I've resisted writing about Thomas Rowell, because I didn't understand how he could actually fit in the Beeks family tree. His connection is his daughter Alice, who married William Lakin and went to Maryland with her husband. So how could a man in Essex County, Massachusetts be Alice's father?
Today I was reviewing him again and found that a reputable and knowledgeable Maryland genealogist, Robert Barnes, accepts that Alice is indeed Thomas's daughter. (See Colonial Families of Maryland: Bound and Determined). The Lakin family ended up in Maryland when Alice's grandson Abraham became a servant to Thomas Hanslap, gentleman. So that makes a bit of sense and I'm now content to learn about Thomas Rowell.
Thomas was born about 1594 in Atherstone, Mancetter, Warwickshire, England to Valentine and Elizabeth Hampton Rowell. Atherstone was a small town in what is known as the "Midlands" of England. It was a market town, and had quite a bustling list of industries. I'm not sure what Thomas did in England. He may have farmed (sheep were a big part of the economy) or he may have learned a trade. On October 7, 1641, he was married to Margaret or Alice Milner also of Mancetter, Warwickshire. He would have been in his late forties by the time of this marriage, so it is more than possible that this was not his first marriage. Thomas and Alice had at least four children together.
Thomas was in New England by 1638 because he was listed as one of the first proprietors of Salisbury, Massachusetts Bay Colony, in 1639. His trade was that of a carpenter, which he could well have practiced the same in England. His first (?) wife died in 1649, apparently in England. We don't know whether she ever came to the New World, or whether perhaps she had returned home to visit, or to possibly be treated for an illness.
Thomas then married Margaret Fowler Osgood and by her had one son, plus they raised her young son together. They moved to Ipswich, Massachusetts, about the time of their marriage, and then went on to Andover, where Thomas died in 1662.
Thomas's will is available only in abstract form, but there was really no need for one because they had signed a pre-nuptial agreement where his wife was to get one half of the estate, and son Jacob would get his share when he reached 21. There was also some money set aside for grandchildren. This is just a guess on my part, but since the adult children apparently did not dispute the will, I wonder if he had already given them their part of his estate, perhaps when he married Margaret Fowler. There is an inventory but I am having trouble reading it.
Margaret, the second or third wife, married twice more after Thomas's death.
That is not a lot of information for a man who helped build America. I'd like to know more about him. Why did he come to America? What happened to his first (?) wife, that she died in England? Was this a religious family? Could Thomas read and write? Some of these questions may be forever unanswered, but it's good to think about them anyway.
The line of descent is:
Thomas Rowell-Alice (or Margaret) Milner
Alice Rowell-William Lakin
William Lakin-Elizabeth Symons
Abraham Lakin-Martha Lee
Joseph Lakin-Elizabeth Parnell
Mary Lakin-John Simpson Aldridge
John Simpson Aldridge-Lucinda Wheeler
Darlington Aldridge-Leah Folsom
Harvey Aldridge-Margaret Catherine Dunham
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Fun fact: If you go back 14 generations on Carrie Underwood's tree, Thomas and Alice or Margaret Milner are there. So the Beeks family are very distant cousins to Carrie Underwood.