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Rebecca BRIGGS  

Born: 25 OCT 1600 in London, Clerkenwell Parish., England
Died: 8 FEB 1673 in Portsmouth, Newport County, RI
Buried:

Children With Thomas CORNELL, Married: ABT 1620 in Saffron Waldon, Essex, England
Sarah CORNELL Born: 1623
Saffron Walden, Essex, England
Died: 1661
Portsmouth, Newport, RI
Ann CORNELL Born: 1624
County Essex, England
Died: AFT 1664
Richard CORNELL Born: 1625
Portsmouth, Essex, England
Died: 1694
Thomas CORNELL Born: 21 OCT 1627
Co. Essex, England
Died: 23 MAY 1673
William CORNELL Born: 1625
England
Died: BET JUL 1628 AND APR
England
Rebecca CORNELL Born: 31 JAN 1629
Saffron Walden, Essex, England
Died: 5 FEB 1713
Cornell`s Neck, Westchester Co. NY
Joshua CORNELL Born: 1630
Essex, England
Died: 19 OCT 1632
Essex, England
Elizabeth CORNELL Born: 1 MAY 1631
Essex, England
Died: 12 JAN 1714
William CORNELL Born: 9 DEC 1632
Essex, England
Died: 1636
John CORNELL Born: 6 JUN 1634
Died: 1704
Joshua CORNELL Born: 1639
Newport, RI
Died: AFT 1664
Samuel CORNELL Born: 1640
America
Died: 1715
Mary CORNELL Born: 1641
NY
Died: 1643
NY
Elizabeth CORNELL Born: 1637
Died: 1708
Kent CORNELL Born: 1643
Died:
 
Notes: 1673, Feb. 8: Friend`s Records state "Rebecca Cornell, widow, was killed strangely at Portsmouth in her own dwelling house, was twice viewed by the Coroner`s Inquest, digged up and buried again by her husband`s grave on their land."

May 23, 1673, her son Thomas was charged with murder, and after a trial that now reads like a farce, was convicted and executed. Among witnesses of this trial were John BRIGGS (brother of Rebeca). Mary, wife fo John CORNELL, her son, Thomas; Stephen, Edward and John, sons of Thomas; Rebecca Woolsey (her daughter), etc. It appears that the old lady had been sitting by the fire, smoking her pipe, and that she was burned to death. But on the strength of a vision which her brother, John BRIGGS, had, in which she was set fire to, and that her son, who was last with her, did it, and principally on this evidence Thomas CORNELL was tried, convicted and hung for her murder. Durfee, in his "Legal Tracts of Rhode Island" comments on the lawyer of Newport (who knew much of the history of Rhode Island) that there seemed little evidencce to convict this Thomas CORNELL. The lawyer`s answer was simply, "There was no evidence". )For further particulars concerning him, see Austin`s "Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island", Bolton`s "Westchester County; History of the Mott Family, etc".

Rebecca`s fiery death is bad enough. What happened to her son seems even worse, but perhaps it was typical of 17th century justice, not too different from the famous witch trials of the 1690`s. Hindsight tells us that John Briggs had a lot to answer for in the death of his nephew. However, he undoubtedly believed sincerely in the testimony that he gave.

On 25 May 1655, her brother, John was on a committee to build a cage and stocks. (When were the infamous "Witch trials" of New England?

The following information was copied from BRIGGS-L@@Rootsweb, sent by Jeff BRIGGS.





>From "The American Genealogist" Vol. #36, dated ??, page16-18
photocopy contributed by Nelson Warner, transcribed by Frank Mitchell, 1997

WHO WAS REBECCA CORNELL?

George E. McCracken, Ph.D., F.A.S.G. VD
Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa

Mr. G. Andrews Moriarty has lately put us all greatly in in debt by publishing [supra, 35:107] certain discoveries made by Mr. Waldo C. Sprague in the parish registers of Saffron Waldon, co. Essex. There can be no doubt that Mr. Sprague located eight baptisms and two burials of children of Thomas and Rebecca Cornell, later of Boston, Portsmouth, R.I., and Westchester Co., N.Y. Three children, Samuel, Joshua, and Mary, all presumably born in America, are naturally missing, as are also Ann, the second daughter living 1664, and therefore born in either 1624 or 1626, and Richard, the second son in 1664 (actually the third, counting the William who died in England, born, it would seem, therefore, between July 1628 and April 1629. Perhaps Ann and Richard were baptized in a neighboring parish. But apart from these omissions, the evidence from Saffron Walden is completely in harmony with that presented by the will of Rebecca Cornell, dated 2 Sept. 1664, probated 1673, of which an abstract appears, supra 19:132, a facsimile (not very legible) and a complete transcript in John Rose Delafield, Delafield the Family History (privately printed 1945), 2:648 f. The testatrix listed her sons in order and her daughters in order, and also numbered each list so that we are not left to assume merely from the order that it is chronological. It is to be hoped that we shall soon have the additional material discovered by Mr. Sprague.

