Saturday, January 3, 2009

Edmond Lewes's Suffolk Origins

Since there is no evidence that Edmond Lewes of Lynn was born in Wales, it remains to determine if any evidence exists as to his origin. We have only the passenger list of the ship Elizabeth as evidence that he came to Massachusetts from Ipswich, Suffolk, England. Before that, there is no record.

Many of the families traveling aboard the Elizabeth were from the area around Ipswich, as recorded in the passenger list. It seams reasonable to look at the historical records of this area to see if there were any Lewis families in the area up to 1634. this turns out to be the case.

There are numerous records of the Lewes and Lewis surnames in the area around Ipswich beginning with Ralph Lewes in Bury St. Edmunds in 1449. In addition, the name Lewes is attached to geographical features, such as Lewesindale and/or Lewes meadows in Bramford at the northwest edge of Ipswich. There is an ancient bureaucratic division in the Woodbridge area east of Ipswich called the Looes Hundred.

Throughout the area from Stoke-by-Nayland near the western border of Suffolk to Laxton in the east, the Lewes surname surfaces in the record throughout 15th through 17th Centuries. (See map) There are three records of wills in the Archdeaconry of Suffolk that name an Edmond Lewes as beneficiary, two of which, from 1625 and 1626, name Edmond as brother of John and William Lewes of Bawdsey, 15 miles east of Ipswich.

Since Edmond Lewes and his family were among passengers on the Elizabeth who were from the Ipswich area, and since the Lewes surname and Edmond Lewes in particular is documented as having lived in the Ipswich area, it seems reasonable to propose that Edmond Lewes of Lynn, Massachusetts was descended from the Lewes familes in the Ipswich area in the early 17th Century.

It remains to find documentation to support this proposition.

Edmond Lewes of Lynn ancestry

I shall put this very bluntly at the outset:

There is no evidence of the parents of Edmond Lewes of Lynn, Massachusetts, who came to Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634 from Ipswich, Suffolk, England. There is no evidence that Edmond Lewes of Lynn, Massachusetts is the same as Edmund Lewis of Llys Talybont, Glamorgan, Wales. There is no evidence that Edmond Lewes had any Welsh connection whatsoever.

There is no evidence of the surname of Edmond's wife, Mary. The claim that Mary's surname was Carey of Carew is from an unsupported entry in the LDS genealogical database. Therefore there is no King's Lynn or Lynn Regis connection in Norfolk.

If anyone has evidence to support these claims, I would be delighted to see it!

The Arundel Castle connection is from 1602 - WILLIAM LEWIS - 1671 of Stoke-by-Nayland, England and Some of his Ancestors and Descendants by Isaac Newton Lewis, published in 1932. The connection of William Lewis of Roxbury to Edmond Lewes of Lynn is not established in this volume. He merely states, without evidence "Edmund Lewis, cousin of William." I have searched the parish records of Stoke-by-Nayland and I did not find record of Edmond Lewes's birth, marriage nor the birth of Tomas and John.

Lewis is not a Welsh surname. The Welsh Lewis surname comes from the Anglicization of Llewellyn when Henry VIII demanded that all Welshmen adopt surnames in the 16th Century as by the English custom. Thus a Welshman known as John ap Llewellyn (John, son of Llewellyn) became known as John Lewis. (See Late Sixteenth Century Welsh Names by Talan Gwynek, http://www.s-gabriel.org/names/talan/talanWelsh16.html)

Lewis is, in fact, an English surname, derived from Saxon and Frankish roots, coming to England as Ludovich or Ludwig. It's transliteration occurred in England, most probably in East Anglia, during the Danish and subsequent Norman occupations. Lewes in England is much older than Lewis in Wales.

This does not imply that there are no Welsh Lewis lines in America, just that not all Lewis's are of Welsh ancestry.