Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Beeks line: Thomas Besson 1616-1678

Thomas Besson is the immigrant ancestor in this line. The mystery is, which Thomas Besson is he, and when did he come to the New World?  As is often the case, there are several versions of who he was and when he arrived.  His parents may have been Francis Besson and Marcella, of York, England, or they may be Thomas Besson, or his records may actually be found in the Channel Islands. It seems most likely that he is the Thomas Besson who was baptized January 11, 1617/1618 at St Andrews, Plympton, Devon, England.  These records are not yet available on line, as far as I can find, so we don't know what they might show as to the parents of Thomas. 

We also don't know when or whom he married (apparently a woman named Ann) nor do we know when he arrived in the New World. I've seen records stating he arrived as a servant in 1635 and another that he arrived in 1649 with his wife, two children, and servant. He received headrights for these later, along with three additional persons who were claimed as his headrights.  It is of course possible that he arrived in 1635-1640, went back to England and married, and then brought his family here.

At any rate, we know that he received a grant from Lord Calvert in 1649 on the south side of the Arundel River, and here he stayed.  It is believed that he may have been one of the non-Conformists who were forced from Virginia at that time due to religious intoleration. Fortunately, Maryland was still practicing religious freedom at the time.

Thomas and Ann had several children, as did Thomas and Hester (widow Caplin).  Almost everything I have looked at assigns the children in different order, to differing mothers. There were John, William, two Thomases, Martha, and Anne. On my tree, I've used the most common finding of Hester for Martha's mother, but that is still open to proof, one way or the other. 

Thomas was a respected man in his area as is evidenced by the fact that he held office under the commonwealth in Maryland and attended the last session of the Commision in September 1657, when Lord Baltimore regained sovereignty after the English Civil War.  At the Restoration (of the English monarchy) he was appointed a magistrate of Anne Arundel County and served as such from about 1568 to 1668. He was "Captain of the Trayned Band" (a militia unit, needed because of the ever-present threat from the native Americans) and in 1665 was elected one of the burgesses from Anne Arundel County. 

Thomas's will was written March 10th, 1678/79 and proven May 1, 1679.  His inventory included 16,296 lbs of tobacco, and his debts were almost as large, leaving about 500 lbs of tobacco to be distributed among his heirs. He also had owned about 800 acres of land, and that was given to son John, son William, son Thomas the younger. Thomas the elder was overseer but apparently didn't receive anything in the will.  He may have received his land earlier. 

There's a lot more research to do regarding Thomas. Did he live out his live as a Puritan non-conformist, or did he join the Church of England? Who was his first wife, and which children belonged to which wife? Who was his second wife? When did he first arrive in the New World?  And of course, who were his parents?  I'd like to know about this immigrant ancestor.

The line of descent is:

Thomas Besson-Ann or Hester
Martha Besson-Nicholas Aldridge
Thomas Aldridge-Elizabeth Purdy
John Aldridge Eleanor Watkins
Jacob Aldridge-Elizabeth Soper
John Simpson Aldridge-Mary Lakin
John Simpson Aldridge Jr-Lucinda Wheeler
Darlington Dart Aldridge-Leah Folsom
Harvey H Aldridge-Mary Catherine Dunham
Gretta Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendents

Fun fact:  One of the appraisers of Thomas's inventory was Richard Tydings, who is an ancestor in the Holbrook line.  The families were neighbors, way back when and way back there!