Edmund Rice (1594-1663)

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Edmund Rice was born circa 1594 in Sudbury, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom and died 3 May 1663 in Marlborough, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States of unspecified causes. He married Thomasine Frost (1600-1654) 15 October 1618 at St Mary's in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom. He married Mercy Hurd (1616-1693) 1 March 1655 in Sudbury, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States.

Deacon Edmund Rice was a prominent early New England pilgrim, who married twice and left a very numerous posterity in America including many historical figures and celebrities.

In about 1638 or 1639 he left England with much of his family and settled in Sudbury, Massachusetts (named after the Suffolk town), "a plantation close near unto Concord." Their homestead remained in the family for many generations.

Vital statistics


Edmund Rice homesite marker located in Wayland (formerly East Sudbury), Massachusetts

  • Parentage and ancestry is in dispute, and no valid records have been found from Stanstead and Sudbury parishes in Suffolk, England. (See also William Henry ap Rice (1522-1588).)
  • 1594 : Birth in England - (based on age recorded in deposition taken at Cambridge Court in 1656).
  • 1618-Oct-15 : 1st Marriage, to Thomasine Frost (1600-1654) at Bury St. Edmunds in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, England - (Church Records)
  • 1638 : Immigration to New England
  • 1639 : Recorded in the Sudbury 1st Land Division in Massachusetts
  • 1644 : Made Selectman for Sudbury in 1644 and subsequent years.
  • 1648 : Made Deacon of the Church for Sudbury
  • 1655-Mar-01 : 2nd Marriage to Mercie, Widow of Thomas Brigham, in Sudbury, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Colony
  • 1660 : Move to New Plantation - Marlboro or Marlborough
  • 1663-May-03 : Death at Marlboro Plantation, Middlesex Co, Massachusetts Colony. Buried at Sudbury.


Knowing the names of Edmund Rice's children at Sudbury, family historians have traced his family back to England using church baptismal records for his children and, eventually, to his marriage to Thomasine Frost on 15 October 1618 at Bury St. Edmunds. However, they have found no record of his baptism or any other record that names his parents.

Born about 1594 in Barkhamstead, Hertfordshire, in England. He came to America with his wife and at least 7 of his children and settled in Sudbury, where he first appears in their records with the 1st Land Division of 1639.


Edmund Rice Homestead built about 1643 by Rice in saltbox style by the spring feeding the Sudbury River near the Old Connecticut Path in southeastern Sudbury (now Wayland). It stayed in the Rice family many generations until it burned down sometime around 1912. The house was located at 42.344897°N 71.3666763°W off present-day Charena Rd. in Wayland.

His residence was on the east side of the Sudbury River in a subdivision now called Wayland.

In 1656 Edmund filed with 12 others a petition for the creation of a new plantation. The petition was approved in 1660, and Edmund relocated there. This home was located in the westerly part of town on the Old County Road leading from Marlboro to Northboro and a short distance from the Old Williams Tavern.

His first wife, Tamazine Frost, died at Sudbury at Jun 13, 1654. The death record is the only record that mentions her by name.

Edmund marries his second wife Mercie, Widow of Thomas Brigham, at Sudbury in 1655. After Edmund's death Mercie will marry again to William Hunt of Marlboro in 1664. Tradition says her maiden name was Hurd.


Signature of Edmund Rice

As yeomen farmers Edmund Rice and the other early settlers at Sudbury were well prepared for the tasks of forming and governing a new community. As yeomen they had assumed both personal and community responsibilities back in England. As Protestant churchmen they had been encouraged to read and write so that they could study and understand their Bible. Although not of the noble class, they had shared many community and church responsibilities in their former communities in England.

Edmund Rice was one of the prominent leaders of his community at both Sudbury and Marlborough. In his Pulitzer Prize winning book, Puritan Village, The formation of a New England Town, Sumner Chilton Powell sums up the high regard that his fellow citizens had for Edmund: "Not only did Rice become the largest individual landholder in Sudbury, but he represented his new town in the Massachusetts legislature for five years and devoted at least eleven of his last fifteen years to serving as selectman and judge of small causes." and "Two generations of Sudbury men selected Edmund Rice repeatedly as one of their leaders, with the full realization that they were ignoring men of far more English government experience who had come with him." If your ancestry goes back to Sudbury, be sure to read Powell's superb account of the development of this New England town in the mid 17th century.

Parentage of Edmund Rice


The Edmund Rice Memorial designed by Arthur Wallace Rice (1869-1938) was erected 29 August 1914 by Edmund's descendants at the Old North Cemetery, site of the First Sudbury Meetinghouse in Wayland, Massachusetts.

Edmund Rice's rough birth date of 1594 is reckoned from a 3 April 1656 court deposition in Massachusetts in which he stated that he was 62 years old. His likely birthplace, somewhere in Suffolk in East Anglia, is found through the town of his marriage and of his earliest children's birth. Many of the church records from 1594 in Suffolk are lost, so any record of his birth or the names of his parents or any of his forebears is unknown. Edmund Rice had a presumed brother, Henry Rice (c. 1580-1621), who married Elizabeth Frost (sister of Edmund's wife Thomasine) on 12 November 1605 at St. James Church, Stanstead, Suffolk.

Repeated attempts to find record of Edmund Rice's birth or the birth of his presumed brother Henry in church or civil records of the Stanstead, Sudbury, Haverhill, and Bury St. Edmunds region of Suffolk have not been successful.[

Notes from Edmund Rice Association

Twice in the 20th century nationally recognized research genealogists have attempted to determine the parents and ancestors of Edmund Rice. Mary Lovering Holman described the negative result of her search for records in the parishes near Stanstead and Sudbury, Suffolk County, England in "English Notes on Edmund Rice … ", The American Genealogist, Volume 10 (1933/34), pp. 133 - 137. Mrs. Holman is considered by many to be one of the best research genealogists in the 20th century. In 1997 the Edmund Rice (1638) Association commissioned Dr. Joanna Martin, a nationally recognized research genealogist who lives in England only a few miles from Stanstead and Sudbury to search again for records of Edmund Rice's parents. Dr. Martin reported in 1999 that she found no record that identified Edmund's parents or ancestral line.

Several authors of published works and computer data sets have claimed names for Edmund Rice's parents. Regrettably they have not given sources that would assist in definitive genealogical research. For example, the Ancestral File and International Genealogical Index, two popular computer data sets widely distributed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, offer parent candidates that include: Henry Rice and Margaret Baker, Henry Rice and Elizabeth Frost, Thomas Rice and Catherine Howard, and Thomas Rice and Elizabeth Frost.

From Mrs. Holman's paper we have an excellent record of one Henry Rice's marriage to Elizabeth Frost in November 1605 at Stanstead. Mrs. Holman also documents the baptism of Edmund's first child on 23 August 1619 at Stanstead. If this is the Henry Rice and Elizabeth Frost to which the LDS records refer, the LDS records must be erroneous. Our researchers have not been able to find records that support any Henry Rice and Elizabeth Frost, Henry Rice and Margaret Baker, Thomas Rice and Catherine Howard, or Thomas Rice and Elizabeth Frost as parents of Edmund Rice.

A scholarly investigation by Donald Lines Jacobus, considered by many as the dean of modern American genealogy, appeared in The American Genealogist, Volume 11, (1936), pp. 14-21. Jacobus traced many of the false accounts to the book by Dr. Charles Elmer Rice entitled "By the Name of Rice … ", privately published by Dr. Rice at Alliance, Ohio in 1911. (However, the "disproof" by Jacobus, who admitted that he had not actually taken the trouble to read Elmer Rice's book, was seriously questioned at in August 2000.)

Edmund Rice deposed in a court document on 3 April 1656 that he was about 62 years old. Sudbury, England includes three parishes, two of which do not have complete records for the years near 1594, which is Edmund's most likely birth year. Thus, if he were born in Sudbury, England his records have been lost and we may never know his origin.

