William Gifford, of Sandwich (c.1615 - 1687) MP

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Nicknames: "William Ambrose Gifford"
Birthplace: England
Death: Died in Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts, present United States
Occupation: Tailor
Managed by: Shelley Chrystal Mactyre
Last Updated:

About William Gifford, of Sandwich

William Gifford was probably born around 1615. He immigrated to New England after 1643, and settled in Stanford, Fairfield County, Connecticut. He was ordered whipped and banished from Connecticut in 1647, and went to Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts. His first wife has not been identified, but his second wife was Mary Mills, whom he married on 16 July 1683, at Sandwich. William Gifford died 21 December 1687 at Sandwich, Barnstable County, Massachusetts at approximately 72 years of age. Most of the Giffords in the United States are descended from him.

Marriages and Children

William Gifford was married to at least one as-yet-unidentified woman, probably in England prior to emigration. He had seven children with this first wife. Much later in life he married Mary Mills (1660 - 1734) in 1683 and had two sons. His daughter Mary is often erroneously listed as the daughter of his second wife, Mary Mills; however she was most likely a child of his earlier marriage.

  1. Unknown Wife
    1. John Gifford (d. 1708 Sandwich, Massachusetts) married Elishua Crow
      1. Elizabeth Gifford (25 February 1665/6 - 19 October 1701) married Israel Tupper
      2. Samuel Gifford (12 March 1666/7 - 24 April 1738 Sandwich, Massachusetts) married Jane Loring 2 November 1699
      3. John Gifford (12 June 1668 - 1750 Rochester, Massachusetts) married Desire Sprague 24 November 1696
      4. Mary Gifford (born 9 October 1669) married Robert Ransom
      5. Grace Gifford (born 17 August 1671) married Gideon Hoxie
      6. William Gifford (7 May 1673 - 1733 Falmouth, Massachusetts) married (1) Elizabeth Wheaten 13 March 1701/2; (2) Experience (Bowerman) Claghorn 7 November 1726
      7. Yelverton Gifford (22 April 1676 - 31 March 1772 North Kingstown, Rhode Island) married 28 February 1714 Ann Northrup
      8. Josiah Gifford (born 17 February 1681) married Mercy Chadwick 11 March 1714/5
    2. Hannaniah Gifford (died c.1709 Manasquan, Shrewsbury Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey); married Elizabeth (see http://members.cox.net/swarling/gifford/monmouth0001.htm)
      1. William Gifford (died 1723 Shrewsbury Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey); married (1) Margaret Parker; (2) Sarah
      2. Joseph Gifford; married Hope
      3. John Gifford, probably married Mary Cammack
    3. William Gifford (c.1653 - 1739 Falmouth, Massachusetts); married (1) unknown; (2) Lydia Hatch 21 June 1711
      1. Gideon Gifford (born 6 October 1676); married Mehitable Jenney
      2. Gershom Gifford (born 10 June 1679); married Deborah Bowerman 11 August 1704
      3. Seth Gifford (17 March 1681 - after 1745); married Johanna
      4. Experience Gifford (born 7 October 1685); married John Wing 23 May 1710
      5. Jabez Gifford (7 February 1686/7 - 1761 Dutchess County, New York); married Dinah Sheldon November 1716 (Jamestown, Rhode Island
      6. Mehitable Gifford (7 July 1689 - 18 January 1782 Dartmouth, Massachusetts); married Samuel Willis 24 March 1712/3
      7. Justice Gifford (12 October 1691 - March 1739 Falmouth, Massachusetts); married Ruth Gifford 4 January 1715/6
      8. Mary Gifford (25 May 1694 - 28 April 1731 Bridgewater, Massachusetts); married Isaac Willis 6 April 1724
      9. Hannah Gifford (born 24 October 1696); married Obediah Butler 14 September 1732
      10. William Gifford (16 February 1699 - 5 Dec.ember 1789); married Mary Swift 3 August 1727
      11. Temperance Gifford (born 17 December 1701)
      12. Amy Gifford (born 5 August 1713); married Humphrey Harrison 25 October 1733
      13. Silas Gifford (30 June 1715 - 1761 Falmouth, Massachusetts); married Elizabeth Weeks 1 March 1738/9
