Cliff McCarthy, 2016
Last Updated 20 September 2018
By far, the best and most up-to-date information on Thomas Blanchard is to be found on the Blanchard family website: http://blanchardfamilyhistory.org
Thomas Blanchard was probably born circa 1590; the place of birth is unknown. The first record of him is his marriage to a woman named Elizabeth, surname unknown. They were married in 1617 in England. Elizabeth Blanchard’s name appeared in parish records for Goodworth Clatford, Hampshire, England, which is located about two miles south of Andover, England.
The records of that parish also record the baptisms of seven children they had together (see below). The Goodworth Clatford parish records also show the burial of Thomas’s wife, Elizabeth, on July 23, 1636. Less than a year later, on 15 May 1637, Thomas married Agnes (Bent) Barnes at St. Edmonds, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England. Salisbury is about 20 miles southwest of Andover.
According to the Blanchard family website:
“Agnes was the widow of Richard Barnes. She had a son of her own, also named Richard. Agnes Bent had been baptized at Weyhill (aka Penton Grafton), Hants (aka Hampshire), on July 16, 1602. (Weyhill and Penton Grafton used to be separate parishes, but now the parish of Weyhill includes the hamlet of Penton Grafton. Penton Grafton and Penton Mewsey, which is referenced below, are neighboring villages. They are located about three miles northwest of Andover.)
Thomas was identified as a yeoman and widower on his marriage license. (According to Wikipedia, the historical term “yeoman” referred primarily to “a free man owning his own farm, especially from the Elizabethan era to the 17th century.”)”
The website continues:
“In the late 1630s thousands of people headed west across the ocean to the New World. Thomas would have been around 40 years old then, and he was probably inspired to join his countrymen in the New World by the tales of his brother-in-law, John Bent, and his friend, Peter Noyes, who had already been to New England. Thomas was evidently living in London at the time, for it is known that in the late winter of 1639 Agnes’s mother, the widow Anne (or Anie) Gosling Bent, came to London from Andover and stayed with Thomas’s family for about a month. Then on April 12, 1639, Thomas and members of his family set sail from London on the ship ‘Jonathan.’ In those days, the fare for adults between Old and New England was £5. As far as is known, the family members who traveled with Thomas included his wife Agnes, Agnes’s mother Anne Bent, Thomas’s son Samuel by his first wife and Agnes’s son Richard Barnes. One other source indicates that Thomas came over with his ‘wife, two children and his wife’s mother.’ Those two children could have been Thomas’s son Samuel and his stepson Richard Barnes. If that is indeed the case, then Thomas’s other children had to have come over later.”
We know a little about the voyage of the Jonathan through testimony given in 1652 in Essex County Court by fellow travelers:
“The testimonie of us Inhabitants now of Newburie whose names are here under written, who about thirteen yeares past came over in a ship called the Jonathan of london with Thomas Blanchard now of Charlstowne, at what time his wife dyed in the ship hee was conceived to be very poore and in greate necessity by reason of his wives and his childrens sicknesse, that the passengers made a gathering for him in the shippe to helpe to put his child to nurse his wives mother also being sicke all the while wee were at sea and wee knew no other man that looked to her but Thomas Blanchard, but there was a maide which was her neece tended her — ffurther I Anthony Somerby testifyes that about the time the ship came to Anchor in Boston Harbor the woman his mother in law dyed, And Thomas Blanchard procured to carry her to shore to be buried, I knew no other man that was about it but hee.
ffurther Nicholas Noyes testifyes that old Goody Bent came up from Andevor to London in a waggon with the carryers, And Thomas Blanchard tooke care of her and her goods from Andevor to the ship and she was with Thomas Blanchards family about a month at London, and that there was a gathering among christians in england to help him over.
taken upon oath in the Nicholas Noyes
court held at Ipswich Anthony Somerby.
the 28th of (7) 1652.” [From the Essex County Court Files.]
It was a difficult voyage that should have taken five or six weeks, but took ten, instead. Thomas’ mother-in-law, Agnes Bent, was ill the entire trip. Her granddaughter, Elizabeth Plimpton, who was supposed to be her maid, was described as “a big girl” who “did little or nothing.” Thomas became his mother-in-law’s nurse, tending to her needs night and day. Meanwhile, some sources say that Thomas’ wife gave birth to a child on board and died in childbirth. It was for this purpose, the newborn baby, that the passengers conducted a “gathering” — a collection of funds — to pay for a nurse. However, the baby soon died, anyway. The Jonathan finally arrived at Boston on 23 June 1639. The Blanchard family website described it this way:
“So the trip over on the ‘Jonathan’ was a disaster for poor Thomas. He lost his wife and a child. And to make matters worse, after the ship had already come to anchor in Boston harbor (at Nantaskith, now Nantasket), his mother-in-law, the widow Bent, also died. After arriving in Boston Thomas dutifully arranged to have her body carried ashore for burial.”
The burial place for the widow Bent is unknown.
The Blanchard website continues:
“The passenger list in Banks’s book … indicated that Thomas’s destination in the New World was Braintree, Massachusetts. But he may not have lived there initially after arriving in Boston. One source says he started out in Charlestown. Then, possibly around 1646, Thomas did settle in Braintree, but had no land granted to him there. Braintree is in Suffolk (now Norfolk) County and is located about 12 miles east southeast of Boston. Thomas remained there until 1651. On February 12th of that year (1650/51) he bought 200 acres of land in Charlestown, Middlesex (now Suffolk) County, Massachusetts, from one Rev. John Wilson. This was just three years before he died. The transaction was recorded in the Suffolk Deeds on August 4, 1652. As spelled out in the deed, the property included “houses, Outhouses, barnes, buildings, stables, cow houses, Orchardes, Gardens, fould yardes and Enclosures” (a fould yarde was a farmyard). The land was bounded on the south and west by the Mystic River and on the north and east by the North River and Nowell’s Creek.
