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A Bit of History of the Eldredge origins Eldred of Saxon Great Britain (Briton) to Eldredge in America 


Harwich to Haverhill

Being notes on the early Eldredge generations and direct descendants of Robert Eldred(ge) of Chatham and Harwich through William, William, Isaac, Isaac, Jr. Samuel and Cyrus. The latter left Harwich and traveled North to the Haverhill/Lawrence area in Massachusetts.  All descendants of Cyrus have been accounted for as far as possible.

Compiled by
Barbara Picard Chadwick
Edition of 250 copies
Printed by
Eagle-Tribune Printing Company
North Andover, Massachusetts

This particular book is located at:
(The post on this website only contains the first few pages of the book)


Ph (801) 240-2584


This is exclusively a genealogy of the descendants of Jehosaphat Eldred who was of that branch of the Eldred family in America – the line of descent being William(1),-Samuel(2), Jehosaphat(3), Jehosaphat(4),and Jehosaphat(5). The latter, Jehosaphat(5) was the first Eldred to settle in Greene County, Illinois with his family.

However, before dealing with the genealogy proper I will attempt to answer in an expository manner questions that are likely to pop into the reader’s mind. Such questions as – Who are the Eldreds? Where did they come from? How far back do we know of them, etc.?

Sometime after the dawn of civilization several tribes of men were known to exist on the neck of the Cimbric peninsula in northwestern Europe, which today is the province of Schleswig’ They no doubt had migrated there through the course of centuries from the cradle of the human race in Central Asia, and sometime after the retreat of the second glacier, had settled there. They were known as Saxons, and one among them was our Ancestral Eldred. Not the Saxons that inhabit modern Saxony in Germany, for the Cimbric peninsula where they settled was a portion of modern Denmark. They were a Nordic – almost a Scandinavian people rather than a Teuton,

Their language was utterly different from the German spoken in Saxony today. Ptolemy first mentions them about the middle of the 2nd century. We hear of them in connection with piratical expeditions in the North Sea in 286. These raids became more and more frequent, and they eventually conquered a considerable portion of north and southwest Germany. Beginning in -449 their marauding carried them to Briton where they conquered the native Britons weakened by centuries of Roman support and now powerless following the fall of that Empire.

The Saxons were apparently satisfied to settle down in Briton, for after the 6th century we hear nothing further of them as a sea roving people. The other tribes, who also had occupied the, Cimbric peninsula, accompanied them in this invasion of Briton – they were the Jutes and Angles. The latter completing the term Anglo-Saxon and giving England its name, (Angland).

It is doubtful how far the Saxons who invaded Briton were really distinct from the Angles, for all. their affinities both in language and custom are with the latter, and not with the old Saxons of, the Continent, These Saxons were warriors, heavily bearded, wearing horned helmets and carrying circular leather shields that could throw off a lance or arrow or sword thrust., Although they lived in families there were no family names or surnames, as this practice didn’t appear until the 11th century, instead, each individual had one name to distinguish himself by – such as strong, fast, small, handsome, terrible, etc. The Saxon word for the noun “The Terrible” was “eldred”, and hence our name.

When the Saxons first conquered Briton each tribe set up its own kingdom, and at first the country was disrupted by wars and rivalry between different communities – each claiming its king to be descended from the mythological god, Woden. Finally only the dynasty of the West Saxons alone survived, and its king, Egbert of Wessex, who was descended from kings of migration time, became ruler of the united Saxons in 802. Thus began, the line of Saxon kings.

In the years 946-955 an Eldred who spelled the name Edred was King of England in this succession. He was the youngest son of Edward the Elder who ruled 899-925, and succeeded his brother Edmund I who ruled 940-946.

 ln 1066 an Eldred was Archbishop of Canterbury, and it was he who crowned Harold the King of England. The Eldreds were a very old and important Saxon family in a land of Saxons, and they were – and in England, still are proud of the fact. Burkes General Armory says, -“They are- descended from a very  ancient family claiming Saxon origin.” They have always lived in the south and east of England. The Domesday Survey of 1085 showed that they held lands in Wilts, Dorset, Somerset, Devon, Gloucester, Salop and York. ln later centuries they were found for the most part in Berkshire, Essex, Suffolk, Sussex, Surrey, Norfolk, and in and around London, They were mostly of the landed gentry and yeomanry. It was not until after the Norman Conquest that the surname generally became prevalent. Hence, those who had been calling themselves Eldred made Eldred their last or family name and prefixed Christian or first names to each member of the family; thus the family name of Eldred can be dated as being about 900 years old.

