The Trail of Clues to John Scudder of Barnstable’s English Identity:

The 1635 Immigrant to New England Came from Strood, Kent, England


Rochester from Strood Quay

by Margery Boyden, Scudder Association Foundation Historian, v. 2.1, Spring 2020

© Scudder Association Foundation, All rights reserved

Many years ago John2 Scudder received the designation John (J) by the Scudder Association for being the immigrant ancestor of an extensive line of Scudder descendants in America referred to as the Scudder (J) line. He has a great posterity but until the 1990s his true English origins were obscured. This article is for those who are family history sleuths who like to know how the case was solved. It also offers John2 (J)’s accurate English roots for future histories that may be written.

The term John2 (J) will be used in this article to abbreviate his name for simplicity’s sake, while also clarifying to which John Scudder a particular statement refers. This article shares how the Scudder Association finally found in 1992–1993: 1) the birthplace of John2 (J), the immigrant, 2) his birth family and 3) his relationship to the two others of the American Scudder immigrant ancestors: his sister Elizabeth2 Scudder (E) and their uncle Thomas Scudder1 (T). It sounds so simple now to state these family connections, but it was not always so. One hundred years of serious research on the American Scudder family had not revealed it. One of these three Scudders is the immigrant ancestor of virtually every Scudder descendant in America. For more about John2 (J)’s Scudder ancestry see [The Three Sons of Henry Scudder, Yeoman of Horton Kirby, Kent: A Season of Political Upheaval with Effects on Life Circumstances of Each Son” in our June 2019 issue.]

Of course these origins are the same for John2 (J)’s sister Elizabeth2 Scudder (E) who married Samuel2 Lathrop (Rev. John1 Lothrop) at Barnstable in November 1644.

Scudder Immigrants to America Relationship Diagram:

Shows the immigrants in yellow

Scudder Immigrants to America Relationship Diagram:

After years of discussion, members of the Scudder Association had at last acquired all essential pieces of the Scudder family relationship puzzle needed for proof. Due to errors still circulating in print and online, it is again time to review how the clues were put together to end centuries of confusion about where John2 (J) and Elizabeth2 (E) actually came from, the most common error purported was that they were from Groton, Suffolk, England which error was discussed in the Correction #1 summary [Straight from the Horse’s Mouth]. So what were the clues that revealed the truth?

Clue #1 in America: The first reference for John2 (J) as an immigrant to America was as a passenger[2] on the second voyage of the James from London in 1635, in company with the Thomas and Sarah Ewer family. Hotten publishes these names from the emigration list for the second voyage of the James from London under the leadership of Master John May

ship board passenger list showing John Skudder

Clue # 2 in England proves ties of an English  relative to specific persons in America.

The next major breakthrough was the discovery of the 1651 Will of Rev. Henry1 Scudder of Collingbourne Ducis, Wiltshire [Rev Henry’s will]. This document proves that Rev. Henry1 was related to the 3 American Scudder immigrant ancestors. Rev. Henry1 Scudder’s will names his brother Thomas1 (T) and his children in New England and his “cousins” in New England John2 Scudder (J) and Elizabeth2 Scudder (E), among other “cousins” named. In his will Rev. Henry1 refers to Elizabeth2 (E) as Elizabeth Lathrop, showing he knew of her marriage.[3] But the question remained, “How were these three immigrants specifically related to each other?” The designation “cousins” by Rev. Henry1 Scudder created confusion for years until prior Scudder Association historians learned that in the 1600s the term “cousin” was also used to mean “relative” or “kinsman” and that its broad usage saved ink and hand copying labor. Too bad Rev. Henry1 Scudder did not specify how he was related to each of his “cousins!”

Clue #3 in England is the 1694 will of HenryA Scudder, yeoman of Horton Kirby, Kent [Our Story Begins & 400 year old will of HenryA Scudder] that names his three sons, Henry, Thomas and John and specifies their birth order as it devises specified properties that matched some real estate later devised by Rev. Henry1 Scudder to his daughters. His will finally corrected all the old speculations and mistakes that gave Thomas1 (T)’s family the wrong place of origin in England [Straight From the Horses Mouth & Rev Henry’s will]. It is corroborated by the will of HenryA, yeoman and by the will of HenryAs brother who was WilliamA Scudder of Darenth, Kent [William Scudder of Darenth’s will]. But two mysteries remained, “Where had HenryA’s youngest son John1 gone? And who exactly were Rev. Henry’s Scudder’s “cousins in England and how were they all related?”

