Wife: Elizabeth (3)
Born: about 1617 in Devon, England
Died: 07 Oct 1679 in Simsbury, Hartford, CT
Buried: Poquonock, Windsor, Hartford, CT
From Wayne Olsen:
Listed in LDS Ancestral File, AFN: 3GLM-8W
From "The Griswold Family: The First Five Generations in America." The Griswold Family Association, 1990:
Came with the Dorchester Company in 1630 and moved to Windsor in 1635.
From "Pioneers of Massachusetts: A Descriptive List", by Charles Henry Pope. Genealogical Publishing Co, 1977:
Thomas, Dorchester, propr., frm. May 14, 1634. He sold his property Aug 12, 1635, and rem. to Windsor. CT.
From "Ancestors of Ossian Hatch Brainerd and Mary Hulburd Goodrich"
Several sources list one Gilbert Holcomb as father of Thomas Holcomb. However, McCracken: "Parents of Thomas Holcomb" shows the connection between Gilbert and Thomas Holcomb to be invalid.
Thomas, born in --- England, came to MA in the "Mary and John" in 1630. He settled in Dorchester, where he married Elizabeth Ferguson (?),born about 1617, a fellow passenger, on 14 May 1634. In 1635 they moved to Windsor, CT. In 1639 they settled at Poquonock. Thomas represented Windsor and Hartford in the constitutional convention of CT colony.
From "Thomas Holcomb and other Simsbury, Connecticut Settlers," by Deanna Holcomb Bowman, 1988:
Jesse Seaver thought that English records indicated that Thomas Holcomb was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales or Devonshire, England to Annand Gilbert Holcomb. Several recent researchers agreed with him. A disagreement appeared recently, George McCracken writing in the American Genealogist, Vol 26:109 found that Gilbert Holcomb's oral will stated d.s.p. which meant died without issue and that Gilbert left his estate to his brother-in-law, Richard Bonithon. His research is based on J.L.Vivian's, "The Visitations of the County Devon", on pages 474 and 533.....I have not been able to determine the father of Thomas Holcomb (1595-1657) from references found in the U.S., but I am of the opinion he was a member of Rev. Ephraim Huit's church, and Huit was from Kenilworthin Warwickshire. Without resolving the question of Thomas Holcomb's parentage, I have included in the appendix the ancestry of Gilbert and Ann Courtney Holcomb. I recently discovered that one of the early Holcomb births in CT was recorded as James the 8th. This could be a clue to ancestry of Thomas Holcomb in that the birth occurred in the 3rd generation of American Holcomb's, i.e., not time to have had 8 generations.
Thomas married Elizabeth (Ferguson from birth registry of daughter Elizabeth in Devon, England), perhaps a fellow passenger on the Mary and John. A record of this marriage has not been found (Elizabeth Atty in another record). Thomas as about 15 years older than Elizabeth, and could have easily been married before. Elizabeth was listed (as Elizabeth Eno) in the Medical Journal of John Winthrop as of age 52 in 1669, thus bornin 1617. From Granby, CT records, "Thomas Holcombe of Dorchester MA on May 14, 1634 was made a freeman. Sep 1635, sold house and lands to Richard Jones of Dorchester. In 1640 his name appears as owner of house and lands in Windsor, CT and at Poquonnoc." The vital records of Simsbury, CT indicate that Thomas and Elizabeth had 10 children.
From "Search for the Passengers of the Mary and John 1630", vol 22 (and vol 14, p. 33):
born about 1612, died 1657. Probably from West Country. He supposedly came on the "Mary & John" in 1630 but extensive searches over many years have failed to find his parents. He was not a son of Gilbert Holcomb of Branscome, Devon, because the latter died without issue.
