From the files of Stephen M. Lawson

Ancestry in England: Ensing-Pilcher-Haye-Tufton

James Ensign and Sarah Elson

Mary Ensign and Samuel Smith

Ebenezer Smith and Sarah Huxley

Ebenezer Smith and Christiana Owen

Dorcas Smith and Josiah Holcomb

Jonah Holcomb and Sabra

Harriet Holcomb and Henry L. Andrews

Melvina E. Andrews and William Clemeth Morey

Minnie Elsie Morey and Aretus Erastus Freeman

Iva Melvina Freeman and Donald VanHoosier Lawson

Stephen Martin Lawson

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Haye Ancestry in England

The principal information source for the Ensign ancestry in England is a series of articles on "The English Ensigns," by Paul C. Reed, in The American Genealogist [TAG 75 (2000)].

William and Joan (Tufton) Haye

William HAYE - b. about 1495; d. Aug. 22, 1538, Robertsbridge, Salehurst, Sussex. Son of John HAYE. No will or probate has been located, but an inquisition post mortem at Robertsbridge on Oct. 17, 1542 identifies widow Joan HAYE, eldest son (age 17 years 6 months) William, son Thomas and five daughters. Only the age of the eldest son is given, so it is not certain that the daughters were all younger. Also named in the inquisition, among others, was John TUFTON, son of Nicholas TUFTON. William HAYE had a brother John (b. about 1497) who is found on the 1524 and 1525 tax rolls of Robertsbridge, and who had at least one son, Thomas (bur. Jun. 13, 1597, Salehurst, Sussex), a tailor at Robertsbridge. Married about 1520, Northiam, Sussex.

Joan TUFTON - b. about 1505, Northiam, Sussex. The 1538 inquisition post mortem for Nicholas TUFTON names daughter Joan HAYE. Daughter of Sir Nicholas TUFTON and Margaret HEVER.

Children of William and Joan

  1. William - b. Jan 1521, Sussex; d. about Oct 1588. Will dated Aug. 12, 1588 and proved Oct. 30, 1588. Named in the 1576/7 will of David PILCHER as "my Broother Wyllyam Haye." Married Joane (bur. Nov. 15, 1591, Salehurst, Sussex), whose will was dated Nov. 4, 1591 and proved Jan. 14, 1592. Children, with birth order not known: Thomas; Edward; Susan married Leonard BISHOP; Anne married Thomas BURNELL or BURRELL; Mary married; Bridget married; and Elizabeth married. The husbands of Mary, Bridget and Elizabeth (order not known) were Anthony NORMAN, William ALLFREY, and William HIXE.
  2. Thomas - b. about 1523, Sussex; d. 1591/2. Will dated Aug. 24, 1591 and proved Mar. 23, 1592. Thomas held various public offices at Hastings, including Bailiff, Mayor and representative. His will names Constance PILCHER, but does not specify her relationship (his niece, later wife of Thomas ENSING). Named in the 1576/7 will of David PILCHER as "may Brother Thomas Haye." Married second Elizabeth BAKER (will was dated Jul. 5, 1597 and proved Oct. 20, 1597), daughter of John BAKER. Children of first marriage: William married second Mary HAWES; and John married first Mary MORLEY, and second Anne COULSTON. Children of Thomas and Elizabeth: Thomas married Dorothy APSLEY; Isaac married Hester; Abraham married Anne JACOB; Edmund married Mary MORGAN; Elizabeth married Goddard FORSTER; Grace; Dorothy; and Ferris (son).
  3. Joane - b. about 1525. One daughter of the five of William HAYE married David PILCHER. It is not known which of the sisters Joane, Mary, Agnes, Bridget or Margaret married David PILCHER about 1555. The sisters, listed in the order named in their father's will, were likely born at about 2 year intervals from about 1525 to about 1533. Assuming a then common marriage age of about 22 (age 35 when youngest child was born), it might be concluded that the youngest sister married David. However, if David's wife was his age, it might be concluded that the eldest sister (age 43 when youngest child was born) married David. Thus, any one of the sisters may have married David PILCHER.
  4. Mary - b. about 1527.
  5. Agnes - b. about 1529.
  6. Bridget - b. about 1531.
  7. Margaret - b. about 1533.

