Friday, May 1, 2015

Holbrook line: Thomas Holbrook 1599-1677, Immigrant

We have a lot of information about Thomas Holbrook, but one of the things we don't know is when he was born.  He was christened on March 1, 1599 at St. John the Baptist Church, Glastonbury, Somersetshire, England.  If you're thinking that "Glastonbury" sounds familiar, it has very old associations with Joseph of Arimathea, King Arthur, and the Holy Grail.  Thomas may have grown up hearing some of these stories. He would most certainly have been familiar with the church where he was christened, which dates from the 15th century.  So the church was old (by American standards) when he was young. 

He was the fifth of at least seven children born to William Holbrook and Edith Coles Saunders.  So far I have not been able to learn what his father did for a living, nor, for that matter, what Thomas did.  Thomas grew up, however, and married Jane Powyes or Powis, daughter of William Powyes and Elizabeth, on September12, 1616 at Glastonbury.  If the 1599 birth date for Thomas is correct (and some think he was born a few years before he was christened), he would have been only about 17 years old, which was young for marriage then.   

Thomas and Jane and their family moved to Broadway, also in Somerset, in about 1633, where Rev. Joseph Hull was leading a Puritan congregation.  Archbishop William Laud of Canterbury was busy expelling Puritan preachers from Church of England congregations, and Hull was expelled in 1635.  On March 20, 1635, Rev. Hull and 105 other persons, mostly members or associates of his congregation, were on their way to New England on board the Marygould.  Children John, Thomas, Ann, and Elizabeth were with them.  William is not listed on the manifest and may not have come on the same ship.  Daughter Jane was born in 1636, after arriving in New England.   

The ship arrived in Boston on May 6, 1635, so the trip was relatively short.  In another two months, Reverend Hull and about 100 other persons were given permission to settle at Wessaguscus, south east of Boston.  The town was soon renamed Weymouth, and that is where the Holbrooks settled.  They had apparently been granted land in Rehoboth, which they did not settle and therefore forfeited.  Thomas was made a freeman in May of 1645, so by that time he had joined the church and was a property owner.  He was respected in town, as he was a selectman in 1642,1645, 1646, 1651, 1652 and 1654, and also helped lay out a road from Weymouth to Dorchester in 1648.

We don't know what Thomas did to make a living in the New World, either, but he likely raised some crops and perhaps also had some connection with the sea, since the settlement is right on the coastline.  He wrote his will in February of 1668/69 and added a codicil in 1673.  The will was proved April 24, 1677.  The inventory totaled 129 pounds, 1 shilling, of which forty pounds was real estate.  His estate, after his wife had died, was to be equally divided between his six surviving children, with eldest son John to get a double portion.  He left all of his grandchildren at least two shillings, with grandsons John to get his sword, Peter to get his gun, and William to get his musket.  In the codicil, Peter was also given the dwelling house and about three acres of orchard and arable land.  He states in the codicil that Peter had been as a servant to him and to wife Jane in their old age, and had cared for them for eight years at the time of the codicil.  Wife Jane had died sometime between 1673 and the date the will was proved, for John was the executor of the will.

Have I mentioned before how much I love working on these posts?  I always learn so much from writing them, but it always leaves me wanting more.  We are fortunate with Thomas Holbrook in several ways.  First, he has a lot of descendents, and some of them have been doing their own research and posting it on the web.  Secondly, because he arrived in New England in 1635, there is a wonderful write up of him in The Great Migration series on the American Ancestors website, and probably in your local library.  I am deeply indebted to them, and to Kathy and Larry McCurdy, who have compiled information on the website.  I also recommend, because gives not only information about Thomas, but also gives a lot of background information, and pictures of some of the areas associated with Thomas.

The line of descent is:

Thomas Holbrook-Jane Powyes
Thomas Holbrook-Joanna Kingman
Peter Holbrook-Alice Godfrey
Joseph Holbrook-Mary Cook
Jesse Holbrook-Abigail Thayer
Amariah Holbrook-Molly Wright
Nahum Holbrook-Susanna Rockwood
Joseph Holbrook-Mary Elizabeth Whittemore
Fremont Holbrook-Phoebe Brown
Loren Holbrook-Etta Stanard
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendents

There is also another line of descent.  The first three lines are the same, and then it's:

Mary Holbrook-Joseph Thompson
Alie Thompson-Joseph Rockwood 
Levi Rockwood-Deborah Lazell
Susanna Rockwood-Nahum Holbrook
and so on...  Susanna and Hahum would have been fourth cousins, if I have this figured right. 

Fun fact: Thomas and Jane are the ancestors of Presidents James Garfield, both Presidents Bush, and William Howard Taft.  That makes us distant cousins to all of them, a couple of times!