Thanks to Ellen Rhodes McGowan
for compiling and submitting the
following information to Rhodes Family:
Grandson of Sir Godfrey Rhodes (7-09)
In the old burial ground of Newport, Rhode Island there is an old tombstone which now holds the faintest trace of a coat of arms and inscription, “John Rhodes Esq. d: 31 March 1746, aged 75y 8 mo; Grandson of Sir Godfrey Rhodes of Howden, Yorkshire.” For more than one hundred years queries and comments concerning this inscription have surfaced in various genealogical journals, with no satisfactory explanation as to how John Rhodes of Newport is a direct descendant of Sir Godfrey Rhodes. This paper explores the descendants of Sir Godfrey and presents several theories to explain this claim.
John Rhodes of Newport
Thanks to the efforts of several family genealogists and professional genealogist John Redfern of North Kingstown RI, some information is known about this John Rhodes. Land records show John Rhodes purchased land from his father, William Rhodes, in 1700. This land purchase sits adjacent to land owned by William Rhodes, mariner, which was eventually sold to Simon Pease by Samuel Rhodes (son of William Rhodes, mariner) in 1722 (Newport Land Records vol 3:363-365; vol 6:421-422). This property is between Clarke and Spring Streets, Newport, with two houses still standing, now known as the Simon Pease House and the Clarkeston Inn. A power of attorney in MA Colony to William Rhodes Sr, father of William Rhodes Jr. (both of Newport) further identifies this family as William Rhodes Sr., father, with sons John and William Jr. (Bristol County Deeds, Taunton MA vol 2:170).
The tombstone of a small child, Dinah, d: 15 July, 1694 age abt. 2 yrs, identifies her as the daughter of John and Susanna Rhodes (“Deaths from the Newport Common Burial Ground,” RI Genealogical Register vol 11). Various land and court records in Newport identify John Rhodes, shopkeeper and John Rhodes, cordwainer, with wife Susanna. That John Rhodes’s shop did in fact sell shoes is confirmed , “… Newport in 1708 was rumored to have a great plenty of European goods….. members of the gentry patronized John Rhodes’ shoe shop…” (Carl Bridenbaugh Cities in the Wilderness; The First Century of Urban Life in America 1625-1742, Oxford University Press 1971, p.190).
John Rhodes (as well as his brother, William, until his death in 1716) was an active member of the Second Baptist Church of Newport until 1721 when he and others had a disagreement. At this time he published A Looking Glass for Elder Clarke and Elder Wightman and the Church Under Their Care, written by William Claggett, exposing what they felt were injustices within the church (microfiche from American Antiquarian Society, Early American Imprints, first series).
John Rhodes’s will, written 21 Mar 1741 and probated 7 April 1746, leaves his estate to be divided between two sons: John Rhodes and William Vienes Rhodes, with household goods to his wife, Mary, who is also named executrix of the will (Newport Probate Records vol 9:122). Therefore, his first wife must have been Susanna (unknown) who is last mentioned in records 1728, and a second wife Mary (unknown) who is his widow in 1746.
There is a William Rhodes admitted freeman to the Colony of Rhode Island in 1684, who could be the father to John and William Rhodes. There are also Baptist Church records listing John Rhodes and William Rhodes as members, perhaps as early as 1648, but it is unknown whether these early names are connected to the later John and William Rhodes of Newport.
Sir Godfrey Rhodes (c. 1574- 1633) and his father, Judge Francis Rhodes (1524-1589)
Sir Godfrey Rhodes (c.1574-1633) was the fourth son of Francis Rodes, a judge of the common pleas. He was born at Staveley Woodthorpe, Derby, which was the family home of his father, Francis. During his years as an Elizabethan judge, Francis Rodes acquired property in Derby, Nottingham and Yorkshire and built impressive manors at Barlborough, Derby and Great Houghton and Hickleton in Yorkshire. These manors were eventually willed to his sons. Francis Rodes was married twice and had children from both marriages:
Descendants of Judge Francis Rodes
1 Francis Rodes 1524 - 1589/90
.. +Elizabeth Sanford 1534 -
........ 2 Sir John Rodes 1562 - 1639
............ +Ursula Mallory
........ *2nd Wife of Sir John Rodes:
............ +Dorothie Saville
........ *3rd Wife of Sir John Rodes:
............ +Frances Constable
........ 2 Peter Rodes 1566 - 1600
............ +Margerie Hallam
........ 2 Anne Rodes
............ +John Bassett
........ 2 Francis Rodes 1567 -
............ +widow Coutes(Coates?)
