English Origins of the Lincolnshire Lines

by Sam Waite-Behling

This article was written from the findings of The American Genealogist (TAG) Vol. 67, No. 4, October, 1992, "Judith At the Island: Judith (Smith) Fisher, the Waite Family of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and Their English Origins" by Edwin G. Sanford.

A Theory 

The articles begins:
A recent article about the 1640 church trial of Richard Waite, a Boston tailor, caught my interest when there was a mention of a woman who was referred to only as "Judith at the Island" (James F. Cooper Jr., "The Confessions and Trial of Richard Wayte, Boston, 1640," William and Mary Quarterly, hereafter Wm. & Mary Quart., 3d ser., 44|1987|:310-32." [Note: I highly recommend this article as well.]

This was quite striking because the phrase "at the Island" was commonly understood in New England in 1640 to mean Aquidneck Island, or the "Island of Rhode Island". ...The two towns then comprised by Aquidneck Island Portsmouth and Newport probably had fewer than five hundred people in 1640. ...Of all the known people living on that island, there was only one person there in 1640 with the first name Judith. She was Judith (---) Fisher, the wife of Edward Fisher. Following the basic assumption that the Judith mentioned in the trial at Boston was the same person who married Edward Fisher of Portsmouth, R.I. a great many other facts seemed to fall into place.

The author goes on to show that "Judith at the Island" had earlier been in Boston, associated with Richard Waite. While many people in Boston were named Judith, only one was a known follower of Anne Hutchinson and had been charged by colonial authorities with antinomianism. She was Judith Smith or "Judye Smith", maid-servant to Edward Hutchinson. Judith Smith's expulsion from the Boston church occurred less than three weeks after Anne herself had been thrown out.

Judith Smith also had an association with Richard Waite's brother, Gamaliel, since Gamaliel was also a servant of Edward Hutchinson. When the Hutchinson party was banished from Boston, Judith, then a single woman, probably had no choice but to go to Rhode Island with her employer. Shortly afterwards she apparently married Edward Fisher.

Edward Fisher and Thomas Waite, both of Portsmouth, were associated together for more than 25 years. The author cites records showing that they were granted houselots on adjoining lands and served as jurymen together, and more. Edward Fisher participated in taking Thomas Waite's inventory.

Eventually the author concludes that "it would be logical to look for their origins in Alford, county Lincoln, long known as the origin of the Hutchinsons. It should not have been surprising to find upon examining the Internation Genealogical Index that the names of Richard and Gamaliel, as well as a Thomas Waite, and a Judith Smith of the right years were actually there. The preponderance of these facts seems to point to the origins of the Waits of Boston, Thomas Waite of Portsmouth and Judith (Smith) Fisher of Portsmouth. The IGI has a number of inaccuracies in its records of these families, and the entries below come from Reginal Charles Dudding, ed., The Parish Registers of Alford and Rigsby in the County of Lincoln Collated with and Supplemented by the Bishops' Transcripts, A.D. 1538-1680 (Lincoln Rec. Soc. Pubs., Par. Reg. Sec., 3 [Horncastle, 1917|). (Rigsby-with-Ailby was a small chapelry attached to Alford; its register was kept separately, but only Bishop's Transcripts are available for the relevant period, except for a few Rigsby entries in the Alford register.)"


For recent DNA evidence supporting the theory that Thomas, Richard, and Gamaliel were in fact closely related see the WGRF DNA Study.


  1. AG (The American Genealogist) Vol. 67, No. 4, October 1992 "Judith at the Island: Judith (Smith Fisher, the Waite Family of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and Their English Origins"; Edward G. Sanford; pp. 193 -200
  2. "The Great Migration Begins, 1620-1633", Robert Charles Anderson; New England Historic & Genealogical Society, Boston, MA, 1995; Vol. III, pp. 1896 -1899 [Gamaliel Wait]
  3. NEHGR Vol. 73, Oct. 1919; "Thomas Waite of Portsmouth, R.I. and Some of His Descendants", G. Andrews Moriarty, Jr., A.M.; pp. 291 302.

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