9196. Thomas BRIGHAM
was born in 1603 in Holme on Spalding Moor, Yorkshire, England. He died
on 8 Dec 1653 in Cambridge, MA. [ Extracts from Brigham, W.L. Tyler. The History
of the Brigham
Family, a Record of Several Thousand Descendants of Thomas Brigham,
the Emigrant, 1603-1653. The Grafton Press, New York. 1907.]
THOMAS BRIGHAM, born probably in England in 1603; died in
Cambridge, Mass., 8 Dec., 1653; married, probably in 1637, Mercy
Hurd, born probably in England; died in Marlboro, Mass., 23 Dec.,
Govenor Winthrop has left a graphic narrative of sixty-four
days on shipboard coming hither from old England in 1630. The
Rev. Richard Mather also kept a journal of his passage, in 1635,
which occupied twelve weeks and two days from taking ship at
Bristol to the landing at Boston. These stories present a vivid
picture of the perils and privations attending the long voyage
Thomas Brigham encountered a little earlier in the latter season,
from the somewhat more remote port of London. He must have first
set foot on the New england shore early in June, for in one of the
few passenger lists of that time which have escaped loss or
destruction we read:
"VIII April 1635. Theis under written are to be transported
to New England imbarqued in the Susan and Ellen, Edward Payne Mr
(Master). The p'ties have brought certificates from ye Ministers
and Justices of the peace yt they are no subsidy men; and are
conformable to ye orders and discipline of the Church of England.
* * *
" THOMAS BRIGHAM 32"
* * *
Aboard the same ship were Symon Crosby and his wife and
infant, future neighbors in Cambridge; Ralph Hudson and Percival
Green, who were to be fellow-townsmen there, and also two boys,
Benjamin and Daniel, with their father, the learned and reverend
Peter Bulkley, who the same year was to found the town of Concord
and long was its pastor and benefactor.
The record quoted, which is the earliest we have of Thomas
Brigham, shows that he was born in 1603, wherein occurred the [p33]
death of Queen Elizabeth and the beginning of the reign of the
House of Stuart, which brought so much misfortune to the Puritans
We may yet learn from what English town or hamlet he came, for
the great mass of unprinted and inaccessible parish and probate
records is slowly yielding each year to patient antiquarians more
particulars of those who passed to New England.
Landed in "the Massachusetts," perhaps he first went to live
in Watertown; but of that we have no intimation further than the
fact that his largest piece of planting ground was situated within
Watertown territory. This, however, was adjacent to the bounds of
Cambridge and only fourteen minutes' walk from the centre of the
latter settlement, while on the other hand Watertown village was
nearly three miles distant. In fact it was in a district long ago
taken from Watertown and made part of Cambridge.
Dr. Bond, who made an exhaustive study of the early settlers
in Watertown, says: "Probably he (Thomas Brigham) did not reside
in Watertown" (Genealogy and History of Watertown, p. 1006).
A visitor in 1633 thus described the village, which in 1638
was to be renamed Cambridge:
"By this side of this river is built Newtown which is three
miles by land from Charlestown & a league & a half by water. This
place was first intended for a city but upon more serious
consideration, it was not thought so fit, being too far from the
sea, being the greatest inconvenience it hath. This is one of the
neatest & best compacted towns in New England, having many
structures & many handsome contrived streets/ The inhabitants are
most of them very rich & well stored with cattle of all sorts,
having many hundred acres of ground paled in with one general
fence, which is about a mile & a halfe long, wich secures all their
weake cattle from the wild beasts. On the other side of the river
lieth all their meadow & much ground for hay."
An examination of the map of Cambridge as it was in 1635,
drawn by Mr. Charles D. Elliot, shows that the original settlement,
called "the town," lay between the present college yard and the
marsh at the river's edge. To the eastward stretched the first
"planting field," "the small lots" and "the large lots" forming
"the Neck." To the westward of "the Town" lay the "West End" and
beyond that the "West End Field." In "the West End" just within
the encircling fort or stockade lived Thomas Brigham.
