The web site author wrote this “Overview” menu page in 2009 with additional information from outside sources, whereas, the prior menu page “In Summary” was written earlier with information mainly from Audrey Mae’s oral tradition. The outside sources and information are noted below in bold print.
This website follows one of the colonial Spencer family’s direct line from the early Founders of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, to the last Spencer children, Edith Anna, John Edward and Audrey Mae, born on the Spencer homestead on Middle Road in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Audrey Mae, born 3-19-1912, was the last Spencer baby born on the Spencer homestead.
Since early colonial Rhode Islanders were each buried on their own land in their own family cemetery, special emphasis is on their burial places. If a descendant knows where their ancestors are buried, the descendant can surmise where their ancestors’ property was at that time in history and vice versus.
Spencer Family Burials in Rhode Island
Spencers in the “New World” aka America
Audrey Mae (née Spencer) MacDonald
Audrey Mae’s, John Edward (“Ed”)’s and Edith Anna’s Family Line:
John (c1638– d. 8-30-1684) and Susannah* (nee Griffin) Spencer (b.5-13-1644 – d.4-12-1719) of Newport, R.I. were Founders and Early Settlers of East Greenwich, R.I. in 1667;
- Buried: “just west of the house” (289 Kenyon Avenue, East Greenwich—original house razed in 1914) “on the bank of Payne’s Pond”
- *Another spelling for Susannah was Susanna
- John Edward (“Ed”) Spencer (b.8-15-1904—d.4-26-1988), Audrey Mae’s older brother, was named after this first John in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Three other ancestor grandfathers also carried the name of John down through the generations.
John (b.4-20-1666–d.1743) and Audrey (nee Green) Spencer (12-27-1667–d.4-17-1733)
- Buried: (unknown to web site author)
- Audrey Mae (née Spencer) MacDonald (3-19-1912—3-11-2007) was named after her great, great, great, great, great, great, great (7 times) grandmother, Audrey (née Green) Spencer, of this generation.
- John and Audrey married 1691/1692 in Kent, East Greenwich, RI (Ancestry.com)
- Audrey’s father: John Greene, Maj. Born August 15th, 1620 in Salisbury, Wiltshire, Eng. c: 15 Aug. 1620 in St. Thomas’s Ch. Salisbury, Wiltshire, Eng
- Audrey’s mother: Ann (Agnes, Annis) Almy. Born February 26, 1627 in South Kilworth, Leicester, England, England c: 26 Feb 27 in South Kilworth, Leicester, England (Ancestry. Com World Tree)
- Ancestry. Com’s Ancestry World Tree has Audrey’s birth date in 10-27-1667
William (b.5-5-1695–d.1758) and Elizabeth (née Rice) Spencer, (b.5-6-1698—d. 1776)
- Married 5-10-1716
- Buried: (unknown to web site author)
William (b.4-4-1723—d. Oct. of 1777) and Mary (née Manchester) (b.12-19-1719—9-8-1784) Spencer, were the first Spencer family on the Spencer homestead on Middle Road.
- Buried: on the west end of “over back” cemetery, located 1,383 feet south of Spencer family historical East Greenwich cemetery No.9, Middle Road, East Greenwich, RI. The “over back” cemetery is on the east side of the adjoining stonewall which connects the Spencer historical East Greenwich cemetery No.9 and the “over back” cemetery.
John (b.2-7-1760—d.9-29-1849) and Huldah (née Johnson) Spencer (b.6-28-1762—d.8-29-1852)
- John was in the American Revolution.
- Buried: Huldah’s gravestone is #1 and John’s gravestone is #2 in AudreyMae (née Spencer) MacDonald’s diagram of the Spencer East Greenwich historical cemetery No.9. John and Huldah are the first of Audrey Mae’s, Edith Anna’s and John Edward’s direct ancestors to be buried in No.9 (Audrey Mae’s records).
- Huldah’s father: John Johnson, born February 14, 1727 in Warwick, Rhode Island (Ancestry.com’s Ancestry World Tree)
- Huldah’s mother: Bethania Goff, born November 28, 1730 in Bristol, USA (Ancestry.com’s Ancestry World Tree)
- Huldah and John married 3-8-1784 in East Greenwich, RI (DAR records)
Richard Anthony (“Deacon”) (b.5-11-1798—d.12-19-1889) and Roby (née Tarbox) Spencer (b.7-15-1798—d.1876)
- Richard was called Deacon Richard because he was Deacon of the Frenchtown Baptist Church for fifty years.
- Buried: Roby’s gravestone is #5 and Richard’s gravestone is #6 in Audrey Mae (née Spencer) MacDonald’s diagram of the Spencer East Greenwich Historical Cemetery #9.
- Richard Anthony(“Deacon”) and Roby were married 4-3-1817 in East Greenwich, RI (DAR records)
- Roby died 12-15-1887 (DAR records)
Richard Anthony (b.9-1-1817—d.5-27-1845) and Ann Almy (née Tarbox) Spencer (b.2-13-1823—d.11-24-1904)
- Richard Anthony died at age 27, leaving one child, Anna Maria (always pronounced Anna Mar-eye-ah).
- Burial: Richard Anthony’s gravestone is #7 in Audrey Mae (née Spencer) MacDonald’s diagram of the Spencer Family East Greenwich Historical Cemetery #9.
- Richard Anthony and Ann married 9-18-1842 in East Greenwich, RI (DAR records)
- Richard Anthony Spencer died in New York City, New York (DAR records)
- Ann Almy died in Norwich, Connecticut (DAR records)
Anna Maria (Mar-eye-ah) (b.5-23-1844—d.9-25-1913) and John Johnson Spencer (b.5-27-1842—d.4-19-1926)
- Audrey Mae spelled Anna Maria’s name Anna Mirah because everyone pronounced the name Maria as Mar-eye-ah at that time in history. If Anna Maria had not married a Spencer, the Spencer name would have ended in this generation as a surname. Audrey Mae always identified with Anna Maria’s ancestral line–the western most row in the Spencer family cemetery–rather than John Johnson’s ancestral line. John Johnson Spencer was in the Civil War.
- Buried: Anna Maria’s gravestone and also John Johnson’s gravestone is #8 in Audrey Mae (née Spencer) MacDonald’s diagram of the Spencer East Greenwich Historical Cemetery #9.
- Edith Anna (b.6-11-1898—d.12-8-1991) (née Spencer) Evarone was named after this grandmother, Anna Maria, and, also, her Vaughn grandmother, Lydia Edith Vaughn (b.7-28-1844—d.4-23-1917), buried in the Vaughn East Greenwich, R.I. Historical Cemetery #7.
- Anna Maria (aka Mirah, Myriah) was born at Versailles, Connecticut. (DAR records)
- Anna Maria and John were married 9-18-1842 at Exeter, RI (DAR records)
- John Johnson Spencer’s parents were Benjamin Spencer and Audra Eleanor Spencer (DAR records)
William J.B. (b.4-11-1878—d.1-12-1969) and Mary Jane (née Vaughn) Spencer (b.1-14-1877—d.2-11-1955)
- Fearful of vandalism in the East Greenwich Historical Cemetery #9, Mary Jane wanted to be buried in a cemetery with perpetual care near their home in Coventry, R.I. Mary Jane was the first of a number of Spencer (and Vaughn) descendents in Lot 29 and 50, Rathbun Cemetery, corner of Washington Street and Knotty Oak Road, Coventry, R.I.
- William’s full name is William Joseph Briggs Spencer. However, William J.B. Spencer and Joseph Briggs are not blood related, as William’s name would suggest. Joseph Briggs was Anna Maria’s stepfather, and he wanted her son to be named after him. He told Anna Maria (pronounced Anna Mar-eye-ah) that if she named her son after him, he would give her fifty dollars ($50.00); in 1878 fifty dollars was a lot of money. She named William after him and she received the money.
- Following the tradition of carrying on family names, William J.B. was named after his great, great, great, great (4 times) grandfather, William, and his great, great, great (3 times) grandfather, William.
