Who Are the Parents of George Bunker?

It was once believed that George Bunker of Topsfield was the son of Guillaume Boncoeur (born 1600), son of Guillaume Boncoeur (born 1580) and Anne Gossellive, Huguenots who fled to England from France. However, there is a lack of any evidence from primary sources to support this lineage.

Edward C. Moran, Jr., in his Bunker Genealogy (Volume 2, Salem, MA:  Higginson Book Company, 1965, pgs.3-4) wrote, “One myth should be exploded, because it is too frequently repeated. There may be some factual basis for the family legend that the Bunkers were originally French Huguenots named Bon Coeur or Boncour of Boncourt, who fled to England via Holland on account of religious persecution, but the author of the volume has never seen any proof of such a statement. One thing is certain; our ancestors were not driven out of France on account of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, as usually stated in the legend, for the simple reason that such revocation did not occur until 1685 and all three of the original Bunker immigrants[1] whose genealogy has been studied were here in America long before that date.

‘Another myth is that the progenitor of the Nantucket branch (George) was son of William who came to England with William the Conqueror, overlooking the fact that William the Conqueror was on the English scene 500 years before George was born! These are illustrations why a genealogist cannot disregard history.
     ‘In the absence of any solid facts known to the author to support the Huguenot legend, the author of this book does not accept it. Instead and until someone presents proof of the alleged French background, he believes that the line goes back many years in England, as English official records are replete with old Bunker items.”[2]

With that theory set aside, it is important to look at what is known about George Bunker. First, he is found marrying Elizabeth Godfrey 5 May 1644 in Maulden, Bedfordshire, England. On 17 June 1648, George Bunker had his son William christened in Tingrith in the same shire (International Genealogical Index (extracted from original source by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, see entry on George Bunker for details.) He drowned to death 26 May 1658 in Topsfield, Massachusetts and, according to probate records, left his children were Elizabeth (age12), William (10), Mary (6), Ann (4) and Martha (1 ) (see Moran, p. 25).

Henry L. Bunker shows three different George Bunkers in Bedfordshire who were children in the early 1600s, all grandsons of Oliver and Joan Bunker. The parents of these three were:  George and Ellen Bunker, Francis and Tabitha (Davey) Bunker, and Timothy and Elizabeth (Hawkins) Bunker.
 Moran, p. 7, states, “…the will of George Bunker of Bengeo, dated 28 Oct 1609, proved 13 Dec 1609, mentioned his wife Ellen and his son George who was willed 10 when he attains age 18.” This places the birth date of George, son of George, at about 1592 to 1609. This would make him between 35 and 52 when our George and Elizabeth Godfrey were married and between 37 and 54 at the birth of Elizabeth, the eldest child of our George. Meanwhile, George, son of Francis was christened 6 April 1617 in Tingrith and George, son of Timothy, on 25 April 1621, also in Tingrith (see IGI extraction records). This places the Francis’ George at about age 27 and Timothy’s George at about age 23 at the marriage to Elizabeth Godfrey and 29 and 25 respectively at Elizabeth’s baptism. Having a first child at 37 to 54 was not necessarily impossible for men but not as common as having a first child at 29 or 25.

Another factor is the marriage of George Bunker to Judith Major 8 September 1624 in Odell, Bedfordshire (see Anderson, Robert Charles, Sanborn, George F., Jr., and Sanborn, Melinde Lutz, The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Vol. I, Boston:  New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995, p. 486; also Moran, pg. 7.). George and Judith had their first five children (Mary, Martha, Elizabeth, John, and Joseph) christened in Odell between 1625 and 1632. George was admitted an inhabitant of Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1634 and later became the namesake of the famous Bunker Hill. Judith is recorded as dying there in 1646 and George wrote his will, mentioning Mary, Martha, Elizabeth, John, etc. (see Anderson et al, pgs. 683-687).

The only George old enough to have been married in 1624, have a child in 1625, and be admitted an inhabitant in 1634 was George, son of George. Thus, we can eliminate George, son of George as a candidate as our George Bunker.

The Bunker Family Association accepts George, son of Timothy as the ancestor of the Nantucket branch based on the research of Brian J. Bunker of Hong Kong (“George of Tingrith—The Missing Link is Found”, Bunker Banner, August 1998, Bunker Family Association).

The article says, “Bunker historians and genealogists have been plagued for over a half century about the parents of George of Nantucket. Countless hours of research failed to reveal whether George the son of Francis, or George the son of Timothy, was the progenitor of the Nantucket branch. (See Bunker Family History, p. 45, for a simplified chart).

‘Thanks to the research of Brian Bunker of the Tingrith Branch in England, we now have proof that his forebear is George, the son of Francis Bunker and Tabitha Davey. With this new knowledge, we can easily deduce that George the son of Timothy is the Nantucket primogenitor.

‘Brian has traced his lineage back 14 generations to Roger (d 1515) and Agnes and recorded many of the dates, surnames, and he primary sources of his genealogy…

‘…SOURCES: GENERATIONS 1 TO 3, Bunker Wills & Bedfordshire County Record Office; GENERATIONS 4 TO 10, Tingrith Parish records...”

However, this article did not state what the evidence was in the above sources that led the author to conclude without a doubt that Brian Bunker's George was the son of Francis and not the son of Timothy.


[1] Our George (of Topsfield, ancestor of the Nantucket branch), another George (of Charlestown), and James of Devonshire, England and Dover.
[2] He also adds that the coat-of-arms that was credited to the ancestors of the Bunker family is fraudulent and that there is no known valid coat-of-arms for the families of the Bunkers who immigrated to the Americas.

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Last updated 4 Jun 2003.