The following pages are from Chapter VII (pp. 104 - 116) of
The History of Martha's Vineyard, Volume I
by Dr. Charles E. Banks (originally published 1911.)

See also The Mayhew Family of Martha's Vineyard (Banks Volume III, pp. 298 - 328.)

View Pedigree of Mayhew of Dinton.

The name of Mayhew and the Vineyard are almost synonymous, and it will be interesting as well as instructive to learn something of the family which exercised such a sway over the early destinies of our island. The origin of the name is explained satisfactorily by a learned historical scholar of England, himself a descendant, and the following extracts are made from his account:-

As an English family name it is most frequently met with in the South and West of this island, and few parish registers in the Counties of Hereford, Gloucester, Wilts and Dorset can be opened without presenting us with examples. It is spelt in many ways, varying from the extended form of Mayhowe to that of Mao, and often, as it will frequently appear, clipped down and reduced to May to the loss of its concluding syllable. [As an example of the loss of the final syllable, the following may be noted: Walter Mayo vel Meye admissus in Artibus 26 June 1511, (Gough Mss. 7, Bod. Lib.); the will of Robert Mayo of Broughton Gifford 16 Nov. 1572, in the Prerogative Court, though his family name was usually written May, as in the Wiltshire visitations, the will of Henry Mayo alias May, of Kellways, Wilts, 1661.] One lesson is taught by the diversity and variety, viz:-the identity of Mayhew and Mayo, and from this consideration a ray of light is thrown upon the derivation of the name. An early occurrence of the name, and in its extended form, is found in Glover's Roll of Arms, supposed by Sir Harris Nicholas to date from between 1245 and 1250. Herbert le Fitz Mayhewe is there mentioned as bearing "party d'azur & de goulz one trots leonseaux rampant d'or," and Woodward in his History of Wales, page 415, narrates that account to the old copy of S. Davids Annals. The Welsh slew Sir Herbert Fitz-Mahu apparently in 1246, near the castle of Morgan Cam. The same Roll of Arms gives the clue to the origin of the name as a Christian name; in the case of Mahewe de Lovayne, Mayhew de Columbers and Maheu de Redmain. There can be little doubt that it is here a softened form of Matthew. Bardsley in his "English Surnames" mentioned two other instances, Adam fil. Maheu, and Mayhew de Basingbourne, from the Parliamentary Writs. Lower, (Patronymica Brittannica, 219, 221,) takes the same view.

Shakespeare in King "Lear" Act III, scene 4, says:

"The Prince of Darkness is a Gentleman
Modo he's called and Mahu."

The family has its principal habitats in Cornwall, at Lostwithiel, Looe, Bray and Morval, to which belonged John Mayow, Fellow of All Souls, Oxford, and that Mayow of Clevyan, in St. Columb Major, who was hanged on a tavern sign-post as a rebel against the injunctions of Edward VI, concerning religion. Dorsetshire has one family in the Visitation; Gloucestershire, at Kempley, Tetbury, Charfield; Herefordshire, at Tottenham; Northamptonshire, at Holmden, in the Visitation of 1619; Norfolk, at Billockby and Clippesby; Suffolk at Clopton, Helmington and Bedingfield, and in Wiltshire more than one family of the name are found including Mayhew of Dinton in the Visitations of 1565 and 1623, whose pedigree is here inserted. (See page 106.)

Of noted persons of the name is Richard Mayo, otherwise Mayeo, Maiewe, Mayhue, etc., who was born near Hungerford, educated at Winchester, became a fellow of New College in 1459; after passing through the lower orders he became Chancellor of Oxford, 1503, and Bishop of Hereford in 1504. He died in April, 1516. [Genealogical Account of the Mayo and Elton Families by Rev. Canon Mayo, vicar of Long Burton, Dorset. London, 1882.]

In the Records of the Commissioners for the United Colonies, there appeared a letter, now in the Connecticut Archives, [2] Conn. Col. Records, 1678-1689. pp. 504 - 506.] written by Governor Mayhew, sealed with arms which, upon examination, proved to be the arms, with a mullet for difference, of the Mayhew family of Dinton, Wiltshire, a county family of considerable distinction. These facts, taken in connection with the bestowal by Mayhew of the names of Tisbury and Chilmark on two adjoining towns on Martha's Vineyard, (the latter settlement having been originally chartered as Tisbury Manor), and the fact that Tisbury and Chilmark are adjoining parishes in Wiltshire, and separated by a few miles only from Dinton, made it quite evident that this locality was the one which should reveal his family connection.

In April, 1898, the author, during a visit to England, was a guest by previous appointment of the Vicar of Tisbury, the Rev. F. E. Hutchinson, who is of the same stock as one family of the New England Hutchinsons. He spent two days at the vicarage and had ample time to make a thorough examination of the old parish registers of Tisbury, which are extant from the year 1563, including the original and a parchment copy of almost contemporary date. Below extracts from the parish register are given, which include all of the name of Mayhew in its several variations, as well as some relating to persons connected with the family by marriage mentioned in wills, to be hereafter given, during the period necessary for our purpose.



1583 Sept. 13, Henry, son of ...... Maoh.
1589 May 1, Elizabeth, daughter of Matthew Maho.
1591 Jan'y 17, John, son of Matthew Mayoo.
1593 April 1, THOMAS, SON of MATHEW MAHO.
1595-6 Feb. 8, Jone, daughter of Mathew Mayhoe.
1598 Dec. 18, Alice, daughter of Mathew Maiho.
1599/1600 Mar. 15, Katherine, daughter of Mathew Maio.
1602 April 14, Edward, son of Mathew Mayhow.


1573 Nov. 24, Myhell May and Jone Vanner.
15 75 April 21, Thomas (Maow ?) and Alyce (Waterman ?)
1578 Nov. 23, An Maio and Thomas Turner.
1579 Aug. 3, An Maio and John Waterman.
1587 Octo. 2, MATHEW MAOW and ALES BARTER.


1586 July 14, Ales wyffe of Thomas Maow.
1590 June 1, Thomas Maow.

The marriage above indicated by capitals is that of the parents of Gov. Thomas Mayhew, and his baptism is likewise printed in the same type. Attention need scarcely be drawn to the various ways the name is entered in the register. In the baptisms given, eight in all, there are seven different spellings. This entry of the baptism of Thomas, son of Mathew Maho, April 1st 1593, probably within a few days of his birth, is not absolutely conclusive evidence of identity with our Thomas, but taken in connection with the facts relating to the reappearance on Martha's Vineyard of the names of Tisbury Manor (which is situated in the parish of Tisbury, England,) and Chilmark the adjoining hamlet, and the name of Matthew, which for succeeding generations appeared in the Martha's Vineyard family, it becomes one of those cases where an affirmative conclusion is clearly inferential.

Corroborative evidence is also available in respect to Governor Mayhew's age, which corresponds approximately with the record of this baptism. The double dating of that period from January 1 to March 25, enters the problem to give it some slight complications, but as he was born near the dividing line between the new and the old years 1592 and 1593, his several statements regarding the great number of years he attained (evidently a source of pride to him) lead us readily to conclude that with the proneness which he exhibited to reiterate his longevity, he unintentionally adopted 1592 as his birth year, when it was in reality 1593, and that a further source of error lies in the confusion which may result from such general statements as that he was eighty-seven years of age, or in his "87th yeare hallf out." The following are all the references regarding his age which have been thus far observed, and it will be noticed that the first one, before he had grown to riper years and indulged the pardonable satisfaction at attaining great age, is the only correct one as compared to the date of baptism. It bears out the theory that he unconsciously overstated his age as he grew older.

1. On Sept. 15, 1664, he wrote, "I am 71 and 5 monthes at present.'' [Mass. Hist. Coll., 4th series, vol. 7, p. 40.] This would carry his birth back to about 2-15-1593. [Within one month prior to April 15, 1593, which agrees with the baptism.]

2. On 24 (6), 1678, he wrote, "It hath pleased God to keepe me alyve and verry well, to write thus much in my 87th yeare hallf out." [Plymouth Colony Records, vol. 10, p. 406.] This would carry his birth back to about 12-24-1591. [Feb. 24, 1591-2.]

3. In his will dated June 16, 1681, he began: "I, Thomas Mayhew of Edgartown upon the Vineyard in this ninetieth year of my age." This would carry his birth back to some time between June 17, 1591, and June 16, 1592.

4. On April 13, 1682, Matthew Mayhew, his grandson, announced to Gov. Thomas Hinckley of Plymouth the death of his grandfather as follows: "It pleased God of his great goodness as to continue my honoured grandfather's life to a great age (wanting but six days of ninety years), so to give the comfort of his life, and to ours as well as his comfort, in his sickness (which was six days)." [Mass. Hist. Coll., 4th series, vol. 5, p. 61.]

Previously to the author's visit to Tisbury a personal search of the Wiltshire wills deposited at Somerset House relating to the Archdeaconry of Sarum, in which the parishes of Tisbury, Chilmark and Dinton are situated, was made. There was found, among others of the family, the wills of Matthew Mayhew, the father of Thomas, and of Agnes Mayhew, an aunt of Thomas, in both of which documents his name occurs as a beneficiary. The full copy of the will of Matthew is here presented:-


In the name of God Amen. I Mathew Maihew of Tisbury,, in the county of Wilts yeoman being in good health and of perfect memory (thankes bee to god for it) doe make constitute and ordeine this my last will and testamens in manner and form following First I bequeath my soule into the handes of Almighty God my maker and redeemer and my body to bee buried in the Church or Churchyard of Tisbury aforesaid. Itm I give and bequeath to the prish Church of Tisbury iiis via. Itm I give and bequeath to the poore people of the aforesaid Tisbury ifs iiiid. Itm I give and bequeath to my sonne Thomas Maihew Forty pounds of good and lawfull monie of England whereof twenty pounds to bee paid him by my Executor wthin one whole yeare after my decease and the other twenty pounds to bee paid by my Executor wthin five years after the payment of the first twenty pounds in manner and forme following viz: fower pounds evy year until the sume of twenty pounds bee paid and the five yeares expired Itm I give and bequeath unto my sonne Edward Maihew six and forty pounds of good and lawfull monie of F,ngland whereof six and twenty to bee paid him by my executor wthin one whole yeare after my decease and the other twenty pounds to bee paid unto him by my executor after the same manner and at the same times wch are prscribed for the payment of the last twenty pounds of my sonne Thomas his portion Itm I give and bequeath unto my daughter Joane Maihewe six and forty pounds of good and lawfull monie of England whereof six and twenty pounds to bee paid wthin one whole yeare after my decease and the other twenty pounds to bee paid after the same manner and at the same times wch are prescribed for the last payment of my sonne Thomas his portion Itm I give and bequeath unto my daughter Alice Maihew six and forty pounds of good and lawfull monie of England to be paid unto her by my executor after such manner and at such times as my daughter Joane Maihewes portion is to be paid Itm I give and bequeath unto my daughter Katherine Maihew six and forty pounds to bee paid unto her by my executor after the same manner and at the same times wch are prscribed for the payment of my other two daughters portions All the rest of my goods and chattels moveable and unmovable I give and bequeath unto my sonne John Maihew whom I make my whole and sole executor of this my last will and testamt Itm I doe constitute and appointe John Bracher of Tisbury Edward Bracher of Tisbury Richard Langly of Boreham and John Gilbert of Deny Sutton ovrseers of this my last will and testament. In witnes whereof I have hereunto subscribed my hande the last day of August in the year of our Lord 1612


In the prnce of
Luke Simpson
John Gilbert
John Turner
John Bracher

Memorand. That if my sonne Thomas Maihewe Edward Maihewe Joane Maihewe Alice Maihewe Katherine Maihewe or any one of them doe chaunce to dye before they have receaved theire portions then my will is that the portions of the parties deceased shall equally bee divided amongst the rest then liveing

Witnesses hereunto
Luke Simpson
John Gilbert
John Turner
John Bracher

Proved 27th June 1614

The will of Agnes Mayhew of Tisbury, dated Jan. 12, 1606, gives to "Thomas the son of my brother Matthew, five pounds," and it was proved June 24, 1612 (Arch. Sarum, VIII, I 68).

