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Thomas may have been the man with that name who came to Massachusetts Bay colony on the ship Susan & Ellen, sailing about May 1635.1 He was among the people "permitted to embark at the Port of London," with the intention of sailing on that ship. The list says he was 30. This conflicts slightly with the gravestone for Thomas of Reading, Massachusetts Bay, which will be discussed below.
     There are several erroneous claims about his passage and when it was. The history of Lynn says he came over on the ship Christopher, leaving London on 11 March 1635 and born 1614.2 There's no source given and I find nothing to support the existence of such a ship or any ship leaving from England on that date. Another is a more widely repeated claim that Susan & Ellen left on this date, surely referring to and confusing the History of Lynn claim. In any case, Susan & Ellen didn't leave in March. There's a notation on the above list dated 15 May about one of the passengers and another brief permission list dated 9 May. There can't have been two different trips in March and May of the same year, and the March date apparently should only be associated with the phanton ship Christopher.
     Another Thomas Parker,and maybe the same one, took the freeman's oath on 17 May 16373 Places of residence aren't given, but evidence leaves little doubt he was in Lynn, Massachusetts Bay. William Wood of Saugus accused him of trespass and the case was brought to Quarterly Court in June 1637.4 Saugus was the early name for Lynn. Wood was a founder of the town, along with others who were witnesses in this case: Edward Dillingham, Richard Chadwell and John Carmen. Thomas was given two grants of land in Lynn in 1638, one 30 and another 10 acres.5 He was for three times on jurys at the Essex County Quarterly Court, for the sessions of 27 March 1638, 25 December 1638 and 9 July 1644.6
     Lynn was the parent town of Reading, which was incorporated as a separate town in 1644. Thomas and Amy Parker are named one after the other on a list of members of the church in Reading.7 This accounts for the founding members on 29 September 1648 up to 1650. Thomas and Amy appear toward the beginning of the list, so it's likely there were among the founders. Thomas names her in his will, and she was undoubtedly the "Amee" Parker whose death is in the Reading town records, 15 January 1689/90.8 I posit that Hananiah was their first child of record, being born about 1638. This puts Thomas and Amy's marriage about 1636. My opinion on the children's order of birth is below. He was a deacon of the church at Reading by 1665, when he was appointed as an arbitrator for settling minor disputes.9 He was a commissioner for Reading on 25 November 166710 Thomas was a co-petitioner to the general court? to resolve the problem of the Saugus Iron Works blocking fish from going upriver to the town.11 He signed another petition asking the court to settle a dispute about the town's militia captain.12 Another petition he signed was in 1678, asking for relief from poor farmers from the outlying parts of town coming tochurch but not able to pay the supporting taxes.13

From his probate file:14

The laste will & testement of Thomas Parker of Reddinge this third of Agust 1683, although weake in bodey yet pfett in minde & memorey

1 I give my soule to God that gave itt and my bodey to be buried by Christian frindes in hope of a joyfull resurrection at the last daye.

2 I give unto my deare wife Amy my house & homstead with tow ackers of medow at the mill & tow ackers in the Reedy Medow and tow ackers in the Great Medow and three ackers in the Saw Mill Medow next to the medow of Edward Taylors and allsoe the improvment of all my cattell & houshold goodes with the improvment of all the land and medow during her naturall life

3 I give unto my sonn John Parker all the land hee lives upon be it more or less with five ackers of medow in Bear Medow and two ackers of medow by James Eatons medow and two ackers in Reedy Medow and also a quarter parte of my great devident and two ackers of the wett swamp.

