Friday, December 9, 2016

Holbrook line: Thomas Angell 1618-1689 Immigrant

Thomas Angell walked and talked with one of my hero ancestors, Roger Williams.  That is reason enough to write about him, in my view.  We don't know as much about him as we know about Roger Williams, but it is enough to convince us he was an honorable man, educated and yet probably humble, as he called himself a "farmer" even though he was town clerk of Providence, Rhode Island for 17 years. 

Sources vary and don't always make a lot of sense.  Once source seems to indicate he was illiterate, but somewhere he learned to read and write well enough that he was trusted with recording the business of the town.  Another question arises about his immigration.  It has been variously suggested that he came with Richard Waterman in 1629, as a personal assistant, but he would have been only about 11 years old then.  Others say he came in 1631 on the ship "Lyon" with Roger Williams, or that he came with his sister and her family in 1638.  None of these theories make perfect sense, and none is documented.

So, we believe Thomas Angell was born to James and Mary Angell and was christened on May 1, 1618 at St. Alban's, Hertfordshire, England.  We lived at least his boyhood in England before coming to New England, where at some point he met Roger Williams.  This may have been in Salem, Massachusetts Bay Colony or it may have been in Seekonk in Plymouth Colony, on Williams' way to exile.  It's also possible that he arrived in Providence on his own or with his sister's family. 

He was in Providence in time to sign a document covenanting to join in a town fellowship.  This was not dated but is believed to have been signed with an X, sometime between July 13, 1638 and 1640. He name was on the list of thirty nine signers on an agreement for a government there, dated July 27,1640.  At least the first document was signed with an "X", which is puzzling.  Did he not acquire his literacy skills until he was an adult?

Thomas was a farmer, and married Alice Ashton, the daughter of James Ashton and Alice Honeychurch about 1643.  Although some sources say, without documentation, that the marriage took place in England it seems much more likely that it occurred in Providence.  They had at least eight children, including John, James, Anphyillis, Mary, Deborah, Alice, Margery and possibly Thomas (not mentioned in will, perhaps died young).

While Thomas was raising and providing for his family, he was also quite busy with town affairs. He seems to have taken his obligations as a citizen seriously, and was a member of the Town Council in 1650, as well as surveyor and commissioner.  He served as a juryman in 1650,1652, and 1659.  He served on some high profile trials and commissions, and as mentioned earlier was town clerk for 17 years.  Somehow, he and Roger Williams parted ways, intellectually or politically, and Williams filed charges against him as being one of three ringleaders pushing for a new division in the colony.  He was apparently not prosecuted, however.  He also was one of those who decided the fate of Indian captives after King Philip's War.  (Providence had been almost totally destroyed during that conflict). 

Thomas's will was probated September 18, 1694, on the same day as his wife's.  It had been written May 23, 1685 and it is believed he died about 1689.  By this time, he had acquired several parcels of land, up to 60 acres in size, which he divided between his two surviving sons, and two shillings to each of his daughters. He rather generously left his dwelling house and a small portion of land to his widow, plus each son was to give his mother 8 shillings a year.  Alice's will left five pounds to James, certain personal belongings to each of her four surviving daughters, and the balance to be divided between the two sons.  This makes it seem possible that Thomas had died earlier but that for whatever reason, the will was not probated until Alice also had died. 

I envy Thomas in one respect, that he was able to know and talk with Roger Williams.  I don't know what caused their falling out nor how long it lasted, but I hope they were able to patch things up.  Thomas is another ancestor worthy of our admiration. 

The line of descent is:

Thomas Angell-Alice Ashton
Anphyllis Angell-Edward Smith
Anphyllis Smith-Zachariah Eddy
Elisha Eddy-Sarah Phetteplace
Enos Eddy-Sarah Brown
Enos Eddy-Deborah Paine
Joseph Brown Eddy-Susan Lamphire
Susan Eddy-Hiram Stanard
Louis Stanard-Mary Alice Hetrick
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants