Rooted Ancestry


Like many Americans, I descend from many families that have been traced fully in the literature, but I have also done personal research on a number of lines. It is possible to summarize the literature and to display my original research on the Internet, but for the latter a Web page is less than an ideal format. It is especially poorly adapted to the creation of a document that might in turn be cited as the source of a specific fact.

HTML is useful for very brief summaries of lineages found in printed works, as long as those publications are cited fully. I have also found it useful for summaries of research that may be controversial, can be explained by reference to a small number of core publications and documents, or is still at a preliminary stage. Generally, however, the challenges of maintaining scholarly standards when writing in HTML are imposing.

This website is organized around brief summaries of every distinct surname-lineage in HTML. On surnames that have required extensive documentary research, I also create PDF documents that fully explain the research and place references in convenient proximity to the text. I descend from some of these on multiple branches; others are unrelated to each other but bear the same surname. My methods for dealing with those situations are explained in more detail on the surname index pages, linked in the table at top left on this page.

From its beginnings in 2003, this project has been mostly limited to families that introduce themselves within twelve generations of my ancestry, counting myself as the first generation. I chose that limitation for practical reasons. On most of the ancestral lines that I have studied, twelve generations brings me to within one generation of immigrants to New England (the first population that I knew about in any depth), or their contemporaries in other regions. Research prior to that is beyond my expertise, and—in cases where medieval descent is indicated—produces pedigrees as complex as any to be found in America, implicating the entire medieval Western ruling class in the ancestry of a single seventeenth-century immigrant.

Even though I could expatiate on royal and gentry descent via at least two immigrants, I refrain from doing so here: Katherine Marbury, wife of Richard Scott, and Martha Bulkeley, wife of Abraham Mellows. Even with the limitation mentioned above, a twelve-generation span covers most of my colonial ancestry and a substantial proportion of my European ancestry. As I noted from the outset, my knowledge even of much of my nineteenth-century ancestry has never been complete, especially not in so far as it concerns nineteenth-century immigrants to the United States. I cannot and never could claim that these pages present my full ancestry for twelve generations or more. In a sense, this collection can only grow with additional research, even upon the progress that I and others have made over the past decade.

Created 19 April 2003; last updated 3 December 2014.
Austin W. Spencer | email: