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     Thomas first appears in available English records in 1616, when he married at St. John the Baptist Church in Glastonbury, Somersetshire, England: "Thomas Holbrook duxit in exorem [came to wed] Jane Powyes."1 People have speculated about his ancestry, but there is no credible evidence for his parents or where he was born. The only good clue we have for when he was born is from a deposition Thomas made for a case before the Massachusetts Bay Colony General Court in 1666.2 He made three depositions on 2 November 1666 in which he says he was about 77 years old. This puts his birth about 1589.
     The birth or baptism date 1 March 1589/90 has been claimed in Glastonbury, son of William, but this is undoubtedly either made up or the result of some confusion with other records. The parish records for Glastonbury St. Benedict and St. John the Baptist don't go back that far. In their original form, St. John's starts in 1603 and St. Benedict in 1662. Bishop's transcripts for St. John the Baptist are only a micro set of records for 1597 & 1598, and include a baptism record from a damaged page for an unidentifiable child of William in 1598. This has also been claimed to be Thomas's birth or baptism record (the internet being full of mistakes when it comes to calling baptism records birth records). It's plausible that William had other children baptized there before this, but it would be misleading to say anything other than that William of Glastonbury may have been Thomas's father and that Thomas was born about 1589.
     Also at St. John the Baptist was the burial on 19 August 1609 of John Holbrook. This is followed by Thomas's marriage and the baptisms of John and William, then there are gaps in which Thomas and Anne's baptisms likely occurred. Then we find Elizabeth, followed by a large gap extending beyond their emigration date from England.
     Although there were Holbooks elsewhere in Somersetshire at this time among existing parish records, they weren't close enough to Glastonbury to make an educated guess that they were connected to the New England immigrants, especially considering that it was more plausible that the latter were in Glastonbury in the late 16th century and can't be found due to the missing records. The rebound volume of original parish records of St. John the Baptist include this note, which does well to describe why we do and don't have records going back any further in many parts of England.

This is our oldest register. The Glastonbury registers have been printed from a bishop's [transcript] and show a few years earlier than shows here. So something has been lost. In some parts of England registers started about 1539, notably [parishes] in the same counties. Obedience was slow here [Somersetshire]. More often in old parish churches registers started in Elizabeth's reign.

     Thomas's wife's name as it's given in the original parish marriage record is "Powyes," not "Powys" as is often stated. Using the Find My Past index as an example, which has one of the largest online English parish register databases, "Powyes" occurs only 63 times. Two are from the 17th century, including Jane (Powyes) Holbrook. It's likely whoever wrote this record misheard the name. "Powyes" and any likely phonetic variations, or even "Powers" don't appear in early 17th century parish records for this area. There are several instances of "Powes" in Somerset, which may be a phonetic of "Powers." One appears iin 1598 and three others in the next century. "Bowyes" and its phonetic variations, as well as "Bower" and "Boyer" and their variations are much more common in early 17th century Somerset. A William Boyer married on 1 February 1608/09 at St. John the Baptist. A bowyer is someone who makes bows, and is an established English surname. Given the prevalence of phonetics in the recording of less common surnames at this time, all of these "B" names likely originated from bowyer. This isn't conclusive, but it is interesting to note. Also, "B" and "P" are close phonetically.
     By March 1634/35 they lived in "Broadway," according to a passenger list made for the ship Mary Gould (Marigold). There is a Broadway in Somerset and a Broadwey in Dorset (technically not "Broadway," as it is often referred to in much later references up to now, and with Upwey and Weymouth, it sits along the river Wey). Both are plausible considering their proximity to Glastonbury and to Weymouth, from where the ship sailed. The person taking the information didn't necessarily know the distinction between Broadway and Broadwey, either in terms of multiple villages or the spelling. The passengers were part of the "Hull Company," said to have been drawn from the area around Crewkerne, Somerset., which favors the Somerset village, but the parish records for both are spotty.
     The passenger list for Marigold also says Thomas and Jane were 34, John was 11, Thomas 10, Anne 5 and Elizabeth 1. Most and probably all these ages are wrong, for whatever reason, and William, who certainly came to New England, is missing. Thomas and Anne were likely born in the 1620s, and there are gaps in the St. John's register at this time. Elizabeth's baptism appears in 1630, which accords well with her being married in 1650. Jane, who also isn't on the passenger list, was probably born in Massachusetts Bay. There may have been others who died young before they immigrated. This puts their move to "Broadway" between 1630 and 1635.
     This is an 1892 transcription of his will. The original will is missing from the probate file.3

