William Perkins
  b: Dec/1578 - Abbots Salford, Warwickshire, England - bp: 1/Jan/1578(1579)
  d: Jun/1657 - bur: 25/Jun/1657 - All Hallows Par., Bread Str., London, England

Father: George Perkins
Mother: Katherine *****

Spouse-1: Katherine *****
  m: 22/May/1603 - Abbots Salford, Warwickshire, England

Child-1: Bathshua - b: 24/May/1605 - All Hallows Par., Bread Str., London, England
          2: William
          3: John - bp: 29/Jan/1608(1609) - All Hallows Par., Bread Str., London, England
          4: Toby - bp: 1/Apr/1609 - All Hallows Par., Bread Str., London, England
          5: Sarah - b: 19/Apr/1612 - bp: 27/Apr/1612 - All Hallows Par., Bread Str., London, England
          6: Rebeckah - b: 27/Jun/1613 - bp: 6/Jul/1613 - All Hallows Par., Bread Str., London, England
                               m: Martin Cousins
          7: Harrington - b: 30/Mar/1615 - bp: 5/Apr/1615 - All Hallows Par., Bread Str., London, England

Spouse-2: Mary Purchas or Purchase - b: 1579 - Thaxstead, Co. Essex, England - d: 29/Oct/1639 - London, England
  m: 30/Mar/1619 - Abbots Salford,Warwickshire, England

Child-1: Harrington - b: 22/Jan/1619(1620) - bp: 2/Feb/1619(1620) - All Hallows Par., Bread Str., London, England
                                bur: - 10/Feb/1619(1620) - All Hallows Par., Bread Str., London, England
          2: Mary - bp: ~21/Mar/1620(1621) - All Hallows Par., Bread Str., London, England
                         bur: 24/Sep/1625
          3: Edward
          4: Samuel - b: 13/Jun/1624 - All Hallows Par., Bread Str., London, England
                           bur: 19/Feb/1627(1628)
          5: Elizabeth - b: 15/May/1629 - All Hallows Par., Bread Str., London, England

Spouse-3: Jane Filmer?

Biographical Details:

It is known that William Perkins came from in or near the villages of Salford Priors and Abbots Salford in the English midlands.  These two villages still exist and are separated by no more than a mile, lying about seven miles northeast of Evesham just inside the present boundary of Warwickshire.  William's birth probably occurred in late December of 1578 since he was baptized on January 1, 1578 (1579 N. S.).  It has been reported that his first wife's given name was Katherine, however, her maiden name remains unknown.  In addition, it has been further reported that they were married May 22, 1603, at Abbots Salford.  William Perkins was a man of business, specifically, a tailor, and it appears that he moved with his wife from the countryside into the City of London shortly after their marriage.  It is believed that they lived and he did business in or near Bread Street, which is located just to the east of St. Paul's Cathedral.  They had seven known children, however, it seems that Katherine Perkins died between 1615 and 1619.  A plausible presumption is that she died at the birth of their youngest known child, Harrington, since he evidently did not survive to adulthood and likely died as an infant.  Even so, this is merely speculation.  Subsequently, William Perkins married Mary Purchas (or Purchase) on March 30, 1619.  It is generally believed that she was from Thaxstead (modern spelling, Thaxted) in County Essex, which lies northeast of London, about twenty miles south southeast of the city of Cambridge.  Her parentage is not known, however, this area was heavily Parlimentarian in sentiment during the civil war period and it may be assumed with some confidence that she came from a Puritan background.  William and Mary Purchas Perkins had five known children.  She died in the fall of 1639, after which William is thought to have married again to Jane Filmer, however, her surname is uncertain.  In any case, it seems that he was very successful in business as a merchant-tailor and became quite secure financially later in life.

Of course, in England the first half of the seventeenth century was one of extreme political and religious turmoil, which culminated in the English Civil War, the execution of King Charles I, and Cromwell's Commonwealth.  Within this context, there is good evidence that William Perkins was a Puritan.  This is strongly supported by the fact that between 1628 and 1630 he became an investor in the Massachusetts Bay Company.  Among his colleages in this venture were John Winthrop, John Endecott, Simon Bradstreet, John Davenport, and Theophilus Eaton, among others who became prominent early colonists of New England.  Indeed, although the venture had the form of a profit-making joint stock company, as revealed by the famous Cambridge Agreement, its true purpose was really religious in nature.1  Furthermore, although William was not a party to this agreement, there can be no doubt that as an astute businessman he would have realized that the probability of significant profit ever being generated by this enterprise was very small.  Therefore, one must conclude that his motivation for investment was also religious.  Even so, William himself never left England, most likely on account of his business activity.  Nevertheless, his two sons that ultimately survived him both emigrated, William to Massachusetts and Edward to New Haven.  It has been reported that William Perkins was buried in All Hallows Parish on June 25, 1657, and, thus, almost certainly died just a few days earlier.  Within this context, William's will was made on April 18, 1657, and proved the following November 10th.  Moreover, in his will he left ten pounds per annum to his son, William, and another ten pounds to his son, Edward, from his "bell yard rents".  He also left significant legacies to some of his grandchildren.2  It is further known that, William Perkins, tailor, founded a grammar school at Salford Priors in 1656, which remains in operation as a Church of England school at the present day.3  It is associated with St. Matthew's Church, which was built in the Norman period.