With respect to the connection of this Tisbury twig with the armorial family of Dinton, it is to be observed that Matthew describes himself as "yeoman," which may not disqualify him as a cadet scion of the armigerous family, particularly in view of the fact that Governor Mayhew, his son, used a seal, which he must have obtained in England, cut with the arms of the Dinton family, and having as a mark of difference the mullet, indicating that he was descended from the third son of the armorial grantee. [Many years ago there was issued by the late Jonathan Mayhew of Buffalo N. Y., a pictorial "family tree" which has, erroneously, depicted on it the coat armor of the Mayhews of Hemingston, Suffolk.] The tabular pedigree which appears herewith, showing the Dinton family as given in the Harleian manuscripts and in Hoare's Wiltshire, to which have been added some facts obtained from wills and other original sources, fails to afford us any information concerning the descendants of Thomas, the third son of Robert Mayhew, and the author strongly suspects that it is to him, whose Christian name Governor Mayhew bore, we must look for an extension of the pedigree. The laws of primogeniture, which existed at that period, and which were so carefully observed by the heralds, afforded little consideration for cadet branches of county families, and we are at present reduced to conjecture as to the relationship of Matthew to the Dinton stock, a conclusion which seems reasonable to be made in the affirmative from all the collateral facts. It is to be observed that the name of Simon Mayhew, which appears at the head of the tabular pedigree, was used by the Martha's Vineyard family as early as 1687, which may be classed as additional corroborative testimony. Unfortunately the parish registers of Chilmark are missing prior to 1653, and although Bishops' transcripts exist in the Diocesan Registry at the Salisbury Cathedral, "Our Lady Church of Sarum," they contain no Mayhew entries.[The Dinton Parish Registers are extant from 1558, but contain no entries which throw light on Thomas, the third son of Robert.] A branch of the Dinton family, represented by Walter, the fourth son of Robert of Dinton, lived in Chilmark, which is the next parish to Tisbury and nearer Dinton. Walter Mayhew "de Chilmark, gentleman" made his will Aug. 30, 1604, which was proven Dec. 24, 1606, and in it he makes a bequest to the poor of Fountell (Fonthill) where his elder brother Edward resided. [The adjoining parish of Chilmark, disclosed some early Macy stones in the churchyard. It will be remembered that Thomas Macy of Nantucket, who is said to have been of Chilmark, referred to Thomas Mayhew of Martha's Vineyard as "my honored cousin" (N. Y. Col. MSS., Vol. XXV), and while searching for Mayhew wills, I accidentally found the will of Thomas Maycie of Chilmark, dated 1575, which may serve as the basis of some future investigations concerning that well-known family, whose emigrant ancestor first settled in Salisbury, Massachusetts.] No references to Tisbury or relatives outside of his family appear (Arch Sarum, Rotula XV). John Mayhew of Dinton, however, the eldest son of that generation, in his will dated Sept. 20, 1562, bequeaths a small sum "to the Church of Tisbury," besides to his own church and the Cathedral at Salisbury (Arch. Sarum. IV, 165), which may be taken as showing some interest or connection with that parish.

All the evidence adduced, by inference and exclusion, seems to favor the Tisbury family as the one to which Governor Mayhew belongs, and that the Tisbury branch belongs to the Dinton stock seems equally presumptive. The line of Matthew's parentage probably sprung off before the Dinton stock had their pedigree registered in 1565, and it is also fair to presume that Simon, who heads it, had more than one son. With the exception of Matthew many of the names of sons in the Tisbury and Dinton families are nearly identical, John, Thomas, Henry, Edward. [The Mayhews of Dinton were Roman Catholics, and according to a recent authority, had in those days suffered for their attachment to that faith. An Edward born at Dinton, 1570, became a Benedictine monk, and with his brother Henry was admitted to the English College at Douay in 1583, and later they matriculated at the English College, Rome, 1590 (Stephen, Dict. Nat. Biog. Art. Maihew). He died in 1625. It is probable that he was the son of Henry, and was baptized at Dinton, Nov. 12, 1571. In those days of religious ostracism and persecution, when the Puritan movement was growing in strength, it is possible that the branch to which Governor Mayhew belonged became Protestant, and thus lost association with and recognition by the parent stock.]

In the Mayow arms sea mews are engraved for the birds, which in the authorities quoted are given as "birds." It will be noticed that the arms described on the tabular pedigree have a crescent for difference, indicating their use at the time of the visitation (1565) by a second son, probably Edward, son of Robert. Thomas, the younger brother, would have used the mullet for difference. The use of the mullet by Gov. Thomas Mayhew, indicating his descent from a third son of the Mayow family of Dinton, taken with the other evidence presented, leads to the belief that the Thomas who was buried at Tisbury in 1590, was father of Matthew, grandfather of Gov. Thomas, and son of Robert. [This account of the Tisbury family is condensed from an article in the Genealogical Advertiser, prepared by the author for that publication. (Vol. IV, pp. 1-8.)]

It now remains to turn to the maternal ancestry of Governor Mayhew, the Barters of Wiltshire, of whom Alice, as we have seen, married Matthew Maow in 1587. While the author cannot with equal satisfaction designate beyond doubt the particular branch to which she belonged, yet the following wills indicate her probable parentage and the tabular pedigree illustrates it:-

The will of James Barter of Fovent, Wilts, is dated Sept. 1, 1565, and in it he mentions among-others his eldest son Edward and his daughter (in law) Edith, wife of Edward. (Arch. Sarum, P. C. C., IV, 210.)

The will of Edward Barter, his son, of Haxton, Wilts, of the parish of Fydleton, is dated Oct. 6, 1574, and mentions among others, his wife Edith and his daughter Alice. (Arch. Sarum, P. C. C., V, 231.)

The will of Edith Barter, widow, of the same parish, is dated Aug. 9, 1576, and mentions among others her daughter Alice to whom she gave "halfe an aker of wheat and half an aker of barley my best cowlett, my white pety coat, my kercher, my canvas apron a platter and porringer" (Arch. Sarum, P. C. C., V, 273.)

As this Alice was the only one found by the author in his searches among Wiltshire wills, and as the name of Edward was bestowed on the third son of Matthew and Alice, presumably in honor of her father, as Thomas had been given in memory of his father, this origin of Alice Barter, the mother of Thomas Mayhew, is offered as the probable solution of the question of her ancestry.

Of the childhood, education, and early business training of Thomas Mayhew of Tisbury, nothing definite has come to the knowledge of the author. It is presumed that he lived in Tisbury during his youth, and was educated in the parish school under the care of his parents. When his father died, he was twenty-one years of age, and it is certain that this event placed upon him the necessity of individual responsibility for the future. We know that he became a merchant, but where he served his apprenticeship is unknown. Daniel Gookin, who knew him personally, says he was "a merchant bred in England, as I take it at Southampton." This seaport town was, in that period, one of the most important commercial centres in England, ranking with Bristol as secondary to the great port of London. Like all merchants of the maritime ports, he naturally became cognizant of and interested in foreign trade, and as the colonization ventures of the established mercantile companies began to develop, he must have learned of the possibilities of profitable traffic beyond seas. Among the great merchants of London, Mr. Matthew Cradock was an early adventurer in this line of business, and was among the first to support the companies engaged in the colonization of New England. In the course of business it is to be supposed that every suburban merchant in England went to London often to have dealings with the large wholesale houses in the capital, and in that way we may suppose Mayhew became known to Cradock and thus laid the foundation of their business relations in later years. In 1625, at the accession of Charles the First, Thomas Mayhew was thirty-two years of age and had been engaged in business for himself in all probability for about a dozen years, since the death of his father. During that period he had married, about 1619, and family traditions and a record of some antiquity brings down to us the name of the bride of his youth as Abigail Parkus. [This is from a memorandum, genealogical in its character, prepared by Deacon William Mayhew, of Edgartown, who was born in 1748, and was thus within the sphere of close personal knowledge of his immediate ancestors. He was ten years old when Experience Mayhew, the great family exponent, died (1758), and Experience was about the same age when the old governor died, thus but one life spanned the gap between Thomas Senior and Deacon William. The memorandum was preserved by the Deacon's son, Thomas, and was in existence in 1854.] Further particularization has been given to this tradition by making her a daughter of that Parkhurst family, of which George Parkhurst of Watertown, Mass., 1643, was the first New England representative. George was the son of John Parkhurst of Ipswich, England, a clothier, and his sisters, Deborah and Elizabeth, came to this country with him, and were later residents of the Vineyard, the former as wife of John Smith and the latter of Joseph Merry. So far no documentary or recorded confirmation of his marriage has come to light, and some considerable search has been made to find the probable place where the marriage took place, but without avail. The tradition is given for what it is worth.

The fruit of this first marriage of Thomas Mayhew was a son who was christened by the name of his father, about 1618, and living to man's estate became the famous missionary to our Indians on the Vineyard. [The author has made extensive searches in all published parish registers of English churches and similar books, for any clue to his baptism or any reference to Thomas Mayhew. The following items are here printed, and may be of some value. Thomas Mayhowe, bapt. Aug. 20, 1617, at St. Martins in the Fields, London. The will of Mildred Reade of Linkenhurst, Co. Hants, widow, dated Aug. 15, 1630, mentions her nephew "Thomas Mayhew the younger."] No other children are known, nor when and where the mother died. We are at present left to conjecture as to the whereabouts of the father, as well as his family, and not until 1628 do we find a further possible reference to him. The Company of the Massachusetts Bay were then actively promoting their new settlements at Salem and vicinity, and sending supplies thither. Their records at this time contain the following entry, showing that Thomas Mayhew was then engaged in mercantile pursuits:-

16 MARCH 1628.

Bespoke of Mr. Maio at 10 1/2 p yrd for beds & boulsters 20 bed tikes, Scotch Tikeing 3/4 broad & 2 1/16 long & 1 1/2 yrds wide: 11 yrds each bed and boulster. [Mass. Col. Records, I, 35.]

In two years more Mayhew had determined to follow to the New England the "beds & boulsters" and "bed tikes" he had sold for the emigrants to the latest English colony.


See also The Mayhew Family of Martha's Vineyard by Dr. Charles Banks.

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