Sunday, February 9, 2014

Thomas Holcombe and the Windsor, Connecticut Settlement

Thomas Holcombe House, Poquonock 1640
Drawn during the early 1800's
Connecticut Historical Society Collection
In 1631, Podunk chief, Wahginnacut, traveled to Boston to ask Governor John Winthrop to send English settlers to plant on his land. His goal was to have the English settle his lands in hope of establishing an alliance against the Pequot peoples who had been taking over the Podunk’s land for many years. He promised Winthrop to “find them corn and give them yearly eighty skins of beaver.”   Winthrop and other Boston colonists were not interested in Wahginnacut’s offer; however, settlers of the nearby Plymouth colony were intrigued and Governor Edward Winslow was sent to Connecticut to scout the land for viability. Winslow found the land to be desirable, and in September 1633, he sent a small group of English colonists to build a trading post (to cash in on the lucrative fur-trading business).

In November 1635, around 60 people from Dorchester, Massachusetts, Thomas Holcombe included, traveled to the new settlement, which Reverend Warham renamed Dorchester. Over the course of the next two years, more Dorchesters , Massachusetts settlers came to Dorchester, Connecticut, outnumbering the original Plymouth colony settlers. The Plymouth settlers initially resisted the Dorchester settlers, but in 1637, sold most of the claims and returned to Plymouth.

In 1639, Thomas Holcombe moved to a northern area of Windsor now called Poquonock where he lived as a farmer. Holcomb family historians report that Thomas Holcombe had a role in framing the Constitution of the Connecticut Colony, though I have not found concrete evidence of this thus far.

From the Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633:  
“The inventory of the estate of "Thomas Holcom of Windsor" was taken 1 October 1657 and totalled £294 10s., of which £95 10s. was real estate: "eleven acres in home lot with housing and orchard," £50; "four acres and a half adjoining to the home lot," £6; "ten acres and a half of meadow," £10 10s.; "in the fourth meadow twelve acres," £15; "twenty-five acres of woodland over the brook against the house," £3; "forty-eight acres of woodland," £7 10s.; "ten acres of woodland," 10s.; and "his part in that called Tinker's Farm, eighty acres and a barn," £3 [Hartford PD Case #2774]. He also owned two swords. To the inventory was appended the following list:
The related that survive the abovesaid deceased are
The relict Elissabeth his widow
1 Josuay the eldest of age 17 years
2 Benaiah the second of age 13 years 3 months
3 Nathanell the third of age 9 years
4 Abigayle the eldest unmarried of age 18 years 3 quarters
5 Debora the youngest of age 6 years 7 months”

Thomas and Elizabeth Holcombe had 10 children. They were:
1. Elizabeth Holcomb was born in 1634, probably in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
2. Mary Holcomb was born in 1635 in Dorchester (now Windsor), Hartford, Connecticut. 
3. Abigail Holcomb was baptized on 6 Jan 1638 in Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut.
4. Joshua Holcomb was born on 7 Apr 1640 in Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut. 
5. Sarah Holcomb was baptized on 14 Aug 1642 in Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut. She died in 1654.
6. Benajah Holcomb was born on 23 Jun 1644 in Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut. 
7. Deborah Holcomb was born on 15 Oct 1646. She died in 1649.
8. Nathaniel Holcomb was born on 4 Nov 1648 at Poquonock, Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut. 
9. Deborah Holcomb was born on 15 Feb 1649/50 in Windsor, Connecticut. 
10. Jonathon Holcomb was born on 23 Mar 1651/52 in Windsor, Hartford Connecticut. He died on 13 Sep 1656 at Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut.

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