Deacon Edmund Rice

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Edmund Rice

Also Known As: "Edmund Royce", "Edmund Rhys"
Birthdate: (69)
Birthplace: Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England, (Present UK)
Death: May 3, 1663 (65-73)
Marlborough, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)
Place of Burial: Wayland, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of unknown father of Edmund Rice and unknown mother of Edmund Rice
Husband of Thomasine Rice and Mercy Hunt
Father of Mary Maynard, of Sudbury; Henry Rice, of Framingham; Deacon Edward Rice; Thomas Rice, Sr.; Lydia Drury and 8 others

Occupation: Church deacon, Founder of Sudbury, MA., proprieter/selectman
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Deacon Edmund Rice

Edmund Rice is well documented. The Edmund Rice (1638) Association is one of the oldest family associations in the United States. Please consult their publications before merging or making profile changes. "Until someone can cite such a record, the Association must state emphatically that Edmund Rice's parents and ancestry are not known and that Edmund Rice's descendants cannot claim royal ancestry"'. 'There is no doubt that his wife's sister married into the Rice family at Stanstead, but there is no proof that he was the same person as Edmund Rice, of Stanstead.

Edmund Rice was born in England about 1594, probably in Stanstead, Suffolk, England. His parentage is unknown. He married Thomasine Frost at St Mary's in Bury, Suffolk, on 15 October 1618. Thomasine (also known as Tamazine), daughter of Edward Frost and Thomasine Belgrave, was born in Stanstead on 11 August 1600. They had eight children in England before emigrating to the American colonies, probably in 1638, where two more children were born. Thomasine died in Sudbury Massachusetts on 13 June 1654 and Edmund married Mercy Hurd (also known as Mercie, Mary, and Merrie) widow of Thomas Brigham of Cambridge, Massachusetts in Sudbury on 1 March 1655/6. Mercy had two daughters and three sons by her first marriage. Edmund was buried in Sudbury on 3 May 1663, "age about 69".

Marriages and Children

  1. Thomasine Frost (11 August 1600 Stanstead, England - 13 June 1654 Sudbury, Massachusetts) married 15 October 1618 St. Mary's Church, Bury St. Edmunds, England
    1. Henry Rice born c.1617 England, baptised 13 February 1620/1, married Elizabeth Moore
    2. Edward Rice born c.1619 England, baptised 20 October 1622, married Agnes Bent
    3. Mary Rice baptised 23 August 1619 England, died unmarried
    4. Thomas Rice baptised 16 January 1625/6 England, married Mary King
    5. Lydia Rice born c.1627 England, baptised 9 March 1637/8, married Hugh Drury
    6. Matthew Rice born c.1629 England
    7. Daniel Rice baptised 1 November 1632 - died November 1632 England
    8. Samuel Rice born 1634 England, baptised 12 November 1634, married (1)Elizabeth King, (2)Mary (Dix) Browne, (3)Sarah (White) Hosmer
    9. Joseph Rice born before 13 March 1637/8 England, baptised 13 March 1637/8, married (1)Mercy King, (2)Mary Beers, (3)Sarah (Prescott) Wheeler
    10. Benjamin Rice born 31 May 1640 Sudbury, Middlesex, Massachusetts, married Mary Brown
  2. Mercy Hurd (born in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts - 22 December 1693 Marlboro, Middlesex, Massachusetts) married: 1 March 1655 Sudbury, Middlesex, Massachusetts
    1. Lydia Rice, born c.1657 Sudbury, Middlesex, Massachusetts, married James Hawkins, Jr.
    2. Ruth Rice born 29 September 1659 Sudbury, Middlesex, Massachusetts, married Samuel Wells


Please note that a son and daughter often mistakenly attributed to Deacon Edmund Rice have been proven not to be his children. Ann Rice (born 19 November 1661), the wife of Nathaniel Gerry/Gary, belonged to a different Rice family; it appears that Edmund Rice (born 1638) never existed.

Biographical Sketch

Edmund Rice was born in England about 1594, probably in Stanstead, Suffolk. He is believed to have been the younger brother of Henry Rice, who married Elizabeth Frost, sister of Edmund's wife, Thomasine Frost. The marriage of Edmund Rice and Thomasine Frost was recorded on the register of St Mary's in Bury, Suffolk, 15 October 1618. Thomasine was born in Stanstead 11 August 1600, the daughter of Edward Frost, and Thomasine Belgrave. Her father was a wealthy "clothier", a cloth manufacturer.

Knowing the names of Edmund Rice's children, family historians have traced his family back to England using church baptismal records for his children and, eventually, to his marriage to Thomasine Frost. However, no record of his baptism nor any other record that names his parents has been found.

