portion of Little Compton, adjacent to Westport.   In the early 1800’s Quaker families living in this area found it easier to travel to the Meeting in Westport than to travel to the meeting house in Little Compton.  See map of area.



  1.   Little Compton Families, Wilbour, Benjamin Franklin, Vol 1, pp 277-8,  http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=49227 – accessed 5/17/2015
  2.  Guiteras, Wardwell and Allied Families  http://search.ancestryheritagequest.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=18599 accessed 5/17/2015
  3. Arnold, James, Vital Records of Rhode Island, Vol 4, Part VI, p. 116; http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=15395  accessed 5/17/2015
  4.  New England Historical and Genealogical Register”, Vol. 131, pp 52-54; http://www.americanancestors.org/databases/new-england-historical-and-genealogical-register/image/?pageName=52&volumeId=11692 accessed 6/16/2015
  5.  Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2010). Volume: Westport, V 1, page 49 Westport Births http://www.americanancestors.org/databases/massachusetts-vital-records-to-1850/image/?pageName=49&volumeId=7829 accessed 6/15/2015
  6. ibid, p. 274

Church of our Saviour – Brookline Massachusetts

Church of Our Saviour Brookline, MA

Church of Our Saviour
Brookline, MA

In the late 1870’s the John Wales (1832-1900) family moved from Boston to the rapidly developing suburb of Brookline,  John Wales built a home at the corner of Monmouth and Carlton streets, across the street from the new Church of Our Saviour.   The Wales family were active members of the church where John served for 16 years on the Vestry and 7 years as treasurer.

John Wales Window Our Saviour Church, Brookline, MA (Click to englarge)

John Wales Window
Our Saviour Church, Brookline, MA

In 1899, just a year before his death, John gave a beautiful stained glass window designed by the Louis Comfort Tiffany Company to the church.


Description of John Wales window

Plaque in Sanctuary in memory of John Wales

John Wales Vestry Tribute – 18 Nov 1900

(Click on pictures for a larger view)



Sanctuary of Church of Our Saviour, Brookline, MA John Wales widow is in the right side

Sanctuary of Church of Our Saviour, Brookline, MA
John Wales widow is in the right side

John Wales home

John Wales home was across the street from the church, marked on this map as Geo P Fields. George R Wales home is next to church in lower right.

Read our letter to the Church of Our Saviour following our visit in 2013.

Return to “Susan’s Childhood in Brookline



Jun 102015
Store Ledger 1794-95 John Wales (1762-1823)

Store Ledger 1794-95
John Wales (1762-1823)

Tucked deep in the back of the drawer of John Wales Rollason’s desk was this very old book, about 15” tall by 6” wide.   Found again after his death in 2008, we discovered that the book is a store ledger from 1794-1795.

The shop keeper was also a John Wales (1762-1823), the 3rd great grandfather of John Wales Rollason.   From a book “The History of North Bridgewater” written by Bradford Kingman in 1866 we read that John Wales had a store previously operated by Daniel Cary at the corner of Main and Belmont Streets in North Bridgewater (now Brockton) Massachusetts. (Kingman, p 386).

Account of Benjamin Silvester (Click to enlarge)

Account of Benjamin Silvester


The ledger tracked details of purchases by customers.  Here we see part of the account for Benjamin Silvester and see purchases of salt pork, sugar, butter. “mallases”, salt, and lots of rum.   We can only imagine John Wales delight when he wrote “by cash then Recd twelve pound, Nineteen Shillings and 8 pence in full of the above accounts.”  Signed – John Wales.   What a treasure – to see his signature and to get a sense of this part of his life as a young man 33 years old.



Thayer payment

Thayer payments (Click to enlarge)

In that day shopkeepers were called traders for good reason.   Here we see that Enoch Thayer paid on his account by trading lots of nails as well as “by two days work of a boy.”  Thomas Reynolds paid in part by “work one hand one yoke of oxen one day”, one dozen eggs, 17 ½ pounds of hay seed, et al.

Reynolds payments (click to englarge)

Reynolds payments
(click to englarge)

Interestingly this ledger covers the period in which John Wales, Jr. was born (18 March 1795).  As with so many families of this period, John Wales’ first wife, Mehitable Howard (1765-1791) died shortly after the birth of their second child, Anna Howard Wales.  John Wales then married Susanna Capen.  Susanna Wales was born in 1792, followed by John (1795) and finally Sally (1796).  In the context of John Wales’ store, we see that he was providing for a family with three children under 6 with a fourth on the way.