4 I give unto my sonn Thomas Parker all the land he now lives upon & five ackers of medow in Beare Medow & the sledge of medow leyinge near Burche Medow

5 I give unto my sonn Nathainel Parker all the land he now lives upon and the remainder of my medow in Beare Medow and the
[supp. "round hole"] of medow near to John Nicholes medow with that peec of medow att Dustins Bridge and tow ackers of medow in the Great Medow hee paying three pound within one yeare after the death of my wife Amy unto his brother Thomas Parker, and I also give unto my sonn Nathiel Parker one halfe of my great devident and allso my ceader swamp and three ackers in the Saw Mill Medow

6 further more I give unto my sonn Thomas Parker tow ackers of the Wett Swamp and the riste of the Wet Swamp I give unto my sonn Nathaniell Parker

7 further more this is to be understod that the three ackers in the Saw Mill Medow & the tow ackers in the Reedy Medow & the tow ackers in the Great Medow John & Nathaniel is not to have untill the death of ther mother

8 I give unto my tow daughters Marey & Martha forty shillings a peec to be payd them one yeare after the decease of ther mother

9 I give unto my grand children Samuell and Sarah Parker three pound a peece Samuels at twenty one year old and Sarahes att her daye of marrige pvided they live with their grandmother, Sarah while she is eighteen year old and Samuel while he is twenty one year old, pvided that the overseers doe see that he hath som trade

further more the sayd Thomas Parker shale not sell any of his land or medow without the advise of his brethren

10 I give unto my grand child Samuel Parker my gunn and my reste but is to be parte of the three pound that is to be payd him

11 I give unto my sonn John Parker a great Bibell that Boniface Burton gave to mee in case it com into my hand

Lastly I make my sonn Hannaniah Parker my full & sole executor of this my leste will & testement

further more I doe desier my well beloved and trusty frind Benjamin Fitch and my sonn John Parker to be the over seers of this my leste will & testement

the mark of Thomas
[x] Parker


William Coudrey
Thomas Clarke

William Cowdry subscriber to this instrument testifieth & saith that the testater being in perfet mind & memory maid the withthen and above ritten instrument as his lest will & testament

taken upon oath before us

William Hasey
Jno Browne
[missioners] ffor Redding

Decembr 18 83 Thomas Clark appearing in court made oath as a witness to the abovesd will

Jonathan Remington, clerk

A inventory of the estate of Thomas Parker decon of Redding this firste of October 1683

firste the house & homsted with tow ackers of medow at the mill £180-00
[shillings-00 pence]
more for seventy five ackers of land and medow 96-00-00
more for housing & 29 ackers of land & medow 103-00-00
more for 94 ackers of upland & medow 102-00-00
more in stock in cattel & swine 26-10-00
more in land five ackers 10-00-00
more in husbandry impliments 03-09-06
more one fetherbed & boulster & beadsted 07-00-00
more one flock bead & beading & boulster 02-10-00
for one bead more with beading thear unto 03-10-00
for a truckle bead & beading 02-00-00
for eight payer of sheets & one od sheet 07-10-00
more for eighte paier of pillow beers 01-05-00
more for tabel linnan 03-00-00
in puter and brass and iron 08-14-06
more for clothes boxes and chaiers 02-07-00
more for Bibels & other bokes 02-09-00
more for horse acounter ments 01-05-00
for his waring aparell stokines & shoes 13-00-00
in credit to the estate 03-00-00
and noe debts
more in wolen & linnan & coton yarne & bages 02-17-00
the total som is 584-6-0

the inventory aprized by us

William Cowdry
Jno Browne
Jeremiah Sweyen

forgott armes & amonisshon 01-15-00

Decembr 18 83 sworn to in court
[by] the executor

Jonathan Remington, clerk

Order of children's births:

