General James Cudworth

A survey

Some genealogical details on General James Cudworth (d. 1682)


This article written and copyright 2008 by Will Johnson,, Professional Genealogist
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

James Cudworth was the son of Rev Ralph Cudworth.  Ralph was a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge who was first appointed vicar of Coggeshall, co Essex in 1606 and then appointed rector of Aller, Somerset in 1609, where Ralph died in 1624.  Ralph had married a nurse of Henry, Prince of Wales, named Machell, who after his death married Rev John Stoughton of Aldermanbury, London.  Rev Stoughton, then succeeded Ralph Cudworth, as rector of Aller.  A brother to James Cudworth was that Ralph Cudworth who became a philosopher and theologian of note, and died at Cambridge in 1688.  (NEHGR, V64, pg 86) (cf "An Account of the Life and Writings of Ralph Cudworth") (cf NEHGR V21, pg 249-50)

It has been stated that James was baptized on 2 Aug 1612 at Aller.  Although the parish registers of Aller have evidently not been published, the Bishop's transcript is in the IGI (Batch P019541).  The entry for the child baptized on 1612, lists no first name, so we cannot be certain that this was James.  It's then stated that he married Mary Parker at Northam, Devonshire, England on 1 Feb 1633/4. His wife's name has also been given as Mary Goodman, daughter of John.  I have not yet found the primary sources for these connections.  He himself however states, in 1673, that his wife was then "sixty-seven years and upwards".

James Cudworth, came to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1634, but then settled at Scituate.  In December 1634, James Cudworth, wrote a letter from New England, which he addresses "To his very loving and kind father, Dr Stoughton, at his house in Alldermanburg."  In this letter he also mentions "As concerning my uncles... they are both in good health... my uncle Thomas is to be married shortly, to a widow that has good means and has five children."  He also desires " be remembered to all my brothers and sisters..."  In 1639, James was "presented" for having sold wine without a license. (citation)  Possibly due to this, he removed to Barnstaple that same year.

In 1646, James came back to Scituate.  He held various public offices such as Deputy to the Colony court 1649, Captain of the militia of Scituate 1652, Governor's assistant 1657, and Commissioner of the United Colonies 1657.  When Philip's War broke out, James was advanced to the dignity of a general. (citation)  James and his wife had seven known children.

James Cudworth, died in London while the agent of the Massachusetts Bay colony to England, in 1682, aged about 70. ("American Christian Rulers", compiled by Rev Edward J Giddings, 1890, "James Cudworth")

James' will was dated 15 Sep 1681 and proved 7 Jul 1682. His bequests were to "eldest son James Cudworth... my son Israel... my son Jonathan... my daughter Marye's four children Israel Whetcomme, Robert, James and Mary... my daughter Joannah Jones." He also mentions that the four grandchildren are not yet 21 years old. James is in the Ancestral File as 8MKD-JQ, and his pedigree chart is there as well, at this link.

Regarding his mother, Leo van de Pas gives her on his "Genealogics" website as "Mary Machell" born 1574, daughter of Matthew Machell and Mary Lewknor, without citing a source.  This Matthew was a haberdasher who died in 1593 and by his IPM then had a son John "aged 13".  This is in conflict with this note in NEHGR V30 claiming that it was this John by his known wife Jane Woodruffe, who were the parents of that Miss  Machell, mother of James Cudworth.  John and Jane are known to have had four sons and four daughters, but obviously John is the brother of Miss Machell, not her father, as is made clear at this link.

John Brandon, at the time I posted that discussion, pointed out (at this link) that her name might not be "Mary" at all, by citing to the 1634 Visitation of Essex, "Machell".  Although obviously created after her death, and by a part of the family not directly descending from her, it's still probable that she might be one of these girls here listed as : "Dorothy, Jane, and Elizabeth".  Johnny Brananas in a post at this link states : "I downloaded the Ralph Cudworth will from TNA, and even though it is a short nuncupative will, it is helpful. It clearly mentions his wife 'Mary Cudworth.'"  Douglas Richardson also states at this link : "James Cudworth's mother is named Mary in the will of her husband, Ralph Cudworth, D.D., of Aller, Somerset dated 17 Aug. 1624, proved 29 Oct. 1624 (P.C.C. 116 Byrde).  An abstract of the will of Ralph Cudworth prepared by me was published in Burton Spear, Search for the Passengers of the Mary & John 1630, 18 (1992): 39-43."

Douglas Richardson states that the baptisms of all six of Ralph and Mary's children exist in the Parish Registers of Aller, co Somerset (FHL Microfilm 1517680).  These registers apparently have not yet been extracted to the IGI.