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
No evidence or sources are presented to back up these
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
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
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.
of Doctor John is pure legend. As is the notion that this John married Alice
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,
Samuel Bennett came to Mass in 1635 on the Ship James.
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.
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.