Husband: Thomas Gilbert (1)
Born: before 25 Apr 1589 in Yardley, Worstershire, England
Married: 29 Aug 1610 in Yardley, Worstershire, England
Died: before 05 Sep 1659 in Wethersfield, Hartford, CT
Wife: Elizabeth Bennett (2)
Born: in England
Died: before 05 Sep 1659 in Wetherfield or Hartford
From "The Gilbert Family; Descendancy of Thomas Gilbert 1582-1659", by H.W. Brainard, H.S. Gilbert, and C.A. Terry; New Haven, 1953:
Thomas Gilbert was born in England about 1582. The exact date of his birth or baptism and the names of his parents are unknown. Statements as to his origin have been made which are mistaken or false.
In 1654 the wife of Thomas Gilbert of Braintree, Windsor, and Wethersfield was Lydia Gilbert. She may not have been his first wife..
The earliest mention of Thomas Gilbert in any New England record is found in Boston Town Records (vol 2, p. 49). This is the record of grants of land to 32 men at Mt. Wollaston, formerly in the town of Braintree, but now within the limits of Quincy... Feb 1639.. 28 acres for 7 heads. Thomas Gilbert's name stands 8th in the list of grantees, a position presumably of no significance. The expression "7 heads", means that his family consisted of the father and 6 sons, the female members not being considered in the grant. He had also a daughter Sarah and a servant or employee named Joel Jenkins. It thus appears that Thomas Gilbert with his large family and a servant was engaged in farming upon a grant of new land within the limits of the present town of Quincy from 1639 to 1644 or
...A petition dated May 1646 requested forfeit of his land... It would appear that Thomas Gilbert had left Braintree, and was still holding privileges of pasturage in that time, possibly leaving cattle there in charge of his son Josiah Gilbert, who soon married Elizabeth Belcher. .. The exact date of his departure is not known, but it was probably in 1644 that he went to Windsor, CT. The reasons of his going can be surmised. For 10 years previous to 1644, there had been a constant flow of settlers from Massachusetts Bay to the rich lands on the Connecticut. Gilbert joined the movement,hoping to better his condition.
About the time that Thomas Gilbert came to Windsor, Francis Stiles was preparing to remove to Stratford and had sold to William Hayden about 26 acres of his 32 acre piece of upland, and on Jan 24, 1644/5 he sold the remainder, about 5 acres to Thomas Gilbert. The deed contains the words "upon good consideration to me secured," which indicates that Gilbert paid little or no money down. Some years later and prior to Aug20, 1652, this lot was in possession of John Drake Sr and had upon it a "Seler," house, garden, and fencings. These improvements were probably the work of Thomas Gilbert and probably built before Apr 22, 1649. The "Seler" was in all probability Gilbert's first habitation in Windsor, an underground house or dugout, commonly used by the first settlers, because it could be quickly and easily constructed, and thus afford shelter until a frame house could be built.
In the month of March or Apr 1649, Thomas Gilbert associated himself with Henry Stiles, and this, although with entire innocence on Gilbert's part, led to great misfortune to himself and his family. Stiles was a man of mature age, being past 50, without wife or family, and boarding in Gilbert's house. Mrs. Gilbert performed many services for him in making and repairing his clothing, tending him in sickness and the like. There is not the slightest trace of any discord or ill feeling of either part to this arrangement. On Nov 3, 1651, Henry Stiles was accidentally shot in the back and died in consequence of the wound. It was on a training day and the Trainband, according to the tradition preserved by President Ezra Stiles, was waiting upon Gov. John Winthrop when he was embarking for England to obtain the Connecticut charter. This charter was obtained in 1662. Therefore this tradition cannot be correct. Tradition apart, the death of Henry Stiles did occur at the time and in the manner related, as the records of the Particular Court held Dec 4, 1651 attest.
Thomas Gilbert brought in a bill against the estate of Henry Stiles. This bill shows that Gilbert, although careful and methodical in his business matters, could not write his own name, for he signs with his mark, a large "T". The account bears witness to the relations of Gilbert and his wife to Henry Stiles. It is more probable that Thomas Gilbert, after the sale of Francis Stile's land in 1648, went to live in the house of Henry Stiles, than that Stiles went to live with Gilbert, because he was a landowner and Gilbert seems not to have been at this particular time. Of course both theories may be incorrect. They may have done these things as neighbors, without change of abode.
After the death of Henry Stiles, Thomas Gilbert was obliged to find another home and farm. About this time he bought from Josiah Hull part of his home lot, 11 and 1/4 acres,..
(Regarding Lydia's witchcraft trial)... Who Lydia Gilbert's accusers were is unknown. Whether ignorant gossip or private enmities brought this ghastly charge upon her, it is impossible to say. That the charge of procuring the death of Henry Stiles could be brought against her seems incredible, when everyone of mature age in Windsor must have known that Henry Stiles met his death by the carelessness of Thomas Allyn, three years before. But the charge was brought against her. She was charged with other witchcrafts besides this, and it may be that she was one of those unfortunate women to whom suspicion of witchcraft clung, for reasons which cannot now be stated. The evidence upon which Lydia was convicted, and the names of the witnesses against her, are unknown. The juror's oath, the names of the jury and the names of the magistrates who heard the case are on record, as well as the indictment and the verdict. 6 of the magistrates and jurymen were residents of Windsor, 5 of Hartford, and the rest belonged to Wethersfield. The Court considered the case in a special session beginning Nov 28, 1654. The jury brought in the indictment and the records seem to show that they brought in the verdict as well.
...It is doubtful if Lydia Gilbert escape (execution). She may have suffered the penalty either in the jail yard at Hartford or more probably on the lot at the corner of Albany Avenue and Vine Street in Hartford, where the public gallows is known to have stood a little later.
After the death of his wife, Thomas Gilbert sold his place in Windsor to Thomas Bissell and retired to LT John Hollister's farm at Nayaug, then in the limits of Wethersfield, but now in Glastonbury. This farm had been leased by Jonathan, John and Josiah Gilbert as early as1651. Here Thomas Gilbert remained until his death in 1659. He left some personal estate but the amount of his debts was large and very little wasleft to be distributed to his heirs.
...Author concludes that Thomas Gilbert was not a member of the Puritan or Congregational church of Windsor or at Wethersfield. ... He paid 7 shillings as recorded in the Windsor rate book for his seat, but all men of the town were compelled by law to attend the services in the meetinghouse on Sabbaths, and to pay for the support of the minister.
Was Lydia Gilbert the wife or the daughter of Thomas Gilbert. Dr.Henry A. Stiles in his "History of Ancient Windsor" makes Lydia thedaughter of Thomas Gilbert and other writers have done the same. .. the author then gives a number of reasons for his conclusion that Lydia wasThomas' wife.
From "Goff-Davis Ancestral Lines,":
Lists Richard Gilbert and Margery Morken of Yardley, Worcestershire, England as parents of Thomas Gilbert.
Thomas had been baptized on 25 Apr 1589 and on 29 Aug 1610 married Elizabeth Bennett in Yardley. Her parentage is not known. The couple had 8 children (Thomas, Sarah, Jonathan, John, Ezekiel, and unnamed child, Josiah, and Obadiah) born in Yardley by 1630; the unnamed child was buried in 1624.
The year of the family's emigration is unknown, but on 24 Feb1639/40 Thomas Gilbert was granted land at Mt. Wollaston in Braintree, now Quincy, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Thomas received 28 acres for 7 heads, i.e. for the father and 6 sons. He had a servant, Joel Jenkins, who later married the daughter Sarah. Thomas and his wife were still in Braintree in 1646 at some point the couple moved to Nayuag, then in Wethersfield but now in Glastonbury in CT. There he farmed land leased from 1651 on by sons Jonathan, John and Josiah. On 17 Aug 1658 Thomas signed a petition to the General Court for Lt. John Hollister's benefit (about the church schism at Wethersfield); and as his tenant he may have found it expedient to sign. All the sons were in the CT colony. Jonathan and John lived in Hartford. Obadiah in Fairfield, and Josiah in Wethersfield. The son Thomas was first in Windsor but after the hanging of his second wife as a witch went to Springfield in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, where he became the second husband of ancestress Catherine(Chapin) Bliss.
Until recently it has been thought that Thomas Gilbert's wife was named Lydia and that she was the one falsely accused of witchcraft and hung in Hartford in January 1654/5. But Thomas and Elizabeth apparently both died in Wethersfield and about the same time. Thomas died before 5 Sep 1659 when his estate was inventoried at 189 pounds. His debts, which included funeral expenses for both he and Elizabeth, were so large that only 19 pounds was left to his children.
Direct ancestor of President Hoover through son John Gilbert.
Revised: November 26, 2016