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Thomas is often confused with his contemporary, Col. Thomas Read of Salem, who was evidently more wealthy and had a higher social standing. He was an ensign, captian and colonel in the militia, referred to either by those suffixes or by "Mr." The Read Record, for instance, clearly distinguishes them. Thomas first appears in Salem on a 1636 list of landowners, having a 10 acre lot.1 He was acknowledged as an inhabitant of the town on 10 April 1637.2 In the division of marsh and meadow lands of Salem, authorized on 25 December 1637, he received 3/4 of an acre, indicating there were three in his family.3 On 25 June 1638, 1/2 an acre was added beside his 10 acre lot, and he was granted another 20 acres in January of 1639.4 In December of 1643 he was a witness in a court case against a group of men who put their cattle in the "North Corn Fields" and complained to the court about Robert Tike stealing wood from him.5
     It's a common belief that Thomas's first wife was Alice Read, who joined the First Church in Salem in 1640, which I don't think is credible.6 The church record doesn't give anything but her name. I've found nothing but proximity in Salem to connect her with Thomas. There was a member named Thomas Read on the oldest list of members before 1636, but this is reasonable thought to have been Col. Thomas, an in-law of Gov. Winthrop. Thomas's second wife joined in 1649 (no day and month given, despite what some claim on the internet) and her children born thereafter are found in church baptism records.
     The only real estate transaction recorded for Thomas is the sale of 6 acres of upland in the "North Field" to Richard Richards on 2 January 1663/64.7 It was the confirmation of that deed on 11 February 1666/67 that is the last record of Thomas alive before the inventory of his estate was taken the following 5th of April.
     A summary of sorts of his probate, recorded contemporarily, says "Tho. Read dying intestate, Mary his wife presented an invintory of his estate to this court to the value of £70, 7 shillings cleare estate, who is apoynted adninstratrix & is to pay out of the said estate to the children of ye deceased, being in number eleaven, at the age of 21 yeares the sons, the daughters at 18 years or maryed, the surviving, to say the eldest son 40 shillings, to ye rest 20 shillings each of them & the said widdow is not to make sale of any of the houses or land, without advice of this court or the selectmen of Salem & when she dyes, what estate shee leaves to be equally devided among the surviving children according to the proportion as above said." This was decided at the 25 June 1667 session of the Essex County Quarterly Court held at Salem.8 Some have erroneously claimed that the inventory was made on this date.

Thomas' estate inventory, as transcribed and published:

Inventory taken Apr. 5, 1667, by John Neale and Edmond Batter : One hows & 35 1-2 Acres of ground & 3-4 an acre of Sallt marsh, 501i. ; 2 Cowse, 81i. ; 1 horse & mare Collt, 61i. [£61]; 2 oxen, llli. ; 1 heifer, 2li. ; 3 swine, 211. 6s. 8d.; Beding & Bedsted, 21i. 10s.; Apparrell, 10s.; Flaxe, 10s.; 2 chests, 10s.; 1 paile & other Lumber, 10s.; Iron pott & skillitts, 10s.; pewter & warming pann, IGs. ; Iron toolls & old Iron & plow Irons, lis.; Combe to dry hemp, 5s. ; sled, 4s. ; an old frame not sett up, 10s. ; 1 Calif [?, to low a value for a calf], 5s. ; 1 Cart & Boxes, 10s.; total, 871i. 7s. Debts due out of the estate, 171i. Children by the first wife 3 sons & 1 daughter; second wife, 7 Children, 2 sons, one about 20 years and the other 4 years, and daughters, aged 14, 17, 12, 10 and 1 1-2 years. Widow Mary married John Tompkins, whose son John married Mary's daughter Mary. Mary the elder was still living on 14 December 1687, when she's mentioned in her stepson Abraham Read's petition as having done nothing yet with Thomas's estate, and that he had the care of his older brother. This was several years after her youngest child came of age, so the children were obviously ready for the estate to be settled. Mary still had her portion of the estate when John Tompkins died, finding it necessary to specify when his inventory was taken "The estate of the Relict before mariage, 35 acres of land with the old house, £120," "halfe an acre of salt marsh, £5," and "a bed and trundle bedstead."1

children of Thomas Read and his first wife (his inventory says "3 sons & 1 daughter")

i. son, d. aft. 5 April 1667
ii. prob. Rebecca
iii. Abraham
iv. Isaac

children of Thomas and Mary (inventory says 11 children with ages that match the birth and baptism records below):10 v. Aaron, b. perhaps Fall 1648, bap. 18 May 16491, the son about 20 years old in April 1667
vi. Susannah bap. 23 September 1649
vii. John bap. 15 June 1651 died young
viii. Mary bap. 10 April 1653
ix. Elizabeth bap. 13 May 1655
x. Remember bap. 26 April 1657
xi. Jacob b. 22 February 1658/59, died young
xii. Sarah b. 15 March 1660/61, died young
xiii. Jacob b. 7 August 1662, the son 4 years old in April 1667
xiv. Sarah b. 14 October 1665

1. Town records of Salem, Massachusetts, vol. 1 (Salem, MA:Essex Institute, 1868), 24.
2. Ibid, 44.
3. Ibid, 102.
4. Ibid, 70, 78.
5. Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, vol. 1 (Salem, MA:Essex Institute, 1911), 56, 59.
7. Essex Co., MA, deeds, 3:19.
8. The Probate Records of Essex County, 3:92.
9. Given when Susannah was baptized, he was born maybe Fall 1648 and baptized when his mother joined the Salem church. The records only say it was in 1649.
10. Vital Records of Salem, Massachusetts, to the year 1849, vol. 1 (Salem, MA:Essex Institute, 1916), 227-8. The birth dates are taken from an Essex County Quarterly Court record. Those for Aaron, both Jacobs, John, Mary, Remember and Susannah are in the Julian calendar form. I've translated those with numerical months to month names and added a dual year where it's in the Julian/Gregorian calendar overlap. The baptism dates are also in the published vital records and were taken from the First Church in Salem records. The published death records of their children, as transcribed, are confusing and not reliable. They are also from court records. Two Jacobs are listed, one dying on 22 February 1658/59, another on 19 November 1663. The first date is the same date as his birth record. He wasn't stillborn since he was bap. 5 June 1659. The next baptism for a son Jacob is dated 7 November 1663. While it's plausible he died later the same month, we know there was a Jacob who survived beyond 1663, he being 4 years old when his father's estate inventory was taken in April 1667.

all text and photographs © 1998-2020 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted