Why did Zaccheus Macy call Tristram Coffin “grandfather of almost all of us”?

Tristram Coffin (1609–1681) and Dionis Stevens Coffin (1613–1684)* were the parents of seven children and grandparents of seventy-five. Zaccheus Macy (1713–1797) was himself a third-generation descendant of Tristram and Dionis, and his wife, Hepsabeth Gardner Macy (1718–1795), was also a third-generation descendant of the same couple. The small number of English families resident on Nantucket led to repeated intermarriage down through the generations, with Tristram and Dionis appearing not just once but multiple times in the genealogies of most Nantucketers, to say nothing of a vast number of descendants worldwide.

*The Eliza Starbuck Barney Genealogical Record gives a death date of 1661 for Dionis, but there are records of her being alive in the 1670s, and the settlement of Tristram’s estate in 1682 mentions her as Tristram’s widow.

The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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