The Bingham Genealogy Project

© by

Douglas K. Bingham

this page last updated 8 March 2014

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* Disk space for the database has been kindly provided by my nephew Alfred Shapere at the University of Kentucky. At the present time, access to this database is by password only.


I remember as a young boy sitting at the dinner table listening to stories of my ancestors told by my parents, particularly my father, Alfred Bingham, who seemed then (and still seemed almost to his death in 1998 at age 93) to have near encyclopedic knowledge about his and my forebears. Often I was completely enthralled by these fascinating tales, but there were also times when I found such ramblings less than interesting and I derided my elders for being 'ancestor worshipers'.

However, it has been said by many that interest in one's ancestry increases with age. I can certainly attest to that statement, for now I find that I have fallen into the trap and have indeed nearly become a bit of an ancestor worshipper myself!

In inflicting my enthusiasm for my newfound genealogical hobby on my friends, I have always tried to be mindful of the words of archy after he had listened to a long harangue from a bar room acquaintance who was excessive in his praise and admiration of all his illustrious ancestors:

... cheese it i said
interrupting him i do
not wish to injure
your feelings but I weary
of your ancestors i
have often noticed that
ancestors never boast
of the descendants who boast
of ancestors i would
rather start a family than
finish one blood will tell but often
it tells too much

archy and mehitable by don marquis, 1939

(archy is a cockroach who can't manage the shift and punctuation keys on his typewriter).

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Project scope

This project started out as a program to find as many as possible of the direct ancestors of my son, Donald C. Bingham. His mother was the late Ellen Forbes originally of Sheridan, Wyoming and closely tied to the well known Boston area Forbes families. Since both the Forbes and the Bingham families (and some of their ancestors) have had long traditions of writing things down and record keeping, I quickly found that there was abundant documentary evidence available on both sides of my son's parentage. When I began to search the Internet for further information, I quickly hit pay dirt: I discovered two computer files containing information about many hundreds of Binghams and Woodbridges and their ancestors and descendants. These two files merged together formed my original computerized data base of somewhat over 16,000 individuals (the great majority of these were not direct ancestors). Hence the name of the data base as it appears in some places in this material is called the 'BINGWOOD' data set to reflect the initial merging of these two large files.

After adding genealogical data from available published and unpublished sources and many computer files downloaded from CompuServe, America-on-Line or directly from various sites on the Internet, my original data base has grown to nearly 25,600 individuals. Most, but not all, of these individuals are related in traceable ways using the database to Donald's direct ancestors, although for many it is only through marriage (or through several marriages).

If one lists all ancestors for Donald Bingham, the database now contains nearly 5,000 direct lineal ancestors going back more than 90 generations stretching into the 1st century A.D. and earlier. Included among the early ancestors are members of many of the noble and royal families of Europe.

The information presented here represents the results of my work up to about 1 June 1999. Such a project is, however, ongoing and will never be truly 'finished' in any real sense. I suspect I will always be searching for and adding just one more ancestor or chain of ancestors, or updating the data with more accurate information, or correcting errors which have crept into the data base.

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The significance and meaning of ancestors

One might well ask, what is the point of collecting over 90 generations of ancestors? Does it really mean anything to have such a compilation? Does being able to say that we are descended from Charlemagne or Alfred the Great or William the Conqueror or even from William Brewster of the Mayflower make us any different or better than anyone else?

I believe that researching back 4 or 5 or perhaps even 10 generations can be a very worthwhile undertaking because one can learn much about how one's family got to be the way it is today. My father in his recent book "The Tiffany Fortune and other Chronicles of a Connecticut Family" accomplishes this in a wonderfully entertaining way by following the successes and failures of three major families over only 5 or 6 generations. My father often said that knowing about his ancestors helps him to feel 'connected' to all of the human race. I couldn't agree more with this statement. I now feel that almost everyone I meet is a cousin of some sort. Through my researches, I recently met a man right here in Edmonton, Alberta where I currently live who is my approximately 10th cousin!

In addition, knowing about the places our ancestors lived and died around New England (and elsewhere) can enhance our knowledge of geography and our enjoyment of traveling to or near some of those places. We have many famous ancestors who influenced the history of these lands.

It is certainly arguable, however, that there is not much sense in reaching further back into the generations than 5 or 10 levels. Any traceable impact on us either genetically or culturally from 30 or 40 generations back is, for practical purposes, non-existent. In a strict mathematical sense, the percentage of genetic material we might have in common with an ancestor of 50 generations ago is truly minuscule, being approximately 100 * 2-50 = 0.0000000000000009 % (because of multiple relationships, this number might actually need to be multiplied by 100, or 1000 or more, but that is still a very small number! Cf. the statistics section below for the rather surprising result of this multiplication).