The Rice family lived first in Stanstead, Suffolk, England; later in Great Barkhamstead, Hertfordshire. They emigrated to New England about 1638, and were settled in Sudbury by 1639. The first record of his presence in the New World is in Township Book of the Town of Sudbury in the year 1639. Regrettably, no ship's passenger list has survived and we have no record of Edmund Rice and his family before 1639 so we can not be certain exactly when or where he and his family arrived in the New World.

Edmund Rice and the other early settlers at Sudbury were well prepared for the tasks of forming and governing a new community. As yeomen they had assumed both personal and community responsibilities back in England. As Protestant churchmen they had been encouraged to read and write so that they could study and understand their Bible. Although not of the noble class, they had shared many community and church responsibilities in their former communities in England.

He was one of the substantial men of the plantation, owning lands in and out of the town, some by grant of the court. He shared in all the divisions of uplands and commons and the total number of acres which he received as an original inhabitant was 247 acres. His first dwelling in Sudbury was on the old North Street. This he sold in 1642 to John Moore, and bought of Widow Mary Axtell six acres of land with her dwelling house, in the south part of the town. Some years afterwards he bought of Philemon Whale his house and nine acres adjacent to the Axtell place. All this together formed the old Rice homestead in Sudbury, which remained in the family for many years. In 1654 Edmund deeded it to his son Edward, who conveyed it to sons John and Edmund. In 1647 he took a ten-year lease on the Glover farm, mostly in what is now Framingham, and in 1657 he bought 200 acres more. In 1659, he bought the Dunster farm.

Edmund Rice was one of the prominent leaders of his community at both Sudbury and Marlborough. He was made a selectman of Sudbury in 1639, took the freeman's oath 13 May 1640, and subsequently, was made Deacon of the church in 1640, and represented Sudbury at the General Court at Boston in 1654. In his Pulitzer Prize winning book, Puritan Village, The formation of a New England Town, Sumner Chilton Powell sums up the high regard that his fellow citizens had for Edmund: "Not only did Rice become the largest individual landholder in Sudbury, but he represented his new town in the Massachusetts legislature for five years and devoted at least eleven of his last fifteen years to serving as selectman and judge of small causes," and "Two generations of Sudbury men selected Edmund Rice repeatedly as one of their leaders, with the full realization that they were ignoring men of far more English government experience who had come with him."

Thomasine died in Sudbury, Massachusetts, on 13 June 1654 and Edmund remarried nine months later, on 1 March 1655/6, to Mercy Hurd, widow of Thomas Brigham of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mercy had two daughters and three sons by her first marriage.

Although much respected by his fellow townsmen, Edmund seems to have had an independent side to his nature. In 1656 Edmund Rice and others petitioned the Massachusetts General Court for a new town which became the City of Marlborough. Edmund moved his immediate family and was elected a Selectman at Marlborough in 1657. Later generations of Rices were founding members of many new communities, first in New England and Nova Scotia, and later across the United States and Canada.

Deacon Edmund Rice died on 3 May 1663 at Sudbury, Massachusetts, "age about 69". He was buried at Old Burying Ground, Wayland, Massachusetts. One possible site of the grave is marked by a monument designed by Arthur Wallace Rice of Boston, Massachusetts, dedicated by the Edmund Rice Association on 29 August 1914. A boulder with a bronze tablet was also erected by the Association and it marks Edmund's homestead on the Old Connecticut Path in Wayland.

Genealogical Research on Parentage and Ancestry

Twice in the twentieth century nationally-recognized research genealogists have attempted to determine the parents and ancestors of Edmund Rice. Mary Lovering Holman described the negative result of her search for records in the parishes near Stanstead and Sudbury, Suffolk County, England in “English Notes on Edmund Rice”, The American Genealogist, Volume 10 (1933/34), pp. 133 - 137. In 1997 the Edmund Rice (1638) Association commissioned Dr. Joanna Martin, a nationally-recognized research genealogist who lives in Hitcham, Suffolk, England, only a few miles from Stanstead and Sudbury, to search again for records of Edmund Rice's parents. Dr. Martin reported in 1999 that she found no record that identified Edmund's parents or ancestral line.

Several authors of published works and computer datasets have claimed names for Edmund Rice's parents. Regrettably they have not given sources that would assist in definitive genealogical research. For example, the Ancestral File and International Genealogical Index, two popular computer datasets widely distributed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offer parent candidates that include: Henry Rice and Margaret Baker, Henry Rice and Elizabeth Frost, Thomas Rice and Catherine Howard, and Thomas Rice and Elizabeth Frost.

From Mrs. Holman's paper we have an excellent record of one Henry Rice's marriage to Elizabeth Frost in November 1605 at Stanstead. Mrs. Holman also documents the baptism of Edmund's first child on 23 August 1619 at Stanstead. If this is the Henry Rice and Elizabeth Frost to which the LDS records refer, the LDS records must be erroneous. Our researchers have not been able to find records that support any Henry Rice and Elizabeth Frost, Henry Rice and Margaret Baker, Thomas Rice and Catherine Howard, or Thomas Rice and Elizabeth Frost as parents of Edmund Rice.

