May 19, 2011

Shared Tristram Coffin Ancestry



    In doing some routine research (this time about climbing the Blue Mountains at Vestal’s—now Keye’s—Gap), I came across a book written by Addison Coffin. Skimming down the beginning I found the following:

It is becoming popular in writing biographies to give the genealogy of the person and family. Accordingly I will give a brief sketch of my ancestry as kept in the family record on the Island of Nantucket, and as found among the old records of Southern Sweden in Northern Europe. My father, Vestal Coffin, was the son of William, who was the son of Samuel, who was the son of John, who was the son of Tristram Coffin…(the name stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb)…

     Wait a minute—Tristram Coffin is part of MY genealogy. I read further, now being very alert and reading rather than skimming:

…who was one of a company of nine who, in 1660, purchased the Island of Nantucket from the Indians, the deed being signed by two chiefs, Wanackmamack and Nickanse (prob. goofed up spelling).

Beyond Tristram Coffin the line is unbroken back to Sir Richard Coffin, who came to England from Normandy with William, the Conqueror. Then still back beyond Sir Richard it can be traced to the arrival of the Danites in Denmark in the second century, and through the Danites through the wanderings of the ten tribes of Israel to Samaria in 725 B. C., and then back to Abraham.

     Wow! That far back! Well, I’m not so naïve as to believe the records are actually accurate. I would want to investigate the documents before I accepted this as gospel truth.

From the sixth to the tenth century the Coffins bore an active part in all the conquests of the old Viking kings and rovers who terrorized Western Europe for many centuries.

     Wow again. It’s not a Rebecca Cornell or Lizzy Borden story, but it is about terrorists in Western Europe! Addison Coffin concludes that With such ancestry it is little wonder that I inherited peculiar traits of character, and managed, to hold a place amid surrounding difficulty. . On my father’s side the spirit of adventure manifested itself in the Underground Railroad business and love of travel…

     Which makes me wonder—just what did I inherit from Tristram Coffin? Perhaps I ought to read Addison Coffin’s book.



Life and Travels OF ADDISON COFFIN, written by himself, Copyrighted by The Girls’ Aid Committee of North Carolina Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1897:





British Guiana Then: Guyana Now


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