Parenthetically one ought to note at this juncture that the ultimate cultural impact on all of our lives due to certain individuals who lived a great many generations ago can far outweigh any genetic impact (even if there is no genetic connection whatsoever).

I believe that if one goes back about 20 generations, practically every one we meet (at least all those of at least partly European origin) has ancestors in common with us and is therefore a cousin of some sort. The difference is that our family is fortunate enough to have traceable ancestry which allows us to connect with the quite well known and documented genealogy of the families of the European nobility and royalty.

It is perhaps of interest to note that our known ancestry appears to be nearly exclusively European and that to date I have not been able to find any trace of native Indian, black African, or Asian blood. Nor have I located horse thieves, murderers or pirates! The most scandalous ancestor I have been able to locate is Lady Godiva, who lived in the 11th century and, according to legend, rode naked through the streets of Coventry to protest high taxes! One might think that such a 'pure' ancestry proves us to be true 'blue bloods'. However, since there are such a vast number of ancestral lines which I have been unable to follow for many generations, I am reasonably certain that all these other elements exist somewhere in our ancestry waiting for some more diligent researcher to discover. I would be very proud to be able to learn about them. In any case, I don't wish to be thought of as making any value judgments either pro or con about these apparently missing strains in our ancestry; I am only making the observation that, for whatever reasons, records of these elements have not been as well preserved as those of our European roots.

I hasten to point out that I certainly do not subscribe to the views of my grandfather, of whom I am otherwise very proud, when he wrote in a 1914 letter:

"In these days when the country is filed with alien races from the south of Europe and from Russia and Poland, those of us who are interested in keeping the old stock pure should have all the help we can in interesting our children in the doings of their ancestors"

I was somewhat horrified to discover the above quoted in a 1989 biography of my grandfather written by my late uncle, Woodbridge Bingham.

So why did I bother to collect all this much earlier information anyway? Perhaps the best answer is the one given by the famous British mountaineer, George Leigh Mallory (1886 - 1924), who, when asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest replied "Because it is there" (i.e., with reference to ancestors, "Because they are, or rather were, there!"). It has been fascinating to me to learn just how much is known about the ancestry of European royalty and nobility. It has been quite fun to discover that we are connected, albeit incredibly distantly, with the royal families of practically every country in Europe: England, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, etc. This is true mainly because these families are indeed all connected with each other through marriage in sometimes incredibly complex and convoluted multiple ways. There is a lot of fascinating history tied up in these relationships as the various royal houses of Europe sought to strengthen alliances through marriage.

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The information collected

As this project is presented here, it appears for the vast majority of individuals included to be little more than a collection of names, dates, places and relationships which is in itself not particularly interesting except insofar as one can discover how one's ancestry is linked to famous or not so famous people one might have heard of.

I have included as much biographical and anecdotal material as I have been able to discover on each individual.  Sometimes this is no more than a line or a word or two of information, but for many there is a page or more of information further illuminating the personality or career of an ancestor (I have included only minimal information about many of the more famous people because it is easy to learn about them using any good encyclopedia).

I hasten to add that what is presented here is definitely a 'work in progress' and is not intended to be a finished product of publishable quality. I have only assembled it here because I think there may be a few of my numerous cousins and perhaps other more distant ones I have yet to discover who might be interested, as I have been, to know where we come from.

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I have tried to always include information regarding the sources of my data in the notes field of each individual. Where there is conflicting information available from different sources, I have included it in the notes so that other users of the data may decide on their own which date, or place or name or even parents to take as correct. Because of the sheer number of individuals involved and because some of the data was 'bulk' imported into the database, source information is not always present, particularly on the female side of marriages.  In addition, in order to save space in my growing database, I have often intentionally omitted source information for the female spouse if it was the same as for her husband. Sometimes for long single ancestral lines I have only included source reference in about every 2nd or 3rd generation; again this is to save file space.

Unfortunately, because I have very much been learning as I go along, the manner in which the sources (and other notes) are presented is not always done in a consistent manner.  I'm still trying the figure out the best way to handle all the information included in my database, particularly the various tags and abbreviations.  Hopefully, most of what I have done will be self explanatory, at least after a little thought.

I should make it clear at the outset that in collecting this information I have consulted only what might be called 'secondary' or 'tertiary' sources: published books, collections of papers, computer files, etc. I have consulted practically no 'primary' sources such as church records, census data, town, county or state records, military or federal government data, etc. Most of the secondary sources are based ultimately on research into primary sources. Many are based on primary sources in only a second or third hand kind of way. However, I have generally found good agreement between sources, and I believe most of my information to be reasonably accurate.

Rather than repeat the full reference for each source in many places within the database, I have maintained a running list of all source materials as I went along and used only shorter abbreviations within the database itself. This listing includes downloaded computer files, Internet sites (only some of those consulted), published and unpublished books, and miscellaneous papers.

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Limitations and warnings

There are a few remarks about this data that I feel compelled to put forward lest anyone take some of it too literally.  The following are a few areas in this genealogy in which it is known that there are reasonably well established contrary views.

Firstly, there is considerable doubt as to whom Jonathan Rudd really married at the famous Bride Brook wedding of 1646 at the small brook midway between Saybrook and New London, Connecticut.  He was the father of Mary Rudd who married Thomas Bingham, the first Bingham to settle in America.  Because of a jurisdictional issue, the wedding was performed by Magistrate Jonathan Winthrop who was standing on the east bank while the bride and groom stood on the west bank of the small stream forming the boundary between Saybrook and New London.  Tradition has it that Jonathan Rudd's new wife was Mary Metcalf; this is the name which has been published in many places over the years.  However, there has recently been a lively on-line discussion amongst a group of Rudd descendants who find there is as yet no hard evidence as to who the bride was.  In this data base I have provisionally followed the Metcalf tradition.

Secondly, following the Bingham line backwards in time, the ancestry given here of Thomas Bingham (abt 1556 - 1648) is seriously in doubt.  I have found it in a couple of different sources, but am very skeptical about it.  I believe much of it is in fact correct; it is only the connection to Thomas Bingham which is almost certainly NOT correct.  I have only included it to stimulate discussion with the hope that someone will be able to categorically confirm or deny it or perhaps locate reliable information describing a different ancestry.

Thirdly, in the line of the Royce family of early colonial times in southern New England there is a connection postulated between the earliest of this name, Thomas Royce (c. 1569 - c. 1600), and his purported father, William Rhys, and thence to a long line of Rhys and other ancestors back to the 14th century in England.  This link has been called into question, and I do not know what its validity is.

Finally, much of the mediaeval and earlier data stretching back to biblical times must be interpreted with greatest caution.  From my readings of several sources by different reasonably well respected researchers, I personally believe most of the early data to be basically correct, but users of this data must draw their own conclusions.  I have more very early data (some of which I more or less believe in) which I could enter into the database but am reluctant to do so for fear of being branded some sort of a crackpot (if I'm not already).  In any event, my current genealogical software cannot handle dates prior to 100 A.D.

It should be noted that in some of the cases of doubtful lines only a single link is in doubt but it may lead to a whole limb of the family tree containing many branches which then is no longer in the direct ancestral line. Thus should the link finally be proven to be erroneous a vast number of ancestors are of course then cut off from the list of ancestors of my son.  This will invalidate some of the statistics presented below.

The above are only a few of the several points of departure between my database and certain other respected genealogies which have been brought to my attention.  There are no doubt many other areas to be found elsewhere in this database where serious skepticism may be justifiably brought to bear.  Just because I have found information 'in print' either on paper or on the Internet doesn't in itself make it true.  Let the casual browser or serious genealogist beware!

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The computer software and data format

The advent of the computer as a tool for use in genealogical studies has been a great boon to serious genealogists. With genealogical software currently available which is able to easily manage and keep track of the relationships between a collection of individual personal data records, a great deal of the tedium of trying to keep track of a vast array of paper or index cards is reduced. It is difficult for me to imagine how anyone in the past might have carried out such a task as tracking the relationships between hundreds or thousands of individuals without the use of a computer; but obviously people did, for there are many fine and beautifully published genealogies which pre-date the computer by many years (but then I have difficulty imagining how anyone ever wrote a novel or even a letter before the word processor came along even though I am old enough to have done both!).

Additionally, the computer allows one to view in a quite unique way the incredible complexity of a many generational genealogy. It is difficult to describe and understand the topology of a genealogy with many multiple relationships, multiple marriages and skipped generations. Many individuals in our ancestry have more than one child (sometimes from different spouses) from whom we are descended. Good computer software allows one to easily navigate around this vast structure and understand its labyrinthine nature in a way which would be difficult with only printed material.

The computer data which is available on line (except for simple text files) is usually in the GEnealogical Data COMmunications or GEDCOM format (files generally have the .GED extension). This is an internationally recognized format for exchanging genealogical data between various genealogical software packages which usually use different (sometimes proprietary) data formats. Additionally, there are getting to be more and more searchable genealogical databases on the Internet with their data in HTML format directly browseable by Netscape or other browser software.

