Documenting the Thorntons of Rhode Island, 1600s-1700s, Part 6 – Joseph Thornton

Thanks to the 1772 will of David Thornton, the family of Benjamin Thornton is coming together nicely, with the exception of the name of Benjamin’s wife. There is actually a clue/question about at least her surname, but that will be discussed in the final post in this series.

Where do we go from here? Benjamin’s children were much more generous in the documents they have left us about their lives as each of his five sons left wills and we have married names for his daughters.

Therefore, the focus will be on sharing their life stories and then we’ll move back a generation to see what can be proved regarding the lives of Jhon and Sarah (MNU) Thornton’s children.

The final post will examine the loose ends and possible clues.

Joseph Thornton, the subject of today’s post, was likely born c1700 in Providence, Providence, Rhode Island. He married Sarah (MNU), who has the unsourced maiden name of Sheldon in online trees. I have no idea whether that is accurate, so in my tree, she will remain (MNU). They likely married c1725 and all four of their children were not of legal age when Joseph wrote his will on 30 March 1741/42. He died very soon after as his widow Sarah was approved as executrix on 9 April 1742.

Glocester Wills 1:46-47

In the name of God amen this Thirtieth Day of march Anno:Domi 1741/2: I Joseph Thornton of the Town of Glocester in the County of Providence and Colony of Rhode Island be yeoman: being Sick and very weak of Body but of perfect mind and memory thanks be given to God Therefor Calling unto mind the mortality of my body and Knowing it is appointed for all men once to dye: do make and ordain this to be my Last Will and Testament: that is to say principally and first of all I Recommend my Soul into the hand of God that Gave it: and for my Body I Recommend to the Earth to be Deceantly Buried in a Christian manner at the discretion of my executris here after named and as touching such worldly Estate as it hath pleased God to Bless me with in this Life I give devise and dispose of the Same in the following manner and form.

Imprimis It is my will and Pleasure that all my Just debts be paid and Satisfied – – –

Item I Give to my well beloved Son Daniel one good Cow or the vallue thereof to be paid to him when he shall arive to the age of twenty one years – – –

Item I Give to my three youngest Children Ann Thomas and Hope ten pounds Each of them to be paid to them my Said Children and each of them (out of my Estate) when they shall arive to full age

Item I Give to my well beloved wife Sarah [???] I appoint my executrix to this my Last will and Testament all the remainder part of my estate which I have not disposed of in this my will is that my Land be Sold by my executrix and the money Improved for the payment of debtes and bringing up of my young Children: and I do hereby Revoke and disnual any former wills or Testaments by me mad Rattifying and Confirming this and no other to be my Last will and Testament for Confirmation whereof I have here unto Set my land and Seal the day and year fist above writen

Joseph Thornton Seal

Signed Sealed published pronounced and declared by the Said Joseph Thornton to be his Last Will and Testament

In the presence of Us
Edward Mitchell
Andrew Brown
Hannah (X) King

At a Town council Held by adjournment at Glocester in the County of Providence: the 9th day of april (A: D: 1742) In the fifteenth year of his majesties Reign – – –

Personally appears before this Council Sarah Thornton the within named Executrix and desired this will might be proved: and declared She would accept of the executrixship – – –

Mr. Edward Mitchell Mr. Andrew Brown and Hannah King the within Subscribing witnesses also appears and declared upon Engagement that they Saw the within mentioned Joseph Thornton Sign Seal and declare the within written will to be his Last will and Testament and that in his presence they Set their Hands as witnesses; and that the Said Joseph the Testator was at that time in his perfect mind and memory – – –

Notes that this within written will be proved approved and allowed to be a good and Lawfull will

P ordr Richard Steere Council Clerk
Recorded May the 12th: A:D: 1742

Birth years are estimates based on Joseph being born c1700, married c1725 and all children under legal age in 1742.


  1. Daniel, born c1727
  2. Anna, born c1729
  3. Thomas, born c1731
  4. Hope, born c1733

In the next Thornton post, we’ll look at the family of Benjamin’s son, John Thornton, who married Esther (MNU).

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