SHERMAN, Edmund - I30699

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Sherman Family Coat of Arms
Two quite different derivatives for this name, are given. Thomas G. Gentry in his Family Names[1] says it is from the Anglo Saxon Scir mann, scir, meaning a shire, county, district; mann, a man; and its significance a man who superintends; a shireman; an overseer; a governor; a provost. Thomas Townsend Sherman, author of Sherman Genealogy[2], says it comes from the trade or occupation of wool worker, or maker of woolen clothing. The shearer clipped the sheep, and the shearman made the wool into clothing and wag known as clothier, or woolen manufacturer. Since we find among the English progenitors of, this family men of influence and position, attorneys, deputy sheriffs, and the like, we might feel that the first explanation of the name would apply, and since we find that the family, in many ramifications, was identified with the business of cloth manufacture, the latter one could equally be considered. The name was variously written in England more than six hundred years ago, Shearman, Shereman, Sherriman, Shermon, etc.

The early family seat was in County Suffolk, the lineage we are tracing beginning, so far as clear and reliable records are concerned, with Thomas Sherman, born 1420, who lived in Yaxley, Suffolk. Later his descendants lived in Dedham, Essex, where most of them followed the occupation of clothier.[3] Yaxley, also called Yaslee, Jacksley, etc., is a small village or parish in the Hundred of Hartesmere, in the north part of Suffolk. A "hundred" is a sub division of a county. As the families of freeholders made up a town or "tithing," so ten "tithings" composed a super division called a "hundred," as consisting of ten times ten families.

The Yaxley church is an ancient stone building of Norman architecture, with square towers and a churchyard where many of the parishioners are buried. All the
Yaxley Church
gravestones of the Shermans have long since disappeared, except one on the floor of the south aisle of the church, in memory of Barbara Sherman, the widow and second wife of Thomas Sherman, of Yaxley. She died January 18, 1621, and a curious Latin inscription . . . tells of her parentage and of her two sons.[4] Many interesting things about the Sherman family and its early English surroundings are told by the author of the above book, in which the lineage, of the American Shermans is definitely traced to the above mentioned Thomas Sherman, of Diss, Norfolk, and Yaxley, Suffolk. His will, written in Latin, is dated 4 November 1492, less than a month after Christopher Columbus discovered our country.

This family carried arms recorded in Burke's General Armory, which are similar to the coat of arms belonging to early American families, notably that of Honorable Roger Sherman, of Connecticut, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.[5] These are described: Shield: Or, a lion rampant sable between three oak leaves vert. Crest (Yaxley): A sea lion sejeant per pale or and argent, gutte de poix, finned of the Arst. Crest (Dedham): A demi lion rampant sable. Motto: Virtute Mortem Vincera (Conquer death by bravery). The one shown is accredited by Crozier to John Sherman of Watertown, 1660, son of our immigrant.[6]

Several interesting marriages of those early days are those connecting the Shermans with, the families of Garneys of Kenton, and Waller of Wortham, both in Suffolk, and Butter of Dedham, and Clete of Colchester, both in Essex.[7] The arms of some of these old families have been quartered with those borne by some of the later Shermans. The author of Hubbard Thompson Memorial (269) says: "It has been well said that the name of Sherman is a synonym for intellectual power, political honors, glory in war, and' high achievements of constructive statesmanship. The Sherman family bears unquestionably the mark of herditary genius."

Dedham, to which place the early Shermans removed from Yaxley and Diss, is a village and parish in the Hundred of Lexden, in the northern part of County Essex, near the river Stour. It took its name from Robert de Dedham, who held land there, and who died in 1288.[8] "This was antiently a famous clothing Town even as early as King Richard the Second's reign (1377 1399), and the Bay (baize) trade extended into it afterwards. Michale de la Pole, Earle of Suffolk, had here a Fulling Mill about the year 1382."[9] Fleming weavers who came into England to escape religious persecution introduced the arts of certain kinds of weaving "bay" (baize) and "say" (serge) in particular. When Charles Pomeroy Sherman, author of a small treatise on Sherman Genealogy[10], visited Dedham in August, 1904, the buildings formerly occupied by those early weavers were still standing.