However, after the Battle of Hastings in 1066 when William the conqueror of Normandy defeated Harold the Saxon King, these Saxons, the Eldreds included, who were of any position in the Country were practically wiped out. Those surviving after the Conquest were made Normon serfs and as the Normans kept no records of their serfs it will never be known exactly what happened to the family in the 400 years following the Conquest. lt is believed that the family almost became extinct with just a fragment ,existing in Lincolnshire.

But with the passing of time Feudalism there ceased to be Saxons and Normans; instead

a fusion of all the bloods’ occupying  Briton were molded into Englismen andthen entries such

of the following began to appear on public record

“ln the 6th year of Henry VIII.(1516) Thomas Coupe confirmed Reginald Eldrod of Gnateshall, Yeoman and others, Iands in Gnateshall, lying between ,crops of John Eldred. Reginald Eldred, confirmed to Agnes his widow, John Eldred of Easthope, Reginald Gent, and-John Eldred, younger son of Agnes, 13 pieces of land.”

From the registers of Bardwell County, Suffolk

1561 – William Eldred-married Ales (Alice) Burdys Nov 2.

1562 – Anne Eldred, daughter of William, baptized, 27th of September.

1563 – Ealse (Alice) Eldred the wife of William Eldred was buried Nov. 2.

1564 – William Eldred and Agnes West married 16th of March.

From the wiII of Sir Henry Lello of Asbdon, Essex Jan’ 7, 1629:

Bequest so John Eldred the elder 20 pounds

l owe Benjamin Eldred 400 pounds which my executors shall pay, should I not'”

Whereas I and John Eldred purchased the Fleet together and keeping -the Palace of Westminster jointly, since John Eldred has released his rights to the above to me for 8,000 pounds.

To my nephew  Henry Hopkins I give all the above and aII my interests in the East India Company.  A bequest  to John Eldred’s son, Nathaniel, my god-son.”

Thomas Eldred of Knatishall, Suffolk, is one of the first that fragment mentioned above who appears on public record following the interim. He was born about 1450 and died in about 1530. His direct descendants are living today, and it is very probable that all of the Eldreds today ,are descended from him or his son, Nicholas, who was born about 1470 and died in 1566. From then on the family grew and prospered. Thomas Eldred the Mariner sailed around the world with Cavendish in 1586. He was from lpswich and was the father of John! Eldred of Colchester and Olivers in Essex who had a grant of arms in 1634. William Eldred who lived about the same time was the Master Gunner of Dover Castle. He wrote a book entitled “The Gunners Glasse” which is the only complete
treatise on artillery technique as practiced in his day.

Another John Eldred, known as John of Great Saxham, 1552-1632, became a great merchant, owning a fleet of ships that carried him to all corners of the world for trade. His travels to Tripoli and Babylon in 1583 are described in Hackluyt’s Collection of Voyages, He was Alderman of the City of London and was one of the founders of the State of Virginia; from 7609 to 1624 he was a member of his Majesty’s Council for the Virginia Company of London. As a director of this company he granted a patent to the Pilgrims in 7620 to settle in Virginia, but, as we all know, contrary winds blew them to Cape Cod.

In 1597 he purchased the Manor of Great Saxham, Suffolk, with the belief that this was the ancestral home of his Saxon ancestors. However, in this he was probably mistaken as Great Saxham originally belonged to the Saxon, Britulf, Son of Leomar, whose lands the Conqueror William had bestowed upon the monastery of St. Edmund. In 1546 u:ith the dissolution of monasteries the abbey of Great Saxham – consisting of 420 acres of land, 1-5 acres of meadow and pasture, 31- acres of wood and a windmill, the manor-house, the church and rectory –was given to private ownership by Henry Vlll. John Eldred’s daughter, Dorothy, married Thomas Lee, who was the ancestor of General Robert E, Lee.

