Thomas Skillings immigrated to Massachusetts around 1640. He was likely born c1617 or perhaps a bit earlier in England. His ancestral home and parentage have not been proven, in spite of what can be found in online trees.
Thomas Skillings married Deborah (MNU) c1639, as their first child was born in 1640.
[Note: Many give daughter Deborah’s birth date as 22 August 1648, yet the Gloucester Vital Records say 22 August 1640.]
As with Thomas Skillings’ origin, there is undocumented information about both Deborah’s maiden name and her English origins.
Deborah’s maiden name is widely posted online as Prince. The origin of this unproven surname is likely Charles Babson’s History of Gloucester [Page 129]. In it, Babson references a statement made by Thomas Prince whereby he called Thomas Skillings his ‘brother-in-law.”
HOWEVER, and this is a big HOWEVER – Historians tend to believe that Thomas Prince married Margaret SKILLINGS, the probable sister of Thomas Skillings, not that Skillings married Thomas Prince’s sister.
Therefore, Deborah’s maiden name is UNKNOWN.
Thomas and Deborah Skillings removed to Falmouth, York, Maine by about 1645.
Records about the family are scarce and, although Thomas left a will, he only named his wife and sons Thomas and John with an additional statement about “my other children.”
Surprisingly, although there are many Skillings descendants today – I knew a Skillings family when I spend summers on Little Sebago Lake in Maine in the 1950s and 1960s – the only genealogy I can find about Thomas and his descendants is by William Sargent and published in the latter part of the 1800s. There is little documentation in his work, so it is possible that are errors.
Thomas Skillings died before 2 October 1667 in Falmouth, York, Maine, the date his will was proved in court. Deborah (MNU) not only survived Thomas, but she married (2) George Hadley, 29 June 1668 in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts.
Some have speculated that Thomas’s and Deborah’s daughter, Abigail, traveled from Maine to Massachusetts to marry John Corney in 1670. Given the danger of Indian attacks and that Deborah married George Hadley in Ipswich, it seems more likely that Deborah and Abigail, if not the entire family, left Maine for a time after Thomas died.
George Hadley was buried 30 September 1686 in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusetts. Deborah (MNU) (Skillings) Hadley’s death date is unknown, but she is called George’s ‘beloved wife Deborah’ in his will, written 18 September 1684 in Ipswich.
There is no mention of Deborah’s death in his estate papers, so she presumably died after his burial on 30 September 1686.
Note that many show daughter Elizabeth, below, marrying Edmund Clark in 1714. That marriage did take place, but Edmund and Elizabeth had a son born in 1719 in Gloucester when this Elizabeth would have been about 64 years old.
If the only evidence for Thomas and Deborah having a daughter, Elizabeth is the marriage to Edmund Clark, then there may not have been such a child born to them.
There are also varying beliefs as to whether Joseph and Benjamin were sons of Thomas and Deborah or their grandchildren through son Thomas Jr. and wife Mary Lewis.
1. Deborah, born 22 August 1640, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
2. Thomas, born November 1643, Salem, Essex, Massachusetts; died before 30 December 1676; married Mary Lewis, c1665, probably in Maine
3. John, born c1645, probably in Falmouth, York, Maine; died c1688 in an Indian attack; married Elizabeth (MNU), c1670
4. Abigail, born c1652; died 16 February 1722, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts; married John Corney, 18 November 1670, Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
7. ?Benjamin, born c1664; buried 11 December 1764, Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts; married Elizabeth (MNU). [Benjamin is said to be the youngest child of Thomas and Deborah as evidenced by a deposition of his unmarried sister, Deborah, in 1715. No source cited for this statement.]
If anyone can add sourced details to this family, it would be much appreciated. Please leave a comment.