Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Holbrook line: Edward Thurston, Immigrant

Edward Thurston is interesting to me because not only was he an immigrant, he was a Quaker.  Records of his immigration to New England have not been found, at least not by me, so we are left wondering when he arrived and when and where he became a Quaker.  Family tradition says that he came to New England in 1638 with two of his brothers, but I am not aware of any documentation of this.  If this is true, he was in Cambridge, Massachusetts Colony for at least a brief period of time.

Also uncertain is exactly where he came from.  Most trees show Cambridge, England as his birthplace, and Adam Thurston and Ellen Wood as his parents.  If this information is correct, he is not known to have had brothers and sisters, although since he was born in 1617 and his mother didn't die until 1625, there likely were siblings. 

The first thing that is really known about him is that he was married in Newport, Rhode Island in 1647 to Elizabeth Mott, daughter of Adam Mott and Elizabeth Creel.  This is in the Quaker records for the town, so indicates that both the groom and the bride were of the Society of Friends.  For immigration, Edward may have gone directly to Rhode Island, but it seems more likely that he, as most of his neighbors, was in New England first and then either ordered out by authorities, or left as things were getting too warm in the area for Quakers.

Once in Newport, we don't know how Edward supported himself.  He seems to have been an educated man.  He signed a petition to the King asking that Quakers be excused from bearing arms in 1686, and another letter four years later congratulating William and Mary on their accession to the throne of England.  He was also very active in town affairs, serving as deputy or assistant deputy to the General Court frequently over the years.  He was made a freeman in 1655, which meant he had a vote in the affairs of the town,but I'm not sure whether it meant he owned property or not.

Edward and Elizabeth had 12 children, 6 sons and six daughters.  Their family must have respected the father because there are numerous "Edward Thurston's" who were born in Rhode Island over the next 100 or more years, all presumably descendants of the immigrant, and many who became prominent or at least useful in the colony.  He died March 1, 1707, either age 90 or in his ninetieth year, depending on the source.  Elizabeth had died in 1694. 

Even though I have not yet been able to learn much about this man, I know enough to believe him to have been a man of integrity and faith.  I'd love to know more about his life, especially how or if any of the Indian wars affected him, as a Quaker, and how his faith might have shown in his life.  We have brief hints, but not much more. And of course, I'd like to know for sure where he was born, and more of his life in England, as well as exactly when and why he emigrated.  And most of all, I'd like to know if Edward knew another of our ancestors in Newport with strong religious (Baptist) beliefs, Obadiah Holmes.  If so, were they friends or "not so much"?

The line of descent is:

Edward Thurston-Eliabeth Mott
Sarah Thurston-John Thornton
Benjamin Thornton-Mary possibly Gurney
Sarah Thornton-Stephen Paine
Nathan Paine-Lillis Winsor
Deborah Paine-Enos Eddy
Joseph Brown Eddy-Susan Lamphire
Susan Eddy-Hiram Stanard
Louis Stanard-Mary Alice Hetrick
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants