The English origins of the five Winslow brothers have been long known. Their baptisms appear in the Droitwich, Worcestershire parish records, children of Edward and Magdalene (Oliver) Winslow who were married in London on 4 November 1594. On 17 March 2001, I wrote this posting on Genforum about the literature of the Winslows up to then.
Those articles were:
- "Clues to the Ancestry of Winslow of Droitwich" TAG 41(1965 ):168-175
- "Governor Edward Winslow's Mother's Family: The Olivers" TAG 42 (1966):52-55
- "Mayflower Winslows: Yeomen or Gentlemen" by John G. Hunt NEHGR 121 (1967):25-9 and NEHGR 122 (1968):175-8 and 124 (1970):182-3
- “The `Loving Cosens:’ Herbert Pelham, Sir Arthur Hesilrige, and Gov. Edward Winslow” by Kenneth W. Kirkpatrick, NEHGR 154 (2000):78-108.
To this list we can now add Brandon Fradd's book, The Winslow Families of Worcestershire 1400-1700, which I discussed in this blog posting last year. Since then I've not seen anything new. So the questions remain: How were Arthur Hesilrige, Herbert Pelham and Edward Winslow related for them to use the term cousin? Did 17th century landed gentry really know their cousins out to the 4th or 5th cousinships? I tend to doubt such an assertion. In spite of Marshall Kirk's (writing as Kirkpatrick above) theory of a common Greville descent, Fradd convincingly shows that to be as unlikely as knowing your 5th cousins. So we're no better off than 45 years ago when Hunt wrote the first of those articles above.
I tend to think that the answer might not lie with the Winslows, but with the Olivers. Magdalene Oliver is the conjectured daughter of a Gilbert Oliver and one of his wives, more than likely the one Magdalene Lisle. If so, she is the probable daughter of Edmund Lisle and Dorothy Rudston, and granddaughter of Thomas Lisle and Beatrix Barley. Lisle is name that appears in royal lineages. Could it be that we've been looking at Winslow's connections and not the Olivers?
The other answer, which I think is the most likely, is that the second Mrs. Edward Winslow was the actual blood cousin of Hesilrige and Pelham. She was Susanna (---) White, the widow of William White. We don't know her maiden name at all. Certainly, at that time, cousinships were transferable via marriage, so these men might call each other cousin even if it were through their wives. That pulls us into another genealogical debate. Susanna is often said to have been a Fuller and a sister of the Fuller brothers of the Mayflower. This is hotly contested and is (IMHO) not true. However, see "Susanna, Wife of William White and Edward Winslow of the Mayflower: A Review of Recent Research" by Marston Watson, Mayflower Descendant 53 (2004):67-69.
However, no one has tied these two separate quandaries together (except me). Winslow wrote a letter in 1623 in which he talks about his "much respected Uncle Robert Jackson." This is easily proven not to be an uncle via the Winslows, so it must be through one of his wives. This clue has never been followed up either. It should also be noted that Winslow's first wife, Elizabeth Barker is of unknown origins. So, even with such an established family as the Winslows, there's much left to find out.