The Mystery of the First Peckham in America, c. 1637



February 26, 2016 Friday

With a whole morning to fill at Turning Point as the world is asleep, Will busies himself:

Yes, this lines up with what I found; I am focusing on the first three sentences written in the brief bio.  I was aware of the birth date, (and possibly the ship name?  ***…this might be part of the conjecture I write about three paragraphs down).  What was very clear from numerous sites was that Peckham’s first historical mention was recording that he became a “freeman” in Rhode Island, (some years later?).  If seconded evidence was found that pointed to a reason for moving south from Puritania I would like to know it.  I remember that his name was absent from any mention of him as part of the Hutchinson/Wheelwright party Antinomian Controversy fiasco, and is not listed on Rhode Island’s founding document.  Perhaps such a clue was found?  Often I’ve found that sites have a habit if repeating other people if it’s tasty, taking very old texts as iron-clad, make causal assumptions (“of course” and “obviously” being a common theme of careful reasoning), that will tie their ancestors to a particular movement or event.  It’s a minefield of golden cherry-picking (mixin’ the metaphors!)  Still, I was very curious to discover this possible Peckham tie -in to Massachusetts a few years ago, because IF Peckham did take part in or was a witness to such a legal battle in Boston before being kicked out our two family members (mine as a member of a General Court) likely were in the same room together.

There are a number of clues we could then infer about John.  The region of England he was from could tell  us about his economic state, upbringing, or philosophy.  His standing in the community could be drawn from his trade, how quickly he became a freeman, the status of the family he married into, the families his own children made bonds with, and the relative location of his properties to the well-regarding of the community.

Now that I look him up again, a common mystery about John was his religious training in England, and mentor-ish relationship (if really any) with a Sir Henry Vane (the Younger).  This is a particularly interesting, as Vane was associated with Charles I through his father yet religiously tolerant, and would later stump for Hutchinson and then Williams in RI. Here is a portion of the oft-cited 1903 genealogy passage (below).  I found this very intriguing at the time, but it just didn’t add up for some reason.  All the Peckhamologists seem to really want to place John P aboard the very ship that carries Vane to Massachusetts (the Griffin, I presume?) but the dates are slippery.

Tread carefully.  There be misinformation afoot.


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