Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

John Pell's Sister-in-Law, Bathsua Makin

For many years scholars and genealogists believed that Thomas Pell, often referred to as First Lord of the Manor of Pelham, had a sister named Bathsua. A few years ago Frances Teague authored a book about Bathsua entitled "Bathsua Makin, Woman of Learning" (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press 1998). In that book Teague notes that the lives of Thomas and John Pell, are "remarkably well-documented". Teague lamented the lack of such documentation regarding Bathsua, but completed a masterful job of piecing together her life and presenting it in the wonderful book.

Bathsua Makin was first mis-identified as the sister of John Pell and Thomas Pell on the basis of a letter that she wrote to John Pell, probably in 1653. The letter read:

"Most learned Brother, I pray send me a few lines of the position of the late Comet, out of the three papers you showed me, that were sent you from beyond the sea, and your observation if you please: if it shall be too much trouble for you to transcribe of these papers, if you send them to me, I wil write it out and return your papers very safe.

Your loving sister
Bathsua Makin.

I send you some raisins, which are the best breakfast you can eat, if you spit out the stones.
January 23"

On its face, the letter suggested that Bathsua Makin was John Pell's sister. However, it appears that the term "sister" applied both to sisters and sisters-in-law in 17th century England. Teague pieced together old papers to establish that Bathsua Makin was the sister of John Pell's wife, Ithamaria Reginald Pell.

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