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Parsons family : descendants of Cornet Joseph Parsons, Springfield, 1636--Northampton, 1655 (Volume 1) online

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Pars.
Pars.



ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY



3 1833 00082 8654

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ParHHUH iFamtlg

Descendants of Cornet Joseph Parsons
Springfield, 1636 - Norfliampton, 1655

By
Henry Parsons, A. M.

Member ofTbe Nc» York Genealogical and Biograpbical Society




Frank Allaben Genealogical Company
Ttree West Forty-Second Street, New York






Copyright 191 2 by Frank AUaben Genealogical Company



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1119G44



DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF
FATHER and MOTHER, whose sterling virtues grow brighter
as advancing years and wider knowledge throw a truer light upon
their devoted and unselfish lives. Henry Parsons



..J



>

"Remember the days of old,
Consider the years of many generations :
Ask thy father, and he will show thee:

^ Th\- elders, and they will tell thee."

Deuteronomy xxxii. 7

"It is with Antiquity as with Ancestry : Nations are proud of
^ 1 the one and Individuals of the other; but if they are nothing in

^N^ themselves, that which is their pride ought to be their humili-

V ation." — Coiton.

V
\



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Prrfarr



About forty vears ago the late Dr. David Parsons Holton. one
of the founders of the New York Genealogical and Biographical
Society, was actively engaged in genealogical research pertain-
ing to the Parsons and other American families, and at his re-
quest I wrote to my father, James' Parsons, and to an uncle,
Henr}'^ Parsons, for whatever information they could each give
as to their ancestr\-. Their statements, derived chiefly from their
recollection of what their father, Elijah'' Parsons, had told them,
will be found herein. They were then both over sixty years of
age, and their father, who in his twentieth year, had emigrated
from Wilbraham, Mass., to Central New York, had been dead
five years. His ancestral home was, relatively, further from Cen-
tral New York in the early part of the last century than the most
remote parts of the earth today, and communications in person, or
by letter, were infrequent and difficult.

These statements, although quite incomplete and fragmentary,
and possibly not accurate in some details, yet furnish the neces-
sary links in the ancestral line in Comet Joseph^ Parsons, and I
now count myself fortunate in having obtained and preserved
them. In my correspondence I have frequenth- found it difficult
to get any information prior to the grandfather, when he. in early
life, had removed far from the place of birth and the home of
his ancestors. My grandfather, in his youth, had frequent inter-
course with his grandfather, Aaron* Parsons, and also with his
uncles and their families before leaving his ancestral home in
Massachusetts.

About three years ago m> attention was again directed to this
subject, and the duty, as well as pleasure, was urged upon me to
take up and complete what I had started so long ago. and which
the cares of an active business life had for a time pushed aside.

In this way the present work was begun, with no thought of



10 THE PARSONS FAMILY

family pride, as. in fact, I knew so little of the family histor>',
and of my ancestors and their descendants, that I had none of the
inspiration that usually attends the knowledge of ancestral his-
tory' and tradition.

My plan at first was to limit myself to the ancestral line, and
descendants of my grandfather, but my interest grew as I pur-
sued my investigations in the New York libraries and by corre-
spondence, so that the scope was enlarged to take in as far as
possible the descendants of my great-grandfather, Elijah' Par-
sons, and still later, the descendants of his brothers, descendants
of Aaron* Parsons.

These investigations and correspondence, and particularly an
examination of local New England histories, church periodicals,
genealogies of families, allied by marriage, biographical diction-
aries, etc., supplemented by personal research and extensive cor-
respondence, brought to my attention a volume of interesting
data pertaining to collateral lines, descendants of Comet Joseph
Parsons which, although of a fragmentan,- character, I then in-
tended to include in a separate part of the book, so bringing to-
gether much historical and genealogical matter that was scattered
through many volumes and gathered by much correspondence.

