It is well documented that Thomas Jocelin/Josselyn/Joslin/Jostlin (1592-1660) emigrated to the Massachusetts Colony on the Increase in 1635 with his wife Rebecca and children Rebecca, Dorothy, Nathaniel, Elizabeth, and Mary.

Claim 1

According to an introduction to The Diary of the Rev. Ralph Josselin, 1616-1683 (p. vi):

Ralph Josselyn [the author of the diary] belonged to the ancient family of Josselyn whose name is supposed to be connected with the town of Josselin in Brittany, the head of the senior branch of which is the Earl of Roden. There was a Ralph Josselyn of Roxwell in Essex, yeoman, whose will was proved on May 4 1632; he had seven sons of whom the eldest was John. John Josselyn was born about 1583 and died in 1636 and was the father of the author of the diary; he had six other brothers one of whom, Thomas emigrated to New England in 1635; and in Dr Shaw's "History of the English Church during Civil Wars &c" will be found the names of other members same family.

If I read this correctly, this implies that Ralph Josselyn of Roxwell in Essex was the father of the Thomas who emigrated.

Claim 2

On the other hand, "The Joscelyn-Joslin Family" by Laura Elmendorf Skeels in The Journal of American History (1912), says (p. 528):

Thomas Jocelyn or Joslin, eldest son of Sir Thomas by his first wife, Dorothy was born about 1591. He sailed from London in the good ship Increase April 17th, 1635, for the Colony of Massachusetts, with his wife, Rebecca...

This article does not include citations.

Claim 3

I am further confused by a 1917 article from The New England Historical and Genealogical Record, which, on pp. 250 and 253, shows Thomas being descended from apparently the same Ralph of Roxwell, co. Essex, yeoman, who died in 1631/2:

excerpt from p. 250

On p. 253:

excerpt from p. 253

However, a footnote on p. 253 says: footnote on p. 253

Here's a transcription of the footnote:

In 1886, Mr. William M. Sargent communicated to the REGISTER (vol. 40, p. 293) the conjecture of a member of the Josselyn family of Ipswich, co. Suffolk, Eng., that Thomas Josselyn son of Ralph [26] of Roxwell, co. Essex, was identical with the Thomas Josselyn who emigrated to New England in 1635. This conjecture however was at that time unsupported by proof and the member of the family who made it admitted also that he could not trace "the origin of this branch of the Josselyn family nor its connection if any with the Torrel's Hall branch."

This footnote seems to contradict the earlier part of the page, which claims that the Thomas who emigrated to the New World (died at Lancaster, Massachusetts) is the son of Ralph [26].

Any idea how I can sort this out?

  • 1
    There's a hidden assumption in the question "how can I determine which claim to believe?" What if neither author is correct?
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 22:22
  • Hello my name is karen johnston, my 3rd great grand father John johnston/jostlin who married lady Mary Stewart of scotland he was the first To have this some how change of our last name he was the first of them to marry into Nobel/royalty As I look back farther my ggggrand parents had the spelling of Jostling jostling then merged by marriage into the name Sage then into the royal name planatagenet can any one tell me why or how it changed from that spelling into johnston? Ty Karen
    – Karen
    Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 20:58
  • @Karen This would be a fine question but doesn't really belong as a comment. Commented Oct 14, 2020 at 15:02

2 Answers 2


More recent analysis is in The Great Migration, volume IV. Robert Charles Anderson there gives a good summary of the evidence, too lengthy to repeat here (a 5-page entry for Thomas Joslin). But he does conclude that his father was Ralph.

  • 2
    Thank you. Can you share basic information on the father Ralph and the mother if provided? Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 21:50
  • 1
    I agree with Ellen, could you please include at least some basic evidence from the source. You certainly don't have to include details from all 5 pages, but at the moment this answer is not really useful to anyone who has no access to that source.
    – Harry V.
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 3:42

Ralph Josselyn 1556 - 1632 married Mary Bright 1558 - 1634. They had 12 children.

Joseph 1580 - 1581
John 1584 - 1635 father of Ralph Josselyn vicar of Earls Colne.
Mary 1586
Anna 1558 - 1653
Simon 1589 - 1656
Ralph 1590 - 1666
Thomas 1591 - 1661 who married Rebecca Jude and travel on the Increase to America.
Dorothy 1596 - 1606
Richard 1598 - 1668 my direct ancestor
Joseph 1600 - 1643
Nathaniel 1602 - 1668
Elizabeth 1604 - 1649. 
  • 2
    Hi Derek, welcome. Do you have any evidence that Ralph and Mary were Thomas's parents? If so, can you please edit your post to include your sources, just click the edit button beneath your post. Thank you!
    – Harry V.
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 15:37

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