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Cary Genealogy

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Cary Genealogy


Cary Family in England
by Henry Grosvenor Cary,
John Cary, the Plymouth Pilgrim
by Seth C. Cary.

Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois
May 16, 1914
Halo Hibbard.


William of Normandy, who conquered England, A. D. 1066, caused to be made a survey of the whole kingdom, giving an account of every estate, its size, kind of land, value, and often what it was stocked with. This was recorded in what was called the Domesday Book which was deposited, and is still preserved, at Westminster, London.

In it is the record of the manor of Kari, in the parish of St. Giles-in-the-Heath, Devonshire, near Launceston, close by the border of Cornwall. The small river Kari, or Karibrook, from which the manor took its name, runs on one side of it. It still retains its name of eight hundred years ago.

There is also the record of the barony of Castle Cari, in the central-eastern part of Somersetshire, some seventy-five or eighty miles east of that in Devon.

Prince wrote three centuries ago: "St. Giles was the antient seat of the family, and we are told that they possessed an antient dwelling there bearing their name. Some say that the name is from Castle Cari, but I think the name seems antienter than the place."

R. N. Worth, Fellow of the Royal Genealogical Society, says: "St. Giles-in-the-Heath was the principal home of the Carys till the time of Richard the Second, only, but one branch remained there as late as the reign of Elizabeth."

It will be notice that most of the men mentioned in this English pedigree were knights, and most of their wives were daughters of knights. That shows how prominent the family was.

As regards the name it is doubtful if it was first applied to a person or a location. Some say it was first used in Karibrook before mentioned. As the conqueror found it in England when he came, it must be as old as the time of the Saxons.

Prince says: "I will not set bounds to this noble name. If any shall derive it from the son of the Roman Emperior Carus who was general here in Britain A. D. 285, I shall have nothing to oppose." He says later that the family "is one of the most noted in England, there being at the same time two earls, viz., Monmouth and Dover; one Viscount Falkland; and one Baron Hunsdon, which is an honor very few families in England can pretend."

The Domesday record was made in 1086 and in it the name of the Devonshire manor is spelled Kari and that of Somersetshire manor Cari.

The first person of whom any record is made, in this family, was Adam (a good name for a starter) who lived at Castle Cari in Somersetshire about one hundred years later than the Domesday record, and it is a suggestive fact that he spelled both his own name and that of the manor, Kari. That may indicate that he came from Devon and brought the spelling with him. Another consideration is the fact that de means "of", i.e., Adam of Keri; therefore it is no doubt true that the family started in St. Giles-in-the-Heath.

Notwithstanding these statements the fact remains, there is a complete record of the family from Castle Cari and not a single name from St. Giles-in-the-Heath.

The Domesday record states that the St. Giles manor was given with one hundred and six other manors, by William the Conqueror, to one of his barons named Juhdel de Totensis. It is needless to state that he was a Norman. It was customary in those days, and for many years after, for persons to have but one name. This man was Juhdel, or Joel; his family seat was Totensis, or Totness, one of his one hundred and seven manors. This town is one the river Dart, some ten miles above Dartmouth. A branch of the Cary family lives there now (1906) the head of the house being Stanley Edward Cary.

Nothing farther can be learned of the St. Giles parish from the book or member of the family.

There being no possible doubt of the connection of Castle Cari with the family, I will give a few interesting figures relating to that name, which I copied from Domesday.

Walter de Douay was the Norman baron who held the manor of Cari in Somerset along with thirty-eight other manors given him by the Conqueror. He was probably from Douai in France, and followed the Conqueror from that country when he invaded England. Several of his manors were united, constituting the barony of Castle Cari, with the family seat at Cari. The name of the Saxon owner was Elfi. The owner was obliged to pay fees, or dues, to the lord, and the lord in turn to the kind.