      14. Nathan Gifford (born 25 January 1717 - November 1798 Falmouth, Massachusetts); married Mercy (Robinson) Weeks 29 September 1740
      15. Melatiah Gifford (4 May 1719 - 1783 Falmouth, Massachusetts); married (1) Hannah Claghorn 10 February 1737/8; (2) Sarah Bowerman 7 December 1743
      16. Sarah Gifford (born 17 September 1725), married Ichabod Perry
      17. Joseph Gifford (28 July 1728 - 30 April 1775 Falmouth, Massachusetts); married Zerviah Robinson 19 December 1761
    4. Christopher Gifford (July 1658 - 22 November 1748 Little Compton, Rhode Island); married Mary Perry
      1. Meribah Gifford (31 October 1687 - 1732); married Nathaniel Soule 20 July 1708
      2. Christopher Gifford (5 May 1688 - 29 March 1689)
      3. Audry Gifford (born 17 September 1689) married Eliash Smith 8 April 1731
      4. Enos Gifford (1 February 1693/4 - May 1769 Little Compton, Rhode Island) married Phillis Allen
      5. Mary Gifford (born 6 October 1695), married Thomas Borden 3 August 1721
      6. Christopher Gifford (15 April 1698 - 1767 Dartmouth, Massachusetts) married Mary Borden 6 June 1721
      7. Deborah Gifford (born 2 February 1700), married Benjamin Wilbur 9 November 1724
    5. Robert Gifford (1660 - 1730 Dartmouth, Massachusetts), married (1) Sarah Wing; (2) Elizabeth
      1. Jeremiah Gifford (died 1771 Dartmouth, Massachusetts); married Mary Wright
      2. Mary Gifford (died January 1772 Dartmouth, Massachusetts); married Nathan Soule 12 June 1704
      3. Benjamin Gifford (died 1754 Dartmouth, Massachusetts); married Sarah Tompkins
      4. Stephen Gifford, married Mary
      5. Rebecca Gifford; married Jacob Soule 22 January 1709/10
      6. Timothy Gifford (died 1780 Dartmouth, Massachusetts); married Hannah Tompkins 18 April 1717
      7. Ann Gifford, married William Swan 26 June 1717 Newport, Rhode Island
      8. Lydia Gifford, married Nathaniel Soule
      9. Simeon Gifford (died 1749 Dartmouth, Massachusetts), married Susannah Jenkins 13 May 1725
    6. Patience Gifford (died 1673), married Richard Kirby 19 October 1665 Dartmouth, Massachusetts
      1. Temperence Kirby
      2. John Kirby
      3. Robert Kirby
      4. Experience Kirby
      5. Sarah Kirby
  2. Mary Mills (died 10 February 1734) married 16 July 1683
    1. Jonathan Gifford (14 May 1684 - 10 February 1734 Sandwich, Massachusetts) married Lydia Abbot 3 August 1708
      1. Maria Gifford (16 October 1709 - 21 December 1784 Hanover, Massachusetts) married Melatiah Dillingham 31 January 1734/5
      2. Peleg Gifford (14 August 1711 - July 1802 Conway, Massachusetts); married Abigail Shepherd 27 April 1743
      3. Rebecca Gifford (born 18 September 1713); married Daniel Wing
      4. Bethiah Gifford (born 1 July 1715); married Isaac Peckham 12 May 1737
      5. Silas Gifford (14 February 1716/7 - 27 August 1800 Dartmouth, Massachusetts); married Rhoda Gifford
      6. Hannah Gifford (born 10 May 1719); married Benjamin Hammond 24 March 1742/3
      7. Anne Gifford (born 4 August 1721)
    2. James Gifford (10 March 1685 - 20 October 1734 Sandwich, Massachusetts) married Deborah Lewis 30 March 1710
      1. Dinah Gifford (born 29 October 1712); married John Atkins 13 February 1728/9
      2. Remember Gifford (born 6 May 1714); married Noah Borden 27 June 1742
      3. Sarah Gifford (born 6 April 1716)
      4. James Gifford (8 October 1717 - 1752)
      5. Cornelius Gifford (9 February 1718/9 - 29 April 1808 Lee, Massachusetts); married Elizabeth Barlow 4 May 1741
      6. Silvanus Gifford (18 October 1720 - 8 February 1804 Lee, Massachusetts), married (1) Jeneverah Walker 28 July 1748; (2) Tabitha Dexter 2 December 1790
      7. Mary Gifford (born 7 June 1722); married Thomas Ashley
      8. Deborah Gifford (born 5 September 1724); married John Borden 22 December 1748
      9. George Gifford (born 30 May 1726)
      10. Thomas Gifford (28 April 1728 - after 1800); married Content Borden 22 December 1748
      11. Eleanor Gifford (born 27 March 1730); married William Chanter 4 December 1747

