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Work in Progress

by John Plummer
A review by Wayne E. Nelson S#4727×514

John Plummer has written a paper entitled Work in Progress about the family of Alice Frost, wife of S-4 Godfrey Sheldon of Bakewell Parish, Derbyshire, England; and Scarborough, York County, Maine. The title of the piece, Work in Progress is not very descriptive, but it indicates the beginning and the on-going nature of the work. Plummer plans additions and revisions to the existing seven sections of the work as new information is discovered .

Plummer begins his report by reminding us that sometimes the answer to a genealogical puzzle is right under our nose. He writes: "This is just what has happened in the case of the parentage of Alice Frost, wife of the immigrant Godfrey Sheldon. All the data needed to identify her father was already in the Sheldon Family Association files!"

The data Plummer needed to identify Alice Frost's father is in copies of the wills of Ellen (Frost) Goodale of Bakewell (Alice's sister), and the will of George Frost, the father of Alice and Ellen. Plummer notes that in her will dated 29 June 1646, Ellen (Frost) Goodale mentions "my brother David Frost, and Alice and Sara my two sisters". Elsewhere in the will she names Alice and Sarah as the wives of Godfrey and William Sheldon respectively.

Plummer goes on to note the earlier will of George Frost, dated 30 November 1630, mentioned sons Francis and David and daughter Sarah. Plummer concludes that these are evidently the same David and Sarah who are brother and sister of Ellen (Frost) Goodale and Alice (Frost) Sheldon.

From the wills of George Frost, Ellen (Frost) Goodale, Francis Frost and David Frost, and the inventories of their estates, Plummer sketches the descendants of George Frost of Bakewell Parish. With his strong background in English History, Plummer writes of his belief that George Frost probably lived all, or nearly all, of his adult life in the village of Sheldon; that the Frosts worked the nearby lead mines maintaining quite a decent lifestyle as evidenced by their inventories. He explains why residents of hamlets like Sheldon seem to have taken communion at Bakewell and to have been married and buried there, but they do not seem to have had their children baptized there. Plummer believes it possible these Frosts had Puritan sympathies because they used Old Testament names and their inventories listed bibles and other books. He goes to some length in explaining unusual terms and tools that are listed in the wills and how some relate to the mining of lead during this period.

The next section of John Plummer's publication discusses the descendants of Alice (?) Frost of Monyash in Bakewell, Derbyshire. Plummer suggests this Alice was married to an older brother (name unknown) of the George Frost discussed above. Plummer reasons that since George Frost's children were younger than his brother's children, George was probably younger than his brother also. It is less clear why Plummer believes the two to be brothers. By a careful reading of the will and inventory of Alice (?) Frost, Plummer identifies her six children and many grandchildren.

The next four sections of Work in Progress cover the descendants of William Frost of Tideswell in Bakewell, Miscellaneous Bakewell Frosts, Miscellaneous Sheldons of Sheldon in Bakewell, and Miscellaneous Sheldons of Bakewell. The last three sections list names, dates and events that cannot be connected with any other Frost or Sheldon family. These lists are useful if you are looking for people who might "fit" in a genealogy line.

The most intriguing section in Work in Progress is the last, titled "A Possible Sheldon Line." Plummer draws together the many scattered records of Sheldon individuals in Bakewell Parish. He notes they fall into a number of groups based on naming patterns, religious
proclivities, associations, geographical concentrations, etc. Using a number of these possibilities he forms a very tentative pedigree for our S4 Godfrey Sheldon which links up with the well known J. Gardner Bartlett pedigree for our S-5 Isaac Sheldon!

The common progenitor of Godfrey and Isaac' Plummer suggests, is John Sheldon (abt 1495-Liv 1572) of Monyash, Bakewell, Derbyshire (Shirley Sheldon Rider shows him "of Taddington"). Bartlett designates him as No. 7 John Sheldon. John Sheldon married twice but the names of his wives have not been found. By his first wife John Sheldon had sons Roger (abt 1520-1590/1) and Richard (abt 1525-1600). By his second wife, John Sheldon had sons Henry (abt 1530-1600), Thomas (abt 1535-bef 1591) and George (abt 1540-liv 1600). Bartlett wrote that Isaac descended from the first wife of John Sheldon through her son Richard. Plummer suggests Godfrey descended from the second wife of John Sheldon through her son George.

Bartlett indicates S-5 Isaac Sheldon's ancestry through Ralph, Arthur, Roger, Richard, to No. 7 John Sheldon. Plummer suggests a "possible" connection with S-4 Godfrey Sheldon through William Sheldon, George Sheldon to No. 7 John Sheldon. Under this possible connection, S-5 Isaac Sheldon and S-4 Godfrey Sheldon would be half second cousins twice removed. (And at one time we believed the Sheldon progenitors were four brothers!)

Plummer has brought together a body of Sheldon information, carefully analyzed it, and, with his knowledge of history and genealogy, has proposed some relationships that were heretofore not considered. It gives us an exciting, fresh perspective. As Rose Sheldon Newton wrote: "John has unwound some previously unknown lines and I have great hope that if we work with him, the Godfrey line and what Hortense called The Isaac Question will finally be answered."

Charts by Rose Sheldon Newton show the descendants of George Frost of Sheldon, Alice Frost of Monyash and William Frost of Tideswell.


About the Author:John Plummer has a B.A. from New England College majoring in History and specializing in English History of the Tudor and Elizabethan periods. He is working on his M.A. in Early Modern European History at Columbia University specializing in the history of the English Puritans. He started genealogy research when he was 10 years old. He has worked as a free lance genealogist since graduating college in 1973. He belongs to so many historic and genealogical societies that he has lost count. He has published works on
history and genealogy in The Connecticut Nutmegger, National Genealogical Society Quarterly, The American Genealogist, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Descendants of the Founders of Ancient Windsor Newsletter, and numerous family association newsletters.

Work in Progress is available on the Publications Page.