- William J.B. and Mary Jane were married 8-4-1897 in East Greenwich, RI (DAR records)
William J.B. and Mary Jane (née Vaughn) Spencer’s three children:
- Edith Anna (b.6-11-1898—12-8-1991)
- John Edward (“Ed”) (b.8-15-1904—4-26-1988)
- Audrey Mae (b.3-19-1912—3-11-2007)
- Burial Places: Edith Anna (née Spencer) Evarone is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California. John Edward Spencer is buried in Lot 29, and Audrey Mae (Spencer) MacDonald is buried in Lot 50, Rathbun Cemetery, corner of Washington Street and Knotty Oak Road, Coventry, along with their parents, William J.B. and Mary Jane (née Vaughn) Spencer, and other Spencer and Vaughn descendents.
Outside Research of Audrey Mae’s, Edith Anna’s and John Edward (“Ed”)’s family line:
With Audrey Mae’s outside research into her family genealogy, she found a copy or printout which listed two Spencer generations prior to the first John Spencer in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Apparently, a genealogist(s) did research on Marilyn Monroe’s ancestry through The New England Historical Genealogical Society (NEHGH). This researcher’s data went back two generations before our ancestor, John (married to Susannah Spencer) Spencer, who was the first John Spencer in East Greenwich, R.I.
References: Flora Clark M/S “T1-02” and “M1-Part 1”
NEHGS “Nexus” April/May 1990, Vol. VII, No.2.
Audrey Mae (née Spencer) MacDonald’s knowledge of her direct line only went back to John and Susannah (née Griffin) Spencer @ 1677 in East Greenwich, R.I. The above paper takes us back two generations and to England. This research takes Audrey Mae’s direct line back to:
- Michael Spencer (b.1611—d.1653) and Isabel (née _________) Spencer (_________d.1674)
Another source gives Isabel’s birth name as Isabel Robbins and gives her date of birth as 1613. More research needed.
- Gerard Spencer (b.1576—d. c1646) and Alice (née Whitbread) Spencer (b. c1580—d.1646). Married: 1600
Recently (2013), this web site author was talking with a couple from Britain. They said in Britain Whitebread is spelled with an e, but pronounced Whitbread with a silent e. Other sources has Alice’s birth name spelled as Alice Whitebread. The surname Whitbread has also been reported as Whitbred.
According the above, John’s father is Michael and his grandfather is Gerard. Different sources gives different data. For instance, some sources claim that Michael is John’s uncle and John inherited his Massachusetts’ land from his uncle Michael. Another source claims that John is the nephew of a John Spencer and John inherited his uncle’s land in Massachusetts when the uncle returned to England. More research needed.
What is definite is that Audrey Mae’s oral tradition only went back to the first John in East Greenwich, R.I. The Yankee ancestors had no interest in carrying on their English ancestry to future generations. The oral tradition told by Audrey Mae (née Spencer) MacDonald began with the East Greenwich, Rhode Island ancestors. Apparently, her ancestors had no interest in recording information or had lost all information about the prior generations in England. However, McPartland’s book The History of East Greenwich, Rhode Island gives the following information: “Among John’s possessions was a Spencer coat-of-arms which indicated that he descended from Sir Robert Spencer of Northampton, England.” More historical research is needed.
Web site Author’s Caveat: Since wives often died in childbirth or at a young age and husbands married again and usually had more children, without further research, we can not be sure that Audrey Mae’s direct matriarchal line before John and Susannah (née Griffin) Spencer is the direct matriarchal line name, Robbins, Whitbread, listed above.
Likewise, if the wife’s first husband died and she married again, she used her currently married name. Unless her birth name was impressive, often times, the birth name was not even mentioned.
In a patriarchal lineage or society, the father’s name was of utmost importance. The mother’s birth name was less so or often thought to be insignificant.
Humorous but significant family story: In the early 1980s, Audrey Mae (née Spencer) MacDonald’s generation (20th century) had the following conversation with one of her daughters while her youngest son looked on. Audrey Mae, a very intelligent, educated woman, stated that her son’s daughter was more of a MacDonald than her daughter’s daughter because her daughter’s daughter didn’t carry on the family name. A long discussion with her feminist daughter couldn’t persuade Audrey Mae to change her perception of this stereotyping. Audrey Mae was perplexed at her daughter’s insistence on the equality of the matriarchal as well as the patriarchal name. All the while, Audrey Mae’s comedic son sat by laughing away and teasing his sister by saying that his daughter was more a MacDonald than her daughter was.