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Inbreeding in Gloucester (Riggs & Haraden)

I’ve known for a long time about the many duplications in my grandfather’s Gloucester ancestry. With the forthcoming publication of an article on the probable English origins of Thomas Riggs of Gloucester (d. 1722), I looked back at my database and realized that in nine different lines my grandfather descends from five (!!!!!) of his children—Mary, Sarah, Ann, Thomas and Andrew. I also descend from two siblings of his wife Mary (Millett) Riggs, for a total of twelve unique descents from her parents, Thomas Millett and Mary Greenoway. Looking further, I found another contemporary Gloucester couple, Edward Haraden and his wife Sarah, from whom I also descend via five siblings—Mary, Edward, Ann, John and Benjamin.

My grandfather was born in 1896 just a couple of miles from the Thomas Riggs house in Annisquam, on the North coast of Cape Ann; his folks had been living and intermarrying in Lanesville, Annisquam, Riverdale, Dogtown, and Wheeler’s Point (all parts of Gloucester, along the north coast of Cape Ann) for 250 years. Asking around, I have heard from only one other person with a set of five siblings in his modern ancestry (in a similar coastal village—Kittery Point, Maine). Does anyone else out there have other examples of this? I wonder whether such things might not be found, in far fewer generations, within the pedigree of a kid in some polygynous patriarchal compound in southern Utah?

In coastal New England, at least, it seems wholesome enough — even picturesque. For a while I’ve been interested in visiting the Thomas Riggs house (pictured below, in a photo from a magazine article, on the house’s website).


I haven’t yet got the chance.

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