The General Court in 1634, and again in 1635 and 1639, ordered
that records of every man's houses and lands should be taken, [p34]
entered in the town book and a transcript therof handed into court,
and that such record should be a sufficient assurance of title.
The towns were slow in responding. The larger part of such an
inventory for Cambridge, and that which enumerates about seventy
proprietors, follows the date of September, 1659.
Thomas Brigham's property is described as follows:
"In the West end one house with three acres of Land and a
halfe the highway to watertowne North Joseph Isack Southeast Symon
Crosb(y) Southwest, the high waye to the Windemill Hill West."
Situated thus at a corner, the lot can be identified with
exceptional certainty; the "highway to watertowne," now Brattle
Street, and the "high waye to the Windemill Hill," now Ash Street,
being two very early thoroughfares, which have maintained their
indentity from 1630 to the present day . If the curious
reader cares to follow Ash Street to the river, he will notice that
the "Windemill hill" was a low one, being rather a projection of
the higher land into the marshes; and looking up the Charles River,
as it comes down through the broad meadows, it is still evident
why, in 1632, the mill was removed to Boston, because only when the
wind came from across these meadows to the west had it force to
propel the sails.
Forty-one pages further on, in the Proprietors' Book, this
description is repeated, except that we now have "one Dwelling
house with out houses." Elizabeth Isaacke is now on the Southeast
and "John Benjamin and An Crosby on the Sout west." Their father
Symon died in 1639. When this property was deeded in 1654, it is
described as "conteyning the late mansion house of the sd Thomas
Brigham with the Edifices, Barn, Cow houses and about three acres
and a halfe to the same adjoyning ... a part whereof is a garden &
Radcliffe College has lately acquired a portion of this
estate, known as the Greenleaf estate, as it lies directly across
Brattle Street from its grounds which contain "Faye House,"
"Agassiz Hall" and the Gymnasium building, and eventually will for
its principal quadrangle.
The Watertown Book of Possessions describes Thomas Brigham's
property in that town as follows (A.D. 1639):
"1. Thirteen Acres of upland more or less and one Acre of
Meddow bounded the East with John Marett & Cambridge line the West
with Thomas Andrews & Robert Keles the North with Cambridge Street
the South with River & Samuel Saltonstall." [p35]
Here again the bounds are of exceptional clearness: the
river, Cambridge Street (now Brattle Street) and the "Cambridge
line" (now Sparks Street).
If the curious reader has followed Ash Street to the
"Windemill hill," he has noticed along the foot of its short
western slope a grou of ancient willows, ...
This group of willows bounds at one end a portion of the
Metropolitan Park which lies between the Charles River and Mt.
Auburn Street. At its other end Thomas Brigham's "Watertown Field"
came down to the stream. Inland from "the willows" the narrow
Longfellow Park extends up to the front of Craigie House and as a
memorial preserves the vista of which that poet was so fond,
looking across the "meadows on ye south side the river," as the old
records call them, where is now "Soldiers Field," and its huge
white stadium, which gathers within it of an afternoon, a crowd in
numbers double the whole population of Massachusetts in the days of
If we go up Sparks Street from the river as far as Brattle
Street, observing that what is now Hubbard Park (or two and one-
half acres of it) substantially represents the lot that John
Marrett owned at the northeast corner of Thomas Brigham's land, the
follow Brattle Street to Lowell Street, and thence by that street
to the park, then to the river front, and then along the water to
where Sparks Street would enter it, we shall have compassed the
Watertown property of Thomas Brigham. We have also included about
three acres at the corner of Mt. Auburn Street and Lowell Street
that belonged to Samuel, the son of Sir Richard Saltonstall, the
exact boundary line of which is uncertain.
At the back of the Cambridge Proprietors' Book, without date
but by the context perhaps as early as 1636, is recorded: "Lootts
Given out By the towne one the South side of Charles River: in
[p36] two Sever(al) Divissions: to severall men as followeth." In
these as "53" Thomas "Bridgham" received in "The Lower Division" 4
acres and in "the Upper division" 4 acres 7 (poles).
