George Woolsey in Plymouth Colony

George Woolsey in Plymouth Colony

by Wilford Whitaker

The Myth

George Woolsey was born in 1627 and came to Salem (Plymouth?) in 1623, aged 13.

Source of the Myth

01.Moore, Charles B. Esqr. New York Genealogical & Biographical Society. THE RECORD. Vol. 3, published 1872, pp 153 - 164. "English and Dutch Intermarriages", "George Woolsey, an English boy born in 1610, had resided with his parents in Holland, say at Rotterdam. By tradition, he came over in a Dutch vessel with Dutch Emigrants in 1623, only thirteen years old, and went to Plymouth, MA. . . ."

02. 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. [ variously unattributed quotations, but based on Moore, above.]

03. Brewer, Hester (Woolsey). Family of George Wood Woolsey and wife Sarah Nelson Woolsey. Tuttle Publishing Co, Inc. Rutland, VT. 1940. P. 13. "George Woolsey, . . . at one time resided at Plymouth, MA, which leads us to wonder whether he was a Pilgrim or Puritan. The year of his arrival in America 1623, (mentions Walloones, that George was not one of them), "though he may have sailed with them. . . ."

04. Harmon, Katharine Susong. The Benjamin Woolsey Family of Yarmouth, England. Privately Printed. n.d. bef 1991. She quotes almost verbatim from Hester (Woolsey) Brewer. "In 1623, three years after the arrival of the Pilgrims in America, Rev. Benjamin Woolsey and his small son George, seeking religious freedom sailed from Holland and safely set foot on American Soil at New Amsterdam. They came on the Dutch ship New Netherland.

05. Hart, Donald C. A Woolsey Family of America, 1623 - 1975. Privately printed? Santa Cruz, CA 1975. George Wolsey, b 27 Oct 1610 in Yarmouth, England, came to America on the Ship New Amsterdam from Rotterdam with Dutch immigrants at the age of 13 in 1623. They landed at Plymouth, MA. He and his father Benjamin went to Holland as followers of a Reverand [sic] John Robinson to escape religious persecution in England . . . .N.B. p. 4 Other opinions state that Benjamin is believed to have returned to England and had remarried before following his son George to America. N.B. p. 4 This Collateral was written in an extract of the Woolsey Genealogy by May Hart Smith, b 22 May 1869, of Ontario, CA.

06. Woolsey, James Walter. The American Woolsey Family. 1030 Sanford Ave. Richland, WA. 1 Jan 1982. Privately printed. n. p. "As yet I know not what ship little George and his UNCLE Benjamin Wolsey came to America on.... The only presumption in the above is "I believe George was escorted to America by his UNCLE BENJAMIN WOLSEY, who was a brother to George who died in Holland in 1629". All of the rest is fact which can be proven.

Straightening the Record

  • Fact: First of all, Salem and Plymouth are two completely different colonies, though the settlers of both are from England. In Plymouth (1620) are the Pilgrims. In Salem (1628) are the Puritans.
  • Fact: George Woolsey was baptized in 1616, and does not appear in any New England records before 1647 (although there is one record that implies that he was possibly here as early as 1643).
  • Fact: George Woolsey must have been quite busy, coming to New Amsterdam in 1623 on the New Netherland. He also came to Plymouth, in 1623, on the New Amsterdam.
  • Fact:: The "Nieu Nederlandt", Capt Cornelis Jacobsz May, left Amsterdam 30 Mar 1624 for the Hudson River, where they arrived Mei -Juni (May - June) 1624, and eight men were landed on Manhattan Island. The "Nieu Nederlandt" was mentioned one more time, in 1632. I never found a ship named "Nieu Amsterdam" in the Dutch shipping lists. Unfortunately, no ship's List of passengers was kept.

What the Facts Tell Us About the Myth

Fact: We don’t known when George Woolsey came to America, but it probably wasn’t before 1643 and if he came in a Dutch ship, almost without doubt he would have come to Nieuw Amsterdam. Although we have the names of many Dutch ships which sailed from the Netherlands to the New Netherlands, there are no passenger lists available.

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.


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