KING-RICE. Two seemingly small errors (one of commission and one of omission) in Andrew H. Ward's classic The Rice Family (1858) have been allowed to stand all these years uncorrected in print. For this reason--and be- cause the unusual adoptive record of the King alias Rice line has not been adequately published--Jonas Rice (1673-1753), although long honored as the "Father of Worcester," has not been accorded by his descendants the recogni- tion due him as one of their authentic early New England progenitors.
The perpetuated error of commision is found in The Rice Family, page 30, where Ward says that Silence4,dau. of Jonas3 (Thomas2,Edmund1) and Mary Stone (rice), mar. "John Bond." The error of omission is on page 38, where Ward gives only the birth, but not the marriage, of Ezra4, son of Lt. Samuel3 (Samuel2,Edmund1) and Abigail (Clapp) King alias Rice. To be sure, the massive 1970 Genealogical Register of Edmund Rice Descendants, pages 8 and 35, attempts to correct the omission, but it only supplies another mistake, stating the Ezra King alias Rice mar. "Silence Bond." The correct entries would have been to the effect that Ezra King alias Rice mar. Silence Rice, and vice versa, in Worcester ca. 1719 (it appears that marriages were not recorded there until some years later).
The first child of Ezra and Silence, b. 1720 in Worcester, was named Abigail (Vital Records of Worcester, Mass., 157), presumably after Ezra's mother; the first son, Jonas, after Silence's father (ibid.). Eleven more children were born either in Worcester of Brimfield, where they moved in 1731. Throughout his life Ezra was styled euther Ezra King or Ezra King alias Rice interchange- ably. In 1745, accompanied by his son, Jonas, he went on the Louisbourg expedition; both father and son died there in 1746.
Ezra's death gave rise to a remarkable series of estate papers (Hampshire Co. Probate Records, still at Northampton, Mass.) and land abstracts (Early Brim- field Records, now at Springfield, Mass., as county sear of the later Hampden Co.). They serve not only to tie Ezra's children to each other, to him, and to his father, Lt. Samuel King alias Rice, of Sudbury, but also to account for the probable origin of Ward's error as to Silence's family name.
As Ezra's widow, Silence was granted letters of administration on 12 Aug. 1746; she certified a complete inventory of the estate to the Hampshire Probate Couty on 8 Sept. 1747, signing as Silence King. But, when a settlement of the estate was ratified by Judge Timothy Dwight on 9 Apr. 1751, she was referred to as "Silence Bond alis Silence King Relic of Sd Decd." It is clear that at some time between 8 Sept. 1747 and 9 Apr. 1751 she mar. a man named Bond. Other evidence shows him to have been John Bond of Worcester. Adonijah, ninth child of Ezra and Silence, died in 1755. In the setelement of his estate, a petition was tendered by "John Bond of Worcester and Silence his wife, late widow and administratrix on the estate of her former husband Ezra King of Brimfield, deceased" (Worcester Probate, 35229). Ultimately John and Silence must have moved to Templeton, Mass., for she died there, and her gravestone supplies an exceptionally complete record: Silence Bond, wife of John and Relict of Ezra King and only daughter of Jonas Rice, Esq, 8 Dec. 1763, in her 61st year (Vital Records of Templeton, Mass., 177).
Ward's original error was probably due to a misinterpretation of the mar- riage record of Silence King and John Bond, 21 Nov. 1751 (Worcester Vital Records, 375); this was undoubtedly the marriage record, not of Ezra's widow, but of his daughter Silence and John Bond's son, John Bond, Jr. As noted above, Ezra'w widow had already been called Silence Bond alias King seven months earlier than this recorded marriage. Moreover, the births of four chil- dren to Silence and John Bond, Jr., were so recorded at Worcester in the next few years, and, back at Brimfield, in the final division of the real estate of Ezra King on 2 June 1752, the daughter was specifically referred to as "Silence Bond Junr alis Silence King."
The Ezra King alias Rice estate papers were discovered accidentally in 1897 by my grandfather, the late George Oscar King (1842-1917), who was then engaged in tracing back his own King ancestry. Until then he had been wholly unaware of the "alias Rice" aspect of the family name and of the 1667 adoption that caused it. Referred now to Ward's The RIce Family, he saw the story set forth clearly: after the birth of their sixth child, Samuel3 Rice, to Samuel2 and Elizabeth2 (King) Rice at Marlboro in 1667, the mother lived only a fortnight and died on 30 Oct. 1667 (Vital Records of Marlboro, 384). The distraught father, left with five children below the age of eleven, gave the infant in adop- tion to Elizabeth's childless brother and sister, Peter and sarah King. Peter changed the boy's name to Samuel King alias Rice, a form that was to persist through the next two generations, after which the "alias Rice" would gradually fall into disuse. The adoption itself was happily accepted by all concerned and later specifically blessed by references in the wills of both Samuel Rice and Peter King (Middlesex Probate, 18798 and 13323).
Oscar King's consequent prolific King-Rice notes of over sixty years ago were the result of wide correspondence, many interviews, and intensive per- sonal exploration, especially in Vermont, where fire had destroyed so much of the Windham County records. His notes have aided many inquirers, but were never published. Unfortunately, he accepted Ward's mistake as to Silence Rice, thus inadvertently continuing the error among those who used his notes. The ultimate clues to the truth, the Worcester Probate record on Adonijah's estate and Silence's gravestone at Templeton, were suggested some years ago by the late Charles S. Liscom of Dedham, Mass., in a letter to me.
The main purpose of this communication is, of course, to correct the error about Silence (Rice) King. But, having made the correction, it also discloses between her and her husband, Ezra, a degree of relationship that was un- usual even in colonial times. Their paternal grandparents were two brothers (Thomas2 and Samuel2, sons of Edmund1 Rice) married to two sisters (Mary2 and Elizabeth2, respectively, daughters of Thomas1 King). Ezra and Silence were thus double second counins, and each was a great-grandchild of both those two Sudbury worthies, Edmund Rice and Thomas King. The King-Rice line is therefore unusual not only because of the "alias" and the change of name. but also because its American beginning cannot truly be shown in the custom- ary genealogical manner--from a single immigrant ancestor. For the line de- scends equally from Thomas King and Edmund Rice, and the parallel parts of the line merge in the marriage of Silence Rice with Ezra King alias Rice in the fourth generation.--Norman Thomas King Newton, 20 Prescott St., Cam- bridge, Mass. 02138.
The New England Historic and Genealogical Register (NEHGR); October 1976; Volume 130, pp. 302-304.