"That we are not wilfully opposite, nor careless and senceless, and thereby meanes of our own an others ruine and destruction. And especially in testimonye of our fidelitye and cordiall affections unto one another heere present, so that ther may be a current, peaceable and comfortable proceedinge." - Aquidneck Covenant, co-signed by John Tripp in Providence, Rhode Island (December 1647)
Who was the English Quaker who represented himself as a "gentleman" when he registered with the township authorities of Portsmouth, Rhode Island in 1638? And how did his life and those of his community impact American history?
One of about twelve children of John Tripp and Isabel Moses, John Tripp was born in Lincolnshire, England in 1610. He immigrated to America in 1635. He first settled in Boston where he was employed as an indentured ship carpenter. Shortly thereafter he moved to Providence, Rhode Island (then Aquidneck) after his servitude contract was sold to Randall Holding of Portsmouth.
On April 30, 1638, he signed an oath in Portsmouth which read as follows: "We whose names are underwritten do acknowledge ourselves the legal subjects of His Majesty King Charles, and in his name do hereby bind ourselves into a civil body politic, unto his laws according to matters of justice." Earlier that year he declined to sign the Portsmouth Compact, which broke political and religious ties with Mother England. Probably written by Puritan Reformist Anne Hutchinson, the document formed the basis for non-sectarian governance of Portsmouth Township.
In 1641 he purchased his indenture contract. The Portsmouth Registry of Freemen lists that him that year as "John Tripp, Gentleman". John soon became an active member of his community and held at least a dozen important public offices, including Commissioner of the Colony. In December 1647, as a member of the General Assembly in Providence, he signed the wonderful Aquidneck Covenant that called for human friendship and liberty.
John remained a steadfast Royalist throughout his life. Despite that potential conflict with the prevailing anti-Establishment political leanings of the Aquidneck community, he was regarded as a pillar of the community. A devout Quaker all his life, he also comported himself as an English gentleman, both in substance and in form. For your information, the title during those days wasn't bandied about to connote chivalrous and/or well-bred behavoir of a 17th century commoner. Instead, the meaning of the title as attached to any man bearing it would have commanded respect in all quarters of society as a member of the English gentry.
He fathered eleven children with Mary Paine (1615 – 1687). It’s estimated that John Tripp started a North American lineage of over 50,000 descendants — thus, the reason he’s simply referred to as The Founder. His notable descendants include U.S. President William Harding and Sir Winston Spencer-Churchill.
At his death in 1678 his five sons inherited the vast amounts of farmland he managed to acquire in Rhode Island, especially in Dartmouth and Hogg Island.
There is another Howard-Tripp relationship to me on my paternal grandmother's side of the family. In fact, the Howards of Effingham come together with the Tripps of Suffolk (see lineage chart below) with the marriage of John Land Wood (3GGF) to Elizabeth Howard (3GGM), both of Toronto, Canada. Stephen Tripp (1610 - 1646) is the last of this Canadian branch of the Tripp lineage I've been able to trace so far.
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It's been long asserted by the Tripps of England that they their lineage originated with Howard Dukes of Norfolk. According to the legend, the surname Tripp was assigned to Duke Howard's fifth son by King Henry V after his leading a successful storming of a castle during the Siege of Boulogne. In response as to the king's question as to how he managed to amazing accomplishment, the young Howard exclaimed, "I tripp'd up the walls." Whereupon the king proclaimed, "Tripp shall be thy name, no longer Howard." In parlance of the day, Howard meant he merrily scurried up a ladder to surmount the castle wall - his stealth and cunning winning the day as a result.
The tale, however, is dispute, mainly because the only Howard of any material distinction that flourished during Henry V's lifetime was Sir Robert Howard of Stoke Neyland (1385 - 1437). He's mentioned in House of Howard as follows:
"...Sir Robert Howard, son of Sir John and Alice Tendring of Tendring, was a valiant fighter alike by land and sea. Born about 1385, a contemporary of Henry V., he served under that soldier-king in France, probably fought at Agincourt, and certainly commanded the English fleet, when, with 3,000 stout mariners of East Anglia, he sailed out of Lowestoft, landed below Calais, and ravaged the French coasts..."
His only wife, Lady Margaret de Mowbray, bore him only two issue (Baron John, KG, and Catherine).
Robert's great grandfather Sir John Howard (1310 - 1388), Sheriff of Norfolk, served the English Navy as Admiral of the North Seas.
The other controversial part of the story centers around the participation of a Howard in the Seiges of Boulogne (1544 - 1546), which was actually fought under the banner of King Henry VIII. Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, was one of his battlefield commanders, but, as Lieutenant-General, he would hardly have led a battle charge against a castle himself, much less scrambled up a ladder to surmount a castle wall.
So what we are left with is discovering a Howard as suitable candidate to have earned a new surname from King Henry VIII in distinquishing hiself in battle. Luckily, I discovered one in Owen Howard Tripp, who was the youngest (and possibly illegitimate son) of Lord Edmund Howard (1478 - 1539), during my review of a dozen or so associated ancestry.com tree records. There's actually almost no formal citations attached to this record, however.
In his autobiography King James II & VII Stuart (1633 – 1701) tells of a "Mr Howard and Mr Tripp" who helped him effect his escape from St James Palace one night in 1648 so he seek could take refuge in France.
London-born Lady June Howard-Tripp (1901 - 1985) was a noted British silent screen and stage actress. After her marriage to Alan Burns, 4th Baron Inverclyde, in 1929 she was well-known London socialite. She played a minor role in the 1952 film production of Les Misérables. Her autobiography, The Glass Ladder, was published in 1960.
In a letter written to his brother Theo on 24 May 1875, famed artist Vincent van Gogh stated that art dealer Mr Richard Howard-Tripp temporarily replaced him as the curator of his London art exhibition. Evidently, Vincent's aberrant behavior at the time prompted his replacement just prior to the exhibition's relocation to Paris (see http://www.vangoghletters.org/vg/lett...).
Complicating matters as to John's ancestral heritage is a claim that he was actually Dutch in origin. To wit, in the entitled Genealogy of the Stevens and Tripp and allied families from 1520 to 1906, makes the following statement about him:
"...The name of Trippe is of Dutch origin. The first of that name to come to America was John Trippe. He was born in England in 1610. Came to America in 1635. He, with Power Williams and others came to Aquidneck Pond, now Portsmouth, R.I. in 1638. He was one of the signers of the compact. April 30, 1633. On Nov. 30, 1643, he bought three acres of ground next to Thomas Gorton. In 1647 he was granted Hog Island. He married Mary, daughter of Anthony and Rose Weeden Payne, 1639. He was a very influential man in the community, was a member of town council, a member of the board of General Court of Tryalls. Deputy to General Assembly...and Assistant from Portsmouth from 1670 to 1675. He died in 167S, leaving large tracts of land in Portsmouth, Dartsmouth, and Westerly. He had ten children..."
There is some credence to this assertion. In fact, in his autobiography Sir Walter Scott tells of his acquaintnance with Dutch Baron Trippe who led the British 60th Regiment as a Lieutenant Colonel under the command of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo.