The First Generations
Although there are records of earlier Parmelees on the Continent who probably are our ancestors, their relationships with our known family have not been established with any certainty. With my recent finds in Lewes and the records we've collected over the years about our Colonial ancestors, I now believe these are the last generations of our family in England and the first in America.
Why? Well, there are only two areas of England that the name can be found during this time period: south of London in Lewes, and up north, near the border with Scotland, in Middleton-in-Teesdale. None of the names of the northern family fit in with the Connecticut family, but those in the south found in Lewes parish records. The Parmelee records at All Saints run from 1572-1620; those from St. Michael from 1628-1638 (with one from 1610). No family records can be found after November, 1638, shortly before John Sr. left for America and ended up in Guilford, Conn. There still remains a 12-year gap between the bulk of entries between the two churches, but I think we'll probably find the family in another parish in or near Lewes.
I'm fairly certain now that the vast majority of North American Parmelees of various spellings can call Lewes home, while the smaller Parmley branch that settled first in Pennsylvania and then moved to the Midwest and Salt Lake City, are tied to Middleton-in-Teesdale. The two families may be linked in some way in England but as of yet, I don't know how.
This is how I have entered these English findings into my main data base for the Connecticut family:
I. John (---- -1583)
born before 1554, he was buried May 1, 1583, at All
Saints, Lewes. He was married Jan. 11, 1572, at All
Saints to Alice RUSSELL. She was born ---- and died ----.
I have found no record to indicate that she ever
II. John (1584 -1659/60) "John Sr." in Connecticut.
Baptized Sept. 27, 1584, at All Saints, Lewes, and his will, dated Nov. 8, 1659, was filed at New Haven, Conn., with an inventory dated Jan. 2, 1659/60. Yes, he was born after his father died; it also looks as if his mother waited a few months to do the christening. He was a bricklayer in England and the patriarch of the North American Parmelee family.
On Feb. 15, 1616, John was a witness to the marriage of husbandryman Thomas Howell of Kingston Near Lewes, one of his first wife's brothers, to Judith Garrett, of the same, according to records of the Archdeaconry of Lewes.
John is believed to have been a passenger on the St. John, setting sail under Capt. Richard Russell from London on May 20, 1639, and arriving July 10-15 at New Haven. John was among the signers of Guilford's Plantation Covenant, dated June 1, 1639. The village just east of New Haven was settled that fall. His home lot was at the north end of the Village Green, the site now occupied by the 1st Congregational Church, seen at right. He appeared at a 1647 New Haven hearing to testify about a shoemaker's shoddy workmanship. John was voted a freeman at Guilford on May 22, 1649. He and his family returned to New Haven, where he was admitted as a freeman there on Aug. 8, 1659.
John was married first on May 15, 1608,
at All Saints to Anne HOWELL, daughter of John and Anne
(Geare) Howell of Rottingdean, Sussex, England.. She was
born about 1585 and was buried Feb. 3, 1629, at St.
Wulfran in Ovingdean, Sussex, England.
From the St. Michael marriage records of April, 1630 (Old Style):
was married second on April 29, 1630, at St. Michael to
Hannah WILBUR. (See parish entry above.) She was born ---
and was buried at St. Michael on Feb. 20, 1634.
John's wife when he immigrated to America in 1639 has widely been believed to have been Hannah. Yet she is not listed on the ship's passenger roster, nor has a record of her death been found in Connecticut. The Guilford marriage records of daughters Hannah and Mary do not give their mother's name, only John's. I think family historians were correct in calling Hannah the mother of these two girls, but erroneously assumed that Hannah came to Connecticut.
was married the third to Elizabeth HOLTER, on June 1,
1635, at St. Michael. She was born ---- and buried there
Sept. 1, 1637.
In order for the above marriage to fit into the genealogy, I'm making a huge assumption that this ninth child John might have been named for his grown half-brother John who left two years earlier for America. Could John Sr. have thought that he'd never see his grown son again and named this infant for him, so that he would still have a namesake in England? One fellow genealogist says it was not as rare as one might think for a man to have more than one surviving namesake sons, virtually always when he had multiple wives. Another researcher has relayed to me that it was the custom in England at the time to name two sons John: one for John the Baptist and one for John the Evangelist.
Young Elizabeth's burial is recorded twice, in 1637 as the "daughter of John," and in 1638 as the "daughter of John and Elizabeth"; I think the first entry is probably for Martha, as John would have been married to his next wife, Joane, when young Elizabeth died, hence the burial entry reading "daughter of John and Elizabeth."
was married the fourth to Joane COBDEN, on April 3, 1638,
at St. Michael. She was born ---- and probably died in
England because there is no mention of her in
The burial of Rachael is the last Parmelee entry found thus far in Lewes. John is recorded as having set sail from London on May 20, 1639.
John's last wife was Elizabeth ---- BRADLEY, widow of Daniel Bradley, whom he married in 1653 at New Haven. She was born ---- and died in January 1683 at New Haven. (Her maiden name may have been SHEAFFE but this has not been proven.) New Haven Colony appointed a committee Jan. 20, 1661, to seat people in the Meeting House; "Sister Parmely" shares the "little short seat" next to the wall with "Sister Allen." [Mrs. John Allen was Ellen, Elizabeth's daughter with Daniel Bradley.] Elizabeth's third husband was widower John EVARTS (---- - 1669), whom she married May 27, 1663, at Guilford.
III. John (1612-1687/88) "John Jr." in Connecticut.
Baptized Sept. 6, 1612, at All Saints, Lewes. His will, dated Dec. 20, 1684, was inventoried Feb. 8, 1687/88, at Guilford. Click here to see his estate papers.
He was the first member of the family to immigrate to America, arriving four years before his father. "Jo. Palmerley" is listed as a 20-year-old passenger on the Elizabeth and Anne. Master Roger Coop/Cowper/Cooper was at the helm when it was cleared to leave the Port of London on April 13, 1635, [The Winthrop Society says it left in mid-May.] and arrived at the Charlestown section of Boston late that spring or early summer. No other family members are listed on that roster. He was one of the original settlers of Guilford, his first home lot being a 1.5-acre parcel on the east side of Crooked Lane, the fourth lot north of Buck Lane. He took the oath of freeman in Guilford on Feb. 14, 1649/50, a little less than a year after his father did. He became the drummer of Guilford's train band, the colony's chief defense unit, and served as sexton for many years, "warning" settlers to meetings and church services by beating his drum. His name appears in Guilford's town records, being sued in 1648 by a fellow planter who complained that John's hogs had rooted through his corn, and for reporting to train band practice while intoxicated on Jan. 1, 1656/57.
was first married to Rebecca ---, probably in England.
She was born --- and died Sept. 24 or 29, 1651, at
Guilford. (It has not been proven that her
maiden name was EATON.)
John was married second to Anna --- PLAINE/PLAIN, the widow of William Plaine/Plain, in Guilford in 1651. William, another signer of the Plantation Covenant, was executed in 1646 in New Haven after being found guilty of sodomy and "corrupting boys." Anna was born --- and buried March 30, 1658, at Guilford. John and Anna had no children.
John's third wife was Hannah ---, whom he married in February 1658/59. She was born --- and died Jan. 8, 1687/88. Their children, all born in Guilford, were:
John Jr.'s 10 children make up the major branches of the largest North American Parmelee family. He had at least 74 grandchildren.