*2nd Wife of Francis Rodes:
.. +Mary Charlton - 1584
........ 2 Attalyne Rodes - 1597
........ 2 Bridget Rodes
........ 2 Catharine (or Frances) Rodes
............ +Thomas Pilkington - 1611
........ 2 Cicile Rodes
........ 2 Judith Rodes
............ +Jonas Waterhouse
........ 2 Margaret Rodes
........ 2 Mary Rodes
............ +Sir John Thornhaugh - 1613
........ 2 Troweth Rodes
........ 2 Sir Godfrey Rodes 1575 - 1633/34
............ +Catherine Onley - c.1598
........ *2nd Wife of Sir Godfrey Rodes:
............ +Anne Lewknor 1577 - 1608
........ *3rd Wife of Sir Godfrey Rodes:
............ +Margaret Astley c.1568 – c.1625
........ *4th Wife of Sir Godfrey Rodes:
............ +Mary Rayner(?) - 1628
........ 2 Robert Rodes 1580 - 1603
........ 2 Elizabeth Rodes 1580 - 1644
............ +Sir Richard Tempest 1585 - 1657
........ 2 Francis Rodes 1582 -
In his will dated 1587 and proved 1591, Judge Francis Rodes left Barlborough to his oldest son, Sir John; Hickleton to his second son, Peter; Great Houghton to his fourth son, Sir Godfrey (whom he called his secondary first son; being the first son of his second wife). Sir Godfrey never lived at Howden, Yorkshire, as the inscription on the Newport tombstone reads, but always at Great Houghton (an easy mistake, especially if passed on as oral tradition). Judge Rhodes’s third son, Francis, was to receive an allowance if he were to return to school and stop his associations with unsavory characters. The youngest two, Robert and Francis the younger, were minors at the time of their father’s death, and received yearly allowances which their oldest brother, John, was to oversee (copy from The National Archives, Public Record Office ref: prob/11/74).
There is no record to show the exact year of Sir Godfrey Rhodes’s birth. His parents were married in 1569, and his birth is usually estimated at about 1575 although it could have been a few years earlier. According to available records, Sir Godfrey Rhodes was married four times: first to Catherine Onley (sometimes seen Olney); second to Anne Lewknor; third to Margaret Astley Neville (widow of Sir Anthony Neville of Mattersey, Nottingham) and lastly to Margaret Rayner Panton (previously married to Edward Combes, Richard Shute and Thomas Panton). Parish records at Darfield, Yorkshire (parish church for Great Houghton) are incomplete until 1628, so most of the critical years for birth records of his children are not available.
Sir Godfrey’s first wife, Catherine Onley, must have died within a few years of their marriage, since he married Anne Lewknor in 1598. Catherine is sometimes associated with either Edward or Thomas Onley of Catesby, Northampton, but there is no confirmation that either was her father. There was at least one daughter (probably named Mary) from Sir Godfrey’s marriage to Catherine since his sister, Attalyne (or Adelyne), who died at Great Houghton, leaves a legacy in her will dated 1597 to her niece, the daughter of her brother Godfrey. (Sheffield Archives; Crewe Muniments, Access to Archives CM/377). Except for this, I have found no reference to a child of this first marriage.
The second wife, Anne Lewknor, is given in genealogies as the mother of all of Sir Godfrey’s surviving children. She was the daughter of Sir Edward Lewknor and Susan Heigham of Denham, Suffolk. A prenuptial settlement dated 20 Sep 1598 between Godfrey Rodes and Edward Lewknor confirms this marriage (Sheffield Archives: Crewe Muniments, Access to Archives CM 378)
The children are: Sir Edward Rhodes (c. 1600-19 February 1666); Ann Rhodes (12 July 1601- ); Frances Rhodes (3 January 1604- bef. 1 June 1633); Elizabeth Rhodes ( c. 1605- 9 April 1688) and Godfrey Rhodes (1607- February 1654). Anne Lewknor Rhodes died 16 November, 1608 and was buried in Denham Suffolk. Yorkshire Visitation, 1666 confirms the four surviving children (all except Frances) of the second marriage.