Unfortunately, however, in this article reference in made to a "Briggs Genealogy" without making clear that the claims made in that work, and partly cited, are far from being sound. It is true that on the occasion of the trial in 1673 of Thomas2 Cornell for the alleged murder of his mother, when he was convicted an flimsy evidence and subsequently hanged, one John Briggs of Portsmouth deposed that he had seen the deceased Rebecca in some sort of apparition and that she had asserted to him, "I am your sister Cornell." This is for me satisfactory evidence that Rebecca Cornell and John Briggs bore the relationship of brother and sister to each other, but I do not regard it an sufficient proof that they were the children of the same parents. The terminology of the seventeenth century was such that this relationship could have been established in at least three ways:
(a) Thomas Cornell could have married John Briggs` sister;
(b) John Briggs could have married Thomas Cornell`s sister; and
(c) The sister of Rebecca could have married John Briggs.

In addition, we have also the possibility that the relationship was either half or step. The first alternative has been widely supposed to be the only one. It was accepted by the Rev. John Cornell, M.A., in his Genealogy of the Cornell Family, being an account of the Desendants of Thomas Cornell of Portsmouth, R.I. (New York, 1902), p.17, and by Mrs. Bertha Bortie Beal Aldridge in her book, The Briggs Genealogy, Including The Ancestors and Descendants of Ichabod White Briggs (1609-1953) Also Other line descendants of his immigrant ancestor John Briggs, b. 1609, York England, and Some of the Descendants of Ichabod White (Victor, N.Y., 1953), p.11, where Mrs. Aldridge makes John Briggs marry Sarah, sister of Thomas Cornell. On p. 7, in the preface, she puts the birth of John Briggs in Kent, England, inconsistently with her title-page which makes him born in York. But this latter work is not the "Briggs Genealogy" to which reference was made. That, as I learn from Mr. Sprague, is a typed manuscript which he saw at Providence, "New York Descendants of John Briggs of R. I. and County Essex, England, with 16 Allied Families," by Pearl Leona Heck of Washington, D.C. (1933).
So far as I am aware, no proof has been offered to support the belief that John Briggs` sister Rebecca Cornell was born a Briggs, and in view of the fact that Mr. Sprague has now found evidence that Thomas and Rebecca had a son buried in England on 19 Oct. 1632 with the name, as shown in the register of Kelame, it would be well to investigate the possibility that this child bore the maiden name of Rebecca.
In any case, I have myself investigated the Briggs family as shown in the registers of the parish of St, James, Clerkenwell, London, in which, it is true, there is recorded the baptism of a child named Rebecca, daughter of
Henry Briggs, on 25 Oct. 1600, and it is also true that this date is satisfactory for our Rebecca Cornell, so far as we can tell. There are in these registers more entries of the Briggs family than Mr. Moriarty cites, and for the benefit of those to whom the printed registers are not available, I now transcribe all of them:

Burials
5 Dec. 1575 Eliza Brigges, widow
22 Feb. 1572/3 George Brigges
7 Sept. 1608 John Brigges` stillborn child
23 May 1600 Thoomas, son of Richard Brigges
3 Sept. 1593 Margaret, daughter of Will`m Brigges
27 Aug. 1593 Will`m Brigges, householder
16 May 1620 Henry Briggs` son William
3 Dec 1620 Joyce, daughter of Henry Briggs
14 Aug. 1625 Henry Briggs
Baptisms
25 Oct. 1600 Rebecca, daughter of Henry Briggs
8 Apr. 1618 John & Joyce, children of Henry Briggs
Weddings
27 Feb. 1616/17 Henry Brigges & Hellen Taylor
21 Nov. 1621 Henry Brigges & Joane Wilkinson

