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Origins of Richard Phelps of Dorchester

Probably from Crewekerne, not Tewkewsbury, England

Contributed by Eric Landry Phelps; edited by Brian Phelps.

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

Born about 1618, birthplace unconfirmed. Nothing is known about him after 1635.

This Richard Phelps has been called the brother of William Phelps & George Phelps, bpt. 26 Dec. 1609, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. He has also been called the son of William Phelps, bpt. 26 Dec. 1619, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, which is more likely. However, it has been shown that the William Phelps family of Connecticut did not come from Tewkesbury, and there is no record of them being there after 26 Dec. 1619.

Recent searches have shown strong evidence the William Phelps family was probably in Porlock and Crewkerne, Somerset from 1618 to 1638. There was a Richard Phelps born in Porlock in 1619, but no exact date or parents are listed. Other baptisms there appear to be the children of William Phelps. See the William Phelps ancestry. On 2 May 1635, Richard Phelps, age 17, left Dorchester for the Barbados Islands on the ship "Alexander" and no more was heard from him.

Robert Charles Anderson in his book The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633 (available in hardbound or CD-ROM) shows that William Phelps of Massachusetts and Connecticut is not the William Phelps of Tewkesbury records, but more likely from Crewkerne .

The first Phelps immigrant of interest is Richard Phelps, origin and date of immigration unknown, who is mentioned in only two records. The earliest is in Dorchester, MA, 1633, and mentions his fence as a boundary. The second entry is a fine for drunkenness in 1635-36. Anderson states that no evidence exists for the hypothesis that Richard had a relationship to William Phelps or George Phelps who also lived in Dorchester. Indeed he states the possibility that each incident refers to a different individual. [In 1650, Dorchester was renamed Windsor.]

There was a Richard Phelps in Crewkerne, Somerset from 1642 to 1657 (Campbell's Records in Taunton, Somerset). He had children baptised there, Ex. (1642), Mary (1644) & Joseph (1657). Maybe this is the Richard Phelps (b. 1618), who returned to his hometown from Barbados. (Windsor 2:562)