The Branscome parish registers still exist and they do not contain a baptism of a Thomas Holcombe about 1600-1610. The Holcombes of Devon descend from Simon de Holcombe, Lord of the manor of Farington (Exeter),who fought with distinction at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, against William The Conqueror. Following the Norman Conquest, he was evicted from his lands and moved to Hole (near Branscome) in 1075. "Hole House", a large stone, thatch roofed structure remained in the Holcombe family until 1601, when it was sold by Gilbert Holcombe. It is still standing today and was visited by Mary & John descendants during the second Mary &John tour in 1988. For photos of Hole House see Search Series volume 11,pp. 17-30. According to family tradition Thomas Holcomb married Elizabeth Ferguson soon after the "Mry & John" landed but her name has been refuted. He had ten children. For four generations of his descendants, see Search Series, vol 6, pp. 39-79.
From Holcombe Family Assn Website:
Thomas1 Holcombe,(1) son of Gilbert Holcombe and Ann Courtney, was born Devon, England about 1601. Thomas died October 1, 1657 in Windsor, CT, at 56 years of age. His body was interred in Poquonock, Windsor, Connecticut.
He married Elizabeth Ferguson May 14, 1634.(2) Elizabeth was born Devon, England 1617. Elizabeth died October 7, 1679 in Windsor, CT, at 62 years of age. Thomas' history is derived mostly from land and probate records
The sources on Thomas Holcombe differ considerably on Thomas' ancestry. Thomas was born in England, most probably in one of the southwestern counties, Pembrokeshire, Wales, or Devonshire. We do not know the date of his birth even approximately, but his wife seems to have been born about 1617 and their first child born about 1634; McCracken believes this would place his birth somewhere about 1610; Seaver says 1601, but does not give any reasoning for that date.
Jesse Seaver thought that English records indicated that Thomas Holcomb was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales or Devonshire, England to Ann and Gilbert Holcomb. Several of Seaver's contemporary researchers agreed with him. A disagreement appeared recently; George McCraken writing in The American Genealogist, Vol. 26:109 found that Gilbert Holcomb's oral will stated d.s.p. which meant died without issue and that Gilbert left his estate to his brother-in-law, Richard Bonithon. His research is based on J.L. Vivian's, The Visitations of the County Devon, on pages 474 and 533. Quote from Vivian, page 474, "The Holcombe of Hull . . . The portion of this pedigree from the connencement printed in ordinary type is from Poleland Westcote; that printed in italic is from The Visitation of Devon 1564, Harlequin.Mss. 1080, fo. 403, 1091, fo, 42, b, and 5840, fo.52." I have not been able to determine the father of Thomas Holcomb.
Several early authors state he was a member of Reverend Ephraim Huit's church, and Huit was from Kenilworth in Warwickshire. But, no Holcomb births or records were found from the Diocesan Court at Worchester. The Register of Wroxal, 300 @24, for the year 1634 did list the following; Sarah Huit daughter of Ephraim and Isabell his wife was baptized, and Nathaniel Griswold the son of Samuel Griswold and Anne his wife was baptized. Bowman has found clues recently that Thomas may have been from county Somerset, the city of Bridgewater. She has recently discovered that one of the early Holcomb births in Connecticut was recorded as James the eighth. This could be a clue to ancestry of Thomas Holcomb in that the birth occurred in the third generation of American Holcomb's, i.e.not time to have had eight generations.
Bowman lists the ancestry of Gilbert and Ann Courtney Holcomb in herVolume 2 without resolving the question of Thomas' parentage in order that future researchers not duplicate others' efforts in delineating this line.
Most recently (October 25, 1998), Bowman updated her Volume 2 with the comment that Christopher was the most likely ancestor of Thomas. The birth and death dates normally assigned to the son of Christopher are not correct nor the marriage to Joan Prideaux. The birth and death dates are those of Thomas, the actor, of London who married Francis Bartlett.
The MARY AND JOHN
He is usually said, with some reason, to have come on the 1630 voyage ofthe Mary and John, but there is no proof of it, all passenger lists for that voyage being hypothetical.