The father of our first American ancestor of this name, was Edmund SHERMAN, born about 1548, who married (1) 25 April 1570, at Dedham, Anne PELATTE. She was buried 8 June 1584, and he married (2) 11 September same year, Anne CLERE, daughter of Nicholas Clere, of Colchester, Essex, a cloth manufacturer, alderman, elected member of Parliament 23 March 1576 and again in 1578.[11] When Edmund Sherman died, 1600, he left to his son Edmund, besides certain houses and lands, his "shearman's occupation," and authorized him and his heirs for ever, to "appoint a poor child to be freely taughte by the School. master of the Public Grammar School in Dedham."[12]. He had also given a house and land "unto the Governors of the Public Grammar School in Dedham to be improved for a dwelling house for a school master." When Mr. Charles P. Sherman visited Dedham in 1904, that "dwelling for a school master" was still there, and occupied by the schoolmaster. It was called "Sherman Hall," and had a sun dial on its front wall; was in excellent repair, and situated in the center of the town, on the principal street.

I. Edmund SHERMAN, with whom our American line begins, was born in Dedham about 1572. He married about 1597 Joan MAKIN, daughter of Tobias Makin, of Fingrinshoe.[13] They lived for a while at Ryes, an estate belonging to his father, from whom he inherited lands, property, and the cloth manufactory the "shearman's occupation.."[14]

"He sent his son John to Immanuel College, Cambridge, but being a Puritan, he was so persecuted by the Established Church that he left all, and fled with some townsmen to New. England, where be, could worship according to the dictates of his conscience, taking with him his sons Edmund, John, and Samuel, his daughters Hester and Grace, and John the grandson of his Uncle Henry."[15]

His first wife, Joan, was the mother of several children, dying, it is deduced, soon after the birth of Bezaleel. On 15 May 1611[16], he married Judith ANGIER, who, it is thought, died before 1634, when the family sailed for America.

Of his English life we can find little. Inheriting from his father some responsibilities about the public school, as well as the industry of manufacture, doubtless he was a man of affairs. It is interesting in connection with the school, to know that it was incorporated in Dedham 14 May 1674, by a charter from Queen Elizabeth. That she was influenced somewhat by the warlike propensities of the period, is evidenced by the injunction she laid upon parents at the time, to "furnish their sons with bows, shafts, bracers, and gloves in order to train them to arms."[17] Edmund was living in Colchester, Essex, in 1623, as evident from will of John Angier.[18] They sailed for New England in the ship Elizabetb, which set out from Ipswich, "the last of April, 1634"[19], and arrived at Watertown, Massachusetts, in June. We find him at Wethersfield, Connecticut, in 1635[20], and later at New Haven, where he died. On record there we find: "31d Mo. 1641: An Inventory and Will of Olde Father Shirman was delivered into Court.”[21] The will and inventory can not be found.

A will left by his brother Samuel, clothier of Dedham, England, dated two years later, 14 June 1643, provides legacies to his “loving sister Sherman, Edmond’s widow,” her son John, and her daughters Grace, and Ester Ward.[22]

CHILDREN of Edmund and Joan:(Compiled from the two Sherman Genealogies quoted)

  1. Edmund, baptized in Dedham 23 October 1599; married (1) ????; married (2) as a widower at Bilston, 8 December 1656, Grace Stevens, of Stratford, Essex. He came to New England in 1634 with his father, and was admitted freeman at Watertown, 25 May 1636, where he was selectman in 1636.[23]. He returned to Dedham, England, before his second marriage. Will dated 11 April 1673, was proved 28 May 1673. Had three children, one, a son Edmund, whose tombstone in the churchyard at Dedham bears the arms of Sherman – a lion rampant between three oak leaves.
  2. Ann, baptized in Dedham, 15 September 1601. Mentioned in the wills of John and Ann Anger, 1623 and 1625.
  3. Joan, baptized in Dedham, 13 December 1603. Mentioned in will of Ann Anger, 1625.
  4. Hester, baptized in Dedham, 1 April 1606; married Andrew WARD.
  5. Richard, baptized in Dedham, 16 October 1608; lived in Dedham; married Mary ????, and was buried 27 October 1647.
  6. Bezaleel, whose mother died soon after his birth; baptized 17 September 1611.