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Pilcher Ancestry in England

Only a bare outline of the possible brothers, father, and earlier ancestors of Thomas PYLCHER of Battle, Sussex, is given. For more details and an analysis of this possible ancestry, refer to "The English Ensigns," by Paul C. Reed, Part II (TAG 75:132-33).


Katherine BASSET - Daughter of John BASSET of Hartfield, Sussex.

  1. John - "John Pylcher, father to William, had issue Lawrence who is elder brother to the said William and who is still alive."
    1. Lawrence - Living the 1504-1515 era, and possibly later.
    2. William - Resided 1524-25 at Eastborne, Sussex, about 12 miles from Battle.
    3. Joan - Married ----- DRYVER.
    4. Thomas - Possibly Thomas PYLCHER of Battle, Sussex.

Thomas and Elizabeth (Fynch?) Pylcher

Thomas PYLCHER - b. about 1475; d. by 1524. Thomas was conceded a plot of land thirty feet square in the Battle market place in 1499 to build a new house. He witnessed a will in 1501, and was an inquest juror. His parents have not been determined with any certainty, but indirect evidence suggest the possiblity that he was the son of John PYLCHER.

Elizabeth FYNCH? - bur. in the church at Battle. Her will, dated Jan. 13, 1538, provides a great deal of information about her family and her social status. Married second by 1524 David LEWYS (bur. in the church at Battle).

Children of Thomas and Elizabeth

  1. Luke - b. say 1501; d. about 1547, Battle, Sussex.
  2. Thomas - b. say 1503. His will, dated Feb. 26, 1543/4, names his wife, three son under age 22, two unmarried daughters under age 20, brother-in-law John LOVE, nephew Edward ALFORD, and niece Johanne ALFORD. Educated at the monastery at Battle. Married Alice. Children: Richard; Thomas; Luke; Elizabeth; and Julyan.
  3. Katherine - b. say 1505. Married John LOVE the Younger of Battle. His will, dated Aug. 20, 1548, names wife, four sons, and daughters Johanne and Julyan. Children: Richard; John; Elizabeth; Johanne; Julyan; Robert; and William
  4. Anne - b. say 1507. Married John ALFORD. Children: Edward; and Johanne.
  5. John - Educated at the monastery, he became a monk at Battle.

Luke and Alice Pylcher

Luke PYLCHER - b. say 1501; d. about 1547, Battle, Sussex. His will was dated Jun. 1, 1547 names wife Alice, his four daughters and sons David and Thomas. Educated at the monastery at Battle, he was named in the Abbey accounts about 1510, and was said to have "worn out three pairs of shoes in one half-year." Luke was taxed a modest sum in 1524-25. He was a feoffe of John GOTLEY on Apr. 20, 1525, and in 1527 held land in two locations within Battle. Luke has been identified as a Burgess of High Street in Battle, an inquest juror, a rent collector and property manager, and a provider of cattle to the abbey household. Son of Thomas PYLCHER and Elizabeth FYNCH?.

Alice - Surname not found. her willl was written Jan. 26, 1558/9, calling herself "Alce pylcher wedow lat wyf of luke pylcher" and names a number descendants and their spouses, including her deceased son Lawrence. The residual of her estate went to "davyd pylcher."

Children of Luke and Alice

  1. David - b. say 1526; d. about 1576, Battle, Sussex.
  2. Lawrence - b. say 1527. Daughter: Alce.
  3. Thomas - b. say 1529; d. about 1573. His will, dated Feb. 20, 1571/2, names wife Elizabeth, three daughter and an unborn child. Married Elizabeth. Her will, dated Mar. 13, 1573/4 names her three daughters and son Thomas, as well as her sister Grace. Children: Mary; Alice; Elizabeth; and Thomas.
  4. Joan - b. say 1531.
  5. Alice - b. say 1533. Married Bartholomew GEFFEREY, son of Thomas GEFFEREY of Ripe. His will, dated Dec. 8, 1574 and proved Jun. 2, 1575, names wife Alice and four sons. Sons: Richard; Davie; Arthur; and Bartholomew.
  6. Agnes - b. say 1535; bur. Jan. 21, 1570/1, St. Clement, Hastings. Married James SEISLEY (bur. Mar. 17, 1571/2, St. Clement, Hastings). His will, dated Mar. 14, 1571/2 and proved Apr. 1, 1572, names two daughter, three sons, and brothers-in-law David PILCHER and Bartholomew GEFFEREY. Children: Mercy; Mary; Richard; John; and Abraham.
  7. Mercy - b. say 1537.
  8. Margaret - b. say 1539.