But the volume of genealogical data grew to such an extent
that I deemed it best to abandon my original plan and attempt at
least a partial record of the descendants of Cornet Joseph Par-
sons of all lines. When, as I believed, my work on this plan
was about completed. I was so fortunate as to get access to the
unpublished manuscripts of the late Dr. Holton and wife, con-
taining genealogical data, pertaining to several Parsons families,
including that of Cornet Joseph Parsons, which, with much labor
and expense, and during a period of about twenty years, they had
gathered. Additional data was obtained from these manuscripts,
and they aided me in comparing and correcting what I had pre-
viously gathered,

I have not attempted to follow the lines of the female descend-
ants, except when specially requested to do so, and the data was
furnished; as in many cases, it would only repeat what may be
found in the published genealogies of the families into which



PREFACE II

they had married. And I am also aware that I may have omitted,
or not been able to follow, many lines of descent through male
ancestors.

A work of this kind, covering a period of about two hundred
and seventy-five years, is at its best, in large part fragmentary and
unsatisfactory. The critic may fairly say — that much does not
appear that properly belongs to it, and perhaps much has been
said that could have been omitted.

I have taken the liberty of adding a brief mention of the ances-
trj- and descendants of the Best, Moyer and Cook families, colo-
nists of the New York State, and which were allied b}- marriage
to my immediate ancestors.

In the preparation of this work I have consulted and frequently
copied from the following works : The New England Historical
and Genealogical Register, now in more than sixty volumes; The
History of Northampton, by Trumball (1898); The Antiquities
of Northampton, by Clark; History of Hampden County, by
Copeland; History of Springfield, by Green; History of Wilbra-
ham, by Stebbins ; History of Leicester, by Washburn, and many
other records, some of which are referred to in the text ; but I
am chiefly indebted to the "Parsons Family," by Albert Ross
Parsons and Henry M. Burt (1898), and the "Parsons Family,"
by Gen. Lewis B. Parsons (1900), for much of the Parsons an-
cestry prior to about 1744.

I also desire to express my indebtedness to Miss Mary E.' Mil-
ler, of South Hadley, Mass., for the record of the descendants
of Elijah^ Parsons, by his second wife, Eunice Jennings, to
Charles A.^ Parsons, of Danville, 111., and Rev. N. Emerson*
Parsons, of Homer. 111., for the record of the descendants of
Elisha" Parsons, to Hon. Erastus H.* Staley, of Frankfort. Ind.,
for the record of the descendants of Erastus** Parsons, to Charles
F.* Parsons, of Oswego, N. Y., for the descendants of Col. Eli'
Parsons, to John J.* Parsons, of Jarvis. Ontario, for the descend-
ants of Isaac Jones^ Parsons, to John C* Parsons, of Chicago,
111., for the descendants of Rev. Silas'' Parsons, to N. B. Par-
sons, of Chicago, 111., for the descendants of Elder Stephen Par-
sons, and to Carlos Parsons* Darling. Lawrenceville. Tioga coun-



12 THE PARSONS FAMILY

ty, Pennsylvania, the record of the descendants of Capt. John''
Parsons.

To ver)- many others am I also indebted for prompt and inter-
ested replies to letters of inquiry, evincing so great interest in m}'
work that I found it difficult to decide when or where to end the
research.

For genealogical research has a special and unique fascination.
We seem to make the personal acquaintance of kindred long dead to
this world, and we are made to feel the continuity of life in a way
that strengthens faith in immortality. We dwell with pleasure
upon ancestral courage, patriotism, and fidelity to all that was true
and pure, while we cast a mantle of forgetfulness over all short-
comings. The qualities that were best in our ancestors we recog-
nize as best today and forever.

The more recent revival of interest in genealogy is in everj'
way creditable to the American people, and is a patriotic service.
Family historj- is interwoven with our countr}''s histor}-. particu-
larly when its roots strike deep into Colonial times.

The knowledge of our ancestors widens our horizon and gives
a broader view of life and its responsibilities. We remember that
posterity may sit in judgment on us, and our times, and this
thought should be an inspiration and incentive to higher and
better things.

