The name Comstock, with various spellings, [Columstock, Colmstoke, Coomstocke, Cumstocke, etc] is found in England from the 1200's forward. There is in fact a village called Culmstock in Devonshire - many early English surnames were taken from locations where the individual lived. The first Comstock believed to be in America, William Comstock, was in Watertown, Massachusetts Bay Colony by 1640, and died in New London, Connecticut, circa 1683. Although the name is spelled in various ways in documents, I have not found any current alternate spellings for the surname Comstock. There is proof via a deed of grandsons, that William certainly had sons named John and Daniel. Various records and relationships suggest strongly that he also had sons Samuel and Christopher and a daughter Elizabeth who married Edward Shipman. His wife of record in New England was Elizabeth, perhaps Elizabeth Daniel although the surname is unproved. William Comstock appears to be the only possible parent available for these five younger Comstocks. Comstock is not a commonly found name this early in America.
There is said to be a pedigree of nine generations of Komstohks in Germany and this pedigree has persisted in challenging researchers and encouraging some to presume that William Comstock, or some of those named as his sons, particularly Christopher, are not his sons at all but instead came from this German family. Recent research has not confirmed such a German family exists.
Y-DNA testing could definitely shed some light on whether or not John, Daniel, Samuel and Christopher were sons, or at least close kin, to William Comstock of Watertown. The haplogroup results indicating European origins might also be pertinent to the question.
Cyrus B. Comstock, a descendant of William Comstock, wrote two books about the Comstock family in the early 1900's, Some Descendants of Samuel Comstock of Providence, RI, and A Comstock Genealogy: Descendants of William Comstock. Both of these can now be downloaded from Google books in pdf format. A later book by John A. Comstock, A History and Genealogy of the Comstock Family in America, is still under copyright; much of his book comes directly from those by Cyrus B. Comstock.
I maintain a website with my own Comstock genealogy, Leaves of the Tree. I also have a Blog which has several posts dealing with some of the controversy concerning the Comstocks, as well as corrections to errors that appear in the published Comstock genealogies - the link is on my website. I do have access to all three of the books mentioned above, and I would be happy to attempt to help you find your Comstock ancestors if they are in the books. Please contact me directly through the email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ideal eligible members of the Project are male descendants, still carrying the Comstock surname, who can reasonably prove their line of descent from the suggested sons of William - John, Daniel, Samuel, or Christopher. Any male Comstock is welcome to join, but please furnish me with your earliest known Comstock ancestor. Also if you are a descendant, a female, or no longer have the Comstock surname, but are interested in the outcome of the tests, I would encourage you to make a small donation to the General Fund to be used for testing of those who do qualify. Any amount is accepted. If there is a balance in the General Fund and you would like to credit the amount towards the cost of your test, please email me.
Other test results, such as the mtDNA tests or FamilyFinder tests can be posted on the site by joining - however, they will not match any Y-DNA results since that is a male-only test.
12 June 2013
The following research results need additional substantiation. Please do not consider these as absolute. I am hoping to find a researcher in London that can perhaps follow up, but want to choose such a person carefully. Not too many persons are expert in research at such early dates.
There is a baptism recorded at St. Martin in the Fields, the church in Trafalgar Square, London. The name is spelled William Coomstocke and no parents names are given - the date is most certainly 4 Jul 1596. The baptism can be found at FamilySearch.org. There was also a Georg Constocke, baptized 24 Jun 1590 whose father's name was recorded as John Constocke.
That other Comstocks were there is further proved by C. B. Comstock's findings for his books on the family - he had found these burials.
From his book, "Descendants of William Comstock of New London, Connecticut", published 1907:
The Harleian Society publications gives among the burials of the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London:
"Mariana Combstocke, 30 Novr 1595.
"Joannes Combstocke, 26 Aug. 1597.
"Johannes Comstock, 1 Nov. 1603."
Unfortunately there is also a burial recorded at St. Martin in the Fields for William Comstock, 20 May 1598. No age or other details are given. This could very well be the child baptized two years earlier. On FindMyPast there is a database "Boy'd London Burials" which includes William Comstock and a John Comstock who was buried 1597 and a John Comstock, buried 1603. I have found other publications which contain transcripts of both the baptism and burial of this William Comstock, but not actual images of the original parish record.
We have no information or tradition that William Comstock, the immigrant ancestor of this study, ever lived in central London. There are very few occurences of the surname there at this time. I am inclined to believe this is not William, the immigrant, but a child who died very young.
Also from FamilySearch.org.
Wm. Camstock married Eliz. Cock, 2 Sep 1623, High Wycombe, Buckingham, England
It can be found in the database "England, Marriages, 1538–1973 "
This location is west of London and between London and Devon where the village of Culmstocke is located - where a family could easily have drifted toward the larger center of population.
Then from Ancestry.com are the digital images, database "London, England, Baptisms, Marriages & Burials, 1538-1812". At Hillindon, Uxbridge St. Margaret - a parish quite close to High Wycombe, I found the following baptisms. These images are difficult to read and spellings differ, but other colleagues have confirmed my interpretations:
1624, 21 Jul Indexed as "Damell", sonne to Willm Coomestone and Elizabeth his wife.
Note: I read the child's name as Daniell with an undotted i and the surname looks more like Coomestonk
1626, 10 Sep John, sonne to Willm Coomestocke and Elizabeth his wife
1629, 26 Apr Samuell, sonne to Willm Coomestock and Elizabeth uxor
Note: "uxor" is Latin for wife
1631, 18 Dec Elizabeth, fillia (daughter) William Coomstocke
1634, 18 Aug There is what appears to be an incomplete entry. The child is Christopher - the father's abbreviated first name, may indeed be Wm and the surname does look much like Coomestock in the other entries - it has been indexed as "Cumsters" which it certainly isn't.
1636, 17 May Christo'r. The father was William Coomestock, although this time indexed as "Cumscock". There is a word following the father's name - almost looks like "and" and doesn't seem to be "wife" or "uxor"
I have found no other entries in this database for any name resembling Comstock except in a Parish in Somerset, an area which lies immediately east of Devon and is closer to High Wycombe and Uxbridge. If the Comstock name came from Culmstocke, which is probable considering English surnames were often taken from locations, it would seem they had drifted away by the late 1500's.
My conclusions are these:
...The child baptized at St Martin in the Fields cannot be ruled out - he is the approximate age of our immigrant William Comstock, and there is no way to tell if he is the same William that died two years after the baptism.
...The name of William Comstock's wife is proved as Elizabeth - but her surname has never been proved as Daniel or Daniels. The marriage in 1623 to an Elizabeth (Cock, or perhaps Cocke) is timely and in a possible location either for a child born earlier in the inner city or an outlying parish.
...The names of the children baptized coincide closely with the names and possible birth dates of the four probable sons of William Comstock, to include possibly an infant Christopher that died young and a second child named Christopher.
...The Comstock records in this Parish end with the baptism of Christopher in May of 1636. William Comstock is listed with settlers who came to Watertown, CT between 1636 and 1640 and he was not one of the original settlers - many of these between 1636-1640 are said to have come direct from England. A Wethersfield, CT record shows that William Comstock owned land in 1641 that he had purchaed from Richard Milles - Milles had left Wethersfield in 1639. This suggests William Comstock had come before 1639, but not before 1636, which coincides nicely with the end of the records in Uxbridge, England and the lack of records in Connecticut prior to 1636 even though some researchers have alluded to the possible presence of William Comstock, without actual citations, before 1636.
My email address is listed above if you have comments or questions.