Nathaniel Goodwin's career as probate clerk and judge prepared him well for the compilation of the earliest published, well-documented accounts of thousands of descendants (representing hundreds of surnames) of thirty-seven early New England families, most from Wethersfield, Hartford and Windsor in Connecticut, but some from Massachuetts Bay as well.
As a result of his extensive experience with Connecticut probate records, Goodwin was able to provide extensive documentation for the immigrant generation in most of these thirty-seven families. He often provided complete transcripts of the wills of the immigrants, as well as material from the deed registers, in both Connecticut and Massachusetts. Unlike so many other authors of the same and even later periods, Goodwin provided volume and page citations for these records.
The author was clearly skilled in using these early records. On many occasions, in presenting the early generations of these families, he stated explicitly how he arrived at the list of children in a given family, in the absence of vital records.
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Goodwin was born in 1782, in the sixth generation of descent from an early Connecticut family. With his early interest in genealogy, he had ample opportunity to collect information from many living members of the fourth and fifth generations of New Englanders, and so the data from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, although not documented, may be considered reliable.
After a century and a half the work of Nathaniel Goodwin remains valuable for the study of the families which he covered.
Summary by Robert Charles Anderson, FASG
for Archive CD Books USA
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