Sir Godfrey’s third wife was Margaret Astley Neville. She was the daughter of Sir John Astley and Margaret Grey of Maidstone, Kent. Their marriage took place in 1610. (Pavers Marriage Licenses: Yorkshire Archaelogical Journal). She was alive in 1615 when she was mentioned on a lease dated 10 April 1615 (Sheffield Archives: Crewe Muniments, Access to Archives CM 394). According to several online genealogies, her previous husband, Sir Anthony Neville of Mattersey, Nottingham, died 5 Nov 1595, so Margaret had been a widow for fifteen years before her marriage to Sir Godfrey. According to various genealogies, she had at least four sons and two daughters from her previous marriage.
Sir Godfrey’s fourth and last wife was Mary Rayner (or Raynebyrd) Panton. She was the widow of Thomas Panton of London. Godfrey and she were married in 1625 and she died in 1628/29, will proved 26 February 1629. (Copy from The National Archives, Public Record Office, Cat. Reference prob/11/153). In her will she left property to children from each of her previous marriages: John Combes; Mary Combes, married to Richard Oakley; Elizabeth Combes; Richard Shute; Constance Panton (later married to John May); Laureola Panton (later married to John Oakley) and Margaret Panton. The youngest two Panton daughters were still minors at the time of their mother’s death ( copy from The National Archives, Public Record Office, ref: prob/11/153).
Descendants of Sir Godfrey Rodes
1 Godfrey (sir) Rodes 1575 - 1633/34
.. +Catherine Onley - bef 1598
........ 2 Mary Rodes
*2nd Wife of Godfrey (sir) Rodes:
.. +Anne Lewknor 1577 - 1608
........ 2 Edward Rodes 1600 - 1665/66
............ +Mary (or Margaret) Whichcoate 1609 - 1681
........ 2 Ann Rodes 1601 -
............ +John Neville 1590 - 1657
........ 2 Frances Rodes 1603/04 – bef 1633
........ 2 Godfrey Rodes 1607 - 1653/54
........ 2 Elizabeth Rodes 1607 - 1688
............ +Edward Fenwick
........ *2nd Husband of Elizabeth Rodes:
............ +Thomas (Earl of Strafford) Wentworth 1593 - 1641
*3rd Wife of Godfrey (sir) Rodes:
.. +Margaret Astley 1568 – bef 1625
*4th Wife of Godfrey (sir) Rodes:
.. +Mary Raynebyrd - 1628
Sir Godfrey Rhodes’s will was dated 1 June 1633 and proved at York 10 January 1634. In it he states that he has already given “a certain sum of money” to his daughter Elizabeth as well as one thousand pounds to his daughter Ann, wife of John Neville of Mattersey, Nottingham (this is his step-son; son of his third wife, Margaret Astley Neville)and so leaves nothing further to either daughter. He leaves to his son, Godfrey, a yearly annuity of fifty pounds which Edward (whom he calls his elder son) is to administrate. The rest of his estate he leaves to Edward, who he also names as executor. He also mentions a debt owed him by his sister [in law], “the Lady Lewknor of Denham in Suffolk.” (copy from Sheffield Archives, Sheffield Yorkshire).
In view of the will, the Yorkshire Visitation of 1666 and pedigree information from South Yorkshire, published by Rev. Joseph Hunter 1828, which all give the same list of children, it seems unlikely that Sir Godfrey had more than these two sons: Sir Edward and Godfrey. It is possible that Catherine Onley could have had a son before her death, but if so, he is not mentioned in any known land records, any pedigree, visitation or the will of Sir Godfrey. A son from the marriages of the other two wives seems even less likely for the same reasons and also because both wives must have been reaching the end of their child-bearing years by the time they married Sir Godfrey. In order for John Rhodes of Newport to be an actual grandson of Sir Godfrey then, he would almost certainly have to have been a son of either Sir Edward or Godfrey.
The tombstone inscription states that John Rhodes was 75 years 8 months old at the time of his death; 31 March, 1746. This gives John Rhodes a birth date of 31 July 1670. Since both Sir Edward (d.1666/7) and Godfrey (d.1654) were dead by 1670, John Rhodes cannot be a son of either of these. It is much more likely that John Rhodes was actually a great-grandson of Sir Godfrey.
Sir Edward Rhodes (1600- 19 February 1667)
Sir Edward’s descendants are listed in the Visitation of 1666 as:
Descendants of Edward Rhodes
1 Edward Rhodes 1600 - 1666/67
.. +Mary (or Margaret) Whichcoate 1609 - 1681
........ 2 Godfrey Rhodes 1631 - 1681
........ 2 Mary Rhodes 1633 - 1660
............ +John Wordsworth
........ 2 Hammond Rhodes 1635 - 1688
........ 2 Anne Rhodes 1636 - 1660
............ +George Ellis - 1711
........ 2 Edward Rhodes 1637/38 - 1660
........ 2 William Rhodes 1639 - 1694
............ +Frances (or Mary) Wilson - 1726
........ 2 Richard Rhodes 1640/41 - 1643
........ 2 Elizabeth Rhodes 1646 - 1714
........ 2 Millicent Rhodes 1648 - 1660
............ +Charles Hutton Esq.
