Family Group Sheet - George and Martha Potter

Father: George Potter
Born: c1584 in London, England
Married: c1607 in Est. Clerkenwell, Islington, London, England
Died: 1630 at Clerkenwell, Islington

Mother: Martha
Born: c1585 in London, England
Died: unknown


  1. Robert Potter - Christened Jan 17, 1608 at Clerkenwell, St. James, London. He married in about 1630 and again in 1644, but their names are not known. He died in Rhode Island in about 1655.
  2. Elizabeth Potter - Christened Nov 27, 1609 at St. Bride, Fleet Street. She married innkeeper William Baulston. She died April 15, 1683.
  3. Marye Potter - Christened June 17, 1610 at St. Bride, Fleet Street
  4. Martha Potter - Christened Oct 18, 1611 at St. Bride, Fleet Street. She married Thomas Hazard (1609-1679). She died in Portsmouth in c1669.
  5. John Potter - Christened Oct 17, 1613 at St. Bride, Fleet Street. Most likely died in London before 1620.
  6. Rebeckah Potter - Christened Oct 29, 1615 at St. Bride, Fleet Street
  7. William Potter - Christened March 2, 1616 at St. Bride, Fleet Street
  8. George Potter - Christened Dec 9, 1618 at St. Bride, Fleet Street. He married in about 1638, was admitted as an inhabitant of Aquidneck Island in 1638 and signed the Rhode Island Compact in 1639. He died in about September 1640. His widow remarried Nicholas Niles.
  9. John Potter - Christened Dec 26, 1620 at St. Bride, Fleet Street. He died in 1647 in Warwick, Kent. Rhode Island.
  10. Nathaniel Potter - Christened Oct 7, 1622 at St. Bride, Fleet Street. He married Dorothy Wilbore and died there in 1643.

Family Narrative

Unverified genealogies say that George Potter was born in London in 1584 and that he married Martha (some say Martha Potter, daughter of Robert and Elizabeth Potter). Their marriage is estimated to have taken place in early 1607 and in Clerkenwell as their first child was christened there in January of 1608. Clerkenwell, which means "The Clerk's Well" in old English, is a district in the Borough of Islington in Greater London. Around the time that George and Martha were married in Clerkenwell, or shortly after, the area had become a fashionable residential district. Oliver Cromwell and the Duke of Northumberland both had residences here. This doesn't mean that the Potter's were "fashionable", and in fact they may have been dispelled from the place in order to make way for one of those fashionable residences.

All of their remaining children were christened at St. Bride's Church on Fleet Street, suggesting that George and Martha moved to this part of London in 1608 or 1609. St. Bride's Church is considered to be one of the most ancient in London, with worship dating back to the 7th century by the Saxons. The church that the Potter family would have worshiped in was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666. The current building was built in 1672 by Sir Christopher Wren, but was completely gutted during the London Blitzkreig in 1940. Other early colonists also had connections to this church. Eleanor White, daughter of artist John White, was married here to Ananias Dare. Their daughter, Virginia Dare, was the first baby born in the new world, but they were all lost as part of the Roanoke Colony. John Milton, poet author of "Paradise Lost" in 1667 was also a parishioner here.

George and Martha may have, at least for a time lived on St. Botolph's in Bishopsgate in 1614 and on Rosemary Lane in Whitechapel in 1618, now known as "Royal Mint Street" and also around the Shoreditch area of Hackney - all within two miles of St. Bride's Church. Some very interesting documents in the "Sessions of the Peace and Gaol Delivery" read as follows:

16 August, 12 James I [A.D. 1614].
Robert Willey of Halliwell Street, tailor, to give evidence against Elizabeth Hudson, John Baker of Shoreditch, chandler, and Sarah, wife of Gabriel Smith of the same, yeoman; and of Thomas Collyns of Goswell Street, tailor, and the said John Baker for the said Sarah to appear; and of Roland Nicholls of St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, baker, and George Potter of the same, brewer, for the said John Baker to appear.
The said Elizabeth delivered by proclamation.

