Saturday, March 17, 2012

Helped Plan the Massachusetts Colony – Thomas Ford

B. before 1595 in (probably) Bridport, England
M. (1) 13 Dec 1610 in Powerstock, England
Wife: Joan Way
M. (2) 19 Jun 1616 in Bridport, England
Wife: Elizabeth (Chard) Cooke
M. (3) 7 Nov 1644 in Windsor, Connecticut
Wife: Ann Scott
D. 28 Nov 1676 in Northampton, Massachusetts
Emigrated: 1630 on the ship Mary and John

Thomas Ford's exact origins are unknown; it's likely he was from Bridport, England, which is in Dorset. On December 13, 1610, Thomas married Joan Way in the village of Powerstock in Dorset; she died in May 1615. He married a second wife, Elizabeth Chard, widow of Aaron Cooke, on June 19, 1616 in Bridport. Between 1617 and 1629, they had five children — four daughters and a son who died as an infant. Elizabeth also had a son from her first marriage.

In 1623, Thomas was living in Dorchester, England. He was a member of Holy Trinity Church, whose pastor was Reverend John White, a key organizer for the Puritan migration to America (he recruited settlers from various places in the south of England even though he himself never went). A meeting was held on October 15, 1629, "at the Deputyes House." Twenty-five members of the council which financed the planters were there and "Mr. Ford with divers others of the genalitie." The meeting was to discuss a plan where the settlers would trade in furs in order to reimburse the financial backers. The idea was to provide furs for their first seven years in New England, something that was apparently never carried out.

The first ship sent over was the Mary and John, and Thomas was on board with his family. The passage was £5 for each adult, £10 per horse and £3 per ton of freight. The ship landed on a strand of beach just outside of Boston harbor called Nantasket, and the passengers had to find another boat to take them the rest of the way. The place they finally settled became the town of Dorchester, Massachusetts.

Thomas became a freeman in Dorchester on May 18, 1631. Within a few years, he moved on to the new settlement of Windsor, Connecticut. He was one of four men who purchased a large tract of land from the Indians. In 1637, he was also granted fifty acres in Simsbury. While living in Windsor, he was representative to the General Court in 1637-1640.

Thomas' wife Elizabeth died on April 18, 1643 at Windsor. He married third wife, Ann Scott, the widow of Thomas Scott, on November 7, 1644. Elizabeth and Thomas had a daughter together. In 1645, Thomas moved to Hartford and established a tavern in the house of his wife's former husband; it was located on the southwest corner of State and Front Streets. He sold the tavern in 1652. In 1655, Thomas was a constable back at Windsor.

Thomas and Ann moved to Northampton, Massachusetts in 1659. She died there on May 5, 1676. Thomas died later that year on November 28th. He was buried at Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton. Through his daughters, it's been said Thomas Ford left more descendants than any other Puritan immigrant.

Famous descendants of Thomas Ford include Jedediah Strong Smith, First Lady Lucy Hayes, Princess Diana, Nathan Hale, Bess Truman, Rutherford B. Hayes, Grover Cleveland, Frederick Remington, O. Henry,  Patricia Arquette, Cliff Arquette, Glenn Close, Dorothy Gish, Lillian Gish, Sarah Palin, Lee Meriwether, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Shirley Temple and Mike Huckabee.

Children by Joan Way:
1. Mary Ford – B. about 1612, Dorset, England; D. about 1645, Windsor, Connecticut; M. Aaron Cooke (?-1690), 1637, Windsor, Connecticut

Children by Elizabeth Chard:
1. Joanna Ford – B. 8 Jun 1617, Bridport, England; D. Jun 1695, Boston, Massachusetts; M. Roger Clap (1609-1691), 6 Nov 1633, Dorchester, Massachusetts

2. Abigail Ford – B. 8 Oct 1619, Bridport, England; D. 6 Jul 1688, Dorchester, Massachusetts; M. John Strong (~1610-1699), before 1637, Massachusetts

3. Thomas Ford – B. about Sep 1623, Dorchester, England; D. Oct 1623, Dorchester, England

4. Hepzibah Ford – B. 15 May 1625, Dorchester, England; D. 11 Apr 1683; M. (1) Richard Lyman (~1617-1662), 1640; (2) John March, 7 Oct 1664

5. Hannah Ford – B. about Jan 1629, Dorchester, England; D. Mar 1629, Dorchester, England

Children by Ann Scott:
1. Ann Ford – D. 6 Jan 1690, Springfield, Massachusetts; M. (1) Thomas Newberry (1657-1688), 12 Mar 1676; (2) Joseph Leonard, 16 Jan 1689

Sources:
The history of the descendants of Elder John Strong, of Northampton, Mass., Benjamin Woodbridge Dwight, 1871
The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Robert Charles Anderson, 1995
The Memoirs of Roger Clap, 1731
Lymanites.org – The Lyman Family website
GeneaStar: Famous Family Tree and Genealogy [website]

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