In the preparation of this record I confess to have experienced
a growth of honest pride in my ancestry. For while few were
conspicuous in our history, many of the name have done honor-
able service, and they belong to the class noted for industn,-, in-
telligence, and piety, upon which our countr\- must always de-
pend for its real greatness, and from which in time of need or
stress the country's statesmen, educators, philanthropists, and sol-
diers are usually recruited.

New York, 1912 Henry Parsons



CONTENTS

Page

Dedication 5

Preface 9

The Parsons Family in England, and Arms of Its Branches. . 17

The Parsons Family in America 27

First Generation, and Sketch of Cornet Joseph' Parsons. ... },'j
Alary ( Bliss j Parsons, Wife of Cornet Joseph Parsons, and

the Witchcraft Trials 44

Second Generation 51

W'ill of Joseph" Parsons 55

Third Generation 65

Will of DanieP Parsons 71

Fourth Generation 79

The Isaac* Parsons House at Northampton 90

The Noah* Parsons House at Northampton 97

Fifth Generation 105

The Colonial (Parsons) Tavern at Springfield, Mass 128

Shays' Rebellion 134

Sixth Generation 151

Seventh Generation 215

Services of General Lewis B. Parsons in the Civil War 263

Eighth Generation 313

Ninth Generation 395

Tenth Generation 421

.•\llied Families 425

The Best Family 427

The Mover Family 433

The Cook Family 441

Addenda 445

Owner's Lineage (Facing) 468

Index 469

Postscript 532



ILLUSTR.\TIOXS

Facing
Page

Parsons Coat-of-Arms in Colors Frontispiece

Arms of Other Parsons Families of England 2^^

House of Cornet Joseph Parsons, Northampton, Mass.,

Built 1658 4^

House at Northampton. Mass., Built by Isaac* Parsons, 1743 90
House at Northampton, ]\Iass., Built by Noah* Parsons, 1755 97'5

Parsons Tavern at Springfield, Mass 128

Portrait of The Reverend Levi* Parsons i8j^

Portrait of Lewis Baldwin*^ Parsons 186

Portrait of Elijah® Parsons 190

Portrait of Hannah (Taggart) Parsons, Wife of Elisha®

Parsons 1 92

Portrait of Fortius F.* Parsons I95'^

Portrait of Lucius Edmund* Parsons 224

Portrait of The Reverend Levi' Parsons, D. D 256

Portrait of Walter C' Parsons 260

Portrait of Philo' Parsons 262

Portrait of General Lewis B." Parsons 264

Portrait of Charles" Parsons 2^5

Portrait of George" Parsons 270

Portrait of Peter' Parsons 274

Portrait of Henry" Parsons 276

Portrait of James' Parsons 278

Portrait of Hannah (]\Ioyer) Parsons, Wife of James'