To produce this database I have used two genealogical data management programs: Ancestral Quest ver. 2.0 by Incline Software and Personal Ancestral File (PAF) ver. 2.31 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon church). The former works in the Windows environment whereas the latter is a DOS program. Both programs use the same PAF file format which is a great bonus because there are no conversions to do to the database when switching between programs. They each have their advantages and special uses. For serious genealogical work I believe having both programs available is useful. I made use of a number of other utility programs as well.

The relevant addresses for obtaining these two programs (neither of which are expensive) are:

Incline Software
P.O. Box 17788
Salt Lake City, Utah 84117-0788

Family History Department
50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150

There are now new versions of both Ancestral Quest and PAF available which I have purchased but have not yet converted to.  They both use a revised file format which is not be compatible with with the file format for the old versions.

There are quite a number of other genealogy programs on the market with names like Family Tree Maker, Reunion, Family Origins, Brothers Keeper, etc. I have not used any of these other packages which may also have their own important advantages. For me one advantage of sticking to PAF format programs is that there are many freeware or shareware utility programs available for carrying out specialized tasks with PAF format data. Virtually all available commercial genealogical software have the ability to import or export data in the GEDCOM format which is a necessity if one expects to import data files from external sources.

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About the data presentation

After exporting a portion of my PAF database to GEDCOM format, I have used the GED2HTML v 3.6-WIN95 software to convert the data to HTML format for upload to the Internet.  I have made some small changes to the configuration file for this program to output additional information on each page.

In order to save space, I have not included all 24,000 plus individuals in the collection I have published here.  What I have selected for inclusion in the on-line version of this database are my son's lineal ancestors and two generations of all their descendants; in addition, all the descendants of all his great*4 grandparents (7th generation) are included.  For completeness I have also included the ancestors of my stepson, Devanand Janki.  I have also included Samuel Stilwell (c. 1722-1783) and his ancestors because he and his wife Jane Stringham adopted an ancestor of my maternal grandmother.  I have not shown him as a parent, but he was related through his wife to his adopted daughter.  All told over 8,600 individuals are included.  At their request, some presently living individuals are indicated by 'place holders' without any names or information.  The notes field includes a reference to that person's RIN (cf. below) in my own local database where full information is retained.

Both of the above genealogical data management programs assign an arbitrary unique serial or reference number to each individual; this is known as the Record Information Number or RIN which is occasionally referenced in the notes but has no relevance to the HTML version of the database (The preceding statement I have discovered is not quite true: the RIN's are used by GED2HTML in naming HTML target points within the files).

Because people's names and titles are often too long to fit into the 16 character standard field length in the PAF format, I have been forced to abbreviate them in rather drastic ways. Sometimes I have provided more complete information in the notes field.

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Some Statistics

It is interesting and perhaps amusing to compile some elementary statistics about the database.  These are presented in the table below:

Statistics of the Bingham genealogy database
Total number of direct ancestors of
Donald C. Bingham included in the data base
Total number of direct ancestors including repeated individuals of Donald C. Bingham included in the data base 24,570,191
Total number of generations of ancestors of Donald C. Bingham included in the data base 91
Total individuals in PAF database 25,588
Total marriages in PAF database 10,113
Total names in PAF database 14,228
Total notes in PAF database 9,583
Size of PAF database (approx) 5.141 Mb
Disk space per individual (PAF database) 0.206 Kb
Total individuals in GEDCOM file 9,486
Size of GEDCOM file (approx) 2.523 Mb
Disk space per individual (GEDCOM file) 0.297 Kb
Total individuals in HTML database 10,771
Total families in HTML database 5,589
Size of HTML database (approx) 30.768 Mb
Disk space per individual (HTML database) 2.93 Kb

Table data updated 7 March 1998 (Ancestor stats),
3 June 1999 (PAF, GEDCOM databases);
31 July 2001 (HTML database)

It is clear that the both the PAF and GEDCOM formats are about 10 times more efficient than HTML in terms of bytes per individual.  In fact, it appears that both the PAF and GEDCOM take only 200 to 300 bytes per individual which seems surprisingly small.  This is no doubt largely because all names (of people and places) are cached in one file with only pointers to each name being stored with each individual's record (this is at least true in the PAF format; I haven't yet figured out how GEDCOM works).  This means that names like 'Connecticut' or 'Elizabeth' need each be stored only once instead of dozens or hundreds of times.

Perhaps the most amazing number in the table above appears in the second row.  This shows that in terms of the total boxes in his family pedigree Donald Bingham has more than 24 million of them filled with known ancestors.  The multiplicative effects of multiple relationships to certain ancestors at different levels in the family tree can lead to some surprisingly large numbers.

