Saturday, 22 October 2016

Immigrant Ancestors: Thomas Birchard (1595-1657)

My 9th great grandfather, Thomas Birchard, was born in 1595 in Essex, England. Setting sail in September 1635, he arrived at Boston on the Truelove with his wife, Mary Robinson (1597-1655) and six children, including my 8th great grandfather, John Birchard (abt 1628-1702), who was then just seven years old. On the ship manifest, Thomas is described as a labouring man. They came as part of the Great Migration.

Thomas is another of my growing number of ancestors listed in my favourite handy little resource. He was most likely a Puritan.

Thomas and his family spent their first few years in New England in Roxbury, which was annexed to Boston in 1868. It was one of the first few towns of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, settled in 1630.

By 1639, the Birchards were in Hartford, Connecticut. Thomas is recognized as one of that city's founders, having settled there before February 1640.

By 1653, the Birchards were living in Edgartown, on Martha's Vineyard, where he became town clerk. In those days, the journey between Hartford and Martha's Vineyard would not have been a straightforward affair. I wonder what prompted Thomas to leave Hartford and to settle on Martha's Vineyard as his family's new home. Was his son, John, already there?

In about 1655, Thomas' wife Mary died. Some sources say this happened in Roxbury, but we know that by 1653, Thomas was on Martha's Vineyard. In any case, Thomas remarried at least once more in Edgartown, and possibly twice.

Now, Martha's Vineyard was the domain of my ancestor Governor Thomas Mayhew, another of my 9th great grandfathers. I wrote about him here. In 1673, a movement began to oust Mayhew, and Thomas was apparently the first to sign a petition to the General Court at Massachusetts Bay. The movement was crushed.

By 1682, Thomas had relocated yet again, to Norwich, Connecticut, where John was then living as one of that town's first proprietors. Thomas died in Norwich

A manuscript published in 1927 claims to have traced the first Birchard all the way back to the Franks in 496. I might take that with a grain of salt.

The never ending story continues....

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! My name is Kristin Lewis Haight. I happen to be related to both Thomas Birchard and Thomas Mayhew, too. I have been uncovering some interesting family history and found the connection to the two men fascinating because they are on different branches of my tree. I am new to genealogy and am thrilled when I make new connections like this. Last week I discovered that one of my ancestors had several children and three of them had branches in both of my parents' trees. I felt like I had solved a jigsaw puzzle. Thanks for this blog.. very helpful thing to stumble upon. Cheers!