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Woolsey's Myths

The Parents of George Woolsey are
Rev. Benjamin Wolsey & ___ Hooks

by Wilford Whitaker

The Myth

George Woolsey, the settler, . . . in Holland, with his father, Benjamin Woolsey, son of Thomas

Source of the Myth

01. Moore, Charles B. Esqr. New York Genealogical & Biographical Society. THE RECORD. Vol. 3, published 1872 & 1873, p. 15. "John Livingston and Benjamin Woolsey who had (and have yet) such strong connections through their children in this country, were afterwards preachers at Rotterdam.

01. Dwight, Benjamin W. of Clinton, NY. The New York Genealogical and Biographical RECORD. Vol. 4:143ff. "The Descendants of Rev. Benjamin Woolsey, of Dosoris (Glen Cove), L. I." "George Woolsey, the settler, b at Yarmouth, England, 27 Oct 1610, resided, as is supposed, for some time in Holland, with his father Benjamin Woolsey, son of Thomas."

02. Brewer, Hester (Woolsey). Family of George Wood Woolsey and wife Sarah Nelson Woolsey. Tuttle Publishing Co, Inc. Rutland, VT. 1940. [George Wood Woolsey] was a descendant of Rev. Benjamin, son of Thomas Woolsey of Ipswich, County Suffolk, England, a near relative of Cardinal Woolsey, the last of the great clerical ministers of the middle ages and for fourteen years Prime Minister of Henry VIII.

03. IBID:p. 10. During the reign of [James I], Rev. Benjamin Woolsey was preaching at Yarmouth, a seaport town in County Norfolk, England, 121 miles NE of London on a narrow slip of land between the yare and the sea, and here was situated the largest parish church in England, which was founded in 1101. I know nothing of Rev. Benjaminís church affiliation in England, . . . . can hardly conceive conditions (religious persecutions) in England. . . he left England accompanied by his son George and settled in Holland. No mention is made of the wife of Rev. Benjamin in the Woolsey history I have seen. . . .After arriving in Holland, Rev. Benjamin Woolsey with another Englishman, John Livingston, preached for awhile in Rotterdam, before embarking for America. [brief reference to the Pilgrims, 1620]. . . . In 1623, . . . Rev. Benjamin and his small son George, also seeking religious freedom, sailed from Holland and safely set foot upon American soil at New Amsterdam.

04. Harmon, Katharine Sussong. The Benjamin Woolsey Family of Yarmouth, England. [n.d. but before 1991] "Rev. Benjamin Woolsey of Yarmouth, England, (s/o Thomas Woolsey), was the father of George Woolsey of New York." [Although she names her book after Rev. Benjamin Woolsey, thankfully she doesnít spend much time on him, but copies several paragraphs almost verbatim (without acknowledgment) from Hester (Woolsey) Brewer.]

05. Hart, Donald C. A Woolsey Family of America, 1623 - 1975. Privately printed? Santa Cruz, CA 1975. p. 1. "It is believed by this author that the American Woolseys are kin to the Cardinal Wolsey family. We have the same Coat of Arms but with a different crest. . . . It is my belief that the American branch of Wolseys came from Thomas Wynter Wolsey. Since I do not have iron clad proof of this as yet, I can only surmise this to be a fact. But I do know that our first ancestor to come to America was Reverand [sic] Benjamin Wolsey. Born in Suffolk County, England, he became a Clergyman of Yarmouth, a town between Suffolk and Norfolk counties, England. . . . There in Holland, Reverend Benjamin and a Reverend John Livingston became close friends. (These facts are to be found in the Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. 4, Page 14, published in 1874 in N. Y. City). They landed in America in 1623, at Plymouth, MA. The record is not clear that Rev. Benjamin had a wife. It tells of one son, George Wolsey, born in 1610 at Yarmouth, England. From here on the details concerning Reverand [sic] Benjamin are not clear. Some believe he died in Massachusetts; others believe he died at his sonís plantation on Long Island in the New Netherlands.

06.Bill Scott to Jonathan E. Sykes, Sr. 7 Apr 2000. A 50 page document that has good records and original source documents. This book is well-done and is particularly good on Bill Scottís immediate lines. Unfortunately for the paragraphs in question, there is no documentation. "Rev. Benjamin Woolsey b in 1570 in Oxford, Suffolk, England. Married bet 1614 and 1622 to a woman whose maiden name was Hook and died after 1623 in New York."

Reierson, Art. WOOLSEY GENEALOGY - Descendants of Cardinal Robert Wulcy 1440 - Ispwich, England. Columbia, South Carolina, 1998. Privately printed. "Cardinal Robert Wulcy b 1445 in Ispwich [sic], Suffolk England and d Oct 1496 in England. He md Joan Daundy 1462 in England. [What a jump for a butcher to make in olde England.] Thomas Wolsey, s/o Cardinal Robert Wulcy and Joan Daundy, b 7 Mar 1471 in St. Nicholas, Ipswich, England, d 29 Nov 1530 in Leicester Abbey, England. He md Joan Larke 10 Jan 1509, d/o Peter Larke. Thomas Wolsey was a Cardinal of the Church. Thomas Wolsey & Joan Larke had 3 children, including Thomas Wynter Woolsey. [I am so confused I have to stop here. Anyway, Rev. Benjamin Wolsey (George 4, Wm3, Thomas 2, Cardinal Robert Wulcy) was b 1584 in Oxford Suffolk, England, and died 1624 in New York. He md Jane Ovel Hook and they had our Immigrant Ancestor George Woolsey, etc. [Art has an interesting book here but not a line of notes for the first 8 generations! He does best on his own immediate lines which seem to be quite complete.]

Straightening the Record

Wilford W. Whitaker has come to the conclusion that most early researchers, relying on each other, and those who had gone before, confused Rev. Benjamin Woolsey (s/o of George Woolsey Jr.) of Dosoris, Glen Cove (Oyster Bay) with a purported father of the Immigrant, George Woolsey.

What the Facts Tell Us About the Myth

Fact: John Livingstone and Rev. Benjamin Woolsey (of Yarmouth and Rotterdam) have yet to be found by this researcher. Our Dutch researcher, Ari Noot, searching the Rotterdam records, found no records in the various Protestant churches there, nor in the Dutch (Lutheran and Reformed Churches).

Fact: The careful Woolsey researcher, James W. Woolsey, came to the conclusion that the "Rev. Benjamin Woolsey and ____ Hooks" could not be possible, and was leaning toward George Woolsey and Ffrances Robberts, but ran into a blank wall when he discovered that the St. Lawrence Church was in Ipswich, not Great Yarmouth, as reported by John Ross Delafield.

Fact: John Ross Delafield found the correct baptismal dates for George Woolsey, but then made the error of stating they occurred in the "St. Lawrence Church" in Great Yarmouth. The St. Lawrence Church is in Ipswich. The correct baptismal dates were found in the St. Nicholas Church in Great Yarmouth.

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.