The Mystery of the Several Richard Taylors of Yarmouth, MA

The Ancestry of the New England Bogdonoffs:
Barber, Cooley, Devoe, Dick, Hill, Johannson, Peterson

Mysteries of the Several Richard TAYLORs of Yarmouth, MA

2 May 2016 UPDATE: What follows are my early research notes that ultimately led to a published article: See:

Jillaine S. Smith, "The Two Richard Taylor Families of Early Yarmouth, Massachusetts," Register; Boston, MA: NEHGS; volumes 165 (July 2011) and 166 (Oct 2011)
The key findings of my research are that there were three contemporary Richard Taylors all born about 1620:
  1. Richard Taylor, tailor of Boston; m1 Mary (possibly daughter of Gabriel Whelden); m2 Elizabeth; had son John; he died in 1673 in Boston.
  2. Richard Taylor, tailor of Yarmouth; the name of his wife is not documented; she might have been Mary, dau of Gabriel Whelden. They both died in 1673; she was found drowned.
  3. Richard Taylor, husbandman, "of the Rock" in Yarmouth; his wife was Ruth (NOT Burgess; no such woman existed), daughter of Gabriel Whelden; she died in 1693; he died in 1703. They had a son Richard Taylor b in 1652, who later married Hannah ____; these two died in Yarmouth in the 1730s; they are NOT the same couple of Richard Taylor (b about 1650) who married Hannah (Rice) (Ward) in Sudbury, Massachusetts (ancestors of my husband).

Old Research Notes

  1. Once and for all, either confirm or deny that there really were two contemporaneous Richard Taylors residing in early Yarmouth between 1643 and 1674 (i.e., the "tailor" and the "Rock").
  2. Related to them, confirm or deny the names (and maiden names) of their wives (supposedly Ruth Whelden and Ruth Burgess, respectively).
  3. Confirm which set of second generation children belonged to whom (if indeed there were two first-generation Richard-Ruth Taylor couples in Yarmouth).
  4. Confirm or deny that the Richard Taylor b 9 January 1652 who died and is buried in Yarmouth 1732 with a wife Hannah who died/is buried in Yarmouth 1733 and who supposedly had children born in Yarmouth between 1683-1695 is or is not the same Richard Taylor who married Hannah Rice Ward in Sudbury in October 1677 and had children, recorded as being born in Sudbury between 1678 and 1690. (If you're reading those birth year ranges correctly, you'll see the problem here.)
Related files:

Richard T. Hawes concerning Richard "Rock" Taylor (1914)

1674 Inventory of Richard Taylor, tailor of Yarmouth

1694 Will / 1699 Codicil / 1703 Proved Will of Richard "Rock" Taylor of Yarmouth.

Something of an Evolving Timeline of early Taylors of Massachusetts.

This page seeks to compile and share what I have found on the most critical questions. I encourage other researchers of this mystery to please share what they have found, so that once and for all, we can know whatever there is to really know about all these Richard Taylors.

-- Jillaine Smith (jillainedc AT, Washington, DC
last updated 30 June 2008

Were there two contemporaneous Richard Taylors residing in early Yarmouth between 1643 and 1674 (i.e., the "tailor" and the "Rock")?
Supporting This Theory Opposing This Theory

James W. Hawes, Richard Taylor, Tailor and some of his descendants, Cape Cod Library History & Genealogy, #48, Yarmouthport, MA 1914: "There were two men in Yarmouth in early times named Richard Taylor, the one, who appears to have been the older, was called Richard Taylor, tailor, from his trade, and the other, Richard Taylor of the Rock, from having built his house near a large rock near the boundary between Hockanom and Nobscusset in the northeastern part of the town."

Frederick Freeman, The history of Cape Cod : annals of thirteen towns of Barnstable County, Volume II, Boston, MA 1862; Yarmouth chapter, p. 193 (footnote to 1674 death of Mr Richard Taylor): "There were two contemporary Rd. Taylors. To distinguish them, one was called Rock, from the location of his dwelling; the other Tailor Taylor. We suppose this to have been the latter, and that his children were John, Joseph, Mary, Martha, Elizabeth, Anne, Hannah, and Sarah." (Ironically, this same source, on p. 182, lists only ONE Richard Taylor as "liable to bear arms" in Yarmouth in 1643.)

One Richard Taylor died in 1674 (History of Cape Code: annals of thirteen towns of Barnstable County, Vol. II, p. 192-3: "[1674...] Mr. Richard Taylor died this year."

(Same source, p. 194): Two years later in 1676 (April 29), a "rate" was made "towards the charge of the late war" showing the tax-paying inhabitants at this date, and their comparative wealth. The Taylors listed were:

  • Elizabeth Taylor, L8.3 [Is this one of the daughters of Richard, the "tailor"?]
  • Rd. Taylor, 2.17.9 [But which Richard is this? Is it the elder "Rock" or a younger, born Jan 1652?]
  • Jno. Taylor, 3.8.10 [Is this son of Richard, the "tailor"?]

[Same source (Annals of Barnstable Co....) p. 208:] "In 1703... Mr. Richard Taylor died Aug. 1." Footnote: "Mr. Richard Taylor, called Farmer Rock, to distinguish him from another of the same name, m., prob. Ruth Burgess, and had Ruth, July 29, 1647, d. inf.; Anne 1648; Ruth 1650; Rd. Jan. 9, 1652, who served in the Indian war, 1675; Mehitable 1654; Keziah 1656; Joshua May 9, 1659; Hannah 1661; Elisha Feb. 10, 1664; and Mary 1667."


Besides the fact that the sources to the left are NOT primary, additional, more primary evidence works against it:

While only a total of 2 RTs in the Massachusetts vicinity are listed as freemen [Source: 18 May 1642 list of freeman in Boston, Lucius R. Paige, "List of Freemen," NEHGS Register, Volume 3, 1849, p. 189 citing CR, Volume II, p. 18], there appear to be at least FOUR Richard Taylors in early Massachusetts, and no more than one in Yarmouth at the same time:

  1. 6 Feb 1647. A Richard Taylor and wife Mary baptized a son John Taylor in Boston. [Source: Early Records of Boston, NEHGS Register, volume 9, 1855, p. 188.]
    This is likely the same Richard who joined the Boston church 1 January 1642 (per Savage; need better source).
    This is also likely the RT ringing bells 26 Jun 1649 in Boston [Source: "Early Bells of Massachusetts-- Addenda," NEHGS Register, vol. 37, 1883, p. 46; by Elbridge H. Hoss, Esq. of Melrose, Mass.]
    Likely the Boston Richard Taylor whose will is probated 2 Aug 1673 and which names son John, sister Joan in England and [subsequent] wife Elizabeth.
    Also quite possibly the Richard Taylor with a store at the foot of the stairs under the Towne House 1661-1668 at least and whose son (and heir) John assigns it to another in Nov 1675.
  2. 27 Oct 1646 A Richard Taylor married Ruth, daughter of Gabriel Whelding of Yarmouth, on or closely after 27 Oct 1646 [Source: PCR Volume 2, p. 110: "In the case betweene Gabriell Whelding and Richard Taylor, about his daughter Ruth, the said Gabriell pmiseth his free assent and consent to theire marriage."].
    Likely the same RT of Yarmouth listed as able to bear arms in 1643. [Sources: New England Historical & Genealogical Register, Vol. 4, No. 3, July 1850, p. 258; History of Barntstable County, p. 460; History of Cape Cod: Annals of Thirteen towns of Barnstable County, p. 182.]
  3. 4 Oct 1659. A Richard Taylor "of Watertown" has a will probated in Middlesex County that names a wife, Ann, as sole heir, but also mentions a daughter Frances Adams.
  4. 17 Sep 1665. A Richard Taylor shows up in Charlestowne as early as 1665 when his wife, Ann, is admitted to the church there. [Source: Record-Book of the First Church in Charlestown, NEHGS Register, vol 23, 1869, p. 283: "Admitted: 1665 7th mo; 17 day: Anne taylor: ye wife [not widow] of Richard Taylor"] Can't be Yarmouth RT because Yarmouth RT is still married to Ruth Whelden; not likely to be RT who died in 1659 because his wife is not named widow at her admission to the church.

After the 1674 death of Richard Taylor (tailor), subsequent places where one would expect to find a senior Taylor ("rock") do not include on by the name of Richard. The 1676 tax list referred to on the left names only one Richard Taylor who could just as easily be that born in 1652. And if there were two-- a father and son-- one would expect the one taxed to be identified as "Senior".

