The Sims family in Dover
The best information we have so far suggests that our branch of the Sims family has its roots in Dover, in Kent, England. Our "weak link in the chain" is our lack of firm proof that the James Sims who married Jane Castleman in Woolwich is indeed the same James Sims, son of Robert Sims of Dover. While still searching for contradictory or confirmatory evidence, this remains our working assumption.
If that is true, our earliest confirmed ancestor is Robert Sims who married Sarah Baker at St. Mary the Virgin Church in Dover on July 26th, 1784.
There was a large contingent of Sims family members living in Dover in the 1600 and 1700’s. At least one of the very early Sims settlers in the Americas came from Dover in the early 1600’s. For many years now we have been trying to trace Robert Sims’ parents. Despite reading all the various parish records and assorted other documents, we have yet to come to any firm conclusions. While we have the original marriage record, Robert’s birth has been difficult to identify. There were several Robert Sims’ living at about that time, in and around Dover. A couple can be eliminated from contention because they left wills or other records ruling them out as our Robert Sims. We are left with two credible contenders.
The Guston option
The 1761 baptism record from Guston Parish for the second Robert Sims, son of Thomas and Christian Sims.
The first possibility is that our Robert Sims is the son of Thomas Simms (they seemed to spell the name interchangeably back then) and Christian Roof, married April 8, 1749. Thomas and Christian had two sons named Robert, one born in 1755 who died in infancy and a second born in 1761. They lived in the little village of Guston, which is situated up the hill from the Port of Dover, inland slightly from the cliffs, about three miles from Dover itself.
An important point suggesting a link between our Sims family and the Guston family is that there was an Eastes family living in Guston at the time. When Robert Sims died, his widow Sarah married a John Eastes, a widower. A John Eastes was married, in Guston, to an Ann Marsh on May 9th, 1778. There were also Baker and Curling families in Guston, the two names of the witnesses to Robert's marriage to Sarah Baker and her subsequent marriage to John Eastes. A Thomas Curling provided the bond for the marriage license.
The Quaker Option
The second possibility is that Robert was a member of an extensive Quaker family living in Dover. There was a Robert Sims born March 16th, 1720, to a Henry and Katherine, but that seems too early. There is another Robert Sims in the Quaker records for 1798, which is too late. The Quaker family was large, and the use of the name Robert leaves sufficient possibility that our Robert came from that line. We are exploring this possibility further.
Help climb the brick wall
If you have any information that would help establish the identity of Robert's parents, please let us know. We would be happy to share all our Dover Sims' records with anyone interested and intend to follow up the evidence to try to make a firm connection, expanding our tree back in time.