Edmund Rice's rough birth date of 1594 is reckoned from a 3 April 1656 court deposition in Massachusetts in which he stated that he was 62 years old. His likely birthplace, somewhere in Suffolk in East Anglia, is found through the town of his marriage and of his earliest children's birth. Many of the church records from 1594 in Suffolk are lost, so any record of his birth or the names of his parents or any of his forebears is unknown.[nb 1] Edmund Rice had a presumed brother, Henry (c. 1580-1621), who married Elizabeth Frost (sister of Edmund's wife Thomasine) on 12 November 1605 at St. James Church,Stanstead, Suffolk52°06′42″N0°41′26″E / 52.111652°N 0.690641°E / 52.111652; 0.690641. Repeated attempts to find record of Edmund Rice's birth or the birth of his presumed brother Henry in church or civil records of the Stanstead, Sudbury, Haverhill, and Bury St. Edmunds region of Suffolk have not been successful.
Considerable information about the early life of Edmund Rice in England can be gleaned from his children's baptismal records and land ownership and other public records in Stanstead, Suffolk and Berkhamsted, Hertsfordshire. He moved from Stanstead to Berkhamsted sometime in 1626, based upon the baptismal dates of his children Thomas and Lydia. That same year as a newcomer in town, Rice was named as a joint trustee along with Rev. Thomas Newman[nb 3] of a £50 grant for the benefit of the poor from King Charles I given on the occasion of his coronation. Under the incumbency of Rev. Newman, Rice served as a churchwarden at St. Peter's Church and acted as overseer of the poor for eight years. As a result of a royal inquisition held on 1 April 1634, funds remaining in the custody of Rice and Newman were to be transferred to the bailiff and burgesses of Berkhamsted as part of an effort to transfer and consolidate several royal charity grants for administration under civil authority.[nb 4] While living in Berkhamsted, Rice acquired and was taxed on 3 acres (12,000 m2) of land in 1627, and on 15 acres (61,000 m2) from 1633 to 1637. There is no record in Berkhamsted of Rice paying taxes on his land in 1638, possibly due to its sale to finance his trip to America.
There is no surviving record of Edmund Rice's voyage to America with his family,[nb 5] but it is known to have occurred between the 13 March 1638 baptism of his son Joseph in Berkhamsted and the petition to the Great and General Court to found Sudbury, Massachusetts 6 September 1638, showing all the Sudbury petitioners residing in Watertown, MA.[nb 6] However, the 1638 petition to the General Court to found Sudbury did not explicitly mention Rice's name, so there is in actuality poor documentation of Rice's presumed short-term residence in Watertown.[nb 7] The first documented record of his presence in Massachusetts is in the Township Book of Sudbury prior to 4 April 1639 in which he was already serving as a selectman.[nb 8]
Between 1638 and 1657, Rice resided in Sudbury where he became a leader in the community. Sumner Chilton Powell wrote, in his 1964 Pulitzer Prize winning Puritan Village: The Formation of a New England Town, "Not only did Rice become the largest individual landholder in Sudbury, but he represented his new town in the Massachusetts legislature for five years and devoted at least eleven of his last fifteen years to serving as selectman and judge of small causes."  He was appointed on 4 September 1639 by the General Court to lay out the roads and lots of Sudbury, and he was granted 4 acres (16,000 m2) of land near the original Sudbury meetinghouse 42°22′26″N71°22′21″W / 42.373835°N 71.372609°W / 42.373835; -71.372609. On 3 April 1640, Rice was granted 20 acres (81,000 m2) in southeastern Sudbury near the Old Connecticut Path.[nb 9] He served as a selectman in Sudbury in 1639 and 1640, and subsequently for several years between 1644 and 1656. He was designated a freeman on 13 May 1640, and was elected as a deputy (representative) of the Great and General Court in October 1640. He was later appointed by the General Court on 2 June 1641 as a Judge of Small Causes for Sudbury, and he was reelected as a deputy of the General Court in 1643. In 1644 Rice and two other Sudbury residents (Peter Noyes and Thomas Mayhew) were appointed to survey the farm properties of the estate of the deceased Joseph Glover near the southeastern boundary of Sudbury to be transferred to Harvard College President Henry Dunster who had married Glover's widow Elizabeth and assumed responsibility for the Glover children. On 18 June 1645, Rice and his colleagues reported to the General Court on their survey. In 1648, Rice was ordained as a Deacon in the Puritan Church at Sudbury. He was appointed by the General Court on 22 May 1651 as a member of a commission to settle a boundary dispute between Watertown and Sudbury, and he was reelected as a deputy of the General Court in each of the three years from 1652 through 1654. Again in May 1656, Rice and Peter Noyes were called upon by the General Court for their expertise to survey 11 acres (45,000 m2) of land purchased by John Stone of Sudbury from the Indians that was also supplemented by a grant of the General Court to Stone of an additional 50 acres (200,000 m2) in what is now Framingham.