John Wales grandson, also John Wales, continued the business tradition, becoming a very successful merchant and industrialist in Boston in the late 1800’s.

Historic Homes of the Ancestors of Susan Hervey Wales


Susan Hervey Wales’ roots run deep through the history of New England.   In researching her story we have identified four historic homes that are still standing in which her ancestors lived.   We have had the opportunity to visit three.

Job Lane House – Bedford, Massachusetts

Job Lane House Bedford, MA

Job Lane House
Bedford, MA

The Job Lane house in Bedford, MA was built in 1713 by Job Lane, Susan Hervey Wales’ 5th great grandfather) on the occasion of his wedding to Maratha Ruggles in 1713.   It was expanded by the family in the 1800’s.  Job Lane’s son, Job Lane Jr, was one of the Minutemen who responded to the call on April 19, 1775 to assist their neighbors in Lexington and Concord in their fight with the British troups.  John Lane was wounded by a musket ball in the right hip, but lived another 20 years.

Read my blog post on our visit to the Job Lane House




Oldest House on Nantucket

Jethro Coffin House (1686) Nantucket, MA

Jethro Coffin House (1686)
Nantucket, MA

The oldest house on Nantucket was built as a wedding gift in 1686 for Jethro Coffin and Mary Gardner.  Nathaniel and Ann Paddack were the second owners of the home beginning in 1708.  Son Daniel was 1 year old.  Daniel became a Sea Captain who was lost at sea in 1743 while on a whaling voyage, leaving his wife with 7 children.   Deborah Paddack, Susan Hervey Wales’ 3rd great grandmother, was only 4 years old.

Read about this house from the Nantucket Historical Association




Wilbor House, Little Compton, Rhode Island

WIlbor House, Little Compton, RI

WIlbor House, Little Compton, RI

The first section of the Wilbor House in Little Compton, Rhode Island was built in 1690 by Samuel Wilbore, Susan Hervey Wales’ 5th great grandfather.   Today it is the home of the Little Compton Historical Society which offers tours.

View pictures of the Wilbor House from our visit in 2013.





Edward Capen House

Edward Capen Home

Edward Capen Home Stoughton, MA

Built in 1757 by Edward Capen, this home is located at 760 Pleasant Street in Stoughton, Massachusetts.   Edward Capen was Susan Hervey Wales’ 3rd great grandfather.  Daughter, Susanna Capen (1760-1828) was the 2nd wife of John Wales (1762-1823).  You can find more about this home at Stoughtonhistory.com.

I do not believe that it is open to visitors at the present time.



Susan Hervey Wales Rollason (1889-1989)

Susan Hervey Wales Rollason

Susan Hervey Wales Rollason



Susan Hervey Wales was born on 2 Nov 1889 in Brookline, Norfolk, MA to George Rogers Wales and Mable Louise Hervey.  On 16 May 1916 she married Herbert Duncan Rollason in Beverly, Essex, MA.

Susan died at the age of 99 in St. Petersburg, Pinellas, FL on 26 June 1989.

(Click on the images below to learn more about Susan’s life and ancestors.)

Some of these pages are still in development

Childhood in Brookline

John, Helen and Susan Wales abt 1898

John, Helen and Susan Wales abt 1898

Pictures of their home, notes written by their mother, their church and more

Mayflower Ancestors

Replica of the Mayflower

Replica of the Mayflower

Three of Susan’s ancestors were passengers on the Mayflower.  All were ancestors of Susan’s birth grandfather, John Easton Gifford.

 Historic Homes

Jethro Coffin House (1686) Nantucket, MA

Jethro Coffin House (1686)
Nantucket, MA

We have identified four historic homes of Susan’s ancestors.  Three are open to visitors.


Revolutionary War Ancestors

Concord Minuteman

Concord Minuteman

Job Lane, Jr. Susan’s 4th great grandfather, was one of the Minutemen who marched to fight the British at Concord and Lexington.  more. . .

 Herbert D Rollason

Herbert D Rollason - 1913

Herbert D Rollason – 1913

Susan married Herbert D Rollason on May 16, 1916 in Beverly, Massachusetts.

