Early VA Meachams -- Posts on Forum

First Posts on Meacham Family Forum

Early Meachams and the data

[Nov. 1, 1998]

I have just begun delving into Meacham genealogy, and being an academic, was struck by how little documentation and annotation is available for all the research that has been done. Clarence Mitcham for example published a huge amount of family tree data, and must have had extensive notes on where all this data came from. Does anyone know whether his records survived and if so where they are now? Similarly for the numerous researchers he mentions: Betty Jane Meacham Armstrong of Alexandria VA, Margaret Prowse Mason of Hopkinsville KY, Anita Whitefield Darnell of Clarksville TN, G.R. (Bob) Bryan of Portsmouth VA, Alta Morris of Albuquerque NM, Mary Meacham Fishburn, Dr. C. Nash Herdon, etc. He also mentions Laura Idah Meacham Strobridge d. 1932 who left her records with the Connecticut Historical Society. Has anyone examined these records? I have also seen a reference to the "Burton Meacham files." Does anyone know where these files are now?

I would also be interested to know:

1. Has Mitcham's data been put on database or gedcom file? Is his book still available?

2. Does anyone have a copy of, or has anyone examined, the documents concerning the ship "Paule" or "Paule" which brought "Jo. Machem" and /or "John Micham" to Virginia from England in 1635? Mitcham's quoting of these documents is a little confusing.

3. Has anyone seen firsthand any document to connect "Jo. Machem" and/or "John Micham" with Ambrose and Ursula Perrie Meacham in England? A number of genealogies have this connection, but I have not seen any evidence cited.

Jo. Machem -- Ancestry?

[Nov. 6, 1998]

Like my namesake, who posted a few days ago re Jeremiah Meacham, I too "am sore distressed." For a long time it has been claimed that the southern branch of US Meachams descended from a "Jo. Machem" and/or "John Micham" listed as having been transported from England to Virginia in 1635. At least there ARE documents cited to show that these names appear among early immigrants to Virginia. (BTW, I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has actually examined the documents, since Clarence Mitcham's quoting from them is rather unclear and badly punctuated.)

What is distressing is to see, over and over again in many genealogies, the claim that Jo. (perhaps Joshua) Machem and John Micham were brothers, sons of Ambrose and Ursula Meacham of Crewkerne, Somerset, England, but WITHOUT any documentation ever cited. The only item I have heard about is a claim made by Burton Meacham in the 1980's that a will for Ambrose was discovered in Taunton, Somerset, which mentioned Joshua, John AND (mirabile dictu) Jeremiah as sons. Neither a copy or a transcription of the will has ever been produced, so far as I can discover.

What I would very much like to know is -- what is the basis of the claimed link of Jo. Machem and/or John Micham to Ambrose and Ursula of Somerset? Has anyone ever seen any documentation cited for the various lists of their children that are floating around? And even if they had sons named John and Joshua, what is there to link these sons to our immigrant ancestors? If it is just a surmise based on the similar names, it would appear to be worthless.

News from Crewkerne

[Nov. 22, 1998]

Some of us are making a concerted effort to dig up whatever evidence there is at the bottom of the notion that the two American Meacham lines are descended from sons of Ambrose and Ursula Meacham of Crewkerne, Somerset, England.

I contacted several people in England, and luckily found one person in Somerset who is keen to do some research on the matter when she has time. Her first message was that she had been in touch with a Meecham [sic] from Crewkerne (they are still there!). She said:

"... most of his family had come from around that area. He had not done any research, but told me his brother had done some, so I rang him and he confirmed he had done a little, only going back to about 1830, and there were Meechams in the Churchyard of St. Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne. This, apparently, is quite an old Church, dating back to the 15th or 16th century, so might be a possibility IF I can find out where the Church records have been deposited."

And later she wrote:

"I phoned the Vicar at St. Bartholomew's to find out if it would be O.K. to go over and photograph, and he was very welcoming and said yes, inside and outside. The Church is always open in daylighthours (which makes a change these days!) He didn't think there would be any really old gravestones, so we may not be lucky there, and all the records are deposited at Record Office, Taunton, as I thought. He said the Church was 15th century, and architecturally very interesting and important, so something to look forward to. When I told him about our query, he suggested that your forebears may have gone over in the "Mary & John" ship, from Plymouth. He seemed to know something about the history, so I may be able to find out more when I visit. He asked me to pass on his best wishes to all the Meachams in America who were descended from this area and was pleased that people remembered their origins..."

Stay tuned.

Barbados Meachams

[Jan. 5, 1999]

In November Walker Meacham of Kentucky sent me copies of reports by archivists he engaged in Taunton and Bristol, Somerset. One of these reports mentioned that, in addition to Jo. Machem on the Paule, a "William Meacham" also sailed from London in 1635. Not having seen this name cited previously as an immigrant to America, I set out to find the reference, and eventually located it on a list of passengers on the Peter Bonaventure sailing to St. Christopher and Barbados Islands in April 1635. He is listed as "William Mecham, 20."

I checked the IGI for Meachams in Barbados and found one entry:

Xtopher [Christopher] Meacham chr 28 Nov 1680
Father: Xtopher, Mother: Katha., St. Michael.

It would be interesting to know more about this line, viz. whether it survived and expanded into other areas of the Carribean, or even to North America.There was frequent shipping between Barbados and the other early colonies, and it is known that many settlers did eventually move from the Carribean to the mainland. So there is a possibility that a son or grandson of William Mecham came to Virginia or other North American colony from Barbados around 1660-1700.

Curiously, there is also a "William Banks,21" as a co-passenger with William Mecham, just as there was Henry Banks on the Paule with John Machem. If they both came from the same families and region in England, this could provide a clue in tracking down where John Machem came from. Unfortunately, there are lots of 17th century Banks according to the IGI, especially in York and Lancaster, but few in Somerset. Another curious fact: burial records in St. Michael's Parish, Barbados include "Banks, Henry September 1, 1678." Could this be the Henry Banks who came to Virginia on the Paule ?

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