English Origins of
Captain Andrew Newcombe &
Lt. Andrew Nucomb
of New England
Many North American Newcomb(e)s claim descent from a Lieutenant Andrew
supposed son of sea Captain Andrew Newcomb born in England in about 16182
who both appear in the records of New England in the mid 1600s.
Much of our knowledge of Captain Andrew and Lt. Andrew comes from a genealogy published in 1874 by John Bearse Newcomb of Elgin Illinois entitled "Genealogical Memoir of the Newcomb Family". JB Newcomb employed "Antiquarians" to search both the New England records and British Isles3 (Devon) records for indications of where the Andrews came from in England. He was not successful in this and claimed "a lack of means" prevented him from solving the problem. Bethuel Merritt Newcomb attempted to solve the problem in his book "Andrew Newcomb and his Descendants" published in 1923. He to ran into problems when the English records were removed for safe keeping during World War I. His book is a continuation of the JB book with little additional information on the two Andrews. BM was wealthy and employed many researchers in the pursuit. Both men appear to have exhausted the New England records without result.
JB tells us that the first record of Captain Andrew in North America is in 1663 when he married his second wife Grace Ricks (widow), they lived in Boston. His first wife's name was not known.
The first record of the Lt. Andrew Nucomb is from a meeting he attended on the Isle of Shoals (off Portsmouth, N.H.) in July 1666 where he was known to be living until he removed to Marthas Vineyard about 1675. His first wife Sarah died the previous year. He was a Lieutenant in the militia hence is referred to as Lt. Andrew Nucomb. He died in between 1703-1708.
Captain Andrew was known from New England records to be the master of various sailing vessels between New England and Virginia. JB says Lt. Andrew was son of Captain Andrew and that a father/son connection will be established later in the book. A careful reading of the book however fails to show any evidence of the relationship of the two Andrews. The only indication that they are connected is that their first and last names are the same and they were in the same geographical area at the same time. There is evidence contrary to them being father and son. Lt. Andrew spelled his name Nucomb while Captain Andrew usually spelled it Newcombe though he occasionally dropped the "e" and once it was written4 "Nucombe". Both men were literate according to JB. In his will probated in 1686 Captain Andrew left his estate to his Grandson. No mention of Lt. Andrew or any other children appear in the will. JB feels this was due to their being no need to assist his son Andrew who was well off by that time.
For decades, no records of the Andrews in England have appeared. However
since 1998 myself and several patrons of my Web site have been aware that
the IGI6 shows possible records for
the Andrews in England.
I have reviewed these records along with the two aforementioned genealogies and feel we may have succeeded in uncovering our English origins.
JBs book says of Captain Andrew: "That he was born in England is quite certain; "that he immigrated from the "west of England," perhaps Devonshire or Wales, nearly all traditions declare." This would certainly narrow the search but how much credit can we give to "tradition"? JB began his research in 1861. He interviewed some elderly Newcombs who would have been born in the late 1700s. Oral tradition would have been approximately 100 years older than the death of Lt. Andrew, but may well have survived the few generations between Lt. Andrew and JB.
The IGI shows Devon and area to have had a relatively large Newcomb population in the 1600s. The Devon records have two Andrew Newcombs living in Devon at the right time and within five miles of each other, but not as father and son. That they were related in some other way seems quite possible.
Tormoham, Devon is a seaport on the English Channel. Parish records8 show an Andrew Newcomb married Susan Cock in Tormoham, 13 August 1648. Their daughter Suzanna was christened 10 May 1649. No other births are shown for this couple. BM lists a daughter of Captain Andrew named Susanna, born between 1645-16507. The record also shows Suzan wife of Andrew Newcomb buried 23-Apr-1652. We know from JB that Andrew remarried in 1663 at Boston. The record shows no other births or deaths for this family. It seems possible that this is Captain Newcomb and his first wife Susan Cock. After the death of his wife he immigrated to North America with daughter Susan.
Five miles North west of Tormoham is Wolborough, (Newton Abbot). This place is not on the sea. Six children were christened to the family of a Thomas Newcombe as shown below.
Emley Lucomb Aug 1630 d. Thomas
Mary Newcombe 23 Oct 1631 d. Thomas
Elizabeth Newcombe 29 Sep 1633 d. Thomas
Katherine Newcombe 21 Sep 1634 d. Thomas
Andrew Nucombe 24 Nov 1639 s. Thomas
William Newcombe 17 May 1646 s. Thomas
1631/2 1 Mar. Mary Newcombe
1633 24 Nov. Elizabeth d.o. Thomas Newcombe
1634 31 Dec. Nathaniel s.o. Thomas Newcombe
1655/6 26 Feb. Thomas Newcomb
1658 3 Jul. m. Robert Gavericke & Joan Newcombe (widow) (Joan may well be the widow of Thomas Newcomb d55/56)
The child Andrew Nucombe in the above record may well be our Lt. Andrew. His year of birth exactly agrees with the age given in JB in the court deposition9 in March 1672 as "thirtey tow yeares or theare about". Three of Lt. Andrew's children by his second wife are named Mary, Elizabeth, and Emlen or Emiline10, which match his sisters names. Mary and Elizabeth are common names but Emeln was not common at that time. From his first wife their first son was Andrew but the third son was Thomas, perhaps named after the fathers father.
What then is the connection between the two Andrews? The fact that they
were living within a few miles of each other in Devon suggests that they
may be related. The fact that Captain Newcomb lived by the sea in Devon
while Lt. Andrew lived inland, fits with the fact that in North America
Captain Andrew was a sea farer all his life while Lt.Andrew appears to
have spent more of his life on land though he did engage in fishing yoyages
when he was younger. The record names Andrew of Wolborough's father as
Thomas therefore the Tormoham Andrew cannot be his father. The immediate
area around Tormoham/Wolborough has only a few Newcombs according to the
IGI. It may be that Lt. Andrew was a nephew or cousin of Captain Andrew
and they came to North America together or separately.
But maybe the name is so common that other Andrews can be found at other locations in England that would match up. A search of the IGI11 failed to find any other matches that are remotely likely. Indeed from 1600-1640 only three Andrew Newcombs are recorded in the IGI for the entire British Isles. For comparison purposes the number of records of common given male names are extracted12 from the IGI for the 1600-1640 period, for the surname Newcomb (and all spelling variants), for all of the British Isles.
John 65, William 52, Richard 44, Thomas 43, Robert 24, Henry 16, George 15, Francis 14, Edward 10, Alexander 4, Stephen 3, Charles 3, Andrew 3, Joseph 2, Hugh 2, Samual 1, Simon 1, Peter 1, Gilbert 1
But how complete is the IGI for Devon? According to a list of IGI batch numbers for Christenings in Devon parishes (updated in 1999), of 487 total Parishes, 272 (56%) have had records extracted, 215 (44%) have not. 255 (52%) of these parishes have records starting in 1650 or earlier, with 157(32%) of them earlier than 1601. The statistics for Marriage batch numbers are almost the same as for the above Christenings.
In summary we find two Andrew Newcombs living in close proximity in Devon
which is one of the possible areas mentioned in the "tradition". All birth
and marriage dates match closely with those estimated by JB, there are
no contradictory dates. Some names of children match from previous generations.
No record appears in the IGI of these two Andrews being in England when
they were known to be in North America.
What can be done to further the case? A non-transcript copy of the original documents from Devon England is necessary to prove the accuracy of these records which are a double transcript. I understand that they are only available in Devon and have not been released to any library but can be viewed locally on microfiche. This copy is very difficult to read as it has faded badly. A search of various records from Devon from 1663-1730 or so would reinforce the theory if the Andrews are absent from England and disprove it if they are present.
Thanks to the many interested parties who have aided this
Members of NEWCOMB-L@rootsweb.com
I invite your comments, suggestions and corrections on this topic. I am in touch with Devon researchers and hope to expand our knowledge. This page will be revised as new information comes to light. I will publish all records pertaining to this topic and challenge you to obtain direct copies of original documents. Ken Newcombe March 17, 2001
revisions: 1 - Added Wolborough Deaths
and Marriages March 18, 2001
2 - Added IGI Devon, data completness figures (see footnote #13), clarified several points. March 31, 2001
Comments and Responses to
this page I have recieved
Devon Records Concerning the Newcomb surname
Return to "Newcomb" or "Newcombe" Genealogy Page
created March 17, 2001
revised March 31, 2001