Where's Robert?

If you've read William Franklin Langworthy's book, or have seen one of the many online genealogies derived from it, you may wonder why Robert Langworthy, the supposed father of Thomas and Joseph Langworthy, doesn't appear among the children of Andrew and Rachel.

William Franklin Langworthy (WFL), relying on statements of elderly descendants, wrote that Robert Langworthy, son of Andrew and Rachel, married Mary Brownell and had the children: Robert (died young), Thomas, Joseph, and Mary (who died at the age of twelve). But as WFL said in 1940, there's no evidence at all that Robert existed, and that remains true today.

In fact the evidence shows that Thomas and Joseph were probably the sons of Andrew Langworthy of Little Compton and his wife Patience Brownell:

  • The vital records of Little Compton, Rhode Island show the birth of Joseph Langworthy, son of Andrew, May 10, 1710 (Arnold V4, p.134). The father could not have been Andrew(1630), who seems to have died around 1690, so it must have been a different, probably younger man whom I'll call Andrew(1675).
  • In a deed dated 1742, Joseph Langworthy of Stonington sold land in Little Compton which he and his brother Thomas had received from their grandfather, Robert Brownell (Bristol Co. Land Records, No. 31, p 283, or WFL p.319). This shows that Joseph and Thomas were brothers, hence Thomas was also the son of Andrew(1675).
  • This same deed also shows that Andrew(1675) must have married a daughter of Robert Brownell. However it wasn't Mary: Mary Brownell actually married William Congdon in Little Compton, RI, March 3, 1693 (Arnold, V4, p38); he outlived her and later married her sister, Margaret Brownell.
  • Robert Brownell had daughters Mary, Margaret, Patience and Ann. As we've seen, Mary and Margaret married William Congdon, which leaves Patience and Ann as candidates for Andrew(1675)'s wife.
  • Andrew(1675) died around 1720, leaving his widow with several children. She married John Sanford, a widower, who then moved the family to Stonington, CT. He seems to have been a good fellow because there are many Sanford Langworthys among the descendants of Joseph and Thomas.
  • The vital records of Little Compton show that John Sanford married Patience Langworthy Oct 9, 1722 (Arnold, V4, p.38), and the Stonington Land Records show a deed by John Sanford and his wife Patience, witnessed by Thomas Langworthy (Stonington Land Records, V4, p.110).

In summary:

  • Joseph and Thomas Langworthy were the sons of Andrew(1675), and their mother was Patience Brownell. (You can find another detailed discussion with the same conclusions in The American Genealogist, V29, p.22 and V35, p109.)
  • There is no reason to assume that Andrew(1630) had a son named Robert, because no Robert Langworthy appears in Rhode Island records until much later. The use of that name in later generations probably derives from Robert Brownell, the grandfather who left property to Thomas and Joseph.

I should note that WFL does assign a son named Andrew to Andrew(1630), but claims that he died at the fort in Newport in 1739. As will be seen in the discussion of immigrants before 1750:

  • The records show that an Andrew Langworthy was among those at the fort in Newport who contracted smallpox in 1739. The mortality rate seems to have been around 25%, and Andrew is not one of those said to have died.
  • There were several Andrew Langworthys at large in Newport during the years 1730 - 1740, and the fellow who appears at the fort was probably one of the 'others'.

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