Clue # 4 from England, discovery of the birth family of John2 (J) and Elizabeth2 (E). About 1992, after many decades of speculation and discussion, Robert C. Scudder of Gladstone, Missouri happened upon the baptisms of a John and Elizabeth Scudder of Strood, Kent, England in records extracted from that parish cited in the old IGI.[4] This was then reviewed by Scudder Association members and again verified from the actual parish register by the Scudder Association’s “man in England,” Simon Skudder as step #1 to determine if John2 (J) and Elizabeth2 (E) Scudder were the same as those from Strood.

Present day Strood Church, Kent[5]

Clue #5 from Strood. There was a second fortuitous discovery in the Strood register. It contained the family of Thomas Ewer, John2 (J)’s traveling companions aboard ship, to corroborate that these are indeed the baptism records of the immigrants John2 (J) and Elizabeth2 (E). The Strood parish register with its references to the Scudder siblings as children of John1 Scudder and the same register’s references to Thomas1 Ewer[6] and his family, finally resolved that John2 (J) and Elizabeth (E) were brother and sister and children of John1 Scudder of Strood. Their father was the missing youngest brother of Rev. Henry1 and Thomas1 Scudder mentioned in the will of their father, HenryA Scudder of Horton Kirby, Kent [400 year old will of HenryA Scudder]. This discovery was triumphantly published in Scudder Searches in its Summer 1993 issue.[7] Its elated editor, D. B. Scudder, announced:

The strongest basis for believing that the John and Elizabeth Scudder of Strood are the ones who settled in Barnstable is the evidence that the family of Thomas Ewer with whom young John came to America on the James in 1635 originated in Strood.[8]

There is no record source that suggests a family relationship between Thomas Ewer and John2 Scudder (J), or if they were only friends from the same congregation in England. John2 (J) did not merely accompany the Ewers on the ocean crossing but went with them to live at Charlestown and remained with the family even after Thomas1 Ewer died sometime after 5 June 1638 and before 20 August 1638 according to Massachusetts Bay Court Records.[9] He followed Sarah Ewer to Barnstable after her marriage to Thomas2 Lothrop (John1). See [John2 (J) Scudder of Barnstable].

But who was the mother of of John2 (J) and Elizabeth2 (E) Scudder? The answer was found on the same register at Strood, thanks to a thorough clerk who gave the answer to this question when he recorded this marriage with detail:

Elizabeth Scudder, widow, daughter of Mr. Thomas Stoughton, 30 April 1627, to Robt Chamberlyne, pastor of Strood.

The Strood Parish Register shows John (J) was the second son of John1 Scudder (HenryA) and Elizabeth1 Stoughton (ThomasA) and was the third of their five children cited on the Strood parish register.[10] These records extracted from the Strood Parish Register complete the picture and were first published in 1993 in Scudder Searches by the Scudder Association:[11] All events are from the Strood Parish Register except those in brackets.

John1 Scudder Family of Strood, Kent, England

[Marriage: John Scudder md. to Elizabeth Stoughton, 1613, Maldon, Essex, England.][12]

Thos, son of John, Mar 1616
John, son of John, 24 May 1618
Thos, son of John, 17 Sep 1620
Elizabeth, dau of John, Jul 1625
Elizabeth Scudder, dau of John, 13 Jan 1616
Thos Scudder, son of John, 31 Mar 1617
[No burial record found for John, husband of Elizabeth Stoughton but before April 1627.]

Mr. Robert Chamberlyne/layne/lain Family of Strood, Kent, England

[Marriage: Joanna Wing. dau of Matthew, 13 Jan 1612, Banbury, Ocfordshire, England].

Matthew, son of Robt, 8 Dec 1622
Samuel, son of Robt
Sara, dau of Robt, 2 April 1621
Joanna, wife of Robt, 20 Feb 1626
Matthew, son of Robt, 18 May 1627
Thomas, 9 Oct 1630, [b. abt. 1613, prob. at Warksworth near Banbury, Oxfordshire, England]
Elizabeth Scudder, widow, dau of Mr. Thomas Stoughton, 30 April 1627, to Robt Chamberlyne, pastor of Strood
Samuel, son of Robt, 16 Jan 1628
Joanna, dau of Robt, Oct 1630
Sara, dau of Robt., 16 Jan 1632
Sara, dau of Robert, 27 Apr 1635
Robt Chamberlyne, pastor of Strood, 1 Jun 1639

Thomas1 Ewer Family of Strood, Kent, England

Thomas Ewer, 10 Mar 1592
Thomas Ewer to Bridgett Hipsley, 13 Sep 1614, Strood, Kent, England

Baptisms [children of Thomas Ewer and Bridget Hipsley]
Wm, son of Thos, Dec 1616
Elizabeth, dau of Thos, 13 Sep 1618
Robt, son of Thos, 6 October 1622
Elizabeth, dau of Thos, 22 Sep 1613
Robt, son of Thos, 14 Jul 1623
Bridgett Ewer, wife of Thos, 2 Aug 1623
[The marriage of Thomas Ewer to Sarah Learned, 14 January 1623, Bermondsey, Surrey, England][13]
John, son of Thos,14 January 1627
Sara, dau of Thos, 10 May 1629
Elizabeth, dau of Thos, Oct 1631
Thos, son of Thos, 6 Feb 1633

Some family history enthusiasts with early New England ancestors have a passion for trying to connect their American ancestors to parents in England. Failing to wait for a primary source record that does corroborate that proposed relationships are accurate, can create error and chaos for family historians at online sites. For years, a mistaken speculation was published and copied by many, and still circulates today, that claims John2 (J) and Elizabeth2 (E) Scudder and their uncle Thomas1 (T) came from Groton, Suffolk, England although there was never one shred of evidence to give any justification for that error. NO primary source records exist for anyone with the surname Scudder at Groton in Suffolk, England. There were no Scudders in Suffolk county until later, after the immigrants were in America. Fortunately the Scudder Association historians questioned this error. They were patient while continuing to gather what information they could from clues in the proven sources they did have which were wills.

Sometimes, as with Robert Scudder of Gladstone, Missouri, one may find a very useful clue in a database of extracted parish records. But, with additional  effort, that clue should be proven by additional sources that it is being applied to the correct person. Showing why teamwork is key in family history, had someone not already extracted the Strood parish register, and indexed it in the old IGI, it would still be buried in a register waiting to be discovered. We need to remember that unfortunately some early parish registers have not survived. Not all records needed to prove other connections have surfaced but we now have enough to build our Scudder history on a solid foundation. For their having eliminated old stumbling-block errors—such as place of origin in England or incorrectly assigned spouse—we thank many Scudder family historians who, for more than 100 years, have used teamwork to make an accurate family record.

This article shows the cautious and thorough steps taken by the Scudder Association historians over many decades, waiting patiently until the right parish records were found that could be placed with wills already in their possession to establish clear evidence for the parents of John2 (J) and Elizabeth2 (E) Scudder. Sometimes exceptional parish clerks help the process, such as the Strood clerk (perhaps Rev. Robert Chamberlayne himself) who recorded the marriage of Elizabeth1 (Stoughton) (Scudder) to Rev. Chamberlayne, noting that she was the daughter of ThomasA Stoughton. With that prize in hand, so many other records could follow as added supports.

For more information see [“The Early Life and Times of John Scudder (J), of Strood, Kent, England, 1635 Immigrant to New England, Later Known as John Scudder of Barnstable”.]

[1] “Rochester from Strood Quay,” in The History and Antiquities of Rochester and the Vicinity, (Rochester: W. Wildash, 1833), front matter.

[2] John Camden Hotten, ed., The Original Lists of Persons of Quality; emigrants; religious exiles; political rebels; serving men sold for a term of years; apprentices; children stolen,; maidens pressed; and others who went for Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600–1700…(London: Hotten, 1874), 88. This source speculates about Ewer’s origins being from Hertfordshire, without explaining why and is proven incorrect by the Strood, Kent parish register.

[3] “Will of Rev. Henry Scudder of Collingbourne Ducis 1651,” Scudder Family Historical & Biographical Journal, volume 1, no. 2, (June 2019).

[4] D. B. Scudder, comp., Scudder Searches, volume V, no. 2, (Summer 1993): 3.

[5] Not the original Strood church, but its replacement. David Anstiss, “Strood St Nicholas Kent,” 2008,

[6] Robert Charles Anderson, “Thomas Ewer,” The Great Migration, v. 2, C–F, 479–483.

[7] Scudder Searches, volume V, no. 2, (Summer 1993): 3–6.

[8] Scudder Searches, (Summer 1993): 3.

[9] Anderson, The Great Migration, v. 2, C–F, 481.

[10] Scudder Searches, (Summer 1993): 3–6.

[11] Scudder Searches, (Summer 1993), 6.

[12] Jane Fletcher Fiske, “A New England Immigrant Kinship Network,” The American Genealogist, volume 72 (July/August 1997): 295, citing Genevieve Tylee Kiepura, “Stoughton-Knight Data,” TAG 33(1957): 107, citing “marriage records of Essex” (Probably Boyd’s Index).

[13] Anderson, “William Learned,” The Great Migration Begins, v. 2, G–O, 1165.


© Scudder Association Foundation, All rights reserved



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