William Eldred was the first of the name to come to Yarmouth on Cape Cod from England. I have not found his birth or parents, but he was born about 1622. He is my 9th great grandfather on my grandmother Milly (Booth) Rollins’ side of the family. Later the name was spelled Eldredge and Eldridge. I do not have a lot of vital records for William and Ann as many early Yarmouth records were destroyed by fire.
I do not know if it is where William hailed from, but in 17th century many Eldreds were living around Norfolk, England, a prosperous textile center where raw wool was sent to Holland to be finished. King James put an embargo on the sale of raw wool, resulting in an economic disaster for this area. I do not know William’s motivation for emigrating. From what I’ve read, there were many reasons to leave England beyond seeking religious freedom. Often people were motivated by a chance to earn a better living and also to live a healthier lifestyle as there was no sanitation, little medical care and a meager diet for the common classes in England. The poor were often drafted into military, often receiving no pay, food or uniforms.
William is recorded as a resident of Yarmouth in 1645. He was not on the 1643 Yarmouth list of men able to bear arms. Samuel, William and Robert Eldred all showed up about same time in Plymouth. It is not known whether they are related, but some researchers believe William and Robert were brothers.
About 1647 William married Ann (sometimes Anne) Lumpkin, the daughter of William and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) Lumpkin. I have also seen William Lumpkin's wife as Tamesin, so another thing I need to sort out. William and Ann settled near her parents by a brook later known as Eldred Brook in what is now Dennis. His land adjoined that of Thomas Howes, who was once a servant to the Lumpkins. I descend from Thomas Howes as well.
Anne Lumpkin came on the Rose from England in 1637, along with her parents William Lumpkin of Norwich, 33, locksmith and Elizabeth, 34, and servant Thomas Howes.
Ann and William’s children were likely all born Yarmouth, although because of the lack of vital records they are not all known with certainty. Ann and Sarah are recorded at Yarmouth, Elisha and Bethia's names were recorded in their grandfather Lumpkin's will. Jehosophat, Samuel and John are believed to be their sons.
Ann b. 16 Dec 1648 Yarmouth
Sarah b. 10 Oct 1650 Yarmouth, m. William Bentley
Elisha, b. 1653, lived at Wellfleet
Bethia, b. after 1648
Jehosophat, b. about 1658, m. Elizabeth Covell
Samuel, b. about 1655, m. Keziah Taylor on 6 Feb 1679/80
John, m. Abigail Littlefield, settled in Maine
I descend from Jehosophat, whom I wrote about here. I don't know with 100 percent certainty that Jehosophat is his son, but it seems very likely.
In 1657 William Eldred is listed as freeman. He was a constable in 1657, 1662, 1674, 1675 and 1677. His duties included checking the community's readiness to repel Indian and Dutch attacks as well as enforcing the orders of the Court. In 1658 and 1659 he was elected surveyor of the highways. He was literate as he signed an early Yarmouth church document complaining of minister's sermon. In 1676 he was taxed 3 pounds 12 shillings 3 pence for towards expenses of King Philip's War.
After almost 28 years of marriage, Ann Lumpkin Eldred died in late October 1676. "The wife of William Eldred was buried the first of November 1676." (Yarmouth VR p 125)
William died around 1679 in Yarmouth.
I have not read it, but there is a book William Eldred of Yarmouth, Massachusetts and Some of his Descendants, by Nelson Beardsley Eldred and Walt Stessy, published in 1995.
Sources Not Listed Above:
Orville Ward Eldredge, The Eldred Family: Particularly the Descendants of William Eldredge of Yarmouth and More, 1940
William Smith, Early Chatham Settlers, CW Swift Publisher, Yarmouthport, Mass., 1915
Amos Otis, Library of Cape Cod History & Genealogy, No. 47, "The Yarmouth Families of Eldredge," 1914
Nancy Thacher. Reid, Dennis, Cape Cod from Firstcomers to Newcomers, 1639 – 1993, 1996
Zoeth Eldredge, Eldredge Genealogy, by Zoeth S. Eldredge, NEHGR 51:46-54, 1897