“Straight from the Horse’s Mouth:

Time Again to Separate Scudder Facts from Fiction,”

by ©Margery Boyden, Scudder Association Foundation Historian,

Thirty years ago, in an earnest effort to call attention to significant errors to be found in numerous Scudder genealogies circulating the globe, David B. Scudder, the Scudder Association’s editor of Scudder Searches, warned:

There are several old Scudder family history errors, some originating more than one hundred years ago, that still continue to raise their heads. Although all or most have been corrected in various issues of the Scudder Association Bulletin (published 1936–81), they seem to have a life of their own and just don’t go away. This note is intended to call attention to them and thus to lay them to rest, once and for all.[1]

  If only D. B. Scudder’s heroic efforts from 1989–1996 had put these errors to rest once and for all! Or, if the prior efforts he referred to from 1936 to 1981 had gotten rid of other fiction, it would have saved many of us years of struggle to reconcile conflicting data that still remains online and in print. One source of serious genealogical errors about the Scudder genealogy, (and for other families), is Bunker’s Long Island Genealogies, printed in 1895.[2] Offering no citations from any primary source records, Bunker was one of the earliest inaccurate sources to wrongly suggest that Thomas1 Scudder, (T), Puritan immigrant to America came from Groton, Suffolk, England. This conflicted with other sources found that stated Thomas1 was from Horton Kirby, Kent. More reliable sources originated with the Scudder Association research in the 1980–1990s. The Association sought and found the necessary primary source proofs that were then printed in Scudder Searches. Correction #1: Scudder immigrants to America were not from Groton, Suffolk, England.

Ed Soper, Scudder Association genealogist quoted Dr. Herbert Seversmith, a well known genealogist who studied extensively families of Long Island and Connecticut, who said: “[T]he Scudder genealogy is one of the best published genealogies of a pioneer American family.” Soper continued: “Why is this true? It is because it is a living genealogy. Its lines of descent have never been closed since the Rev. Eli F. Cooley of Trenton and his son, Professor William Cooley, devoted patient research to tracing the records of many of the families of Trenton and Ewing, New Jersey. In 1882 their notes came into the hands of Eli’s granddaughter who published their findings, including the genealogy of the Scudders, in a book entitled: Genealogy of Early Settlers in Trenton and Ewing.”[3]

This first issue of the Scudder Family Historical & Biographical Journal again exposes error #1, about the ancestral home of the 3 Scudder immigrant ancestors. They were all from Kent County, England, from the family of Horton Kirby, Kent. We also now republish from the Summer 1996 Scudder Searches, this brief summary of how the Scudder Association Genealogical Papers Collection was gathered to the present day and by whom.[4]

Scudder Association Timeline for Acquiring Its Genealogy Data Collection

1912. In 1912, the Scudder Association was founded and is among the oldest of family organizations in America. Because the Association had the vision early to gather from many Scudder descendants, it is the “horse’s mouth” for a majority of what is known about Scudder genealogy. The Association preserved much that could have been lost.

1915. The Scudder Association gained added “access to plentiful files of Scudder genealogical materials…[that] remained in the hands of individual Scudder families.”

1915. Mary Theresa Scudder began a central Association genealogical file by “charting the genealogical history of the Scudders in Rev. Cooley’s Genealogy of the Early Settlers in Trenton and Ewing, New Jersey.” It is apparently she who adopted the system of T and J numbers the Association used for many past years to identify individual descendants of the 2 male founders of the US Scudder family. In his book, Rev. Cooley, who married into the Scudder family, covers main Scudder families of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania and some others. Cooley’s material came largely from correspondence with many Scudder families.

1920s. The Association received a photocopy of the will of the Rev. Henry Scudder of Collingbourne Ducis that proved beyond doubt that John and Elizabeth Scudder of Barnstable were related, but not children of Thomas (T) of Salem. It was apparently Helen Scudder Bouchier, living in England, niece of Ida S. Scudder, who first provided the copy of Rev. Henry1 Scudder’s will to the Association. Note: Thomas (T) did have children of same names, John and Elizabeth, but John (J) and Elizabeth (E) named in the will of Rev. Henry were Thomas (T’s) niece and nephew. Be aware, that some printed sources mix data between these same named cousins. Rev. Henry1 Scudder’s will refers to Thomas1 (T) as “brother” and the others as “cousins” which in their day also meant relatives. Rev. Henry’s will corrects the mistake in Bunker that again without any source citations asserted Rev. Henry was the “father” of Thomas. This will provided 100 years ago proved that Rev. Henry Scudder was a brother, not father to Thomas (T), and that Thomas was not father of John (J) and Elizabeth (E) and that the family was from Kent County, England. Yet the error about the family’s location in England and inaccurate mixing of data still persists in current online trees.

1936. Dorothy Jealous Scudder edited the 1st issue of the Scudder Association Bulletin, which includes a substantial genealogical article. Six more issues followed but WWII interrupted publication.

1952. It was likely Mary Theresa Scudder who resumed publication of the Bulletin.

By 1964, 8 more issues were published. According to Mary Theresa Scudder, through cooperative efforts between the historian and the individual Scudder families, a highlight was discovery of the connection of the Indiana and Illinois Scudders and many others much farther west to the line of John T-1-2-2 of Essex Co., NJ.

About 1966. Ed Soper became historian and was editor of the Bulletin until 1980. “Able and willing to spend a large amount of time on the subject, he—working both on his own and by mail with individual family members—achieved a vast increase in the number of individual Scudder names included in the Association files.” It was he who also collected the genealogy for Elizabeth (Scudder) Lathrop (E), sister of John (J).

1980s. The Association, through efforts of Cy Sherman, Nita Baugh, Susan Swanson and others, hired a professional genealogist in England to expand knowledge of our English ancestry. These findings motivated a new genealogical publication series beginning in 1989. The Association also continued to publish its Newsletter.

1989–1998. Scudder Searches began with David B. Scudder as editor. His assistant was Janet Bitler, with support by the Association’s genealogy committee members. During this time, the Association collaborated with Simon Skudder of England who undertook a survey of the Scudder wills in Kent County, England. Scudder Searches published transcripts and/or abstracts of these wills, including the 1594 will of Henry Scudder, yeoman of Horton Kirby, which proved he was the father of Thomas1 (T), and Rev. Henry1 Scudder and John1, who was later proved to be father of immigrants John (J) and Elizabeth (E). NOTE: To describe Henry Scudder, yeoman of Horton Kirby, our new publications will refer to him as HenryA Scudder, the common ancestor of the immigrants. This will assist in clearing up some confusion in print about the relationships among the immigrants. Caution: “A” is a genealogical generational designation and not a middle initial! HenryA’s sons Rev. Henry1, Thomas1 and John1 will now share the same generational number “1” to show their proper relationships to each other. Therefore, their children will be generation “2”. There has been confusion about the relationships between Thomas1 (T), John2 (J) and Elizabeth2 (E) because of their immigrant ancestor status designating them as “generation 1” to each of their descendant lines; but, they were not the same generation in the family structure. The widowed mother of John1 (J) and Elizabeth1 (E) was technically the first generation immigrant ancestor for their lines because she came about 1640 with Elizabeth (E), of whom more in a later issue. Besides warnings about old errors, the 1990s Scudder Searches reported findings from its new wave of English research. After D. B. Scudder died in 1997, Janet Bitler and Simon Skudder published 3 more issues.

1993. It was not until 1993 in vol. V, no. 1 of Scudder Searches that the Scudder Association fully resolved the relationships between the three immigrant ancestors, John (J), Elizabeth (E) and their uncle Thomas (T). Using the old IGI, Robert C. Scudder of Gladstone, Missouri found baptismal records extracted from the Strood, Kent, England Parish Register for John (J) and Elizabeth (E). He photocopied the microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and shared with the Association. Other records corroborated that (J) and (E) were baptized at Strood. These were published in Winter of 1993.[5] In Summer of 1992, Scudder Searches published the will of their grandfather, HenryA Scudder, yeoman of Horton Kirby, Kent.[6] It was by comparing properties mentioned in the wills of Rev. Henry1 Scudder and his father HenryA that finally proved the common Scudder ancestor in England. It was the Strood Parish register that revealed where HenryA’s son John1 had gone. This was the final piece necessary to solidify the roots of American Scudders and to dispel myths about origins.

1997. Data reported in Scudder Searches apparently provided a basis for Jane Fletcher Fiske’s professional article, “A New England Immigrant Kinship Network,” published in The American Genealogist in 1997.[7] Fiske succinctly portrays and adds sources for the family of HenryA Scudder, yeoman of Horton Kirby and his children Rev. Henry1, Thomas1 (T) and John1 and John1’s children John (J) and Elizabeth (E). Fiske corrects the same misinformation the Scudder Association repeatedly had corrected earlier. She comments near the outset of her article, “The Association had clearly been on the right track, but the material it published lacks organization.” Today’s digital tools, new resources and our website will enable us to better organize and publish our materials than was possible for the Association’s past genealogists. There is still obvious need to repeat corrections for long time errors in some Scudder genealogies even 20 years after Fiske also corrected many of them in her The American Genealogist (TAG) article. Errors continue to circulate and multiply online as shown by our 2019 survey of 200 “trees” on ancestry.com, 198 of which show the same old errors!

Date uncertain. Chris Scudder became the Association’s historian and genealogist. He spent countless hours to organize the family groups into a genealogical computer program that is hosted on one of our sponsors website.

2018. Official name change: Scudder Association Foundation.

2019.The Scudder Association Foundation now announces its new online publication, Scudder Family Historical & Biographical Journal. The Journal will publish articles from the Scudder Association’s past publications including updated important corrections to Scudder family history. It will also offer historical and biographical articles for persons past and present. During this bicentennial year of the first Scudder missionaries to Ceylon and India, the 2019 articles will highlight a number of these early missionaries. In addition we will address the needed corrections about the families of the first Scudder immigrants to America so that our beginnings and ongoing narrative of the Scudder family will be correct, thus promoting greater historical accuracy in our own publications. By sharing original and primary sources, we hope to counteract prevalent misinformation online and in print. As time permits, we will add data from our own vast files and other vetted, historical, professional and original sources. We acknowledge that the Association in the past has made unintentional errors in its publications and database due to challenges of working with such a large amount of data and, in the beginning, having insufficient ancestral data in England. Some early American local histories and genealogies, not produced by the Association, were the sources of some published errors about our English Scudder “roots” which the Association trustingly adopted at first like everyone else. Although the Association has repeatedly published corrections to these errors “with a life of their own,” the recent survey of online family trees shows some of these mistakes seem now even more firmly entrenched in online trees of the unaware. Although without foundation in fact, some errors have also been repackaged in compiled online databases or indexes. These continue to mislead those who think a database is a reliable “source” rather than to be considered a “finding aid.” Some published local histories and family histories are based on old errors now disproven by primary sources. Accuracy in history depends on portraying persons in the right place at the right time frame and within their correct family units and social environments.

Now, with the reach of the Internet, D. B. Scudder’s words are even more urgent today. Fortunately, powerful search engines and new primary source record collections that can be helpful are available as never before. We promote the late D. B. Scudder’s goal for accuracy. Perhaps some of our readers will find new important records to share as others have. The review of the vast number of families currently in our database and records in our papers collection will take time, so we plead for patience. Please check back regularly as we work to improve and preserve our legacy.

See article following about generation #1, the common ancestor, HenryA Scudder, yeoman of Horton Kirby, Kent, England, w. d. 29 Sep 1594, w. p. 5 Nov 1595.

CORRECTION #1 summary: None of the Scudder immigrants to America were from Groton, Suffolk, England. Our survey showed no Scudder records in Suffolk County during the 1500s while there were many Scudder wills found for Kent County during the same 100 years. The will of Henry Skudder, yeoman of Horton Kirby, Kent, w.d. 29 Sep 1594, w.p. 5 Nov 1595, provides the only provable facts about the members of Henry’s nuclear family. His wife’s surname is not given and none of the daughters were referred to by married names. Daughter Elizabeth was at least age 20 and all other children appear to be minors. The Association exposed this mistake about Groton, Suffolk, England as early as the 1960s, but…now, 60 years later, this error is still found in many online trees at Ancestry and MyHeritage. Future articles will repeat other important corrections from Scudder Searches.

As we build on the foundation laid by many visionary family members of the past, who gathered an immense amount of records, we dedicate our efforts to them and to all who have assisted. For his many years of service and countless hours spent organizing our genealogical database, we thank Christopher Scudder, previous historian and genealogist.


[1] David B. Scudder, “Family History Note,” Scudder Searches, Scudder Association, volume 1, no. 2, (Summer 1989): 2. (italics added)
[2] Mary Powell Bunker, comp., Long Island Genealogies, (Albany, N.Y.: Joel Munsell’s sons, 1895), 288.
[3] Edwin L. Soper, Bulletin XXII, Scudder Association, (August 1966): 3.
Ed Soper’s quote refers to the book by Eli F. Cooley and William S. Cooley, comp., Genealogy of Early Settlers in Trenton and Ewing, “Old Hunterdon County,” New Jersey, (Trenton, N. J.: The W. S. Sharp Printing Co., 1883). Miss Hannah L. Cooley, niece of William S. and granddaughter of Eli F. Cooley prepared the manuscript notes for printing. Although many families were included in his book, Eli Field Cooley had special interest in the Scudders. He married Hannah6 Scudder (William5, Jacob4, Benjamin3, Thomas2, Thomas1). The other compiler, William Scudder Cooley was their son.
[4] “Past Scudder Association Historians,” Scudder Searches, volume 6, no. 2, (Summer 1996): 5.
[5] “John and Elizabeth Scudder of Strood, Kent, and Barnstable, Massachusetts,” Scudder Searches, volume V, no. 1, (Winter 1993): 3–4.;
“John and Elizabeth Scudder, Once Again,” Scudder Searches, volume V, no. (Summer 1993): 3–6.
Future articles to be published in The Scudder Family Gistorical & Biographical Journal on scudder.org will provide more data for all three immigrants, but this present article suffices to advertise the need for repeating corrections of some fundamental long time errors.
[6] Simon Skudder, “Henry Skudder, Yeoman of Horton Kirby, Kent,” and “Wills, Henry Skudder of Horton Kirby, Kent,” Scudder Searches, volume IV, no. 3, (Summer 1992): 3–5, 8–9.
[7] Jane Fletcher Fiske, “A New England Immigrant Kinship Network,” The American Genealogist, volume 72, (July/October 1997): 285–300.


©Scudder Association Foundation, April, 2019
All rights reserved

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *