Simon's Family History
John STITES was reputably born in 1595 in England and reputably died in 1717 in Long Island, NY, USA. It is widely acclaimed that he was 122 years old. Whether this is a propagated myth which has grown on its own momentum over the years, or has some basis of fact will never be properly determined unless a baptism for him can be found (if extant). One Stites Genealogy has him born in Derbyshire, England1. There is no record that I can find of any Stites in Derbyshire, no wills, no IGI etc.
There is also the popular story that he was a surgeon in in Col. Hampden's regiment in Cromwell's Army in the revolution of 1640, and was a witness to King Charles I execution and the certification of his death, and that he fled England in fear of his life during the Restoration. The Hamden Society has no record of John Stites. Supposedly John fled to Holland at the Restoration, returning to America in 1657 to Hemstead, Long Island. However once again no evidence of this has been found to date.
"(He) came from England as surgeon to a band of colonists in the time of Cromwell. Settled in New England, later at Hemstead, Long Island where he died in 1717 at the age of one hundred and twenty two. According to family tradition, he was a man of powerful physique and wonderful physical endurance. When nearly one hundred years old he walked forty miles in one day to visit some relatives."
No evidence or sources are presented to back up these claims.
Some web sites say that he arrived in America on the 'James' from
London, arriving at Salem, Mass. on 10 Oct 1633, aged 38yrs.
Again I have yet to find or see any evidence of this.
I am disinclined to believe these stories. There is no evidence of him or likely family in the local wills, PCC wills, IGI, marriage licences, Civil War publications, Hampden Society, etc., etc. in the UK. There is no evidence of him in America. If he indeed lived on Long Island why doesn't he show up in the records like his son Richard does? Surely he would have had the status to own land etc.
There are records on the IGI of families with a similar sounding surnames, such as STEITZ, STEYGHTE, STEYT, STEIT. Perhaps the answer lies in an alternate spelling. Or was his son Richard deliberately concealing his true name & origins and made up this mythical father.
Some people have John marrying an Alice STOTES, but again no sources or evidence are presented.
Some people have selected some baptism records from the LDS IGI for the parish of South Moreton, Surrey, England. There are 13 IGI Stiles baptisms between 1637 & 1650, to John, Clement & Richard Stiles, including a baptism of Richard in 1638 the son of John. It appears that some people have grasped this as a likely baptism for Richard Stites assuming that the LDS had mistranscribed the name of Stites as Stiles. However I have checked the LDS microfilm of the original hand written parish register and all the 13 baptism are quite clearly written as Stiles, the IGI entries are not mis-transcriptions of Stiles for Stites.
Jim Stites also thinks that the legendary
John Stites is a myth. He writes :-
"Ref: History of Long Island, 1843 Thompson, pg 53&54
"William Stites and Edmond Titus walked from Seekonk to Hempstead in 1650, William nearly 100 yrs old."
This is the only record of a William [in Long Island]. I doubt it's true.
Ref: Quarterly Courts of Essex Co, Mass 1636-1656 Vol 1 & 2
Several Court records concerning Richard Stites/Stich/Stick,etc and Henry Stich/Stiche,etc.
Henry aged 102 or there about in 1653 testified per court records. In 1650 last Court record regarding a debt Richard owed. He didn't appear. He already had left and went to Hempstead. I believe that Stiche is most likely our original name. There is a birth record in 1625 in Norton, Derby,England of a Richard Stich, son of Henry.
The story of Doctor John is pure legend. As is the notion that this John married Alice Stott.
It seems that Stites researchers don't bother looking in Mass records. Richard probably came to Mass in 1635, though no ship record exists with his name on it. In 1577 A William Stiche married a Widow named Bennett in London, England.
Samuel Bennett came to Mass in 1635 on the Ship James.
He appers in court records along with Richard and Henry.
Henry never came to Hempstead, he likely died in Mass in old Norfolk County.
[Ancestry - Family History & Genealogy Message Board - 27 Dec 2002]
It seems I am not the only person who has delved deeper into the records and shown no evidence of the legendary John Stites in America. Jim's theory that Henry & Richard Stich of Massachusets being our Stites is interesting, especially as Henry stated in a deposition that he was 102 years old, has this been confused in the family lore and become John? As Richard was illiterate and his name in the Hempstead records is variously spelt including Stits, Stites and Stich then this is a possibility, the final spelling of his name being decided by the recording clerks in Hempstead.
i. Richard STITES.
1. LDS film #1312803 - Stites ; Bible records
1678-1974, and transcript - microfilm of manuscript collection (16 leaves) held
at Ripley County Historical Museum, Versailles, Indiana.
2. "The Stites Family" by Edmund J. James. New York Genealogical & Bibliographical Society Record, Vol XXVIII (July 1897), 165-166; (Oct 1897), 237-239; Vol XXIX (Apr 1898), 93-98. Also "Genealogies Long Island Families Vol II by the same pub.
Copyright © Simon Parker-Galbreath