Robert Charles Anderson in NEHGR, April 1993, addressed the many different lists of passengers on the MARY AND JOHN. He went about objectively establishing specific criteria for determining the likelihood that a specific individual was on the ship. By the criteria he established, which seem reasonable, Thomas Holcombe is not likely to have come on the MARY AND JOHN in 1630. The information here, whether it describes Thomas' voyage specifically or not, does describe the similar circumstances which brought him to Dorchester.
In March, 1630, Thomas was in a company which assembled at Plymouth, Devonshire, where a large ship of 400 tons, the Mary and John, chartered by Captain Squeb, for the voyage to America, was fitted out. The Mary and John was the first ship of the Winthrop Fleet which brought 1500 Puritans to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
John Hunt (NGSQ 63:1) notes that the early settlers of Dorchester, Mass., like the founders of Plymouth, were in some fear that they might not obtain leave to depart from England. There seems to have been some worry on the part of their organizer, the Reverend Mr. John White, that the group might be considered schismatic by the London authorities headed by the powerful Bishop William Laud. Consider the fact that White's recruiters incuded two unlike clerics, John Warham, a nonconformist, and John Maverick, a conformist.
Robert Charles Anderson states that this group of Puritians was organizedby Rev. John White of Dorchester, Dorsetshire, and that he solicited the Rev. John Maverick and Rev. John Warham to lead the group and he orchestrated the entire migration process. Warham had been minister at Crewkerne in Somersetshire and at Exeter in Devonshire; Maverick had been rector at Beaworthy in Devonshire. It is of note that the church was organized BEFORE they left England. Anderson characterizes this period of migration as "The Era of Gentlemen's Companies".
The Mary and John was destined for the Charles River. This "Godly Company," of 140 persons, assembled with their two ministers in the new hospital at Plymouth, kept a solemn day of fasting and prayer, and chose Bishop John Maverick and Bishop John Wareham to be their officers. There was a dispute with the captain, who refused to attempt the passage without pilot or chart. "The Word of God was preached and expounded every day during the voyage," of 70 days and the ship arrived at Nantasket, May 30, 1630. There is no evidence that any large ship had ever penetrated further into the harbor previous to this time.
Ten of the men procured a boat, left the ship at Nantasket, and went inquest of the "promised land." Later they were ordered to return to the ship as other members of the company had found a convenient place at Mattapan, where pasture for famished cattle could be had. Tradition has always fixed upon the south side of Dorchester Neck (South Boston) in Old Harbor, as the place of landing. Here they founded the town of Dorchester (named for Dorchester, England), so called to the present day and now apart of the City of Boston.
There was a tribe of Indians, of whom Chickatobot was Chief, that dwelt in the vicinity. Whatever may have been their former number and importance before their destruction by a pestilence in 1618, our forefathers found them few in numbers, depressed in spirits and, for the most part, very docile. Much interest was felt for them by the settlers and great efforts were made to civilize and convert them to Christianity, and a duty which they felt they owed, as their charter for ground upon which they located was based upon the "desire to propogate the Christian religion to such as live in darkness, and to bring savages to human civility." The Indians had but little use for land. They attached but a trifling value to it and parted with it without reluctance.
On whatever ship they crossed, Thomas Holcmbe was in Massachusetts Bay by 4 May 1634 on which day he became a freeman, and he is recorded as a resident of Dorchester.
His wife was named Elizabeth but the common statement that her maiden name was Ferguson is highly improbable and completely undocumented. It has lately been suggested that the name "Ferguson" results from a misreading of the correct name on a tombstone, but if so, no one has ever found her recorded on a tombstone. She is not mentioned on the tombstone of her first husband which is reported in McCracken's note in TAG44:58-60. While married to Eno she was attended in 1669 by John Winthroopthe Younger and was recorded in his medical journal (TAG 23:124) as then aged 52, which datum gives us a probable birth year of 1617. As this would have made her only 13 when the Mary and John arrived at Boston, its probable that the marriage of Thomas and Elizabeth took place at Dorchester, and if she came on the same ship as Thomas, she was a child at the time. Winthrop's statement that she was aged 52 in 1669 may, however, be too low, in which case the wedding may have occurred inEngland.
