A Bisbee Family History

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Thomas Besbeech (1590-1674)

From Frank Jones Bisbee, "Genealogy of the Bisbee Family, Descendants of Thomas Besbeech (Bisbee) of Scituate, Duxbury, and Sudbury, Massachusetts"


Thomas Besbeech lived in Hedcorn and later in Sandwich, England. His wife Anne died in Frittenden in 1634 and in the spring of 1635 he sailed on the ship "Hercules" bound for New England. He had obtained a certificate of conformity as required by law in order to emigrate. This was certified by Thomas Warren, Vicar of Sandwich and by Thomas Harmon, Vicar of Hedcorn. It was dated March, 1634.

He took with him, his two daughters Mary and Alice and seven servants. The "Hercules" was of 200 tons burden and sailed from Sandwich, England with Master Witherly in Command. (For a complete transcription of the manifest of the "Hercules," see Frank Jones Bisbee, "Genealogy of the Bisbee Family," pp. 12-14).

The servants were listed as follows: Jane, Sara and John Egelden or Engleden (sic); Thomas Neuley, Joseph Pacheing and Agnes Love. Engelden was an old family name in Kent. Later, Joseph Pachein (or Patching) married Elizabeth (Bennet) Engelden, widow of Stephen Engelden on April 10, 1642 and moved to Fairfield, Connecticut in 1651.

Quoting Green's "Short History of the English People" ... "Charles I became King of England when twenty-five years old in 1625. He had thoroughly imbibed the idea of "The Divine Right of Kings" from his father, James I. The House of Commons on the other hand maintained that they held their privilege like their lands and goods not of grace but of right. They therefore insisted that royal powers should be limited and defined by law."

"After the defeat of the English on the isle of Rhe in 1628, Charles I, overwhelmed with debt and shame, called a new Parliament ... The Commons, in the face of sharp and menacing messages from the King, formally recited the statutes in the "Petition of Right" against arbitrary taxation, loans and benevolences, arbitrary imprisonment, outlawry or deprivation of goods, imprisonment without stated charge, against billeting of soldiers on the people ... The King finally consented in part to the Petition of Rights."

"Later in the same year, Buckingham was assassinated... Laud, unconsciously bent toward Anglo-Catholicism, was made Bishop of London..."

By successive resolutions, the Commons declared "That whosoever should bring innovation in religion or whatever minister endorsed the levy of subsidies not granted by Parliament, a capital enemy to the Kingdom and the Commonwealth, and every subject voluntarily complying with illegal acts and demands, a betrayer of the liberties of England and the enemy of the same..."

"... In resistance to levies, subsidies and the granting of monopolies without the consent of Parliament, the country was full of pride, mutiny and discontent. Thousands were quitting England for America..."

"After Laud had been appointed Archbishop of Canterbury and thus became the head of the English Church, his tyrannical effort to subdue the Puritans who constituted 90 percent of Englishmen resulted in the imprisonment of Prynne. He was set in the pillory and his ears were clipped from his head..."

"...It was during the years that followed the close of the third Parliament of Charles I that the great Puritan Immigration founded the states of New England. The great struggle against the tyrannies of Charles I continued for years, led by men like Pym and Hampden. The result was the trial and execution of the King and the establishment of the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell, the Protector..."

"From the moment of the establishment of the little colony at Plymouth, Mass. the eyes of Puritan England were fixed on this settlement in North America. The Parliament was hardly dissolved when plans for the establishment of a great colony on the other side of the Atlantic were circulating among the gentry and traders. Descriptions of the new country of Massachusetts were talked over in every Puritan household... the proposal was welcomed with the quiet, stern enthusiasm which marked the temper of the time, and the Puritan emigration began on a scale which England had never before seen... they were shrewd London lawyers or young scholars from Oxford. The bulk were God-fearing farmers from Lincolnshire and the eastern counties. Three thousand colonists left England in a single year and in the space of 11 years... 20,000 Englishmen had found refuge in the West."

Among the passengers on the Hercules were Nathaniel Tilden, Samuel Hinckley and John Lewis of Tenderden, Kent, Thomas Bonney, a shoemaker and Comfort Starre, a surgeon from Ashford.

The men included 2 yoemen, 1 teacher, 1 mercer, 3 tailors, 1 hempdresser, 2 shoemakers, 1 merchant, 1 surgeon, 1 painter and 70 others, profession not designated. Twenty males were the heads of families. There were 9 married women, 18 boys and 26 girls; also 16 men servants and 4 maid servants, a total of 92 passengers. Later on June 9, 1637 the Hercules sailed with the same master and 92 passengers, including 44 servants.

The Hercules arrived at Massachusetts Bay in the Spring of 1635 and Thomas Besbeech settled in Scituate, Mass. The name "Scituate" is derived from the Indian word "Satuit" or "Cold Brook." The town was settled in 1634 long the "Road of the Men of Kent" and Meeting House Lane" and largely by men from County Kent, England.

The lots were of a few acres each and the houses generally of logs thatched with hay from the salt marshes.

The "Cliffs" at that time were covered with corn fields and Gillson's windmill was on the "Third Cliff." A few fishermen and squatters lived along the harbor. William Vassal lived on the "Neck," or "Cushing Place."

