Abraham Temple, of Salem, Massachusetts, and His Most Likely Origin



Now, for the pessimistic view of Abraham Temple's origins. What follows is solidly based in official records (what few there are) and on several DNA tests. The bottom line up front: I am convinced Abraham was an orphan who took the name of the Temple District orphan asylum, which was near the Templar headquarters in London. His relationship to the Templars, however, was in name only - not in DNA. The Templars were long gone by the time of Abraham's birth (b 1603) - aside from the purge against them in France, Pope Clement V had disbanded the order in 1312. Abraham's surname derives only from geography, not genetics or genealogy.

Although Levi Temple may have considered Abraham might be related to the line of Peter Temple of Stowe, England, the first outright suggestion relates to Dr. Henry Curtis Temple in his 1930 genealogy of the family. The next major genealogists, Albert Temple (and with some degree of reluctance at the conclusion, Danny Smith), went out of his way to "prove" that relationship, but was unable to come up with anything but conjecture. This train of thought is extensively covered in the notes on Abraham found on his entry in the website. What can be proven by other means reveals it is wishful thinking.

The first real proof of Abraham is from the records of Salem, MA, where he was as early as 1636, since he was accepted as an inhabitant of the town before 21 June of that year. Family lore in one branch of Abraham's descent says that Abraham was a stowaway, but there is not evidence to confirm or disprove this. The ship on which he sailed is also unknown. Although he was apprenticed as a tailor, there is evidence to suggest he was a mechanic (according to Levi Temple). That is about as far as records take us.

I had thought for a longtime that DNA sequencing would hold the key, given enough samples of proven Abraham descendants, to develop a “most common” DNA profile, leading to the characteristics of Abraham’s DNA.  That then, so the reasoning went, would allow us to define the family or families most closely aligned with Abraham’s parentage, and that would prove, once and for all, whether Abraham was an orphan or actually related to minor royalty, or that he was actually a Temple.  Looking farther into DNA testing in general, and particularly 23andMe and AncestryDNA, I now no longer believe with the testing now available, the tools for DNA analysis, nor even our understanding of the underlying DNA itself, allows such conclusions to be drawn.  Not that it won’t ever be so, but for right now, no.  Two excellent sources to explain what turned me around are Adam Rutherford’s “A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold through Our Genes” and his summary published in Scientific American, “How Accurate Are Online DNA Tests?” published 15 Oct 2018.

And that is the key to saying it was most unlikely that Abraham was related to anyone at Stowe, or English royalty of any kind. There are indeed lines of Temples in North America who are related to Stowe, but not the largest of the lines, which are th ones related to Abraham Temple of Salem, MA.


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