A scholarly investigation by Donald Lines Jacobus, considered by many as the dean of modern American genealogy, appeared in The American Genealogist, volume 11, (1936), pp. 14-21 and was reprinted in the fall of 1968 and the winter of 1998 issues of Newsletter of the Edmund Rice (1638) Association. Jacobus traced many of the false accounts to the book by Dr. Charles Elmer Rice entitled "By the Name of Rice”, privately published by Dr. Rice at Alliance, Ohio in 1911.

Sudbury, England includes three parishes, two of which do not have complete records for the years near 1594, which is Edmund's most likely birth year. Edmund Rice deposed in a court document on 3 April 1656 that he was about 62 years old. Thus, if he were born in Sudbury his records have been lost and we may never know his origin.

In his address to the 1999 annual meeting of the Edmund Rice (1638) Association, Gary Boyd Roberts, Senior Researcher, New England Historic Genealogy Society, reviewed all of the genealogical sleuthing on Edmund's parentage. Mr. Roberts is well known for his research on royal lineage. He concluded that there was no evidence whatsoever that supports the published accounts of Edmund Rice's parents and no evidence that Edmund Rice was from a royal lineage.

Source: Who were Edmund Rice's ancestors?, Edmund Rice (1638) Association <>.

Speculations About Ancestry

In 1992 Reg Rice reported finding a conjunction of King, Parmenter, and Rose families in Polstead, Suffolk:

  • Joan Parmenter, born 5 December 1585, daughter of Richard
  • Will King, born 26 October 1595, son of John (who married Joan Fox in 1571)
  • Edmund Rose, born 22 December 1585, son of Tho.

King and Parmenter families appear in Sudbury, Massachusetts as associates of Edmund Rice, although it is not clear they are Polstead families of the same name. Thomas King was one of 13 petitioners with Edmund Rice in 1656; he was one of three who took the inventory Edmund Rice, and three of Edmund's children married into the King family.

Source: Edmund Rice (1638) Association Newsletter 58(Winter 1992), 19.

DNA Testing

The Edmund Rice Association has conducted extensive ancestral haplotype DNA testing on males believed to have descended from Rice, identifying descendants from five of his sons. Edmund Rice's Y haplogroup is soundly Norse; I1a. DYS 455 = 8 almost exclusive to I1a. DYS 394(19)/ 390/ 385a, b = 14/23/14,14, and DYS 462 = 13; DYS 511 = 10. DYS464a,b,c,d for Ultra-Norse was 12,14,15,16. Most likely his direct paternal line ancestors were Norman, though conceivably they were Norse vikings, and it is not impossible that his paternal line ancestor crossed the channel as a French or Dutch trader.

DNA testing proves there is a very distant familial link between Edward and John Rice, however this relationship was not parental; John was not Edmund's son.


Edmund Rice left no will. The inventory of his estate was taken both at Sudbury and Marlborough on 16 May 1663. His widow, Mercy Hurd Brigham Rice, survived him and settled his estate. She later married William Hunt.

Like many early New England families, Edmund Rice's family was a very large one. Of his twelve children, ten survived to have children of their own. Edmund Rice's descendants through his great-great grandchildren number nearly 1,450. This pattern of large families continued well into the 19th century. The result is that many living people can trace their ancestry to Edmund Rice. Edmund Rice was the progenitor of many eminent descendants. Among them were:

  • U.S. President John Quincy Adams
  • U.S. President Calvin Coolidge
  • U.S. President Ulysses S Grant
  • Julia Ward Howe, writer and poet, author of Battle Hymn of the Republic
  • Francis E Willard, philanthropist, reformer, educator, and President of the Women's Christian Temperance Union
  • Clara Baron, Civil War nurse, American Red Cross founder
  • Mary A. Rice Livermore, Civil War nurse
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, poet
  • Samuel F.B. Morse, inventor of the electric telegraph
  • Ransom Eli Olds of Oldsmobile fame
  • Brigadier General Edmund Rice
  • Congressman Edmund Rice
  • Senator Henry Mower Rice
  • Steve Young, NFL football player
  • Stillman Pond, Mormon Pioneer