The first authentic record of the family is as follows:

For centuries the castle has existed only in history, but the town where was located is known to-day as Castle Cary and may be thus found on the maps. It is in Somersetshire and twelve miles south east from Wells. As stated, Castle Cari was the family seat of the baron. It is known that it was a fortified place in the time of the Saxons. About the year 1125 the Lord William Percival, named "Lovel the Wolf," asked strong fortifications at Cari. Much of the time during the reign of Stephen (1136-1154), the barons were divided into two parties, the Lord of Cari being opposed to the king. He made so much trouble that Stephen turned his whole attention to Castle Cari and took it. In 1153 it was besieged again and nearly ruined. Very little is known of it after that.

During the wanderings of Charles II after the battle of Worcester, September 3, 1651, when his army was defeated by that of Cromwell, the disguised king slept at Castle Cari on the night of September 16.

ADAM de KARI 1 was lord of Castle Kari in A. D. 1198, according to Sir William Pole. Adam was born about 1170. He married Ann, daughter of Sir William Trevett, Knight.

Reign of Henry II.
Reign of Richard I.

JOHN de KARY 2 (s. of Adam 1) was born about 1200. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Richard Stepleton, Knight.

Reign of John.
Reign of Henry III.

WILLIAM de KARRY or KARY 3 (s. of John 2, Adam 1), of Castle Kary, was born about 1230. He married Alice, daughter of Sir William Beaumont, Knight.

Reign of Henry III.
Reign of Edward I.

JOHN de KARRY 4 (s. of William 3, John 2, Adam 1) of Castle Karry, was born about 1270. He married Phillippa, daughter of Sir Warren Archdeacon, Knight.

The use of the French de was not universal. Sometimes the children used it when their parents did not.

Reign of Edward I.
Reign of Edward II.

Sir WILLIAM CARY 5 (s. of John 4, William 3, John 2, Adam 1) was born about 1300. He married Margaret Bozon, or Bozume, of Clovelly in Devon. This is the first time the name of that very interesting place appears in the records.

Reign of Edward III.
Reign of Richard II.

Sir JOHN CARY 6, Knight (s. William 5, John 4, William 3, John 2, Adam 1) was born about 1325. He married Agnes, daughter of Lord Stafford. She died leaving no children. He next married Jane, daughter of Sir Guy de Bryen, Knight.

Reign of Edward III.
Reign of Richard II.

The spelling of the name was changed during the reign of Edward II and has ever since been spelled Cary.

Sir JOHN CARY 7, Knight (s. Sir John 6, William 5, John 4, William 3, John 2, Adam 1) was born in 1350 at Holway in northwest Devon. He married Margaret Holway.

This Sir John was a very noted man. Prince says,

"On the 5th day of November, 1387, he was by the King, Richard II, made Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and advanced to be a Judge of the land; who being now placed in a high and spacious orb, he scattered the Rays of Justice about him with great splendor.

"In this post he continued many years, manifesting in all his actions, an inflexible Virtue and Honesty; and indeed it fell out al last that he had extraordinary occasion laid before him, for the proof and trial thereof, upon which we find him as true as steel, for the greatest dangers could not affright him from his duty and Loyalty to his distressed Master, King Richard II, unto whom he faithfully adhered when most others had forsaken him."

After the King was put to death by Henry IV, Sir John was banished and all his goods and lands confiscated to his royal master.

Prince says, "He was banished to Waterford, Ireland, where he was no less than four Years in Banishment. A long time, God knows, for an aged person of a nice and tender way of living to be confined to the Shades of Misery and Sorrow." He died at Waterford in 1404. Among his estates were Cockington and Clovelly.

Reign of Edward III.
Reign of Richard II.

Sir ROBERT CARY 8, Knight, (s. Sir John 7, Sir John 6, William 5, John 4, William 3, John 2, Adam 1) was born about 1375. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Philip Courtenay, Knight. She died leaving no children, and he next married Jane, daughter of Sir William Hanchford, Knight. This is the Robert refereed to in Burke's Heraldry.

The Story of the Cary Coat-of-Arms, as told by Old Chroniclers.

"In the beginning of the reign of Henry V (1413-1422) a certain Knight-errant of Arragon, having passed through divers countries, and performed many feats of Arms, arrived in England, where he challenged any man of his rank and quality to make a trial of his skill in arms. This challenge was accepted by Sir Robert Cary8, between whom a cruel encounter and a long and doubtful combat was waged in Smithfield, London. But at length this noble Champion vanquished the presumptuous Arragonois, for which King Henry V restored unto him a good part of his father's lands, which for his loyalty to Richard II he had been deprived of by Henry IV and authorized him to bear the Arms of a Knight of Arragon; for according to the laws of Heraldry, whoever fairly in the field conquers his adversary may justify the wearing of his Arms."

--Burke's Heraldry.

Another account is so quaint that it is placed before the reader.

"In the time of Henry V came out of Arragon a lusty gentleman into England, and challenged to do feites of armes with any English gentleman without exception. This Robert Cary hearing thereof, made suite forthwith to the Prince, that he might answer the challenge, which was granted, and Smithfield was the place appointed for the same, who, at the date and time prefixed, both parties mett and did performe sundrie feates of armes, but in the end this Robert gave the foils and overthrow to the Arragon Knight, disarmed and spoiled him, which his doinge so well pleased the Prince, that he receyved him into great favor, caused him to be restored to the most part of his father's landes, and willed him also for a perpetuall memorie of his victorie, that he should henceforth give the same armes as the Arragon Knight, which both he and all his successors to this day enjoyed, which is Argent, on bend sable three roses argent for before they did bears, gules, chevron entre three swans argent."

--Herald's Visitation 1620.

Motto: Virtute Excerptae. "Plucked by Valor."

Sir PHILIP CARY 9, Knight, (s. Sir Robert 8, Sir John 7, Sir John 6, William 5, John 4, William 3, John 2, Adam 1) was born about 1400. He married Christian Orchard. He died 1437.

Reign of Henry IV.
Reign of Henry V.
Reign of Henry VI.

Sir WILLIAM CARY 10, Knight, (s. Sir Philip 9, Sir Robert 8, Sir John 7, Sir John 6, William 5, John 4, William 3, John 2, Adam 1) was born in 1437. He married Elizabeth Paulett. He was known as the Knight of Cockington. He was an ardent supporter of the House of Lancaster, and took an active part in the struggle between the adherents of Henry VI and Edward IV in the War of the Roses.

At the Battle of Tewksbury on May 4, 1471, the Lancastrians were defeated, and William with others took refuge in the Abbey Church. According to the custom of those times the church was a "Sanctuary" and they could not be taken out of it. They were inticed out on promise of pardon and two days later were beheaded. His property was confiscated as usual in such cases, but Henry VII restored it to his son Robert. I cannot ascertain for what reason, but probably because that King was a scion of the House of Lancaster in whose cause his father lost his life and property.

William had two sons, Robert, born in 1460, and Thomas, born in 1465. From Thomas sprang three lines of nobility. From Robert, the family of Clovelly, Torre Abbey and Somersetshire.

Reign of Henry VI.
Reign of Edward IV.

ROBERT 11 (s. Sir William 10, Sir Philip 9, Sir Robert 8, Sir John 7, Sir John 6, William 5, John 4, William 3, John 2, Adam 1) was born about 1460. He inherited Clovelly from his father. He was married three times.

His first wife was Jane Carew, daughter of Nicholas Carew, Knight, Baron of Castle Carew.


  • John de Cary, b. 1485
  • Thomas de Cary, b. 1496

His second wife was Agnes, daughter of Sir William Hody, Knight, Chief Baron of the Exchequer under Henry VIII. They had one son, William, born about 1500.

His third wife was Margaret Fulkeram. They had one son, Robert, born at Clovelly, about 1510.

Robert died in 1540. His tomb is in the little Clovelly Church.

Reign of Edward IV.
Reign of Edward V.
Reign of Richard III.
Reign of Henry VII.
Reign of Henry VIII.

As late as 1715, two hundred years after the birth of Robert's son William, and nearly a hundred years after the emigration of the Bristol Carys to America, the Earl Marshal of England issued a decree to Sir Thomas St. George, Knight, Garter, principal King of Arms, declaring that the Bristol family was the same as that of Devonshire.

WILLIAM 12, (s. Robert 11, Sir William 10, Sir Philip 9, Sir Robert 8, Sir John 7, Sir John 6, William 5, John 4, William 3, John 2, Adam 1) was born in 1500 and died March 28, 1572. He was the Sheriff of Bristol in Somersetshire in 1532 during the reign of Henry VIII. He was Mayor of that City in 1546.

Reign of Henry VII.
Reign of Henry VIII.
Reign of Edward VI.
Reign of Mary.
Reign of Elizabeth I.

ROBERT 13 (s., William 12, Robert 11, Sir William 10, Sir Philip 9, Sir Robert 8, Sir John 7, Sir John 6, William 5, John 4, William 3, John 2, Adam 1) was born in Bristol in 1525 and died in 1570. He was the oldest son of William Cary 12.

Reign of Henry VIII.
Reign of Edward VI.
Reign of Mary.
Reign of Elizabeth I.

WILLIAM 14 (s. Robert 13, William 12, Robert 11, Sir William 10, Sir Philip 9, Sir Robert 8, Sir John 7, Sir John 6, William 5, John 4, William 3, John 2, Adam 1) was born October 3, 1560. He was Sheriff of Bristol in 1599 and Mayor in 1611. He had eight sons, three of whom came to America in 1634, 1635 and 1640, respectively.

Reign of Mary.
Reign of Elizabeth.
Reign of James I.
Reign of Charles I.

With the next generation begins the history of the Cary family in America.

Cary Coat of Arms
Motto -- Virtute Excerptae, which means Exceptional for Valor, Selected for Courage, or Of Exceptional Bravery.

First Generation

JOHN 15 (s. William 14, Robert 13, William 12, Robert 11, Sir William 10, Sir Philip 9, Sir Robert 8, Sir John 7, Sir John 6, William 5, John 4, William 3, John 2, Adam 1) was born near Bristol in Somersetshire, England in 1610.

From a manuscript over one hundred years old, written by a grandson of John Cary and published in Cary Memorials by Samuel F. Carey.

"John Cary, when a young man, was sent by his father to France to perfect his education, and while absent his father died. On returning to Somersetshire he differed with his brothers about the settlement of his father's estate. He compromised by receiving one hundred pounds as his portion and immediately sailed for America."

He came to America about 1634, joined the Plymouth Colony, and made his home at Duxbury, where he had a farm. In June, 1644, he married Elizabeth, daughter of Francis and Elizabeth Godfrey (who was a carpenter and bridge builder, and in August, 1643, we find his name in the muster roll of Duxbury Company commanded by Captain Myles Standish; he removed to Bridgewater, where he died in 1699. It is thought that the name Godfrey comes from the Duke of Bouillon, the Crusader.) Concerning John Cary, Moses Cary has this to say:

"Mr. Cary was one of the Proprietors (of Bridgewater) and one of the first settlers, and was very useful among them. The town was incorporated in 1656. Mr. Cary was the first town clerk and continued in this office a great number of years.

"At first they settled near together and around where the Town House now stands in West Bridgewater.

"Mr. Cary's lot was about one-fourth of a mile east of the Town House and on a farm where Mr. Reed lived; and there he spent the remainder of his days, and brought up a great family of children.

"Tradition says that he was the first Latin teacher in the Plymouth Colony and that he taught Elder Brewster the Hebrew.

"He had six sons and six daughters. They all lived to grown up and have families, and all took to good courses so that it was the saying of some, 'that there were twelve of 'em and never a Judas among them.'"

His wife died in 1680, and he died in 1681.