Parsons 280';^

Portrait of The Reverend George' Parsons 282

Portrait of Elisha'' Parsons 288

Portrait of Eli Graves" Parsons 292

Portrait of \\'illiam D.' Parsons 293 4

Portrait of Charles W.' Parsons 294

Portrait of Alonroe Marsh' Cady 30XC



l6 THE PARSONS FAMILY

Portrait of The Reverend Gideon Parsons" Nichols, D. D. . 302

Portrait of Erastus Herman^ Staley 350

Portrait of Augustus* Parsons 253CZ

Portrait of James A.* Parsons 354

Portrait of Seth* Parsons, of Piano, 111 356

Portrait of The Reverend Andrew* Parsons 358

Portrait of Albert* Parsons 360

Portrait of Henry* Parsons 362

Portrait of Seth* Parsons, of Sharon Springs, N. Y 366

Portrait of The Reverend Charles Wesley* Parsons, D. D.. 37c5'fcB

Portrait of Doctor George Robins* Parsons 372

Portrait of The Reverend Nathaniel Emerson* Parsons .... 374

Portrait of Portius Frank* Parsons ZT^O

Portrait of Charles Fred* Parsons 380

Portrait of Victor Llewellyn* Parsons 3^76

Portrait of Frank W.* Parsons 382

Portrait of Louis Fairman* Parsons 410

Portrait of Captain James Parsons* Robinson 414

Portrait of Ernest Victor* Parsons 416

Four Generations of the Parsons Family 418

Portrait of Governor Lewis E.^ Parsons 45^



THE PARSONS FAMILY IN ENGLAND, AND ARMS OF
ITS BRANCHES



THE PARSONS FAMILY IN ENGLAND, AND ARMS OF
ITS BRANCHES

The name of Parsons has for several centuries been known in
nearly all the southern counties of England and parts of Ire-
land. The origin of the name is not known, with any certainty,
and can only be a matter of surmise.

Some are of the opinion that the names of Parsons, Person,
Pierson, and Pearson, had a common origin. We only know that
persons by the name of Parsons have found a distinct place in
English history from the 13th Century.

It is only the few of any name, family, or race, who become
noted, the many keeping the average level of human existence
characteristic of their times and environment, which suggests
that the family name had an existence long before it had any his-
torical record.

The English "Dictionary of National Biography" has much in-
teresting information on the subject, and the "New England His-
torical and Genealogical Record," Vol. i, published in 1847, con-
tains interesting data as to the Parsons family, both in England
and America, and concerning which the writer says :

"It does not appear that there ever has been any attempt to col-
lect even the materials for the history- of the English family of
Parsons, so far as has come to our knowledge, notwithstanding
there has been many individuals among them of great distinc-
tion as Knights, Baronets, and Noblemen. Those of the name
are, and have been for a long period, found in several counties
as Devonshire, Buckinghamshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire,
etc."

From the foregoing and other sources I have selected the fol-
lowing representative persons of the name in early English his-
tory.

\\'alter Parsons, of Mulso, Ireland, about 1200.

John Parsons, of Cuddington, Herefordshire, about 1280.

19



20 THE PARSONS FAMILY

John Parsons, of Oxfordshire, about 1300. From him are de-
scended Sir Thomas Parsons, of Great Milton, Sir John Parsons,
Lord Mayor of London, 1704, and Sir Humphrey Parsons, Lord
Mayor of London, 1731 and 1740.

Sir John Parsons, Mayor of Hereford, 1481.

Robert Parsons (1546-1610), Jesuit Missionary, born at
Nether-Stowey, Somerset, son of Henry Parsons. Educated at
Balliol College, Oxford. He became a Roman Catholic and at-
tained great power and influence in the church. He established
an English college at Rome, and at Valladolid, and published sev-
eral works. Disraeli (father of Lord Baconsfield), in his curiosi-
ties of Hterature, says of him :

"Parsons, the wily Jesuit, was so doubtful how the Lady Ara-
bella Stuart, when young stood toward Catholicism, that he de-
scribes her religion to be tender, green and flexible, as is her age
and sex, and to be wrought hereafter and settled according to
future events and times."

Robert Parsons, who died in 1570, was a musical composer,
born in Exeter, Devonshire. He left much music, found in Cathe-
dral libraries.

John Parsons, a noted musician in 1621, was appointed organ-
ist and choir master at Westminster Abbey. He died in 1623, and
was buried in the Abbey cloisters.

Bartholomew Parsons (1574-1643), a native of Somerset, and
of the same family as Robert, the Jesuit, was educated at Ox-
ford, and was chaplain to the Bishop of Salisburv-.

His son, Bartholomew (Oxford 1637), was arrested July,
1648, for raising arms against Parliament.

Sir William Parsons (1570-1650), Lord Justice of Ireland,
eldest son of James Parsons, was created Baronet 1620, M. P.
1639, Lord Justice 1640. From Sir Richard, a son of Sir Wil-
liam, are descended the Earls of Rosse.

William Parsons, the 3d Earl of Rosse (1800-1867), the noted
astronomer.

