The Pillsbury Family
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From Pillsbury Grange in Derbyshire, to the Colonies, to California and beyond
The name, with many variations, first appears in print in the Dooms Day Book.  Families bearing the name lived in the Derbyshire - Stratford area around 'Pillsbury Grange,' the castle or fortress which has long been simply a pile of stones.  

All known American Pillsburys are descended from William Pillsbury, whose exact descent is still being researched. He settled first in the south of Boston, married Dorothy Crosby, and later relocated to Newburyport, a small town to the north of Boston closer to Gloucester.  Descendants married into other Puritan families so our family lines are dense with New England heritage.  

In the late 1800's, along with so many other Puritan families in New England, two descendants of William and Dorothy, Emily Getchell and David Pillsbury, wrote, with cooperation of other family members, including our own, a genealogy.  It is now online and can be accessed here.  The line specific to the ancestors of my grandfather, Arthur C. Pillsbury, are linked here.  

Other family lines, with other surnames, will have additional websites.  

During the times our ancestors lived many things laid beyond the grasp of science and understanding. Among these was included the issue of the predators who dwell among us bearing human faces.  Psychopaths appear in all known human lines bringing with them death and devastation.  In this genealogy these individuals, when identified, are denoted with their names written in RED.  I have denoted this process, integrated into genealogy, as the Morgan Principle.  See link for explanation.  
Pillsbury Family Lineage
The Pillsbury family: being a history of William and Dorothy Pillsbury (or Pilsbery) of Newbury in New England, and their descendants to the eleventh generation  
Authors -  Pilsbury, David B. (David Brainard), 1839-1886; Getchell, Emily A  Publisher: Everett, Mass., Massachusetts publishing company, 1898
Editable Version appears on Open Library  Source:
I include the first, introductory parts of the book on this site directly. Here, we extend the genealogy, adding to it with generations and more information. 
 Preface, History in England, and The Old Homestead
Lineage from Moses, 2nd Generation through Harlin Henry
Arthur C. Pillsbury Forward
"Though the beginning was small, yet the latter end should greatly increase." Jor.




William and Dorothy Pillsbury (or Pilsbery) 
of Newbury in New England, 

And Their Descendants to the Eleventh Generation. 

Compiled by 



Massachusetts Publishing Company. 


Copyrighted: 1891
By Emily A. Gctchell, . 
Newburyport , Mass. 


As long ago as 1866 the present compiler of the Pillsbury Genealogy became interested in tracing her line of maternal ancestors, and all items of family history which came in her way were carefully preserved . 

In the summer of 1879 occurred one of the earliest of those family reunions which have since become so popular throughout New England, that of the Emery family of Newbury ; thenceforth it became a darling plan to have a similar gathering of the Pillsburys. 

The genealogy had grown but slowly in these years, but in the summer of 1881, through the medium of a mutual friend, also a member of the family, the acquaintance of Mr. David B. Pilsbury, of Reading, was made. 

This gentleman had been at work for two or three years, as time and means permitted, on a history of the family, and the two would-be annalists at once joined forces. Failing health and strength in the winter of 1886 compelled Mr. Pilsbury to give up his labors and leave the genealogy to be finished by his coadjutor. He died in the spring of 1886, and it seemed more than ever desirable to have a reunion of members of the Pillsbury family and endeavor to interest them as a whole in the carrying out of the work so well begun. In September, 1888, this was accomplished, and the plan of completing and publishing the genealogy unanimously adopted. 

Nearly one-third of the history was finished before Mr. Pilsbury's death. His fellow worker had been unable to discuss with him many points connected with his researches, and of the sources of much of his information she was uncertain. There were possible errors, omissions and perhaps misstatements, but all that could be done was to let them pass and print the record as it stood. 

The genealogy is far from complete. Perhaps some one in the next generation will take it in hand and issue an improved and enlarged edition. Many families are known to exist in the East and West whom it has been impossible to reach. Of many in the earlier generation no record could be found ; they had died and left no memory behind them. 

Others in the later, through ignorance or indifference, perhaps both, persistently ignored all enquiries as to their ancestry, however courteously put. Perhaps like the immortal Topsy, they grew spontaneously. That there are errors of omission and commission in the present work is not denied ; a genealogy or town history free from them is yet to be written. The writer only begs the indulgence of her readers. 

No one who has not attempted to compile a family history can form any idea of the time, patience, perseverance and pluck which goes into the carrying out of the work, and of the thought and pains- taking, for which no money return can ever compensate. 


The genealogist who loves his task, undertakes it not altogether for filthy lucre's sake, though 

" Should requital come, ' Twill be like all good things, acceptable." 

