John Kenyon did not marry Anna Mumford

Copyright 1999 by Wm. E. Wright - Send e-mail: wmewrght AT hal-pc.org.

The information on this page can also be found in my book, Ancestors and Descendants of William Browning Greene and Mary Hoxsie Lewis with allied Families. This book is in many genealogical libraries in the United States.

One of the most persistent genealogical myths is that John Kenyon, immigrant ancestor of most Kenyons in the United States, married Anna Mumford. The source of this myth is the 1935 Kenyon genealogy, American Kenyons, by Captain Howard N. Kenyon. Shortly after Capt. Kenyon published his book, Meredith Colket, refuted Capt. Kenyon's assertion regarding this marriage in an article published in The American Genealogist.

Let's look first at where Capt. Kenyon came up with his information that John Kenyon married Anna Mumford. The source of the Mumford surname for John Kenyon's wife is in the Land Evidence records of South Kingstown and North Kingstown, RI. On 16 Oct 1717, John Kinyon of Kingstown gave land to his son, John Kinyon of the same town. Old John Kinyon had purchased the land from his brother-in-law, Thomas Mumford, Jun. Adjacent land owners included another brother-in-law, Peleg Mumford, as well as Thomas Mumford. The clerk copied the mark old John Kinyon made in signing the deed, an "I" with a dash through it. The deed is recorded in Vol. 2, page 165 of the Land Evidence records in South Kingstown.

Searchers in Rhode Island records have not found the given name of this Mumford lady that old John Kenyon married. Records of the Mumford family do not show a daughter named Anna. Where then, did Capt. Kenyon learn that her name was Anna? In the church baptism records in Oldham, co. Lancaster, England, there is a record that John and Anna Kinyon, have a son, John, baptized 26 Dec 1682 and a daughter, Sarah, baptized 22 Feb 1684. Is this our John Kinyon? Possibly he is. We are probably safe and saying he is because evidence to disprove the identification has not been found and is not likely to be found. So if old John Kinyon had a wife Anna in England and the Rhode Island records show that his wife's surname was Mumford, isn't that evidence that old John Kinyon married Anna Mumford? That is what Capt. Kenyon says in his book.

But Meredith Colket went a step further in his analysis. John and Anna Kenyon were in England in 1682-1684 where their two children, John and Sarah, were baptized. At that time, however, the Mumfords had been in America for some 30 years. How did John Kenyon meet a young lady in Rhode Island, marry her, carry her back to England and have a couple of kids, and finally return to Rhode Island? Not very likely. For a complete discussion of this issue by Meredith Colket, see The American Genealogist, July 1936, Vol. 13, pages 53-55.

Another problem, but not a major one, is that in 1717, old John Kinyon testified that in 1683 he started living in North Kingstown on the land of Mr. Killum of Boston. That was the same time period that John and Sarah were being baptized in England. If we accept the accuracy of the 1717 affidavit then the John Kinyon in Rhode Island is probably not the same as the John Kinyon with wife Anna in England. However, dates given in affidavits at the time were often approximate and we can take the 1683 date also to be approximate. So old John Kenyon exaggerated by 2 years, more or less, and he didn't actually begin to live on Mr. Killum's land until circa 1685. No big deal.

More recently, another article appeared in The American Genealogist that raises the spectre of a third wife for old John Kinyon. In Vol. 61, page 85ff, Leo Garman discusses the alleged marriage of Sarah Kenyon to John Webster as given by Capt. Kenyon. Again this marriage is based on land evidence records and the Oldham, co. Lancaster, England, baptism records. In 1716, old John Kinyon executed a deed to his "son-in-law," John Webster. Since the name of only one daughter of old John Kenyon is thought to be known, Capt. Kenyon says that Sarah (baptized in England, 22 Feb 1684) married John Webster. Again the Rhode Island records do not name John Webster's wife, so we don't know that she was Sarah. Mr. Garman also points out in the article that the term "son-in-law" at the time could have referred to a step-son. John Kinyon could have married a widow surnamed "Webster," who had a son by a prior marriage named John Webster.

SUMMARY: What we have then is confusion over the names of old John Kenyon's wife/wives. Although absolute proof is lacking, we might reasonably conclude that John Kenyon married first in England, Anna ___ (surname unknown). He and Anna had two children, a son named John and a daughter named Sarah, baptized in Oldham, co. Lancaster, England. Subsequent to these baptisms, possibly in 1685 old John Kenyon and his son, John Kenyon, Jr., came to America and settled in (North) Kingstown, Rhode Island. We don't know if daughter Sarah came to America and we don't know if his wife Anna came with him. Some time later, after Anna had died, old John Kenyon married a Miss Mumford (given name unknown), sister of Thomas Mumford, Jun. and Peleg Mumford. This second wife may have died and John Kenyon possibly married a widow Webster with a son, John Webster. Alternatively, old John Kenyon may have had a daughter (name uncertain) who did marry John Webster.

THE BAD NEWS: We don't have a clue as to who is the mother of John Kenyon's known six younger children. Descendants of these six younger sons: James, Enoch, Joseph, Samuel, David, and Jonathan don't know if they are descended from Anna (__) or (Miss) Mumford or even from widow Webster.

"Old John Kinyon." Throughout this discussion I have used the term "old John Kinyon" to describe our immigrant ancestor. He is described in that way in the 1727 list of freemen of Westerly, RI: "Old Mr. John Kinyon."

Other problems in American Kenyons. Old John Kenyon's son, David Kenyon, did not marry Mary Sanford. David did marry Mary (surname unknown). Neither is her surname Gardner as given in Anne Borden Harding, Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, George Soule, Vol. 3, (1980), page 282. In 1956, shortly before his death, Capt. Kenyon did speculate that she may have been Mary Rogers. He offered a reasonable argument, but again proof is lacking.

Both my Kenyon lines, as published in American Kenyons have problems. Penelope(5) Kenyon, eldest child of John(--4, John--3, John--2, James--1) Kenyon, is not named by Capt. Kenyon. Capt. Kenyon mixed up the descendants of Thomas(--3, James--2, James--1) Kenyon. Specifically the families of Thomas's sons, Elisha and Daniel. I descend from Daniel's daughter, Dinah Kenyon who married Browning Green. I have sorted out the lines of Thomas in my book.

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