     This list concerns all the children Thomas and Amy are known to have had. I put Hananiah as the first born. He was the first to marry (1663),16 was certainly an adult by 1665, when he paid minister rates.17 He was the executor of his father's will, and while that doesn't necessarily indicate an oldest son, all his living children are given bequests. Since he was either the oldest or second oldest son, he must have already been given his portion of Thomas's estate, probably real estate. John was an adult by 1665, when he paid minster rates, and married in 1667.18 Thomas wasn't on the minister rate list of 1665 and married in 1667.19 Joseph's birth is in the Middlesex County vital records, collected annually from the towns, but the published Reading vital records, citing the county record, has the last number of the year blank, indicating it was illegible or damaged.20 He died in early 1646,21 suggesting the year of birth was 1645 and that he was about 3 months old. I haven't been able to locate the original county record, which isn't among the microfilmed records at Thomas's bequests name John, Thomas and Nathaniel, in that order, then Mary and Martha, in that order. This corroborates the known birth dates of the children after Mary assuming the will separates the primary bequests by gender, which was common. The only gray area is between Hananiah and John, but for the reasons outlined above, this is good evidence he was the oldest. His death record says he was about 8622 and a court record says he was 34 in September 1672, putting his birth about 1638.23 Neither record is reliable enough to say he certainly was born that year, but I start the children's births there. Another court record says John was about 40 in September 1678, also putting his birth about 1638.24 There's only a slim chance they were twins, so I believe he was second-born.

children of Thomas Parker and Amy:

i. Hananiah, b. abt. 1638
ii. John, b. abt. 1640
iii. Thomas, b. abt 1643
iv. Joseph, b. 24 December 164 (probably 1645 - record apparently damaged), d. 14 April 1646
v. Mary, b. 12 December 1647
vi. Martha, b. March 1649
vii. Nathaniel, b. 16 May 1651
vii. Sarah, b. 30 September 1653, d. 26 October 1656
viii. Jonathan, b. 18 May 1656, d. 10 June 1680
ix. Sarah, b. 23 May 1658

vital records sources: His death is in "Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001," database online, Middlesex, Reading, Births, marriages, deaths 1653-1776, image 123. An abstract is in Vital Records of Reading, Massachusetts, to the year 1850 (Boston, MA: 1912), 552. See also Vital records of Wakefield, Massachusetts to the year 1850 (Boston, MA:1912), 310, which cites his gravestone and adds that a church record says he was about 72 when he died of consumption. This is undoubtedly a compilation error. There are no deaths given in the 17th century church records (Publications of The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, vol. 72, online at and the addition of causes of death wasn't done until well into the 18th century.

1. James Savage, Gleanings for New England History (1843), 17, 21. He provides extracts from the original archives in London. At least one internet site erroneously says this Thomas Parker was the minister who settled in Newbury, MA Bay.
2. Alonzo Lewis, James R. Newhall, History of Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts (hereafter HL), (John L. Shorey: Boston, MA, 1865), 157.
3. Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England (ECQC), vol. 1 (Boston:1853), 373.
4. 27 June 1637, Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts [hereafter ECQC], Volume 1 (Salem, MA: Essex Institute, 1911), 6, defendant, trespass, William Wood of Saugus, wit. Ed Dillingham, John Pole, John Carman, Richard Chadwell.
5. HL, 172.
6. ECQC, 1:7, 10, 27 March 1638 and 25 December 1638; 62, 9 July 1644.
7. Lilley Eaton, Genealogical History of the Town of Reading (hereafter GHTR), (Boston, MA: 1874), 7.
8. Vital Records of Reading, Massachusetts, to the year 1850 (hereafter RVR), (Boston, MA: 1912), 546.
9. GHTR, 19.
10. 25 November 1667, ECQC, vol. 3 (1913), 455.
11. Ibid, 12.
12. 23 March 1677, Ibid, 24.
13. Ibid, 26.
14. Middlesex Co., MA, probate case 16812.
16. RVR, 408.
17. GHTR, 19-20.
18. RVR, 409.
19. Ibid, 413.
20. Ibid, 409.
21. Ibid, 459.
22. Ibid, 458.
23. 23 Sep 1672, ECQC, 5:85,
24. Ibid, 7:91. Another record, probably not for John of Reading, age abt 45 on 11 May 1680, 7:423

all text and photographs © 1998-2022 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted