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My 7th great-grandfather was a gentleman and a trader in Massachusetts Colony. Another descendant paid a professional genealogist to research his history. The results that follow are fascinating because she takes steps to figure out which of the various William Thomas’s my ancestor was. I have made big mistakes in my own tree on the ancestors with very common names like John Taylor. Record keeping varies from place to place and time to time. I am impressed and pleased with this expert research. I once paid for research to be done by the Somerset PA Historical Society, which I visited in person. They stiffed me and did no investigation for the fee they charged. This experience burned me on the idea of paid experts. This example is very well done. The lady who did the work is:
Diane Rapaport, Historical Consultant/Attorney Quill Pen Historical Consulting, P. O. Box 204, Lexington, MA 02420 Tel.: 781-698-7884 (866-QUILLPEN) – Fax: 781-861-6744 (888-QPFAXES) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.quillpenhistorical.com
She does very thorough work. Thanks to James Crawford for making this public information. We appreciate your contribution, cousin.
William Thomas (1695 – 1733)
Mary Thomas (1729 – 1801)
daughter of William Thomas
Joseph Morse III (1756 – 1835)
son of Mary Thomas
John Henry Morse (1775 – 1864)
son of Joseph Morse III
Abner Morse (1808 – 1838)
son of John Henry Morse
Daniel Rowland Morse (1838 – 1910)
son of Abner Morse
Jason A Morse (1862 – 1932)
son of Daniel Rowland Morse
Ernest Abner Morse (1890 – 1965)
son of Jason A Morse
Richard Arden Morse (1920 – 2004)
son of Ernest Abner Morse
RESEARCH REPORT for JAMES CRAWFORD
May 31, 2010
By Diane Rapaport
Documentation of the parents and origins of William Thomas:
b. 1695, Marlborough, MA (or Wales?)
d. 25 July 1733, Marlborough, MA
m. 19 June 1721, to Lydia Eager (b. 03 July 1696, Marlborough, MA, d. 12 Oct 1735, Marlborough, MA)
Lovina Thomas, b. 15 Aug 1721, Marlborough, MA, d. Shrewsbury, MA
Sophia Thomas, b. 28 July 1723, Marlborough, MA, d. 24 Aug 1745
William Thomas, b. 19 Mar 1724, Marlborough, MA [Note: Per Marlborough Vital Records, year should be 1725; see below.]
Lydia Thomas, b. 30 Sep 1727, Marlborough, MA
Mary Thomas, b. 16 Feb 1729, Framingham, MA [Note: Marlborough Vital Records suggest that the birthplace was Marlborough; see below.]
Odoardo Thomas, b. 7 May 1731, Marlborough, MA
[Note: The information about William Thomas and his family, which you provided by .ged file, is unsourced. The Ancestry record “hints” in other public trees include only “OneWorldTree” and “Massachusetts Marriages” database, which are not authoritative sources.]
Summary of Research Results
Jim, I searched numerous record sources—vital records, probate records, land records, trial court records, and secondary sources (which I found online and at the Massachusetts Archives, the Middlesex County Registry of Deeds, and the New England Historic Genealogical Society)—for clues to the life and origins of William Thomas. I found much documentation about William (which I am providing to you as PDF and JPG files, posted at the “Files and Messages” page of our project at Ancestry’s Expert Connect – scroll down to the bottom of that page, where you will find the files, which you can read or download to your computer).
The search revealed other men named William Thomas in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, during the relevant time period, including a Native American from the town of Natick, the son of a blacksmith from Newton, and a “husbandman” (the colonial term for a farmer or laborer) from Lambstown in Worcester County (where, as it turns out, your William had connections). But I was able to distinguish these other men from your William Thomas, who was identified consistently in the records as a “gentleman” (and in a few instances as a “trader”), suggesting that he was of a high social rank. I also discovered in the Middlesex County Court records that he was a licensed “retailer” and probably operated a store in Marlborough; the license was transferred to his wife Lydia after his death.
