Contents of this page: [Who was he?] [Some Questions] [Acknowledgement] [Links]
Who was he?
I now see that there was a town MADBURY adjacent to Dover in New Hampshire, USA which we know is where an American branch of WINGATES were early settlers - see my Origins Page and also a link to the history of MADBURY where John WINGATE is mentioned as attending the first parish meeting on June 23, 1755. So he is obviously the owner of the book and was from MADBURY, NH, USA and not MODBURY, Devon, UK.
However, we still don't know the actual genealogy of either John . . .
© Harvie A. Davis, Jnr.
An American family history researcher has contacted me because of the signature. reproduced above left, which reads 'John Wingate his Book Jno Wingate of Modbury 1777'. It appears on the end cover of a copy of a book 'Indian Converts' by Experience Mayhew and my kind contact thought I might be interested in the striking similarity between the signature in the book and the signature that appears on my web page about John WINGATE, the paterfamilias of the Horrabridge tree. I've reproduced that signature again here for comparison and I have speculated about the possible identity of this John Wingate below.
However, considering all the evidence we have at the moment (see below), it seems likely that these two signatures are NOT by the same person and so if you have any ideas about the possible identity of this John then please leave a message on the Message Board.
More about the Book
INDIAN CONVERTS: OR, SOME ACCOUNT OF THE Lives and Dying SPEECHES of a
considerable Number of the Christianized INDIANS of Martha's Vineyard in
By Experience Mayhew, M. A. Preacher of the Gospel to the Indians of that
The choice of book is interesting and may be a significant clue. There is a summary and some speculation on a dedicated page. Link to more detail on the INDIAN CONVERTS book
1. Is this the same person as the head of the Horrabridge tree?
- My first reaction was that it couldn't possibly be the same person because there is no evidence that John Wingate, mason of Horrabridge, ever left that village. As far as we can tell he was baptised in the parish of Buckland Monachorum in 1742 and was buried in the same parish in 1823 and described as "of Horrabridge" and aged 83.
- There were plenty of other WINDGEATs in the Modbury area and probably several Johns. I am not very familiar with eighteenth century handwriting styles but it is possible that children were all taught the same hand at this time and that might account for the similarity of any two signatures - especially if the people concerned did not write very often and just trotted their signatures out for special occasions such as the signing of deeds or certificates.
- Why on earth would our Horrabridge mason be reading a book about Indian converts? And how did the book end up in America? A suggestion from my American researcher contact is that it might be possible that there was some link with the American revolution and I wondered whether our Horrabridge John might have been in the British Army out there. But the dates don't fit - the American War of Independence was from 1775-1783. Another suggestion from my contact is that our Horrabridge John could have been a minister himself or have close contacts with missionaries. Again this is a possibility but unfortunately, there appears to be no evidence for such relationships (but see more on this below).
- However, we do have a missing baptism in this family - John of Horrabridge's son, also John, was born c. 1778 and we have not been able to find
baptismal record for him. John, the elder, lived in
Horrabridge when his first three children were born and these three were baptised in
Buckland Monachorum in 1771, 1774 and 1777. Then there is a gap of a few
years where we can't find any baptismal record for John, the younger. Perhaps
John the elder moved for a
couple of years to Modbury, where his
son could have been born and baptised locally (although
currently we have not found a likely record). The last three children
were baptised in Meavy (starting in 1783) so it is just possible that after a
few years sojourn in the Modbury area John
returned to that part of the moor from whence he had come. There was quite a lot of to-ing and fro-ing across the moor by the
various families in the villages that ringed it and, although Modbury might
a long way from Horrabridge by main road, it was not so far as the crow flies.
Also masons were sometimes called upon to help out with large building jobs
some way from home.
More about John Wingate 1742-1823
Although worth pursuing as a possible line of enquiry, all the above is very tenuous and unless we can find a baptismal record for a John, the son of a John and a Margaret in the Modbury area c. 1778, I suggest that the idea that these two Johns are the same person must be regarded with some suspicion.
2. If John Wingate of Modbury, 1777, is NOT the same person as the head of the Horrabridge tree then who was he?
Was he John Wingate born Kincardine, Scotland, July 31, 1741?
Although there were loads of Devonshire WINDGEAT people around the Modbury, Ermington, Ugborough area, I haven't yet identified any Johns who are definitely candidates to be the owner of the book above. My American contact has suggested that "perhaps John Wingate was in the Ministry in England. It might make sense that he was trying to understand how religion was brought to Native Americans" . The John who was born in Scotland above certainly fits that bill.
This John Wingate, a minister, is the subject of several files held by the Lambeth Palace Library (Fulham Papers [FP XXVI - FP 45] [FP XII - FP XXV][SPG I - SPG VI]). These were found as a result of a search for Wingate in the Lambeth Palace Library Archives via the Access to Archives website. This is an archive of church records on missionary clergymen in the colonies. John WINGATE is recorded as a missionary clergyman in Virginia and his first appointment is recorded as April 1 1771 with or at Dale (?). There is also mention of a Joshua Wingate WEEKS and a Francis WINGATE who may be relatives. These WINGATEs are almost certainly from the Scottish WINGATE branch and, sadly, almost certainly not related to our Devon lot.
BUT, if so, what on earth was he doing in Modbury, Devon, in 1777? Another mystery! I had initially assumed that 'Modbury' could well be some place in New England - there are so many towns there with Devon names: Plymouth, Exeter etc. But there doesn't appear to be a Modbury in the United States. There is one in South Australia and as a John WINDEATT probably went to Tasmania from Modbury at a later date I thought this might be a connection. But as the Australian town was not named until 1840, this seems unlikely.
Was he the John WINDEAT mentioned in Edmund ANDREWS' Diary?
According to a kind informant from the Modbury Heritage website:
There was a Modbury Land Agent and Estate Manager for the Swete family called Edmund Andrews, who kept a diary for over 30 years (1745-1779) noting the names of people whom he had dealings with, places he travelled to in the local and wider community, etc. One of the members of Modbury Local History Society has compiled a list of the names of persons mentioned in the diary. Mr. Windeat, John Windeat, and Richard Windeat are listed. (Mr. Windeat might be one and the same as John or Richard).
The John WINDEAT mentioned here could well be one and the same as the John WINGATE of Modbury of the book. Apparently the Diary is held by the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office and would need to be consulted there by appointment. The Diary may tell us nothing but it could confirm whether the John WINDEAT mentioned was 'of Modbury' or not, and might rule out his putative identity as the Horrabridge John or the one born in Scotland.
Many thanks to my American contacts who kindly drew my attention to this signature. I hope we will be able to shed some light on this mystery at some future date.
- More about John Wingate 1742-1823
- More about the book: Indian Converts by Experience Mayhew
- Map showing location of Horrabridge and Modbury (Modbury is about four miles south of Ivybridge)
- Modbury Heritage website
- Genuki Modbury website
- Sherriff Family History: Modbury page
- Modbury, Australia on Wikipedia
- Access to Archives search tool