Nielsen Hayden genealogy

John Briggs

Male - 1690

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Generation: 1

  1. 1.  John Briggs died in Nov 1690 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island.


    John Briggs m. Sarah Cornell. Sarah Cornell's brother Thomas Cornell m. Rebecca, possibly Rebecca Briggs, who burned to death in 1673, for which her and Thomas's son, Thomas Jr., was prosecuted for murder in a trial that famously relied on dream-based "spectral evidence," some of which was offered by John Briggs. In his testimony, Briggs called himself "sixty-four years or thereabouts" (thus the commonly accepted birth year of 1609), and said that he had had a dream in which a woman was at his bedside, "whereas he was much affrighted and cryed out, in the name of God, what are thou? The apparition answered, I am your sister Cornell, and twice said, see how I was burnt with fire." Partly because of this testimony, Thomas Cornell was found guilty of the murder of his mother and was hanged.

    Sources disagree on whether John Briggs and Rebecca Cornell were actually full siblings, half siblings, siblings-in-law, or some other relationship. It seems to be more generally agreed that John Briggs's wife Sarah Cornell was in fact a sister of the senior Thomas Cornell. See George E. McCracken, "Who Was Rebecca Cornell?", The American Genealogist 36:16 (January 1960), for an overview of the probably insoluble problem of Rebecca (maybe Briggs) Cornell's parentage, and for a critique of the idea (promulgated by the 1953 The Briggs Genealogy, citation details below) that John Briggs and Rebecca (maybe Briggs) Cornell were children of a family from the parish of St. James, Clerkenwell, London. Also see Killed Strangely: The Death of Rebecca Cornell by Elaine Forman Crane (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2002).

    John Briggs was one of the signers, in 1638, of the compact of the settlement of Aquidneck. He played a prominent part in the government of the town, serving as juryman, constable, town councilor, surveyor of lands, special commissioner, and Deputy to the General Assembly.

    John Briggs (1609-1690) = Sarah Cornell (d. 1661)
    Susannah Briggs (1640-1704) = William Palmer (1638-1675)
    William Palmer (1663-1746) = Mary Richmond (1668-1708)
    Elizabeth Palmer (1687-1754) = Henry Head (1680-1755)
    Deborah Head (b. 1725) = Brittain Tallman (1729-1815)
    William Tallman (1755-1835) = Rhoda Akin (1751-1844)
    Lydia Tallman (1787-1873) = Abel Ford (1783-1842)
    Silas Ford (1807-1854) = Amanda Hedden (1812-1853)
    Emily Helena Ford (1834-1901) = William Lyman Aiken (1821-1893)
    William Ford Aiken (1864-1901) = Anna Potter (1864-1901)
    Conrad Aiken (1889-1973) = Jessie McDonald (1889-1970)
    Joan Aiken (1924-2001)
    Jane Aiken Hodge (1917-2009)

    John married Sarah Cornell before 1642. [Group Sheet] [Family Chart]

    1. Ens. Thomas Briggs died on 12 Jun 1720 in of Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts.

    John married Constant Mitchell in 1662. [Group Sheet] [Family Chart]

Generation: 2