........ *2nd Husband of Millicent Rhodes:
............ +Robert Banks - 1716/17
........ 2 Frances Rhodes 1649 - 1660
........ 2 Samuel Rhodes - 1651
........ 2 unnamed Rhodes - 1653
He married Mary Whichcote, the daughter of Sir Hammond Whichcote and Millicent Markham in 1629. Four of Sir Edward’s sons grew to adulthood. His sons Godfrey, Hammond and William are mentioned numerous times in Yorkshire land transfers from about 1660 to 1690 (Sheffield Archives, Crewe Muniments). Another son, Edward, was a barrister of Grey’s Inn. Three of these sons: Godfrey; Edward; and Hammond, died unmarried. Only William married and had children. William’s two sons were Godfrey (d. unmarried 1709) and Richard. Below is the pedigree given in Hunter’s South Yorkshire:
Sir Edward’s male line becomes extinct with William, the son of Richard, who died unmarried in 1740. Sir Edward’s will, written in 1664 and proved 1666, mentions only the above listed children (copy from Borthwick Institute, University of York, vol.48 fol. 419). Unless there was another son (a second William) completely left out of any family records, land transfers or Sir Edward’s will, I see no opportunity for John Rhodes of Newport to be descended from Sir Edward’s line. While Sir Edward’s son and eventual heir, William, serves as a match in terms of his birthdate (b. 1639) and name, this William Rhodes never lived in Rhode Island and died at Great Houghton 17 December, 1694, making it impossible for him to be selling land to a son, John, in Newport in 1700.
One final reason for Edward’s line being an unlikely link to John Rhodes of Newport is that the tombstone refers to Sir Godfrey, not Sir Edward. Since Edward was more recent as well as more notable than his father, it would make sense that the information on the tombstone would include him, if in fact John Rhodes could claim Sir Edward as an ancestor.
Godfrey Rhodes (1607- February 1653/54)
There are no family genealogies, land records or any other evidence to suggest that Godfrey had a family. He spent the years 1621- 1635 at Sidney Sussex, Cambridge, entering at age 14 and receiving his B.A in 1625; M.A in 1628 and D.D. in 1635. Parish records at Cambridge show neither marriage nor birth records mentioning Godfrey Rhodes during these years.
Godfrey’s brother-in-law, Thomas Wentworth, (married Elizabeth Rhodes 1631) had been appointed Lord Governor of Ireland in 1632, and Godfrey was one of a number of clergy brought to Ireland by Wentworth. In Ireland, Godfrey served as treasurer of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, and as Dean of Londonderry. No parish records exist from this time period for St. Patrick’s and only begin with 1642 at Templemore, Londonderry (with no Rhodes mentioned) so it is impossible to say if he might have been married in Ireland.
Thomas Wentworth was executed in 1641, with the Civil Wars erupting in Ireland and England soon after. In 1646, Godfrey, with seventeen other clergy, signed a petition addressed to Parliament which requested that they be allowed to continue using the Book of Common Prayer, “…that you would be pleased in pity and compassion to the Protestants of this city, and to us the ministers… [who]are endangered to be exposed to banishment, loss of estate, and of present subsistance, with our wives and families…” (Richard MantHistory of the Church of Ireland from the Reformation to the Revolution, 1840, p.591)This reference to family, being signed by 18 clergymen, is the only, however remote, suggestion that Godfrey may have had a family. The following year, he requested a three-year leave of absence (“The Estate of the Diocess of Derry” Ulster Journal of ArchaeolgyVol III p.190). It is doubtful that he ever returned to Ireland during such troubled times, and died at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire in 1654.
Godfrey Rhodes’s will was probated at Canterbury 14 April, 1654. No copy of the will remains, but a record of the probate shows his brother, Sir Edward Rhodes, as administrator (Borthwick Institute, University of York- Prob. b/29). His last residence at Gainsborough suggests that Godfrey may have been living with his niece, Elizabeth Neville Hickman, the daughter of his sister (Ann) and step-brother Sir John Neville, who married Sir William Hickman, heir to the manor of Gainsborough (Thomas Wotton “Hickman of Gainsborough, Lincolnshire” The English Baronetage, London, 1741). There are no Rhodes mentioned in the parish records at Gainsborough for the years 1647-1654.