Sources/Further Reading

  • American Genealogist. "The Strutt Ancestry of Thomasine Frost Wife of Edmund Rice of Sudbury, Mass"; Harold F. Porter, Jr; January/April 1986; Vol. 61; pages 161-166
  • American Genealogist. "The Paternal Ancestry of Thomasine Frost, Wife of Deacon Edmund Rice of Sudbury, Mass.; Harold F. Porter, Jr.; July, 1988; Vol. 63, No. 3; pages 129-137
  • Brigham, Willard Irving Tyler, and Emma Elisabeth Brigham. The History of the Brigham Family: A record of several thousand descendants of Thomas Brigham, the emigrant, 1603-1653. (New York : Grafton Press ; Rutland, Vt. : Tuttle, c1907-c1927), p. 69, 1907-1927.
  • Buczek, John, History of Marlborough: "HISTORY: An In Depth Look Source Program Book - Marlborough Tercentenary Celebration"
  • Bullard, Edgar J. (Edgar John), and Gail Wheeler Pritchard. Bullard and Allied Families: the American Ancestors of George Newton Bullard and Mary Elizabeth Bullard. (Detroit, Michigan: E. J. Bullard, 1930), p 113.
  • Cutter, William Richard, and William Frederick Adams. Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts;. New York: Lewis Historical Pub., 1910. Google Books. Web. 13 Mar. 2013. <>
  • Flagg, Ernest. Genealogical Notes on the Founding of New England: My Ancestors' Part in that Undertaking. (Hartford, Conn.: Case, Lockwood & Brainard, 1926)
  • Holman, Mary Lovering, "English Notes on Edmund Rice", The American Genealogist, volume 10 (1933/34), p. 133-137
  • Hudson, Charles. History of the town of Marlborough, Middlesex County, Massachusetts: from its first settlement in 1657 to 1861; with a brief sketch of the town of Northborough, a genealogy of the families in Marlborough to 1800, and an account of the celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of the incorporation of the town. (Boston, Massachusetts, United States: T R Marvin & Sons, 1862)
  • Jacobus, Donald Lines, "Pre-American Ancestries: Edmund Rice of Sudbury, Mass.", The American Genealogist, Vol II (1936), pp 14-21
  • King, Ella D., An Interim Tracing of the Ancestry of Valarie Daly King, 1956; p. 24
  • Marlborough, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States. Vital Records of Marlborough, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849. (Worcester, Massachusetts: Franklin P. Rice, 1908), p. 34
  • Paige, Lucius R., Freemen of Massachusetts
  • Paige, Lucius Robinson. History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630-1877: With a Genealogical Register. (Boston, Massachusetts: H.O. Houghton, 1877), 1877.
  • Parker, Ebenezer, "The Story of the Rice Boys: Captured by the Indians". Westborough Historical Society, 1906
  • Savage, James. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England: Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692, on the Basis of Farmer's Register. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co, 1860-1862), 3:532.
  • Shurtleff, Nathaniel B., Records of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, vol. 3, pp. 259, 297, 340
  • Smith, Elsie Hawes. Edmund Rice and his family. (Boston: The Meador Press,: unknown, 1938)
  • Sudbury Records - Vitals taken from Middlesex records, NEHGS, Register, volumes 17-18
  • Temple, Josiah H., Gen Reg of Framingham Families, pp. 680-681
  • Ward, Andrew Henshaw. A Genealogical History of the Rice Family: Descendants of Deacon Edmund Rice, who came from Barkhamstead, England and settled at Sudbury, Massachusetts, in 1638 or 9. (Boston: C. Benjamin Richardson, 1858). Massachusetts, United States. Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850.


He had 13 children, 9 with Thomasine and 4 with Mercy Heard.

He was a proprietor , selectman, deacon in 1643. He was in Sudbury in 1639.

"The house was set in a pleasant valley close by a clear spring. From the small paned windows the flat Sudbury meadows could be seen, bright green in summer, yellow in fall, brown and white when winter came. From other windows small patches of open fields and stretches of untouched woodland meet the sky. The house was long and grey, two storied in front, the back roof slanting down in a long line to meet the first story in a narrow cave, the typical salt box roof. This was the house that stood by the spring on the Deacon Edmund Rice homestead." By Elsie Hawes Smith, 1938 from Edmund Rice and HIs family. This homestead burned down in 1930, a plaque marks the spot now on a path in Wayland.

Edmund himself was supposed to have been "solidly built, med height, broad brow, generous nose, long cheeks, steady blue eyes and a determined mouth. When they came from England they were well to do, bringing cattle, goods, carved chests, a flax wheel, blankets, linens and utensils.

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Deacon Edmund Rice's Timeline

Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England, (Present UK)
Sudbury, Buckinghamshire, England, (Present UK)
August 11, 1600
Age 6
Buckinghamshire, Sudbury, England
August 18, 1619
Age 25
Standstead, Suffolk, England
February 13, 1621
Age 27
St. James, Stanstead, England
October 15, 1622
Age 28
Stanstead, Suffolk, England, (Present UK)
January 26, 1625
Age 31
Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom
March 9, 1627
Age 33
Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England