A CHIPMAN GENEALOGY 1970 (pull the plug)

Chipman III, John Hale.  (1970).  A Chipman Genealogy circa 1583-1969 Beginning With John Chipman (1620-1708), – First Of That Surname To Arrive In The Massachusetts Bay Colony – And His Twelve Successive Generations, Today In Alaska, Australia, Canada, And The United States compiled by John Hale Chipman III (#683).  Norwell, Massachusetts:  Chipman historics.

White, Elizabeth Pearson; Coles, Edwin Wagner.  (2003).  Who Were The Chipmans Of Delaware And Maryland.  “Mayflower Descendant,” Winter 2003, Vol. 52, No. 1, pp. 19-38; Summer 2003, Vol. 52, No. 2, pp. 111-118.  Boston:  Massachusetts Society Of Mayflower Descendants (state chapter of General Society of Mayflower Descendants).

According to White and Coles:

“For 150 years the relationship among the various Chipman families of Delaware and Maryland have been misstated and misunderstood.” (p. 19)   And on p. 35, footnote 156, they term A Chipman Genealogy “defective.”  

The article takes these families to the 5th generation from the pilgrim John Howland, with a listing of their children as the 6th generation.  After that, you’re on your own.


I’ve heard from Chipman descendants who are disappointed that the biographies of their ancestors in A Chipman Genealogy are unacceptable.  The nucleus of this book was based on obsolete research done up to 1920, especially by Alberto Lee Chipman.  Only 500 were printed.  Some larger genealogical libraries have copies.  Mine is a little worse for wear.

A Chipman Genealogy was published by a vanity press—a publisher you pay to print anything you want.  The author paid a printing company X dollars for 500 books, which he sold.  He also sold a reproduction of a coat of arms, and a cast replica of a spoon allegedly found in a building that once was a tavern owned by a Chipman. 

Was his text approved by the Mayflower Society?  No.   Are there genuine Mayflower lines in the book?  Absolutely, although you might not recognize them.  Undocumented family histories like A Chipman Genealogy ARE UNACCEPTABLE proof on a lineage society application.  When a line is disproved, lineage societies require subsequent applicants to prove the line again with satisfactory evidence.  Ordinarily, that will be impossible because the line is invalid.  

Many biographies in A Chipman Genealogy cite no evidence at all, and the author didn’t demand any.  Some errors resulted from mistakenly identifying individuals with the same, often common, given name in two different locations as the same person, without any supporting evidence.  Other errors, like giving a Chipman an exact date of death when he really died decades later, or the same children as another Chipman, are more difficult to understand.

In a letter dated January 15, 1967 (see below), the author, John Hale Chipman III wrote:

“If you do not have documentary evidence of facts and dates, but they are generally accepted, will you list them just the same, putting a ? mark side of each.” 

The ? marks didn’t make it into A Chipman Genealogy .  There’s page after page without any documentation.  This stuff is mixed in with the few biographies that cite a will, deed, military or bible record.  The author plugged lines in anywhere and everywhere.

Eugene Aubrey Stratton was burned, as he wrote in 1986:

“There have been several family histories of the Chipman family, a recent one being John Hale Chipman, A Chipman Genealogy (Norwell, Mass., 1970), which, though not adequately documented, is generally good.”  [Plymouth Colony, p. 263.]

I have found Stratton’s Applied Genealogy useful for persons with British colonial ancestry.  Contemporary opinion of A Chipman Genealogy disagrees with Stratton’s assessment.  In my view, A Chipman Genealogy is either a masterpiece of dissembling and/or incompetence.  It took more than 20 years to correct its account of the Chipman family of the Southern States.

Are these mistakes common?  Absolutely.  It happens all the time. 


Here’s a flyer John Hale Chipman III sent out:


Direct your attention to the upper left corner, which has a list of organizations of which the author was a member.  There are nine.  Looks impressive, doesn’t it?

But of those nine, only three are actual lineage societies:  Mass. Society Mayflower Descendants; Sons of the Revolution (like SAR, only your ancestor has to be a soldier, not just a patriot); and The Pilgrim John Howland Society (if you’re a member of Mayflower Society through Hope Howland, you can waltz into this).

The first society listed, the Society of Genealogists, London (now known as the Society of Genealogists), is one of the six that are open to anyone with a checkbook.  Being a “member,” as opposed to a “Fellow”, has nothing to do with the qualifications or expertise of the genealogist.  It’s a charitable organization promoting family history research in the UK.  But in the mind of the average reader it sounds rather like the College of Arms—a fact not lost on John Hale Chipman III.  Of course, he didn’t claim his efforts had been endorsed by the Society of Genealogists. 

So were those who purchased A Chipman Genealogy cheated?  Actually, no, though John Hale Chipman III could not have forseen it.  Only 500 copies of A Chipman Genealogy were printed Often worthless in the early generations, it’s the only Chipman genealogy containing 20th century descendants to the late 1960s, as well as many 19th century descendants not covered in earlier books by Alberto Lee Chipman.  A Chipman Genealogy, originally priced at $25.00 at its publication in 1970, now sells for hundreds of dollars to collectors.

The Society of Genealogists is, however, a worthwhile organization if you’re into British research:


General Society of Mayflower Descendants operates a website at:


~ by Jeffrey Thomas Chipman on August 13, 2011.

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