Roger1 story in The Burnett Genealogy, by Edgar Albert Burnett, 1941

by Conrad W. Terrill and Nancy Tyrrel Theodore, 4 Feb. 2010

Edgar Albert Burnett, of Lincoln, Nebraska, published in 1941 an account of our Roger1 Terrill in his Burnett family genealogy.A His account appears on the first two pages of his section on the Turrill family (pp. 61-66). It's a very interesting story, but we wonder where the information came from. Mr. Burnett listed some references, which we've checked, and which are not his sources of information for the parts of his story that are important to us. Here we quote his account in its entirety, with the parts of interest highlighted in brown:

. "1. ROGER1 TERRILL, first of the name in America, left London, England, in the ship Hector, with the Davenport-Eaton Company. They probably sailed April 28 or 29, 1637, to avoid the proclamation of April 30, 1637, forbidding any persons to pass to the plantations unless they had taken the oath of Allegiance and Supremacy, and were certified by the minister of their parish as to conformity to the orders and discipline of the Church. The Davenport-Eaton Company were mostly nonconformists, Davenport having been deprived of his church, St. Stephens, Coleman St., London for non-conformity, and knowing that the proclamation was to be issued, the Company slipped away a very short time before April 30, 1637.

. "The company remained in Massachusetts until March 30, 1638, when the whole company started by sea for Quinnipiac (New Haven) which was reached in eighteen days, April 17, 1638.

. "August 31st of the previous year, Mr. Eaton with a part of the company started and explored as far west as New Haven, leaving seven men at the place to hold the land until the arrival of the company. With this company Roger Terrill went to Quinnipiac and remained with them until June 1639, when, on the organization of the Church of New Haven in the barn of Mr. Robert Newman on the 4th day of July 1639, it was decided by the Company that only members of the church should be free burgesses of the Colony and enjoy the rights of planters. Roger Terrill was not a member of the Puritan Church and so with seven others was denied the rights of a free planter.

. "With the Davenport-Eaton Company had come a small company with Peter Prudden as their minister, who did not desire to settle at New Haven and who formed a church about the time of the New Haven Company. This company admitted the eight rejected Church of England men to their company with all the rights of free planters, and with them Roger Terrill went to Wepowang (Milford) where they had purchased land from Ausantawac, chief of the Wepowangs, reaching that place September 2, 1639. Roger Terrill remained in Milford Colony until his death. In July 1644 he was baptised and admitted to full membership in the Milford Church and continued until his death a prominent man in the colony and church. He married about 1639, Abigail Ufford, daughter of Thomas and Isabel Ufford, who was admitted to the Milford Church, November 1644. Major St. S. Turrell says, "Roger Terrill evidently came to New England an unmarried young man, he did not belong as far as can be ascertained to either of the colonies with which he came to America. He was evidently from a good family and had means. He seems to have been a companion of Lord Leigh, son of the Earl of Marlborough who came to Boston in the Hector. Roger Terrill also had a private charter from the government to locate lands in any of the colonies, and it was his charter that was used by the Peter Prudden Company and which gave them the legal right to purchase lands from the Indians." He died in 1682.(a) "

{Footnote (a) reads:}

(a) New Haven Genealogical Magazine, Vol. vii. pp. 1723-4.
Jacobus, Donald Lines, Families of Old Fairfield, Vol. I. p. 624.
Lineage Book of National Society of Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America. Vol. xviii, p. 137.
Roger Terrill referred to by name. ————New Haven Vital Records, Part 1, p. 103.
Records of the Colony of New Haven, 1653-1665, edited by Charles J. Hoadley, p. 202.
New Haven Town Records, 1662-1684, edited by Franklin B. Dexter. p. 245.

If you're interested in what information can be found in these references, click here.

What we'd first like to know is why Dr. Burnett believed that Roger Terrill came to New England on the Hector in 1637. Assuming that this is true, then most of what Burnett has written on his own (which excludes his quotation of what "Major St. S. Turrell" said) logically follows (and we can quibble about certain particulars). In fact, Dr. Burnett has done a good job on his story, assuming the truth of his first line. It might be that his authority for that starting assumption was this "Major St. S. Turrell," who mentioned that "...He [Roger Terrill] seems to have been a companion of Lord Leigh, ..." It's certainly true that Lord Ley came to Boston on the Hector in 1637. Governor John Winthrop mentioned this in his journal. But who was Major St. S. Turrell? (In fact, what, precisely, was his name?) When and where did he live? Did he leave any written works? Turrell was a lot more equivocal than Burnett—he used the words "evidently," "as far as can be ascertained," and "seems." His last line is the most interesting: "Roger Terrill also had a private charter from the government to locate lands in any of the colonies, and it was his charter that was used ..." We'd certainly like to know more about that private charter! Could an actual document exist? Or was it simply mentioned somewhere that Roger1 had such a charter? Or is this some piece of information which was handed down in the family?

Could "Major St. S. Turrell" be a mistake? Could Major (General after 1906) Henry Stuart Turrill have been meant? Possibly, but his beliefs for the origins of Roger1 Terrill were different, as far as we know. We'll be looking into this.

If anyone can tell us more about Major St. S. Turrell, his manuscript(?), or this private charter, we'd be very happy to hear it. Contact Conrad ( ).

By the way, the earliest documented reference to the name "Roger Terrill," in New England history, as far as we know, is the list of Free Planters (and ten others) in Milford, New Haven Colony, dated 29 Nov. 1639. B

Is there any further information in the book that could help provide answers to our key questions?

Edgar Albert Burnett (1865-1941), at the time he published this book (which was the year he died, at age 75), was Chancellor of the University of Nebraska, a position he had held since 1927. Before that, he had been Dean of Agriculture there since 1909, and a professor there since 1899. We could assume that he was a stickler for detail, and that he had been meticulous in tracing his ancestry; but the fact is that he himself was actually not descended from Roger1 Terrill. His book also covers the ancestry of cousins, who were descended from Roger1. His uncle Clinton Julius Burnett (1845-1921) married Frances T. Kenny (1852-1913) in 1876. And Frances's mother, Anna Eliza Turrill (1831-1906), was descended (James7 Turrill, Daniel6, Ebenezer5, James4, Daniel3-2 Terrill, Roger1). Although there is no preface in Burnett's book, there is an Acknowledgments page at the beginning, providing the following (and no other) information:

"To Mr. Gilbert H. Doane of Madison, Wisconsin, for furnishing much additional data regarding colonial ancestors and in tracing other connections.

"To Mrs. Edward Mayer of Chicago, Illinois, for many valuable records.

"To Beatrice Barker of Hartford, Connecticut, for furnishing much valuable data regarding early branches of the family in New England and New York.

"To Mrs. Ella H. Beach, deceased, for valuable records by correspondence before her death, and to her daughter, Mrs. Nell Gearhart of Springfield, Illinois.

"To Mrs. Mary Williams of Watertown, New York, for copies of early family records.

"To Mr. Harry A. Burnett of Detroit, Michigan, for making possible the printing of this genealogy.

"To Mr. R. E. Dale, Lincoln, Nebraska, for valuable assistance given."

It's possible that the paragraphs on Roger1 Terrill were furnished directly as-is to Edgar Albert Burnett, and that he assumed that all of the information was sourced from the given references. It's impossible to say who might have contributed to those paragraphs, and 1941 was much too long ago to hope to learn anything by asking around. Mr. Harry A. Burnett, of Detroit, MI, a first cousin of EAB, was one of those descended from Roger1. A copy of the book residing in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., was donated by Mrs. Edgar A. Burnett and Mrs. Harry A. Burnett, dated 3 July 1942. According to the book itself, Harry Albert Burnett (1878-1941) was in 1941 a director of Motors Metal Manufacturing Company, in Detroit. Among the many civic organizations of which he was a member was the Sons of the American Revolution. His other affiliations (English Speaking Union, Detroit Board of Commerce, Detroit Club, Detroit Boat Club, Detroit Athletic Club, Detroit Golf Club, Country Club of Detroit, and trustee of Westminster Presbyterian Church) indicate to us that he was probably too busy a person to have done much genealogical research himself. But he could have hired one of the other persons mentioned above. Or perhaps his wife was the person in charge for his side of the family.

For now we're hoping that a reader of this article can help solve the mystery.


A. The Burnett Genealogy, by Edgar Albert Burnett, Lincoln, NE (Lincoln, NE: Brown Printing Service, 1941), "supplementing the Burnap-Burnett Genealogy (1925), by Henry Wyckoff Belknap, Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts." (The Burnap-Burnett Genealogy does not discuss the Turrill family.)

B. History of the Colony of New Haven ..., Edward R. Lambert (New Haven: Hitchcock & Stafford, 1838), pp. 89-90.

C. Dr. Edgar Albert Burnett: A Lifetime of Service to the University of Nebraska, from a National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, U. S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service; Section 8, pp. 1-2. (PDF, 7.7 MB)

D. Life magazine, 7 June 1937, pp. 44-47: "The Average College President is Wise, Industrious and 59." (Includes picture of EAB.) (Google books)