It seems like we all have family history lore about the famous three brothers arriving in colonial America. Often, it turns out to be just that – unproven lore. However, in the case of the Burnham fmaily, three brothers – Robert, Thomas and John – are documented in Massachusetts and New Hampshire records.
Robert Burnham lived in Massachusetts for a short time, but eventually settled in Dover, New Hampshire. John Burnham and brother Lt. Thomas Burnham settled in Chebacco Parish, which was part of what is now known as Ipswich, Massachusetts.
The Burnham brothers arrived about 1635 on the ship Angel Gabriel.
Lieutenant Thomas Burnham was born c1620 in England, but his parentage and origins are unknown. He died in June 1694 in Ipswich.
Thomas Burnham married Mary Lawrence about 1645, as the birth of their first child happened about 1646.
The parents and English ancestral home of Mary Lawrence are well documented. She was the daughter of Thomas Lawrence and Joan Antrobus, baptized 10 April 1625 at St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England. Her father died c1626 and about 1627, her mother married John Tuttle. Therefore, some early genealogies on the family call her the daughter of John Tuttle. He was the only father she ever knew.
Thomas Burnham was active in the community, serving as a selectman and then first a sergeant, then ensign and finally lieutenant of the Ipswich Company.
He owned a lot of land in Ipswich and in 1667 was permitted to build a sawmill on the Chebacco River.
Children (All BMD in Ipswich unless noted):
1. Thomas, born c1646; died 21 February 1728; married Lydia Pengry, 13 February 1665
2. John, born c1648; died before September 1711; married Elizabeth Wells, 9 June 1669.
3. James, born c1650; died 30 June 1729; married Mary (Cogswell), c1677
4. Mary, born c1652; died February 1723; married John Clarke, 9 October 1672
5. Joanna, born c1654; married John Newmarsh, 22 November 1671. He died before 29 March 1692. (2) Erastus James, c1692. One Erastus James died before 4 September 1717 in Marblehead, MA, intestate. He left two sons and one daughter as heirs. If this is the same man, then Joanna predeceased him.
6. Abigail, born c1656; died July 1657
7. Ruth, born 1 July 1657; died 30 July 1657
8. Ruth, born 23 August 1658; died 10 January 1723/24, Woburn, Middlesex, Massachusetts; married John Carter, 20 June 1678, Woburn, Middlesex, Massachusetts
9. Joseph, born 26 September 1660; not in father’s will. No further record.
10. Nathaniel, born 4 September 1662; not in father’s will. No further record.
11. Sarah, born 28 June 1664; married Meshack Farley, 6 August 1684. He died before 23 December 1696, date of his estate inventory. Sarah was named as the widow with children. (2) Thomas Clark, before 26 March 1700. Thomas died before 11 August 1729, when his estate administration began. No mentioned of heirs is found in the five page file, but Michael Farley was one of the signers of the administrative bond, so Sarah may have still be living at that time. No further record found for Sarah.
12. Esther, born 19 March 1665; died between 23 March 1750, when she sold land (DB 96:105) and 12 April 1760, when the two witnesses to that deed swore that they saw her sign off on the deed. (DB 109:22); married Matthew Perkins, c 23 March 1685/86.
