Elmers, Elmers Everywhere in Essex

Following up on some research from my previous post: Ed Elmer, Regular Guy.

“Some Mistakes were Made”

Near the end of the post, I mentioned trying to order reads of the Poll Tax documents in the UK national archives in Kew which I had found while searching the E 179 Database. The Poll Tax rolls sometimes include information about people and there was a roll that included names from Braintree in 1629, which with a lucky roll of the dice might contain some information on local Elmers and maybe some idea of their net worth based on taxes.

In my excitement, I ordered something like 8 different lookups, which were pretty inexpensive. I think the grand total was something just under $100. In return, I received 8 notifications that they could not scan these old scrolls, but that I was welcome to hire a local researcher or come to Kew myself and have a look at them.

Needless to say, I felt dumb for ordering so many lookups at once. I also feel that the message I got back telling me I could visit Kew and look at the documents myself was an automated response designed for people in Britain who are looking up more recent documents. It would be highly unlikely that the national archives would allow me, a random guy from the U.S., to walk in and mess around with parchments from 1629.

I had no doubt that I could hire a researcher, but that I could also pay for hours of their time, only to have them eventually tell me that they couldn’t just walk into the national archives at Kew and mess around with rolls of parchment from 1629. The rates for independent researchers are negotiated between you and the researcher, although they do offer research services and did provide a nice listing to help find researchers specialized in your time period of interest or in specific groups of records.

Having just been (stupidly on my part, I admit) charged $11 per email for 8 copies of the same templated email, I fear that hiring a researcher could lead to some expensive life lessons that I cannot afford.

I always say that genealogy is really a selfish pursuit. It’s a “me-time” thing and it’s also a me-money thing. I know I’ve said it’s a rich man’s game. Basically, it requires time and usually some disposable income. Finding documentation of your great grandfather who made two dollars a day in a farmer’s field is not going to be the top priority of someone currently making two dollars a day in some farmer’s field.

My wife realizes that this is my thing and that I’m going to funnel some time and money to it. My kids couldn’t care less about it.

Switching over to my role as a father of two with a car payment and mortgage, I couldn’t find where there was an upper limit to what a person could spend on a researcher for, possibly, zero return on investment.

In the future, if I come into some large source of “gambling” money, I might just hire a researcher, but right now, it seems like a very expensive fishing expedition because I have no idea what is contained in the documents I’d like them to look over.

Getting Some Data

Since then, I’ve put some money and time into various searches trying to feel my way around this elephant. Getting a subscription to thegenealogist.co.uk which gives you the feeling you are definitely being scammed, but has some really good indexes and a nice search feature that I would say is better than Ancestry.com.

I also accidentally found a way to order books on the hearth tax for various counties through the Centre for Hearth Tax Research and The British Records Society. In the 1670s there was a tax put in place on the number of hearths in a home and it lists both taxed and non-taxed owners. It is nearly 40 years after Ed Elmer leaves England, but assuming he wasn’t a unicorn and had some family left behind, it’s a way to see who they might be. I received a nice hardcover book with hearth tax records from Essex, which has been interesting all by itself but did at least contain some “Elmer” records.

Familysearch.org posts a rough guide to social groups based on the number of hearths:

HEARTHS
STATUS
8 and above
Gentry and above with many surviving examples today.
4-7
Wealthy craftsmen and tradesmen, merchants and yeomen, some of whose houses survive today.
2-3
Craftsmen, tradesmen and yeomen, very few of which have survived to modern times.
1
Labouring poor, husbandmen, poor craftsmen whose homes have long since vanished. One hearth could typically heat four small rooms, two up and two down stairs often occupied by two or even more families.

My best guess previously at social standing was that Ed Elmer was a Yeoman or more likely Husbandman, not at the bottom rung of the ladder but not in the Gentry either. So these hearth tax records might give us an idea of the social standing of Elmers found in other records and searches and some idea of the surnames surrounding them that may appear in other records and searches.

As an example, I’ve used John Talcott as a person to measure Ed against when thinking about his family in England. The Talcotts in Colchester (where John’s grandfather is from) have 5 to 16 hearths in their homes. A 10 hearth listing belongs to Thomas Talcott who is listed as a gentleman. A William Talcott has 16. While Gentleman Thomas Talcott from Feering (3 to 4 miles from Coggeshall Hamlet) has 9 hearths.

The other thing this survey can help with is that John Talcott is listed as being from Braintree, but obviously has ties to Colchester. Is Ed in a similar situation?

Although I found perfectly good Elmers, Aylmers, Elmars, Ellmers and Elmores in Norfolk, Suffolk, Middlesex, Sussex, Kent, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Surrey, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, Somerset and London from the 1300’s to the 1600’s I’m going to focus on Essex (for the moment) because it is the last place we can put a pin for Edward Elmer. It is generally given as his departure point.