In 1592, John was given a grant of arms defined as follows – “Qr, on a bend nagule Sable, 3

besants, a martlet for difference; Crest, An Arabian head couped proper, bearded and crined Sable, tied about with a band and the pendant argent, the ends gemelly and fringes Gules,” (This is the coat-of-arms and crest that you as an Eldred, are entitled to use.) He was buried in Great Saxham Church where a bust of him remains to this day, together with his brass and inscriptions. (Brynley Jones, the present (1940) Rector of Great Saxham, would gladly show you the ancient Church Register, etc., should you ever visit Great Saxham, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England.)

His eldest son, Sir Rivet Eldred, fell heir to the estate and was created a Baronet in 1641. He died in 1652 with no children, and his wife, Lady Ann Eldred, held Courts Baron at Great Saxham for several years after, The Manor finally Jeft the family in 1745. 

And now we are down to where our original American Ancestor appears on the scene, His name was William Eldred, and the first we hear of him is in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, in the year 1645, although he was probably in Yarmouth for several years before that. At the present time no one knows definitely when William came over; where he came from; or what family they belongs to. There is much data and many opinions to be weighed in determining this; but in the end you will have to form your own conclusion because no one can prove that he has the right answer. I will give you my guess later.

But here are the facts. William could have come from any of the little known Eldred families of the time who were not auspicious enough to have their lineage recorded firmly like John of Saxham (even though distantly they are all probably related to him.) There is a Parish Record most likely in some little town in Norfolk that would tell us everything if we only knew where to look for it. It is known definitely that William was not among John’s direct descendants unless you wish to place credence in the belief that John was married five times and one of his children by one of these marriages was named William, born 1627. There is nothing to prove this beyond a single record in the Church Register.  John had a brother Peter, a grocer of Braud Street, London, and we know that William was not among his descendants. John and Peter also had two older brothers whose names are unknown, and it is with them that I like to let my fancy roam in the following way:

John was raised at New Buckenham, Norfolk. I assume that the two unknown older brothers inherited the plot of land, and John and Peter went to London to seek their fortunes. Now our William seems to have tied himself up with Norfolk people in many ways. He married a Norwich Norfolk girl in 1647. There lived at Yarmouth at the same time he did a Robert Eldred whom many believe to be his brother. This Robert we know came from Norfolk. He sailed from Yarmouth, Norfolk in 1637, and with him were his wife to .be, and his in-laws to be, all of Norwich. So I say possibly William was the grandson of one of these unknown Norfolk brothers. They were born about 15 46. William, it is my opinion, was born about 1615. 

The following Will was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in 1624.

Will of ROBERT ELDRED,Yeoman of Winfarthington, County Norfolk

Dated 27 January, 21 James I (1624)

P.C.C. Byrde 34.

I bequeath to my wife, Joan, all my houses, lands, etc., in Winfarthington, for life, with contingent remainders after her death, to my son Henry and his issue, to my son Walter and his heirs forever, the latter to pay my son Thomas 200 marks.

To the said Walter, my dwelling house’

To my son Henry, the land called Smerkens.

To my son Robert, my lands in Jersefeld and Bresingham, Norfolk, he to pay my executors 40 Ibs.

To my son Richard, my lands in Shelfhanger, Norfolk, after the death of Agnes Grubb, widow, and I give him also 60lbs. at his age of 24.

To my wife Joan, 40 tbs. due to her from the will of her first husband, Clement Clarke.

To my son WILLIAM ELDRED, 200 marks to be paid him at his age of 24.

To my daughter, Elizabeth Eldred, 100lbs.

To my daughter, Lydia Mapeson, 3lbs.

To my wife’s daughter, Alice Arborough, 40 shillings.

To my servant, Margaret Clark, 20 shillings’

To my sons Walter and Robert, furniture.