In his address to the 1999 annual meeting of the Edmund Rice (1638) Association, Gary Boyd Roberts, Senior Researcher, New England Historic Genealogical Society, reviewed all of the genealogical sleuthing on Edmund's parentage. Mr. Roberts is well known for his research on royal lineage. He concluded that there was no evidence whatsoever that supports the published accounts of Edmund Rice's parents and no evidence that Edmund Rice was from a royal lineage.

The Edmund Rice (1638) Association is very interested in proving the ancestry of Edmund Rice. The Association encourages anyone who can identify a primary source that names Edmund and his parents to identify that source. Records of a baptism, estate probate, or land transaction naming Edmund and his parents are the most likely records to contain that proof.


Offspring of Edmund Rice and Thomasine Frost (1600-1654)  ¢
Name Birth Death Joined with
Mary Rice (1619-) 23 August 1619 Stanstead, Suffolk, England Massachusetts Thomas Axtell (1619-1645)
John Maynard (1598-1672)

Henry Rice (1621-1711) 1621 Stanstead, Suffolk, England 10 February 1711 Framingham, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United Kingdom Elizabeth Moore (c1628-1705)

Edward Rice (1622-1712) 13 October 1622 Stanstead, Suffolk, England 15 August 1712 Marlborough, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Agnes Bent (1631-1713)

Thomas Rice (1626-1681) January 1626 Stanstead, Suffolk, England 16 November 1681 Marlborough, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Mary King (1629-1714)

Lydia Rice (1628-1675) 9 March 1628 Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England 5 April 1675 Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts Hugh Drury (1616-1689)

Matthew Rice (c1629-1717) 1629 United Kingdom 1717 Sudbury, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States Martha Lamson (1634-1717)

Daniel Rice (1632-1632) 1 November 1632 Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England 10 November 1632 Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England
Samuel Rice (1634-1685) November 1634 Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom 25 March 1685 Marlborough, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States Elizabeth King (-1667)
Mary Dix (1639-1675)
Sarah White (c1643-1711)

Joseph Rice (1638-1711) 1638 23 December 1711 Stow, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Mercy King (1639-1659)
Martha Unknown Rice (c1640-1669)
Mary Beers (-1677)
Sarah Unknown Rice

Benjamin Rice (1640-1713) 31 March 1640 Sudbury, Middlesex County, Massachusetts 19 December 1713 Sudbury, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Mary Brown (1643-1691)
Mary Graves (1669-)

Offspring of Edmund Rice and Mercy Hurd (1616-1693)  ¢
Name Birth Death Joined with
Lydia Rice (c1657-1718)
Ruth Rice (1659-1742)

Children of Edmund Rice and Thomasine Frost

  • Henry Rice, m. Elizabeth Moore
  • Samuel Rice m. Elizabeth King
  • Edward Rice m. Anna
  • Thomas Rice m. Mary King
  • Joseph Rice m. Mercy King
  • Lydia Rice m. Hugh Drury
  • Edmund Rice m. Mary Brigham
  • Benjamin Rice (1640-?), m. Mary Brown

According to Michael Marston, there was also "Matthew Rice b. February 28, 1627/8 in Berkhamstead, Hertz, England d. 1717 in Sudbury, Massachusetts" - who married Martha Lamson"

Children of Edmund Rice and Mercie Hurd

  • Ruth Rice (1659-) m. Samuel Wells
  • Ann Rice (1660-) probably m. Nathaniel Gerry

See also

External links

  • - Edmund Rice 1638 Association - Family Genealogical Database and research.   - His Ancestors and Descendants.
  • History of Marlborough, Massachusetts
  • Edmund Rice - Wikipedia
  • A Genealogical History of Deacon Edmund Rice and his Descendants - Google Books
  • Puritan Village, The formation of a New England Town, by Sumner Chilton Powell - includes biography of Edmund Rice

Sources and notes

‡ General
¢ Children
  • Daniel died at his birthplace, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. The others are all believed to have died in Massachusetts.
  • Wikipedia (with baptism dates accepted for "birth year" in page names); compare with original page text below the tables. Matthew has been subsequently given a "c" as indicated in the society pages.
¢2 Children 2
  • Wikipedia.


  SurfBoy, MainTour, Robin Patterson

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