Edmund Rice was particularly successful in his own real estate transactions. After selling his 4 acres (16,000 m2) of land and homestead near the Sudbury meetinghouse on 1 September 1642 to John Moore,[nb 10] Rice established his residence on 13 September 1642 on his 20 acres of land abutting Henry Dunster's farm near the Old Connecticut Path in southeastern Sudbury. Within a year, Philemon Whale and Thomas Axtell, former town mates (and probably kin) from Berkhamstead, England established their homesteads on adjacent lots nearby.[nb 11] In October 1643 Rice sold Philemon Whale 9 acres (36,000 m2) of land and a house near the Old Connecticut Path in southern Sudbury and also that same month he sold 6 acres (24,000 m2) of adjacent land to Thomas Axtell.[nb 12] But only three years later in 1646, Rice purchased back the land from the Axtell estate, pledging to care for the "widow Axtell." On 8 April 1657, Rice purchased the 200 acres (810,000 m2) "Jennison Farm" in the southeastern part of Sudbury.[nb 13] And by 1659, Rice had acquired about 600 acres (2.4 km2) of land in southeastern Sudbury (present day Wayland and Cochituate), including nine acres of land and the homestead purchased back from Philemon Whale (see image of the homestead), and the probated estate of Henry Dunster that included the former Glover family lands.
Signature of Edmund Rice on a 1659 land survey record of his estate purchase of the "Dunster Farm" property near Old Connecticut Path in old Sudbury. Original in Harvard University Archives, Cambridge.
The issue of land tenure was highly contentious in 17th Century Massachusetts Bay Colony and in Sudbury in particular.Open field or communal farming was practiced in most of Sudbury, following traditions of the commons and governance practices brought from central and western England during the early 17th Century. Rice and twelve other dissenters from Sudbury who were interested in 'closed field' or owner-operator farming as it was practiced in southeastern England petitioned the Great and General Court in 1656 to create the town of Marlborough where individual ownership of farmland was to be exclusively practiced. The tract of land was 8 square miles (21 km2) west of Sudbury that, in addition to becoming Marlborough, eventually became Northborough, Westborough, Southborough, and Hudson as well. Rice was elected as selectman of Marlborough in 1657 as the town was being established. The town was formally chartered on 12 June 1660 by the General Court. Upon being granted a maximum allotment of 50 acres (200,000 m2) of land in Marlborough, Rice was one of the three largest initial landholders of the new town. According to Powell (1963) the founding of Marlborough with exclusive closed-field land tenure was a seminal event in establishing the predominant freehold or fee simple land tenure system of America. Rice was reelected as selectman in Marlborough every year after 1657 until his death.
Matthew Rice, baptized 28 February 1628/29 at St. Peter's Church, Berkhamsted, died 1717 at Sudbury, MA, married Martha Lamson 2 November 1654.
Daniel Rice, baptized 1 November 1632 at St. Peter's Church, Berkhamsted, died 10 November 1632 at Berkhamsted.
Samuel Rice, baptized 12 November 1634 at St. Peter's Church, Berkhamsted, died 25 February 1684/85 at Marlborough, MA, married (1) Elizabeth King 8 November 1655, (2) Mary (Dix) Browne September 1668, and (3) Sarah (White) Hosmer 13 December 1676
Joseph Rice, baptized 13 March 1637/38, at St. Peter's Church, Berkhamsted, died 23 December 1711 at Stow, MA, married (1) Mercy (aka Martha) King 4 May 1658, (2) Mary Beers in 1670, and (3) Sarah (Prescott) Wheeler on 22 February 1677/78. Joseph Rice served as a representative in the Massachusetts General Court in 1683 and 1698.