Source Notes and Citations:
1. Donald S. Lutz (ed.), Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History, Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, IN, 1998.
      Upon due consideracion of the state of the plantacion now in hand for New England, wherein wee (whose names are hereunto subscribed) have ingaged ourselves: and having weighed the greatnes of the worke in regard of the consequences, Gods glory and the churches good: As also in regard of the difficultyes and discourgements which in all probabilityes must be forcast upon the prosecucion of this businesse: Considering withall that this whole adventure growes upon the joynt confidence we have in each others fidelity and resolucion herein, so as no man of us would have adventured it without assurance of the rest: Now for the better encourragement of ourselves and others that shall joyne with us in this action, and to the end that every man may without scruple dispose of his estate and afayres as may best fitt his preparacion for this voyage, It is fully and faithfully agreed amongst us, and every of us doth hereby freely and sincerely promise and bynd himselfe in the word of a Christian and in the presence of God who is the searcher of all hearts, that we will so really endevour the prosecucion of his worke, as by Gods assistaunce we will be ready in our persons, and with such of our severall familyes as are to go with us and such provisions as we are able conveniently to furnish ourselves withall, to embarke for the said plantacion by the first of march next, at such port or ports of this land as shall be agreed upon by the Company, to the end to passe the Seas (under Gods protection) to inhabite and continue in New England.  Provided alwayes that before the last of September next the whole governement together with the Patent for the said plantacion bee first by an order of Court legally transferred and established to remayne with us and others which shall inhabite upon the said plantacion. And provided also that if any shall be hindered by such just and inevitable Lett (hindrance, obstruction, or delay) or other cause to be allowed by 3 parts of foure of these whose names are hereunto subscribed, then such persons for such tymes and during such letts to be dischardged of this bond.  And we do further promise every one for himselfe that shall fayle to be ready through his owne default by the day appointed, to pay for every dayes defalt the summe of 3 li (archaic abbreviation for an English pound) to the use of the rest of the Company who shall be ready by the same day and tyme.

This was done by order of Court the 29th day of August. 1629.

rich: saltonstall   tho: dudley   william vassall   nich: west   isaack johnson   john humfrey   tho: sharp   increase nowell   john winthrop   will: pinchon   kellam browne   william colbron (Available electronically at oll.libertyfund.org/Texts/ToC/0013_ToC.html)
back to bio.

2. D. W. Perkins (ed), The Perkins Family in ye Olden Times - The Contents of a Series of Letters by the Late Mansfield Parkyns, Esq., privately published, Utica, NY, 1916: pgs. 58-59.  (Reprint available from the Higginson Book Co., 148 Wash. St., P. O. B. 778, Salem, MA, 01970)
     "William Perkins, merchant tailor, of London, the testator, had a daughter Rebecca and two others who also married.  He had a niece Katherine, daughter of a sister married to ____ Fosbrooke of Bridgenorth, Shropshire, and a 'cousin' (often used for niece) named Beatrice.  He died in 1657 (evidently an old man).  His second (or third) wife and widow 'Jane' was probably much younger than he, for at his death she was living with two unmarried daughters by a former husband.  One of his sons and three of his daughters, no doubt by former wives, had twenty-one children living among them.  At his death he left two surviving sons, William, and Edward, who apparently was unmarried.
     Besides leaving a legacy to his son William, he also left £100 more among William's 'seven children,' and their legacies were to be paid at their ages of fourteen and fifteen --- which was probably about the age of the oldest.
     His provision that his son William's seven children who were then living should have their legacies at fourteen and fifteen (meaning, probably, half at each age) is, I think, curious.
     It suggest that his son William's oldest children had reached that age; and this theory seems to have been a fact.  On the whole, the coincidences are remarkable, if William Perkins, merchant tailor of London, and whose son William had settled in America, and the testator of the same name, locality and trade, living contemporaneously, are not the same person.
     The testator may have had other sons who died without issue before 1657.  William, the eldest, was neither executor nor overseer of his father's will, which looks as if he was rather wild in his youth and had emigrated and settled elsewhere.
     Edward, the youngest son, born in 1622, was fifteen years younger than William and was executor of his father's will, of which the sons-in-law were the overseers.
     Two of the testator's daughters had each a daughter named 'Mary', to whom he bequeathed a double legacy, probably as his god-daughters."  Mr. Parkins is correct in almost all particulars.  However, he implies that Edward was still living in England, which was almost certainly not the case, although he might have returned to settle his father's state.  It is possible, even probable, that he was a widower and, therefore, unmarried.  Even so, it is further implied that none of Edward's children were mentioned in the will.  Of course, they were all quite small and within the context of the high childhood mortality rate prevailing in the seventeenth century this is, perhaps, not as grievous an oversight as it would be considered within present society.
back to bio.

3a. "Salford Priors School is a Church of England School.  It was founded in 1656 by William Perkins.  He was a local benefactor who wanted to provide education for all the children of the village of Salford Priors.  The oldest part of the present building dates from 1860.  Two classrooms and a large hall were built in the 1960's."  (Anonymous, www.salfordpriors.com/newpage41.htm, 2004.)

b. "The southwest corner of the Church was enclosed in 1991 to form a Church Room.  It incorporates the space used formerly as the choir vestry and in days gone by had been the Parish School Room founded by William Perkins."
     "The nearby smaller doorway was probably inserted in the 17th century for use as the Parish School Room when the tailor, William Perkins, bequeathed money for the local children's education.  This bequest helped to build Salford School and it still bears his name."  (St. Matthew's Church, www.stmatthewsalfordpriors.org.uk/guide.htm, 2004.)
back to bio.

Additional Citations:

4. New England Genealogical and Historical Register, Vol. 10, pg. 211, 1856.

5. New England Genealogical and Historical Register, Vol. 76, pgs. 228-32, 1922.

6. Paula Perkins Mortensen, English Origin of Six Early Colonists by the Name Perkins, Gateway Press, Baltimore, MD, 1998.

7. The Winthrop Society,"The Adventurers of the Massachusetts Bay Company  1628 - 1630", www.winthropsociety.org/settlers/founders.htm, 2004.

Return to Index