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Who was Robert Corbett ?

People have searched in vain for well over 100 years for the parents of Robert Corbett. Passenger lists have been searched. Histories of the Massachusetts towns of Weymouth, Mendon, Milford, and Bellingham, plus Woodstock, Conn. have been searched. This editor (GLC) has searched in the British Public Records Office in London, England, and the Public Library in Shrewsbury, England. Others have consulted English genealogists. An English index of all the Corbetts known in the 1600's lists several Roberts with their birth dates.

he most likely candidate on the list is Robert, the 10th son of Sir John Corbet of Stoke and Adderly in the county of Salop. Parish records in England show that Sir John and his wife Anne Mainwaring, had 10 sons and 10 daughters. The youngest son, Robert, was born in 1640.

The Family of Corbet/t, Its Life and Times published in two volumes in 1917, and 1920, by A.E.C. (Augusta E. Corbett) has a chapter on the Corbets of Stoke and Adderly. She devoted several pages to Sir John, an ardent Puritan and supporter of Oliver Cromwell. She records that his oldest son, John, was an ardent Royalist. The first Sir John died in 1662, just after the Restoration of King Charles II to the throne. When the second Sir John took possession of his father's estates, he may have encouraged his youngest brother to leave home.

udging by some of his actions in this country, it seems clear that Robert did not come as an indentured servant. He had enough money to buy land. He was able to court and win the hand of the daughter of John Rockwood of Mendon. The Rockwoods were educated people, and had high standing in the community. They would be very interested in the social standing of the man their daughter married. There is no record of the death of Robert's wife Priscilla, but the Rockwoods assumed the responsibility of rearing their grandsons, and they provided sufficient education for John to become a doctor.

ome have wondered if the Robert Corbett who died in Woodstock, was the same who married Priscilla Rockwood in Mendon. A real estate transaction recorded in the Suffolk County records states that John Corbett, son of Robert, who died in Woodstock, and John Rockwood, grandfather of John Corbett, paid off a mortgage owed by Robert. This provides clear primary evidence that Robert of Woodstock was the same as Robert of Mendon. It also establishes that Dr. John Corbett of Bellingham and Elder Daniel Corbett of Bellingham and Milford were half brothers.

here are sources of information about Robert's origins which remain unexplored. The History of Weymouth gives the names of ten men from Weymouth, who served together in the King Philip War in 1675-76. (They are listed on page 2 of this book and include Robert Corbet.) If we could find genealogies of those men, we might find out if any of them came from Stoke or the country of Salop. Then we might find a record that showed that this person came to Weymouth with a group that included Robert. There may be records in England. It is highly unlikely that he came alone. He must have joined with some others to make the journey.

omeday some one may find the answer, or it may be that we will continue to live with a mystery! For now the best that can be said is:

"It is possible, it is even plausible, but it has not been proven, that Robert Corbett was the 10th son of Sir John Corbet of Stoke and Adderly."

We leave it to future generations to do the research.

Personal note by GLC: In 1992, my wife and I had the privilege of visiting with the present Sir John Corbet of Acton Reynald, close to Moreton Corbet, and Stoke. He is a descendant of the Stoke and Adderly Corbets. As we were leaving, he announced that he thought both of us were descended from the first Sir John of Stoke and Adderly. Was it simply a matter of gracious manners, or congeniality of spirit? I do not know.)

Questions ?? contact Gordon at <glcwpc@west.net>



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