Migration to Windsor
In the Summer of 1635 some Dorchester people had already reached the river and sat down at a place where William Homes, and others of Plymouth, had erected a trading house two years before (at Windsor), and made preparations for bringing their families and settling permanently; and in November, 60 persons with a large number of cattle, travelled from Dorchester and arrived in safety at the river, after much tribulation. During the first Winter the sufferings of these persons were intense and they lost nearly all their cattle. Some individuals wandered back to Drochester and others avoided starvation by dropping down the river and taking refuge in a vessel at anchor at the mouth.
In the Spring of 1636, Reverend John Wareham left Dorchester and came toWindsor, Connecticut, bringing his flock, including Thomas Holcomb, with him. Maverick resisted the move and died late in 1635.
Before leaving Dorchester Thomas Holcomb sold his estate to Richad Jones (8-12-1635). Later, 1639, he moved to Poquonock, Hartford County, four miles west of Windsor, where he engaged in Farming. He was a Representative from Windsor and Hartford in the Convention that framed the now famous Constitution of the Connecticut Colony.
"Although Windsor was located in Connecticut, it and the other new settlements on the river were under the political and legal jurisdictionof the Massachusetts Bay Colony. They were governed by a court of five magistrates who held their authority from Massachusetts. These five persons represented the three different communities in Connecticut and consisted of two members from Windsor, two from Hartford, and one from Wethersfield. The citizens of these three towns elected a committee in May of 1635 for the purpose of assisting the Court in enacting local ordinances. On January 14, 1639, a general meeting was held at Hartford; at which time, a separate constitution was written and adopted, the first constitution in America." (Charles Case) (Note: it seems that Saybrook, at the mouth of the river, was not under the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Bay Colony).
"Thomas acquired a home lot in the first tier of allotments in Windsor paralleling the Connecticut River. His lot lay between that of Thomas Gunn and Philip Randall and extended westward to the foot of Meadow Hill. His meadow lot lay eastward to the river. The fact that he had lots assigned in the first tier is a strong indication that he arrived when the allotments were originally made in 1636. By 1649, however, Thomas had moved to a section of land on the Farmington river several miles northwest of Windsor known as Poquonnock where his neighbors were the Griswold brothers -- Edward, Frances and George -- and John Bartlett. His property lay near Indian Neck and Stony Brook.
Thomas Holcomb died at Windsor, Connecticut, September 7, 1657. His grave was located in an old cemetary near the old homestead at Poquonock, Connecticut. His grave was marked by a brown stone about two by four feet in size. The stone, having crumbled with age, was removed. It was replaced with a new marker that was inscribed with family information, much of which is wrong.
His widow married, second, August 5, 1658, James Eno (Enno) (his secondwife). She died October 7, 1679.
Some of those who have asserted that Thomas and Elizabeth were married before leaving England believe that the first two of the children were born there, but, the birth dates given below seem to discredit this supposition. It is quite certain that all who bear the name of Holcomb(e) in New England are descended from Thomas Holcomb, through his sons Joshua, Benajah and Nathaniel.
Although Thomas Holcomb and most of his descendants usually spell thename `Holcomb', it bears an `e' on Dorchester and Boston records.
