Table of Contents

Name Origin
Family Origin
The Oak
Edmund &
In Lynn
Spread of Family


Origin of Family

The first record of Ingalls as a family name in Lincolnshire  that I have been able to find occurred in 1384. The first of our own ancestry of whom we know was Henry Ingalls of Skirbeck, probably the great-grandfather of Edmund, who died in 1555 and probably was born about 1505. There are some good reasons for the inference that the family was in existence with the identification of its surname for at least two centuries previous to the latter date, and was living in the fenland in the vicinity of Boston. 

  Skirbeck is a village adjoining Boston, downstream on the river Witham, but Boston is in the hundred of Skirbeck, in the riding of Holland, in the county of Lincoln. At the time when Edmund Ingalls was living in Skirbeck, the village, there were other families of the name residing in Boston and the near-by villages of Kirton and Heckington, and in other places further away; some of whom can be definitely connected and many of whom probably were, more or less remotely. We may imagine a family multiplying and scattering, just as the descendants of Edmund Ingalls did to Ipswich, Andover, Marblehead, and Rehoboth. It appears however, that the multiplication was not so rapid in England previous to the emigration as it was subsequently in New England, the reason for which clearly was unfavorable economic conditions on the one hand and favorable on the other. The same reason answers the question why the family has not increased more in England during the last 300 years.


St. Nicholas Church at Skirbeck dates from about 1180, the tower having been added about 1430.  It is situated right on the bank of the Witham and was damaged by the high tide of 1571 and repaired in 1598. Edmund and Francis Ingalls may be imagined attending this church, with which anyway they must have been familiar.

  The tracing of families in England is difficult in that births, deaths and marriages were recorded only in the parish registers, and those do not go very far back. There are some parishes in Lincolnshire that have a few entries in the latter part of the sixteenth century, but they did not become numerous until the early part of the seventeenth, and the records of Skirbeck begin only with 1662. An elderly gentleman, Mr. John J. Ingold, and his sister who live in Kirton (close to Skirbeck) are the only representatives of our name in this district at the present time, but they do not come from our stock, but rather from the Swiss family to which I have previously referred. The name of Ingall is remembered as having been in existence in this district about 70 years ago, but since then it has disappeared as an indigenous name, just as it has disappeared from Andover and Rehoboth in this country.  

  We do not know the date of birth of Edmund Ingalls, but his younger brother Francis was born in 1601, and he himself was executor of his father's will in 1617 and was married previous to 1621, wherefore his own birth may have been about 1595. His father, who was Robert and described himself as a yeoman, died in 1617, whereupon Edmund as the oldest son, succeeded to the farm as then was the custom. Probably he married soon afterward. Of his wife we know only that her name was Ann. Previous to the emigration she bore him five children.

  We can do no more than conjecture the status of Edmund Ingalls and his immediate progenitors in England. They described themselves as yeomen and they owned some land, which probably they tilled, the eldest son inheriting and the younger sons entering into trades. Edmund Ingalls after he had been in Massachusetts for 20 years still retained a three-acre parcel of land in England, which he mentioned in his will. His ancestors for several generations at least had been well-to-do for the time. They kept a servant or two and they were of sufficient importance to make wills, and modest bequests to collateral relatives, and even a little to the poor. This being their position it would be of the greatest interest if we could know the motives of Edmund and Francis Ingalls in emigrating to Massachusetts. We can but infer that they thought they could improve their welfare, wanted to do so, and were bold enough to enter upon what must have been a great adventure.

  The colonization of Massachusetts was only partly of religious inspiration. It was largely commercial and largely appealing to men who desired more freedom and especially more opportunity. Indeed it must have been similar to our colonization of the West following the Civil war. A company had obtained a grant of a strip of the sea-coast and its hinterland indefinitely. It wanted to get settlers upon the land in order to develop trade. It offered to assist them in getting there and to them it promised 10 acres of land. To those who could pay their own way it agreed to allow 50 acres. Edmund and Francis Ingalls were evidently of the latter class, inasmuch as when the allotments of land were finally made they jointly received 120 acres. In this company the Countess of Lincoln and her daughters and sons-in-law were greatly interested. One of these daughters had a residence in Boston. We may discern in this a reason why so many men from that district, including Edmund and Francis Ingalls, were led to enter into the emigration. The majority of the first party came, however, from Dorsetshire, in the southwest of England, while Lincolnshire is in the northeast. This is rather significant. The headquarters of the proprietary company were at Dorchester, but the Clinton family, whose head was the Earl of Lincoln, was seated in Lincolnshire.

