Wednesday, October 2, 2013

WINSORS IN AMERICA: From Stoke Poges to Providence

circa 1637-38 American Immigrant Joshua Winsor, 9th GGF
From Andrew Jackson Dort-Lydia Winsor/following the Windsor male lineage back seven generations to my 9th great grandfather, English emigrant Joshua Winsor from Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, England.

The "Magna Britannia" (1813) states that Bonyforden in Stoke Poges was an early seat and manor of the Windsor family.  According to two historical sources published in 1847 and 1915, the immigrant Joshua was son of Samuel Windsor, grandson of Robert Windsor, great-grandson of Edmund Windsor (knighted in 1553) of Stoke Poges, and great, great-grandson of Sir Andrews Windsor (1st Lord Windsor) who died in 1543.    And, although this impressive pedigree is disputed by some modern researchers, it does support the oral history of my maternal grandmother who proudly claimed to be descended from royalty through her Windsor grandmother.  There is still a lot of work to be done before that claim can be fully confirmed or denied, but what I have discovered about our Windsor lineage is just as interesting, if not so regal.  

What we do know:
Records show that Joshua Winsor emigrated from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony prior to  1638.  (The 'd' in Windsor disappeared at this time and Winsor became the common spelling for generations, especially in Rhode Island.)  It is generally accepted that he came from the small hamlet of Stoke Poges, 20 miles west of London.  Like so many emigrants during the Great Migration between 1620-1640, Joshua's travel costs were paid through indentureship.  Upon arrival he became an indentured servant to Governor John Winthrop in Boston.  Within months, it became evident that he wasn't 'fitting in' with the theocratic, fundamental expectations of the colony.  His situation came to the attention of someone who had also had his difficulties with the status quo:  Roger Williams.  

Rev. Williams wrote a letter to Gov. Winthrop including the following excerpt: "Sir, this is the occasion of this enclosed. I understand a servant of yours, Joshua ----- is some trouble to your selfe, as allso to others, & consequently can not (if he desire to feare the Lord) but himselfe be troubled & grieved in his condicion, though otherwise I know not where under Heaven he could be better.  If it may seem good in your eyes (wanting a servant) I shall desire him (not simply from you) but for your peace & his. I shall desire your best & full satisfaction in payment, & what summe you pitch on, to accept it either from this bill, or if you better like from that debt of Mr. Ludlow, for which he promised your worship to pay me 800 waight of tobacco but did not, & I presume your worship may with ease procure it; but I subscribe ex animo [from the heart] to your choice, & with respective salutacions & continued sighes to Heaven for you & yours, rest desirous to (be)      Your Worships unfained though   unworthy    Roger Williams."  
And this is how Joshua Winsor came to Providence, Rhode Island in 1638 -his indentureship sold to Roger Williams. 
Within only two years he had completed his period of obligations to Rev. Williams and, in 1640, signed his name along with thirty eight other freemen to the Providence "Combination" or agreement to govern.  He was included in the allotments granted to those who signed the compact along with another ancestor Robert Coles, 10th GGF through the Emerine/Smith lineage (see 20th lot below).  *Joshua's house lot, #35, was located on what would become South Main Street in Providence, and ran up the hill as far as Hope Street.  He also acquired six acres of meadowland on the 'westerly side of the cove.

Joshua most likely waited to marry after he was granted freeman status, which is supported by the birth of his first child and only son, Samuel, in 1644.  Although his wife's name is obscured by time, she gave birth to four children before dying in 1655.  
One of Joshua's descendants through son Samuel characterized him, writing  "he appears to have been a person of some considerable talents and education, and of a serious and religious turn of mind; but no mention is made of his being a member of any particular church."  (Olney Winsor)  This would perhaps explain why the name of Joshua Windsor/Winsor has not been found in the historic registry of St. Giles Church in Stoke Poges.
Joshua Winsor died in early 1679 and was probably buried on his home lot in Providence.

Through Joshua's son Samuel, our Winsor family tree remained firmly rooted in Rhode Island for almost 250 years.  In future posts I will focus on the family lines that branch from:
  •  Joshua's son, Reverend Samuel Winsor, who married a daughter of Roger Williams 
  • Samuel's  son, Joshua Winsor, who married a descendant of the falconer to King Charles I
  • Samuel's grandson, Joshua Winsor, whose marriage to Freeborn Olney provides another link to Roger Williams 
    *detail of home lot map above

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