The property of Thomas Holcomb was inventoried Octover 1, 1657, the inventory came to £294/9/8 (Manwaring 1:129f.). The surviving children are listed with ages as Joshua (17), Benajah (13), Nathaniel (9), Abigail(19), Deborah (5-7), but this overlooks the two eldest daughters Elizabeth and Mary who were already married, and had probably received their portions at marriage. The widow Elizabeth was granted administration, date not stated. The distribution was as follows:
Widow £42/18/00 Nathaniel £28/12/00 Joshua 42/18/00 Abigail 28/12/00 Benajah 38/07/00 Deborah 28/12/00
Just how these sums were computed is not clear, certainly not by theusual third to the widow, a double share to the eldest son and a singleshare to the other children. In any case, George and Edward Griswold (husband of the daughter Mary and his father) entered a claim for a part of the estate but withdrew it. On 15 Dec. 1660 Samuel Bissell (husband of Abigail) receipted to James Enno, who was by then husband of the widow, for Bissell's wife's portion, and on 17 Dec. 1660 Joshua Holcombe receipted for his.
Following is a record taken from Probate Records, Hartford District:`This 17th day of December 1660 I do acknowledge to having received of my Father Enno ye full sum of my portion. Witness my hand, Joshua Holcomb. 'James Eno, with his three children, came to live at the Holcomb house, after the death of his first wife, and his marriage to Elizabeth.
Generally, Thomas Holcombe is credited with ten children of whom three died in childhood, but there is a curious record which suggests there may have been an older son named John. The son Nathaniel had a son Nathaniel recorded at Springfield on 11 June 1673, this because the child's mother, Mary Bliss, came from Springfield, but the same Vital Records attribute the birth of a daughter Sarah on 6 Oct, 1673 to a John Holcum. Nothing more is known of this John, either at Springfield or Windsor, and I am inclined to think that an error was committed by the original town clerk at Springfield and that the surname Holcum is what is wrong. The learned Savage and also Drs. Holcombe and Stiles knew of the same entry, and they thought that John may have gone to Virginia.
Thomas Holdombe's Tombstone by George McCracken from The American Genealogist Vol. 44, p. 58, January 1968
The story of the vandalism was reported to me some years ago by the late Mrs. Carrie Marshall Kendrick who lived in a fine mid-victorian house near the intersection of Marshall Phelps Road with Poquonock Avenue in Windsor, Conn. The house had been formerly known as 1297 Poquonock Avenue but more recently has been given a number of Marshall Phelps Road. On the other side of the road but the same side of the avenue, so Mrs. Kendrick informed me, was formerly a small cemetery in which was originally buried Thomas Holcombe in October 1657.
Members of the Holcomb family "later" removed to what is now Granby and took with them Thomas Holcomb's tombstone, if not what was left of his remains also, and inserted the 1657 stone into an obelisk-type monument in the Granby Street Cemetery in Granby where it was read by C. G.Flanders in 1934 when he reported all the stones of that graveyard: "Thomas Holcomb, born in England, died Oct. 1657." Mrs Kendrick further stated, with considerable distress, that some years before she spoke members of the family had demolished the obelisk-type monument and replaced it with a modern granite monument, and the original slab was then thrown into a dump.
On the day when I heard this story I visited the Granby Street Cemetery and verified the presence of the new stone, and on 30 June 1967 I again examined the stone and copied the new inscription, as follows:
THOMAS HOLCOMB, BORN IN ENGLAND, DIED OCT. 1657 THOMAS, HIS SON, DIED 1736 ELIZABETH PETTEBONE, HIS WIFE, DIED 1740 DANIEL, THEIR SON DIED 1760 ESTHER BUEL, HIS WIFE, DIED 1765 DANIEL, THEIR ONLY SON, DIED OCT. 12, 1836 AE 85 SARAH, HIS WIFE, DIED SEPT. 5, 1835 AE 54 HEPZIBAH GRISWOLD, HIS WIFE, DIED JULY 11, 1814 AE 33 GAYLORD G., THEIR 2ND SON, DROWNED,JULY 4, 1844 AE 50
from Wayne Olsen:
Listed in LDS Ancestral File, AFN: ZR2Q-RR. Lists birth about 1615.
Numerous sources report that Elizabeth's maiden name was Ferguson.However, research by the group "In Search of the Passengers of the Mary &John" concluded that Elizabeth's last name is still in doubt.
Revised: November 26, 2016