Documenting the Thorntons of Rhode Island, 1600s-1700s, Part 12 – Daughters of John Sr. & Sarah (MNU) Thornton

Today’s family sketch will begin with Elizabeth Thornton, who may have been the first born child, or at least one of the older children born to John Thornton Sr. and wife Sarah (MNU), first of Newport, Rhode Island and later of Providence, Rhode Island.

The year of Elizabeth’s birth is not found in records, but given her marriage date, a guesstimate year of 1658 probably isn’t too far off the mark.

The date of her death is also unknown, except that she survived her husband, being mentioned in his will dated 7 August 1723.

Edward Manton was born 11, December 1658, the son of Shadrach and Elizabeth (Smith) Manton and died 14 August 1723.

Edward Manton and Elizabeth Thornton married on 4 December 1680, Providence County, Rhode Island. Elizabeth’s marriage record is one of the few found for the early Thornton family members.

Edward and Elizabeth (Thornton) Manton were parents to eight children, although little is known about four of the daughters:

  1. Shadrach, born c1682; died 21 October 1754, Providence County, Rhode Island
  2. Edward, born c1684; died 12 September 1755, Providence County, Rhode Island
  3. Ann; born c1686; married Lott Tripp, c1708. Lott was born 26 December 1684 and died 22 September 1720.
  4. John, born c1688; died 15 March 1767; married Phebe Latham, 12 March 1727, Providence, Providence, Rhode Island
  5. Katharine; born c1690; died before 7 August 1723 – not in father’s will
  6. Mary; born c1692; died before 7 August 1723 – not in father’s will
  7. Elizabeth, born c1694; died after 7 August 1723, apparently unmarried
  8. Sarah, born c1696; died after 7 August 1723, apparently unmarried

Interestingly, Shadrach, Edward, John, Katharine and Mary inherited the homestead, but were to care for their “poor, helpless” sisters, Elizabeth and Sarah.

Please note that the birth years are complete guesstimates, as is birth order. However, if Ann married at the age of, say 21 or 22 years, typical for the era, then her birth year is probably quite accurate.

Let’s move on to Sarah Thornton who married (1) Zachariah Field, c1684 and (2) John Gurney, c1696.

Zachariah Field was born c1650 in Providence, Providence, Rhode Island and died on 12 August 1693, also in Providence. Most of what is known about their children comes from Town Council records pertaining to his estate administration, although the births of two of his sons are found in early records.


  1. Zachariah, born 30 January 1685; died between 1715 and 26 October 1731; married Abigail (MNU), before 1706
  2. John, born c1687; died 2 April 1737, Providence, Providence, Rhode Island; married Hannah (MNU), c1712
  3. James. born c1689; reportedly died c1718 and is mentioned in his mother’s 1714 will. He likely died at sea, unmarried.
  4. Daniel, born 7 August 1690. He removed to White Plains, New York by 1719 and to Dutchess County, New York before 30 October 1745. If he married, the name of his wife is unknown.
  5. Joseph, born c1693; died before 23 June 1768, when his estate inventory was recorded; married Zerviah Carey
  6. Sarah, born c1695; died after 31 March 1714; reportedly unmarried

There was a bit of a rumpus regarding Sarah’s handling of her husband’s estate. On 4 February 1696, she was removed from the estate administration and given to John Thornton because she “wasted the estate and did not improve it as it ought to be, had not appeared before the council and was refractory in her actings.” Her sons were bound out.

I have to wonder why she was removed as administrator when she was i n the process of remarrying. Often, the new husband stepped up. However, there are a couple of most interesting entries in the same Early Records of Providence.

In the same February 1696 session, one John Gurney, a stranger with no means to maintain himself, was warned out of town. The Touwn Council meeting on 31 March 1696 noted that John Gurney had not only been warned out, but he was back in Providence. The council ordered a fine of £5 or be “whipped on his naked back” with 12 stripes and then for the sheriff to escort him out of town once again. This was Sarah’s new husband! It’s an interesting social commentary that she wasted her husband’s estate and then married a man who was clearly unwanted in Providence.

Although Sarah married (2) John Gurney, about January 1695/96, her own will, proved 31 March 1714, named her Field children. John Gurney reportedly a 1723 will indicating that he had no children.

This concludes the family sketches of John Thornton Sr. and Sarah (MNU), along with those of their children. Next, we’ll summarized and assemble these pieces into one family and review any loose ends.

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