David Pilcher

David PILCHER - b. say 1526; d. about 1576/7, Battle, Sussex. His will, dated Mar. 10, 1576/7, mentions, but does not name, his wife, and names all of his children. Appointed as executors of the will are "my Broother Wyllyam Haye, and my Brother Thomas Haye." Son of Luke PYLCHER and Alice.

Miss HAYE - Daughter of William HAYE and Joan TUFTON.

Children of David

  1. Thomas - b. about 1556/7. A plebeian at Balliol College, Oxford, he matriculated 1575 at age 18, was scolar in 1575, fellow 1576, B.A. Mary 28, 1576, and M.A. May 16, 1579. Though he is not named in the 1583 will of his brother Luke, it is believed he was the Rev. Thomas PILCHARD who was ordained a Catholic priest at Laon in 1583 and martyred Mar. 21, 1585 at Dorchester by being hanged, drawn and quartered.
  2. Luke - b. about 1588; d. 1583. His will was dated Jun 20, 1583 and proved Jul. 23, 1583, naming brother John, brothers-in-law William NOWELL and William FRENCH, and niece Helene FRENCH, suggests that Luke never married.
  3. Anna - b. about 1560; bur. May 24, 1617, Rye, Sussex. Will dated May 5, 1617 and proved May 14, 1617. Married William FRENCH (bur. Mar. 12, 1602/3, Rye, Sussex), tailor, shipowner and merchant of Rye. Children: Helene married Smallhope BIGGE; Elizabeth married Joseph BENBRIDGE; Joan married James MARTIN; Bridget married Thomas DALLETT; Mercy married Mr. EDWARDS; Anne died young; Mary married John BENBRIDGE; and Margaret died as infant.
  4. Mercy - b. about 1562. Married William NOWELL (b. about 1558; d. before Dec. 18, 1584) of Battle and Rye, Sussex, son of William NOWELL of Lancashire. Children: John married first Bridget CASTREETE, and second Sarah BENBRIDGE; and Mary married John AUSTEN.
  5. John - b. about 1564; bur. Sep. 19, 1621, Rye, Sussex. While a resident of Salehurst, Sussex, he obtained on Dec. 16, 1586 the license, and was married at Burwash, Sussex on Dec. 19, 1586 to Catherine COLLYN (bur. Aug. 13, 1590, Burwash, Sussex). John was married second to Joan HEPDEN (bur. Aug. 8, 1624, Burwash, Sussex). Children of John and Catherine: Elizabeth married Daniel BEINSON; and a son died as infant.
  6. Constance - b. about 1568, Sussex; bur. Feb. 24, 1624/5, Rye, Sussex. Married Thomas ENSING.
    John -

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Ensing/Ensign Ancestry in England

The principal information source for the Ensign ancestry in England is a series of articles on "The English Ensigns," by Paul C. Reed, in The American Genealogist [TAG 75 (2000)].

Thomas Ensing

Thomas ENSING - b. say 1571, Sussex; bur. Feb. 2, 1631/2, Hove, Sussex. His will, dated Dec. 14, 1631, was proved Mar. 27, 1632 in Prerogative Court, Canterbury. Though one or more generations are missing, it is likely that Thomas was a descendant of Thomas ENSING of Winchelsea, Sussex, and of John ENSING, who lived in 1478 at Robertsbridge, Salehurst, Sussex. Thomas ENSING of Winchelsea was mayor there several times between 1519 and 1538, and a Member of Parliament in 1529. He was the father of Joan ENSING, who married first Peter MASTER, and second Philip CHUTE. Thomas ENSING, who was possibly born at Robertsbridge, Sussex, was living at Rye, Sussex, by 1595, remaining there until relocating to Hove, Sussex, sometime after his wife's death in late 1624 and before writing his will in late 1631. Rye was a port city and Thomas ENSING was a prominent citizen and public figure. He was land chamberlain in 1599, purchased a tenement called the Vyne in 1600, posted a £800 bond for the estate of his brother-in-law William FRENCH in 1602/3, was jurat and auditor in 1607, a bailiff in 1609, mayor in 1614, and deputy mayor in 1615. He appears many times in the Rye records until the port declined in the mid 1620s. During religious conflicts in 1623/4, he was called gentleman and was charged with other Puritan Reformists with obstructing activities of the established church. Thomas was married on May 27, 1594 at Brightling, Sussex.

Constance PILCHER - b. about 1568, Sussex; bur. Feb. 24, 1624/5, Rye, Sussex. Daughter of David PILCHER and Miss HAYE.

Children of Thomas and Constance Ensing

  1. John - bap. Jun. 8, 1595, Rye, Sussex; d. Jan. 1620/1, London. In his will of Jan. 5, 1620/1 (proved Jan. 16, 1620/21), John calls himself "Citizen and ymbroyderer of London," and names his father Thomas, mother Constance, wife Margaret, father-in-law William POWELL, brother-in-law William POWELL, sister-in-law Avis POWELL, and his own siblings, excepting brother Edward, who was apparently deceased. Married on Oct. 12, 1620 at St. Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey, Surrey to Margaret POWELL, daughter of William POWELL. Margaret married second on May 13, 1622 at St. Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey, Surrey to Henry ROBROUGH, minister.
  2. Mary - b. about 1597, Rye, Sussex prob.; d. by Mar. 1641/2, Cranbrook, Kent. Married Robert COUCHMAN of Cranbrook, Kent, by Oct. 7, 1627 when their first child was baptized. Her widower married second on Mar. 24, 1641/2 Katherine (BOTTINGE) DORLEY, widow of Henry DORLEY, whom she had married Nov. 26, 1633 at Cranbrook, Kent. Children of Mary and Robert: Thomas; Constance; Elizabeth; David; Robert; and Mary.
  3. Thomas - bap. Apr. 1599, Rye, Sussex; d. 1663/4, Duxbury, Plymouth Co., MA; will dated Jul. 16, 1663, and proved Jun. 9, 1664, with inventory of his estate being taken Feb. 17, 1663/4. Thomas was married first on Apr. 27, 1629 at Cranbrook, Kent to Hannah WYBOURNE (d. 1638, probably at Scituate, MA), daughter of John WYBOURNE (b. 1568; d. 1616/7, Smarden, Kent), and granddaughter of George WYBOURNE (b. say 1545; d. 1610, Staplehurst, Kent) and Margery (SAYER) PAYNE. Thomas was married second on Jan. 17, 1638/9 at Scituate, Plymouth Co., MA to Elizabeth WILDER (b. about 1618; d. between Nov. 1, 1676 and Nov. 19, 1686, Marshfield, MA prob.), daughter of widow Martha WILDER of Hingham, MA. Sarah, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth, was convicted 3 Oct 1665 of whoredom and whipped. Elizabeth, as the widow ENSIGN seeking some measure of justice for her daughter, filed a suit against Thomas SUMMERS for £500 damage for "inticing and drawing away her daughter unseasonably, and by unlawfull meanes, against her will, and abusing her daughter." Elizabeth was awarded 50s and the cost of the suit. Children of Thomas and Hannah: Hannah died as infant; Thomas died as infant; Thomas did not marry; John probably died young; and Hannah married Thomas SHEPHERD. Children of Thomas and Elizabeth: John married; Sarah married first Joseph WADE (son of Nicholas WADE and Elizabeth HANFORD), and second Thomas MANN; and Hannah married Thomas WADE (son of Nicholas WADE and Elizabeth HANFORD). (Note that Thomas ENSIGN had two daughters named Hannah who married, one by each of his marriages.)
  4. Edward - bap. May 10, 1601, Rye, Sussex; d. before Jan. 1620/1. He is the only sibling not mentioned in the will of his brother John ENSING.
  5. David - bap. Jul. 3, 1603, Rye, Sussex. Admitted as pensioner at Emmanuel College, Cambridge on Apr. 2, 1622, and matriculated in 1622. He received his B.A. 1625-6 and M.A. 1629, and became Fellow in 1629. David was Rector of Preston, Northants. His son Edward ENSINGE was admitted sizar at Magdalene College on Jan. 8, 1657/8, at age 15, and received his B.A. 1661-2.
  6. James - bap. Jun. 1, 1606, Rye, Sussex; d. Dec. 11, 1670, Hartford, Hartford Co., CT.
  7. Constance - bap. Nov. 13, 1608, Rye, Sussex; bur Jun. 15, 1632, Hove, Sussex. Married on Jun. 6, 1631 at Glynde, Sussex to Edward FOWLE (bur. Mar. 13, 1639/0, Hove, Sussex) of Weeks, Hove, Sussex. Edward, churchwarden of Hove in 1632, 1639 and 1640, married second Elizabeth and had children John (died infant), Henry, Elizabeth (died infant), and probably a child born after his death. Edward's will was dated Mar. 3, 1639/0 and proved May 8, 1640, and names daughter Constance, wife Elizabeth, being with child, son Henry, brothers John FOWLE and Thomas FOWLE, and brother-in-law John CHATTFIELD. Child of Constance and Edward: Constance.

