The Anne Parker – Ann Stephens Controversy


Paul Noyes analysis regarding the Anne Parker - Anne Stephens controversy:


Rev. Cotton Mather, pastor of the North Church in Boston, wrote to Rev. Nicholas Noyes of Salem requesting more information on Rev. Thomas Parker of Newbury. Rev. Noyes was a grandson of Rev. William Noyes of Cholderton, by Rev. James Noyes.  Rev. Nicholas Noyes replied to Rev. Mather with the following information: "Mr. James Noyes was born, 1608, at Cholderton in Wiltshire, of godly and worthy parents. His father [Rev. William] was minister of that same town, a very learned man, the school master of Mr. Thomas Parker. His [James] mother was sister to the learned Mr. Robert Parker, and he [James] had much of his education and tutorage under Mr. Thomas Parker." This contemporary reference by a grandson would seem to support the contention that the mother of James and Nicholas was indeed Anne Parker as opposed to Ann Stephens.


Savage also notes that "This son [Thomas Parker] served a short time at the altar in Newbury, Eng. and came in the Mary and John, May 1634, with his nephew, Rev. James Noyes, ...." This reference to Rev. James Noyes as the nephew of Thomas Parker also is supportive of the Anne Parker theory.


"Ould Newbury" by John J. Currier, published in Boston by Damrell and Upham in 1896, says "Rev. William Noyes married Ann Stephens, daughter of Nicholas Stephens, Esq. of Burdop Manor, in Wiltshire, England. Again, there is no reference saying that Ann Stephens was the mother of the younger children including James and Nicholas, only that their father, William, had married Ann Stephens, thus establishing a familial connection with the Rev. Thomas Parker who married Ann Stephens' sister Dorothy.


It is curious that Anne named only the youngest Noyes children, James and Nicholas who were then in New England in her will, while eldest child Ephraim named only his brother John and the children of deceased brother Nathan. Widows had much more latitude in choosing legatees than their husbands did, yet it is unusual that Anne bothered to make token bequests to children in New England while ignoring children relatively nearby. This “division of interests” suggests that Anne may have been mother of the youngest children and that William had an earlier wife who was mother of the older boys and an unnamed girl who were born ca. 1596-1604. Despite Walter Goodwin Davis' "The Ancestry of Abel Lunt" (Portland, Me., 1963), pp.71-78 willingness to accept multiple wives for Rev. William, no other evidence supports this interpretation.


"Massachusetts & Maine Families in the Ancestry of Walter Goodwin Davis", Vol III p 54 states "His [William Noyes] certain wife was Anne Parker whom he married before 1608."


Although Anne Parker was of a suitable age to have been mother to all the known children, Ann Stephens, could possibly have been the first wife as suggested in a newspaper clipping attached to one of the New England Historical and Genealogical Society lending library Noyes Genealogy books. The newspaper clipping update speaks only to updated "proof" that Ann Stephens was wife to William NOYES as opposed to specifically saying she was mother to James and Nicholas. Neither is there source material included in the newspaper article. According to "Genealogical Record of Some of the Noyes Descendants of James, Nicholas and Peter Noyes" (Volume 1, Descendants of Nicholas Noyes) collected and compiled by Col. Henry E. Noyes, U.S.A. and Miss Harriette E. Noyes - Members of NEHGS - Boston 1904, Miss Harriette E. Noyes was aware that Ann Stephens was thought by some to be the wife of Rev. William Noyes, as she makes reference to it on Page 45 of Vol. I. At the time of publication, it was their opinion that this information was erroneous. However, further investigation subsequent to the printing of the book, proved that information to have been correct. The correction was published in 1906 as follows:


Noyes. R.W. N., Oct. 22, 1906. The "Additional Corrections and Additions," page 3, of Wheeler's "History of Stonington, Conn." has the following: "Miss Harriettte E. Noyes of New Hampshire says: 'From recent investigations in England the name of Rev. William Noyes's wife was proven to be Anne Stephens, daughter of Nicholas Stephens of Burdrop Manor, and sister of Dorothy Stephens, mother of Rev. Thomas Parker.'" M. G. F.



Based on this evidence, it is probable that Rev. William Noyes was first married to Ann Stevens, by whom he had Ephraim, Nathan, John and an unnamed female child. He then married Anne Parker by whom he had James, another unnamed female child and Nicholas.