The compiler returns thanks to all friends who have assisted in the work with purse or suggestions drawn from personal experience, and to those who have contributed by letter or otherwise, any in- formation. 

Not the least among the rewards for labor done, has been the acquaintance of kindred wanderers down the corridors of by-gone days. 

P1LLSBURY PLACE, Newburyport, 1898. 


The method employed in preparing this genealogy is that followed by the New England Historic-Genealogical Society. William Pillsbury is the first generation, his children the second, grandchildren the third, great-grandchildren the fourth, and so on. They are numbered in order on the left hand of the page, and the family of each son and daughter, when the record of that son or daughter is had, will be found under the number they have in the margin. These numbers refer forward and back. Names and dates are given as found on record or received in letters. All towns are in Massachusetts when not otherwise indicated. b. signifies born; bapt., baptized; m., married, d., died ; unm., unmarried. 

Persons inheriting the Pillsbury name in right of birth have an index of their own. The figures attached to each Christian name denote the page on which that name occurs, sometimes more than once. 

Persons bearing other names than Pillsbury have a distinct index, in which the figures attached to the surname denote the page on which the individual may be found. Children of a mother born Pillsbury, and father of another name, have neither number nor page, but must be sought through the Christian name of the mother or surname of the father. 

It was the intention to have the history end with the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of William Pillsbury in New England, which was celebrated 3 Sept. 1891, and in the main this rule has been adhered to. The publication of the history having been deferred longer than was at first expected, it has allowed the entrance of a number of deaths, a few marriages and births, chiefly those making the eleventh generation of descendants. 


The surnames (or sire-naines) of the first emigrants to New England, were derived from various sources. Those considered most ancient and respectable were derived from places, cities and towns as in almost every case they existed in England long before the use of surnames. 

In the subsidy rolls in the Record office, London, bearing date of 1333, we find the following, showing from the very few early rolls how family names originated : ** Edward IV. commanded that each individual should take upon himself a separate surname either of his trade or faculty or some quality of his body or mind or of the place where he dwelt, so that every one might be distinguished from the other. ** 

Pilsbury is the union of two words * * pile ' ' or * * peel ' ' , and "burgh" or '* borough.*' Lower, in his *' Patronymica  Brittannica, * ' thus defines them : 

** Burgh^ a component syllable in many local surnames. It is the Anglo Saxon * burh, ' * bureh, ' etc., a word com- mon to most German dialects. Its meaning appears to be that which Richardson assigns, viz.: * A place of defence or security. ' The word occurs very largely in local nomenclature as a prefix or termination, sometimes in the middle of a name, and in variously modified fonns, as * brough, ' * berry, ' *bury, ' * barrow, ' etc.'* 

'*A7^, or Peely a fortified farmhouse, built on the border for securing the inhabitants and their cattle in moss-trooping times.*' 

In the valley of the Dove, one of the loveliest spots in England, on the boundary between Derbyshire and Staffordshire, one hundred and fifty miles north of London, and between thirty and forty southeast of Liverpool, nestles the little hamlet of Pilsbury or Pilsbury Grange ; a cluster of grey stone buildings embowered in shrubbery and lofty trees. It is a portion of the sevenhundred acres owned by the Duke of Devonshire, whose eldest son takes his title, Lord Hartington, from the parish in which Pilsbury is situated. Rev. Mr. Fylde, vicar of Hartington, states that ^* Pilsbury formerly belonged to Merivale Abbey in Warwickshire, a foundation of Cistercian monks. ' Grange is a title always applied to a farmstead belonging to a religious community. 

" A favorite manner by which the churchmen peopled the patrimony of their convents, was by conferring small portions of the Abbey lands upon vassals and their heirs held for a small quitrent. These were called y<?i*j, and the "possessors /euars. 

The residence of these church vassals was usually in a small village or hamlet, where for the sake of mutual aid and protection some thirty or forty families dwelt together. Their habitations were not less primitive than their agriculture. In each small village or town were several small towers, having battlements projecting over the side walls, and usually au advanced angle or two with shot holes for flanking the doorway, which was always defended by a strong door of oak studded with nails, and often by an exterior grated door of iron. 

These small peel-houses were ordinarily inhabited by the principal farmers and their families, but upon the alarm of approaching danger, the whole inhabitants thronged from their own miserable cottages which were situated around, to garrison these points of defense." 

[See Sir Walter Scott's romance of "The Monastery." Vol. i. 
Chap. I.] 

