The following is a research report by Andrew Pierce:
Robert S. Wakefield's Mayflower Families Through Five Generations: Family of Richard Warren(1999) offers the most up-to-date analysis of Keziah(Presbury?) Freeman, who was born in 1687/88(according to age on death record?), was named as a granddaughter of Stephen Skiffe of Sandwich in his will, dated 1701 (Wakefield's sketch does not say whether a surname is given for her in the will). She married Edmond Freeman at Sandwich in 1706; a codicil to Stephen Skiffe's will in 1708 noted that Keziah 'was given her things upon marriage.'
It is apparent from the analysis that Keziah was not a daughter of Stephen Presbury, either by his wife Deborah Skiffe(daughter of Stephen)or by a theoretical first wife. Assuming that the age on his tombstone is correct(d.1730 at 58), he was born ca.1672, and was not necessarily the same Stephen Presbury who witnessed a deed at Kittery, Maine in 1686. We know that he married Deborah Skiffe by 1694, when their daughter Mary was born. They had seven daughters and one son, all of whom(or whose issue)are mentioned in Stephen Presbury's will, and they do not include Keziah.
Banks' only reason for giving Stephen Presbury of the Vineyard a birth date of 'ca.1666' is the 1686 Maine deed, and I maintain there is no evidence that the two Stephens were identical. I have found old Yankee New England gravestone dates to be largely accurate, and there is no reason to believe that Stephen Presbury was not born ca.1672 and married a woman four years older. Banks' statement that he was 'probably older than his wife' is, in this context, entirely without foundation.
My eight-year research into the Native American history of Martha's Vineyard(to be published by GPC in about two years) noticed several flimsy conjectures, and some outright mistakes, made by Banks in sketching both white and Native families, and these have also been noticed by other Vineyard historians & genealogists such as Katherine (Kay) Mayhew of the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society.
Unless there is something I missed, I do not think there is any evidence at all that Keziah WAS a Presbury. This is only stated, without any corroborating evidence, in the 1875 Freeman Genealogy, in which many other conjectures seem to be made based upon hearsay. There is no marriage for Edmund & Keziah in any VRs, and the marriage date of ca.1706 is apparently only based on the birth date of their eldest child, 1708 in Sandwich.
All we know for certain(and even that is not ironclad, looking at Wakefield's sketch) is that Keziah(last name uncertain), born ca.1688, was a granddaughter of Stephen & Lydia (Snow) Skiffe of Sandwich. She may have been born out of wedlock to one of their daughters(so further records of those daughters might be searched down), and not necessarily by Deborah, or by any of the daughters known to exist, either; a daughter or even a son might have died before Stephen Skiffe made his will in 1701, leaving Keziah.
Scanning the long list of Edmond & Keziah's children, I notice they named eldest daughter Lydia, a son Stephen, a son Skeffe, and a daughter Deborah, all names found in the Skiffe family. There are no children named Keturah, Dorcas, Drusilla or Content, all unusual names found among Stephen & Deborah (Skiffe) Presburys' children. It would seem that if Keziah had belonged to the Presburys and been raised by them on the Vineyard, she would have given some of her fourteen children the names of these putative half-sisters. This is obviously not hard evidence either way, but should be considered circumstantial. My opinion is that Keziah was born and raised in Sandwich, never left there and was possibly not even Deborah's daughter, and certainly not Stephen Presbury's.
The above is an example of connections based on flimsy or non-existent evidence, which compounds itself through numerous repetitions in the IGI, published genealogies, etc. The good news is that since Keziah was almost certainly a granddaughter of Stephen & Lydia(Snow)Skiffe, she would have a proven Mayflower descent through Lydia.
Archibald F. Bennett, Saviors on Mount Zion, p.118 Returning to the search and a wise use of the card catalog, reveals the names and families of thirty-one progenitors of Elijah Freeman on a dozen different lines. On each line there is a printed genealogy. Also printed vital records of the various towns where these families live give elusive connections not found by the family genealogists. By judicious use of these last records Kezia Presbury, paternal grandmother of Elijah Freeman, is traced back to her 2nd great-grandfather, Richard Warren, who came in 1620 as one of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower, the 5th great, grandfather of Olive Hovey Freeman Farr!
From: "Marilyn Roth"
To: "Tim Farr"
Date: 10/3/00 11:18AM
Re: Stephen Skiff
Dear Tim, Welcome to the group of frustrated descendants of Keziah! The will information is from the will itself of Stephen Skiff I have a Xerox of it from Barnstable County. The pages are 137-139, but they did not send the book number. I could Xerox the Xerox if you want to pay for copies and postage, but I can assure you that there is no surname for Keziah.
I also have a Xerox of the will of Stephen Presbury, 6 Apr. 1730, 1 July 1730, Edgartown, Dukes Co., MA, 2:56-57. To granddaughter Moriah PRESBURY, only surviving child of son John, decd. To wf. Deborah. Remainder to my seven daughters or their heirs: heirs of dau. Mary, deed.; daus. Katurah; Dorcus; Abigail; Drusilla; and youngest daughters Content and Sarah. [The will is comparatively easy to read, and it is definitely Katurah, not Keziah. It also says "my seven daughters."]
I have contacted lots of people about this. R. A. Lovell, the Sandwich genealogist, thinks that Kezia was dau/o Stephen PRESBURY but not of Deborah. However, that does not make sense at all considering the two wills.
I contacted the Mayflower Society. The latest answer said that "Keziah who married Edmund Freeman is undoubtedly the granddaughter of Stephen Skiff,' but they do not accept the lineage.
Bob Henderson, 62 Summer Ave., Reading, MA 01867, answered my query in Nexus in 1991. He agrees that Keziah had to have been born Ca. 1688-90, which is before the marriage of Stephen PRESBURY and Deborah SKIFF. He asks why Stephen SKIFF was providing such a generous gift to granddaughter Keziah if her father were living and she had seven sisters. [A cow was worth more than a house to most people at that time.]
Have you analyzed the named of Keziah's children? She had Lydia (for Lydia SNOW), Stephen (Stephen SKIFF), Deborah (Deborah SKIFF); Abigail (for Abigail WARREN).
My conclusion is that Keziah must have been an illegitimate daughter of Deborah SKIFF, and she had probably been living with and caring for her grandparents. The only other alternative that makes sense is that Deborah had a prior marriage, but I haven't found any evidence of that.
Do you have any additional thoughts on the matter? Have you done any
research on the wife of the preceding Edmund FREEMAN, Sarah __
Sincerely, Marilyn Roth