Those searching for information on the their ancestors often are hoping to find connections to European royal houses including castles and coats-of-arms. I have mostly been more interested in the stories of the individuals that make up the family. Sometimes, however, the two processes converge.
This is the case with you, my 9th great grandfather Thomas Thacher.
Born May 1, 1620 in Milton Clevedon, Somersetshire, England, the eldest son of Peter Thacher and his wife Anne Allwood. You were baptized in 1622 at the parish church in Sarum, Salisbury, England. Your father was the rector at the Church of St. Edmund in Salisbury from 1622 until his death in 1640/41. You and your family were Puritans. I imagine having lived through decades of religious unrest and persecution helped your father make the decision to send you to New England.
It is believed that you came to New England with your Uncle Anthony Thacher and his family. The New England Historic Genealogical Society's project "The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume VII, T-Y" page 19 states that you sailed for New England on the James
in 1635. This inference comes from Cotton Mather's biography of you which states, "(a) day or two before that fatal voyage from Newberry to Marblehead, our young Thacher had such a strong and sad impression upon his mind about the issue of the voyage, that he with another would needs go the journey by land, and so he escaped perishing with some of his pious and precious friends by sea."
Many imagine that this story was created by Mather but one can imagine that a fifteen year old boy, so soon from such a long and arduous voyage across the Atlantic, would have been reluctant to set foot again on a ship. How terrible it must have been for you to know that so many of your cousins, friends and acquaintances died on that short trip.
Your surname Thacher is certainly of English origin. Most believe it is one of those surnames given to denote an occupation. Thacher or Thatcher was given to the man who roofed buildings with thatch.
Once when visiting my sister in Holland, we were driving through the countryside and happened upon someone replacing the thatching on a cottage. It was fascinating to watch. Of course, your family had long since left the thatching, seeming to prefer ministering to the faithful. Records indicate that you were "ordained at Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1644 where you were pastor for more than twenty years, and of the Old South Church, Boston eight years." (Genealogical and Family Historry of Northern New York" New York, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1910; transcribed by Coralynn Brown available at rootsweb.) Your father, Rev. Peter Thacher, was a minister for more than 50 years. His father, also Rev. Peter Thacher served the church at Queen Camel from 1574 until 1624. Your son, another Rev. Peter Thacher was pastor at Milton, Massachusetts for forty-seven years.
This is a present day illustration of the seal that you used on a letter written in Boston, August 16, 1676 and addressed to your son Peter who was living in London at the time.
|Thomas Thac(t)her Coat of Arms from the American Heraldry Society used with permission.|
The letter, with its impression of the seal, was handed down through the family of your son Peter. It was found in the papers of a 6th generation descendant Deacon Peter Thacher of Attleboro, Massachusetts. It is transcribed below
Boston, 16. 8, 1676
My Dear Son Peter:--I have received four letters from you, whereby I have joyfully, and I hope thankfully, taken notice of the kindness of God in your comfortable voyage to, and kind reception in England, by our friends; which has enlarged my desires to hear further from you.
I hope also you have long ere this received mine to you. At present, you may understand that God hath utterly scattered, delivered up, and subdued the heathen that first rose up against us, delivered up Philip to death, cleared the wasts of Plymouth, Narragansett, Connecticut, Quaboag &c, from those bloody and blasphemous heathen; but behold a new enemy is broken out to the east and northward, who have laid waste the country, &c; slain my good friend Capt. Lake, and many others; and, this very day past, woeful tidings is come of the taking in by surrender Mr. Scott's+ garrison at Stony Point, he being but the last week come from the same to Boston, and leaving Esq. Joslin, as they call him, chief commander. What the particular circumstances are, is not yet certain amongst us; but this is certain, that the place is taken; the garrison strong; two great pieces there; and many small arms, and good store
of provisions. Such a spirit of fear and cowardice is poured out on the inhabitants of those parts, that it is exceeding ominous. The Indians carry all before them, by sea and land, on the main and on the islands in Casco, having taken several vessels, one with two great guns in it, &c. This part of the war is like to be the more difficult, because so far off from us; because so near the French, who are reported to be among the Indians. This day it was
said that there were twenty in the exploit; but we have no certainty of it, and foolish jealousies my feign that fear makes scarecrows to affright the fearful, and a sluggard may say a lion is in the way. So, many of those fearful persons may think to hide their shame by such suggestions. As for myself, I at present enjoy a comfortable measure of health and strength, though laboring under some weakness gotten in my sickness. If you have not more than ordinary encouragement, and a most evident call to stay in England,
I hope I shall see you here, if the Lord lengthens our lives to the next summer. The Lord guide your whole way, and bless you with all the blessings of his everlasting covenant, and make you a blessing wherever you come, that he may be your portion.
I had almost forgot to tell you that I received a letter from my brother, Paul Thacher, who lives in Salisbury, certifying that my brother John died three years ago, very poor. That my mother-in-law's sister, one Mrs. Elizabeth Coombs, widow to Mr. Coombs, the great Ana-Baptist, is alive; she was a lively, hearty Christian, when I lived at Salisbury, and I am confident would rejoice greatly to see you; being an old friend of my father's. If you go thither, I presume that you will find many old friends that will rejoice
much to see you. But I fear such * * * *ne coming on in England, that I wish you here. To the * * * Dear Jesus I * * * on resting * * * Your dear father,
I found the transcription of your letter in the rootsweb archives http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/GenMassachusetts/2001-06/0992976107. The link to the contact is unfortunately broken. The asterisks indicate areas that are unreadable. It would be wonderful to also find an image of the letter and seal but my searches have not been successful.
Reading the letter, really gives us an idea of the things that were of concern to you more than three hundred years ago.
Love, your 9th great grand daughter,
P.S. For family members, here is our descent from Thomas. Thomas and wife Elizabeth Partridge had son, Rev. Peter Thacher who married Theodora Oxenbridge. Their son, Peter Thacher married Mary Prence and their son was Samuel Prence Thacher. Samuel married Sarah Cook Kent and their son was Nathaniel Thacher. Nathaniel married Lydia Place and their daughter Sarah married George Hornell, Jr. George's and Sarah's daughter Lydia Hornell married John Champion Clarke. John and Lydia's daughter Mary Elizabeth Clarke married Charles Shepard Newton. Their daughter, Helen Brown Newton married Frederick Naaman Cone, my great grandfather.