Sunday, February 11, 2018

so, kind of brooding about my dad, who died about three weeks ago, i've been doing research into the genealogy of the leverett clan. it was always family legend that we were related to the governor of the colony, john leverett, and it was probably through the second wife of hudson, his son.

so i did some research on the puritan ancestors i was named after, thomas and john, and it was intense. they were born in england and came over on the griffin in 1633, among the original settlers of boston, having come from boston england. thomas, the elder puritan and friend of john cotton, was taken straight into the boston church where john cotton was made the pastor. john, his son, was 17 upon arrival in boston, and started hanging out with the artillery boys outside of town, where they did some hard drinking (at least his friend edward gibbons did) and in general opposed the strict puritan orthodoxy of the time.

so the puritans, who had control of boston and various towns and had more and more people coming all the time, wanted the perfect world in the colony and that's where their strict orthodoxy came from. the guys at the artillery, some, like john, who were into trading, sold furs, dealt with various people, and didn't care so much for orthodoxy. they became known as "tolerationists." i'm proud that my ancestor was a tolerationist.

but he was also a wheeler-dealer, a military man, and a man who mixed up military maneuvers with making money. he made plenty of money but more or less neglected his son hudson at home; this got worse when hudson's mom died and he remarried with the daughter of one of his trading partners. hudson became bitter. he didn't succeed in the church. he didn't register his marriages and children very carefully. by the time he married the second time, he'd stopped caring altogether. his oldest son went on to be the president of harvard - more famous, altogether, than his father, but he himself had avoided fame, even avoided being noticed by the church, avoided writing things down. there lie the problem.

his father, remember, sailed the world; lived in england; advocated for capturing forts in nova scotia; became governor of the colony; oversaw the dreadful king philip's war; was buried with great fanfare. his son, john, also went on to fame; he wrote a latin lexicon; he became president of harvard; he had a feud with cotton mather, descendent of john cotton; he changed harvard from a divinity school to a secular one. hudson was surrounded by famous leveretts on both sides.

he, himself, though, seemed to have kids by that second marriage. and lo and behold, somebody just changed the profile of elizabeth gannett, his second wife, right while i was working on it, or rather, in the last couple of weeks. once you put those people there, as children of elizabeth gannett, it becomes real. it looks like she had at least two, john and thomas, with thomas possibly being the famous 'barber of boston' - he too, disliked fame and pressure, and, when he died, there was a messy drunken wake in medford. but there's much confusion here. they have one thomas who was the son of hudson's first wife, with different dates. this other thomas may have been born later, by the second wife, or the first thomas may have been born of the second wife. in any case, hudson's not around, left no record, and it's messy.

somehow i can relate to these two - hudson and the barber - as they simply couldn't compete. when one's father is worldly and rich, and famous, and people are looking at you, what do you do? it's not obvious. we give baggage to our children, and they of course have to live in our shadow, no matter what that looks like.


Post a Comment

<< Home