Woolsey's Myths

Birth Date of George Woolsey

by Wilford Whitaker

The Myth

George Woolsey, the Immigrant Ancestor, known as "The Settler" by some writers, was born 27 Oct 1610.

Source of the Myth

01. Moore, Charles B. Esqr. New York Genealogical & Biographical Society. THE RECORD. Vol. 3, published 1872 & 1873, p. 128. George Woolsey, an English boy, born in 1610, had resided with his parents in Holland, say in Rotterdam.

02. Dwight, Benjamin W. of Clinton, NY. The New York Genealogical and Biographical RECORD. Vol. 4:143ff. 1873. "The Descendants of Rev. Benjamin Woolsey, of Dosoris (Glen Cove), L. I." "George Woolsey, the settler, b at Yarmouth, England, 27 Oct 1610, . . . ."

03. "Our immigrant Woolsey Ancestor appears to be one George Woolsey of Yarmouth or Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England. Born 27 Oct 1610, he and his parents moved to Holland when he was a young lad, where his father worked for a Dutch Company. In Rotterdam, he quickly picked up the Dutch language, and was a big help in his father´s business. He came to Salem in 1623, age 13." [various quotations, probably using Moore, above]

04. "There was, as per p. 128 of Vol. IV. of the Genealogical Record, a George Woolsey, an English boy, b in 1610, who had resided with his parents in Rotterdam, came over in a Dutch vessel with emigrants in 1623 and went to Plymouth, MA, and in 1647 made his appearance in New Amsterdam." [quotation from Moore, above]

Straightening the Record

From the Register of St. Nicholas Church in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk County, England, we have the date of his baptism. 15 May 1616 George Woolsey, son of George and ffrances

[Church of England Parish Registers. St. Nicholas’ Church (Yarmouth). Parish registers, 1558-1901. Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1987. Microfilm copies of original records in the Norfolk Record Office, Central Library, Norwich, Norfolk, England. High Reduction microfilm (42x). Use high magnification reader. Baptisms, marriages and burials. 1558-1769. British Film Area. Family History Library film No. 1526327, item 16-26. Not paged.]

In that period of time, parents made every effort to have their children baptized (christened) as soon as possible after their birth. Often on the same day, and usually within two or three days. This is understandable, knowing the high infant mortality at that time, and their concern for their child’s spiritual welfare.

George Woolsey, himself, did not know the exact date of his birth. In a deposition made in 1647, he stated he was "age 26", making him born in 1621. Perhaps, as he was preparing to get married that year, he did not want his bride-to-be to know he was 31 years old. Remember, she was only 17 years old when she got married.

" Wolsey (Woolsey), George, from Yarmouth, England, age 26, [made a deposition on] 23 Jul 1647."

[ Scott, Kenneth. NATIONAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY. Dec 1969. p. 297. "Early New Yorkers and Their Ages".[VLDT II:688] - [Van Lear's Typescript Translations of Colonial Dutch Manuscripts, in the State Library of New York.]

What the Facts Tell Us About the Myth

Fact: The date 27 Oct 1610 is a definite date and is incredibly long-lived. But no primary source documents have been found to substantiate that date.

Fact: The date 15 May 1616 of George Woolsey’s baptism has been proven beyond question.

Fact: It has been suggested by some that George Woolsey was born in 1610 and baptized in 1616. That argument may hold water on the frontiers of America, where a family might not see a minister for several years, but not in Great Yarmouth, one of the largest parishes in England, and parents were so anxious to have it done as soon as possible.

If you have myths to suggest, or evidence to add supporting or further refuting a myth, please send your message to Wilford Whitaker - Editor and Chief of Woolsey Myths.


Myths Index

Carolyn Woolsey Wilkerson, webmistress.