I have also made inquiries for wills of the Briggs family of Clarkenwell but received no report of any extant. The children of Thomas and Rebecca Cornell were named Sarah, Ann, William, Thomas, Richard, Rebecca,
Elizabeth, Kelame, William, John, Elizabeth, Samuel, Joshua, and Mary, this list being a combination of the evidence from the parish registers and the mother`s will. The children of John Briggs of Portsmouth are shown in
Austin`s Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island (pp. 25 .) as John, Thomas,
William, Susanna, Job and Enoch, and the same list appears In Mrs. Aldridge`s book--I have myself not done any research on the second generation of the Briggs family of Portsmouth. It would seem clear that there is at least no striking correspondence between the names of the Briggs family of Clerkenwell and the Cornell and Briggs families of Portsmouth. Particularly significant is the absence of the name Henry. Moreover, if Rebecca Cornell was, indeed, the Rebecca Briggs baptized in 1600 at St. James, then the John Briggs baptized there in 1618 is about 10 years too young to have been the Portsmouth settler, since his age was given when he testified in 1673, showing that he was born in 1608 or 1609. I conclude that if Rebecca Cornell was really a Briggs, then she was not the one baptized in Clerkenwell.

Jeff Briggs

Per Thomas Cornell`s website 1/17/2010: "Many Cornells believe that Rebecca, wife of their ancestor Thomas Cornell (1594-1655/6), was a Briggs. Arguments in favor come from the trial of their son, Thomas (Jr.), who was hanged in 1673 for murdering his mother, then living in his home. The primary evidence which convicted Thomas (Jr.) was from John Briggs who testified of a vision he had in which Rebecca came to him and said, "I am your sister Cornell..." and told him how she died.

The safest position, presented by noted researcher Dr. George McCracken in his article, "Who was Rebecca Cornell?" which appeared in "The American Genealogist," (TAG) Vol. 36, p. 16-18, is that not enough information or proof exists to conclude Rebecca was a Briggs. His main argument is that "sister" has several possible meanings as well as a religious one. Even in some churches today, adult members who are not blood related call one another "sister" and "brother."

Those who feel Rebecca was a Briggs believe her to have been the daughter of Henry (Henrie) Briggs of London and was baptized 25 Oct. 1600 at St. James Church, Clerkenwell. This date seems very satisfactory for Rebecca Cornell. A John Briggs, son of Henry, was also baptized there. A major missing ingredient to this story, however, involves the considerable distance between London and northwest Co. Essex where Thomas Cornell is said to have lived. The roughly 40 miles between the two places would be quite an impediment to a young man courting a future bride in the 1600s.

The solution to this would seem to be provided by "The Ancient Family of Palmer of Plymouth Colony" by Carlton A. Palmer (Jr.), which provides an account of the Briggs family, unfortunately without sources. According to Mr. Palmer, Henry Briggs had a country home in Co. Essex. It`s also implied that the Briggs family came originally from Essex.

Given this possibility, it`s logical Henry and his family would spend some of the year in this home and thereby become acquainted with locals. Having two separated homes implies the Briggs family may have had some wealth. Considering the likely class consciousness of the English at this time, it is reasonable to conclude there are implications for the status of the Cornell family if these Cornell-Briggs marriages did occur.

The large Briggs genealogy, "History and Genealogy of the Briggs Family, 1254-1937," by L. Vernon Briggs, Goodspeed & Co., Boston, 1938, 3 vols., does not mention John or Henry.

John Briggs, but not Henry, is the ancestor described in "The Briggs Genealogy Including The Ancestors and Descendants of Ichabod White Briggs 1609-1953. Also Other line descendants of his immigrant ancestor John Briggs b. 1609, York England, and Some The Descendants of Ichabod White" by Bertha Bortle Beal Aldridge, Victor, NY, 1953. It indicates John came to Boston in 1635 or 1636 "following his sister Rebecca, who married Thomas Cornell ..." but does not provide any supporting sources or evidence. Also as noted by Dr. McCracken, it does not help its credibility by its title which indicates John Briggs was born in York and then stating later he was born in Co. Kent. Both places are somewhat removed from London where he was supposedly baptized and from one another."

1673, Feb. 8: Friend`s Records state "Rebecca Cornell, widow, was killed strangely at Portsmouth in her own dwelling house, was twice viewed by the Coroner`s Inquest, digged up and buried again by her husband`s grave on their land."

