Welcome! I really enjoy exchanging information with people and love that this blog helps with that. I consider much of my research as a work in progress, so please let me know if you have conflicting information. Some of the surnames I'm researching:

Many old Cape families including Kelley, Eldredge/idge, Howes, Baker, Mayo, Bangs, Snow, Chase, Ryder/Rider, Freeman, Cole, Sears, Wixon, Nickerson.
Many old Plymouth County families including Washburn, Bumpus, Lucas, Cobb, Benson.
Johnson (England to MA)
Corey (Correia?) (Azores to MA)
Booth, Jones, Taylor, Heatherington (N. Ireland to Quebec)
O'Connor (Ireland to MA)
My male Mayflower ancestors (only first two have been submitted/approved by the Mayflower Society):
Francis Cooke, William Brewster, George Soule, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, Richard Warren, Peter Browne, Francis Eaton, Samuel Fuller, James Chilton, John Tilley, Stephen Hopkins, and John Howland.
Female Mayflower ancestors: Mary Norris Allerton, Eleanor Billington, Mary Brewster, Mrs. James Chilton, Sarah Eaton, and Joan Hurst Tilley.
Child Mayflower ancestors: Giles Hopkins, (possibly) Constance Hopkins, Mary Allerton, Francis Billington, Love Brewster, Mary Chilton, Samuel Eaton, and Elizabeth Tilley.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Richard Taylor ca 1620 to 1673 and wife Mary Whelden of Yarmouth/Dennis, Massachusetts

Richard Taylor was born about 1620, presumably in England. I have yet to find anything about his origins. He was at Yarmouth, Massachusetts on Cape Cod by 1643 when he appears on the list of Men Able to Bear Arms. He is my 10th great-grandfather on my grandmother Milly (Booth) Rollins’ side of the family. 

Richard has been challenging to research. There were two men of the same name in Yarmouth, so he was sometimes called Richard “the Tailor” Taylor in records to differentiate him from Richard “of the Rock” Taylor (the rock referred to a large boulder on his property). Both Richards were on Yarmouth’s 1657 list of men who took the oath of fidelity. The loss of town records in a 1674 fire at the town clerk’s home further muddies the waters in sorting out the two Richards. To complicate things further, there was a Richard Taylor, also a tailor, of Boston. 

There is conflicting published information as to who Richard’s wife was—Ruth or Mary Whelden—her name is never mentioned in records. I believe, but without absolute proof, that Richard the Tailor married Mary Whelden and Richard of the Rock married Ruth Whelden, both daughters of Gabriel Whelden. Some older sources have Richard of the Rock’s wife as Ruth Burgess, daughter of Thomas, but I haven’t found anything indicating Thomas had a daughter named Ruth. In 1655, Richard Taylor, tailor, joined his brothers-in-law, Henry Whelden, John Whelden, and Richard Taylor, husbandman, in a suit against the widow of Gabriel Whelden for withholding money from Gabriel’s estate owed to his sons and sons-in-law (Robert Rodgers, Middlesex County…Records of Probate and Administration, 1999, p 147-8). I think this is the best evidence that both Richards married daughters of Gabriel. However, there are researchers who believe it was Richard the Tailor of Boston who married Mary Whelden (see WikiTree  https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Taylor-10738). 

Jillaine Smith, in her 2011 Register article “The Two Richard Taylor Families of Early Yarmouth, Mass.,” concludes that Richard the Tailor married a daughter of Gabriel Whelden, likely Mary. Richard the Tailor died in 1673 and when Ruth Taylor died in 1693 she is called wife of Richard Taylor Sr., not his widow or relict. Richard the Rock had a son Richard; Richard the Tailor did not. I need to do more research as to reasons behind surmising she married a man from Boston rather than the man literally living next door. 

As shown by his nickname, Richard was a tailor by trade. It appears he came to Yarmouth (in the part that became Dennis) as a single man, settling in the Mayfair area near Folland’s Pond (now Follins Pond) on what is now Ebb Road, where by 1644 he owned a home. He lived next door to his future father-in-law Gabriel Whelden. Many people in the neighborhood were Quakers, but I haven’t found anything about Richard’s religious convictions.  

source: Cape Cod Genealogical Society Bulletin Spring 2001

Richard Taylor was a constable in Yarmouth 1656 and 1668, surveyor of highways in 1657, and excise officer in 1664. It seems likely this is Richard the Tailor since Richard of the Rock is referred to as a poor man in James Joyce’s 1666/7 will. 

Gabriel Whelden objected to the marriage of his daughter Ruth to Richard Taylor, but as I already mentioned I believe that was Richard of the Rock. Richard went to court against Gabriel in 1646 to obtain permission to marry Ruth. The court ruled in Richard’s favor and they asked Gabriel to relent, which he did. If Richard of the Rock wasn’t considered a good provider, this could be why Gabriel was not in favor of the marriage. That would not have been the case with Richard the Tailor who seemed fairly well off. 

Richard the Tailor and Mary married by about 1645. Mary Whelden was baptized 23 December 1621 at Basford, Nottinghamshire, the daughter of Gabriel and Jane Whelden.

