Lewis – Surname Saturday

Roberts-Barnes-Taft-Sutherland-Lewis Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Lewis is a common name with many different potential sources. It may be an Americanized form of the French Louis, Irish Mac Loughaidh, or Welsh Llywelyn. As my Lewis ancestors appear to have been English, it most likely from the Middle English and Old English personal name Lewis.[i]

Direct Surname Ancestors

I have two independent sources of Lewis ancestors. Both Mercy Eliza Taft’s parents have Lewis ancestors, but they do not appear related.

2nd Great-grandmother, Mercy Eliza Taft (1822-1884) paternal ancestors include my:

    • 3rd Great-grandfather:  Joel Cruff Taft (1800-1849)
    • 4th Great-grandfather: Asa Taft (1774-1839) * Note footnote [ii]
    • 5th Great-grandfather: Silas Taft (1744-1812) *
    • 6th Great-grandmother: Mary Lewis (1714-1795) *
    • 7th Great-grandfather: Samuel Lewis III (1684-1760) *
    • 8th Great-grandfather: Samuel Lewis II (___-___) *

2nd Great-grandmother, Mercy Eliza Taft (1822-1884), maternal ancestors include my:

    • 3rd Great-grandfather: Tamise Fanny Sutherland(1796-1864)
    • 4th Great-grandmother: Mary Lewis (1771-1804) * Note Footnote [iii]
    • 5th Great-grandfather: Morris Lewis (1733-1807) *
    • 6th Great-grandfather: Isaac Lewis, Sr (1701-1749) *

My Lewis’ in History


Mary (Lewis) Taft’s (1714-1795) husband, Stephen Taft, was a lieutenant in the Militia in Massachusetts.[iv] Her father, Samuel Lewis, III, died before the Revolution,

Immigrant Ancestor

1. Mary (Lewis) Taft’s father, Samuel Lewis (1684-1760), was probably born in Middlesex County. Massachusetts Bay Colony (MBC).

    • His father, Samuel Lewis (1641-1698), was born in Charlestown, MBC.
    • His father may have been John Lewis (1603-1657). If so, he immigrated to MBC about 1635, probably from England.

2. Mary (Lewis) Sutherland (1771-1804) was born in Dutchess County, New York. Her father, Morris Lewis (1733-1807), was likely born in Massachusetts Colony.

    • His father, Isaac Lewis, Sr. (1701-1749), was also born in Massachusetts Colony.
    • His father may have been Barachiah Lewis, born 1663, in MBC.
    • His father may have been John Lewis, born in 1635 in MBC.
    • Finally, his father may have been William Lewis, Jr, born in 1599 in England. He immigrated to the MBC in 1635 or 1636.

Both of my immigrant Lewis ancestors were apparently from England and came to America during the “Great Puritan Migration” of 1620 to 1640.


I haven’t discovered any of my “Lewis Cousins” yet. However, I’m sure I’ll find more as I continue to research my Roberts/Lewis ancestors.


2014 – Snapshot in Time

The vast majority of Lewis in the World today (actually 2014) live in the United States; most live in Texas, California, and Florida. The greatest incidence of Lewis’s is in Louisiana (1 person in 298).

Famous Lewis’s

There are many famous Lewis. From entertainer Jerry Lewis to author C. S. Lewis. From explorer Meriwether Lewis to Abisha Lewis, Jr. & Sr. (both of whom are Revolutionary War Patriots).

Studies, Societies, & Key Lewis Websites

Lewis is not in my Y-DNA or mtDNA, so studies relating to those DNA groups will not help my genealogical research. Because my closest Lewis ancestor is a 4th great-grandmother, the closest relation I’d have living today would be a 5th cousin. A 5th cousin and I would typically share only 25 cM and fall within the range of 0 to 117 cM. Ancestry indicates they have six matches for me that have the surname of Lewis and share 25 cM or More. None of them have a public family tree extending into the 1700s.

My Direct LEWIS Descendants

I have 295 known descendants of Isaac Lewis (1701-1749) in my tree; 27 Barnes, 21 Roberts, 17 Ransford, and 15 Taft.

I have 352 known descendants of Samuel Lewis II, including 47 Tafts, 28 Barnes, 21 Roberts, 17 Ransford, and 9 Childers.

Because both lines converge at Mercy Eliza Taft, 226 of these known descendants are duplicated in both lines.

I have previously written about five of them.

Ancestor Photographs[v]

Essie Pansy Barnes

Joel Clinton Barnes

Essie (Barnes) Roberts c. 1975

Joel Clinton Barnes
Cropped from photo Courtesy: Ken Smith



Gateway and Immigrant (Original) Ancestors

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.My local Genealogy Group[i] recently met via Zoom and discussed “Gateway Ancestors” and “Immigrant Ancestors.” A Gateway Ancestor is one that you find that can be the individual that, once you have a direct connection to that person, there is an established genealogy back to royalty. For example, The Order of the Crown of Charlemagne (in the United States) has a list of Gateway Ancestors that lead to a direct lineage to Charlemagne. Although my wife has a lineage back to Charlemagne, her “Gateway Ancestor” isn’t included in their list. I don’t believe I have any royal ancestors. Certainly, nothing going back to Charlemagne.

Another site, MagnaCharta.com, provides “Gateway Ancestors” that can help you join The Baronial Order of Magna Charta and The Military Order of the Crusades. Again, I don’t have any known ancestors that connect with either organization.

Then we talked about our known “Immigrant Ancestors.” Using the sorting and selection capabilities of Family Tree Maker 19 for Mac, I quickly determined many of my immigrant ancestors.

My Most Recent Immigrant Ancestors – Sarah H (Blackhurst) Barber & Fanny (Taylor) Blackhurst.

I wrote about Sarah previously. She was born in 1847 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. In 1848, her father, Stephen Blackhurst, came to the United States. In 1850, his wife, Fanny, and daughter, Sarah, came to the United States. They originally lived in Auburn, Cayuga County, New York, and lived there for about ten years. Then the family moved to Sheridan, Calhoun County, Michigan. Stephen and Fanny lived there until their deaths, in 1869 and 1889, respectively. Sarah moved from Calhoun County to Detroit, Wayne County, about 1899 and lived there until she died in 1928.

My Earliest Known Immigrant Ancestor – Thomas Sanford (1607-1681)[ii]

Flag of New Haven Colony Courtesy Wikimedia

Thomas is my 10th great-grandfather in my Brown Line. I know very little about Thomas. However, I believe he was born in August 1607 in Essex, England. His son, Samuel Sanford, was born in 1643 in Milford, New Haven Colony (now part of Connecticut), so it is clear Thomas came to America before that. Thomas died in 1681 in Milford.

Other Early Immigrant Ancestors

My 11th great-grandfather, Frances Posey, was born in France about 1615. His daughter Anne was born in “Old Charles County” Maryland, in 1650, indicating Frances came to America before 1650.

My 9th great-grandfather, Joseph Parsons, was born in Beaminster, Dorset, England, in 1620. His son, Joseph, was born in 1647 (probably) in Massachusetts.

My 8th great-grandfather, James Blackwell, was born in 1647 in York County, Virginia Colony. I have not learned his parents’ names yet or their immigration dates.


So, I have 17th-century immigrants that came from England and France to the Province of Maryland, Massachusetts Bay Colony, New Haven Colony, and Virginia Colony.

With so many 17th and 18th century immigrants in my tree, I think I’ll add an “immigrant” fact to those individuals known to have immigrated. For example, a woman born outside America but had children born in America, but I don’t have a death location is likely an immigrant ancestor.


[i] Greater Portland Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society (https://www.gpcmgs.org/).

[ii] I have not personally research the Sanford line after my 4th Great-grandfather, Ezra Clugston Sanford (1763-1813). Ancestors before him are tentative/speculative.