Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thomas Rowell of Mancetter, England and Salisbury, MA

english origins
Almshouse and St. Peter's
Thomas Rowell was born in 1594 in Atherstone, in the parish of Mancetter, Warwickshire, England. He was the son of Valentine and Elizabeth Hampton Rowell. Valentine was born probably 1565/1570 and died in 1613. Elizabeth was buried in 1647/48.  The family lived in the village of Atherstone, which is about 10 miles north of the city of Coventry.  In those days Atherstone was much smaller than Mancetter and had no church. Thomas married for the first time in St. Peter's Church, Mancetter on 12 October 1615, his wife was Margaret Milner. 

St. Peter's church was old even then. The church was begun in 930AD, the main section of the church that we see today was begun in the 13th century with the bell tower being built in the 15th century. The church and almshouse next would have been a familiar sight to Thomas Rowell and his family.


Mancetter was not mentioned in the Doomsday Book, but it has a long history. The Roman road, Watling Street forms its northern boundary, and the Romans built a fort or staging post here. In the 4th century AD, it was called Manduessedum. In fact, it is believed that Boadicea, the ancient British queen fought her last battle against the Romans somewhere between Mancetter and Hartshill.

The Manor House, Mancetter

Mancetter was famous in Valentine the elder's time for being home to two Protestant Martyrs who were burnt at the stake during the reign of Queen Mary I. Robert Glover was the educated and wealthy owner of the 14th century manor house in Mancetter. He was educated at Eaton and King's College Cambridge. He became interested in Protestant theology during the reign of King Henry VIII. He was burnt in Coventry on 19 September 1555 for heresy. Joyce Lewis of Mancetter was burnt at Lichfield in December 1557. It is entirely possible that these deaths weighed heavy on the minds of Thomas and Valentine as they embraced the Puritan faith and swayed their decision to come to America. 

Thomas and Margaret had at least seven children. It is possible that she died soon after the birth of their last child Samuel in 1636. There is a marriage on record of Thomas Rowell and Jane Baghes on 5 October 1637. Athough, there is a baptism for a child of Thomas and Jane Rowell in 1646, which would have been after he was in Massachusetts. In any case his wife did not accompany him to the Massachusett Bay Colony. The follow is an exert from the Salisbury Records:
Ordered that Tho. Rowell of Salisbury, having used all proper means to fetch over his wife from old England, and she being disenabled by sickness to come at present, shall not be constrained to go over to her at once, only he is to  use what means he possibly can to get her over. 

coming to america
Thomas and his son Valentine came to the Colony in 1638/39, Thomas would have been about 45 years old and Valentine less than 20, at the time. It is not known on what ship they sailed or where they first landed. They were, however, among the first settlers in a new plantation eventually called Salisbury.
The original residents were given one small house lot near the center of town, and one larger planting lot just outside the center for farming. Families also owned large sections of "sweepage lots" near the beach, where apparently they harvested the salt marsh hay. At the time, the area was almost entirely unbroken virgin forest, which had to be cleared for the construction of houses and the planting of fields. (from Wikipedia) 

The town of Colchester, soon after named Salisbury, Massachusets, was chartered in 1638, and in the first division of land there, Thomas Rowell received a house lot and forty acres. The original roads at the center of the town formed a compact semi-circle, which allowed the residents to quickly reach the garrison house in case of attack. Those roads still exist, though the shape today is triangular, being bounded by Elm Street, School Street and Bridge Road. Thomas became a large landowner in the town and he bought and sold land throughout his life. He was a carpenter by trade, but he and most of the townsmen were also engaged in making pipe staves for barrels.

Thomas' name crops up in the records fairly frequently so we know something about him, here is a timeline of his life based on those records:

1640 1641 1642 Thomas is an original proprietor of Salisbury receives land

1641 sued by William Holdred, cause unknown

1645 he was fined two and one-half pounds for using more than his share of the common timber for  making staves.

1646 Thomas and Valentine took the oath of fidelity in December 

1648 he was fined five shillings and twopence for non-attendance at public worship, at the same time that John Bournd was fined for selling strong water, from which it may be inferred that Rowell was somewhat inclined to be convivial, though he must have overcome his appetite later, as we find him a deacon of the church at Andover.

1648 he and Richard Currier are sued by Samuel Winsley, cause unknown

1649 Thomas is declared legally disabled and unable to perform military training, he must pay 3 shillings yearly instead

1649 Roger Lemon charges him with defamation, he later defaults on the case

1650 made a commoner and taxed in Salisbury

1651 he married Margery Fowler Osgood, widow. She was born 1615 in Marlborough, Wiltshire, England, daughter of Philip Fowler, a cloth worker, who was born 1591. There she became the second wife of Christian Osgood of Ipswich, with whom she embarked, March 24, 1634, for America. His third marriage and her second. Thomas adopted her children at that time.

1652 Thomas moved to Ipswich, home of his son's father-in-law, Henry Pinder

1653 Thomas and  Henry Pinder,  were sued by the city of Ipswich for failure to finish building a prison house. 

1654 Thomas moved to Andover

1654 he was fined for taking tobacco out of doors and and near a house.  His wife was admonished for cruelty.  

1656 on behalf of his stepdaughter Abigail Osgood, he sued Frances Leach for having slandered her by saying she was with child.  The charge was withdrawn.

1656 birth of his son Jacob, Thomas is 62 and Margery is 41.

1662 May 8th Thomas died aged about 70

remarriage and death 
His will, proved September 30, following his death, was made February 24. 1651, and on the same day he entered into an ante-nuptial agreement with Margery (Fowler) Osgood, by which he bound himself to bring up properly her two daughters by a former marriage.

After the death of Thomas Rowell, her second husband, Margaret Fowler Osgood Rowell married Thomas Coleman of Nantucket, who died in 1682. Her fourth husband was Rev. Thomas Osmond, a Baptist clergyman who was forced to flee from the Massachusetts Bay colony by the intolerance of its citizens and took refuge at Nantucket. She survived him, and died at Andover, November 20, 1701. She was administrator and guardian of numerous children, of her own and her several husbands by other wives, and seems to have been a person of strong mental and physical powers. The records preserve the names of two sons of Thomas Rowell, Valentine and Jacob, the latter the son of Margary (Fowler) Rowell.

Threlfall, John Brooks. Fifty Great Migration Colonists to New England & Their Origins. Bowie, MD.: Heritage, 1992. Print.

Hoyt, David Webster. The Old Families of Salisbury and Amesbury, Massachusetts: With Some Related Families of Newbury, Haverhill, Ipswich, and Hampton, and of York County, Maine. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub., 1982. Print.

Records and Files of the Quarterly Court of Essex

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Any connection to the Rowell family in South Carolina?

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