This was in all probability the origin of the little hamlet on the banks of the Dove. Its inhabitants took their patronymic from the stronghold which sheltered them : * ^Thomas of the Peel-house ; William of the Peel-house ; Richard of the Peel-house, etc. *' 

With the transmutation of time and circumstance the surname, or **sirename, '' suffered a change into *Teels- bury ; Peelsborough ; Pilles burie.'' Its bearers, with the Reformation and dawning of a better civilization, from church vassals became their own masters and persons of substance. Yeomen in the beginning, without armorial bearings, they yet intermarried with more fortunate families, and later on must have been numbered among the gentry. 

When Pilsbury Grange was visited in August, 1897, by the president of the Pillsbury family association, one of the occupants of the farmstead in showing hhn over the premises, pointed out a pile of moss grown stones on the top of a little elevation a short distance from the building, saying that it was a tradition of the neighborhood that these were the remains of Pilsbury castle. It is more likely that the fragments belonged to the old Peel-house of moss trooping days. 

No family bearing the name of Pilsbury has resided in the Grange or its neighborhood in the memory of the oldest inhabitant of the region. They seem to have gone into the adjoining county of Stafford, and are also found in Hertfordshire and Essex. 

The Essex family bear arms which are to be found in Burke's Greater Armoury, and spell their name Pilborough or Pillesborough. 

In the parish of Hartington and the adjoining parish of Leek, Staffordshire, the other side of the river Dove, the name is now usually spelled Spilsbury, a corruption of as early a date as 1600. 

Joshua Coffin, the historian of Newbury, Mass., in that part of his volume devoted to the genealogy of the first settlers of the town, makes this statement regarding William Pillsbury, or Peelsbury as it is spelled in Rawson's deed, who became a resident of Newbury sixteen years after its settlement: '*He came, tradition says, from Staffordshire.'' It would be deeply interesting to know whence the tradition was derived. 

In the year 1891 the present compiler obtained through an agent in England copies of a collection of Pillsbury wills which had been discovered among the archives of the Consistory Court of Coventry and Lichfield. The testators were all residents of the parish of Leek, North Staffordshire. The oldest of these documents bears date of 1544, and the name William Pilsbury very frequently occurs all through them, as testator, legatee, witness or executor. The full text of these wills may be found with notes and comments in Vol. 31, Essex Institute Historical Collections, published in Salem, Mass., 1895. Two wills are here printed. 

** In the name of god Amen the xiiiith daie of Julie Ano Dni 1622 I Thomas Pilsburie of Leek sicke in bodie but whole in mynd god be praysed therefor knowinge the certenty of death and the uncerteuty of the daye make this my last will and testament in man^ and forme 


followinge ffirst I Bequeth my soule to almightie god my Creator and maker and to Jesus Christe his onelie sonne my Redimer and saviour and my bodie to be buryed in the churchyard of the p'yshe Church of Leek Itm ffirst I giue & bequet unto thomas Pilsburye my sonne XXs Itm I giue unto Robt Pilsburye my sonne XXs Itm I giue unto John Pilsburie my sonne XXs Itm I guie unto Willm Pilsburye my Sonne XXs I giue unto Margarett Pilsbury my daughter XXs tm the rest of all my goods both movable and unmoveable I giue and bequeth unto Elizabeth my wiffe ffor and towards the Education and bringinge up my Children Itm my will is that all my debts Legacies and funerall expences shall be first taken up of the whole of my goods. 

Itm I ordayne and make my sole executrixe Elizabeth my wif hopinge she will see this my p'nte last will and testament p'form accordiuge to the truste I repose in her these being witnesses to the execution of this my Last and Testamte theise beinge witness I say to the same Ralphe Toft of Leek John Toft of the milnestreate Richard Toft and Peter menall. 

Consistory Court of Coventry and Lichfield. Proved 25 July 1622. 
Amount of inventory, ^XIX, XXs. 

In the name of god Amen the Vth day of Aprill in the ffiftent yere of the Raigne of our Soueraigne lord Charles by the grace of god of england Scotland ff ranee and Ireland Kinge Defender of the ffaith ets I William Pils ... of Heaton in the Countie of Staff Husbandman sicke in bodey but of good and perfect remembrance praise be to god therefore, doe ordaine and make this my last will and Testament in man' & forme ffollowinge ffirst I giue & bequet my soule to Almighty god that gave it & my bodey to the earth from whence it came to be buried in Leeke Church yarde in sure and certaine hope of resurrection through Jesus Christe my Saviour Imx'mis I giue unto William Pilsberrie my eldest soone twelve pence for his Chiles part It I giue unto Robert Pilsberie my soone ffortie Shiliuges for his Chiles part It I giue unto Edward Pilsberie my sonne ffortie Shillinges for his Chiles part. It I giue unto John Pilsberie my soone ffortie Shilinges for his Chiles part It i giue unto Sarah Plsberie my Daughter fore pounds for her chiles part After my debtss discharged and finerale expen . . . and will proued i giue unto John Clooes and William Plant my executors all my house goodes and landes all the overpluche of my goodes i giue unto the three of my children to be devided amongth them in equale portiones to p* forme and make this my last will and testament m maner & forme aforesd in witness whereof I have hereunto put my hand and seale in p'sents of William Padmore, William Plante. — Executed by mark. — 