Yarmouth Richard Taylor died in 1673/4, but an older adult Richard Taylor continues to be active in Yarmouth per Plymouth Colony Records [need specific citations]:

  1. January 21, 1679-80 (when the bounds of Richard Taylor's land near Nobscusset were fixed), and
  2. June 2, 1685 when Richard Taylor was on the grand jury.
But could these both be the Richard Taylor born 1 January 1652?? He would have been 28 in 1680 and 33 in 1684.
A 1655 lawsuit names TWO Richard Taylors as related to Gabriel Whelden: "To the Constable of maulden or his deputie. You are required to attach the body or goods of Margrett Weilden, late widdow of Gabriel Weilden, and to take bond of her to the value of fourscore plus tenn pounds with sufficient suerties for her appearance at the next Court holden at Cambrdge ye wd day of ye 8 mo. 55, then and there to anser ye complaynt of Henry Weilden John Weilden, Rich: Taylor Taylor and Rich: Taylor husbandman for withholding their parts or portions of an estate which their late father Gabriell Weilden was possessor or owner of in his life and soe make a true returne hereof under your hand. Dated the 28 of the 5th mo. 55. By the Court Tho: Starr" [Source: Middlesex Court Files Folio 11; HLS #411 [JCL also makes reference to "Probate Court, Cambridge, Suffolk County". Which is it?]] Note that one is a tailor, the other a husbandman. Both refer to "their late father Gabriel Weilden," implying that they are both sons-in-law of same. They are clearly both adults-- one a tailor, the other a husbandman (farmer). But HOW were each related to Whelden?

There were two Ruths, wives of Richards because:

  • One wife of Richard Taylor died in 1673 and her husband Richard died in 1674. [Source: Plymouth Colony Archive Project at University of Virginia citing PCR 5:122-123]; and
  • Ruth, wife of Richard Taylor died 22 June 1693 [Deaths on the Yarmouth, Cape Cod, Town records previous to 1700 (W.A.E.T.) "Ruth, wife of Richard Taylor, Senir, in Yarmouth, d. June 22, 1693."] and her husband Richard died in 1703 [not in Yarmouth records.]

Cape Cod Library as well as History of Barnstable (two different versions of the latter) all indicate that there were two Richard Taylors both married to women named Ruth.

The woman who drowned in 1673 is named wife of Richard Taylor "sometimes of Yarmouth," but her specific name is not listed. Therefore we don't a) which Richard Taylor she was the wife of, and b) what her own name was.

The death of Richard in 1703 is mentioned in History of Cape Cod: Annals of Barnstable County (vol 2, p. 207); it is also referenced in a genealogy of Eldredge, a line that a Taylor daughter married into, supposedly.

See Richard Taylor's 1693/1699/1703 will.


What were the names of each of the wives of these Yarmouth Richard Taylors?
Ruth Whelden married Richard "tailor" Taylor Ruth Burgess married Richard "Rock" Taylor
Supporting This Theory Opposing This Theory Supporting This Theory Opposing This Theory

A Richard Taylor married Ruth, daughter of Gabriel Whelding of Yarmouth, on or closely after 27 Oct 1646. [Source: PCR Volume 2, p. 110: "In the case betweene Gabriell Whelding and Richard Taylor, about his daughter Ruth, the said Gabriell pmiseth his free assent and consent to theire marriage."]

This appears to be accurate. They were married about 27 October 1646 (when her father gave permission), but when did she die? Some say 1673 by drowning (but see opposition comments above); JCL believes she is the Ruth Taylor, wife of Richard who died in 1693 (per Yarmouth records)

In any case, we do NOT know which Richard Taylor (tailor or "rock") she married.

Cape Cod Library, Volume 48, " Richard Taylor, tailor, and some of his descendants," Hawes, 1914.

The Taylor Family of Yarmouth, C. W. Swift, 1912.

History of Cape Cod, Annals of Barnstable County, volume 2, p. 208.

Deaths on the Yarmouth, Cape Cod, Town records previous to 1700 (W.A.E.T.) "Ruth, wife of Richard Taylor, Senir, in Yarmouth, d. June 22, 1693."

The records to the left are secondary at best (and probably tertiary or worse). No official document has been found to support a marriage between a Richard Taylor and a Ruth Burgess.


Which set of children belonged to which couple?
Richard "tailor" Taylor (1619-1674) & Drowned Woman (~1624-1673) Richard "Rock" Taylor (1619-1703) & Ruth (likely Whelden) (~1625-1693)
Documented (mentioned in 1674 will) Non-Documented Documented Non-Documented

John Taylor, no birth found, but about 1650. [Source: RT's 1674 will]. Note: he is not likely the John Taylor born in Boston in 1647 to Richard Taylor and Mary because Richard of Boston left a 1673 will naming a son John. John Taylor of Yarmouth married Sarah Matthews on 15 Dec 1674; settled in Chatham. He died before 18 Jan 1722 when his will was probated. [Source: Cape Cod Library, Volume I, Richard Taylor, Tailor, and Some of His Descendants, Page: 766]

Joseph Taylor, no birth found. [Source: RT's 1674 will]. Marries 1684 Experience Williamson and settles in Marshfield where he dies 13 Sep 1727.[Source CCL, Vol. 1, above.]

Martha Taylor, b 18 Dec 1650; m. 3 Dec 1675 Joseph Bearse; d. 27 Feb 1728. [Source; RT's 1674 will] Also, while Joseph Bearse is named in the 1695 will of Sarah Taylor, he is not explicitly named brother-in-law.

Mary Taylor, no birth found. [Source: RT's 1674 will]; supposedly married Abijah Merchant abt 1672 (their first child b. 1673); she d. Feb 1718. Appears they settled at Martha's Vineyard. [Source Savage and CCL, Vol. 1, above, p. 765.]


Ruth Taylor, b. 29 Jul 1647; bur 1648 [Source: Plymouth Colony Vital Records 1633-1689; 1647, p. 3, "Ruth Tayler, the daughter of Richard Tayler, was born the 29th of July."] NOTE: She could just as easily been daughter of Richard and Ruth next door -->

Ann Taylor, b 2 Dec 1648; bur 29 Mar 1650 [Source: Records of the Colony of New Plymouth 1633-1689, Boston 1857; Baltimore 1976, 1650, p. 12, Ann Tayler was buried the 29th of March, aged about a yeare and an halfe. But! Savage claims she married 25 Jun 1679 (29 years later!) to Josiah Davis. The Ann Taylor who did marry Josiah Davis appears to have died before Davis' 1709 death -- perhaps not named in his will? [Source for her marriage to Davis: Richard Hawes, "Richard Taylor, Tailor and Some of His Descendants," 1914.] She is also named in her sister Sarah Taylor's 1695 will as Ann Daves.

Ruth Taylor, b. 11 Apr 1649 [Source: Savage] Note that she and Ann above cannot be from the same mother as the birth dates are only 4 months apart (if accurate). If she is of the Richard-Ruth Taylor couple -->, then she must have died prior to the 1677 list of RT's children (see top of next column); she is also not named in RT's 1693 will.

Elizabeth Taylor, ~1655 (based on age at death); m 20 Dec 1680 Samuel Cobb [Source: Vol. III, Barnstable, Massachusetts, Vital Records, Page 73]. Her husband is named as brother-in-law of Sarah Taylor in the latter's 1695 will. Elizabeth died 4 May 1721 in Barnstable: "Here lyes ye body of Mrs. Elizabeth Cobe wife to Mr. Samuel Cobe decd May 4th 1721 in ye 66th of her age." [Source: 17th, 18th & 19th Century Cape Code Gravestones, transcribed by Robert J. Dunkle from the Gustavux Adolphus Hickley Collection, NEHGS;]

Hannah Taylor, no birth found, but 1658 per age at death; m. 19 Jul 1680 Dea. Job Crocker; d. 14 May 1743; her husband is named as brother-in-law of Sarah Taylor in the latter's 1695 will. [Source for marriage and death: Genealogical Notes of Barnstable Families and Cape Code History/Richard Taylor and some of his descendants.] Look for her will proved 8 Jul 1743. Eight children 1681-1700 Barnstable, apparently.

Sarah Taylor, no birth found; died and will probated in 1695. Her will implies that at a minimum, she was sister to Hannah and Elizabeth above.

All of the following from Yarmouth records, book 3, p. 13 [JCL]. "[1677] The names and ages of the children of Richard Taylar (worn):"

Richard Taylar 9 January 1652. Also named in RT's 1703 will. Probably died 1732 Yarmouth; Married Hannah Unknown; she d 1733 Yarmouth. Is NOT the same as Richard Taylor who married 1677 Hannah Rice Ward in Sudbury.

Mehitabel Taylar 23 July 1654. Also named in RT's 1703 will.

Kesia Taylar 18 February 1656; married Samuel Eldredge [per 1703 will of RT in which she is so named].

Gesur Taylar 9 May 1659. Not named in RT's 1703 will; perhaps he died before then? Same as Jasher?

Hanna Taylar 17 September 1661; m. < 1703 Jenkins [per 1703 will of RT where she is also named.]

Elysha Taylar 10 February 1664. Also named in RT's 1703 will.

Mary Taylar 12 June 1667. Not named in RT's 1703 will so she must have died before then.

NOTE: On the 1677 list of these names, the mother's name is not mentioned. But they are listed as a group, as the children of Richard Taylor of Yarmouth. Note that there is no overlap of names with that of the Richard Taylor in the far left column.

Will of Richard Taylor who died 1 Aug 1703 was written initially in 1693 (the year his wife died), codiciled in 1699, and proved in 1703. It names his children as:

1. Richard Taylor
2. Mehitabel [married Jonathan Smith 29 Dec 1691]
3. Keziah (who married Samuel Eldredge)
4. Hannah (who married Job Jenkins) "20 shillings if she comes for it.." otherwise, it should go to "my two other daughters, Mehetable and Keziah" [note: no daughters Mary, Ruth or Ann named]
5. Elisha

Is it possible that ALL 17 of these children are the children of ONE, not TWO, Richard Taylors? Supporting this is the fact that a) there is no overlap in names of any of them; and b) there is no overlap in dates-- i.e., all 17 of these named children could be the children of ONE Richard Taylor.

But the existence of two separate wills/inventories-- one inventoried/probated in 1673/4 and another in 1703 each with a different set of children-- belies the theory that all 17 of these children were of the same man. 


Was Richard Taylor b. 9 Jan 1652 who died and is buried 1732 in Yarmouth with wife Hannah (who d/is buried 1733 in Yarmouth) the same as Richard Taylor who married Hannah Rice Ward Oct 1677 in Sudbury?
Supporting This Theory Opposing This Theory

The ages at death of the Richard and Hannah buried in Yarmouth match the estimated birth years of both Richard and Hannah of Sudbury.

The documented births of the Sudbury Richard and Hannah are:

Richard Taylor, b. 1678

John Taylor, b. 1680

Elizabeth Taylor, b. 1682

Anna Taylor, b. 1684

Lydia Taylor, b. 1686

Caleb Taylor, b. abt. 1690 [not in Sudbury/Middlesex Records]

Jonathan Taylor, b. abt. 1693 [named in the 1694 administration of Sudbury Richard Taylor's estate]


First, the administration of the estate of Richard Taylor of Sudbury documents that he died July 1694. The Rice Family Association claims that Hannah Rice Ward Taylor died in 1707, but without source. The Richard-Hannah couple of Yarmouth died in 1732 and 1733 respectively and are buried in the old Yarmouth Cemetery.

Second, while we have not found documentation of the births of Yarmouth Richard Taylor's children, their birth years can be estimated by their age at death, which in several cases we do have. When compared to the documented birth years of the Sudbury children, there is at least one overlap in the births of both sets of couples' children. Specifically:

Isaac Taylor, b. abt. 1684; d. 21 July 1755 in his 72nd year. 1755 will names brother Jasher. Note that this estimated birth year overlaps with Sudbury Anna Taylor born the same year.

Joshua/Jasher Taylor, b. abt. 1685; d. 31 Oct 1752; m. Experience Cobb 18 Feb 1713? A captain.

Nathan Taylor, b. abt. 1687; m. 30 Jun 1715 Mehitable Cobb.

Ebenezer Taylor, b. May 1689; m. abt 1721 Mary Lothrop; d. 10 Oct 1770, in 82nd year.

Mary Taylor, b. Abt. 1688; m. bef 1708 Jonathan Whelden.

Another daughter (Hannah?) per Savage.



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