B. about 1617 in Norwich, England
M. about 1640 in Reading, Massachusetts
Wife: Rebecca Paine
D. 22 Jul 1681 in Reading, Massachusetts
Emigrated: 8 Oct 1635 on the ship Defence
A family's legacy gets diluted when there's nobody to carry on the name. This is what happened to the descendants of Thomas Kendall, a man who may have been forgotten as the founder of a family in America by the mere fact he had no surviving sons.
Thomas was born in about 1617 in Norwich, England. His parents may have been John Kendall and Elizabeth Sacherall. It is known that he had a brother Francis who migrated to America with him. Thomas came over on the ship Defence, arriving in Boston on October 8, 1635. While Francis settled in Woburn, Thomas went to Reading, where he married Rebecca Paine in about 1640. He became freeman on May 10, 1645 and served as a deacon.
Between 1642 and 1665, Thomas and Rebecca had 11 children. All but one were girls; the only boy died as an infant. Of the ten daughters, two died as babies, giving the Kendalls a family of eight girls. One by one, they married, many staying in Reading and populating the town with their children. Knowing their father's name would die out, each daughter is said to have named one of her sons "Kendall." The name carried on for several more generations as a male given name, but when genealogies were later written about the Kendall family in America, Thomas was only given a brief mention with all focus on his brother Francis' line.
When Reading celebrated its bicentennial in 1844, the event was commemorated with a poem written about its early history. One section of it focused on Thomas:
There lived untouched by breath of scandal,
Good Deacon Sargent, Thomas Kendall;
And on his tombstone you may see,
Inscribed in ancient poetry:
"Here in the earth we lay
One of the seven of this church's foundation;
So to remain till the powerful voice say,
Rise in health, a glorious habitation;
A pattern of piety and of peace,
But now, alas, how short his race!
To see Zion's stones like gold laid in the dust."
Thomas died in Reading on July 22, 1681 and was buried in the Old Burying Ground in Wakefield, Massachusetts (which is the next town over from Reading). His tombstone is a great example of early New England graves, carved with many symbols of skull, hourglass and angels; it was featured in the book Graven Images - New England Stonecarving and Its Symbols, 1650-1815 by Allen Ludwig (1966)
Famous descendants of Thomas Kendall include Geena Davis and Orrin Hatch.
1. Elizabeth Kendall – B.17 Feb 1642, Reading, Massachusetts; D. 7 Oct
1688, Reading, Massachusetts; M. John Eaton (1635-1695), 8 Mar 1658,
2. Rebecca Kendall – B. 10 Feb 1645, Reading, Massachusetts; D. 30 Aug
1713, Reading, Massachusetts; M. James Boutwell (~1642-1716), 15 Jun
1665, Reading, Massachusetts
3. Mary Kendall – B. 22 Dec 1647, Reading, Massachusetts; D. 8 Mar 1688,
Reading, Massachusetts; M. Abraham Bryant (?-1720), 2 Feb 1664,
4. Hannah Kendall – B. 29 Jan 1649, Reading, Massachusetts; D. 8 Jul
1689, Reading, Massachusetts; M. John Parker (~1640-1699), 13 Nov 1667,
5. Sarah Kendall – B. 20 Jun 1652, Reading, Massachusetts; D. 23 Jun 1652, Reading, Massachusetts
6. Sarah Kendall – B. 22 Jun 1653, Reading, Massachusetts; D. 20 Nov
1734, Billerica, Massachusetts; M. (1) Samuel Dunton (1647-1683), 17 Jun
1673, Reading, Massachusetts; (2) Thomas Patten (1636-1690), 20 May 1686, Billerica, Massachusetts; (3) Thomas Richardson (1645-1720), 19 Dec 1690, Billerica, Massachusetts
7. Abigail Kendall – B. 30 Nov 1655, Reading, Massachusetts; 19 Nov
1721, Reading, Massachusetts; M. John Nichols (1651-1721), 18 May 1676,
8. Susanna Kendall – B. 27 Jun 1658, Reading, Massachusetts; D. 1732,
Reading, Massachusetts; M. (1) Nathaniel Goodwin (?-1693), 25 Oct 1676,
Reading, Massachusetts; (2) Timothy Wiley (1653-1728)
9. Tabitha Kendall – B. 5 Nov 1660, Reading, Massachusetts; D. 17 Oct 1711, Reading, Massachusetts: M. John Pearson (1650-1728)
10. Thomas Kendall – B. 15 Sep 1663, Reading, Massachusetts; D. 20 Jul 1664, Reading, Massachusetts
11. Ruth Kendall – B. about 1665, Reading, Massachusetts; D. 1665, Reading, Massachusetts
The history of Woburn, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Samuel Sewall, Chauncy Sewall and Samuel Thompson, 1868
Historical address and poem: delivered at the bi-centennial celebration of the incorporation of the old town of Reading [Massachusetts], Lilley Eaton and James Flint, 1844
GeneaStar: Famous Family Tree and Genealogy [website]