BILLERICA: A ROYAL PAST WITH A "NOBLE" FUTURE".
|The early history of this township had its beginnings when the Massachusetts
Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop and the Deputy Governor Thomas Dudley
travelled along the Concord River to investigate the interior portions of
the ever-growing Massachusetts Bay Colony. Upon viewing an area for possible
plantation, which was known as the wilderness of the "Shawshin,"
a line of demarcation was erected, between the claimed property of these
two (2) men. This division relied upon the natural marking of two great
stones; eventually known as the "Two Brothers Rocks," due to the
fact that these men were related by marriage. Governor John Winthrop received
what is today known as Bedford, Massachusetts, while Deputy Governor Thomas
Dudley became, in essence, the original white settler of this new fledged
area, now known as Billerica. The complete story can be found in the recently
re-published History of Billerica: 1653-1883, by The Rev. Henry A. Hazen.
But the question begs: Who was this Deputy Governor Thomas Dudley? Was his family of some importance in the "mother country" of England? Who or what became of his progeny in this new country of America? The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), the eminent society of genealogy, has published, via one of its researchers, Mr. Gary Boyd Roberts, an article that concerns itself with the answers to our enquiries. This by-line, entitled the "Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources #63 & Notable Descendants of Governor Thomas Dudley," shall form the backbone of this story.
In this article, Thomas Dudley's patrilineal line shows him to be the son of Captain Roger Dudley, who was the grandson of John Dudley, 3rd Baron Dudley & Cecily Grey, who was the daughter of Thomas Grey, the 1st Marquees of Dorset, and a descendant of the Elizabeth Woodville, Queen of Edward IV, King of England, mother-in-law of Henry VII, and grandmother of Henry VIII [English Royal House of Tudor]. Additionally, this English Queen could trace her line through a sister of the great-grandfather of Juana Henriquez, the wife of Juan (John) II, King of Aragon, and mother of Ferdinand V of Aragon. This monarch became the husband of Queen Isabella of Castile, thereby uniting those two kingdoms, into a united Spain. In addition, these two royals became the sponsors for Christopher Columbus, who "discovered" what we now call the
On the matrilineal side, it has been established that Thomas Dudley, though his mother Susanna Thorne, was descended from King John of England, who was forced by the barons to grant, on 1215 15 June at Runnymeade, the Magna Charta ("Great Charter") which guaranteed civil and political rights to the English people, through his illegitimate son: Reginald Fitz Roy.
While we have identified the royal past of Billerica's "founder," what be-came of the progeny of this man? Did these persons continue with the same ideal that drove Thomas Dudley to lay claim to our township?
In this same article, Mr. Gary Boyd Roberts listed the following Americans, who are Thomas Dudley's descendants:
** John Brown: (1800-1859) - the abolitionist.
** Benjamin Franklin Wade: (1800-1878) - U.S. Senator and radical Republican leader, during the Civil War and in the era of Southern Reconstruction.
** Schuyler Colfax, Jr.: (1823-1885) - Speaker of the House of Representatives & U.S. Vice-President under President U.S. Grant.
** Emily Dow Patridge: one of Brigham Young's wives, who he left Issue, including a section of the Marriott Hotel Clan.
** John Henry Hobart: (1775-1830) - Episcopal Bishop of New York; rector of Trinity Church.
** Alexandra Temple Emmett: 2nd wife of Arthur M. Schlesinger - historian.
** Clark McAdams Clifford: (1906-1998) - presidential advisor; U.S. Secretary of Defense.
** William P. Bundy: (1917-2000) - editor of Foreign Affairs.
** McGeorge Bundy: (1919-1996) - presidential advisor; President of the Ford Foundation.
** Robert Emmett Sherwood: (1896-1955) - playwright, editor and critic.
** Henry Lee Higginson: (1834-1919) - founder of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and; Harvard benefactor.
** Mary Woodbridge Goddard: 1st wife of Louis Comfort Tiffany - art patron, glassmaker and designer of the "Tiffany lamp."
** Frank Nelson Doubleday: (1862-1934) - publisher and founder of Doubleday and Company.
** Nelson Doubleday: (1889-1949) - son of Frank Nelson Doubleday; CEO of Doubleday and Company.
** Elliot Lee Richardson: (1920-1999) - U.S. Secretary of Health, Education & Welfare; U.S. Secretary of Defense; U.S. Secretary of Commerce; U.S. Attorney General and diplomat.
** Lowell Palmer Weicker, Jr.: (1931- present) - U.S. Senator (1971-1989) and Governor of Connecticut.
As noted, many items of American History have been directly affected by those persons, who are in the Dudley family line. Today, we may enquire as to how this effects our fellow townsmen who can not claim any type of lineage with Thomas Dudley. Would not the answer to this enquiry be fairly simple? Are we not able to lay claim to the concept of being the spiritual "sons of Columbia [Christopher Columbus]?" Even if our parentage is derived from the sachems of the New England Indians, to the daughters of the potato famine, from the children of the Civil War's 29th Massachusetts "Negro" Division, to those "na Geana Fiadhaine [The Wild Geese]" who fled persecution from the oppressor, accepting exile into this foreign land, are we not allowed to emphatically state that the residents of the Town of Billerica are "noble," as we continue to re-establish a heritage of pride for our own progeny?
Who shall continue to contribute, in the 21st Century, to that community known as Billerica?
Submitted By Philip Newfell