Thomas Gardner of Cape Ann, MA 1624

Thomas Gardner could be considered a founding father of Massachusetts. Little is known of his origins, except that he was born c1592 and could well have been born in Dorset, England.

He had the responsibility for overseeing the Dorchester Company Cape Ann settlement in its founding year of 1624. Not even big enough to be called a village, Cape Ann was inhabited for just one year; its purpose was to serve as a fishing and salt works site, with the catch being shipped back to England. However, the project was abandoned after just one year with some of the men returning to England and others, like Thomas Gardner, choosing to remain in what eventually became the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

As the land wasn’t good for farming, Thomas Gardner soon moved to what would become Salem, Massachusetts, where he spent the rest of his life.

In the following years, Thomas Gardner must have been held in high esteem by contemporaries, as he is frequently mentioned in town minutes completing various services for Salem and its residents, collecting corn, taking estate inventories and proving wills.

Not much is known about Thomas Gardner’s wife/wives either. The Great Migration Study sketch about Thomas suggests that he married an unknown wife by 1614 and died giving birth to her last child, Seeth, who was baptized on 25 December 1636 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. Given that there is an eight-year gap between the estimated birth years of George and John, I wonder if he might even have had a fourth wife. Of course, it is very possible that two or three children died young in that time span.

For now, the hypothesis is that Thomas Gardner married (1) Unknown, by 1614, and she died in 1636 giving birth (2) Margaret, by 1639. This Margaret is said to have been a Friar, but there is no documented proof of her maiden name. (3) Damaris (MNU) Shattuck, who died a month before Thomas, on 28 November 1674, Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. Thomas died on 29 December 1674, also in Salem.


  1. Thomas, born c1614, England; married (1) Unknown (?Hapscott), by 1643 (2) Elizabeth Horne
  2. George, born c1616, England; married (1) Hannah (MNU), by 1644 (2) Elizabeth Freestone, by 1654 (3) Elizabeth Allen, after 1663. George removed to Hartford, Connecticut by November 1676.
  3. John, born c1624, either England or Cape Ann, Massachusetts; died 6 May 1706, Nantucket, Massachusetts; married Priscilla Grafton, by 1654, probably in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts.
  4. Sarah, born c1627, probably Salem, Essex, Massachusetts; married Benjamin Balch, c1650
  5. Samuel, born c1629, probably Salem, Essex, Massachusetts; married (1) Mary White, before 1658 (2) Elizabeth (MNU) Paine, 2 August 1680, Salem, Essex, Massachusetts
  6. Joseph, born c1630; married Ann Downing
  7. Richard, born c1632; died 1724, Nantucket, Nantucket, Massachusetts; married Sarah Shattuck, c1652.
  8. Miriam, born c1635, probably Salem, Essex, Massachusetts; married John Hill, by 1664
  9. Seeth, baptized 25 December 1636, Salem, Essex, Massachusetts; married (1) Joshua Conant. Joshua died in England by November 1659, when his father-in-law administered his estate in Essex County, Massachusetts. (2) John Grafton, 1 December 1659, Salem, Essex, Massachusetts

My line of descent is:

Thomas Gardner & ?Unknown
John Gardner & Priscilla Grafton
Ruth Gardner & James Coffin
Ruth Coffin & Cromwell Coffin
Eunice Coffin & Joseph Coleman
Joseph Coleman & Ruth Spur
Thomas Coleman & Mary Elizabeth Astle
William Coleman & Sarah Moriah Crouse
Hartwell Thomas Coleman & Anna Elisabeth Jensen
Hazel Ethel Coleman & Vernon Tarbox Adams
Doris Priscilla Adams & George Michael Sabo
Linda Anne Sabo Stufflebean – me!


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