Numerous family ancestors trace their roots to Kent in southeastern England. Many of the families from Kent originally settled in or close to Scituate. Today Scituate prides itself in this Yankee heritage and has been saved from the ravages of Interstate Highway construction. While we have traveled and visited there a couple times, the number of ancestors is bewildering. I think the best way to judge the impact of Kent on the family is to start by backtracking to Kent itself.
As the Romans left Britannia in the 5th Century, Germanic tribes arrived in the area. They were Jutes, not Saxons, and were known as the Cantwara por Kentish people (remember that words starting with a “C” are rare in Germanic languages). Their capital city was Canterbury, the future religious center of the Anglican faith. Following the Norman Conquest in 1066, the people of Kent used as a motto the Latin “Invica” or unconquered and managed to retain a semi-autonomous status under Norman rule like region bordering Scotland and Wales. Of importance to our family was the rejection of the standard law of primogeniture were the eldest son inherited everything. Instead the Kentish people alone in Britain retained their traditional Gavelkind concept where a man’s estate was divided equally to sons.
Kent also was the source of trouble for English kings including Wat Tyler’s Peasant Revolt in the 14th Century. Many of the participants from Kent were inspired by the preacher John Ball who argued for equal treatment of all Englishmen using a his catch phrase “When Adam delved and Eve span, who was the a gentleman?” Of course Canterbury became a famous pilgrimage destination after the murder of Thomas Becket in 1246 the publication of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. What impact this history had on our family immigrants is unknown but a tradition of standing up for injustice was a common trait of Kentish folk.
Vinal, Stephen Vinal, possibly from Kent, England, appears to have been in Scituate around 1636/7 when, according to the Lothropp notes, “Goodman” Vinal acquired the house built by Henry Cobb. Stephen was proposed as a freeman, 1638/39 and possibly died around that time as no one by this name is shown on the 1643 ATBA list of men from Scituate between the ages of sixteen and sixty. Anna (nee Vridge?) Vinal was possibly his wife. Records of St. George’s Church. Benenden, Kent, include the baptisms of Martha, daughter of Stephen Vyneall, 10 Aug 1627, and Steven, son of Steven Vynall 28 Nov 1630. and John Vinall, son of Stephen baptized in the neighbouring parish of Biddenden 30 Mar 1634.
Humphrey Turner, Devonshire