Friday, August 11, 2017
According to his Will
It is probably a good thing that the will of Benjamen Bartlett was drawn up in 1717, after his daughter Ruth had already married. One simple mention of that detail in his will allows us to connect the names of Ruth's parents with her married surname, Murdock. Thus, we are provided with the stepping stone to advance us to the next generation in this procession from Mayflower passengers John Alden and Priscilla Mullins through their daughter Elizabeth Alden Pabodie, their granddaughter Ruth Pabodie Bartlett, and now their great-granddaughter Ruth Bartlett Murdock.
From that point, it was a will which provided the next generational step, as well. When Ruth Bartlett Murdock's husband John drew up his will before his passing in 1756, he referred not only to his wife and children, but remembered one particular grandson—as the Elizabeth Alden genealogy put it, "grandson Tillson," the son of Stephen Tillson—to whom he gifted his farm.
That "Tillson," of course, handily directs us to the next generation in our journey from the Mayflower's landing to our times. John Murdock and his wife, the former Ruth Bartlett, had among their children one daughter who had married said Stephen Tilson. Her name has been referenced variously as Janet, Jennet, or Jeannette.
It was during this generation, incidentally, that though the property in Plympton, Massachusetts, was provided to him, Stephen Tilson's eldest son was soon found to be settled and raising his own family, not in Plympton—not even in Massachusetts—but far to the west in Virginia.
Of course, that brings up the question: what happened? Why, if provided for with this bequest of property, did he marry in Plympton, yet move so far away to settle and raise his own family? To answer that, we need to shift from the resources provided in the Alden genealogy to a separate recounting of the family history of the Tilson line. And even there, we'll need to read between the lines, for the legal records only document the basic outline of the story.
Above: "Embarkation of the Pilgrims," 1857 oil on canvas by American artist Robert Walter Weir; courtesy Google Art Project via Wikipedia; in the public domain.