I discovered that William purchased land in Framingham, the town next to Marlborough, in 1720, just before his marriage to Lydia; at the time of that land purchase, he was identified in the deed as being of Framingham, suggesting that he already lived there. I could not find any record of his purchasing property in Marlborough (although the probate records indicate that he owned real estate in the town); it is possible, since Framingham adjoins Marlborough, that the land was actually the same that he purchased in 1720, and that the town boundaries changed. (I found no evidence of other Thomas families in Framingham before that date.) And, I discovered documentation in the Worcester County land records, as well as in the Middlesex County probate records, that William began buying land in Shrewsbury, Worcester County, shortly before his death.
In the 8 hours authorized for this project, I was unable to determine more about William’s origins. I did find evidence, in the guardianship records of his children (after the death of William and his wife), that William’s sons chose an uncle from Shrewsbury, Asa Bouker, to be their guardian. I did not have time to do any research about Asa Bouker or his connections with either William or Lydia. I found evidence in land and probate records of other people with the Thomas surname in early Middlesex County and elsewhere in Massachusetts (see my notes, below), but I did not have time to follow up on those leads. One promising name might be Nathaniel Thomas of Plymouth (identified as “Esquire,” suggesting that he was a “gentleman” like William), who had some connection with a wealthy Elizabeth Thomas who died in Medford, Middlesex County, in 1729. Perhaps William was indeed of Wales, as you suggested. Also intriguing is the name of his son, Odoardo, which my quick Google search indicates is an Italian name, and may suggest some cosmopolitan origins for your William Thomas.
The next step that I would recommend is to search for more information about Asa Bouker of Shrewsbury, Nathaniel Thomas, and other early Thomas families in Massachusetts, as well as resources about early Boston, since William Thomas or his family (like many families of high social rank) may have spent time there upon arriving in New England. I also would recommend a more review of the probate and land records that I have obtained (I provided you with copies, but have not made a thorough study), to see if there are any other clues about family members. I would be happy to continue the search, if you would like to consider authorizing more time!
Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (database of the New England Historic Genealogical Society)
Searched Thomas surname in Marlborough, MA:
In published Marlborough Vital Records, earliest entry is marriage of William and “Lidia” Eager in 1721 (see copy, Thomas Wm & Eager Lidia marriage.pdf), followed by their children’s births (see copy, Thomas Wm children births.pdf), and the deaths of William, his wife Lydia, and their daughter Sophia (see copy, Thomas Wm Lydia Sophia deaths.pdf). [Note: According to the vital records, son William was born 1725, not 1724, and daughter Mary was born in Marlborough, not Framingham, but otherwise all the dates match up with the information in your family tree (except there is no record or date for William Sr.’s birth).]
Searched Thomas surname in Middlesex County to 1721:
In published Newton Vital Records, marriage record of:
Thomas, William and Anna Loverin, Aug. 29, 1695, in Watertown (see copy, Newton VRs marriages.pdf). But note that William and Anna had a daughter in 1695. However, it appears that this William Thomas of Newton and a first wife, Elizabeth, had a son William in 1687; see below.
Thomas, Joanna, ch. William and Ann (second w.), Oct. 28, 1695.
Thomas, William, s. William and Elizabeth, Aug. 31, 1687. (See copy, Newton VRs births.pdf.) Probably this is the William Thomas, blacksmith, and his son, and no relation to your William Thomas. See notes re: probate records, below.
Searched Thomas surname in Worcester County to 1721:
Found only a Sarah Thomas who married in Mendon in 1707.
Searched Thomas surname in Framingham:
No early Thomas entries
Note: I have not made an exhaustive search of the available published vital records. Many births were not recorded with the town officials, however, but evidence can be found in collateral records, such as church, land, probate, etc. I did not have time to search church records.
(Reviewed at Middlesex County Registry of Deeds and on microfilm at New England Historic Genealogical Society)
As you will see, I reviewed some deed records for dates afterWilliam Thomas’ death, since sometimes deeds are not recorded until years after the conveyance.
