Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Holbrook line: Ferdinando Thayer

I just have to write about Ferdinando.  First, he has a wonderful name. Secondly, we seem to have at least three lines that trace back to him, in the Holbrook side of things. And lastly, he was an immigrant, although really the immigrant status belongs to his parents, Thomas Tayer (lots of spellings) and Margery Wheeler.

Since he is an immigrant, it will be no surprise that he was born in England, in Thornbury, Gloucester, to be exact. He was christened on April 18, 1625 so was born sometime before that (children were usually christened before their first birthday and some were christened as soon as the day after their birth).  His father would have attended a lot of christenings, as it appears there may have been as many as 21 children born to this couple.  I wonder how Thomas supported his family. When he died, he called himself a shoemaker, which seems to be a humble trade, but the amount of land he had indicates he was a person of substantial wealth.

So it seems to have been a good move for Thomas, Margery, and their children, including our current hero, Ferdinando, to have come to the New World.  There seems to be some confusion about when the Thayer family arrived in America but they are not listed in the Great Migrations series, of families that arrived before 1636, so perhaps Thomas did come on the "Blessing" in 1637.  If so, his wife and what remained of his family may have come in 1640, as it is reported that one of the children died in Thornbury in 1640.  Ferdinando would have been 12 years old if he came with his father and 15 or 16 if he came with his mother in 1640-1641.  At any rate, at least 7 of his siblings had died in England.

Ferdinando lived with his parents for much of his life.  On January 14, 1652/53 he married Huldah Hayward, daughter of Thomas Hayward and Margery Knight, in Braintree, Mass.  The young married couple continued to live with Thomas and Margery until Thomas's death in 1665.  His father's will had been generous to him, and he ended up with so much property that he and his two brothers, Sydrach and Thomas, agreed to redistribute the land so that each had a more equal share.

Ferdinando then moved, as a founder, to Nipmug, later Mendon, Worcester County, Massachusetts.  He prospered for when he died he had one of the largest farms in the area, and provided farms for each of his sons in his will.  He did not have an easy time of it, though.  The Thayers were forced to abandon their home during King Philip's War in 1675. The town and surrounding fields were all destroyed, and the area was not resettled until 1680.  It was truly a case of starting over again. Ferdinando would have been 55 at this time, so the task may have seemed daunting to him.

Fortunately, he had a large family to assist him.  Ferdinando and Huldah had twelve children, of whom two (each named David) died young. Deborah, Huldah, Jonathan, Naomi, Thomas, Samuel, Isaac, Josiah, Ebenezer, and Benjamin all lived to have children of their own, and the Thayer name is still evident in New England.  For Ferdinando to have been able to leave farms to each of his 5 surviving sons, he must have acquired large areas of land, but I have not documented yet where the land was.

His wife Huldah had died in 1690. Ferdinando married for a second time, to Ann Freebury.  With all due respect to any of her descendents, Ann was not a loving wife to her husband, and she made accusations against her husband and his sons, charging that they sold liquor to Indians (which was prohibited), that he had deserved to have his house burnt during King Philip's War and it would occur again if they did not stop trafficking with the Indians. She also charged that he had failed to provide for her, along with various other charges.  Apparently Ann became disenchanted with her husband when she learned that he was giving his land to his sons, and she would get only the 1/3 of his remaining estate that was hers by law.  I get the feeling that it's a good thing for family dignity that there was no television then, or we could have been watching a reality show or worse.

Ferdinando died on March 28, 1713 at the age of 86.  He had seen good times and he had seen bad times, but his descendents would continue to build the New World.  I would like to know more about his relationship with his second wife, the veracity of her charges, and most especially, where his first name originated.  I'm not aware of any other Ferdinando in our tree.

One of our lines of descent is:

Ferdinando Thayer-Huldah Hayward
Ebenezer Thayer-Martha Thompson
Deborah Thayer-John Rockwood
Joseph Rockwood-Alice Thompson
Levi Rockwood-Deborah Lazell
Susannah Rockwood-Nahum Holbrook
Joseph Holbrook-Mary Elizabeth Whittemore
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Ann Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendents

Fun fact:  Ferdinando and Huldah were ancestors of Barbara Bush and thus of the second President Bush.  We're approximately 10th cousins to him.