I apologize for the size of this list, I’m trying to leave myself some notes on Elmers alive or dead in Essex around the time of Ed and some idea of how many there are.

Essex

A map of the pinpoints for Elmer records in Essex in the 1500s and 1600s. I’m trying to break down the towns by “area” but I’m not sure of the relationships of all the towns because I’m not from Essex. So I may group a town “near” Tollesbury incorrectly associating the two because I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ll bold the hearth tax records.

broad overview map of Elmers in Essex listed below.
Pins representing the locations of Elmers listed below

Chelmsford

Ed Elmer was part of the Braintree Company but also Hooker’s company, following Reverend Thomas Hooker to what would become Hartford Connecticut. Thomas Hooker was a lecturer in Chelmsford and retired to Little Baddow before leaving for North America.

1670 Hearth Tax – Ellmer – 5 hearths – interesting that it is just listed as Ellmer, others similarly have no first name, like Whitehead (3 hearths) and Mr. Wall (6 hearths). This Ellmer would have qualified as a wealthy craftsman, tradesman or yeoman.

Date 6th November 1575 Groom John Gotsall, Bride Susan Elmar

1683 Theophilius Aylmer (apothecary), Chelmsford

Hattfield Peverel

1612 Samuel Almer, in Hattfield Peverel. The Churchwardens tried to take his cow.

Boreham

Date of Baptism 13th August 1570 Venefred Elmer, Father’s Name Richard Elmer, Place Boreham St Andrew, Essex

Little Baddow

Date 20th October 1567 Groom: Edmond Hawkes, Bride Elizabethe Elmar, Parish Little Baddow St Mary the Virgin

Ulting

1670 – Hearth Tax – Brabason Aylmer Gentleman – 8 hearths

Maldon

Date of Baptism 27th April 1597 Thomas Elmer, Father William Elmer, Maldon St Peter

Date 16th April 1613 Groom William Elmer, Bride Mary Frend, Parish Maldon St Mary the Virgin

Coggeshall

It seems like the general area of Braintree and Coggeshall was important to Puritans who later moved to North America with Ed. Many of these locations are also in the sphere of Colchester.

Date 11th September 1619 Groom Gregory Elmore, Bride Elizab Beacha, Parish Coggeshall St Peter Ad Vincula

Coggeshall Hamlet (Little Coggeshall)

1670 Hearth Tax – Charles Elmer – 2 hearths – It appears he is listed as discharged by certificate, which means he wasn’t liable for the tax. If I’m reading it right then the majority of hearths listed in Coggeshall Hamlet are not taxed. Would also qualify as a yeoman or craftsman.

1696 – Will for Thomas Elmer, Little Coggeshall

Braintree

Reverend Samuel Stone, another founder of Hartford, was a curate at Stisted between Braintree, Coggeshall and Earls Colne.

1628 court record for Gad Elmer, Labourer from Braintree, along with Walter Wall, assaulted Thomas Whitehead. See the Hearth tax for Chelmsford where all these surnames appear as well.

Kelvedon

Date 24th November 1617 Groom Edmond Elmar, Bride Alice Hill
Groom’s Parish or Abode Kelveden, Parish Messing All Saints

Date of Burial 26th December 1619 Edmund Elmer, Parish Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin

Date of Burial 14th June 1585 Alice Elmor Parish Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin

Date of Burial 9th October 1616 Helen Elmer, Husband Edmund Elmer, Parish Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin

Date of Baptism 14th January 1626 Joan Elmer, Father John Elmer, Mother Helene Elmer, Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin

Date of Baptism 12th April 1629 William Elmer, Father John Elmer, Mother Helene Elmer, Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin

Date of Baptism 23rd February 1633 Charles Elmer, Father John Elmer Mother Helen Elmer, Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin

Date of Baptism 25th June 1637 Elizabeth Elmer, Father John Elmer, Mother Helene

Date of Baptism 21st November 1624 John Elmmer, Father John Elmmer, Mother Helene, Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin

Messing

Date of Baptism 1st March 1572 Roberte Elmore, Father Roberte Elmore, Messing All Saints, Essex

Date of Baptism 21st March 1573 Susan Elmore, Father Robarte Elmore, Messing All Saints

Earls Colne

1582 John Almer, Earls Colne

Date of Burial 17th February 1569 John Elmer, Parish Saffron Walden St Mary the Virgin (yep…two in a row)

Colchester

A lot of the outlying towns that contain Elmers are within the sphere of influence of Colchester.

Date of Burial 31st August 1594 Edy Elmer, Parish Colchester St Leonard

Wivenhoe

1614 Robert Elmer alias Tyler, documented in 1614 and again documented in 1616 from Wivenhoe outside Colchester.

Aldham

Date of Baptism 7th July 1640 Samuel Elmer, Father Edmund Elmer Profession: Clerk, Aldham St Margaret and St Catherine

Beaumont Cum Moze

Date of Burial 16th December 1599 Mary Elmar, Father’s Name Robart Elmar, Parish Beaumont-Cum-Moze St Leonard – Also a birth record for Mary in May of this year.

Baptism Date of 14th December 1600 John Elmar, Father Robart Elmar, Mother Mary Beaumont-Cum-Moze St Leonard

Date of Burial 30th August 1603 Elmar, Father Robart Elmar, Parish Beaumont-Cum-Moze St Leonard

Date of Baptism 1st January 1604 Mary Elmer Father Robert Elmer, Beaumont-Cum-Moze St Leonard, Essex

Date of Burial 23rd January 1615 Mary Elmer, Husband Robert Elmer, Parish Beaumont-Cum-Moze St Leonard

Date of Baptism 21st April 1606 Rychard Elmar, Father Robart Elmar, Mother Mary

Date of Baptism 18th September 1608 Elizabeth Elmar, Father Robart Elmar, Mother Mary

Date of Baptism 23rd April 1611 Grace Elmar, Father Robart Elmar, Mother Mary

Manningtree

13th June 1616 Groom’s Name Robert Elmar, Bride’s Name Sara Wright, Parish Manningtree St Michael and All Angels

Bradfield

Date 25th September 1626 Groom William Elmer, Bride Susan Convin, Parish Bradfield St Lawrence

Date of Burial 1st July 1628 William Elmer, Parish Bradfield St Lawrence

Date of Baptism 30th September 1627 Henry Elmer, Father William Elmer, Mother’s Name Susan, Bradfield St Lawrence

Thaxted

Date 3rd August 1635 Groom Robertus Ashley, Bride Maria Elmer, Parish Thaxted St John the Baptist Our Lady and St Lawrence

Saffron Walden

Date of Burial 29th October 1568 John Elmer, Parish Saffron Walden St Mary the Virgin

Sible Hedingham

Date of Burial 28th August 1611 Ane Elmer, Parish Sible Hedingham St Peter

Little Canfield

Date of Baptism 25th July 1568 Jone Aylmor, Mother Margery Aylmor Little Canfield All Saints

Stapleford Tawney

1670 Hearth Tax – William Elmer – 1 hearth – discharged by certificate.

Will – 1606 or 1696 – Mary Elmer in Stapleford-Tawney, interesting because she lists a male “Cattlyn” and our Mary Unknown (Edward Elmer of Hartford’s wife) married Thomas Caitlin after Edward’s death.

Harlow

1513 Thomas Aylmer, Gentleman of Harlow near Thaxted

Havering-Atte-Bower

1558 – 1578 – Plaintiff Thomas Halys, Defendant Edward Elmer

Tollesbury

There were so many Elmer records from Tollesbury that I got tired of seeing records from Tollesbury.

Date 27th January 1615 Groom’s Name Rob Paynter, Bride’s Name Susan Elmor, Groom’s Parish or Abode Toleshunt Major, Bride’s Parish or Abode Tolsburie, Parish Kelvedon St Mary the Virgin

Date 3rd November 1594 Groom Thomas Pale, Bride Susan Elmer

Date 17th April 1597 Groom John Eve, Bride Mary Elemer

Date of Baptism 20th June 1577 John Elmer, Tollesbury

Date of Baptism 12th November 1581 Mary Elmer, Tollesbury

Date of Baptism 7th November 1583 Elizabeth Elmer, Tollesbury

Date of Baptism 17th October 1585 Robert Elmer, Tollesbury

Date of Baptism 18th October 1579 William Ellmer, Tollesbury

Date of Baptism 11th August 1588 Margaret Elmore, Tollesbury

Date 11th November 1605 Groom John Elmen, Bride Susan Elmer, Tollesbury

Date of Burial 1st October 1604 Rebecca Elmer, Husband John Elmer

Date of Burial 11th June 1608 Susan Elmer, Father John Elmer

Date of Burial 28th June 1612 Elizabeth Elmer

Date of Burial 18th November 1614 John Elmer

Date of Burial 25th November 1621 Ratchell Elmer

Date of Burial 12th July 1625 William Elmer

Date of Baptism 19th May 1616 Mary Elmer, Father Willi Elmer

Date of Baptism 4th October 1619 William Elmer, Father William Elmer, Mother Ratchell

1578 – previous search record for Rob Elmer Tollesbury

1608 previous search record for John Elmer in Tollesbury

1623 previous search record for William Elmer in Tollesbury

Great Stambridge

Date of Baptism 19th September 1648 Ann Elmor, Great Stambridge St Mary and All Saints

Tillingham

1670 Hearth Tax – Widow Ellmer – 1 hearth – discharged by certificate so not paying the tax.

West Mersea

Date of Burial 8th September 1618 Bartholomews Elmer, Abode Westmerzea, Parish Harwich St Nicholas

1644 Robert Elmer, Seaman. Will from West Mersea

More Elmers than Expected

So, yeah, there are a lot of Elmers in Essex in the time of Ed Elmer. Specifically looking at the Hearth tax and thinking about Elmers who could afford a trip to the new world and walking that back from 1670 to 1640. Here is the short Hearth Tax list for Essex:

8 hearths for Brabason in Ulting – gentleman (descendant of Bishop Aylmer)
5 hearths in Chelmsford – wealthy yeoman
2 Hearths in Coggeshall Hamlet – yeoman
1 hearth in Stapleford Tawney – labourer
1 hearth in Tillingham – labourer

In my post on Ed Elmer Regular Guy, my theory based on his means was that he wasn’t the bottom rung of the ladder, but also not a gentleman. He had means, but clearly not the amount of means of others he lived near in the new world. The Puritans made sure every man had something but some people had more something than others and they brought that with them.

Ulting is close to Braintree but we haven’t been able to find any family ties between Ed Elmer and Brabason Aylmer’s family. Most of the Aylmers are well documented and so we’ve been able to find death records for our suspect Edward Aylmers. We could totally be related to the Bishop, but I suspect it would be in a more round-about fashion through his brother or uncle or great uncle, something that wouldn’t let Ed have access to their wealth and standing.

Gad Elmer from braintree in 1628 is a labourer and he’s listed with Wall and Whitehead there. I bring that up because I see those same names pop up in Chelmsford hearth taxes. My previous theory though was that Ed was not a labourer (although that may be misguided), but it’s also completely possible that Gad is a relative of Ed’s. Some of my cousins live one town away from my family and there is a clear income gap between our families. What if Gad was Ed’s cousin?

Given my bias that Ed is a yeoman or a tradesman of some sort, I’d be looking at those families from Chelmsford on the high end (roughly 12 miles from Braintree) and Coggeshall which is just about 6 or 7 miles from Braintree. Of course you get to the point where everything is only so far from everything else in the region.

Other People on the Lyon who are from Essex

Ed travels on the Lyon, so that had me wondering if other people on the Lyon were from Essex and what towns they came from.

Using the Whipple family’s break down of the Lyon passenger list as a guide (A Whipple being a witness to Gad’s crime up there) here is my laundry list of origins for Essex Lyon travelers:

  • Braintree
  • Nazeing
  • Coggeshall
  • Halstead
  • Dedham
  • Bocking
  • Hatfield Broad Oak
the road from Nazeing Essex to Dedham.

This isn’t the full list of origins for people on the Lyon, just those thought to be from Essex.

What did I Learn?

Getting in the wayback machine, what I learned a long time ago is that Braintree is under-represented when it comes to birth and death records because many of those records were damaged. The fact that we can find records from Braintree or about Elmers from Braintree like Gad (above) is then a small miracle.

It leaves us without a definitive record of Edward’s birth though. I also do not see the birth of Gad Elmer of Braintree. I couldn’t find any birth marriage or death records from Braintree, just that one lucky court document for Gad with a list of familiar names.

There are definitely Elmers whose parish records do show up near Braintree in places like Kelvedon and Coggeshall. Which is interesting, if not definitive.

There are Elmers near Braintree who would fit the bill as yeoman class families, as the Hearth Tax shows, in Coggeshall Hamlet and again not too far away in Chelmsford.

Looking at his Puritan leanings; Samuel Stone (who named Hartford Connecticut) was a curate at Stisted near Braintree, Hooker lectured in Chelmsford. Ed Elmer followed these men to Hartford and may have been part of their parishes while in England. Stisted is 5 miles from Coggeshall Hamlet where the lower end Yeoman family of Elmers lives in 1670 and Chelmsford is where a wealthier Yeoman family of Elmers lived.

Edward is part of the “Braintree Company” which contains a lot of Braintree residents but people outside of Braintree were part of the company too.

There is are quite a few Elmers in Essex in the late 1500s to the late 1600s. Nothing compared to the flood of records from Norfolk, but clearly a big enough population that Edward could be born there.

If he was somewhat like John Talcott, attributed to Braintree but with roots in a different town, then it seems like Chelmsford or Coggeshall Hamlet could be those towns. Either place along with Braintree, would also have put him within range of the Men who would lead the group to Hartford (Hooker and Stone).

The end result is that I feel good about Chelmsford or Coggeshall and even close towns like Kelvedon as possible source locations for our Elmers, but I was not able to find any records that would pin Edward to them.

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