Axtell Family OrganizationAxtell Genealogy--A Myth Put To Rest

The following is Marilyn (Axtell) Cheney's research on the maiden name of Thomas's (1-1) first wife.

A Myth Put To Rest

By Marilyn (Axtell) Cheney (1988)

I was lucky that by the time I was born my Axtell lineage had already been traced and published by several members of the family. For the past 7 years I have been wholeheartedly tracing the "ladies" of my direct line. For the better part of this time, I kept coming across the same conjectures over and over again. If only the researchers would put the known facts down they would see that what came up would straighten out the story.

Those researching the AXTELL, GOODENOW, MAYNARD, MOORE and STARR lineages will be especially interested in these facts since they may concern their ancestors. I will endeavor to show how I and other researchers have reached the conclusions now accepted and show that Mary (___) Axtell Maynard was NOT the daughter of Comfort Starr.

Thomas Axtell, son of William and his wife Thomasine (___) Axtell, was born circa 1618/19 in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, England and was baptized on the 26th day of January in 1619 in St. Peters Church, Berkhamstead. Although no marriage has been found as yet for Thomas, we estimate that he married Mary (___) about 1637/38 since their first child, Mary, was christened in Berkhamstead on the 15th day of October 1641.

In about 1642/43 Thomas, Mary and their two children embarked for Massachusetts, and upon arrival or shortly thereafter purchased five acres of land from Edmund Rice in Sudbury. On the 1st day of June 1644 their third and last child was born. She was named Lydia.

Hardship and exposure took their toll on Thomas and he died on March of 1646, leaving his wife Mary and three small children. Mary however did not remain a widow long for three months later on the 14th of June 1646 she married John Maynard who was a widower who resided in Sudbury with his son John Junior who was then about 16 years old.

While John and Mary were well on their way to having a family of their own, Mary's children by Thomas Axtell were becoming of age and starting to marry. The oldest daughter, Mary Axtell, married John Goodenow on the 19th day of September, 1656 in Sudbury, Henry, the only son and second child, married Hannah Merriam on the 14th day of June 1665 in Marlboro(ugh), and the last daughter, Lydia, married Joseph Moore. Since Lydia was but 2 years old at the time of her mother's marriage to John Maynard, he must have loved her dearly since in his WILL he referred to her as his DAUGHTER Lydia... when in fact she was the daughter of his wife and her first husband.

It has been conjectured that Mary (___) Axtell Maynard was the daughter of Comfort Starr of Duxbury, Mass. SHE WAS NOT!!!!! The following facts together with the above outline will serve to once and for all set the record straight.

FACT: Mary STARR was the wife of John Maynard of Duxbury, Mass., having married him in that place on the 16th day of May, 1640. Her father, Comfort Starr, died on the 2nd day of January, 1659. His will was probated on the 3rd of February, 1659 and in it he made bequests to the five children of his DECEASED daughter Maynard. Therefore we know that Mary (Starr) MAYNARD was dead by 1659!

FACT: John MAYNARD of Sudbury made his will on the 4th day of September, 1672 and died on the 10th day of December, 1672. It was probated on the 1st of April, 1673. In his will he made provisions for his wife MARY and no changes had been made pertaining to her at probate. So we know that Mary (___) Axtell Maynard was still alive in 1673.

FACT: this is a six year difference in the marriage dates of John and Mary (Starr) MAYNARD of Duxbury (16 May 1640) and that of John and Mary (___) Axtell MAYNARD of Sudbury (16 June 1646) which further bears out the fact that these were two different couples.

One cannot assume because of the closeness of names, dates and places that they could be or are the same people. Plus we must note that Mary (___) Axtell was still very much married to a very much alive Thomas Axtell and they were still living in England in 1640, when the Maynard-Starr marriage took place.

To those that would then conjecture that the two John Maynards were the same person and married to both the Mary's, one must consider that if he had married Mary Starr in 1640 she would have had to be deceased by 1646 when he married the Widow Axtell, they would have had 5 children over a six year period and even back then that would have been a bit much unless their were multiple births involved. The fact that John Maynard of Sudbury named his children in his will and all can be accounted for by his two marriages also dismisses that idea.

According to James Savage in his 'Genealogical Dictionary of Early American Settlers', there were no less than four men scattered around eastern Mass. During the same time who were named John Maynard.

I have presented the facts extracted from various records that show that it is highly unlikely that John Maynard of Sudbury and John Maynard of Duxbury were the same person. These same records show that it is physically impossible for Mary (___) Axtell Maynard and Mary (Starr) Maynard to be the same person. To those who would close their eyes and minds to the facts taken from printed records [and] seek only to put a name on a blank page not caring if it is right or wrong: Seeking out these facts will put another MYTH TO REST.

1. Vital Records of Sudbury and Marlboro(ugh), Mass.
2. Church Register, St. Peters Church, Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, England
3. Axtell Genealogy - by Carson Axtell
4. Genealogical Dictionary of Early New England Settlers - by James Savage
5. History of Framingham Mass. - by William Barry
6. Genealogy and Personal Memories of Boston & East Mass. - by Cutter
7. Puritan Village - by Sumner C. Powell
8. Pioneers of Mass. - by Charles Pope
9. Will of John Maynard of Sudbury
10. Will of Comfort Starr
11. Various other publications that duplicated and sourced the above publications
12. Others researching the same families

It has also been conjectured that Mary (___) Axtell Maynard's maiden name was Rice. To my knowledge this conjecture has never been proven or disproven satisfactorily.

I don't know how other researchers have arrived at their conclusions in regard to the RICE theory, but after researching the few known facts I have developed a possibility...but again this is only conjecture and if any researcher has printed records that prove or disprove the following theory I will be happy to see them so that another Myth can be Put To Rest....

FACT: Mary Rice, daughter of Edmund and Thomasine (Frost) Rice was baptized on the 23rd day of August 1619 in Stanstead, Suffolk, England. Most researchers list her as being unmarried when in actuality no record of a marriage has yet to be found. Therefore we cannot conjecture that she was unmarried. No record of a death has been found either for a Mary Rice.

FACT: Edmund Rice and his family moved to Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, England by 1627. By 1639 they had left England and settled in Sudbury, Mass.

FACT: Thomas Axtell and his wife Mary and their two children left England and settled in Sudbury, Mass. by 1643. In October of that year Thomas purchased 5 acres of land from Edmund Rice, and after the death of Thomas in 1646, Edmund purchased back the land and the dwelling from Mary Axtell. Edmund also testified under oath that he heard Thomas Axtell say that "it was his desire that his wife Mary have all his estate in order to bring up his children."

Theory: The fact that Thomas' father William Axtell and Edmund Rice were neighbors with children the same age in Berkhamstead we can be sure that Thomas Axtell and Mary Rice were well acquainted and the possibility exists that they may have fallen in love. Since no marriage record has been found for either Thomas Axtell or Mary Rice, it is also possible that Thomas went with the Rice family to see them off at the Port of Embarkation and he and Mary decided there that they could not bear to part. They may have married at a local church in the Port village and then returned to Berkhamstead to start their lives together.

One researcher wrote in 1945 that "Thomas Axtell had followed his NEIGHBOR Edmund Rice to America." Might it be more likely that he would have followed his father-in-law rather than just a neighbor?

Please remember that the RICE/Axtell theory is just that, a theory. I have an open mind and welcome comments.

Marilyn (Axtell) Cheney (1988)

Marilyn (Axtell) Cheney is descended from both Mary (Axtell) Goodenow and Henry Axtell

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Last revised 8-3-96 by Dan Axtell