Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The St. John Saga Continues

The April 2013 issue of the NEHGS Register included Jerome Lafayette Santken's article Origins of Mathias & Nicholas Sension Determined. Mr. Santken made a case for the Dutch origins of Mathias St. John. According to the article, Mathias's grandfather, Mathias Santken, was a native of Antwerp [Belgium], then a part of the Spanish Netherlands. He migrated to London about 1582. Mathias's son, Christian/Christopher was born about 1575, probably in Antwerp.

The Santkens appeared in the records of the Dutch Reformed Church of London located in the parish of St. Olave in Silver Street. There were 12 children born to Christian and his wife, Joan. Only a handful of them reached maturity. The eldest was Mathias, the immigrant, who was baptized at St. Olave's on 9 August 1601.

Not long after reading the Register article, I was contacted by another St. John researcher who claimed that the St. Johns found their roots in Wales. That set up my project for the 2014 Salt Lake Institute. Was Mathias Dutch or Welsh?

I compiled the evidence for both arguments and headed for Salt Lake. At the root of the research problem was the definition of one word, Stranger. Exactly what group or groups of people were considered Srangers in London during the late 16th and early 17th centuries? That turned out to be a difficult question to answer!

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