Monday, February 23, 2009

Mystery #1: John Hinchman

John Hinchman's scenario is presented in family history as follows: John is the son of Edmund and Elizabeth Hincksman who emigrated from England in 1637 or later and lived in Marshfield and Chelmsford, Massachusetts. That John is traditionally identified as the husband of Elizabeth Emmons, with the marriage taking place on August 10, 1660 in Boston, Massachusetts. This marriage is listed in "Boston Births, Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths, 1630-1699." The story continues that Elizabeth died and then John moved to Long Island and married a Sarah. This is impossible for the following reason.

The following listing is found on page 364 in "New England Marriages Prior to 1790:
"HINCKSMAN, John & Elizabeth EMMONS, m/2 Joseph GRIDLEY 1675; 10 Aug 1660; Boston"
On Page 325 of that book we find this entry:
"GRIDLEY, Joseph (1629-1687) m; Elizabeth (EMMONS) HICKMAN/HINCKMAN, w. John; 24 Jun 1675; Dorchester."

If that John Hincksman is the son of Edmund and Elizabeth, he died sometime sometime between 1660 and 1675. So, he could not have been the John Hinchman in Long Island. The John Hinchman found on Long Island documents was in Oyster Bay, Long Island in 1659, as proven by a land transaction found in Oyster Bay records. That John is married to a Sarah (surname unknown).

A John Hinchman is listed in the "Valuations of Estates at Flushing," Oct. 9, 1675, and in the "Flushing Estimations" 29 Sept., 1683. He appears to be quite well-to do. After his death (circa 1687-88), his widow is still in possession of a large tract of land near Flushing Bay.

A John Hinchman appears in the 1698 Flushing Census with wife Sarah (obviously a different John and Sarah). In that census there are only two columns, "Dutch Inhabits" and "French Inhabits." John and Sarah are enumerated among the "French Inhabits," which would tend to indicate that he might have been a Huguenot. However, no surname similar to Hinchman appears in publications about the Huguenots in Long Island. One biographical writer has surmised that the surname 'Hinchman' is a corruption of 'frenchman.' Another hypothesis would be that it was Sarah who was of French extraction. One researcher stated that the "French" column was for anyone who was not Dutch.

This younger John and a Robert have been traditionally identified as the sons of John Hincksman and Elizabeth Emmons. However, no issue for John and Elizabeth was found in Massachusetts documents. One interesting document was the will of the mother of Elizabeth Emmons Hincksman. Elizabeth is not mentioned in the will but a codicil attached to the will makes it very clear that Mrs. Emmons was not happy with her son-in-law due to an unpaid loan. It is possible that the John who married Elizabeth Emmons was the John Hincksman who, with Kenneline Winslow of Boston, owned the Barque Return which apparently traveled up and down the east coast during the 1660s. He and Kenneline are found in official records on Long Island and in Virginia. I have not found any records of shipwrecks during the mid-17th century. I would think that there were many and that might be the reason that Elizabeth was a widow.

Where did the Long Island John come from? Who were his parents? For now, this remains a mystery.

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