What is our Carson connection?
Thomas Betterley 1723-1774/75, Boston tailor, married Elizabeth Carson 1732-1775 on 6 Apr 1749 as recorded at King's Chapel. Family tradition said that Elizabeth was born in Scotland to William c1688-1734 and Elizabeth Carson and emigrated to America with her mother at about the age of one and a half years after her father had died. They were said to have left behind a large estate for the lawyers to sort out, her father having been a wholesale merchant, but they supposedly never received anything. Her mother's parents had previously come to America, again according to tradition, so it seems natural that they would join them there. Colonial American records have yielded information that supports some of this story. For this we must salute the efforts of Esther Mott, Phylicia Salisbury, Anne McGrath, and Larry McGrath. They worked tirelessly to unravel a complicated web and form what seems to be a solid theory for the younger Elizabeth's ancestry, one problem being that the elder Elizabeth was actually named Jane. Another problem with the tradition is that there is so far no Scottish or emigration evidence, similar to our Betterley family from England. Perhaps the Carsons emigrated in an earlier generation, as seems to also be the case with some of the Betterley family tradition. Here is a summary of what seems to be the Carson ancestry:
- Elizabeth NN d.1753
- m. Mr. Howard (assumed)
- Jane Howard c1697-1753
- m. William Carson c1688-1734
- Elizabeth Carson 1732-1775
- m.1749 Thomas Betterley 1723-1774/75
- m.1744 Luke Vardy d.1753
- m.1712 George Monk 1683-1740
- m.1749 Gilbert Warner d.1753
Jane c1697-1753 was the daughter of an Elizabeth Howard/Hoeard d.1753, whom we assume was the widow of a Mr. Howard/Hoeard. We pick up the trail as Elizabeth marries tailor George Monk 1683-1740 on 4 Sep 1712 [McGlennen, Boston Marriages 1700-1809]. Jane and young Elizabeth were then thought to have emigrated to America circa latter 1734, but that seems unlikely since Jane would have been only about 15 years old in Scotland when her mother was getting married in Boston in 1712. What are the chances that she stayed behind in Scotland as a teenager or less while her parents moved to America? It's possible, but we must assume that the emigration tradition is suspect. Still, family traditions usually have a basis in fact. They may still have left a large estate prior to ending up in Boston when Elizabeth was 18 months old, just that they instead moved from another American colony one generation removed from Scotland. If the tradition itself is one generation removed, then perhaps it was Elizabeth Howard who moved to America with 18-month-old daughter Jane. Perhaps it was Jane's grandparents, still unknown, who had come over earlier.
George Monk died in 1740, as recorded at Boston's Christ Church, and left his estate to wife Elizabeth for her lifetime, after which it was to pass to "my daughter in law Jane Carson, widow". The usage of that term here is assumed to actually mean step-daughter, which was common in colonial times. A Gilbert Warner had married a Sarah Wass in 1713 [ibid], and daughter Mary Warner was born to this union in 1721. She would later become Mrs. Thomas Speakman. Gilbert Warner married Ann Sleigh in 1740 [ibid], prior to the death of George Monk, but he last marries the widowed Elizabeth Monk on 19 Nov 1749 as recorded at Boston's Trinity Church [ibid]. Elizabeth had sold the south half of a house on Orange Street (that George Monk had purchased in 1736) to Thomas Speakman, husband of Gilbert Warner's daughter Mary. Gilbert deeded to Robert Skinner a house in South End in trust for Elizabeth, in lieu of dowry, which she could use for the rest of her life if she outlived him, reverting to his heirs after her death. However, she predeceases him by six months in 1753.
Widow Jane Carson, meanwhile, had married Luke Vardy on 6 May 1744 as recorded at King's Chapel [ibid]. When son Thomas was born to Thomas Betterley and Elizabeth Carson in 1751, sponsers in King's Chapel records were Robert Skinner, Gilbert Warner, and Grandma Elizabeth Betterley. Though we cannot say for certain that they died during Boston's smallpox epidemic of 1753-1754, Grandma Elizabeth Betterley and Elizabeth Warner [Dunkle & Lainhart, Deaths in Boston 1700-1799] were buried Feb 1753, Gilbert Warner in Jul 1753 [ibid], Luke Vardy in Aug 1753, and Jane Vardy in Sep 1753. It would seem that smallpox must have played a role. The Warners were recorded at Trinity Church and Betterley and the Vardys at King's Chapel. Thomas Betterley was the administrator for Luke Vardy's will in 1754, as well as that of "Grandmother in law Elizabeth Warner dec'd/former wife of Gilbert Warner late of Boston" [Suffolk Co. Probate vol. 48, pg 339-340].
Thomas and Elizabeth (Carson) Betterley sold the north half of a house on Orange Street according to a deed from 3 Jan 1774 [SD125:97]. Elizabeth had undoubtedly inherited this from her mother, Jane Vardy, who had inherited it following the death of mother Elizabeth Warner, who had inherited the entire house from prior husband George Monk. The south end of the house still belonged to Mary Speakman, who got it from step-mother Elizabeth Warner as noted earlier. I told you this was complicated!
Tavern owners connected to the Carsons
The father of our George Monk, also George Monk and listed as a vintner in land records, was landlord of the Blue Anchor in Boston and was described as follows in 1686 by a London bookseller:
"A person so remarkable that, had I not been acquainted with him, it would be a hard matter to make any New England man believe I had been in Boston; for there was no one house in all the town more noted, or where a man might meet with better accommodation. Besides, he was a brisk and jolly man, whose conversation was coveted by all his guests as the life and spirit of the company."
Did our George inherit his father's business? He was a tailor, but he may have been noted in land records as "George Munk to be sold by him new Fyal wine &c to be seen in a cellar in Cornhill St. under Dr. Creases house" [BNL]. Was this "New Fayal Wine and Company"? Fayal was a port in the Azores, and Fayal wine was exported from there in the 19th century.
Then there was Gilbert Warner, listed as a distiller in land records, and Elizabeth Carson's husband Thomas Betterley also had ancestors in the business. Finally, we have Luke Vardy listed as the first innkeeper of the Royal Exchange Tavern, established in 1726 at the southwest corner of State and Exchange Streets, and his ownership may have lasted until 1747. An altercation here in 1728 led to the first duel fought in Boston, and it was here that the body of Crispus Attucks was taken years later after the Boston Massacre. The first freemason's lodge in Boston moved here in 1735, and their procession through the streets to celebrate the Feast of St. John in Dec 1749 was ridiculed. Here is part of a poem commenting on the absence of Luke Vardy:"Where's honest Luke, that cook from London? For without Luke the Lodge is undone. 'Tis he who oft dispell'd their sadness, And filled the Brethren's hearts with gladness. Luke in return is made a Brother, As good and true as any other, And still, though broke with age and wine, Preserves the token and the sign."
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Sources of the Carson data are available upon request. Again, a big thanks to Esther Mott, Phylicia Salisbury, and Larry McGrath.
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