It is possible that Godfrey had property at Clondermot, Londonderry (historically property belonging to the Dean) which he left to his sister, Elizabeth. There is an obscure reference at approximately the time of his death to land in an inheretance to a Widow Wentworth (Henry CottonFastiEccleslae Hibernicae: The Succession of the Prelates and Members of the Cathedral Bodies in Ireland vol III, BiblioBazaar, 2008, p.331).
Finally, there is a marriage record between Godfrid Roodes and Elizabetha Ryley at Rothwell, Yorkshire (near Wakefield) 20 February 1627/8. (Rothwell Parish Registers) There is no way to confirm or refute that this marriage is Godfrey Rhodes, the son of Sir Godfrey. Arguments against include: 1628 is an unlikely time for Godfrey Rhodes to be married since he was still a student at Cambridge. He received his M.A. degree that year (no indication of which month) at age 21 (Ulster Historical Foundation, Clergy of Derry and Raphoe, 1999 p.33). Between this degree and his doctorate there are seven years, indicating that he may have taken a break from school. But between the bachelor’s and master’s degrees there are only three years, which hardly leaves time for marriage. This date is also one year before his older brother’s marriage of 1629, which is somewhat unusual for the times.
An argument that may support this being the right person is that there are few records of others of the name Godfrey Rhodes in Yorkshire at this time(besides his father). One found is an older Godfrey at Barnsley who had a long succession of children baptized there between 1589 and 1602. This could be a later marriage for him. There is also a Godfrey Rhodes (b.1595) at Mirfield. This Godfrey married Agnes Cartmel at Wakefield 29 September, 1630. If this is the same Godfrey, Elizabeth Ryley would not have lived very long in order for him to remarry by 1630. No association nor common thread between the Rhodes family of Great Houghton and any family named Ryley has been found. No Rhodes births follow this marriage in the Rothwell registers.
Because neither Sir Edward nor Godfrey is a strong candidate for being the correct ancestor of John Rhodes of Newport, other possibilities have been explored. One is that Sir Godfrey may have served as a guardian to someone who generations later was considered to be his grandson. There are no known legal records that support an actual guardianship although it is possible that he may have taken in children of one of his brothers. His sister, Attalyne, died at Great Houghton in 1597 and his brother, Robert, died there in 1603, indicating that at least some of the extended family made their home in Yorkshire (Darfield Parish Records).
Judge Francis Rodes served as guardian to three young daughters after the death of his brother-in-law, Hercy Sandford. Sir Edward Rhodes served as guardian to his niece, Elizabeth Neville, after the death of his step-brother, Sir John Neville. So guardianship was a common practice within the family. Of all the brothers except Sir John, who did not have a generous spirit, Sir Godfrey appears the most prosperous and best able to look after nieces and nephews, but this is of course just speculation.
Sir Godfrey’s brothers
Sir Godfrey’s oldest brother, John, disinherited his oldest son, John, son of Dorothie Saville. Dorothie’s father, Sir George Saville of Wakefield, Yorkshire, and later his sons, took charge of the boy and educated him. Tradition says that this John Rhodes was born blind, but sometime in adulthood gained his sight. Records show that John, tried through the courts system in 1623-24 to force his father to give him his inheritance:
Domestic Papers James I vol. 153, 14 Oct, 1623: Sir John Denham to the Council. Has failed in endeavouring to persuade Sir John Rhodes to settle an allowance and some property on John Rhodes, his eldest son by his first marriage, Sir John alleging that he has already given land, coal mines &c, of value, in trust to him and others, and received no satisfactory account of them.
Domestic Papers James I vol. 158, 23 Jan 1624: Petition of John Rhodes to the Council, that Sir John Denham, who reported on the former petition complaining of his father’s unkindness, may prescribe a competent maintenance to be allowed him. With reference thereon to Baron Denham, and his report that on account of the large fortune which the petitioner’s mother brought in marriage, 30/ a year is the lowest maintenance that his father should assign him.
Domestic Papers James I vol. 163, 18 Apr 1624: Petition of John, eldest son of Sir John Rhodes, to Pres. Mandeville. On the certificate made by Baron Denham of the allowance which his father should give him, went down to Yorkshire in hopes of his father’s conformity, but was utterly rejected. Begs that some other mode may be taken for his relief, being in extreme suffering, and in danger of arrest for debt, from having no allowance for eleven years (Domestic Papers James I- British History Online).
This nephew of Sir Godfrey, usually referred to in various genealogies as John Rhodes of Horbury, was also related to Sir Godfrey through Thomas Wentworth (married to Sir Godfrey’s daughter, Elizabeth) whose sister married a brother of Dorothie Saville (John Rhodes’s mother). This John Rhodes of Horbury, or a son of his, may have been helped by Sir Godfrey in such a way that later generations mistakenly called him a grandson. To date, I have no information of his descendants. This line remains to be explored.
The next oldest brother is Peter, born 1566. He is very likely Peter Rodes who married Marjorie Hallam 26 November, 1594 at St. Peter’s, Nottingham. Four births follow this marriage with Peter Rodes listed as father: George, 22 Jan 1595; twins Anker and Thomas, 23 Jan 1596; John, 7 Nov 1598. Death records show that two of these sons died shortly after birth: George, 2 Feb 1595 and Anker, 17 Feb 1596 (Nottingham Parish Registers). To date I have found no other birth or death records for this family.
Peter Rodes is first found in records of Yorkshire Fines (land transfers) in 1590. His name continues (often with his brother John and others as partners) primarily as the seller until 1600. From these records, it appears that he may have traded land at Hickleton and Billingsley to Godfrey for land nearer Nottingham (at Ranskill, Blyth and Hesley). The manor at Hickleton was sold in 1596 to John Jackson (father to the husband of Peter’s niece, Elizabeth Thornhaugh). The last transfers mentioning his name are dated 1600 (Yorkshire Fines 1590-1600, British History Online).
Peter’s name is also mentioned in court concerning a dispute over livestock:
Court of the Queen held at Doncaster 10 July 42 Eliz (1600)
Edward Earle v. Peter Roodes, for taking oxen &c, in a close called Northfirthclose, at Tils Magna
William Wintringham v. Peter Roodes, for like offence in the same place
(A Calendar to the Records of the Borough of Doncaster, Court Rolls of Doncaster vol V-X 1579-1600, fol. 268).
To date, no other records of Peter Rhodes have been found, with a presumption that he died in the early 1600’s. There is a record of Marjorie Rhodes m. John Matthew at Heanor, Derby 7 Sep 1606 who may be his widow, since Heanor is only a few miles west of Nottingham. Otherwise, nothing more is known of Peter and Marjorie, nor of the two sons, Thomas and John. If Peter died leaving at least two small children, it is possible that Sir Godfrey may have served as enough of a guardian for future generations to have believed they were his children.
The genealogical line of Francis (b. 1567), Sir Godfrey’s next brother, is also unknown. From Judge Francis Rodes’s will, we know that the estate at Barlborough had been planned originally for Francis to “allure him to his books and study” as a law student at Grey’s Inn, but because of “… the great untowardness of my said son (I will not use any more bitter words)… through evil behavior and worse company…” this estate was revoked and given to John instead. Francis was to receive a small allowance, but only on condition of his returning to school (copy from The National Archives, Public Record Office ref: prob/11/74). Unlike Godfrey and Peter, Francis is a fairly common name associated with Rhodes, and with no inherited property, it is impossible to say where he lived or when he died.
The name Francis Rhodes appears in the Darfield Parish Birth Records as father to Anne, 1628; Frances, 1634; Elizabeth, 1637; and Jane 1638. There is also a probate record of Francis Rhodes, with a wife, Ann, dated 1 August, 1641 who died at Wombwell (a neighboring village to Great Houghton) (Borthwick Institute, University of York, ref:1180).
According to Maulsby Family genealogy, Francis married a widow Coutes (perhaps Coates?) in Norfolk (Ella BarnardEarly Maltby With Some Roades History and that of the Maulsby Family in America, , 1909 p.308). There is no mention of the widow’s first or maiden name. Perhaps the Francis at Darfield is Godfrey’s brother who married a widow by the name of Ann Coutes or Coates, may have had at least one son in addition to the four daughters, and whose son is the ancestor of John Rhodes of Newport.
The youngest brothers were Robert and Francis, the younger. The visitation indicates that both of these died unmarried. Burial records of Darfield Parish show “Mr. Robert Rodes of Great Houghton, 10 May 1603.” There are no known records concerning Francis. In view of the visitation information, no doubt given by Sir Edward Rhodes in 1666, it seems very unlikely that either of these brothers is an ancestor to John Rhodes of Newport.
Darfield Parish Records
Even though some early years are missing from the records, there are several Rhodes entries worth noting. In fact, they are too many and too early to account for Sir Godfrey’s family alone. Perhaps some of these early entries are of brothers or cousins of Judge Francis Rodes. Listed are Jasper, William, James and Thomas who all have children baptized in the early 1600’s. Later records could be from any of these lines, or from Sir Godfrey and his brothers.
Since John Rhodes of Newport had a father named William, I have looked especially for any possible candidates of that name. Of particular interest is a baptism: William Rhodes, 9 Oct 1639 and probably a brother, John Rhodes 10 Feb 1644, both sons of John Rhodes. Previous to these baptisms, there is a marriage of John Rhodes to Margaret Wilkinson 12 Oct 1634. The name Wilkinson is worth noting because early Yorkshire records repeatly show Sir Godfrey’s brothers, John and Peter Rhodes, as partners in land transactions with brothers John, William and Patrick Wilkinson throughout the 1590’s (Yorkshire Fines 1590-1600, British History Online). The families are also distantly related, with Ellen Wilkinson, daughter of John, being the wife of John Jackson (grandparents of a later John Jackson, who married the niece of Sir Godfrey) (Joseph HunterSouth Yorkshire, Nichols and Son, London, 1828).
Without additional information, it is impossible to give a pedigree for John Rhodes of Newport. Based on what is available, it seems most likely that he is either a descendant of Godfrey Rhodes, second son of Sir Godfrey, or of Peter Rhodes, the brother of Sir Godfrey.
Considering the limited information about each of them, it is difficult to say that either is a more likely ancestor. Even without any evidence of children, however, I am inclined to take the tombstone information at face value and say that Godfrey Rhodes may be the more likely of the two.
The wording of the Yorkshire Visitation of 1666 may be worth a closer look. The visitation information, given to the King’s herald by the head of the family, (in this case Sir Edward Rhodes) was intended to help keep track of the coat of arms for each household as well as provide a pedigree for armigerous heirs (those entitled to use the coat of arms). Since it was never intended as a census count, younger sons’ families were not included in the record, although all sons were entitled to the coat of arms. Information given for Robert and the younger Francis Rodes (sons of Judge Francis Rodes) as well as Sir Edward’s son, Edward, conclude with, “died unmarried.” Information concerning Peter and the elder Francis Rodes (sons of Judge Francis Rodes) as well as Godfrey, Edward’s brother, give no marriage status. Godfrey’s information states: “Godfrey Rhodes, Dr in Divinity and Deane of London Derry in Ireland.” Since there is evidence that both Peter and Francis were married, if Sir Edward’s responses on the visitation information remained consistant, one might conclude that the omission of marital status actually indicates that Godfrey was also married(William DugdaleThe Visitation of the County ofYork1664-67 Michigan Historical Reprint Series 2005 p.266).
The household of Sir Godfrey and more specifically of his son, Sir Edward Rhodes, is a likely setting as a beginning for someone immigrating to Rhode Island and joining the Baptist faith. Sir Godfrey’s background was Puritan, while Sir Edward was considered non-conformist without a specific affiliation. In 1650 he built a chapel at Great Houghton specifically for invited ministers only, refusing to have it aligned with any denomination. In 1662, with the Act of Conformity ejecting thousands of non-conformist ministers, he invited dozens of ministers of various faiths to his estate, where he supported them and their families. This tradition was continued by his widow as well as his sons (John T. CliffeThe Puritan Gentry Besieged 1650-1700, Routledge, 1993). Unfortunately, non-conformist records for this family chapel do not exist, making it impossible to know if family members were baptized there (perhaps including John Rhodes b: 1670).
The Hickman household at Gainsborough might also have served as a good starting place for a Rhode Island Baptist. Although much earlier (1601) Gainsborough is attributed as being the birthplace of the first Baptist congregations. The Hickman family was long associated with the non-conformist Puritan Pilgrims, Sir William Hickman’s grandparents (Anthony and Rose Hickman) fleeing to Amsterdam with the Pilgrims, and being financial supporters of John Robinson and the Plymouth Colony. Later Hickman generations were somewhat less extreme in their beliefs (Walter BurgessThe Pastor of the Pilgrims, Harcourt, Brace and Co. 1920). As a Dean of the established Church of England however, it is doubtful that Godfrey Rhodes ever shared his brother’s (or the Hickman’s) more extreme non-conformist convictions.