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The Ensign Family in America

The principal information source for the Ensign family is a series of articles in The American Genealogist which presents and extends previously published material and adds extensive new research findings. Of particular note are articles by Paul C. Reed in TAG 75 (2000), by Robert E. Bowman in TAG 73 (1998), by Eugene A. Stratton in TAG 61 (1985), and by Douglas Richardson in TAG 60 (1984) and 56 (1980). Refer to these TAG articles for source documentation and much more detail than is presented here. As always, this compiler is responsible for any transcription or interpretation errors of the cited articles. A fine presentation of information about the children and descendants of Thomas ENSIGN and Constance PILCHER was located on the web site of Ralph Dean Clark (1999).

James and Sarah (Elson) Ensign

James ENSIGN - bap. Jun. 1, 1606, Rye, Sussex, England; d. Dec. 11, 1670, Hartford, Hartford Co., CT. Son of Thomas ENSIGN and Constance PILCHER. At Cambridge MA 1634; freeman Mar. 4, 1635; to Hartford 1639; constable 1649 and 1662; chimney viewer 1655; townsman 1656. His name appears on Hartford's Founders Monument. Founding member of 1st Congregational Church, Hartford, and member of 2nd Congregational Church 1670. Will dated Nov. 23, 1670, with inventory taken Dec. 23, 1670 at £729.2.9.

Sarah - b. England; d. May 1676, Hartford, Hartford Co., CT. Inventory May 29, 1676. Although her surname is often reported to be ELSON, no substantive evidence is known that supports this claim.

Children of James and Sarah Ensign

  1. Sarah - b. probably in England; d. Jun. 23, 1659, Hartford, CT. Married May 6, 1651 John ROCKWELL (b. Jul. 18, 1627, Dorchester, Dorset, England; d. Dec. 13, 1673, Windsor, CT). Their daughter Ruth married Daniel MIX.
  2. Hannah - Married about 1670 Joseph EASTON (d. Dec. 30, 1711), son of Joseph. Children: Joseph married Sarah SPENCER; James married Jane; Hannah married Richard MILES; Elizabeth married first Thomas BUNCE, and second Caleb BULL; Jonathan married Elizabeth CADWELL; Timothy; Thankful married Stephen TROWBRIDGE.
  3. Mary - bap. Aug. 1, 1649, Hartford, CT; d. Jul. 1, 1723, Suffield, CT. Married Samuel SMITH.
  4. David - b. 1644, Hartford, CT; d. Dec. 13, 1727, West Hartford, CT. Chimney viewer 1666; surveyor of highways 1669. Married first Oct. 22, 1663 Mehitabel GUNN (b. Jul. 28, 1644; d. Jan. 30, 1720), daughter of Thomas. David and Mehitabel were divorced Oct. 1682, and she married second Isaac SHELDON. David married second Sarah WILCOX (b. Oct. 3, 1648; d. Feb. 3, 1717/8), daughter of John WILCOX and Sarah WADSWORTH. Children of David and Mehitabel: David probably died young; James married first Lydia BAKER, and second Anna; Thomas married Hannah SHEPARD; Sarah; and Mary. Son of David and Sarah: David married first Hannah SMITH, and second Sarah MOODY.
  5. Lydia - bap. Aug. 19, 1649, Hartford, CT.

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