Biographical Sketch

William Gifford probably arrived in New England after 1643, as he does not appear on the list of those to bear arms that year. He first settled at Stamford, Connecticut, but was ordered whipped and banished in 1647. The first record for him in Massachusetts is among a list of debts due on the inventory of Joseph Holiway ‘of Sandwidg’ in December 1647. He served on the Grand Inquest 4 June 1650. He was one of four men (Thomas Tupper, Thomas Burges, Nathaniel Willis, and William Gifford) ordered to call a town meeting for the new Sandwich plantation (original deed dated 22 May 1651). The June 1658 list of holdings at Sandwich included William’s land.

William was a proprietor of lands at Sandwich, Barnstable County, Massachusetts. Although he suffered the persecutions visited upon the Quakers of that time, he prospered in material affairs and became a large landowner. In Bowden's "History of the Society of Friends in America," it is mentioned that two English Friends, named Christopher Holden and John Copeland, came to Sandwich on June 1657, and had a number of meetings. "Their arrival was hailed with feelings of satisfaction by many who had been long burdened with a lifeless ministry and dead forms in religion." William Gifford became a Quaker in 1658. Soon after, he was fined a number of times for not taking the oath of fidelity, and for "seditious utterances" against the King. In 1658, he was fined £10. There was also a distraint [a property seizure] upon his estate of £57, 19s. to satisfy fines imposed for his heterodoxy, as viewed by the authorities, viz., refusing to take oath, attending Quaker meetings, etc. The property taken to pay his fines consisted of 4 steers, 2 heifers, 1 bull, 3 cows, 5 young cattle and 1/2 of a horse and 1/2 swine.

It required only the slightest pretext to warrant the arrest of a Quaker and, despite his experiences in Connecticut, apparently William Gifford hadn't yet learned how to avoid trouble. Marshal George Barlow was one of the most active officers in arresting Quakers for "tumultuous carriage at Quaker meeting", refusing to take oaths, and harboring "strange Quakers". On 6 October 1659, the Marshal made complaint against William Gifford "for affronting him in the highway near a bridge over which he should have driven some cattle; yet forasmuch as William Gifford affirmeth that he was not directly in his way but in an old path leading to his house, the Court suspends the judgement for the present until the place be viewed and so the matter be made more evident." Despite the widespread dislike and suspicion of Quakers, sometimes even the all-too-willing judges had to suspend sentence, or release the prisoner with an admonition.

William Gifford owned land in Massachusetts (Sandwich, Falmouth and Dartmouth), Rhode Island and Connecticut. "Gifford genealogy, 1626-1896" includes a facsimile of deed for a 40-acre parcel purchased from a Suckanessett (Falmouth) Indian named Job Attukkoo on 24 July 1673.

Except for five years in New Jersey, William Gifford resided in Sandwich until his death. From 1665 to 1670, he joined with George Allen and the sons of Peter Gaunt, to found Monmouth, New Jersey. They purchased lands from the Indians and received the Monmouth Patent on 8 April 1665. In 1670 he moved back to Sandwich.

At the Sandwich Friends [Quakers] monthly meeting held at William Allen's house on 4 March 1683, William Gifford and Mary Mills stated their intention to marry. William was 68 years old. Mary was a 23-year-old "vagabond" "travelling" Quaker missionary. However, the next day William Gifford was fined '...for taking his wife without orderly marriage, forasmuch as there were many circumstances in the action that did alleviate the fault, is only fined fifty shillings, the Court abateing the fine in extent of it respecting the premises. 5 March 1683/4, Gov. Hinckley'. Many Quakers at this time were fined for "fornication" because Quaker wedding ceremonies weren't sanctioned by the civil authorities.

The actual marriage took place at the meeting of 16 May 1683 at William Allen's home in Sandwich, Plymouth Colony, the couple "having expressed their intentions at two meetings". Both signed the certificate (not by mark). There were thirty witnesses.

Will of William Gifford (c.1615 - 1687)

All to whom these presents shall, come know ye, that, I, William Gifford of the Town of Sandwich in New England, being weak in body but through the mercy of God have my understanding and memory continued unto me and having in my consideration the uncertainty of my continuance here in this world and being also willing and desirous to get in order my outward concerns and to dispose me;

Item: I do make this my last Will and Testament, herewith revoking and making void all other and former wills whatsoever, whence soever, besides what I have already given unto all my children, sons and daughters:

First: I now give unto my son John twenty shillings in silver money.

2nly: I now give unto my son Hannaniah ten shillings in silver money.

3 ly: I give unto my son William one stock of beese.

4 ly: I give unto my son Chistopher one oxe and one sow and a payer of sheep.

5 ly: I give unto my son Robert five pounds in current money to be paid of the date of my hand.

6 ly: I give unto my daughter Mary five pounds in current money to be paid in two years from the date of my hand.

7 ly: I give unto my granddaughter Temperence Kirby twenty shillings in silver money.

8 ly: I give unto my two grandsons John and Robert Kirby five shillings apiece in silver money.

9 ly: I give unto my two granddaughters Expierence and Sarah Kirby five shillings each in one year from hand of.

10 ly: I give unto all the rest of my grandchildren one shilling apiece in silver money.

More I gave unto my daughter Mary above mentioned one cow to be paid four years after the date hand of all my other gifts above mentioned to be paid in two years after the date hand of.

Furthermore, I give unto my two sons, namely Jonathan and James Gifford, ten acres of uplands being at Sukanesset, and lying by old Rowley’s land in twenty acre lots and also one quarter of a share of ye undivided lands in Sukanesset.

For the satisfaction of those concerned herein, I hereby give to understand yet besides that I have given disposed of, having a parcel of land then remaining in my possession, and having since disposed of it to my son William, the produce of this land do I give for the satisfaction of the particulars above mentioned and of what is yet remaining, I give five pounds to be improved for the rite and service of truth by my friends in Sandwich called Quakers.

Furthermore, I do make my wife Mary, the Executrix of this my Last Will and Testament, and I do constitute and make my loving friends Jacob Watt, the elder of Rhode Island, Edward Perry and William Allen the overseers of this my last Will and Testament, for true and faithfull preformance of it. And when these above mentioned gifts are Preformed then give my above overseers full power to help my above said Executrix in the disposing of it as they shall judge meet, and that it shall not be disposed of without their concent.

Dated the ninth day of ye second month, April 1687

Legacy

According to genealogist Paul Gifford, "...his descendants created the largest Gifford family in the world today. The healthy climate, the low death rate, and the easy availability of land in the 17th and 18th centuries in New England meant that, if sons were born, they would propagate the name in large numbers. And they did. In 1850, there were 4,964 people named Gifford (including variants) in the United States. This was already more than twice the number in 1851 in all of Great Britain (1,536 in England; 381 in Scotland). In 1998, the rate of occurrence was still almost double in the United States as that in Great Britain.

Discussion

Studying William Gifford is a great opportunity to learn how to carefully evaluate the wealth of genealogical information that is available online. Not only are errors copied and magnified more easily than in the past, but there are also completely fictional family trees that were originally created by fake genealogists and have been accepted as accurate for many years. There was a wave of this kind of bogus research in the late 1800s and apparently this Gifford line was one of those affected. Contemporary researcher Paul Gifford says that he "...had to learn about bogus genealogies from the very beginning. My uncle had an old sheet...written by a "professional genealogist," which stated that one Walter Gifford, son of Sir Ambrose Gifford, came to Massachusetts in 1630. This, plus the completely fictional English line, was published in a county history in 1912."

  • Name: Many online trees list him as William Ambrose Gifford. Middle names were not yet in use during William's lifetime, so this cannot be accurate. The first recorded use of a middle name is in the 1680s.
  • Parentage: His parents are unknown but extensive research indicates that he was almost certainly not the son of: Anthony Gifford of Dublin, Ireland; Ananias Gifford, a member of the Merchant Taylors Company who married Hester Grigg in 1606; Philip Gifford of a London Parish; John Gifford, ironworker of Lynn, Massachusetts; nor Hananiah Gifford of St. Ives, Huntingdonshire, who married Mary Bentley in 1612.
    • It seems likely that the William Gifford who was the son of Anthony Gifford of Dublin was probably the one who married Elizabeth Grant in 1636 at St. Martin in the Fields. However, there are no baptismal records of any children in the London area, as would be expected if this person were the same as the colonist.
    • Ananias Gifford (b. c.1579), merchant tailor, married Hester Grigg in 1605, and married a second time at St. Martin in the Fields in 1621. Ananias was the son of Henry Gifford, yeoman, of Sevenoaks, Kent, but it appears that he had no children.
    • Philip Gifford of London had a son William of about the right age. But researcher Paul Gifford notes that "none of the names of William's children are close to Philip. Note also that Philip was undoubtedly the father of John Gifford, master of the iron works at Saugus (Lynn), MA, but there is nothing in New England to tie John and William together, as would be expected if they were brothers."
  • Possible Catholic Origins: Family historian William Alexander Roper notes that "...the absence of baptismal record may not be an indication that the Gifford family in America did not descend from Giffords of London (or of Kent)...there seem to have been at least a few Giffords who were Catholic "recusants" and who were cited and fined for refusing to attend church services. These Giffords presumably were covertly practicing Catholicism when practice of the Catholic religion was strictly banned. And this would also explain the absence of church records reflecting Gifford baptisms or marriages. Religious persecution was a pretty good reason to flee England for the Colonies, whether one was a Puritan or a Catholic."
  • Place of Origin: William Gifford probably did not come from London. Researchers have reconstructed Gifford families in London for that period, and looked at guild records and other records, and haven't found anything promising. More likely he was apprenticed to a tailor in another part of England.
  • Marriages: William Gifford's first wife has not been identified. His second wife was Mary Mills. He was never married to Patience Russell nor Elizabeth Grant.

DNA

The following sons of William have been confirmed through yDNA testing: John, Annaniah, William, Robert and Jonathan (partial). No descendants of Christopher or James have been tested to date. REF: (1) http://www.pcez.com/~bigshoe/du/Elli/tupper.html (2) http://members.cox.net/swarling/gifford/GiffordDNA.htm

Sources and Further Information

view all 38

William Gifford, the Tailor's Timeline

1615
1615
England
1641
1641
Age 26
England, United Kingdom
1642
1642
Age 27
England, present United States
1644
1644
Age 29
London, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom
1644
Age 29
Stamford, Fairfield, Connecticut, present United States

He immigrated to New England after 1643, and settled in Stanford, Fairfield County, Connecticut.

1647
November 1647
Age 32
Stamford, Fairfield, Connecticut, present United States

He was ordered whipped and banished from Connecticut in 1647

December 4, 1647
Age 32
Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts, present United States

The first mention of William Gifford in Sandwich town records is in a "list of debts due in inventory of Joseph Holiway of 'Sandwidg'

1649
1649
Age 34
UK
1650
1650
Age 35
Plymouth, Plymouth, Massachusetts, present United States
1656
February 16, 1656
Age 41
Sandwich, Barnstable, Massachusetts, present United States