13. Phebe, born 16 March 1667; not in father’s will. No further record.
Will of Thomas Burnham, 1694
Essex County, MA Probate File #4174
In ye Name of God Amen. I Thomas Burnam of Ipswich in the County of Essex in ye province of Massachusetts bay in New England being aged & Infirme in body yet through ye mercy of God, at this time in health & of memory & understanding as formerly: Doe make & Ordaine this my Last will & Testament in maner following
Imp. I Comit my soul Into ye hands of Goe who Gave me it, & my Bode to decent Buriall (according to ye discretion of my Executrix & Supervisors hereafter Named) In Comfortable hopes of a happy & Blessed Ressurection, in & through the merit & sufferings of my dear Lord and Savior Jesus christ: As for my Outward Estate & Worldly Goods which God hath blessed me with I dispose thereof in Manner following Haveing formerly disposed unto my children most part of my Estate I hereby Confirme the same unto them Respectively. More Espetially what I have given In houseing & Lands by deeds of gift unto my Three Sons Thomas John & James Burnam (?) of the part & oortion I Intend them out of my Estate; in (?) payments they are obliged to make upon those deeds If Called for I Expect they should pay in accordingly; as also what Lands & houseing I have sold to any of them as will appear by sd deeds ye Conditions I Expect they fullfill, as what belongs to my wife (?) to their severall Sisters as in sd deeds more Largly Exprest: Therefor haveing given them Each their portions before I onely now give them my sd sons Thomas John & James EAch Twenty shillings as my Remembrans of them, to be deducted out of what Each is to pay (?) to (?) payd them as my Executrix & they shall agree: as for ye part of my moveable Estate which my wife desired my Six daughters Mary Johannah Abigail, Ruth, Sarah, & Hester should have given them (?) I Consented unto as it is mentioned pticulerly to Each in a deed of Gift & I set my hand & Seal to Before two witnesses I hereby Confirm the same to them to be delivered Each at the discretion of my wife; the Rest of my Estate Reall & personall not yet given & bequeathed when my Debts & Funerall Expenses are discharged, (?) I give & bequeath to my Beloved wife Mary to be to her use during her Naturall Life, to use & Improve for her Comfortable Support & mentanans & if there be necissity thereof to Sell any part with the advise of my supervisors
hereafter Named, yt which she shall leave after her decease I give & bequeath to my Sayd Six daughters before named to be Equally divided amongst them; but if any of them depart this life before such time they (reduce?) their part; then such part or share shall be divided Equally amongst the children of such deceased daughter: & if my wife so need to dispose of any Estate bequeathed to any of these our sayd daughters before her decease my will is yt it be
only for their necissity, & with ye knowledg of my supervisors; & they may Say it be deducted at Last out of the part bequeathed to such; also my will is yt If any of my said Daughters depart this life before they have mrd, their part, yt then such part or parts be left by my supervisors in the hands of such, as may be able & likely to pay or deliver ye same to their children at ye age of Twenty & one years or day of marriage wch shall first happen. Also my Willis yt my wife give an Inventory as neer as she can of such Estate as she is likely to leave) to my supervisors, & give them her best advise to them
about the distribution of ye same: & if my sd wife shall semitt to (marcy?) then my will is yt he yt shall marry to her shall give bond to my supervisors yt the sd Estate left with my widow shall be at her decease or before returned to (?) for the use of ye Legatees. also I hereby Revoak & Null all other & former Wills & Testaments, yt I have made: Also I hereby will & appoynt my Beloved wife Mary my sole Executris to this my Last will & Testament.
Also I appoynt & Request my Rispected & beloved firends Nemiah (Juett?) & Philemon Dane to be my Supervisors Intreating them to take the best Care they may yt the said peticulers above may be effected: alwayes allowing them sufficient Compensation for their Labor & paynes out of my Estate
Also my will is yt upon any differens ariseing betwixt my wife & children or amongst my children about my Estate or dues & payments of one kind or other yt Law sutes may be prevented by the advise of my Supervisors giveing their Judgment, & Contients for the quieting & Regulateing of them in any such Differens as may arise; (?) my wife & Require my children to Rest Sattisfied with their determination: Thus begging Gods blessing upon what I have done. I Comit all min Into the Fatherly hands Intreating & Craveing
Covenant mercy may be their portion & the portion of theirs after them And in Testimony yt this is my Last Will & testament I have hereunto affixed my hand & Seal this tenth day of Jany Anno Dom: one thousand six hundred & ninety three or four
Signed Sealed, & published to be
the Last will of Thomas Burnum
Thomas Burnum (seal)
his ( ) mark:
In psense of us three”