Henry Whittemore, GENEALOGICAL GUIDE TO THE EARLY SETTLERS OF AMERICA, WITH A BRIEF HISTORY OF THOSE OF THE FIRST GENERATION. Excerpted and Reprinted from The Spirit of '76. Clearfield Company. 1967. Page 77:

JOHN CARY, of Bridgewater, Mass., is said to have come from the neighborhood of Bristol, England, at the age of 25; was at Duxbury, Mass., 1637, having there a grant of land. He married 1644, Elizabeth, daughter of Francis Godfrey, and had John 1645, Francis 1647, Elizabeth 1649, James 1652, Mary 1654, Jonathan 1656, David 1658, Hannah 1657, Joseph 1663, Rebecca 1665, Sarah 1667, and Mehitable 1670. He was the first town cler, and early his name was written Carew. He soon followed the English pronunciation and wrote his name Carey.


  • John. b. Duxbury, November 4, 1645.
  • Francis, b. Duxbury, January 19, 1647/48.
  • Elizabeth, b. Duxbury, December 20, 1649.
  • James, b. Braintree, March 28, 1652.
  • Mary, b. Duxbury New Plantation, July 8, 1654.
  • Jonathan, b. Bridgewater, September 24, 1656.
  • David, b. Bridgewater, January 27, 1658/59.
  • Hannah, b. Bridgewater, April 30, 1661.
  • Joseph, b. Bridgewater, April 18, 1663.
  • Rebecca, b. Bridgewater, March 30, 1665.
  • Sarah, b. Bridgewater, August 2, 1667.
  • Mehitabel, b. Bridgewater, December 24, 1670.

Second Generation

JOSEPH 16 (s. John 15, William 14, Robert 13, William 12, Robert 11, Sir William 10, Sir Philip 9, Sir Robert 8, Sir John 7, Sir John 6, William 5, John 4, William 3, John 2, Adam 1) was born at Bridgewater, April 18, 1663.

When a young man he went to Norwich, Connecticut, and became one of the original Proprietors of Windham; February 9, 1694, he bought 1000 acres of land for 10 pounds, 9 shillings. He took position with the first men of the town in civil and ecclesiastical affairs, and was chosen repeatedly to serve in the most important offices, civil, military and religious; was one of the original members of the First Congregational Church in Windham, and at its organization, December 10, 1700, was chosen Deacon, and held the office till his death. So highly was he esteemed that he was buried by his townsmen under arms, which was a very unusual occurrence. He married (1) Hannah, who died 1691; (2) Mercy, widow of Jonathan Rudd. He died January 10, 1722; and his widow in 1741, aged 84 years.


  • Joseph, b. May 5, 1689.
  • Jabez, b. July 12, 1691.
  • Hannah, b. March 4, 1693; m. Deacon Nathaniel Skiff, 1716; she lived in Willimantic, Connecticut, and died August 22, 1775.
    They had Joseph who died aged 95 years.
  • John, b. January 23, 1695.
  • Seth, b. July 29, 1697.
  • Elizabeth, b. April 17, 1700; m. Seth Palmer, 1720; died 1739.

Third Generation

ELIZABETH 17 (d. Joseph 16, s. John 15, William 14, Robert 13, William 12, Robert 11, Sir William 10, Sir Philip 9, Sir Robert 8, Sir John 7, Sir John 6, William5, John 4, William 3, John 2, Adam 1) in Windsor, now Willimantic, Connecticut, April 18, 1720. She married Seth Palmer, 1720. She died January 8, 1738/39.


  • MARY PALMER, b. October 17, 1723, Scotland Parish, Windham, Connecticut; d. Aft. 1770, ?; m. ELISHA HIBBARD, August 16, 1744, Windham, Connecticut; b. December 11, 1719, Windham, New London, Connecticut; d. Aft. 1790, ? possibly New Fairfield, Fairfield County, Connecticut.

For descendants of
Mary Palmer and Elisha Hibbard,
see Hibbard Genealogy.

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