St. Leodegarius Church, Basford

Richard and Mary had nine children born Yarmouth, one dying as a baby. There is a lack of vital records due to the aforementioned fire, but the 1674 distribution of Richard’s estate refers to seven children (two sons and five daughters), with four named: John, Joseph, Martha, and Mary. A 1695 probate record of his daughter Sarah Taylor names the same four siblings as well as Elizabeth, Hannah, and Ann, totaling eight children (Barnstable County Probate 2:6-8). 

1. John born about 1646, m. Sarah Matthews, died 1718-1722

2. Ann Taylor, born 2 December 1648, buried 29 March 1650

3. Martha born 18 December 1650, m Joseph Bearse, died 27 Jan 1727/8

4. Mary born about 1653, m. Abishai Marchant, died 1 Feb 1717/8

5. Elizabeth born about 1656, m. Samuel Cobb, died 4 May 1721 at Barnstable 

6. Hannah born about 1658, m. Job Crocker, died 14 May 1743 at Barnstable 

7. Joseph born about 1660, m. Experience Williamson, died 13 Sept 1727 at Marshfield 

8. Ann, born about 1662, m. Josiah Davis, died 1695-1709

9. Sarah, born about 1664, died Barnstable 31 July 1695, did not marry. 

I descend from their daughter Mary.

Follins Pond   source: redfin.com

I find only one record that casts Richard in a negative light, at least for the times in which he lived. On 8 March 1670/1 “Richard Taylor Tayler” was fined 10 shillings by the Plymouth court for being in company of Sprague and others, tippling on a Sabbath afternoon, abetting them in their evil practices. (Shurtleff and Pulsifer, Records of New Plymouth, 5:53; 8:132)

Richard may have also been involved in whaling. On 6 March 1661/2, Richard Taylor, Anthony Thacher, Robert, Denis, and Thomas Boardman were involved in an appeal to Plymouth Colony Court promised to deliver two barrels from each whale, implying there had been a disagreement about this matter for the past year. (Shurtleff and Pulsifer, Records of New Plymouth, 5:123)

Tragically, Mary drowned in a shipwreck in December 1673 off the coast of Duxbury. She was about 51 years of age. On 4 December 1673, a jury of inquest was called to identify the body and cause of death of a woman: “Wee, whose names are underwritten, being impanelled on a corrowners inquest, to view a corpse found in a boate now racked, and being supposed to be the wife of Richard Tayler, sometimes of Yarmouth, and to make diligent search how the said woman came by her death, doe judge, that the boate being cast away, the woman was downed in the boate. Duxburrow, the fourth of December 1673.” Shurtleff and Pulsifer, Records of New Plymouth, 2:110) 

There’s nothing that indicates Richard died in the shipwreck, although some genealogists and historians have stated that he did. Perhaps because they died so close together that it was assumed.  Richard died probably soon before an inventory of his estate was taken on  13 December 1673, likely in Yarmouth. This is implied in this wording: “what woole and flaxe hat bin son by the daughters sense their parents death shall be accoumpted theires that spon it.” It also shows that mother and daughters were involved in the family business, creating cloth to be made into clothing. 

Richard’s inventory was taken by John Gorham and John Thacher. That he is Richard the Tailor is shown by items he owned that would be used by a tailor:  fabric, two spinning wheels, as well as pressing and smoothing irons. He also owned cows, pigs, sheep, hay, flax, meal, Indian corn, salt, barrels of beef and pork, a half firkin of butter, bushels of malt, barrel of molasses, cheese, bushels of turnips, as well as lumber and farm supplies. Household items included brass, iron and earthenware and a looking glass. He also owned a gun, sword, bullets, and gun powder. Real estate included his house, twelve acres of upland, nine acres of meadow and about three acres of broken marsh. The total was over 199 pounds excluding the ten pounds in cash due to the estate. 

The inventory also included calves, lambs, pigs and household items that he already gave to his children John, Joseph, Martha, and Mary, without any value given. 

His estate was owed over 10 pounds in cash, as well as 38.5 barrels in tar and Indian corn valued at over 9 pounds. It is also indicated that “the womans clothes” were inventoried, as Mary had recently perished in a shipwreck. 

I’d be very interested to know who took in their five minor children. 

Another record that helps clarify the wives of the two Richards: the death record of "Ruth Tayler the wife of Richard Tayler, Sr., in  Yarmouth"  dated 22 June 1693. The record identifies her as wife, not widow, of Richard. Richard the tailor died well before 1693. The will of Richard Taylor of the Rock, written a few months after the June 1693 death of Ruth, named no wife.


Jillaine S. Smith, NEHGS Register, "The Two Richard Taylor Families of Early Yarmouth, Mass.," Vol. 165, July 2011

Charles Swift,  History of Old Yarmouth, 1884

Jan Porter and Daniel Stramara,  NEHGS Register, “The Origin of Gabriel 1 Whelden of Yarmouth and Malden, Massachusetts,” vol 163, October 2009

Nancy Thacher Reid, Dennis, Cape Cod From Fistcomers to Newcomers, 1639-1993, 1996

Deyo, Simeon L., editor, "History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts," HW Blake & Co., New York, 1890

Nathaniel Shurtleff and David Pulsifer, ed, Records of the Colony of New Plymouth, 12 volumes, published 1855-1861

James W. Hawes, Library of Cape Cod History and Genealogy, No. 48, “Richard Taylor Tailor and Some of His Descendants," 1914