Thomas Clark

Thomas CLARK (1605 – 1697) was Alex’s 10th Great Grandfather; one of 2,048 in this generation in the Shaw line.

Thomas was baptized in St. Dunstans, Stepney, London , England

Thomas Clark was baptized on 8 Mar 1600 in St. Dunstan’s, Stepney, London , England.  His parents were  John CLARK and  Mary MORTON. His parents were from Ratcliff and were married at St. Dunstan’s Feb-1598/99. His paternal grandparents were William Clarke and Margaret Walker. He was an only child.

Stepney is an inner-city area in the East End of London that grew out of a medieval village around St Dunstan’s church and the 15th century ribbon development of Mile End Road. St Dunstan’s  stands on a site which has been used for Christian worship for over a thousand years.  In about AD 952 the Bishop of London — who is also Lord of the Manor of Stepney— replaced the existing wooden structure with a stone church dedicated to All the saints. In 1029, when Dunstan was canonised, the church was rededicated to St Dunstan and All Saints, a dedication it has retained.  The existing building is the third on the site and was built of Kentish ragstone mainly in the 15th century.  The church has a long traditional link with the sea and many sailors were buried here. It was once known as the ‘Church of the High Seas’, and until quite recently births, marriages and deaths at sea were registered here.

Thomas Clarke - Memorial - This Stone is erected to hismembory by his descendants A.D. 1891.

He came over in the Anne in Jul 1623  in a company of forty-two adult passengers, besides children.  He brought with him considerable property, especially cattle, and had land allotted to him near Eel River, now Chiltonville.  He has been suggested as son of John Clark, pilot of the Mayflower, who gave his name to Clark’s island, of which he took possession, December 8, 1620.  The Great Migration Begins, states “the hypothesis is very attractive, and was accepted by [Donald Lines] Jacobus, but remains under proven.”   He married Susanna RING, before Jul 1631 in Plymouth.  In 1664 after Susanna, died  he remarried to Alice Hallet Nichols  of Boston,   Thomas died 24 March 1697.  His gravestone, one of the oldest extant on Burial Hill in Plymouth, shows that he was born about 1600.

Thomas Clarke - Headstone - His gravestone on Burial Hill reads: "Here lies ye body of Mr. ThomasClark, aged 98 years. Departed this life March 24, 1697."t

Some sources state that he died  2 Dec 1674 in Newport, Rhode Island, but that appears to be a different Thomas Clark.

Susanna (also known as Susannah) was  born between 1605 and 1612 in Leiden, Holland. Her parents were William RING and Mary DURANT.   She immigrated in 1629 or 1630 to Plymouth with her widowed mother, a brother and a sister.  Susannah died sometime between 1645-46, after her last child was born, and 20 Jan 1664/5, the date when her husband entered into a pre-nuptual agreementwith Mrs. Alice (Hallett) Nichols.

He and his second wife, Alice Hallett, signed a pre-nuptial agreement on January 20, 1664. Alice was widow of Mordecai Nichols.

Children of Thomas and Susanna:    Estimates of the birth dates of these children vary widely.

Name Born Married Departed
1. William Clark ca. 1634
Sarah Wolcott
1 Mar 1659/60, Plymouth
Hannah Griswold
7 Mar 1677/78, Saybrook, CT
Abiah Wilder
3 Aug 1692, Plymouth
28 Mar 1720
Plymouth, Mass
2. James Clark ca. 1636 Abigail Lothrop
(Barnabas’ sister and daughter of Rev. John Lathrop)
7 Oct 1657
29 Feb 1711/12 Stratford, CT
3. John Clark ca. 1640 Rochester, Plymouth, Mass. Sarah Smith (daughter of Rev. Nehemiah SMITH )
by 1668
Mary Walker
19 Mar 1719
Old Lyme, New London, Connecticut
4. Susanna CLARK 28 Sep 1641
Barnabas LATHROP
13 Nov 1658
Barnstable, Mass
28 Sep 1697
Barnstable, Mass. Buried in Lothrop Hill.
5. Nathaniel Clark ca. 1642
Alice Halleton 1664
Dorothy (Lettice) Gray 1685/86.
31 JAN 1716/17 Plymouth
6. Andrew Clark ca. 1644
Mehitable Scottow
Boston, Mass
Harwich, Barnstable, Mass
? Thomas Clark ca. 1636 Rebecca Leonard

John Insley Coddington argued forcefully that Thomas Clark was the son of John Clark, pilot of the Mayflower, and that he was identical with the “Thomas son of John Clarke of Ratliff” who was baptized 8 March 1599/1600 at St. Dunstan’s, Stepney, Middlesex [TAG 42:201-02]. The hypothesis is very attractive, and was accepted by Jacobus [TAG 47:3], but remains underproven.

