John Mowthrop
  b: ~1580 - Yorkshire, England
  d: ~1631

Spouse-1: Jane *****
  bur: 13/May/1605 - Bridlington, Yorkshire, England

Child-1: John
          2: Elizabeth - bp: 10/May/1605 - Bridlington, Yorkshire, England
                               d: ~12/May/1605 - Bridlington, Yorkshire, England

Spouse-2: Elizabeth or Elsabet Hardie - b: ~1585 - Boynton, East Riding, Yorkshire, England
  m: 21/Nov/1605 - Boynton, East Riding, Yorkshire, England

Child-1: Jane - bp: 16/Nov/1606 - England
                        d: 13/May/1672
                       m: John Redman
          2: Mathew
          3: Mary - m: John Goodwin - 27/Jan/1640(1641) - Wrawby, Lincolnshire, England

Biographical Details:

As with many English proper nouns, the surname "Mowthrop" consists of two elements, viz., "mow" and "throp".  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the second element of the name is almost certainly a variation of the archaic word "thorp" which means "a hamlet, village, or small town".1  Moreover, the compilers of the Dictionary suggest that this usage is likely due to Norse influence because "thorp" is commonly found as an element of place names in the Danelaw district, especially in the north of England, e.g., in Yorkshire.  Historically, the Danelaw district is identified with the region of eastern and northern England in which there was substantial Scandinavian settlement from the ninth through the eleventh centuries, i.e., during the Viking invasions.  Perhaps, this accounts for a longstanding tradition among some American descendants of this family that they are ultimately of Danish origin.  The first element of the name, "mow" or "mou", is much more problematical.2  Possibly, the most likely meaning is "mouth".  Thus, "mouthorp" could mean "village at the mouth" of a valley or stream, perhaps.  Either usage would seem to make sense within the context of landforms common in parts of northern England.  Accordingly, at least two localities exist within modern Yorkshire with which the name "Mowthorpe" remains associated.  One of these lies within the parish of Terrington about seven miles west southwest of the town of Malton.  The other lies a similar distance southeast of Malton near the village of Duggleby and is noted on Ordinance Survey maps in antique lettering as "Mowthorpe Village" signifiying that no actual village now remains.  The name further remains attached to other nearby geographical features.  Even so, other readings are possible and, thus, the meaning of the surname "Mowthrop" still remains unclear.

Little specific is known of John Mowthrop; however, it seems likely that he was born about 1580.  It is further believed that he was married twice, first to Jane, whose maiden name remains unknown and who died in May of 1605 (apparently in childbirth), and, second to Elizabeth Hardie on November 21, 1605.  Within this context, some family researchers have identified Boynton and Bridlington in Lincolnshire as corresponding locations.  However, as asserted with some emphasis by Mr. Robert Eyre, these towns are both located in close proximity to each other in the East Riding of Yorkshire and not in Lincolnshire.  Therefore, it is probable that John Mowthrop was born and married in Yorkshire and moved south to Lincolnshire later in life.   (Indeed, this is consistent with the etymology and origin of the surname as proposed above.)  Subsequently, his will was probated on March 28, 1631.  Within this context, John Mowthrop has been identified as the ancestor of the Moulthrop family of colonial New Haven in work recently published in The American Genealogist by Patricia Law Hatcher.

Source Notes and Citations:
1. John Simpson (chief ed.), Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, continuously updated.
     The archaic noun "thorp" is probably of ancient Germanic origin and is defined as, "A hamlet, village, or small town; in ME. esp. an agricultural village ... Not a frequent word in OE., being chiefly found in Glosses and Vocabularies, in form þrop, which was also the prevailing form in ME. down to 1400. þorp appears once in late OE. and in the north in 14th c., and may really be due to Norse influence.  In various forms as Thorpe, Throop, Thrupp, the word occurs as a place-name, and it is a frequent second element in these in the forms -thorpe, -thrup, -trup, chiefly in the Danelaw district.  It appears to have been a 'common noun' to Langland and Chaucer; but in Caxton to be a literalism of translation.  As a separate word it has been used occasionally from 1600, but is app. only literary or archaic, rarely dialectal ...".
back to bio.

2. Patrick Hanks (ed.), Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, periodically updated.
     "Possibly of English origin, a habitational name from a lost or unidentified place."
back to bio.

Additional Citations:

3. The American Genealogist, Vol. 74, pgs. 222-3, 1999.

4. Robert Eyre, private correspondence, 2004.

Return to Index