715. Benjamin


  1. John Benjamin (d. 1645) m. ca. 1619 Abigail Eddy (1601–1687); Watertown, Mass.
  2. Joseph Benjamin (ca. 1634–1704) m. (2) Sarah ?Clarke (1639?–aft. 1716); Yarmouth, Mass.; Preston, Conn.
  3. Hannah Benjamin (b. 1669) m. 1688 Simon Gates (1666–1752); Cambridge, Mass.


The most comprehensive work on the Benjamin family is Gloria Wall Bicha and Helen Benjamin Brown, comps., The Benjamin Family in America ([Racine, Wis.:] Gloria Wall Bicha, 1977). Limited coverage is also provided by Ruth Story Devereux Eddy, comp., The Eddy Family in America: A Genealogy (Boston: Eddy Family Association, 1930), 20-1, 30-1, 45.

Related surnames

739, 843, 2861, 2999. Eddy · 355, 357. Gates

Comment: William Clarke of Yarmouth

There is no record of marriage between Joseph Benjamin and his wife Sarah, but she is commonly identified as a daughter of William Clarke of Yarmouth.[1] This identification is normally based on William’s nuncupative will, which he made in July 1668, and registered 20 Feb. 1668[/9] on the oaths of Barnard Lumbart and Mr. John Gorum. William bequeathed all of his property to Joseph Benjamin, including the contents of the chest that he kept by his bedside.

At one point in his deposition, Barnard states that he addressed the testator as father Clarke.[2] Barnard’s use of that term, together with the will of Thomas Lombard of Barnstable, which mentions lands that Thomas had granted to his son Barnard, has led some researchers to propose that Barnard was married to a daughter of William.[3] In fact, the assignment of any family to William on the basis of his nuncupative will is difficult to justify, for Barnard does not specify a relationship even between William and Joseph, even though William had named Joseph three times. When the will was finally recorded, it was noted that father Clarke Came to Joseph Benjamine the 9th day of June 1668, and Continued with him untill the 10th day of December following and then Died.[4] These uses of father need not have signified anything more than William’s advanced age.

Recent writers on Joseph also propose an identification of William’s wife that cannot be sustained. The Benjamin genealogy identifies her as Sarah, daughter of Thomas and Joice (____) Lumbard. The forename seems to be based on nothing but (spurious) onomastic continuity. The claim of parentage is apparently based on the presumption that, by calling upon Barnard to witness his will, William would have invested authority in a nephew.[5] This logic leaves one wondering why William enlisted Mr. Gorum for the same purpose. In any event, the most recent study of the Lombard family in Thomas’s parish of origin shows no evidence that the pre-emigration family included any women named Sarah. The best candidate for Barnard’s mother proved to be the Johan Lumbard who was buried in 1614.[6] There was another Thomas Lumbard at Combe St. Nicholas, Somerset, eight miles away, who did have a daughter named Sarah in 1636, but this Thomas was married only in 1624 and presumably came of age too late to be identified as Barnard’s father.[7]

Robert Croll Stevens takes no cognizance of Thomas’s will and instead relies on older publications that mistakenly placed him as Barnard’s brother.[8] There is no evidence in recent research that anyone has undertaken a complete biography of William Clarke. The claim that he was Sarah Benjamin’s father must be reevaluated on that basis.


1 Gloria Wall Bicha and Helen Benjamin Brown, comps., The Benjamin Family in America ([Racine, Wis.:] Gloria Wall Bicha, 1977), 13; Robert Croll Stevens, Ancestry of the Children of Robert C. Stevens and Jane K. Stevens, 6 vols. (Pittsford, N. Y., 1982–2001), 4 (1990):no. 280.1.

2 [George Ernest Bowman,] Plymouth Colony Wills and Inventories, Mayflower Descendant 17 (1915): 109-17, at 109-10, from Plymouth Colony Wills, 2:50.

3 Robert S. Wakefield, The Lombard Family of Barnstable, Mass., American Genealogist 52 (1976): 136-9, at 138 (Thomas’s will), 139 (Father Clarke . . . probably means father-in-law).

4 [Bowman,] Plymouth Colony Wills and Inventories, 109-10. Stevens, Ancestry of the Children of Robert C. Stevens, 4:no. 280.1, claims that the will refers to Joseph as William’s son-in-law.

5 Bicha and Brown, The Benjamin Family in America, 13. Thomas Lumbard had died prior to 8 Feb. 1664: Wakefield, Lombard Family of Barnstable, 138. More recently, doubt has been cast upon whether Joice, his widow, was the mother of any of his children: Eleanor Cooley Rue, “Widow Joyce Wallen of Plymouth (1645) and Widow Joyce Lombard of Barnstable (1664): One and the Same?” American Genealogist 67 (1992): 47-53, esp. 47-51.

6 Clifford L. Stott, The Lombard Family of Thorncombe, Dorset, Revisited: Ancestors of Thomas¹ Lombard of Dorchester, Massachusetts, American Genealogist 87 (2014–5): 279-84.

7 Wakefield, Lombard Family of Barnstable, 136.

8 Stevens, Ancestry of the Children of Robert C. Stevens, 4:no. 281.1-3.

Created 4 June 2003; last updated 20 December 2016.
Austin W. Spencer | email: spencer@rootedancestry.com