So Thomas, who was again identified as a yeoman in the above-mentioned deed, moved from Braintree to this farm in Charlestown. His land formed a promontory between the two bodies of water and was known then as Wilson’s point, later as Blanchard’s Point and still later as Wellington. (This land remained a part of Charlestown until 1726, when it was annexed to Malden and was later transferred to Medford in 1817.)”
The History of Malden, by Deloraine Corey, mentions Blanchard’s acquisition of the land this way:
Mr. Wilson retained possession of this grant until 12 February 1650/51, when he sold it to Thomas Blanchard, of Braintree, for two hundred pounds. After the death of Thomas Blanchard, in 1654, the house and lands were divided between two of his sons, George and Nathaniel; and the latter, in 1657, sold one-half of his land to their younger brother, Samuel, who was then building a second house on one acre of the land “called & known by the name of the flax ground, lying length ways betwixt the high way side, and some Swamp or waste ground.” The lands eventually went out of the Blanchard family, by sale…
This property would be a source of ongoing dispute between the Blanchard children and John Guppy. (See George Blanchard.)
One source says that Blanchard was a dairyman and this farm in Charlestown would appear to be consistent with that idea. The deed identifies specifically “cow houses” and his will mentions a “dairy house.” In that will, Thomas bequeaths a number of cows to some of his heirs.
In 1652, thirteen years after arriving in the New World, Richard Barnes, Agnes’ son from her first marriage sued his step-father Thomas for the £20 that Agnes had left him in her will. Evidently, one condition of Agnes’s marriage to Thomas had been his promise to pay £20 to Richard when he became of age. Richard, who apparently was living with his maternal uncle, John Bent, on Long Island, claimed that never happened. Thomas claimed that John Bent was holding the money for Richard until he came of age. At some point, Richard was apprenticed to Thomas Blanchard. Upon his coming of age, Richard sought to collect what was due him. In 1652, a jury ruled in his favor and ordered Thomas to pay damages of £20 and court costs of thirty shillings. However, Blanchard won a review and reversal of the decision the following year. It is the extensive court record of this case that provides many of the details of the family’s situation.
At some point between his arrival in America and his death Thomas married for the third time. His third wife, who became his widow, was Mary Shrimpton (although some sources give her surname as Maverick). Thomas Blanchard’s widow was still living on 17 July 1666, when her brother, Henry Shrimpton, remembered in his will, “Sister Blanchett, widow, £ 5.”
On 16 May 1654, Thomas Blanchard verbally recited his last will and testament to his friends. They wrote it down and he marked it with his “X.” Thomas died at Charlestown on 21 May 1654.
Children of Thomas BLANCHARD & his wives
THOMAS BLANCHARD died 21 May 1654 in Charlestown, MA. He married (1) ELIZABETH 1617 in England. She died 1636. He married (2) AGNES (BENT) BARNES 15 May 1637 in St. Edmonds, Salisbury, Wilts (Wiltshire), England, daughter of ? BENT and ANNE GOSLING. She was born Bef. 16 July 1602, and died 28 April 1639 on passage to America. He married (3) MARY (poss. SHRIMPTON) Aft. 1639. She died Abt. 1676.
Children of THOMAS BLANCHARD and ELIZABETH are:
i. GEORGE BLANCHARD, b. Abt. 1622, England; d. 18 March 1699/00, Malden, MA; m. (1) UNKNOWN, 1653; m. (2) MARY.
ii. THOMAS BLANCHARD, b. Abt. October 1623, England; d. February 1650/51, Charlestown, MA; m. ANNA ROLFE.
iii. MARY BLANCHARD, b. Abt. January 1625/26.
iv. STEPHEN BLANCHARD, b. Abt. June 1628.
v. SAMUEL BLANCHARD, b. 6 August 1629, England; d. 22 April 1707, Andover, MA; m. (1) MARY, 3 January 1654/55; d. 20 February 1669/70; m. (2) HANNAH DAGGETT, 24 June 1673.
vi. NATHANIEL BLANCHARD, b. Abt. July 1632.
vii. DAVID BLANCHARD, b. Abt. February 1633/34.
Child of THOMAS BLANCHARD and AGNES BENT is:
viii. child BLANCHARD, b. 1639, on passage to America; d. at sea in 1639
- Blanchard, (Blanchard Family History website: http://blanchardfamilyhistory.org, 4 May 2016), “Electronic.”
- Corey, Deloraine Pendre, The History of Malden, Massachusetts, 1633-1785, Malden, MA, 1899.
- Maxfield, Chuck, Some of the Descendants of Thomas Blanchard of Charlestown, Massachusetts, (Chuck Maxfield’s Genealogy Page at: http://maxfield5.tripod.com/blanchard1.html), “Electronic.”
- “Passengers and Vessels that Have Arrived in America,” New England Historic Genealogical Society Register, Vol. 32, October 1878.
- Shepard, Gerald Faulkner, compiler, Jacobus, Donald Lines, ed., Shepard Families of New England, Vol. 1, (New Haven Colony Historical Society, New Haven, CT, 1971).
- Wyman, Thomas Bellows, Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown, Massachusetts, 1629-1818, (New England History Press, Somersworth, NH, 1982, originally published in 1892).