3 and 5 December, 12 James I [A.D. 1614]
John Baker of Shoreditch, chandler, handed in bail to John Grace and George Potter of the same, yeomen, to keep the peace towards William Williams [Guilliams] of Aldgate, yeoman; John Northopp [Norcoppe], servant to William Spatchurste of St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, chandler, handed in bail to the said William and Christopher Lovelace of Norton Folgate, yeoman, for the like; John Ferne [Farne] of Shoreditch, victualler, handed in bail to the said John Grace and Uriah Lacey of the same, tailor, for the like; Richard Thompson of the same, baker, handed in bail to the said Lacey and Nathaniel Griffen of the same, for the like; Charles Mason of the same, silkweaver, handed over in bail to John Hole, bricklayer, and Geoffrey Stacey, both of the same, for the like; Robert Haley of the same, blacksmith, for the like. All, together with Henry Leaver and Francis Glover of the same, yeomen, indicted for a riot and pledged for fines in June and August, A.D. 1615 (and pp.135, 164 and P.R.B. 1/49).

14 and 15 January, 15 James I [A.D. 1617–18]
Richard Langford of Rosemary Lane and George Potter of the same, brewer, for Henry Bastard of the same, blacksmith, to be of good behaviour; and of Richard Wennam, merchant-tailor, Francis Bastard, blacksmith, and Walter Jones, tailor, all of the same, for Alice, wife of the said Henry, to answer Thomas Reighnoldes and keep the peace.

If this is our same George Potter, it tells us that George was a brewer living in overcrowded parts of London and with some minor problems with the law, or perhaps giving service to those having problems with the law as the notations aren't very clear. He was probably, therefore, of the lower middle-class at best. Being able to confirm if this is the same George Potter is hard to say. All of our George's children were christened at St. Bride's on Fleet Street. A walk from Rosemary Lane to St. Bride's would have been just under 2 miles, with St. Botoph's being slightly closer to St. Bride's being between the two. In fact, the church of "St. Botolph's Without Bishopgate" is located on St. Botolph's Street and very close to Rosemary Lane. However, St. Botolph's church was Anglican and might not have been the proper church for the Potter's. Further research should be done to see if there might have been another church that was closer, or if he might have had some political preference to St. Bride's. Theological political reasons could have been a factor as it was the primary reason that most of his children left for America.

George and Martha had approximately 10 children, one of which died young. We know this only because they had a son, John, in October of 1613 and another son, John, in December of 1620. It was not common to name two children the same name unless the first had died (or they would give the 2nd a middle name to distinguish them), so it is assumed that the first John died young. Some genealogies also include a daughter named Susannah, christened in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire on April 18, 1619. However, it seems clear that this Susanna was the daughter of Robert Potter and Elizabeth Marshall, a couple in Newport Pagnell who had several children there at that same time. So I've removed here from my genealogy. She may, however, have been a cousin as a Susanna Potter of the same approximate age married John Anthony of Portsmouth, where George and Martha's children also lived.

At least five of George and Martha's children immigrated to the new world, perhaps (in part) through connections with John White at St. Brides's. It seems that they first settled in Massachusetts but were dispelled from that place along with Anne Hutchinson - this is an assumption as Hutchinson's group founded Portsmouth. Robert, George, Nathaniel, Elizabeth and Martha were all later found in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Robert and Nathaniel signed the "Compact of Loyalty", the second Portsmouth Compact, 1639. George, Nathaniel and Robert all had land adjoining each other in Porstmouth while sister Elizabeth, who had married an innkeeper named William Baulston, lived nearby. William and Elizabeth would later raise Abel Potter, son of George Potter, after George died unexpectedly in 1640. Martha married Thomas Hazard of Portsmouth and also lived in the area but eventually moved with her son to Kingston, Rhode Island. Robert also left Portsmouth to found the city of Newport along with several others. He was captured, along with other Newport colonists, by men from Massachusetts and imprisoned for heresy for two years before being released. On his return he found that his wife had been killed by Indians. In 1644 Robert was a witness to the deed of voluntary submisstion from the Narragansett people to King Charles.

Although it's unclear what happened to Martha, George is listed as having died at Clerkenwell, Islington, London in 1630, where his first child had been christened 22 years earlier. He was listed as "a poore man" - reconfirming his lower status and a likelihood that is the same brewer from Shoreditch, St. Boloph's and Rosemary Lane.