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The Adams Family of Newbury, Massachusetts, Part I

November 30, 2009

The following is an account by an as yet unidentified historian associated with both the Adams family and the Byfield Parish church. This account was acquired by Gareldine Adams, although it is unknown whether she copied this herself, or if it was sent to her by a contact at the church.

Further investigation as to the identity of the author is being conducted by Jules Maas.

Copied from mimeograph, no name, no date

The writer has been asked to jot down certain facts about this old family from his investigations which have continued with renewed interest for over 70 years.

It is said that God sifted three kingdoms to procure the material for this country and among the First Settlers this was a typical family, “let us now praise famous men and our fathers who were before us.”

There lies before me the genealogy of this family of John Ap Adam, or as we should say, John, son of Adam, surnames then being uncommon, which gives in detail 50 generations beginning with Effa, King of Essex and Kent, direct descendant of Cedric who invaded Boston in 495. Cedric was born 445, died 534. As there has been controversy about this list and as this is to be a statement of proven facts of official registration only, we will leave it with merely the statement that somewhere in the remote past, “John Ap Adam, a Baron of the Realm, bore the blazonry of ‘Argent, on a cross altaire gules, 4 mullets Or’” and today this is to be seen on his tomb in a church on his estates of Tidenham near the Welsh border and also what remains of a conde window. I have also seen a plaster impression of the inscription which was obtained by the late George F. Adams who spent much time in Adams research. The inscription is dated A.D. 1314 and the position of his statue, which extends along the top of the tomb, indicates he served in the Crusades. I find he [Sir John ap Adams] married Lady Elizabeth de Gournai.

In the 15th century, the government in an attempt to reorganize the Heralds College and impose a heavy tax or fee for the registration of Coats of Arms, aroused great resentment among the more distinguished families who refused to comply and the angry protest of the Douglas is a matter of familiar history. Lack of registry, however, does not annul the fact of John’s tomb and window more than a century earlier, and that fact stands.

To us, heraldic blazons mean little and only 84 among the hundreds we cherish have recorded proof and are true ancient landmarks. Guided and helped by Mr. Charles Stockman, whose knowledge of the subject is of international repute, clues have been obtained which have led to facts of official record. To skip a few centuries and get down to facts (and to Robert):

On March 14, 1639, the British King at Arams registered to William Adams Knight, Councilor at Law of the Middle Temple, the following bearings: “Gules, on a bend Or between bysants three Martlets Sable”, and this was brought to America by a member of his family, the said Robert.

I have seen a beautiful embroidery by Robert’s daughter or granddaughter and have its history. A very curious fact is that this bore the unique “Mantling” never seen in any other “coat”, of “broom corn”, the Plantagenet or crest of the Plantagenet who is #6 in the ancient genealogy referred to previously and the investigator can get a headache trying to guess how this ignorant girl, my grandmother of five (5) generations back, who never saw a corn broom or broom corn (for that article was introduced by Benjamin Franklin) could have had any knowledge of Plantagenet unless the ancient genealogy was common knowledge in the family.

Now let us, as a matter of curiosity merely, attempt to dissect William’s blazonry. It seems to have a direct bearing on Robert’s wealth, for by the standards of his time (1602-1682) he was a rich man investing wisely and largely in land in the new world. The ridiculous story that he was a tailor will be referred to later.

The writer concludes from the blazonry (but it is only an opinion, not a matter of record), that he received his knighthood and bearings on account of monetary and legal service. First, the martlets always represented with no feet may imply that he had no land, while, but with no certainty, the golden bysants in this case may mean money. Take this for what it may be worth; Robert when he landed in Ipswitch in 1635 had plenty. His first purchases were in Ipswich where he bought largely and retained after coming to Newbury.

From there he removed to Salem which then promised to be the leading city in Massachusetts. Here he acquired a large farm on which the County buildings now are.

[to be continued, in Part II]

Do you have information about this mimeograph? I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment.

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