Philip Parsons (1594-1653), principal of Hart Hall, now Hert-
ford College, Oxford.

Andrew Parsons (1616-1684), a dissenting minister, son of



THE PARSONS FAMILY IN ENGLAND 21

John Parsons, of Milton, Somerset. Educated at Oxford. Was
prosecuted in 1660 for alleged seditious preaching against the
King in Shropshire. Was tried, convicted, fined 200 pounds, and
imprisoned. In 1662 the fine was remitted and he was released.

James Parsons (1705-1770), physician and antiquarian, born at
Barnstaple, Devonshire. Educated at Dublin. Studied medicine
at Paris. Eminent as a physician, and author of medical works.

John Parsons (1761-1819), Bishop of Peterborough and Mas-
ter of Balliol College, Oxford, son of Isaac Parsons.

"With the mastership of Dr. Parsons the real revival of Balliol,
and it may be said of the university generally, began, etc."

In connection with this account of the English families of the
name, and as an interesting historical feature, something should
be said as to the heraldic symbols and coat-armour of the ancient
Parsons families.

While heraldry and all matters pertaining to it have never had
a place in American life or historj-, and the adoption and use of
coats-of-arms and heraldic designs by Americans and American
families, may be considered by many a meaningless affectation, it
is nevertheless an appropriate part of any ancestral, or genealogi-
cal study of families having an English, or other European origin.
Its meaning and history may be found discussed in any Encyclo-
pedia, but for brevity I quote from a well known authority the
following :

"In the days when Knights were so encased in armour that no
means of identifying them were left, the practice was introduced
of painting their insignia of honor on their shields as an easy
method of distinguishing them. For a time Armorial Bearings
were granted only to individuals but Richard I during his crusades
to Palestine made them hereditary. The reason why Armorial
Bearings are called coats-of-arms is, that they used to be intro-
duced on the sur coat of their possessor, and the term was re-
tained even when they were displayed elsewhere."

A verj' exhausting discussion of the coat armour of the Eng-
lish Parsons families is contained in the work of Albert Ross Par-
sons, whose reputation as antiquarian and historian gives to his



22 THE PARSONS FAMILY

statements the weight of the highest authority-, and I have taken
the liberty of quoting largely from what he says on the subject.
In the course of his discussion he says :

"In order to get a bird's-eye view of the ramifications of the
ancient family of Parsons in England, we may begin with Here-
fordshire.

"We note in this shire in the Heralds visitation of 14th Edward
I as the most ancient representative of the family so far discov-
ered the name of John Parsons, of Cuddington, A. D. 1284.

"Two centuries later, A. D. 148 1, Sir John Parsons was Mayor
of Hereford. In his armorial bearings is a leopard's head (sym-
bolizing military service in the Orient), between three crosses
(designating the crusades).

"The Parsons to whom this coat armour was originally granted
may have gone to the Holy Land with Richard Coeur de Lion,
and Frederick Barbarossa in 1189, the last crusade that reached
Palestine in force.

"This crusade, however, was a failure, as Coeur de Lion was
only able to get within sight of Jerusalem, twenty miles away,
without daring to attack the city, from which he retired, defeated,
to imprisonment. Hence in the light shed by the laws of heraldic
symbolism upon the crusaders coat armour of Sir John Parsons
as it is further interpreted by the later arms of Sir Thomas Par-
sons, of Oxfordshire, it is probable either (a) that the original
grantee was a Knight who followed Robert of Normandy, son
of William the Conquerer (1066), in the successful crusade of
Godfrey of Bouillon, who 'with one hundred thousand steel clad
Knights' set out for the Holy Land in 1096, and achieving the
conquest of Jerusalem, set up in Palestine a Frank kingdom that
stood until 1 147, Godfrey being elected the first king of Jerusa-
lem; or else (b) that he went with the expedition of Richard
Earl, of Cornwall (brother of Henry III, the nephew of Richard
the Lion-hearted), who landed at Acre 'accompanied by the flower
of the English chivalry-' in 1239, remained in Palestine until the
banner of the Cross was once more planted on the ruined walls
of Jerusalem.

