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About Researching the Mary and John

Contributed by Eric Landry Phelps

Excerpted from Search For The Passengers of the Mary & John - 1630, Volume 7
Available by mail order from The Mary and John Clearinghouse.

Excerpts from the Introduction

Volumes 4 through 9, listing four generations of descendants of the passengers of the Mary & John, are written as one integrated volume. Only volume 8, the Strong family is complete in itself. This was done because it is the largest. The other volumes are cross-referenced to other volumes. Whenever there was an inter-marriage between two children or descendants of the passengers they are noted under each family. However, their children and descendants are only listed under one of the families. This was done to condense the entire work. If all of the descendants of a given male passenger were listed under his name there would be considerable duplication and these six volumes would be many times as large. In short, these six volumes are really 49 family histories, written into one....

As an example, in volume 4, page 141, the first child of Thomas Ford was Mary Ford (01). She married Aaron Cook, another Mary & John passenger. All of their children are listed under the Aaron Cook family (volume 4, pages 51 to 62). Thomas Ford's second child, Joan Ford (02) married Roger Clapp, another Mary & John passenger and all of their children are listed under the Roger Clapp family (volume 4, pages 26 to 39). Thomas Ford's third child, Abigail Ford married John Strong another Mary & John passenger and all of their children are listed under the John Strong family (volume 9 pages 6 to 92). The only descendants of Thomas Ford who are listed in the Thomas ford section are the children and descendants of his fifth child, Hepzibah Ford who married (1) Richard Lyman & (2) John Marsh, who were not passengers (volume 4, pages 131 to 142). If all of the descendants of Thomas Ford would have been-listed under his name they would have filled the above 121 pages lasted plus some more cross-references.

Each family write-up is followed by an index and an ancestry, if one, is known. Volume 10 is a master index to volumes 4 through 9, and is a collection of all of the indexes in volumes 4 through 9. This volume is one of a series of volumes that list the first four generations of descendants of the passengers of the ship, Mary & John, that sailed from Plymouth, Devon, England on 20 March 1630 and landed at Nantasket Point, at the entrance of Boston Harbor on 30 May 1930. The reason for publishing in a number of small volumes was to minimize printing costs so that individuals could afford the books they wanted. Not everyone is interested in all of the passenger families. If these volumes had been combined into one volume it would have contained nearly 900 pages, and then only libraries could afford the price.

It is very important to note that the sources used in compiling these genealogies were mostly secondary. Many of the sources were books, some as old as 125 years.

When books of different dates were used the most recent were given preference, but nearly all books contain errors, so obviously there are errors in these volumes also. However, all of the more recent sources, such as The American Genealogist, The New York Biographical Genealogical Record, The New England Register and many other periodicals that have corrected old genealogicals were used. With the help of these more recent periodicals it has been possible to correct many errors that had been printed in the older books.

Consequently the reader is cautioned not to accept all of these entries as official.

To verify every entry for a work of this magnitude would have taken many lifetimes, and this work would not have been attempted. The entries are accompanied with the sources noted and the reader is encouraged to seek out these sources to check them out for themselves. The books and periodicals used came primarily from three sources; the Toledo Public Library (Ohio), the Port Wayne Public Library (Indiana) and the mail lending library of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, Massachusetts...

There were frequent intermarriages among the descendants of the Mary & John passengers. This made it possible to condense this work and, in effect, write forty genealogies into one. When two Mary & John descendants married, their children, grandchildren, etc. are only listed under one of the families, but they are cross­referenced so the reader can turn to the appropriate family to continue the line....

These volumes are not meant to be the ultimate books on the descendants of the Mary & John passengers. Obviously many thousands of the descendants were missed. In general, only those listed in existing books and publications were found. No doubt in the years ahead more complete books can be written. The reason only four generations are listed was not for lack of names, but because to include the fifth generation would have doubled the size of the work. To try to include all generations up to date would have meant searching for between, possibly 50 to 100 million descendants.