Benjamin Rice, born 31 May 1640 at Sudbury, MA, died 19 December 1713 at Sudbury, MA, married (1) Mary Browne on 2 June 1661, and (2) Mary (Chamberlain) Graves in 1 April 1691
After the death of Thomasine Frost Rice on 13 June 1654 in Sudbury, MA, Edmund Rice married Mercy Brigham (c 1616-1693) on 1 March 1655 in Sudbury, MA. Mercy Brigham was the widow of Thomas Brigham (1603–1653). This marriage began the long association between the Rice and Brigham families. The maiden name of Mercy Brigham, often cited as Hurd, is uncertain due to lack of any primary documentation. Two daughters were born to Edmund and Mercy Rice as follows:
Lydia Rice, born circa 1657 at Sudbury, MA, died 26 May 1718, married James Hawkins, Jr. circa 1678
Andrew Henshaw Ward's A Genealogical History of the Rice Family: The Descendants of Deacon Edmund Rice, financed by members of the Rice family and published in 1858.
Descendants of Edmund Rice had been meeting annually at the old Rice homestead in Wayland since 5 September 1851. Documentation of Edmund Rice’s descendants began with the 1858 publication of a genealogy of the Rice family by Andrew Henshaw Ward (1784-1864). Its publication was funded by a committee formed at the 1856 annual reunion consisting of five Rice descendants, including: George Merrick Rice (1808-ca1880), president of the Worcester Common Council; Edmund Rice (1813-1888) (father of stage producer Edward E. Rice); his uncle, Levi Goodnough (1804-1886), a physician from Sudbury; Anson Rice (1798-1875) (postmaster of Northborough and grandfather of author Wallace Rice); and U.S. Congressman Constantine C. Esty (1824-1912). Despite the difficulties of communication and transportation in the 1850s, Ward was able to document over 6,200 Edmund Rice descendants and spouses, mostly in the New England region.
On 7 October 1903, Edmund Rice descendants were on hand to dedicate the homesite marker of Jonas Rice, a grandson of Edmund and founder of Worcester, Massachusetts. A few years later on 30 August 1912, shortly after the old family homestead in Wayland had been lost by fire, Rice descendants in Massachusetts formally organized the Edmund Rice (1638) Association (ERA), led primarily by Nellie Rice Fiske (1856-1934) a school teacher from Wayland. At that first ERA meeting, Eustace Bond Rice (1871-1938) a professor of music theory at the New England Conservatory who had grown up in the old Rice homestead was elected as the association’s first president, and they set out to raise funds to erect the homesite and cemetery monuments.
Beginning in the early 20th Century, and partially aided by the compilation and publication of Massachusetts vital records by Franklin Pierce Rice (1852-1919), the ERA undertook the task of building upon Ward’s pioneering genealogy by verifying and better documenting Edmund’s descendants. In the early 1930s, Alexander Hamilton Rice, Jr. (1875-1956) commissioned genealogist Mary Lovering Holman to examine existing information on Edmund Rice and produce an updated genealogy.[nb 16] On 10 Jan 1934, the ERA incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts as the Edmund Rice (1638) Association, Inc. For the 1938 tricentennial of Edmund's immigration to America, the ERA published Elsie Hawes Smith's Edmund Rice and his Family,[nb 17] and through the mid to late 20th Century, the ERA continued to publish several genealogical volumes documenting Edmund Rice's descendants. By 1968, the ERA had compiled and verified 26,000 descendants of Edmund. In 2013, the ERA electronic database of known Edmund Rice descendants into the 14th and 15th generations had exceeded 203,000 individuals. Using data from the ERA electronic database, a total of 2.7 million of Edmund's descendants has been estimated to be in the 12th generation, with a total estimated 4.4 million descendants cumulatively in the first twelve generations.[nb 18]
Plaque memorializing the death of one and capture of four Rice boys from a flax field in Marlborough (later to become Westborough) with the inscription, "In the Field South of this Spot August 8, 1704 Indians Killed Nahor and Captured Ashur, Adonijah, Silas and Timothy Rice." The monument was placed by the Westborough Historical Society in 1904 on the occasion of the capture bicentennial. It is located near Westborough High School at 42°15′57″N71°37′05″W / 42.265712°N 71.617979°W / 42.265712; -71.617979.
The genetic testing of Edmund Rice descendents has also served to confirm two different direct male descendant lines in which there had been a change in surname. Data showed direct patrilineal descendants with the surname King, confirming a name change had occurred with Samuel Rice 1667-1713 (aka Lt. Samuel Rice King). Notable direct descendants of Edmund with the surname of King include William H. King (1863–1949) and his son, David S. King (1917–2009), who were U.S. Congressmen from Utah. Likewise some individuals with the surname of Royce also have been found to have Y-STR genetic markers identical to Edmund Rice confirming a name change by Alpheus Rice 1787-1871 (aka Capt. Alpheus Royce). A notable direct patrilineal descendant of Edmund with the surname of Royce is George E. Royce (1829-1903), a businessman and state legislator from Vermont.
The genetic testing further revealed Y-STR genetic markers of Edmund Rice among several male members of the Mohawk nation who have the surname of Rice. The tested individuals are most probably descended from Silas Rice, one of four Rice boys who were captured during Queen Anne's War by Mohawks on 8 August 1704 in Marlborough (later Westborough), Massachusetts, carried off and raised in Kahnawake, Canada. Actress Alexandrea Kawisenhawe Rice (b. 1972) of Kahnawake Mohawk ancestry is a notable descendant of Edmund Rice and his great-grandson Silas.
^Several internet-based genealogical sources claim royal ancestry of Edmund and his descendants. These claims of royal ancestry with connection to Rhys ap Gruffydd (c 1508-1531) of Wales and his supposed son William Rice (1522-1588) of Buckinghamshire are most certainly in error. All these claims of royal ancestry have been traced by Donald Lines Jacobus, Gary Boyd Roberts, and others to a 1911 book By the Name of Rice written and self-published by Charles Elmer Rice of Alliance, Ohio.
^The chain of title of the homestead in the Rice family in Sudbury land records begins with the 3 April 1640 grant of land at the homesite to Edmund by the Sudbury Board of Selectmen. The house was likely built about 1642-43 when Edmund sold his house and four acres in the original Sudbury settlement to John Moore on 13 September 1642. The land and house near “the spring” was first sold to Philemon Whale 23 October 1643 and then reacquired by Edmund in the late 1650s. The house was then passed on in probate to Edmund's son Edward (1622-1712) in June 1663. Edward Rice deeded the house to his son Edmund Rice (1653-1719) as a gift on 21 April 1686, who in turn deeded the house to his son Jason Rice (1692-1730) on 14 Nov 1718. Upon his death, Jason Rice passed on the house to his son Jason Rice (1728-1801) who in turn sold the house to his brother Edmund Rice (1725-1796) on 12 Dec 1749. Edmund then passed on the house to his son Edmund Rice (1755-1841) on 22 Feb 1796, who in turn passed the house on to his son Edward Rice, Sr. (1793-1868) when he died in 1841. In probate in 1868 Edward, Sr. passed the house on to his son Edward Rice Jr. (1824-1917) who held the house until it burned down in about 1912.
^Rev. Thomas Newman served as rector of St. Peter's Church in Berkhamsted for over 40 years (1598-1639) and served for a time as a Chief Burgess of Berkhamsted and mayor in 1631. According to parish records Newman was the second husband of Bridget (Dryden) Marbury, who was mother of Anne Marbury Hutchinson by way of her first husband Francis Marbury. Despite being a staunch Anglican, by 1645 Newman fell into political disfavor by being barred from the rectory of St. Peter's by Act of Parliament for a payment delinquency.
^Documents regarding the royal grant and the transfer of funds to civil officials never refer to Edmund Rice as "Mr. Rice" as was customary for men of high status. In Berkhamsted, Edmund was considered an ordinary yeoman farmer. Rice's service as a lay official in High Church Anglican St. Peter's Church in Berkhamsted is in stark contrast to his service as a Puritan Deacon later in life in Massachusetts.
^It is possible to estimate the cost of passage of Edmund and his family to America based upon other families of comparable size traveling at that time during the Puritan Great Migration. According to Powell (1963), Edmund's Sudbury town mate, Peter Noyes and his family sailed from England aboard the ship Jonathan on 12 April 1639 in a party consisting of 11 people along with provisions and family effects. The bill of passage was £76.8.0. However it should also be noted that Hudson (1889) states that on 24 April 1638, Noyes and some of his family arrived on the ship Confidence in Boston from Southampton captained by John Jobson. After petitioning the General Court to form Sudbury in September 1638, Noyes returned to England to accompany additional family and servants on the April, 1639 voyage aboard the Jonathan.
^The original 1638 grant of lands by the Great and General Court to form Sudbury included lands that in addition to Sudbury, eventually became the present day towns of Wayland and Maynard as well.
^The petitioners specifically mentioned in the 6 September 1638 Petition to form Sudbury were Watertown residents Brian Pendleton, Peter Noyes and Rev. Edmund Brown, but other unnamed petitioners were included as "and Company" in the petition.
^In the archives of Sudbury there is documentation that Edmund was serving simultaneously as a selectman and a land surveyor prior to 4 April 1639. According to an undated town ordinance from 1639 (likely to be sometime in March 1639 based on the context of the ordinance text; March was considered the first month of the year based upon the Julian calendar then in use), "It is ordered and agreed that everyman within the towne that hath any land ly in any generall field that they shall make all such fences that apertayne to the field and sufficient; by the 4th of Aprill in this yeare and if any man shall fayle herein after the warnings given by the surveyors apoynted for that purpose or such time that they shall apoynt the persons so offending shall forfeit for every default 5 shillings. Edmund Rice and Robert Darnell for the north field; Thomas Goodnow and Andrew Belcher for the south field; We give these men power to levy for all such fines after 7 dayes after every default." Signed, Brian Pendleton, Peter Noyes, Walter Hayme, Edmund Rice. Since winter crossings of the Atlantic were hazardous, and thus very rare, it can be reasonably concluded that Rice arrived in Massachusetts during the summer or fall sea voyage season of 1638.
^According to the land grant by the selectmen of Sudbury on 3 April 1640, "Granted to Edmond Rice formerly twenty acres of upland lying betweene the land of Edmond Rice and Mr. Dunster's farm." signed, Peter Noyes, William Ward, Edmund Goodenow, Walter Hayme, and Hugh Griffyn
^John Moore (1602-1673) was married on 27 November 1633 in Little Gaddesden, Hertfordshire to Elizabeth Rice (Whale)(1612-1690) the daughter of Edmund's presumed brother Henry and stepdaughter of Philemon Whale. Moore was the father of Elizabeth Moore (ca1628-1705), who married Edmund's eldest son Henry on 1 February 1642 in Sudbury.
^Philemon Whale (1599-1676) was married on 24 January 1621/22 at St. Mary's Church, Bury St. Edmunds to Elizabeth (Frost) Rice (1587-1664), sister of Edmund Rice's wife Thomasine and widow to Edmund's presumed brother Henry Rice. Whale and his wife Elizabeth arrived in Sudbury in 1643 from Berkhamsted, the same year that Thomas and Mary Axtell (possibly Edmund's eldest daughter) arrived from the same town.
^According to Sudbury Land Records dated 23 October 1643, "Philemon Whale bought of Edmund Rice 9 acres of upland be the same more or less lyinge on the south syde of the towne bound of Sudbury between the lande of John Hayme on the south side of it and ioyninge to the springe runninge from his new dwelling house to the river on the west side of it."
^The "Jennison Farm" tract on the eastern boundary line of Sudbury with Watertown (currently near the eastern boundary of Wayland with Weston) was granted by the Massachusetts Great and General Court in 1638 to Captain William Jennison for his service in the Pequot War of 1636-37. Rice acquired the property as a result of Jennison's return to his hometown of Colchester, Essex. The property was eventually passed on to Rice's son Matthew.
