from Boston Evening Transcript, December 13, 1886
How Tristram Coffin and his ancestral line came to be settled in Plympton and its neighborhood is incidental and secondary to the main inquiry as to the parentage of his grandfather Nicholas. The first suggestions were that it might be through the Hingestons, of which family John Coffin of Portlege about 1500 married a daughter, and with which family the Courtenays were also connected; or possibly through Margaret Tretbrife, great granddaughter of Hugh Courtenay, wife was Thomas. Our last conjecture was that possibly Mary Boscawen, whose mother was also a Carminow, brought it to her children through her father Hugh, heir of Thomas, son of his brother John, whose wife was Margaret Tretbrife.
Burke tells us that Margaret Trethrife married Edward Courtenay of Larrock, but does not mention John Boscawen. We now learn that she survived all her husbands, for she had yet another, and in 1555 her share of the Courtenay estate upon the death of the Marquis of Exeter went to her son Peter Courtenay. Collins says her son Thomas Boscawen was six months old when his father died in 1624, but died in infancy. If, as supposed, Margaret bad deceased before him, and he her eldest son, her estate would have gone through him to Hugh Boscawen, the father of Mary.
As it was simply a reasonable possibility, in the absence of any evidence we hope we may be pardoned for having suggested it as one possible solution. This shows how dangerous it may be to follow in genealogical investigations the legal maxim that concerning those that do not appear and those that do not exist, the law is the same. Whether the lands near or in Plympton came to Tristram's progenitors as thus suggested, or were purchased, does not signify, except as a clue to the parentage of his grandfather Nicholas. This way not be settled beyond all question at once, though we hold to our belief; but there seems little doubt, so many are interested, that it will eventually be shown beyond cavil.
We do not suppose that Nicholas Coffin, who was connected with the Chudleigha in 1300 was probably one of Tristram's immediate line. He is not mentioned by Vivian in the Coffin Visitation. He was. I think, a priest, and the residence of a parish priest is not always a help in ascertaining his birthplace, as that is often remote from his care.
It the facts stated do not support the hypothesis hazarded, they may still be worth considering in explanation of what we would like to account for the various family connections between the Boscawens, Carminos and Courtenays may still prove a clue to the settlement of the Tristram ascending line in South Devon. In the division of the Courtenay estates in 1556 among so many, persons having money to invest might have had a chance to purchase and who so likely to become purchasers as they who were thus connected.
It is not to be regretted there are such multitudes interested in the history of the Coffins that this discussion should have taken place, a it may bring to light truths important to them which might fade out of sight. If your correspondent of last Monday, "U," would come and see me or let me know when and where I may call upon him, we can compare the evidences and probabilities without occupying the attention of those less interested. Of course I am bound to be grateful for any aid in my investigation, even though sometime reminded of a familiar Latin motto, Fas est ab hoste doceri.
In reply to the inquiry of "U" as to the authority for saying that Tristram and his family come over to America in the vessel of Captain Robert Clement, he is referred to the Life of Tristram, by Mr. Allen Coffin of Nantucket, not at hand to cite by page. We hope to be able in another number to enlarge on the subject of Captain Clement, with whom Tristram was associated in the settlement of Haverhill.
In the vessel of Robert Clement, commanded by himself, Tristram Coffin came with his mother, wife, sisters and children to America; also Captain Robert's family, John, Lydia. Robert and Sarah. His son Job had come over in 1640 to explore, and the youngest daughter was left behind in the city of Coventry in Warwickshire, and came over ten years later.
Coffin and Clement joined in the purchase of Haverhill with and and others, fourteen miles along the river, from the Sachem Pas-connway and his sagamore. Clement was twenty years older, but very like in character to Tristram, as Chase, author of the History of Haverhill, says, of rare integrity and superior talents. He was the first deputy to the General Court from Haverhill, associate judge and county commissioner.
His descendants have been among the most honored and respected of the place, and several generations have lived on the same estates now or late owned by Jesse, descended from the first Robert. Chase gives the birth of Tristram Coffin in 1609. It is sometimes set down as 1603. This materially increases the probability that Peter and Mary Boscawen were the parents of Nicholas, father of Peter, father of Tristram.