Thomas was made by the General Court a Freeman of the
Massachusetts Bay Company, April 18, 1637, and thus became a
member of the body politic and acquired the right to vote.
Preliminary to this he must have been a member of the Cambridge
chuch, but its records for the early years are lost. The oath
required of a Freeman by the law of 1634 was as follows:
I, A. B., being by God's providence, an inhabitant and 'reeman
within the jurisdiction of the Commonweale, doe freely acknowledge
myselfe to be subject to the governmt thereof doe heere sweare, by
the great and dreadful name of the everlasting God, that I wil be
true and faithful to the same, and will accordingly yeilde
assistance and support thereunto, with my pson and estate, as in
equity I am bound, and will also truely indeavr to maintaine and
preserve all the libertyes and privilidges thereof, submitting my
selfe to the wholesome laws and orders made and established by the
same: and furthr, that I will not plott nor practise any evil
against it, nor consent to any that shall so doe, but will timely
discover and reveale the same to the lawfull authority now here
established, for the speedy preventing thereof. Moreover, I doe
solumnely bynde my selfe, in the sight of God, that when I shall be
called to give my voice touching such matter of this state, wherein
freemen are to deale, I will give my vote and su'rage, as I shall
judge in myne owne conscience may best conduce and ten to the
publique weale of the body, without respect of psons, or favor of
Soe helpe mee God, in the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Oc'tobr the firste 1639" he was chosen constable and "joined
with the Townsmen" or selectmen (T.R., p.36).
"Att a Towne meeting the first Monday in Mar 1639 ... It is
ordered that all that is not outsyde fence in the west 'eilde but
common 'ence betweene that and the other twoe new 'eildes shall be
Removed by the owners of the same and sett upp uppon the lyne
betweene Cambridge and Watertow and to lessen their charges they
shall be abated in evrie five Rod one Rodd and wt shall remaine:
to be done att a generall charge as the other Rayles and this to be
done before the first of August next ensuing uppon the penalttie of
5s a rod for evrie defaulte. The wch order Thomas Parrishe and
Tomas Briggam shall see to be fulfilled uppon the forfit of XXs a
man" &c.--(T.R., p.39). [p.37]
At "a Court of Assistants, or Quarter Court, held at Boston,
the 3rd of the 10th mo. 1639," Thomas Brigham was one of the twelve
jurymen on the trial of "Marmaduke Peirce, being indited upon
suspition of murther, was found not guilty, but was bound to the
good behavior, and to appear at the next Court, and to pay the
witnesses and Nico. Davis was bound in 20 for his appearance.--"
In the fall of 1640 land was granted: to Joseph Cook 400
acres, to Mr. Samuell Shepard 400 acres, to Captaine Cooke and
Edward Goffe each 600 acres and to John Bridge 350 acres. When:
There were the p'sent six of the
seven Townsmen that subscribed unto
theis Grauntes in ly John More
Xth Novembr 1640 Att a Towne meeting generally of all the
Inhabit ... There were chosen for Townsmen as followeth:
8 9th month called Novem: 1642.
Att a towne meeting ... there were chosen ... 'or Constables
for this prsent yeare Tho Briggam
(T.R., pp. 46-47.)
Anno 1645 were graunted by the Towne these forty seaven Lotts,
on the west side of Monotamye river, to the sevrall inhabitants of
the Towne as followeth ...
Thomas Brigham one acr more or lesse William Manninge east,
John Bruer west Charlestown lyne north Common south.
These 47 lots, of from one to 3 acres each, were all adjacent
to the Charlestown line with the common land to the south of them.
Thomas Brigham's is the sixteenth from the east end.
In the yeare 1645 ...
* * *
Alsoe granted the land this side the water lying beyond (5)
miles, unto the seaventh mile for small farmes. The names of the
prsons & quantities followeth, onely they that fall by lott between
the 5th & 6th mile there quantity is to be multiplied by 8: and they
that between the sixth & seaventh mile there quantity to be
multiplied by nine. & what the land on this side the water Cometh
short to make up the prties prportions [p38-9] here after mentioned
of the land on ye other side the water, to begin at the nerest, &
Itm to Herbert Pelham, Esq. late Mr Bucklies house -13-00
1 lott Tho: Brigham -10-00
There are 25 lots in all.