Residuary legatees and executors lohn Buscton of Dekleborough, gent.,and my nephew. Robert Assize of Diss Heywood, they to give the residue to my children by said Joan — Supervisor, my son Walter. Signed (Mark). Witnesses: Humphrey Warner, Thos. Barron (Mark), Wm. Cocke (Mark), Proved: 23 April, 1624 by the executors named.

The town of Winfarthington is 3 miles from New Buckenham. I believe William was born about 1615 which would make him 32 when he married. This would make him 9 when his father died. He couldn’t get his inheritance until he was 24 or 1639, his elder brothers owned the farm, so he stayed at Winfarthington until 1639, collected his 200 marks, and went to America about 1640 which is about when our William did arrive. Although this is all only beautiful conjecture I will fabricate our OId Country Tree on the assumption that this is so until better information refutes it.


So much for his ancestry – now for the New World. There showed up at Plyltouth Colony, Massachusetts, at about the same time 3 Eldreds – Samuel, Robert and William. It is not known whether they were related or not. Robert and William might have been, but not Samuel. We can dispose of him by adding that he is first heard of in Medford, Massachusetts before 1651, then Cambridge, Massichusetts, and finally Stonington, Connecticut. He led an interesting and historical existence as did many of his descendants of whom there are hundreds in America today, although many of them spell the name Eldridge or Eldredge – but that is another family tree altogether.

Robert we first learn about from the Register of the ship “Rose” of Yarmouth, England;

William Andrews,  Jr. Master.
April 11, 1637. Examination of Robert–,Singleman, is desirous to pass.

This we know to be Robert Eldred.

It is also interesting to note that in this same ship’s register we find the following: 

“April 8, 1637 – William Lumpkin of Norwich, Norfolk, Locksmith, age 33 and Elizabeth his wife; age 34, with 1 child and servant, Thomas Howe, are desirous to go to Boston to inhabit and remain.” The daughter mentioned is Anne Lumpkin who married our William Eldred in 1647. William, however, was not on the boat. Another entry in the register interesti
ng to note is:

“April 8, 1637, William Nickerson of Norwich, Norfolk. Weaver, aged 33. Anne, his wife, aged 34 and children, Nicholas, Robert, Elizabeth, and Anne, desirous to go to Boston to live” Robert Eldred and the above Elizabeth Nickerson were married in 1649. He was bound out for his passage to Nicholas Sympkins of Boston and transferred for 3 years, May 25, 1639, to Governor Pence of Plymouth. He was living at Plymouth in 1643 for we find him listed under this Plymouth record-

“August 1643, Plymouth. The Names of all the Males that are able to beare Armes from XVI Yeares old to 60 Yeare within the severall Towneshipps”

Shortly after 1643 he went to Yarmouth, Massachusetts, as did the Nickersons. The site of Yarmouth itself was first visited in 1631 by a boat from Plymouth in search of a lost boy. At first it was known as Mattacheese from an indian tribe living there. On January 17, 1639, Plymouth Colony granted land to several men for founding Yarmouth. Sometime later in that same year these seltlers by name of Thatcher, Crow, Howes, Samuel Rider and William Lumpkin left Plymouth to found Yarmouth. The last name you will recall as our William’s father-in-law. In 1644 there were 2l homes there. All the settlers agreed that Miles Standish should be on the Town Committee. No mention of an Eldred is made in a list of arm bearers in 1643, so both Robert and William must have come to Yarmouth shortly after 1643, On October 31, 1649 Robert married Elizabeth Nickerson. He is listed as having taken the oath of fidelity as a freeman in 1657. From the Record of Fines of October Court 1667 is taken the following –

William Nickerson for sending scandalous writings to General Nicholls is fined: 10:00:00

Robert Eldred for consenting to one of these writings is fined: 05:00:00

Treasurers Account, June 4, 1668. 

Debts due the Countrey by rates and fines as followeth:

Robert Eldred – 20:00:00

July 8, 1669 – Robert Eldred paid the 20:00:00

In 1664 William Nickerson left Yarmouth and founded the town of Chatham, Massachusetts. In 1665 Robert and his wife followed and became the progenitors of the Chatham Eldreds many of whom live at Chatham today although they spell the name Eldridge – but that is another family tree altogether.