^During Edmund’s time, the English pound was by definition valued at the price of sterling silver. During the 17th and 18th Centuries, the price of silver was relatively stable at about $300 per troy ounce in 2010 dollars. Given the conversion factors of 12 troy ounces to a pound, and 20 shillings to a pound and 12 pence to a shilling, Edmund’s probate inventory (mostly his land holdings) valued at £743, 8s, & 4p would be worth about US$2.67 million in 2010.
^Further circumstantial evidence for Mary Axtell Maynard being the daughter of Edmund Rice beyond those presented by Marilyn Axtell Cheney (1988) includes the fact that the three children of Thomas and Mary Axtell were named Mary (1639-1704), Henry (1641-1676) and Lydia (1644-1717), all matching in names of Edmund's children from the previous generation, with two of these children (Mary & Henry) born in Berkhamsted prior to the 1643 Axtell immigration to Sudbury, and with Lydia born one year before the marriage of her presumed aunt Lydia Rice to Hugh Drury in Sudbury.
^Although the genealogy commissioned by Dr. Alexander H. Rice was never published, Mrs. Holman's publication [The American Genealogist 10:133-137 (1934)] of her research findings in the archives of England have been invaluable in understanding Edmund's East Anglian roots; her notes were deposited in the archives of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and later used by the ERA in the published genealogies of 1967 and 1970.
^Elsie Hawes Smith served as president of the ERA from 1937 to 1939. She was appointed as the historian of the association in 1940 and she served in that capacity until her death on 30 January 1963. She was instrumental in compiling records of thousands of Rice descendants later published by the ERA.
^ abRice, Charles E. (1911). By the Name of Rice: An Historical Sketch of Deacon Edmund Rice The Pilgrim 1594-1663 and His Descendants to the Fourth Generation. Williams Printing, Alliance Ohio. 84pp. web version
^Meredith B. Colket and Edward N. Dunlop. (1936). The English ancestry of Anne Marbury Hutchinson and Katherine Marbury Scott: including their descent and that of John Dryden, poet-laureate, from Magna Charta sureties with notes on the English connections of the settlers William Wentworth and Christopher Lawson of New Hampshire and Francis Marbury of Maryland. Magee Publishing Company, Philadelphia. 60pp.
^pp. 373-376. In: William Urwick (1884). Nonconformity in Herts: being lectures upon the nonconforming worthies of St. Albans, and memorials of Puritanism and Nonconformity in all the parishes of the County of Hertford. Hazell, Watson, and Viney Publishers, London. 875pp.
^p. 197, The Charities of Hertfordshire, In: Middlesex and Hertfordshire Notes and Queries, Volume IV. F.E. Robinson Publishers, London. 1898.
^p. 45 In: Cobb, John W. (1883). Two Lectures on the History and Antiquities of Berkhamsted. Nichols and Sons, London.
^p. 198, The Charities of Hertfordshire, In: Middlesex and Hertfordshire Notes and Queries, Volume IV. F.E. Robinson Publishers, London. 1898.
^Berkhamsted land records, Appendix III, p. 178 in Powell (1963) op. cit.
^p.156 In: Cressy, David (1987). Coming Over: Migration and Communication between England and New England in the Seventeenth Century, Chapter 6 'The vast and furious ocean' Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-33850-6
^p. 3 In: Bolton, Ethel Stanwood. 1904. Some Descendants of John Moore of Sudbury, Massachusetts. Press of David Clapp and Son, Boston. 22pp. online version
^Dunster, Henry 1609-1659? Papers of Henry Dunster and the Dunster and Glover families. Agreement between Henry Dunster and his farmer, Edmund Rice, 1642 September 13. UAI 15.850 Box 1, Folder 8, Harvard University Archives. web access
^p. 324 In: Schutz, John A. (1997). Legislators of the Massachusetts General Court 1691-1780: A Biographical Dictionary. Northeastern University Press, Boston.
^Brigham, W.I.T., E.E. Brigham, and W.E. Brigham (1907). The history of the Brigham family; a record of several thousand descendants of Thomas Brigham the emigrant, 1603-1653. The Grafton Press, New York. 810pp. pdf
^Worcester Society of Antiquity (1903). Exercises Held at the Dedication of a Memorial to Major Jonas Rice, the First Permanent Settler of Worcester, Massachusetts, Wednesday, October 7, 1903. Charles Hamilton Press, Worcester. 72pp. web version