The first Parish Church was located on "Meeting House Lane," now marked by a Tercentenary Monument (1930).

The first deacons were William Gillson, Richard Sealis and Thomas Besbeech. The first Elders were Nathaniel Tilden and Henry Cobb.

John Lathrop came to Boston from England and proceeded to Scituate in September 1634. He was elected the first minister in Scituate during 1635. Many difficulties beset him in his new charge and he sought another, first at Seipicon, or Rochester, Mass. This was not granted and he later moved with about half his congregation to Barnestable, Mass. on Cape Cod.

Mr. Lathrop was succeeded by Rev. Charles Chauncey from from Plymouth. Dissention arose, probably in regard to the location of the CHurch and also in the mode of baptism. Thereupon about half of the members started a new Second Parish of Scituate on Wilson's Hill near the Second Herring Brook, now Norwell, Mass.

The following is transcribed from a manuscript of Mr. John Lathrop of Scituate. "Some acts of ye people and Church, days of humiliation..., 10 Ffebru. 22 1637. Partly for the two Deacons... but expecially for our removal, as alsoe for the removal of these spreading opinions in ye Churches att ye Bay, as alsoe for the preventing of any intended evill against the Churches here uppon wch day Bro. Foster and Brother Besbeech were invested into the office of Deacons... Christopher Winter being exhorted by myself and other of ye brethern, Goodman Annable, G.M. Cobb, G.M. Besbeech, Mr. Cudworth, G.M. Turner, Isaac Robinson, and G.M. Rowley, either to desist in his suite toutching Mrs. Cooper or at least not proceed in it unless it might be apparent that the Lord went along with him in the same, wch exhortation after many words, Hee accepted of, and promised to doe March 21 1637 att my house..."

Thomas Besbeech did jury service at the General Court held in Plymouth, 6 March 1637-38 along with twelve others including Anthony Annable and William Bassat. In 1836 he boufht a house from William Palmer in Duxbury and moved there. On 15 Nov. 1641, his daughter Mary married William Browne of Sudbury, Mass.

At the General Court held 7 March 1642-43 William Bradford, Governor... "upon petition of John Washburn, it is ordered by the Court that Mr. Edward Winslow, "Capt. Myles Standish, Mr. John Alden and Jonothan Brewster shall view the bounds betwixt Mr. Thomas Besbeech and the said John Washburn and with the help of Mr. William Vassells instrument, set the bounds according to their best information and judgement, set the bounds of their lands betwixt them and what bounds they shall sett, shall so remayne ppetually without any alteracion."

In 1643 Thomas Besbeech was chosen representative to the General Court for Duxbury.

From the Records, House of Deputies 1644-1657

Mass. Bay Colony... "the court doth allow and approve of this return May 15-16 1656 petition of the inhabitants of Sudbury, asking Court will be pleased to confirm and ratify the same for the preventing of after troubles and for setting of peace and truth amongst us." Petition was signed by 18 persons including William Browne, Thomas Besbeech and Jane Goodnow.

At the Court held 3 May 1642 before Governor Bradford. "Mr. William Collyer, Capt. Standish and Jonothan Brewster are ordered by the court to set the ancient boundaries betwixt the lands of Mr. Thomas Besbeech and John Washburn and to require the help and knowlege of any that can give them information about the same."

At the Court 1 March 1641-42 before Governor Bradford, "Thomas Besbeech and John Willis were sworn as Grand Jurymen from Duxbury. Thomas Besbeech was fined 5s. for having been warned to serve on on the Grand Jury Inquest and departing without lycence."

On 8 July 1645 Alice Besbeech, his daughter, married John Bourne of Marshfield, Mass.

The Foreman list of 1645 includes among others Mr. Thomas Besbeech, Capt. Myles Standish and John Alden. In this same year Thomas Besbeech moved to Sudbury, where is daughter Mary Browne lived. Two years later he sold his land in Duxbury.

On 10 May 1662 Thomas Besbeech granted to his daughter Sarah, wife of Francis Stevens, Sr., 30 acres of land in Rehoboth, Mass.

During the year 1664 Thomas Besbeech sold land in Sudbury and moved to Marshfield and later on moved back to Sudbury.

On 25 Nov. 1672 he made his will, directing that he be buried at the east end of the church in the churchyard in Sudbury and bequeathed his land in Hedcorn and Frittenden, England to his daughter Mary Browne and her children.

He died 9 March 1673-74; his will, delivered to William Browne, as the latter attests, was probated 2 July 1674.

The Church of Sudbury Plantation was located in Sudbury Center, Mass. A Tercentenary marker shows the location of the old church; records show that members of the Browne family were buried in the old cemetery as late as 1872.

To the east of the old church site in the cmetery is a considerable vacant space with only one old monument showing the resting place of "Mrs. Patience Brown. Died 1706. Wife of Major Thomas Browne." Thomas Browne was the grandson of Thomas Besbeech. More than likely the body of Thomas Besbeech rests nearby.


Owner/SourceFrank Jones Bisbee
Linked toThomas Besbeech

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