And More

Susan Hervey Wales Ancestors

Susan Hervey Wales Ancestors

Read more about several of Susan’s ancestral families.


Aug 052013


We revisited Nantucket in 2009 to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.    While there we also had the opportunity to enjoy not only the beauty of the island, but to also explore some of its rich history.

Nantucket Harbor- 2009

Nantucket Harbor- 2009

Ruth’s grandmother Susan Hervey Wales (1889-1989) great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Easton (1779-1838) was the last person in her line born in Nantucket.

Among Mary Easton’s Nantucket roots:

  • 3 of the original purchasers of Nantucket ((Tristram Coffin, Christopher Hussey and Thomas Macy) along with other early settlers, Nathaniel Starbuck and John Gardner.    
  • Her family lived in the oldest house on Nantucket (the Jethro Coffin House)
  • Several of her ancestors had active roles in Nantucket’s Whaling activities.
  • Many were part of the active Quaker community, including Mary Coffin Starbuck.

Nantucket – Our Whaling Connections

Whaleboat conducts attach, while whaling vessel in background is "trying out" (rendering) blubber into oil. (Photo: Library of Congress)

Whaleboat conducts attack, while whaling vessel in background is “trying out” (rendering) blubber into oil. (Photo: Library of Congress)


Several family members of Mary Elizabeth Easton (1779-1838) were actively involved in Nantucket’s historic whaling activity.

Her great grandfather, Captain Daniel Paddack (1707-1743), was lost at sea with his crew while whaling in 1743.

Her grandfather, George Hussey (1738-1804) had ownership in at least two whaling vessels:  the Harlequin and the Mary Ann.   When we visited Nantucket in 2009, I found a copy of a bill of sale for a 1/16th interest in the Mary Ann -from George Hussey to his son-in law, Peleg Easton, Mary’s father in 1789, the same year that our US Constitution was ratified.  The handwritten document is interesting to read.   The ship was provisioned and ready for a “Whaling cruize to the Coast of the Cape of Good Hope” (southern horn of Africa).

More Information:

Whaling Museum in Nantucket










Background on Whaling

Sep 082012
Nana's Notes

Mabel Louise Hervey

We recently had the opportunity to look through a drawer of  ”memories” during a recent visit with Ruth’s uncle.   One of the treasures was a spiral notebook written by Ruth’s great grandmother, Mabel Louise Hervey (1863-1960), wife of George Rogers Wales and mother of Susan Hervey Wales Rollason.

The 30 plus pages of the spiral ring notebook start at her birth as Adelaide Francis Gifford, her adoptive family, Abraham and Elizabeth Boynton Hervey, her courtship and marriage to George and the birth of her children.    She remembers being stranded  in a snow storm on the train ride home from the Centennial celebration in Philadelphia in 1876, and much more.   Follow this link to read the Biographical Notes of Nana.

 Posted by at 10:48 pm  Tagged with:

“The Biographical Notes of Nana”


We recently had the opportunity to look through a drawer of  “memories” during a recent visit with Ruth’s uncle.   One of the treasures was a spiral notebook written by Ruth’s great grandmother, Mabel Louise Hervey (1863-1960), wife of George Rogers Wales and mother of Susan Hervey Wales Rollason.

Mabel was born to  Rev. John Easton Gifford and Catherine Augusta Jenner on 1 December 1863 in what is now Bournedale, Barnstable, MA.   Her birth name was Adelaide Frances Gifford.  We know that her birth mother was ill and hospitalized for many years.   “Biographical Notes of Nana” gives us a few insights about this time, as well as her adoptive family, Abraham Hervey and Elizabeth Boynton along with her adult years and family.

After reading the journal I wonder if this is something she wrote following the death of her husband, George Rogers Wales, in 1922.   After 1922 there are only four entries, all of which display a somewhat different style from the earlier ones.

Click on the image below to go to the Journal or click on the link to the index.  Scroll down to the bottom as you read each page.   At the bottom of the page are arrows to take you forward or back to the next (or previous) page.   Some editorial notes were made by her son, John Wales (1892-1988).

Journal of Mable Louise Hervey

Journal of Mable Louise Hervey





Click on Image

or select

Index to Pages (years) in Nana”s Journal

 Posted by at 4:44 pm  Tagged with: