Early VA Meachams -- Posts on List

First Posts on Meacham List

[Dec. 13, 1998]

I have posted an article about the southern Meachams' 1635 immigrant ancestor "Jo. Machem" on the Meacham Family Forum, presenting compelling evidence that his name was John. Also discussed is the reference to a "Meachen Jno Junr" that I found in a 1704 Virginia document, and the possibility that this was his son. I would be very interested to hear comments anyone might have.

Can someone can help in locating the notes of previous researchers? I am now looking into the 17th century Meachams of Virginia, and would love to see what research was done previously. Clarence Mitcham cites three researchers who did a lot of work in the 1960s and 70s. Does anyone have an address for any of the following people or their relatives/children:

Mrs. Paul R. Armstrong (nee Betty Jane Meacham) of Alexandria, Va.
Dr. C. Nash Herdon of Winston-Salem, N. Carolina
G.R. "Bob" Bryan of Portsmouth, Va.

I would like to try to track down their notes and any summaries or narrative they might have written. It seems a shame that the work these people and others have done just disappears with their passing from the scene. Newcomers should build on the foundations they constructed and they should be given due credit for their long hours of research.

[Jan. 5, 1999]

New Year's Greetings to all Meacham genealogists!

I have posted another longish article on the Meacham Family Forum with some new research. The title is:

"17th century Virginia Meachams -- new data and, alas, a more complicated picture."

Also posted a shorter note on the rootsweb Meacham board entitled "Barbados Meachams" about a line that may have descended from the immigrant William Mecham of 1635.

Sometimes research and new data clarifies, sometimes it complicates -- such is the nature of historical and scientific research. The new data in this case indicates that we can no longer assume that "Jo. Machem" was the ancestor of all southern Meachams. There was never any convincing evidence of this to begin with, but it is now abundantly clear that the situation is more complicated. And "Jo." stands definitely, unquestionably for JOHN! I have now accumulated quite solid evidence for this, in addition to what was posted earlier.

[Note to Loretta: I am sure we all would like to know what "strong evidence" there is to support an immigrant from England to Virginia named Joshua Machem/Micham, so please do share it with us. Hopefully the subject can be discussed without flames.Clarence Mitcham cites a 1672-4 document which mentions Joshua Meacham, constable of Westover Parish, Va., who he believed was born in Virginia ca. 1650. But what evidence is there of an earlier one? And is there any evidence that Jo. Machem married and had children? Or that his parents were Ambrose and Ursula Meacham of Crewkerne, Somerset?]

The story about the three brothers -- Jeremiah, Joshua and John -- who left Somerset and went to the New World was nice, and I was becoming rather attached to the notion of Crewkerne as the ancestral home of all American Meachams, especially after having made contact with some Meechams still living there. But, alas, I think we have to let go of the Crewkerne connection. At present, no evidence AT ALL has been produced that a Joshua Meacham was ever born in Crewkerne. And John son of Ambrose is most unlikely to be our John Machem. There is a possibility that Jeremiah was born/christened in Bristol, but this is still far from established.

Surely 1999 will hold plenty of new information and surprises for us.

[March 3, 1999]

On Jan. 10, 1999, Loretta Bush Maxwell responded to my post of Jan. 6. on this List (see Rootsweb archives for the full text). Her response (quotes from it marked : below) has many inaccuracies and unsubstantiated claims. As I have been away for the past few weeks, I beg the indulgence of List members for this tardy reply.

I do not wish to be antagonistic, only to try to advance the inquiry into our Meacham origins. Everyone would agree that we need to keep an open mind and be prepared to change our views when new data requires it. That time has come for what I call MGM -- Meacham genealogy mythology. Naturally there will be disagreements and these can be discussed with civility. It is one thing to voice an opinion or formulate a hypothesis; it is another kettle of fish entirely to make a claim that something is a fact. If we make a claim we should be prepared to substanstiate it. Calling for this is not flaming; it is normal in any area of inquiry. If someone wants others to accept or even take seriously his claim, he has to produce some evidence for it. In ordinary speech this is called "put up or shut up!" I was going to tempt the wrath of the gods by making this into another Internet acronym ( PUOSU), but thought better of it. Let us make a more polite one -- SODYC. "Substantiate or drop your claim."

Loretta wrote:
: I always hate answering the querries concerning the Joshua/John
: issue as without fail it flames. Everyone has their own theroies
: and some believe they have proven it one way or the other. It all
: depends on your view of things and from from which direction
: you approach the research.

No, it does not. It depends on whether it has been proven one way or the other. I stated in my post that I had PROOF: "And ‘Jo.' stands definitely, unquestionably for JOHN! I have now accumulated quite solid evidence for this, in addition to what was posted earlier." Three people wrote me about this question, two stating their view that Jo. Machem was or might be Joshua. Only one asked about what the solid evidence I had mentioned. I decided to put together a separate article, to bury forever (one can hope!) the idea that the abbreviation "Jo." on the passenger lists could have stood for anything other than John. I am posting this article to the Meacham Family Forum, Meacham Queries Board, alt.genealogy and soc.genealogy.britain for comment.

: Having said all this... Here is why I believe the Jo. Mecum listed
: in the shipping records aboard the Paule from London to Virgina
: is Joshua Meacham not John...

There is no Jo. Mecum that I can find on the shipping lists. The name on the passenger list of the Paule is "Jo. Machem."

: 1. The Jo. Mecum listed is 18 yrs of age placing his birth at 1617.
: Same as that of Joshua Meacham/Meachum, the elder who married
: Jane Lightfoot.

What evidence is there of any Joshua Meacham/um b. 1617? Do not quote from dubious genealogies which give Joshua Meacham as a son of Ambrose and Ursula of Somerset, who along with his brother Jeremiah is said to have immigrated to America. Because there is no evidence at all that the family in Somerset had sons named Joshua or Jeremiah. This is MGM bigtime! And what evidence is there of a Jane Lightfoot married to a Joshua Meacham/um? I can find no evidence of a Jane Lightfoot in Virginia at all. Do not quote from Burton Meacham who created some MGM yarns but published no evidence for them. SODYC.

: 2. Richard Banks father of Elizabeth Banks was also aboard
: the Paule.

On the list of Paule passengers, there is no Richard Banks, but there is a Henry Banks. What list shows the names as Jo. Mecum and Richard Banks?

: As you know Elizabeth married Joshua Meacham, the younger
: (b:1650) thus tieing the Meacham's and Banks shortly after
: their arrival here.

Nope. Don't know that. I have seen evidence that Francis Banks married Henry Meacum or Meachum in the early 18th century. Please show evidence that a Joshua Meacham b. 1650 married an Elizabeth Banks.

: Also records can be found showing business dealings between
: Ambrose and Richard Banks in England.

This would be interesting, if true. Please cite evidence.

: 3. If you look carefully at the records of the 1613 Jeremiah
: Meacham's family's you will find that the brother John Meacham
: came to the US with Jeremiah and died shortly there after without
: issue. Therefore he could not be the Jo. Mecum listed aboard the
: Paule. Also as stated above the year of birth does not fit.

This would be interesting, if true. I am afraid however it is more MGM. Please cite evidence showing John came over with Jeremiah. Or that John had a brother named Jeremiah. Do not quote from IGI "relatives' submissions" which may be merely what they have heard. SODYC. Only one item seems correct above: John Meacham of Somerset is not the Jo. Machem on the Paule.

: 4. Is the obvious mispelling of Meacham. Not just a little but
: blantely illiterate of its true spelling. If you look carefully at the
: shipping list of the Paule you will find several other surnames
: were hopelessly mispelled leaving that door wide open for the
: missing s on Jo. which would be short for Joshua.

There were many variant spellings of Meacham and the other surnames in England at the time. Macham, Machem, Michem, Mecum, etc cannot be called mispellings unless the "correct" spelling (the way the father's name was spelled) can be demonstrated. And, um, (is there some way to put this diplomatically?), best to check your own spelling.

: 5. Is your own quote that states that no shipping record for the
: 1617 Joshua has been located. There would not be one if the
: 18 yr old Jo. Mecum were indeed Joshua Meacham, the elder.

What 1617 Joshua? Where is there a record in Virginia of a Joshua Meacham born in 1617? Or any time before 1650? SODYC.

: 6. Is Jo. Mecum himself. No record of Jo. Mecum exsists or
: none that that I have been able to locate after his arrival in
: Virginia but none exsisted of Joshua, the elder prior to Jo.
: Mecum arrival either. Thus supporting the theroy that Jo is
: Joshua.

Faulty reasoning here. And wrong. There is a headright claim for "John Michem" in 1652. This means a John Michem was imported sometime prior to 1652, and Michem is a reasonably close rendition of Machem. Repeat: What evidence is there of a Joshua Meacham in Virginia around the time of 1635-1652? SODYC!

: Any of this alone is not enough to add creedence to the theroy
: Jo. Mecum is Joshua Meacham, the elder. However, when you
: pile it all together...

It is a pile of errors, faulty reasoning and unsubstantiated claims.

: it leaves little room for another explaintion no matter how many
: people know that Jo is short for John. After all, what's a missing
: s between strangers??

To begin with, it is what the historical document says. And second, there is another document a few years later which refers to the importing of JOHN Michem. Third, Jos. was a common abbreviation for Joseph. There is no abbreviation for Joshua, which was a very rare forename.

Nor is there, as far as I can tell, any evidence AT ALL for "Joshua the elder." Now I stand to be corrected ....... by real evidence. So let's see some, or let's not hear any more MGM yarns about "Joshua the elder" as the immigrant ancestor of Meachams in Virginia.

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