Chichester, Sussex and Oyster Bay, Long Island
In an effort to include all possible leads to the identity of John Rhodes of Newport, one final theory is presented. Numerous histories of Long Island, New York describe an early Baptist preacher, William Rhodes, who came to Oyster Bay from Chichester, England, by way of Newport, Rhode Island.
Several genealogists have speculated that this William Rhodes was the father of John and William (jr.) of Newport (Roscoe Whitman, History and Genealogy of the Ancestors and Some Descendants of Stukely Wescott,1932). According to various accounts, this William Rhodes died in 1724 (Rev. Charles Wightman, History of the Baptist Church of Oyster Bay1873); had a wife named Esther who, with her husband witnessed two land records(Oyster Bay Town Records Book C,August 18, 1701; September 25, 1701, copy courtesy of John Hammond, Oyster Bay Town Historian)and was brother to John Rhodes, b.1640 (Whitman, 1932). There are too many conflicting genealogies of both this William and of John Rhodes, also of Oyster Bay, to present any information as reliable concerning their descendants. It is reasonable to assume however that Caleb Wright, third Baptist preacher in Oyster Bay and often referred to as a grandson of William Rhodes, was much more likely the grandson of John Rhodes; the son of John’s daughter, Elizabeth, and William Wright .
In view of this possible connection, a considerable effort has been made in searching for information linking Sir Godfrey Rhodes to Chichester, Sussex. To date, there are several very remote suggestions that Sir Godfrey, or his descendants, had any connections in or near Chichester. One is that, in 1601, upon the death of Sir Edward Lewknor (Anne Lewknor’s father), Sir Godfrey with his brothers-in-law inherited land at Kingston-Bowsey, Sussex(Denham Parish Registers, Inquisitions, Edward Lewkenor, 1605 p.130). Kingston-Bowsey is approximately 100 miles from Chichester, so this would hardly be considered close. There was no further record found as to any disposal of this property.
Sir Edward Lewknor was born at Kingston-Bowsey and was a member of a large extended family who for many generations settled in all parts of Sussex. Upon his marriage to Susan Heigham about 1570, Sir Edward left Sussex for her family home of Denham, Suffolk while all of his family (as well as considerable property apparently) remained in Sussex.
A second remote link to Sussex comes from a marriage in 1634 between Constance Panton and John May of Rawmere, Sussex. Constance was a young daughter of Sir Godfrey’s fourth wife, Mary Panton (d. 1628). John May, a member of a wealthy and influencial Sussex family, inherited the manor of Rawmere, where he and Constance lived. This estate is located on the north side of Chichester, in an area now called Mid Lavant. Interestingly, the May family was asociated politically and through marriages to the Lewknor’s (also of Chichester) who were distant cousins to Anne Lewknor, Sir Godfrey’s second wife. Also, John May’s older brother, the poet Sir Thomas May, probably knew Godfrey Rhodes (1607-1653) since they attended Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge during the same years. It is possible to imagine a Rhodes relative removing to Chichester, especially if Constance Panton remained at Great Houghton after her mother’s death, perhaps with Sir Godfrey serving as her guardian.
Searching for a William Rhodes in and around Chichester has brought up several interesting records. There is a marriage record for Wiliam Rhodes and Esther Reeves at Amberley, Sussex on 31 August, 1669. Presumably, this same couple were parents of a son, John Rhodes, christened at Walberton, Sussex 19 August, 1670, parents William and Esther Rhodes (IGI Records, FamilySearch.org). Since baptism was manditory within the first month of birth, this christening would correspond ideally with the tombstone information given for John Rhodes in Newport (b. 31 July, 1670). Both Amberley and Walberton are within eight miles of Chichester, Sussex. Even the parent names, William and Esther, match the couple who settled in Oyster Bay, Long Island.
This is of course all speculation, since there remains no direct evidence to link any Sussex Rhodes family to Sir Godfrey Rhodes of Great Houghton, Yorkshire. While this birth at Walberton is the only IGI record to match his birthdate, it is of course possible that John Rhodes was born in Rhode Island with no recorded birth, that he was baptized in a Non-Conformist congregation where no record exists, or that his parents were already practicing Baptists in which case he would not have been baptized as an infant at all.
In publishing this paper, it is my hope that someone reading the results of my research may be able to add information that helps fill the gap between Sir Godfrey of Great Houghton and John Rhodes of Newport. It is disappointing not to find more conclusive evidence that points to his ancestry. I hope these findings generate new research into this family, and serve beneficial to other Rhodes family historians.
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