John Schedde, My Earliest Known Ancestor, ca. 1390
It pretty much goes without saying that every time one finds a new ancestor, that automatically means there are at least two more to look for, they being the new find's parents. Thus, the push back into the past is relentless. Eventually the record trail dries up, but seeing just how far back one can go is always exciting. John Schedde, of Sudbury, Suffolk, England is my earliest reliably known ancestor, born about 1390.
The information here comes from the Daniel Shed Genealogy, by Frank E. Shedd and J. Gardner Bartlett, published in Cambridge, Mass. in 1921. While many genealogies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries must be approached with caution and skepticism, this is a pleasant exception. Mr. Shedd compiled the information over about 30 years of research, starting in 1885. He died about six years before publication. The Shedd Family Association engaged Mr. Bartlett, a well respected genealogist specializing in English ancestry of colonial era immigrants, to edit and organize the work for publication. He was responsible for the English origin work, which Mr. Shedd had not found.
John Schedde, of Sudbury, County Suffolk, was born about 1390. Sudbury is in Babergh Hundred in Suffolk, situated on the river Stour which separates the counties of Suffolk and Essex. As early as the Norman Conquest (1066) it was an important market town, and became a center for the manufacture of woolen cloth about 1350. The "knowledge concerning John Schedde is obtained from some ancient manor court rolls of Sudbury which state that he was a fuller (or woolen cloth refiner). The mentions of John Schedde extend from 1420 to 1437", comprising primarily court appearances for instances of trespass. It remains known only to history why Mr. Schedde was such a contentious man, appearing in court at least four times from 1432 to 1437. No will of John Schedde has been preserved, and his wife's name is unknown.
Prior to John Schedde, one must look back one hundred years to the late thirteenth/early fourteenth centuries to find John de Schedde, "the earliest person who has been found bearing the Shedd family name in England. He appears at Edwardstone, County Suffolk, in 1327, as assessed two shillings on a subsidy roll or tax list of a grant made by Parliament to the King in the first year of the reign of King Edward III.
Edwardstone is a small rural parish in Suffolk about sixty miles north-east of London, and its church is about five miles east of the center of Sudbury, the nearest important town; the population of Edwardstone is now [ca. 1885; 352 in 2011] about five hundred and of Sudbury about ten thousand. The church of Edwardstone is an ancient flint structure built in the fifteenth century. The Shedd family name is thus first found in the very heart of the region of England (Suffolk and Essex) from which was derived three centuries later over half of the twenty-five thousand Puritan founders of New England before 1650, the principal percentage of whose blood was of Anglo-Saxon origin, with small amounts of Norman, Danish and Briton strains. Adjoining Edwardstone on the east is Groton, the home of Gov. John Winthrop the leader in the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630.
The ‘de’ before the surname Schedde indicates it to be a place or locality surname, this first John being ‘of’ or ‘at’ Schedde. The most plausible explanation for use of the word as a name seems to be residence at a ridge, in the sense of the word still preserved in ‘water-shed.’ This John de Schedde is the sole person of the name in Suffolk and Essex in this subsidy roll of 1327 with over twenty-five thousand heads of families representing for the two counties probably a population of nearly one hundred and fifty thousand souls.
It therefore seems reasonable to believe that he was the direct ancestor of Scheddes who appear in the immediate vicinity of Edwardstone on records about a century later, from one of whom, John Schedde (born about 1390) of Sudbury, only five miles west of Edwardstone, an unbroken line can be traced in Essex down to Daniel Shed, who emigrated to New England before 1642 and established the family in the New World. But the lives and even the names of the two (or possibly three) generations between John de Schedde of Edwardstone in 1327 and his undoubted descendant John Schedde of Sudbury remain for the present shrouded in oblivion. During this period of English history only scant records now remain concerning the mass of the population."
Prepared 13 October 2019