"For the arms of Sir Thomas Parsons, of Oxford, which, like



THE PARSONS FAMILY IN ENGLAND 23

those of Sir John Parsons, of Hereford, can only refer to the
crusades, place the leopard's head in the crest, surmounted by an
eagle's thigh erased, symbolizing victory in the Orient, and dis-
playing upon the coat armour two chevrons, a combination signi-
fying that the original grantee was eminent both as ecclesiastic
and as warrior, together with three eagles displayed, thus plac-
ing emphasis upon successive victories won.

"The arms of the Earls of Rosse, descended from Sir Richard
Parsons, of Norfolk, subsequently established in Ireland, bear
three leopard's heads, while the crosses of the ancient crusader of
Hereford, reappear in the arms of the Parsons family of Radnor-
shire, Wales, whose connections with the Parsons of Essex and
Devonshire will presently be shown, a further connection between
this Parsons family of Wales and the Oxfordshire Parsons being
indicated by the repeated appearance of the Welch name Hugh
in the Oxfordshire family.

"Thus the heraldic indications of the Parsons arms and crest
carrj' back the family patronymic, in connection with distin-
guished ecclesiastic and militarj' service, to the time of William
the Conqueror.

"Adjoining Hereford on the east is Worcestershire, where,
prior to the time of Cromwell, Dorothy, daughter of Sir Charles
Parsons, married Sir Charles Saunders, whose son. Sir Robert,
married Arabella, daughter of Sir Marmaduke Humphreys, and
became ancestor of the Saunders families of Devonshire and else-
where.

"The next county, but one to the east of Worcestershire, is
Northampton, where, about A. D. 1550, resided (i) Ralph Par-
sons, who had a son (2), John, who married the daughter of
Esquire Cutler, and had a son (3), John of Boveny, who married
Elizabeth, sole heiress of Sir John Kidderminster, and had two
sons (4), I Charles, born 1625, died without issue, (5) H Wil-
liam, and three daughters.

"This William (5) married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of
Sir Lawrence Parsons, by whom he had two sons; one (6) a
colonel who died without issue, and the other, John (7), his suc-
cessor. William (5) was made a baronet by Charles II. He was



24 THE PARSONS FAMILY

somewhat conspicuous during the interregnum, as maj' be inferred
from his having given a pass to a gentleman of the privy chamber
to visit Ireland. This gentleman having been taken by the Parlia-
ment officers was put to the rack.

"Sixty miles further east, in the Count}' of Norfolk, toward
the close of the Sixteenth century, resided the Rt. Rev. Dr. Par-
sons, Lord Bishop of Norwich, who had three sons, I Thomas, II
Sir William, III Sir Lawrence.

"Of these sons, Sir William II married the niece of Sir God-
frey Lacy. Sir William was commissioner of plantations to Ire-
land, under Queen Elizabeth, in 1602, Surveyor General of Ire-
land in 161 1, Supervisor of Crown lands (in conjunction with
his brother, Lawrence), in 1620, Knighted in November of the
same year, M. P. in 1639, Lord Deputy in 1640. From Sir Rich-
ard, the son of this Sir William Parsons, are descended the Earls
of Rosse.

"Retracing our way, twenty miles west of Hereford, is Radnor-
shire, where, in 1634, the high sheriff of the shire was Cecil Par-
sons, Esq., descended paternally from the Parsons of Springfield,
Essex County (the place of residence of William Pynchon, Esq.,
founder of Springfield, Mass.), and maternally from the Jeffreys
of Prior, County Brecon. This Jeffrey-Parsons descent reminds
us that at Alphington, near Exeter, Devonshire, one hundred
miles south of Radnor, was born, in 1631, Jeffrey Parsons, who
came to America and settled at Gloucester, Mass. Meanwhile, it is
but thirty miles from Alphington to the Torringtons, whence, ac-



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