Documenting the Thorntons of Rhode Island, 1600s-1700s, Part 2: Will of John Thornton, 1716

Today’s we’ll look at the will of John Thornton, who died in Providence, Providence, Rhode Island in 1716, leaving a will which was probated the same year.

This Thornton series is not my usual research process because I’m jumping around, trying to catch the low hanging fruit (e.g. the easy records that have the most chance of being accurate).

Of all the Thornton information found line, the sum total of sources is close to ZERO. Hence the low-hanging fruit strategy to build a tree with some facts in it.

Part 1 provided information about Thomas Thornton, who married Margaret and who died as a relatively young man, leaving four young children. Thomas is said to be the son of Benjamin Thornton and Unknown.

Today’s subject, John Thornton, is said to be a brother of Benjamin Thornton, not his son. Let’s see what can be learned about the family from John’s will.

This is not a very helpful will, as wills go. John wrote his will on 29 December 1715 and it was proved on 18 January 1715/16, less than one month later. John signed with an X, but whether due to illness or an inability to sign his name is not known.

No wife was named in John Thornton’s will, so she apparently predeceased her husband.

He appointed his sons, Josiah and John, as executors, but noted that if John declined to work with Josiah to sell his father’s real estate, then Josiah was empowered to do so alone. John Sr. also stated that his estate should be divided “amongst all my Children son and daughters as the law directs.”

In Part 3, we will jump ahead to 1772 to examine the will of David Thornton in addition to two 1741 land deeds, one between David and his father, Benjamin Thornton and a second between David and his brother, Benjamin Thornton Jr. At that time, it will be possible to begin to assemble some documented pieces in this thorny Thornton puzzle.

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