We do also agree and give the land at Menotime for their full
prportions of all the lands in ye Towne except Rich: Jacson John
Betts; and Tho: Brigham (T.R., p.69.)
The Church book of disbursements contains this entry:
1645. Payd our brother Briggam for something for clothinge
for his sone. 0:7:6
(Paige's Hist. of Cambridge, p. 258.)
This may refer to Sebastian Brigham or to John Brigham. As we
read it, this does not seem consistent with the estate which Thomas
Brigham possessed before and after this date.
At a towne meting: 8d: (4) mo 1646: ...
Thomas Brigham delinquent in ye Breach of the about hogs, vis:
for his wives rescuing of two Hogs from ye Impounder when He should
a driven them to pound, for ten at one time and two at another
being unringed, and thre being impounded allsoe for two oxen of
his: Breaking ye order ... (T.R., p. 53.)
Thomas Brigham for ye Breach of ye Hog order to pay for ye two
rescued away by his wife Vs and for ye other 00-07-06
4 (9)mo 1646
Severall men fined ( ) Breach of the orders concerning oxen
and hogs ...
Bro. Brigham (for 10 hogs at one time and
(4 at another and 3 at another 4s-00
(without a keeper and some unringed
The list of the offenders, of which this is one, includes over
forty names, or a large part of the inhabitants of the hamlet.
11th 8. 1647
It is ordered that Bro. Goffe and Bro: Ed: oakes shall gather
up the fines due to Bro. Cane for his fines of the oxen.
of Robert Parker -0-8-2
of Tho: Brigham -0-7-8etc [p39]
The list of 18 names ends with
of Elder Champnis - -0-8
According to this account every man is Bated one third prt of
what he ough(t) to a payde By the towne order wch is 3d pr heade.
& we have Concluded that every man shal pay according to this. &
soe he pay but 2d. pr heade for every default. & theese men are to
be sattisfied out of the fines for there gathering them up (T.R.,
pp. 62, 63).
Severall Officers Chosen to order the prudentiall affaires of
the Towne for this present yeare Ensueing the date hereof.
8th 9th 1647 ...
for Townsmen (John Bridge
13th (1) 1647/1648 ...
Whereas It hath bine formerly ordered and published that all
out fences be sufficiently made by the owners thereof before the
last of this prsent month and the penalty of yd pr rod, for every
rod that is found failing: It is now ordered that there shalbe 12d
a month penalty for every rod that salbe found delinquent after the
last of this prsent month is expired: to be demanded of the owners
of such fence from time to time the saide monthly fine untill such
time as the fence be made sufficient ...
John Bridge, Tho: Marrett, Tho: Brigham and Tho: Beale are
appoynted to see this ordered uppon the owners of the fence
belonging to the West feilde (T.R., p.73).
17th 3th mo. 1648.
Thomas Brigham Bought of Williams Hamlett, ten acr of land in
fresh Pond med. abutt. William Holman, Nathaneell Sparahauke, John
Doget, Richard Champnis, Susan Bloget, and William Man, North West,
the greate swamps South East, Widow 'isher Souwest (P.R., p.134).
7th of the 6th mo: 1648
thease presents witnes that thomas Brigham of Cambrigd having
A percell of land about three akers more or les adioning to the
west field in Cambrigd bounds being bounded Watertowne highway to
the fresh pond Southwest great swamp north Robert parker East: hee
doth freely Resigne up all his right & Intrest in the same into the
hands of the townsmen from and for ever. Condition that they
dispose of It as that Care be made to maintain the fence is layd
upon that land to beare and secure the said thomas brigham from all
future damages theareby
In presence of his T marke
Roger bancroft thomas brigham
this land the towns men doe asigne to thomas Marrit upon Condition
hee make the fence. [p40]
11th 10th mo 1648
thomas Marrit Resigned up this land againe into the towns
hand. the not of thease acts put upn file (P.R., p.154)
12 of (10) 1648 ...