Photographed from a model built by Professor James R. Jack.

  No ships sailed directly to Massachusetts from Boston or other ports on the North Sea and we are bound to imagine Edmund and Francis Ingalls, along with others from the fenland, proceeding by sea half way around England in order to join the ship sailing for New England. What an undertaking this must have been Edmund and Anne with five young children, the oldest but seven years. Probably along with them Ann Skipper, an old family servant. Francis and Mary, with perhaps a young daughter. All the household goods and farming utensils that they could carry with them, for they were obviously going with the intention of remaining and not merely upon a reconnaissance. At least, this is how we may imagine the adventure. We have no proof that it was just so that they acted, and no proof that Edmund and Francis did not come first, causing their families to follow, but considering ages and other circumstances that does not seem probable.

  Nor do we know positively in what ship they came. We think that they came with Endicott and a party of about 100 in the "Abigail," which sailed from Weymouth and arrived at Salem, Sept. 6, 1628, after a voyage of 11 weeks. The passenger list of the "Abigail" has not been discovered. Our belief that Edmund and Francis Ingalls, with their families, came in that ship is based on the fact that no other ship arrived from England until June 30, 1629, and Alonzo Lewis, the historian of Lynn, refers to manuscripts showing that Edmund and Francis settled in Saugus (Lynn) as early as the first of June.*  

  Arriving at their destination at the very end of summer the Abigail's company had but little time in which to make preparations for the winter and their hardships speedily became great. Exposed to the winter of a severe and untried climate they suffered from poor feeding and poor housing, so that many fell sick and there remained well persons scarcely enough to take care of them. They were destitute of medical assistance and many of them died. Besides their physical sufferings during this winter they lived in fear of the Indians, with whom they were not yet familiar. Rev. Thomas Cobbet tells us that "About the yeare 1628; when those few that came out with Collonel Indecot, and began to settle at Naumkeick, now called Salem; and in a manner all so sick of the journey, that though they had both small and great guns, and powder and bullets for them, yet had not strength to manage them if suddenly put upon it, and tidings being certainly brought them of a Lord's day morning, that a thousand Indians from Sugust (now Lyn) were coming against them to cut them off they had much odoe amongst them all, to charge two or three of theyr great guns and traile them to a place of advantage where the Indians must pass to them, and there to shoot them off; when they heard by theyr noise they made in the woods, that the Indians drew neare, the noise of which great artillerie, to which the Indians were never wonted before, did occasionally (by the good hand of God) strike such dread into them, that by some lads, which lay as scouts in the woods they were heard to reiterate that confused outcrie, O Hobbomuck much Hoggery, and then fled confusedly back with all speed, when none pursued them."
* Alonzo Lewis published his history in 1829. He was an experienced and intelligent investigator and he had access to manuscripts that have since been lost.

  Mr. Cobbet inscribed this tale in his narrative from hearsay long after the event and clearly exaggerated. From all other accounts the Indians who lived in Saugus were a peaceful lot and there was certainly no such number of them as 1000. However, it is not unlikely that the colonists, newly landed from the "Abigail" had a scare, perhaps from what was intended as a friendly visit, in more or less the way that Mr. Cobbet relates. His story is chiefly of interest in its illustration of the physical distress of the "Abigail's" company during the first fall and winter in Naumkeag.

  Along with this some of them felt uncomfortable under the restrictions of Endicott, who considered himself responsible not only for the safety but also for the habits of his colonists, and evidently was self-willed and arbitrary, even temperamental. Edmund and Francis Ingalls, clearly did not relish his restrictions and considered it preferable to risk themselves and their families among the Indians, in spite of the scare related by Mr. Cobbet. So they applied to him "for a place to set themselves down in" and received from him "leave to go where they would." With that permission they moved to Saugus, where there was primeval forest save where the Indians had cleared small patches in which to plant their corn.

pp. 4-10

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