May 23, 1673, her son Thomas was charged with murder, and after a trial that now reads like a farce, was convicted and executed. Among witnesses of this trial were John BRIGGS (brother of Rebeca). Mary, wife fo John CORNELL, her son, Thomas; Stephen, Edward and John, sons of Thomas; Rebecca Woolsey (her daughter), etc. It appears that the old lady had been sitting by the fire, smoking her pipe, and that she was burned to death. But on the strength of a vision which her brother, John BRIGGS, had, in which she was set fire to, and that her son, who was last with her, did it, and principally on this evedence Thomas CORNELL was tried, convicted and hung for her murder. Durfee, in his "Legal Tracts of Rhode Island" comments on the lawyer of Newport (who knew much of the history of Rhode Island) that there seemed little evidencce to convict this Thomas CORNELL. The lawyer`s answer was simply, "There was no evidence". )For further particulars concerning him, see Austin`s "Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island", Bolton`s "Westchester County; History of the Mott Family, etc".

Rebecca`s fiery death is bad enough. What happened to her son seems even worse, but perhaps it was typical of 17th century justice, not too different from the famous witch trials of the 1690`s. Hindsight tells us that John Briggs had a lot to answer for in the death of his nephew. However, he undoubtedly believed sincerely in the testimony that he gave.

The following information was copied from BRIGGS-L@@Rootsweb, sent by Jeff BRIGGS.



Here is some more information on Rebecca Cornell to help you figure out
what is going on with Rebecca. It has a lot of good information but you
will need to draw your own conclusions. Have fun!

Jeff>


>From "The American Genealogist" Vol. #36, dated ??, page16-18
photocopy contributed by Nelson Warner, transcribed by Frank Mitchell, 1997

WHO WAS REBECCA CORNELL?

George E. McCracken, Ph.D., F.A.S.G. VD
Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa

Mr. G. Andrews Moriarty has lately put us all greatly in in debt by publishing [supra, 35:107] certain discoveries made by Mr. Waldo C. Sprague in the parish registers of Saffron Waldon, co. Essex. There can be no dou
that Mr. Sprague located eight baptisms and two burials of children of Thomas and Rebecca Cornell, later of Boston, Portsmouth, R.I., and Westchester Co., N.Y. Three children, Samuel, Joshua, and Mary, all presumably born in America, are naturally missing, as are also Ann, the second daughter living 1664, and therefore born in either 1624 or 1626, and Richard, the second son in 1664 (actually the third, counting the William who died in England, born, it would seem, therefore, between July 1628 and April 1629. Perhaps Ann and Richard were baptized in a neighboring parish. But apart from these omissions, the evidence from Saffron Walden is completely in harmony with that presented by the will of Rebecca Cornell, dated 2 Sept. 1664, probated 1673, of which an abstract appears, supra 19:132, a facsimile (not very legible) and a complete transcript in John Rose Delafield, Delafield the Family History (privately printed 1945), 2:648 f. The testatrix listed her sons in order and her daughters in order, and also numbered each list so that we are not left to assume merely from the order that it is chronological. It is to be hoped that we shall soon have the additional material discovered by Mr. Sprague.

Unfortunately, however, in this article reference in made to a "Briggs Genealogy" without making clear that the claims made in that work, and partly cited, are far from being sound. It is true that on the occasion of the trial
in 1673 of Thomas2 Cornell for the alleged murder of his mother, when he was convicted an flimsy evidence and subsequently hanged, one John Briggs of Portsmouth deposed that he had seen the deceased Rebecca in some sort of apparition and that she had asserted to him, "I am your sister Cornell."
This is for me satisfactory evidence that Rebecca Cornell and John Briggs bore the relationship of brother and sister to each other, but I do not regard it an sufficient proof that they were the children of the same parents. The
terminology of the seventeenth century was such that this relationship could have been established in at least three ways:
(a) Thomas Cornell could have married John Briggs` sister;
(b) John Briggs could have married Thomas Cornell`s sister; and
(c) The sister of Rebecca could have married John Briggs.