This number was calculated using the very interesting shareware program 'Generation Counter for PAF' which I also used to compile the data in the graph below (the program took 20 hours to finish running on a Pentium 100!):

Graph updated 7 March 1998

This graph shows the number of places in each generation from 1 to 91 which are filled.  The data for the first 28 generations is plotted at a 1,000 times magnification to show the detailed distribution for the lower generation numbers.

The first peak of 373 places filled in generation 14 corresponds to the 16th and 17th centuries. The sharp dip in the distribution at about 20 generations shows that, although there are many lines traced back to early colonial (New England) times or for one or two generations on the other side of the Atlantic, there are relatively few lines traced further back to Europe and only a few of these which can be traced to the families of the European royalty and nobility. Since the genealogies of these families are quite well known, the numbers quickly expand after about generation 23.

At generation 50 the tree has more than 453,000 places filled.  A third peak 23 generations later tops out at 1,436,077.  The large degree of intermarriage within and between the European noble and royal families through the ages accounts for many multiple relationships and hence high multiplication factors.  Why there are these two earlier peaks is not immediately discernible.

At the very earliest generation, number 91, there are 28 places filled.  This is almost certainly a single individual who is related by 28 different paths to my son Donald (because of generation jumps this person is probably also related several other times at generation 90, 89, etc.).  These earliest data are of course mostly somewhat speculative in nature.

Also plotted on the graph is the percentage of places known in each generation (the yellow curve).  This is plotted logarithmically using the right hand axis.  For the first 4 generations 100% are known; this drops to 1.6% at generation 15, 0.01% at generation 21 and continues to drop to infinitesimally small percentages at 91 generations.  This curve may be compared with the percentage which would be known if there were only a single ancestral line known (the green straight line curve); this is simply a plot of the relationship N=2-G where G is the number of generations.  This latter line may also be thought of as indicating the possible genetic influence of a single individual (if there were no multiple relationships) on my son's genetic makeup.

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External links to the Bingham genealogy database

I have been greatful for the following Internet sites which have helped my to publicize my data (although this has sometimes been a mixed blessing,as discussed in the next section):

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I have now had my genealogical data posted on the Internet about two years.  I have been amazed at the correspondence it has generated.  Many people have e-mailed me with corrections or additions to my data; others have inquired after further information particularly about my sources.  Still others have written to see if by any chance I have information about so-and-so who was their grandfather or other ancestor about whom they know almost nothing.

I have tried to answer all of this correspondence, but it has become almost overwhelming at times and have even considered removing my data from the Internet.  I don't wish to this if I can help it, for I would like to share my data and allow others to benefit from the quite considerable work I have put into this project.

In order to lessen my e-mail load, I would like to request the following of any potential correspondents:

If you still wish to e-mail me, my address and other ways to contact me are given on my homepage

I do wish to sincerely thank all those people who have offered corrections or further information which I have generally incorporated into the database.  If corrections offered don't immediately appear on-line it is because I only upload my data rather infrequently to the Internet.  It is quite a series of procedures to go through to do an upload: exporting the desired individuals to GEDCOM, converting to HTML, and uploading.  This is why I don't do it too often.

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After word

As a self appointed 'family genealogist' I must confess that I am rather proud of what I have been able to uncover about our ancestry while doing this project. It is, of course, mostly not my own work; I have merely been a gatherer or compiler of information collected by others. The work presented here represents the work of a great many other researchers, some who have laboriously combed through primary sources and others, like myself, who have scanned numerous paper and computer documents based on these primary sources. I must at this juncture express profound gratitude and thanks to all these other researchers both known and unknown (and some who worked hundreds of years ago) for the work which they have accomplished in their own separate ways. Without their previous efforts, it goes without saying that most of my own work could not have taken place.

The accuracy of all this information is only (at best) as good as the accuracy of reporting in the original books, documents or computer files on which it is all based. Although I am deeply indebted to my predecessors in this work, I realize there are many errors in this database and I accept full responsibility for them.

As I search for new information to add to this data, I will continue to find errors and weed them out. This task will be greatly aided by the assistance of family members and others who, in going through this material, are able to discover errors or missing information which can be corrected or added. I would much appreciate it if any one who can add to or correct information presented here could contact me.

In closing, I must acknowledge the unfailing patience of my wife, Sheila Janki, who has had to put up with all my genealogical ramblings, my many hours huddled over the computer and long absences from the house as I carried out much of this work. Through it all she has encouraged me and admired my endeavors.

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