In the name of God, Amen. The thirtie first of December in the yeare of our Lord One Thousand Six Hundred Sixty and Eight. Thomas Holbrooke of Waymoth in New England being sick & weake in body but of a good and perfect memory Thancks be to the Lord & minding the uncertaine Estate of this Transitory Life & desiring to Settle that Estate that god hath blessed me withall Doe make this my Last will & Testament in manner and forme following. Committing my Soule to almighty god through Christ my Saviour & redeemer & my body to decent buriall and for the settling of my Temporall Estate & do order Give & dispose the same in manner and forme following. That is to Say first I Will that my debts and funerall Expenses be truly paid out of my Estate

Item I Give and bequeath unto Jane my beloved wife during her Life my whole Estate of what quality and quantity Soever the Same be to be at her dispose for her necessary & Comfortable maintenance and do request my Son John Holbrooke my Son William Holbrooke & my Son Thomas Holbrooke to be helpfull to my wife in assisting of her in what she may have occasion to dispose of for her Subsistance & Comfortable maintenance during her Life and give their mother the best advice as She is ancient and weake of body Suitable to her necessity without being burthen Some to any

Item I give and bequeath unto my Endeared Children all my Estate of what quality and Quantity whatsoever the Same Shall be that Shall remain at my wife Janes Decease there being Six of them Three sons & Three daughters to be Equally divided betwene them, Alwaies provided that my Eldest Son John Holbrooke Shall have a double portion and the rest of my Estate to be Equally divided namely unto my Son William Holbrooke unto my Son Thomas Holbrooke unto my daughter Annie Rennolds unto my daughter Elizabeth Hatch and unto my daughter Jane Drake To be equally divided amongst them as neare as may be and in case any or either of my Sons or daughters should decease before my wife Jane Then their Share deceased to remaine to their respective Children and my Grand children

Item I Give unto my Grandchilde John Holbrooke the Eldest my sword

Item I give unto my Grandchilde Peter Holbrooke my Gun & my gray mares Colt

Item I Give unto my Grandchilde William Holbrooke my musket

Item I Give and bequeath unto all my grandchildren that Shall be Living at my wife Janes Decease Two Shillings apeice

Item I do hereby make & ordaine my Loving wife the abovesaid Jane Holbrooke Executrix during her Life and at her decease I do appointe make and ordaine Executor of this my Last will & Testament my Loving Son John Holbrooke whome I do order and intreate to perform this my will and pay the legacies out of my whole Estate of what Shall remine at my wifes decease. In Witnesse whereof I have hereunto Sett my hand and Seale the day and yeare before written as in the other side

Thomas T H Holbrooke

Signed & Sealed in the presence of us

The mark of Rebecca R B Burrell
William Chard

Whereas Peter Holbrooke my grand childe hath bene as a Servant & hath bene helpfull to me Thomas Holbrooke & my wife Jane in our old age for the Space of about Eight yeares before the date of these presents and still remaines with us as a dutifull Childe I Thomas Holbrooke Senior this Thirtie first of December 1673 do will and bequeath unto my beloved Grandchilde Peter Holbrooke his heires and assignes my dwelling house and about three acres of Orchard and arable land scittuate & being in Weymoth bounded with Edward Kingman's Land & the River Northerly & Easterly & the highway Southerly & the river Westerly or the creek descending from the River as the said Peter Holbrookes propper Estate of Inheritance To have & to hold after the decease of me Thomas Holbrooke & Jane my wife & not before And I Thomas Holbrooke do hereby declare not to alter in any purticuler from my afore said will Dated this day was five yeares Since but in this respect as afore written Concerning my beloved son & grandchild Peter Holbrooke which accordingly I do desire my son John Holbrooke as Executor in all points to fulfill. Dated the 31th of December as above written in the yeare of our Lord God One Thousand Six hundred Seventy and three

TH Published Signed & Sealed in the presence of us

Thomas White
William Chard

At a County Court Aprill 24 1677, Power of administration to the Estate of the Late Thomas Holbrooke of Weymo. Deced. is granted unto Capt. John Holbrooke his son he giving bond with Sureties to administer according to the declared minde of Said Holbrooke and as they Law directs having already given in an Inventory of Sd Estate upon Oath.

Thomas's probate packet has the original inventory document. I've modified it slightly in terms of the value columns description and eliminated a repeating legalese term at the beginning of each line.

An Inventory of the estate of Thomas Hollbrook late of Waymouth deceased taken ye 10th of March in ye yere 1676/7 and aprised by us whos names are underwritten

waring aparell -
[£]3=8 [shillings]=0 [pence]
cash - 5=00=00
beding - 12=03=0
one great iron pott - 00=08=00
one iron cettell - 00=06=00
one iron pott - 00=06=00
one iron pott - 00=04=00
[?] pott hooks & too pott hangers & one spitt - 00=08=00
one frying pan - 00=02=00
one brass cettell & a candell sticke - 00=06=00
too pewtter platters - 00=08=00
inother pewter - 00=08=00
one warminge pan 00=05=00
one great chest - 0-0=10=00
one litell chest - 00=05=00 too oldd chests - 00=04=00
one chayr - 00=05=0
one chest - 00=04=00
ten spoones - 00=02=00
twelve booshells Indian corn - 01=10=60
too booshells of barly & pease - 00=10=06
too porke & beefe - 01=00=00
one cow - 03=00=00
seven sheep & too lams - 02=05=00
a littell hors - 01=10=00
too piggs - 01=00=00
paills churn & mill wessells
[surely vessels] - 00=12=00
too seaves - 00=01=00
too other lumber - 00=12=00
hows orchard & land - a joyninge to it - 140=00=00
sixteen pound woolen yarne - 01=08=00
eaight pound woode - 00=06=00
debts due aboute - 50=00=00
one spinninge wheele - 00=04=00

Samuell White
the mark of Thomas "T" Don

Captn Jno Holbrooke made oath in court April 26 1677 that this is a just and true inventry of the estate of his late father Thomas Holbrooke decd to his best knowledge and that when hee knowes more hee will discover the same

A bond was made giving "John Holbrooke Senior" of Weymoth administration of his father's estate on 24 August 1677, with William Penn of Braintree as surety.

     In The Great Migration Begins, a widely used resource, Jane is stated to have died by the time the estate went to probate, presumably because she was replaced by John as executor. Unfortunately, other publications before this said she died on this date, and has since been repeated. She may have died by then, but it's also possible she wasn't capable of administering the estate given her age. Although aged widows are known to have signed documents relinquishing executorship for this reason, I haven't seen an instance of it this early, when probates apparently required less documentation. For instance, later probates required an executor's account of creditors and debtors, the executor's expenses and of property distribution, but not so in the 17th century. It's safe to say she may have died by 24 August 1677.

children of Thomas Holbrook and Jane "Powyes:"4

i. John bap. (maybe 6) April 1618
ii. William, bap. 12 June 1620
v. Elizabeth, bap. 13 February 1630/31
vi. Jane

1. "Somerset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1531-1812," database online (Provo, UT: Operations, Inc., 2016), image 50 of the original 1603-1631 volume of records, p. 42.
2. Suffolk Co., MA, General Court records, images online at, "Court files v. 8 cases 777-852, 1666-1668," film #008131511, see case #815.
3. Suffolk County, MA, probate records, 6:298-301. The 1892 transcript volumes for Suffolk County probates are based on volumes of recordings contemporary with the actual probate case documents. Those contemporary transcriptions don't appear online. The original will document has been taken out of his probate packet, an all too common situation, especially among Great Migration immigrants who have many family historians among their descendants.
4. "Somerset, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1531-1812," database online (Provo, UT: Operations, Inc., 2016), images 54 & 72 of the original 1603-1631 volume of records, p. 46 & 62.

all text and photographs © 1998-2021 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted