Wednesday, March 18, 2015

About Janet

Whether you think the name Janet sufficiently old fashioned enough to belong to a child born in 1711, that—sometimes with its alternate spelling as Jennet—is exactly what happened.

Not only did it happen, but apparently The Mayflower Society has officially recognized it as such. At least, that’s according to the surname supplement added to the back of the volume known as Tilson-Tillson Descendants: A Supplement to the Tilson Genealogy (1911) by Mercer V. Tilson.

Now that I’ve finally figured out how to access the ebook version for myself—it’s on loan from the Boston Public Library via InternetArchive—I discovered the book’s committee was authorized to include “memoranda accepted by the Mayflower Society.”

According to that “memoranda,” The Mayflower Society “recognizes the following” line of descent. I’ll give you the Readers Digest version, stopping at the generation from which I descend. Among the first generation of passengers arriving on the Mayflower was John Alden. His daughter, Elizabeth Alden, marked the second generation. Elizabeth married William Pabodie, and their daughter Ruth, born June 7, 1658, in Duxbury, Massachusetts, became the third generation. That Ruth, marrying Benjamin Bartlett, had a daughter whom she named after herself. The fourth generation’s Ruth Bartlett married John Murdock.

Ah, Murdock! Now you sense the connection is close. And it is: the fifth generation brings Janet Murdock, born in Plymouth on December 10, 1711.

That is the Janet Murdock who married Stephen Tilson of my Tilson line—and for whom the Janet Tilson, her granddaughter and supposed wife of Joseph Cole over whose identity we have been struggling for the past few days, was named.

Whether the original woman was named Janet or Jennet, or whether the surname was spelled Murdock or Murdoch, you’ve got to admit: she’s got quite a heritage.

And that makes me a Mayflower descendant! Now what do I do? I haven’t even managed to complete my application to Daughters of the American Revolution!

Above: Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, "The Mayflower Compact 1620," oil on canvas representing passengers of the Mayflower signing the Compact, including Carver, Winston, Alden, Myles Standing, Howland, Bradford, Allerton and Fuller; courtesy United States Library of Congress via Wikipedia; in the public domain in those countries with a copyright term of life of the artist plus eighty years or less.


  1. When I was looking at my possible Calhoun connections the other day, I ran across a Jennet. Maybe that was the cool baby name of the day.

    So many societies, so little time. I bet the Mayflower paperwork will be rigorous.

    1. I haven't even given any thought to the Mayflower paperwork, but likely you are right, Wendy. At least the Society provides published genealogies up to a certain point. I just have to reach back to that point to demonstrate the connection. baby names of colonial America. Now, there's a book title waiting to happen...

  2. Way to research! Who woulda thunk that Janet was an old name...not me. Learn something new everyday! So you have your Mayflower Connection...will you do that first? Or the DAR? You better get busy!! :)

    1. Oh, DAR wins, hands down. There are too many people expecting me to finish that--including a sister who wants in!

  3. I wonder if there is a Jamestown Society too? :)

    I don't think my Mom's folks were on the Mayflower - but some of them were in Salem for the witch trials - so they might have "just missed the boat."

    1. Actually, there is. And the National Park Service has a page on Genealogical Research for a Jamestown Ancestor with a few additional helpful links.

  4. Hi Jacqi- I am a Tilson descendant. My siblings and I have the 1911 Tilson history as well as the Supplement. The supplement gets to our names, but not to our spouses or dependents. Do you know if anyone is collecting updates or corrections, or if there is any plan for a new Supplement?

    Thanks very much,

    -Steve Tilson


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