Middlesex County, MA
Grantee Index, 1639-1799 (microfilm)
(and I briefly searched deed book volumes, where indicated)
I searched for early entries with the Thomas surname, before William’s death in 1733, which I noted, since the index did not refer to the town, and reviewing the records might show connection with Marlborough or William Thomas:
1685, July 20, Thomas, Ales & Benjamin, from E. Corlett, 9: 411 – Ales Thomas of Boston & Benjamin his son, purchased land in Cambridge
1686, Oct 20, Thomas, John &al from F. Hinchman, 10: 7 – no Thomas found on this page
1687, March 9, Thomas, Edward, agent, from W. Cutter, 10: 33 – Mentions Edward Thomas of Boston
1697, Nov 23, Thomas Edward, from C. Morton, 12: 106 – no Thomas found on this page
1701, Dec 12, Nathaniel Jr from J. Croade, 13: 89 – Nathaniel Thomas Jr. of Plymouth buys land in Groton
1719, May 11, Thomas, Joshua, from M. Meeds, atty, 20: 333 – Joshua Thomas of Boston
1720, March 30, Thomas, John & Solomon, Samuel’s est., deposition 12: 733 – no Thomas found on this page
1721, Aug 18, Thomas John &al, deposition, 21: 412 – re: John Thomas of Natick, Indian
Entries for William Thomas, all after his death date:
1735, Feb 27, Thomas, William, from Edward Clap, 36: 516 – This seems likely to be your William Thomas, since it refers to him as “gentleman” and the conveyance in Framingham occurred in 1720, before his marriage. (Copy, Thomas Wm deed Mdsx v36p516.jpg and Thomas Wm deed Mdsx v36p517.jpg.)
1739 March 12, Thomas, William, from B. Tray, 39: 642 –William Thomas of Natick, Indian
1742, Dec 11, Thomas, William, from T. Bowman, 44: 51 – William Thomas of Natick
1745, Apr. 2, Thomas, William, from M. Speen, 45: 97
1747, Feb. 10, Thomas, William, from S. Abram, 46: 429
1752, Feb 8, Thomas, William, from M. Tom, 49: 357
Other William Thomas entries after this date, but not until 1782; no entries found for Lydia Thomas
Grantee Index, 1639-1799, A-G
Found several entries for surname Eager (Eagar, Augur, Egar), who might be relatives of Lydia Eager, but no entries for Lydia.
Grantor Index, 1639-1799, S-Z
(and I briefly searched deed book volumes, where indicated)
No entries for a William Thomas until 1738:
1738, Feb 19, Thomas, William, to D. Morse and J. Carver, 39: 542, 547 – William Thomas of Natick, Indian
No other entries for William Thomas until 1749:
1749, July 24, Thomas, William, to J. Loring, 49: 61
Worcester County, MA
Grantee Index, 1731-1839, P-Z (microfilm)
(and briefly searched deed books, where indicated)
1734, Thomas, William, from Gerstrom Keyes, Nahum Ward and Eleaser Rice, 4: 432-437, Shrewsbury deeds (Copies, Thomas Wm deed Worcester v4p433.jpg, Thomas Wm deed Worcester v4p434.jpg, Thomas Wm deed Worcester v4p435a.jpg, Thomas Wm deed Worcester v4p435b.jpg, Thomas Wm deed Worcester v4p436.jpg, Thomas Wm deed Worcester v4p437.jpg) – These land purchases occurred in 1730 and 1733, and refer to William as “of Marlborough,” “Gentleman” and “Trader.” No other people surnamed Thomas are mentioned, and no obvious clues to his origins, although it is possible that he may have been related to some of the people involved.
1734, Thomas, William, from Saml Smith, 5: 161, Hardwick – William Thomas of Lambstown, husbandman, 1734
1736, Thomas, William, from Saml March, 9:25, Hardwick –William Thomas of Lambstown, husbandman, 1736
1737, Thomas, William, from John Jordan, 9: 73, Hardwick –William Thomas of Lambstown, husbandman, 1736
1740, Thomas, William, from Amos Thomas, 13: 141, Hardwick –William Thomas, husbandman, of Lambstown, Worcester County, and Amos Thomas, husbandman of same town. Deed signed 1739, so obviously not your William Thomas.
