The Great Massengill Mystery

by | Oct 2, 2020 | 2 comments

Daniel Massengill came from Whitby, England, Yorkshire. Daniel Massengill was born 1624. Settled in Charles City County, Va., in 1653. His children moved to South Hampton County, Va…This record written by Henry Massengill, Jr., this 10th day of July, 1785.
The Massengills, Massengales and Variants 1472-1931 by Samuel Evans Massengill, M.D., p. 272

Thus reads an historical sketch written by one Hal Massengill, Jr. of Tennessee.  As luck would have it, the Whitby Parish Register is available online through the Internet Archive.  While flipping through the pages looking for 1624, this entry for 1623 caught my eye:  “Danyell Marsingell filius Gilberti Marsingale 27 Feb 1623.”  Then, in 1624, there was this:  “Danyell Marsingell filius Georgi Marsingell 01 Jan 1624.”  Remember, before 1752, the English New Year was counted from Lady Day, March 25.  So both of them were born in 1624. One at the beginning, the other at the end. Just which of them was our Daniel is a much debated topic among family researchers.

A Tale of Two Daniels

Filius Gilberti

Information gleaned from the parish register tell us that Gilbert had six children:

  • Phoebe, 07 Apr 1616
  • Mary, 02 Feb 1617
  • Rebecca, 12 Apr 1620
  • Tobias, 13 Jan 1621
  • Danyell, 27 Feb 1623
  • Ellis, 04 Sep 1631

This Daniel’s mother was named Phoebe.  She died before 26 Dec 1629.  This is the date of her burial.  Ellis’s mother is unknown.

Filius Georgi

George Marsingell married Elizabeth Norrison 19 Nov 1621. They had, at least, ten children.

  • John, 29 Mar 1622
  • Danyell, 01 Jan 1624
  • George, 02 Oct 1625
  • Anthony, 02 Sep 1627 (buried 22 Aug 1654)
  • James, 28 Oct 1629
  • Margaret, 4 Mar 1632 (buried 7 May 1632)
  • Margaret, 14 Jul 1633
  • Elizabeth, 22 Jun 1634 (buried 27 Jun 1634)
  • Robert, 7 Nov 1637
  • Elizabeth, 10 Mar 1639

There were two Elizabeth Marsingales buried in 1648 (18 May and 17 Mar) according to the parish register. I think one of these was Elizabeth Norrison Marsingale and the other her daughter.  There may have been another daughter, Emot, baptized 21 Nov 1647.  George married again, to an Elizabeth Keld before 1653.  With her, he had two daughters Elizabeth (bap. 8 Sep 1653) and Anne (29 Jul 1658).  George wrote his will 22 Dec 1667 and died before 3 Mar 1668.  Daniel is not mentioned in the will, but neither are John and George.

So, which one is the Immigrant?

That’s the $64,000 question.  On 18 Jan 1645, Daniel Morsingell, “aged upon eighteen yeares being now bound out to Sea”, wrote his will. He “having found the unaturall love and kindenes of my brother Tobie Marsingell toward me in not releving me in my wantes….” In this document, he leaves everything to his sister, Marie Collier. He was “much ingaiged” with her and her husband, Abraham, “for relievinge me in my wantes when as my said brother turned me out of his dores….”  Obviously, this was the son of Gilbert.  However, Mary proved this will 27 Jun 1653.

Meanwhile, in Charles City County, Virginia, 5 Dec 1653, Christopher Vaughan was conveying his right to land leased from Dan. Massingall to Francis Farrington for 40 lbs. of tobacco (Virginia County Records by William Armstrong Crozier, p. 30).  Christopher Lawson was the owner of the land in question.

Dr. Massengill maintains that Daniel, son of Gilbert, was the Immigrant.  He says young Daniel “followed the sea for seven or eight years before settling in America.”  Presumably never sending letters or other proof of life to the Colliers.  However, John Bennett Boddie (Southside Virginia Families, Volume 1, p. 326) takes the opposing view.  He emphasizes that the will was proved, thus concluding that Daniel, son of Gilbert, died in England.

One more puzzle piece

On 15 Aug 1648, a 20 year old mariner named Daniel Marsingall “of Horsey Down, Surrey” gave a deposition on behalf of Michael Parke, “Master of the Pelican of London, for a voyage to Barbados begun in April 1647” (The Complete Book of Emigrants: 1607-1660, Peter W. Coldham, Page 237).  Which, if either, this was, I have no idea.  I was interested to discover that a major outbreak of yellow fever began in Barbados during 1647.  It would spread to others parts of the Carribean and linger in Barbodos until 1650.

So, given the evidence, which would you say was the Immigrant and why?

Note:  The Massengills, Massengales and Variants 1472-1931 by Samuel Evans Massengill is available through


  1. John Massingale

    [I think the will of Daniel son of Gilbert is as much a proof that young Daniel planned to never return to England. England of 1645 was not a safe place for a young man.

    • Janet Masingill

      I lean towards the John Bennett Bodie stance. What many do not look at is that in the hoards of Marsingales and variants in Whitby there were only 2 TWO Daniels. The Daniel who is son of Gilberti and Phoebe and sailed to Barbados, and is brother of Mary Marie and Tobie Tobias, and she along with husband A Collyer Collier who proved his will… there is no burial ground and is likely he died in Barbados due to illness hence close to 7 years had passed since he wrote Will and left… and his 1st cousin Daniel born 1 year later also baptized at Whitby Abbey son of George and Elizabeth Norrison, who left Whitby and arrived in VA British America in 1653 to which the majority but not all of families descend from by virtue of male YDNA and autosomal DNA in variant spellings here in US. The Massengill and Variants from Whitby who descend from George the butcher at Marketplace who died 1592 Whitby are not genetically related to the English Marsyngaile family, and are in name only for over 400 years. I have tested at least 60 men and collaborate on over 300 dna tests. Please contact me at for more info. John Massingale I would very much like to speak with you!


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