Lands layd out, on the Rocks, on the North side of the River
Impr. To Thomas Brigham:
Seventy two acr's Charlestowne line on the north. Cow Compn
East (P.R., p.138).
The intereting story of the recent discovery of thelocation of
this "small frame" is told in the Appendix to this book.
8th of the 11th 1648 ...
Liberty granted to Thomas Brigham to fell some timber on the
Comon for the Repaireing of his house and out fences, prvided it be
before the first of June next Ensueing: (T.R., p 79).
23th 12th mo. 1648
Uppon an apoytment, of a generall meeting of the proprietors
of the Lands within the west feild, we then found according to a
division made of the fence appurtayneing to the same, formerly:
everymans pportion as here with followeth in order, begining at the
first foure Railes next the greaate Wsamp adjoyning to the ox
pasture and ending at water Towne Line next Wm Hamletts The fence
is divided in the generall for one acre of land, 3 pole of fence
Thos: Brigam 12 (P.R., pp. 335-7).
Thomas Brigham's is the 72nd lot in 89 items.
At a generall meeting of the pprietors of the necke of land by
the consent of the major pt of the pprietors there was an adition
of fence add to eache pprietor for the preserving of it from stroy:
The fence was thus devided in order following
Impr To mr Cooke half that which lay agst his land and
his ption for his land the neck.................. 5 12
To Mr Herbert Pelham.................................. 16 5
To Tho: Danforth...................................... 04 14
Robt: Broadish..................................... 02 07
Wm Homan........................................... 00 01
Tho: Bridgham...................................... 00 12
Then follow 28 others (P.R., [[/338-9).
The only reference to Thomas Brigham preserved in the
Watertown records, other than the description of his property
already quoted, is as follow:
It is Ordered, yt according to the complaynt of those two men apoynted by the towne, for the seeing unto
the sufficiency of fences, wee have awarded, Thomas Brigham to pay unto the sd men, yt is Garrett Church & John
Trayne, the some of five shillings, for that he did not sett up his pt of fence wth his neighbors according to
order (First September, 1651. Watertown Records, vol. i. p.23). [p42]
January 12 1651 ... Goodman Brigham is Cost by the Townsmen
the Sum of 10s: to Garrett Church & John Trayne the Town offeceres
for ye not regulating his hogs according to the Towne orders
The Devission of Shaw Shine:
4 (4) 52
The Number of evrie mans lott, and Quantity of acres is a
. . .
89/ Tho: Briggam 189 acres
. . .
(T.R., pp. 97,98.)
14 (12) 1652
Robert Parker hath liberty to Sell some timber, for his use,
as also John 'essington, for enlarging his barne, and Tho: Brigham
for railes (T.R., p. 101).
It is agreed between Ri: Jacson, Tho: Brigham on the one prty
and Mr Joseph Cooke, Edward Goffe, and Tho: Danforth on ye other
prty, yt all differences about the fence in the necke of land,
appertying to Cambridge; shall be referred to the hearing and
determination of Deacon Monsell and Tho; Perce of Charles Towne, to
determine the matter in difference between the marsh and upland,
each prty to procure one of the said arbitrators at or befor the
10th of March next ensueing.
Joseph Cooke Richard Jackson
Edward Goffe Thomas Brigham
Thomas Danforth (T.R., p. 157.)
the 28th 10th mo., 1653
Theproprietors of the wood Lotts meeting together agreed to
devide the remainder of the wood Lotts aperteyning to these Lotts
formerly Devided in to foure Squadrants, wch was accordingly done
by lott being in evrie Squadrant thirty acres. ... In ye 4th
Squandrant next Spy pond
Tho: Oakes - 02
Edw: Winship - 02
Mr Michell - 06
Abra: Errington - 01O
'ranc: Whitmore - 00 3/4
Ri: Champney - 03
Tho: Chisholme - 04
The towne Lott - 01
Tho: Brigham - 02
Jno: 'essington - 01 3/4
Andrew Belshar - 01
(T.R., pp. 64, 65.)
Thomas Brigham died the 8th day of the 10th month, 1653 (Old
Style), or December 19th, 1653 (New Style).
He was buried, there is convincing reason to believe (Mr.
Morse notwithstanding), in the old Burial Ground on the south side
of the Cambridge Common, a few minutes' walk from his mansion; but
no stone remains to mark the spot. Only one of the existing
stones records a death as early as 1653, that of Ann Erinton, who
died two days after Thomas Brigham. The stone next tin age is ten
years later, and commemorates Elizabeth Cutter, sister-in-law of
Mercy Brigham's sister, if Mr. Morse's supposition is correct.
WILL OF THOMAS BRIGHAM, THE PURITAN
In the name of God Amen, I Thomas Brigham of Cambridge being
at this pnt writeing weake in body, and no knowing how the Lord
will dispose of me, whether for life or death, and haveing yet
through the mercy of God, a good memory and sound understanding, do
hereby ordeine and make this my last Will & Testiment, my poare
Soule wch I do beleive is imortall and shall live when my body is
dissolved to dust, I do desire by faith humbly to comitt and leave
it in ye Armes of the everlasting mercies of God [p44] the father
in his deare and Eternal Sonne Jesus Xt, who when I was altogether
full of Enmity agst him, and a miserable undone child of wrath, did
then send his holy word accompanied with the irresistable power of
his own blessed spirit to make knowne and apply the exceding and
abundant riches of his grace to my Soule, by wch faith I have
desired to live, and do now desire to dy, and go to that Lord Jesus
who hath Loved me to the Death tha I a poare sinner might live, my
body I comitt it to the earth to be decently buried at the
discretion of my Executrix, and as for my children, and outward
blessings wch the Lort hath bin pleased of his goones to blesse me
wth all and for a time to make me Steward of my will is that they
be thus disposed of as followeth, vizt. my just debts being first
sattisfyed, my will is that my loveing wife shall have to her owne
vse one third pt of my estate, according to the Law of the Country:
and to my Eldest sonne Thomas I give onthird pt of the remainder of
my estate, and the rest of my estate to be equally divided between
my other 4: children Jno and Mary and Hannah and Samuell my will is
that my wife shall have the vse of my whole estate dureing her
widow hood, for the bringing up and education of my children and in
case the Lord shall provide for my wife by mariage, it shall then
be at the will and discretion of the overseers of this my last will
and testament, whether my children with teir portions shall
continue with her or not, and as they see meet to dispose of them
and their portions for their education and bringing up. I do
appoint my wife to be sole Executrix of this my last will and
Testament and do also desire my Loveing Brethren Thomas Danforth,
Jno. Cooper, Thomas Fox, Jno. Hastings, and William Towne to be
overseers of this my last will and testament: and in witness
hereof I do hereunto put my hand and seale this 7th of the 10th mo.
Read & signed in the his T marke
presence of John Cooper Thomas Brigham (Seal)
Tho: Danforth Proved 3d 8m 1654,
At a County Court held at Cambridge the 3: (8mo) 1654
Thomas Danforth, John Cooper, Thomas Fox and Jno. Hastings
appearing before the Court, Attested upon oath that the within
named Thomas Brigham deceased: being of a sound mind and good
memory made this his last will & testament
Thomas Danforth Recorder.
Entered & Recorded 25-11-1654, Mid. Prob., L.V., p.41 and 43-7.
By Tho: Danforth
He was married to Mercy HURD @1637.
9197. Mercy HURD
died on 23 Dec 1693 in Marlborough, Middlesex Co., MA. Children were:
i. Thomas BRIGHAM.
2198 ii. John (Dr.) BRIGHAM.
iii. Mary BRIGHAM was born in 1647.
iv. Hannah BRIGHAM was born in 1649.
v. Samuel BRIGHAM was born in 1652.
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