Friday, December 26, 2014

Allen line: Thomas Dewey, Immigrant

Thomas Dewey is another mystery.  His birth date is given as 1603 but it may be as late as 1613. He is generally said to have been born in Sandwich, Kent, England but the estimable "Great Migration Begins" series gives this little credence.  The identity of his wife is also unsettled.

Regardless, we know that Thomas Dewey was in the New World by 1633, when he witnessed a nuncupative (oral) will of John Russell of Dorchester.  He became a freeman in 1634, and was also granted land in Dorchester in 1634, which he sold in 1635 to Thomas Holcombe and Richard "Joanes".  He was apparently part of the contingent that went from Dorchester to Windsor in 1635, because his name is on a list labelled as such from 1640.  He married Frances, who may or may not have been Frances Randall but was certainly the widow of Joseph Clark on March 22, 1638/39 in Windsor, Ct. (Frances had two children when she married Thomas, had five children with Thomas, and then later married George Phelps and had several children with him.) 

Windsor, Ct of course was a frontier town since Thomas had gone there as an original settler. This would have meant that homes, farms, roads, mills, church, and other necessities of life would have had to have been established by the first settlers and their servants. There is no known evidence that Thomas had servants, so he probably did much of the hard work himself. Also there were the native Americans to contend with, and on top of that, political problems between Springfield and Hartford, over how to deal with a grain famine when the natives demanded higher prices for their grain. This was in 1648, so Thomas may not have known about much of this.

Thomas died on April 27, 1648 in Windsor, 9 or 10 years after he and Frances were married.  He left behind five children: Thomas, Josiah, Anna, Israel and Jedediah, and there may have been John also.  His estate was valued at 213 pounds, of which 118 pounds was real estate.  I've seen comments that this indicated he was not financially successful, but if he was somewhere between 35 and 45 years of age, this was not the estate of a pauper.  A court appointed committee distributed the funds, of which Frances got 60 pounds.  This wasn't a full third of the estate so I'm not sure why there wasn't more for Frances, but there may be extenuating circumstances that went into the decision.  One of the Dewey descendents several generations down the line put up a monument in Westfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts, perhaps because none could be found in Windsor.

The line of descent is

Thomas Dewey-Frances possibly Randall
Thomas Dewey-Constant Hawes
Elizabeth Dewey-Thomas Noble
Thomas Noble-Sarah Root
Stephen Noble-Ruth Church
Ruth Noble-Martin Root Jr.
Ruth Root-Samuel Falley
Clarissa Falley-John Havens Starr
Harriet Starr-John Wilson Knott
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendents

Fun fact: Admiral George Dewey of the Spanish American War is a descendent of Thomas and Frances, so we are distant, distant cousins to him.  Admiral Dewey is the one person to have ever held the rank of "Admiral of the Navy".