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Origins of William and George Phelps of Dorchester

Research Shows Origins in Crewkerne, But Not Related

Most Phelps researchers are familiar with The Phelps Family of America and Their English Ancestors by Judge Oliver Seymour Phelps and Andrew T. Servin. The authors believed that the original immigrants William Phelps and George Phelps originated in Tewkesbury. While the books remains a valuable research tool, recognized genealogical scholars have shown that the two men are more likely to have come from Crewkerne. Very recent DNA research has also established that the two are probably not related.

Publications About Origins in Crewkerne

Support for the origins of William and George in Crewkerne includes the following publications:

  • Outstanding New England genealogist Robert Charles Anderson provides the first substantive proof that William Phelps was not from Tewkesbury but from Crewkerne. (The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633 Vol. 3: 1444-1446 Available in hardbound or CD-ROM) For more information, see Margaret Swanson's article for the Phelps Connections newsletter about the "Phelps Entries in The Great Migration Begins.'
  • John Plummer explores the likely origins of George Phelps as a passenger on the Recovery of 1633/4. (In an article originally published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 77, December 1989, Number 4, pages 249-255)
  • Myrtle Steven Hyde questions the Phelps genealogy authors' claim that the emigrants William and George Phelps, came from Tewkesbury. (In The American Genealogist, Vol. 58 Oct. 1982.)
    • The Phelps genealogy authors called the emigrant, George Phelps, a brother of William, but there is no record of George in Tewkesbury.
    • William's son, William Jr. was mentioned in a disposition taken 29 May 1677 as being about three score years of age. (Ancient History of Windsor, Vol. 2 p. 564).
    • Hyde says they were probably brothers, but she could find no supporting evidence. DNA research has now established that they are probably not related.

DNA Testing Yields Significant Findings

More recently, as a result of DNA testing, several interesting conclusions have been arrived at:

  • William Phelps born about 1593, who arrived in Dorchester, Massachusetts, aboard the Mary and John in 1630, and George Phelps who apparently arrived in 1635 aboard the Recovery of London, do not appear to be related.
  • Three Phelps lines from the Southern United States, previously thought to be unrelated, have been shown to be biologically related with a common ancestor:
    • James Phelps d 1786 Caswell Co, NC
    • Thomas Phelps d 1751 Albemarle, VA
    • Thomas Felps d 1759 Baltimore Co., Md.
  • It is now evident that this James Phelps of Gates Co., NC is not related to Nicholas Phelps of Perquimans Co., NC.

To Learn More About...

William Phelps, probably of Crewkerne, arrived aboard the Mary & John in 1630, probably with his second wife and the children from their current and his previous marriage. Learn more here.

George Phelps, also likely from Crewkerne, probably came aboard the Recovery in 1634. He was single and later married in Windsor. Learn more here.

DNA Testing, see Phelps DNA Project.