Tuesday, March 25, 2014

52 Ancestors: Week 12: Thomas Skidmore, immigrated to America in 1636

The Skidmore Family in England dates back to the year 1086 in Gloucestershire.  Thomas Skidmore, born in 1605, immigrated to America in about 1636 (just 16 years after the Pilgrims on the Mayflower). He was a pioneer in settling several towns in Connecticut with John Winthrop, Jr, who became Connecticut's first governor.

In my research, I came across the work done by Warren Skidmore in 1980.  He did an amazing amount of research about the Skidmores.  There are 9 pages of documented evidence about the life of Thomas Skidmore in Warren Skidmore’s book. Here is a synopsis:
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image to enlarge

Thomas had arrived in the Massachusetts area by 10 June 1636.  He made 3 trips back and forth between England and Boston, and then decided to stay.

His wife Ellen and their 4 children (ages 15, 12, 8 and 5) arrived about 1642. Their only child born in America, son John (our ancestor) was born at Cambridge, Massachusetts on 11 April 1643.

Thomas’ home in Cambridge in 1640  stood on a triangular plot.  Today it faces Harvard Square and is occupied by a block of commercial shops serving Harvard University.


Harvard Square (today)




On 1 June 1646, he sold his house at Cambridge to Henry Dunster, the president of Harvard College.  The Skidmores  and about 43 others  joined Gov. Winthrop, Jr in New London, CT.


Thomas Skidmore had just arrived  in New London in 1646, when Uncus, the local Indian chief and about 300 of his tribe descended on a hunting party of Englishmen and friendly Indians from the town who were poaching (in his view) on his private reserve.  The settlers were chased back to the town and an Indian village was destroyed.

Monument to Uncus
By 1649, Thomas had six acres for a home lot and 4 acres of meadow for cattle in New London.

He followed his daughter and son-in-law Edward Higby to Stratford by 1650 and remained in that town for most of the following decade.   His wife Ellen probably died here.  In Nov 1660 he sold “all my accommodation in Stratford” to Alexander Bryan for £60.  Skidmore Hill in Stratford survives as a place name.

He moved to Fairfield and accumulated a number of tracts of land there.  It was there that he married his second wife Joanna who had seven children.  There are many documents settling the affairs as his stepchildren came of age.

Joanna (age 55) left a will and died in about 1667.  She was attended in her last illness by Gov Winthrop, Jr, who in addition to his other talents (first Gov of CT) was the most sought after physician in New England. He kept a case book in which he made brief notes on all his patients.

After the death of his second wife, Thomas went to Huntington, Long Island, across the sound from Fairfield, CT where his son Thomas had settled before him many years previously. Until at least 1682 he maintained “accommodations” in both towns and commuted back and forth.

postcard from the 1930s,
shows the beautiful scenery at Fairfield, CT
His return to Fairfield many have been occasioned by his third marriage.  His new wife Sarah (Thomas was her fourth husband) was the widow of Ralph Keeler who had died in 1672.

Thomas Skidmore died at Fairfield on or just previous to 31 October 1684. Sarah died within a fortnight after her husband died.  The inventory of his estate totaled £64 and it indicates that Thomas had disposed of all his real property before his death.  He was almost 80 at the time of his death, and was survived by all five of his children.

click within image to enlarge


Sources:

  • Thomas Skidmore (Scadamore), 1605-1684, of Westerleigh, Gloucestershire, and Fairfield, Connecticut by Warren Skidmore, 1980  https://openlibrary.org/books/OL4164222M/Thomas_Skidmore_(Scudamore)_1605-1684_of_Westerleigh_Gloucestershire_and_Fairfield_Connecticut/borrow
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Harvard_square_2009j.JPG
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncas


3 comments:

  1. Love the Harvard Square neighborhood photo and the building on the triangular lot. To know the family history of that place makes me want to go there and explore!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Found myself on this spot last spring.
    Didn't know at the time it was the old homestead !

    ReplyDelete