1746, Thomas, William, from Amos Thomas, 20: 556, Hardwick
1746, Thomas, William, from Amos Thomas, 22: 1, Hardwick
And more William Thomas entries after this date, to 1838
No entries for Lydia Thomas
Grantor Index, 1731-1839, T-Z (microfilm)
1735, Thomas, William, to Stephen Harrington, 7:17
1740, Thomas, William, to Ebenr Foskett, 13: 68
1740, Thomas, William Jr., to Ebenr Foskett, 13: 68
1742, Thomas, William, to Amos Thomas, 16: 207
And more William Thomas entries after this date, to 1836
The only Lydia Thomas entry was:
1787, Thomas, Lydia, to Fos Fayerweather, 102: 20
(Reviewed at Massachusetts Archives)
Early Thomas records in Middlesex probate:
William, Newton, 1698, Will, 22416
Will refers to this William Thomas as a blacksmith, and he signs will with mark. Leaves estate to widow for her life, and then to son William. Small estate, about 50 pounds.
William, Newton, 1699, Guardian, 22417
Papers say he is about 12 years old in 1699. Nathaniel Hancock appointed guardian.
William, Marlborough, 1734, Administration, 22418. This is your William Thomas. See copy, Thomas Wm Mdsx probate.pdf. Note: I did not have time to make a thorough study of these records for further clues.
William, Marlborough, 1740, Guardian, 22421. This is the son of your William Thomas. See copy, Thomas Wm Jr Mdsx guardianship.pdf.
Lydia, Marlborough, 1735, Administration, 22406. This is the wife of your William Thomas. See copy, Thomas Lydia Mdsx probate.pdf.
Lydia, Marlborough, 1743, Guardian, 22419. Mary, Marlborough, 1743, Guardian, 22419. Sophia, Marlborough, 1743, Guardian, 22419. These are William and Lydia’s daughters. See copy, Thomas Wm daughters Mdsx guardianship.pdf.
Odoardo, Marlborough, 1743, Guardian, 22420. This is the son of your William Thomas. See copy, Thomas Odoardo Mdsx guardianship.pdf.
Elizabeth, Medford, 1729, Will, 22399
Leaves most of property to nephew Henry Dunster, etc.; gives gold ring to Nathanil Thomas Esqr., but mentions no other Thomas heirs; apparently wealthy [consider copying re: freed slave Tonney]
Paul, Natick, 1746, Administration, 22408
Solomon, Natick, 1736, Administration, 22412
Solomon Jr., Natick, 1737, Administration, 22413
Early Thomas entries in Worcester County probate:
Aaron, Hardwick, 1748, Guardianship, 58837
Amos, Hardwick, 1754, Will, 58844
Israel, Hardwick, 1748, Guardianship, 58869
William, Leominster, 1746, Administration, 58910
William, Hardwick, 1747, Administration, 58911
OTHER COURT RECORDS
Middlesex County Court Folio Collection index
Thomas, Lydia, Concord 1733-127-A-II
Paid excise tax
Thomas, Lydia, Marlborough, 1733-129-A-3
Granted retailer’s license
Thomas, William, 1725-86x-III
Thomas, William & Jonathan How, 1730, 119-A-2
Thomas, William, 1727-252-2
Marlboro licensed retailer
Thomas, William, 1726-107x-4
Marlboro licensed retailer
Thomas, William, 1685-117-6
Bond for administrator of Mark Woods & Strattons’ Est.
Mary E. Spalding, for Franklin P. Rice, Colonial Records of Marlborough, Mass. (Boston: NEHGS, 1909) – Early records, only to 1660s
Charles Hudson, History of the Town of Marlborough, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, from its First Settlement in 1657 to 1861, with a Brief Sketch of the Town of Northborough. . . (Boston, Press of T. R. Margin, 1862). Brief entry for William Thomas family on p. 458. (No new information.)
Marlborough, Massachusetts, Burial Ground Inscriptions: Old Common, Spring Hill, and Brigham Cemeteries (Worcester, Mass.: Franklin P. Rice, 1908). No inscriptions for surname Thomas.
Note: Marlborough town records, 1666-1847, are available from FHL on microfilm.