Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Beeks line: Thomas Bloomfield 1617-1684 Immigrant

There is a lot of information about Thomas Bloomfield.  Unfortunately, much of it is conflicting.  For instance, Find A Grave gives him the title of Colonel, and other sources say that is because he was a Colonel in Oliver Cromwell's Army.  Since Cromwell didn't raise an army until 1642 and since Thomas arrived in Newburyport, Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638, the facts don't add up.  Perhaps there was another Thomas Bloomfield who was a colonel in Oliver Cromwell's army, perhaps Thomas earned the title in Massachusetts or New Jersey, or perhaps there is nothing to the "colonel" Thomas Bloomfield at all.

He is widely stated to have been born in Woodbridge, Suffolk, England in 1617.  Woodbridge has a history going back 1100 years and a medieval church, St. Mary's, still stands there.  This would likely have been the church that the Bloomfields attended.  The Bloomfields may have been either "John William" or "John Thomas", and the wife may have been either Mary Withers or Elspeth.  Regardless, Thomas came to the New World in 1638, at the age of 21.  He either went directly to Newbury,or actually landed there, and stayed for at least 15 years and probably closer to 30 years.  By 1642, he had married Mary.  There seems to be quite a bit of confusion as to whether this was Mary Withers or Mary Waters and I haven't yet found information to clarify this, nor have I found an exact date of marriage. 

We do know that he was a carpenter.  Whether he worked on land or on ships isn't clear, and at this time period, he may well have been considered proficient to do both.  Thomas and Mary had 9 children together between 1642 and 1664, so Thomas must have worked hard to support his family.
The oldest daughter, Mary, married Jonathan Dunham in Haverhill, Essex County in 1660 so the Bloomfields must have still been in Newbury then.

by 1669 he was in the area of Woodbridge, New Jersey, where he received an early patent from Governor Carteret for about 326 acres.  He was made a freeholder there in 1670, which seems to have been some sort of a governing position, which required that the freeholder meet both residence and property ownership requirements.  He was also a representative from Woodbridge to the General Assembly in 1675, an assistant judge, and a coroner over the next few years, all indicating that he held positions of respect in his community.

Thomas wrote his will June 10, 1684 and died sometime before March 5, 1685/86. 

There is likely more information to be found about Thomas in some of the books about Woodbridge, and possibly in books about Newbury.  However, this is a start, enough to bring the name to the attention of the Beeks family, and to remind us all of the hard work and adjustments that our colonial ancestors made.  I think about Mary, who would have been roughly 50 years old when she left Massachusetts Bay Colony to go to New Jersey, and start over in a new place that was not settled yet.  What enabled these people to travel the ocean, settle down, and then in late middle age move yet again to another place that meant "starting over"?  I want to learn more about this couple!

The line of descent is:

Thomas Bloomfield-Mary Waters or Withers
Mary Bloomfield-Jonathan Dunham
Benjamin Dunham-Mary Rolph
Jonathan Dunham-Mary Smith
Samuel Dunham-Hannah Ruble
Jacob Dunham-Catherine Goodnight
Samuel G Dunham-Eliza Reese
Margaret Dunham-Harvey Aldridge
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendants