What Ellen left: analyzing the disposition of a 17th-century married woman’s estate

img_2805One of the most crucial pieces of evidence yet found to help identify the wife of Thomas Johnson, one of the founders of Newark, New Jersey is the disposition of the estate of Ellen Bostick of Stratford, Connecticut Colony.

This document is an extraordinary find, as Ellen Bostick was a married woman – or in legal terms, feme covert – at the time of her death in 1677. By law, any property (real or personal) she brought into her marriage to Arthur Bostick was his.

But previously transcribed passages from this record have caused some confusion as to the nature of Ellen Bostick’s relationship with Thomas Johnson, who was originally from New Haven Colony.

Fortunately, one of the members of Wikitree’s Puritan Great Migration Project generously emailed me a scanned copy of the court record regarding the final disposition of Ellen’s estate.

By making my own painstaking transcription of this almost indecipherable manuscript, I now feel confident of the identity of Thomas Johnson’s wife.

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Identifying Ellena: challenging long-held assumptions about the Johnson and Bostwick families of Connecticut

img_3251It’s funny how a closer look at a document can cause ripples in an established family history.

Thomas Johnson, of New Haven Colony and, later, one of the original settlers of Newark, Province of East Jersey had a wife named Ellena who died just three days before he did.

There is no doubt about this, as she is buried with him in Newark and her 17th century grave marker still intact.

But who was Ellena?

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