Consistory Court of Coventry and Lichfield. Proved 3 Sept. 1640. 

Amount of inventory, £5- 

Attention is especially called to the above will. The testator is William Pilsbury. His eldest son whom he cuts off with the traditional shilling is named William Pilsbury. The will is proved 3 Sept. 1640. It is a curious coincidence that nine months later, i June 1641, one William Pillsbiiry should be present before a New England court of justice charged with a misdemeanor ; could the culprit have been identical with the eldest son of the Staffordshire husbandman? 

John Sleigh, barrister of the Inner Temple, London, made a history of the Ancient Parish of Leek. He had access to the Harleian and Cottonian manuscripts in the British Museum, and the deed-box of the Duke of Westminster. He gives long pedigrees of the ** county families'' living in Leek parish, with their coats of arms. 

Among them were the Davenports. ** Ralph Davenport, of Tettes worth, buried at Leek, 1585, had a daughter Margaret, who married R. Pilsbury. Ralph Davenport, son of Richard Davenport, of Tettesworth, will proved 1616, had a daughter Margaret, who married 
Edmund Pillsbury. " 

Another of the county families was the Washington. Their arms are identical with those of the ^* Father of his couutry." From the marriage register preserved at St. Edward's church, «Leek, we learn that ^^29 Sept. 1634, Benjamin Pillsburye married Anne Washington. 15 March 1636, John Pillsbury married Alice Washington. " 

Other Pillsbury items are to be found in Sleigh's history: ^ * William Bateman de Pilsbury, gent., under- sheriff to Henry Cavendish, Esq., 1580, obiit 1616, wife Joanna. John Pilsburye, of Roache Grange, yeoman, made trustee of a chapel by Ralph Bagenall, knight. (This chapel built in 1562, is still standing in the village of Meerbrook, a few miles from Leek.) Roache Grange is a farm below the Roaches, four miles from Leek. In the 14th year of James L Edward Hollinshead 

V, (1616) William Pillsbury, action for ejectment from a messuage, lands, etc., in Tettesworth ; Exchequer of Pleas, index. In the 37th year of Henry VIII, one Pysebury paid 16 shillings subsidy on lands. In the first year of Edward 

VI, one Pyllesbury paid 20 shillings on lands. In some old deeds the name appears as Pyllysburye. On a deed 31 March 1597 appears the name Robert Pillesburie. 19 July 1605 Lady Awdley granted tithes to Robert Pillsburie. The church record says under date of 23 March 1783, Francis Pilsbury buried, said to be 102." In these old records and the wills previously cited, together with those existing in New England, the family name is found spelled in seventeen different ways. Controversy as to the correct number of L*s in the first syllable is plainly absurd. 

Several members of the Pillsbury family have visited the Grange within the past few years. One gentleman, who with his daughter made a special journey thither from London in Sept. 1894, thus writes : 

'*We first saw the Grange from the heights; its two grey three storied farmhouses and stone out buildings embowered in lofty trees made a charming picture. The Grange is at the eastern side of a high grove, and on the side of a high hill in a narrow valley. The place is one of surpassing beauty with its ancient heavily- walled gardens and encircling groves. There was an old sundial in the yard. 

** I remember those gardens of the Grange with a sense of translation to a distant past, though they did not differ essentially from other gardens in the neighborhood. We had ample opportunity for observation as we went along the lanes opening barred gates every few rods, for the Grange is half a mile from the highway." 

Whether the yeoman who came to the new world with the last of the great English emigration, 1 640-1, before the Civil War, was from Leek or Hartington, is a problem which seems little likely of solution, alas ! 

The contrast between the hills and breezy moors of Staffordshire, and the sandy shores, low-lying marshes and pine woods of Massachusetts Bay, must have been very great, and imagination asks if the heart of the emigrant never failed or was weary for a sight of the old family landscape. 

Lineage      First Generation - William Pillsbury     
Second Generation to Harlin Henry Generation          Arthur C. Pillsbury - Present Generation