Thursday, February 22, 2018

so i've been doing research on these leverett characters, and i've found out several things. one that has blown my mind, and it's taken a few days to get over this, is that the very guy i'm named for, signed the document that established the first public school in the usa. that would be boston latin school, and we're talking 1630's, and mainly, the guy wrote it because he took the minutes for the people of first boston church. he wasn't exactly the inventor, more just the documenter. but if he wrote all this stuff for the church, he didn't write much for himself. his son was governor, well known and well documented, but they didn't leave a whole bunch of personal papers or records. or if they did, maybe they went down in one of the many fires that wracked wood-house boston in the seventeenth century.

public schools are worth saving, that i can tell you, but this post is more about puritan boston of the late sixteen hundreds. that's because, in the later part of the century, is when the records become unclear. names like mary and sarah are interchangeable, and our name leverett is often spelled as leverit, leveret, leueret, leveritt, leueritt, leuerit, or even leavitt though I'm not sure about that one, since there are other people around with that name. it all gets murky in a late-sixteen-hundreds kind of way and we can't prove we're related to this guy at all. more about that later. it's definitely the mystery of the day, for me.

in the late sixteen hundreds boston kept getting worked around and changed, and it's tempting to get into simply the physical aspect of it. king's chapel graveyard is where some of these leveretts are buried, and that's right on tremont street, downtown, with its ancient gravestones poking out of the grass. our leveretts apparently had a fairly large tomb, but one which was virtually buried by weeds when they found it in the 1800's. but the guy who was buried there, hudson, is really the culprit in this drama, because he never joined the church, never became a freeman, and this caused some of his descendants to fall into total obscurity. people keep mentioning his son and that kid's son as "the only male heirs of the governor (his father)" but this can't be true, if our ancestor is somehow connected to his second wife. it can be true, if one of the leverett women had an out-of-wedlock birth, but i'm still not sure how the puritans would handle that, or if it was ever the case that someone just latched onto the name and started using it, a man, for example, who married a leverett woman and simply didn't want to continue his own name. was that possible? we tend to think of these cultures (the puritan one in particular) as somewhat rigid and inflexible, but who am i to say that? it seems my best option here is to investigate every possibility.

so leverett genealogists, more than one of them, have concluded that we are related to the governor through hudson's second wife, she having slipped into obscurity, dying in roxbury in the early seventeen hundreds. did she have children? male children? i don't think we're finished with this story. hudson himself was kind of a rake. he stayed out of church; he didn't live with her; he didn't take care of his children all that well. they're still mad at him for not keeping better track. but maybe he had something on his mind.

my search takes me back to the origins of boston - as my family was one of the original ones that had come from boston, lincolnshire, and thus were hanging around with a crowd of people they'd known before they even arrived. i wouldn't say they were a clique, although they've certainly been accused of that over the years. they were "boston brahmins" and all that. there was a rhyme once, that captured the essence of their snootiness (perpetuated, to some degree, by certain lines of certain families - i'm not sure mine is included here). i tend to distinguish our branch from other branches. we are the northern branch - started in massachusetts, stayed in massachusetts, didn't go anywhere until one of us went up to maine, then fled maine for illinois. but we are also clearly not the saltonstall branch. those saltonstalls were prolific writers and had every right to use the name leverett, but they went their own way while we got buried under an explosion of migration of people from new england to the midwest, about the same time we came out here. i'm trying to close that gap, learn a little more about who we are and what we were, back then. but hudson's my man. the key lies with him, somewhere in that tomb in the king's chapel cemetery.


Post a Comment

<< Home