CHILDREN of Edmund and Judith:

  1. John, born in Dedham 26 December 1613, baptized there 4 January 1614. Married (1)Mary Lanner, who died 8 September 1644 at Milford, Connecticut. He married (2) Mary Launce, who died 9 March 1710 at Watertown. Cotton Mather says in his Magnalia (1702) that she was the daughter of Lord Darcy who was Earl of Rivers, and that her father was a Puritan gentleman of Cornwall, England, who was murdered in a dispute against the English Episcopacy. Further quotations from Mather, and the author of Sherman Genealogy, C.P. Sherman, give us the following interesting story about Reverend John Sherman. He was educated at Immanuel College, Cambridge, but when his turn came to graduate, he seriously considered the subscriptions required of him, and refused, and went away under the persecuted character of a College Puritan. Came to America with his father and family, 1634, when but twenty years old. At Watertown, Massachusetts, under a tree, he preached his first sermon as an assistant to Mr. Phillips, there being present many other divines who wondered exceedingly to hear a subject so accurately and excellently handled by one that had never performed any such public exercise. He became very prominent in Wethersfield and Milford, where he lived, was magistrate of the Colony 1640, third pastor of the church at Watertown, 1647. Was chosen fellow of Harvard College, lecturer for more than thirty years, mathematician, astronomer, writer, etc. Mather says he “was witty and yet wise, and grave, carrying a majesty in his very countenance; much visited for counsel in weighty cases, and when he delivered his judgment in any matter, there was little or nothing to be spoken by others after him . . . . Such keeness of wit, such soundness of judgment, such fullness of matter, and such vigor of language is rarely seen in old age as was seen in him when he was old.” A tombstone with a lengthy Latin inscription paying him deserved tribute in on his grave at Watertown, where he died 8 August 1685, aged 72. He was the father of four children by his first wife, and ten by his second.
  2. Grace, baptized 18 June 1616, in Dedham. She married John Livermore, and died 14 January 1690, aged 75 years, at Chelmsford, Massachusetts. Mentioned in her Uncle Samuel’s will.
  3. Samuel, baptized 18 June 1616, in Dedham, 12 July 1618. Came to America with his father, when 14 years old. Lived in Wethersfield, Stratford, Stamford, and Fairfield, Connecticut. Married Mary Mitchell; was a leader in New Haven Colony, “conspicuous” member of the church, Assistant, 1662 - 1665.; on committee to defend the Colony against invasions of the Dutch, 1665. His wife Mary was daughter of Matthew and Sarah (Butterfield) Mitchell, and a sister of Jonathan Mitchell, of Cambridge, a fellow of Harvard College. She was baptized 14 October 1621, at South Owram, Halifax, Yorkshire, England. Honorable Samuel Sherman died 5 April 1700, at Fairfield. He is the ancestor of General William Tecumseh Sherman.
  4. A daughter; “youngest daughter” mentioned in will of Samuel Sherman, 1643. She was likely the “Judith Sherman” mentioned in the will of John Anger of Dedham, 19 January 1623, whom he calls the daughter of Edmund Sherman of Colchester, my god-daughter. In the same document he speaks of “my sister Judith, the wife of Edmond Sherman of Colchester.”[24]

Of the above children of Edmund Sherman, five seem to have stayed in England, some, perhaps, dying young. Along with Edmund Sherman, the immigrant, there came to new England at least one brother and one sister, besides the John, grandson of his Uncle Henry Sherman. Of these the brother Richard, baptized 4 September 1577, died in Boston 20 May 1660. The sister, a half-sister, Mary, baptized 20 March 1599, married Andrew Bacon; she was mentioned in her brother Samuel’s will, 1643, in this way: “I give unto my sister Bacon in New England ten pounds to be sent her on her husband in linen cloth and shoes, by my cousin, Edmond Sherman.”[25]