In addition, we have also the possibility that the relationship was either half or step. The first alternative has been widely supposed to be the only one. It was accepted by the Rev. John Cornell, M.A., in his Genealogy of the Cornell Family, being an account of the Desendants of Thomas Cornell of Portsmouth, R.I. (New York, 1902), p.17, and by Mrs. Bertha Bortie Beal Aldridge in her book, The Briggs Genealogy, Including The Ancestors and
Descendants of Ichabod White Briggs (1609-1953) Also Other line descendants of his immigrant ancestor John Briggs, b. 1609, York England, and Some of the Descendants of Ichabod White (Victor, N.Y., 1953), p.11, where Mrs.
Aldridge makes John Briggs marry Sarah, sister of Thomas Cornell. On p. 7, in the preface, she puts the birth of John Briggs in Kent, England, inconsistently with her title-page which makes him born in York. But this latter work is not the "Briggs Genealogy" to which reference was made. That, as I learn from Mr. Sprague, is a typed manuscript which he saw at Providence, "New York Descendants of John Briggs of R. I. and County Essex, England, with 16 Allied Families," by Pearl Leona Heck of Washington, D.C. (1933).
So far as I am aware, no proof has been offered to support the belief that John Briggs` sister Rebecca Cornell was born a Briggs, and in view of the fact that Mr. Sprague has now found evidence that Thomas and Rebecca had a son buried in England on 19 Oct. 1632 with the name, as shown in the register of Kelame, it would be well to investigate the possibility that this child bore the maiden name of Rebecca.
In any case, I have myself investigated the Briggs family as shown in the registers of the parish of St, James, Clerkenwell, London, in which, it is true, there is recorded the baptism of a child named Rebecca, daughter of
Henry Briggs, on 25 Oct. 1600, and it is also true that this date is satisfactory for our Rebecca Cornell, so far as we can tell. There are in these registers more entries of the Briggs family than Mr. Moriarty cites, and for the benefit of those to whom the printed registers are not available, I now transcribe all of them:

Burials
5 Dec. 1575 Eliza Brigges, widow
22 Feb. 1572/3 George Brigges
7 Sept. 1608 John Brigges` stillborn child
23 May 1600 Thoomas, son of Richard Brigges
3 Sept. 1593 Margaret, daughter of Will`m Brigges
27 Aug. 1593 Will`m Brigges, householder
16 May 1620 Henry Briggs` son William
3 Dec 1620 Joyce, daughter of Henry Briggs
14 Aug. 1625 Henry Briggs
Baptisms
25 Oct. 1600 Rebecca, daughter of Henry Briggs
8 Apr. 1618 John & Joyce, children of Henry Briggs
Weddings
27 Feb. 1616/17 Henry Brigges & Hellen Taylor
21 Nov. 1621 Henry Brigges & Joane Wilkinson

I have also made inquiries for wills of the Briggs family of Clarkenwell but received no report of any extant. The children of Thomas and Rebecca Cornell were named Sarah, Ann, William, Thomas, Richard, Rebecca,
Elizabeth, Kelame, William, John, Elizabeth, Samuel, Joshua, and Mary, this list being a combination of the evidence from the parish registers and the mother`s will. The children of John Briggs of Portsmouth are shown in
Austin`s Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island (pp. 25 .) as John, Thomas,
William, Susanna, Job and Enoch, and the same list appears In Mrs. Aldridge`s book--I have myself not done any research on the second generation of the Briggs family of Portsmouth. It would seem clear that there is at least no striking correspondence between the names of the Briggs family of Clerkenwell and the Cornell and Briggs families of Portsmouth. Particularly significant is the absence of the name Henry. Moreover, if Rebecca Cornell was, indeed, the Rebecca Briggs baptized in 1600 at St. James, then the John Briggs baptized there in 1618 is about 10 years too young to have been the Portsmouth settler, since his age was given when he testified in 1673, showing that he was born in 1608 or 1609. I conclude that if Rebecca Cornell was really a Briggs, then she was not the one baptized in Clerkenwell.

Jeff

 
Rebecca BRIGGS
25 OCT 1600 - 8 FEB 1673
Henrie BRIGGS
1574 - 4 AUG 1625
Mary HINCKES
12 DEC 1581 - 1615


Thomas BRIGGS
1546 - 1593
Elizabeth MOUNTEYN
1554 - 1618
John HINCKES
1540 - 1581
Elizabeth MYTAR
-





Edward BRIGGE
1526 - 1611
Cecily MOORE
1526 - 1615
Unk MOUNTEYN
1530 - 1590

-

-

-
F MYTAR
- 1616

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Sources

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