Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thompson Genealogies

John Tomson was one of the earliest English owners of what is now East Middleborough and presumably the first settler of Halifax where his original house was located on present-day Thompson Street just north of the Winnetuxet River.

Tomson (his descendants would later adopt the "Thompson" spelling) would become an iconic figure as the original settler of Halifax, as progenitor of the large Thompson family of Halifax and Middleborough, and as commander of the Middleborough garrison during King Philip’s War. Particularly in the century between 1835 and 1935, Tomson’s legacy would be nurtured through the publication of two genealogies (1841, 1890), the establishment of a Thompson family association in 1893, the efforts to erect a monument at his gravesite in Nemasket Hill Cemetery in 1893-94 and 1911, the unveiling of a memorial tablet at the site of his second Halifax home (1934), and countless other efforts. Relics associated with Tomson, including the infamous long gun which Isaac Howland used to kill a Native at the start of King Phillip's War, were equally revered and once prominently displayed in local historical collections.

One of Tomson's descendants, identified only as M. F. T., recorded not only the perspective of the family but that of the communities of Middleborough and Halifax in the following words which were written in 1855 and reflected the generally high historical regard in which John Tomson was held:

He was, if tradition speaks truth, as good a specimen of the ancient puritan fathers as could well be furnished by the times in which he lived. Kind, generous, humane, forebearing, and to sum up every virtue in three words, a consistent christian. He well deserved the reputation and the name by which he was always called, viz: "Good John".

Helping foster this 19th century view of John Tomson were two genealogies published during the 1800s by Tomson descendants. Ignatius Thompson was a grandson of John Tomson who left many handwritten notes regarding the family and who is stated to have remembered the funeral of Tomson's widow, Mary (Cook) Tomson. While his Genealogy of the Descendants of John Thomson, Who Landed in the Month of May, 1622 (1841) provides an early foundation for recording the family's history and is remarkable for having been published at what is a relatively early date for local genealogical studies, it is flawed by a number of inaccuracies. Better and more comprehensive is Charles Hutchinson Thompson's A Genealogy of Descendants of John Thomson of Plymouth, Mass. (1890) which corrects and updates the family record. Links to both of these sources (which may be read and searched in their entirety) have been added in the sidebar.

Namasket Gazette, "A Legend of Winnatuxet" [sic], September 14, 1855, p. 1.
Thomson, Ignatius. A Genealogy of John Thomson, Who Landed in the Month of May, 1622. Taunton: E. Anthony [printer], 1841.
Thompson, Charles Hutchinson. A Genealogy of the Descendants of John Thomson of Plymouth, Mass. Lansing, MI: Darius D. Thorp [printer], 1890.


Anonymous said...

Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth Has a 'Lobstertail Helmet', A Breastplate(Armour)and a flintlocke-Pistol..Attributed to Jon Thomson ,circa. King Phillips War.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorate parts of town is the "Tunnel Of Trees" out on Thompson Street. Especially in the fall.

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