Of the young relative, John Sherman, we learn[26] he was baptized 3 September 1612, at Great Horkesley, near Dedham, and was the son of John Sherman, who died 1616, and who was a grandson of Henry, uncle of our immigrant Edmund. This young John was left fatherless at the age of three; after his mother’s second marriage, to Thomas Rogers, they all came to New England, where at Watertown he was made freeman, 17 May 1637. He held many offices there; appointed captain by the General Court, 11 June 1680; steward of Harvard College 1660; deputy to General Court 1651, 1653, 1663, etc. He married about 1637, Martha, daughter of William Palmer. He died 25 January 1690, at Watertown. Was father of seven children, through whom he was many descendants, one of whom was the illustrious signer of the Declaration of Independence, Honorable Roger Sherman. Of the latter it is written:

The oldest man in the Connecticut delegation (at the Convention which adopted the Articles of Confederation 26 June 1778) was Roger Sherman, born at Newton, Massachusetts, 19 April 1721. The support of the family devolved upon him at the age of twenty, on the death of his father. He was descended from the Shermans and Wallets of Yaxley, Suffolk, England, who came to America in 1634. He was admitted to the bar in 1754, of Litchfield County. Was Deacon in the Congregational Church at New Haven, and Treasurer of Yale College. Was the first Mayor of New Haven, an office he held for life. Was judge of the Superior Court for 23 years; member of the Upper House of State legislature; member of Continental Congress from 1774, except when excluded by law of rotation in office. [27],

Captain John Sherman had a cousin Phillipp, about his own age, who came to New England in 1634. His wife was Sarah Odding. They settled at Roxbury, Massachusetts. In 1638 he was one of the purchasers of Aquidneck, Rhode Island. He died at Portsmouth March 1687. Had thirteen children, and was ancestor of Professor Frank Dempster Sherman, of Columbia University, New York.[28]


II. Hester SHERMAN, born in Dedham, County Essex, England, baptized I April 1606, married, probably about 1629, Andrew WARD, and, came to New England about 1634.

See WARD sketch for the biography and continuation of this family line.

  SOURCE:  The Ancestry & Posterity of Joseph Smith and Emma Hale by Audentia Smith Anderson (1926)

John Adams, the second President of the United States, once remarked that he was more proud of his descent from one hundred sixty years of a line of virtuous, independent New England farmers, than from regal or noble scoundrels from the time of the flood.


  1. (Family Names, Thomas C. Gentry, 106)
  2. (Sherman Genealogy, T. T. Sherman, 1)
  3. (Ibid. 18.)
  4. Ibid. 1.
  5. (Ibid. 16.)
  6. (Crozier's General Armory, 118.)
  7. (Sherman Genealogy, T. T. Sherman, 2.)
  8. (Sherman Genealogy, Charles Pomeroy Sherman, 19Z2, 4.)
  9. (Morant, in History of Essex, printed 176 8.)
  10. (printed 1922)
  11. (T. T. Sherman, 82.)
  12. (Ibid. 105.)
  13. (Boston Transcript, 8 October 1823; Charles P. Sherman, 16.)
  14. (New England Historical and Genealogical Register 5: 283.)
  15. (Charles P.'Shernian, 16, 17.)
  16. (New England Historical and Genealogical Register 50: 414)
  17. (Thomas T. Sherman, 3.)
  18. (New England Historical and Genealogical Register 50: 402.)
  19. (Charles P. Sherman., 17)
  20. (Memorial History of Hartford County 2: 437)
  21. (New Haven Colony Records 1:52.)
  22. (T.T. Sherman, 105-6.)
  23. (Bonds Watertown, 429)
  24. (New England Historical and Genealogical Register 50:402)
  25. (T.T. Sherman, 105)
  26. (C.P. Sherman, 7)
  27. --Connecticut Magazine 8: 277
  28. C. P. Sherman, 9.)