THOMAS CLARK was a common name in early New England. Between 1623-1680 there were no less than a dozen by that name in the towns of Plymouth, Boston, Lynn, Reading, Ipswich, Scituate, Chelmsford and Charlestown in Massachusetts, and in Newport, RI and New Haven, CT.  The Thomas Clark who heads the family in this Genealogical record arrived in Plymouth in July 1625 on the Ann, a ship of 140 tons. He was one of a company of 42 adults and several children.

Thomas Clarke - Portrait

In Plymouth and Boston records he was describe successively as carpenter, yeoman, merchant, and gentleman. In later years he was generally addressed as “Mr Thomas Clark” to indicate the respect in which he was held.

Thomas Clarke - Coat of Arms

In 1627 Thomas was the only person of that name in Plymouth Colony. In documents of the period he is called variously a carpenter, yeoman, merchant or gentleman.

1632 – He was taxed for […]

1633 – Took the freeman’s oath in Plymouth

1634 – Took on William Shuttle as an apprentice for 11 years..

1637 – Headed the list of volunteers to act against the Pequot Indians, being then mentioned as of Eel River.

4 Dec 1637 – A previous grant of sixty acres to him was confirmed and ordered to be laid out

1638 – Was presented to the Court for stopping the highway to Eel River

1639 – Fined 30 shillings for selling a pair of boots and spurs for 158 shillings that he bought for 10 shillings.

Jan 1639/40, as he had relinquished his grant of land at “the Whoop Place”, the court granted him 85 acres.

1640 – Included in the list of fifty-eight “purchasers or old comers” in Plymouth which included all those who came to Plymouth on the first three ships: the Mayflower in 1620, the Fortune in 1621, and the Ann in 1623.

1641-43-44-45-46-47 he was constable and surveyor of highways.

1643 – In the list of the men of the colony able to bear arms.

1644 – Had suits with Matthew Fuller and William Powell; won both

1650 – Was a member of the Committee of Plymouth Colony

1651 and 1655 – Representative to the general court, and was at one time employed to audit the accounts of the colony.

1652 – Was presented for staying and drinking at James Cole’s; acquitted

1654 – Was on a committee to raise means to fit out an expedition ordered by the Lord Protector

1655 – Was presented to the Court for taking 16 pounds for the use of 20 pounds for one year; acquitted.  Thomas evidently aspired to be a lawyer, prosecuting several cases in addition to bringing suits against a number of men who owed him money.

8 Jun 1655 – Deputy for Plymouth, as well as serving on numerous other committees.

Between 1655 and  his second marriage in 1664 – Removed to Boston, where he lived in the vicinity of Scotto’s Lane. His son Andrew married Mehitable, daughter of Thomas Scotto, and Thomas Clark gave him a house in that region. In a deposition made by him in Boston, 15 Dec 1664, he stated that he was late of Plymouth and then about 59 years old, thus understating his age by about four years.

When the son Andrew removed to Harwich Thomas Clark appears to have followed him, and the two were among the earliest proprietors of that town. In his latter days he lived with his daughter, Susanna Lothrop, at Barnstable.

From 1654 to 1697 he was a deacon of the Plymouth church.

In a deed executed 6 Oct 1668, Henry Kimball of Boston, blacksmith, [and our ancestor’s Richard KIMBALL’s son]  conveyed to Thomas Clark, sometime of New Plymouth, merchant, for 140 pounds, all his piece of ground lying near the lesser drawbridge near ShelterCreek in Boston.

In a deed of gift, dated 18 June 1673, Thomas Clark gave to his son Andrew a house and ground in Boston “that I received from the estateof John Nichols by virtue of a Judgement granted me March 5th 1672…”

As late as 14 May 1677 he was called “Thomas Clark of Boston, late of Plymouth, merchant.” Thomas Clark returned to Plymouth about 1678.

6 June 1693 – He provided for his children and grandchildren before his death by a deed of gift , in which he conveyed to “Andrew Clarke and to Mehitabel his wife during their natural lives the dwelling house and land on the westerly side of Satucket River[Harwich] where they live … upon their decease to become the property of Andrew Clarke, Scotto Clarke, and Nathaniel Clarke, equally … ” Thomas Clark, eldest son of Andrew, was excluded by reason of having been the recipient of the lion’s share of his grandfather’s estate (J. Paine, Hist of Harwich. 1937, p. 111).

30 Jan 1694/5, – Thomas deeded all his lands, goods and money to his son William and William’s wife Abiah for taking care of him (Plymouth Co Deeds 2:32).

Thomas Clark died in Plymouth in March 1697/98. A huge boulder was placed on this grave in 1893, and a metallicplate secured to it reads: “Here lies ye body of Mr. Thomas Clark, aged 98 years. Departed this life March 24, 1697.”


1. William Clark

William’s first wife Sarah Wolcott was born 1638 – Plymouth. Her parents were John Wolcott and Winifred Crawford. Sarah was killed in an Indian attack 18 Mar 1676 in a garrison house by Eel river, Chiltonville Plymouth, Plymouth, Mass.

William’s second wife Hannah Griswold was born 11 Dec 1658 – Middlesex, Mass. Her parents were Lieut Francis Griswold and Mary Tracy. Hannah died 20 Feb 1687 – Plymouth, Plymouth, Mass.

William’s third wife Abiah Wilder was born in 1656 in Plymouth. Her parents were Edward Wilder and Elizabeth Eames. Abiah died 2 Nov 1725.

William’ s 1634 date of birth is based on his deposition 10 Aug 1671 that he was aged thirty-seven [TAG 47:4, citing SJCCase #1179]  William Clark’s Garrison Located on the Eel River near Chiltonville. Originally built in the 1660’s, it was destroyed during King Philip’s War (March 1676).

“He lived in a garrison house by Eel river, which was suprised by the Indians on a Sunday, March 18, 1676, while he was at church. His wife was killed in this attack, which is said to have been the only serious one ever made on the settlement.  His son,Thomas, was left for dead, but afterwards recovered, and had a silver plate put over his exposed brain, by the celebrated surgeon Dr. John Clarke, of Boston. He ever afterwards was known as ‘Silver-headed Tom.’ ”

July 1676 – Two hundred Indians surrendered themselves to the Plymouth Governor, and were pardoned, with the exception of those who had been concerned in the slaughter at Clarke’s garrison at Plymouth. These were put to death. — Baylie’s History. The Colony records give the names of these Indians, and state that they were decapitated.”

1670 – William Clarke and Edward Gray of Plymouth; Richard Bourne and William Swift of Sandwich; Thomas Hinkley and Thomas HUCKINS of Barnstable; Samuel Sturgis, of Yarmouth and John FREEMAN of Eastham, formed a company to engage and regulate the making and disposing of all the tar made in the colony, at the price of 8 shillings for every small barrel, and 12 shillings for every great barrel, during the full term of 2 years.”**

1679 – Joseph and Barnabas LOTHROP, of Barnstable; Kenelm Winslow of Marshfield; and William Clarke of Plymouth, as the agents of thirty partners, purchased for the sum of 200 pounds, the remainder of the lands not already granted, between Dartmouth on the West, Plymouth Purchase on the East and Middleboro’ and Plymouth on the North, ‘to be settled in four years with an Orthodox ministry’, these grants include present towns of Rochester and Marion —-Baylie’s History.”**

1684 – William Clarke hires the basse fishing at Cape Cod, of the the town of Plymouth, at 30 pounds a year. —Plymouth Records.”

1697 – He received a grant of land from the town of Plymouth where he was living in 1714.”

1682 – The Court have agreed with Mr. William Clarke of Plymouth to provide suitably for the Governor and Magistrates diet, lodging &c. in the County House at Plymouth for four courts, viz. October, March, June and July, and to pay him forty pounds in money for the same; if it shall happen that the General Court be adjourned, or special courts called within the time of the year, he is to be allowed for those Courts according to his just accounts.’ —Records.”

A Reinterpretation of the Attack on the Clark Garrison/ RM Site Plymouth, MA

“March 12 (1676). This Sabbath eleven Indians assaulted Mr. William Clarks House in Plymouth, killed his wife [Sarah Wolcott], who was the Daughter of a godly Father and Mother that came to New-England on the account of Religion, and she herself also a pious and prudent Woman: they also killed her suckling Childe, and knocked another Childe (who was about eight years old) in the head, supposing they had killed him . . .And whereas there was another Family besides his own, entertained in Mr. Clarks house, the Indians destroyed them all, root and branch, the Father and the Mother, and all the Children. So that eleven persons were murdered that day, and under one roof; after which they set the house on fire.” (Slotkin and Folsom 1978: 112).

William Clark and his family were the inhabitants of the Clark garrison house in 1676. William Clark was the oldest son of a very influential Boston importer, Thomas Clark. He was probably born around the middle 1630s. In the 1660s he married Sarah Wolcott, daughter of another very influential Boston family. Their children were James, John and Andrew. Clark held numerous positions in Plymouth town government such as surveyor and rater but who was William Clark and why was his house attacked?

The Plymouth Colony records are somewhat slim about actually coming out and explicitly stating who just about anyone was, but in Clarks case we can determine it with some certainty and the who is intimately connected with the why. Both William Clark and his father Thomas appear to have been opportunistic merchants. His father moved to Boston in 1655 where he married the daughter of a prominent upper class family. William, while not moving to Boston, also married the daughter of one of the most respected and well off families in Boston, the Wolcotts. It is known from later records that Clark had a warehouse in downtown Plymouth on Town Brook and was the highest rated merchant in town.

But, the warehouse in Plymouth center was not the only place where Clark stored goods. From the archaeological excavation of Clarks house, we can now state with reasonable confidence that he also either stored goods in his house at the Eel River, or most probably, he had another warehouse or trading house near his Eel River home. This, I believe, was the reason why Clarks house was targeted on March 12, because the Natives who attacked on Sunday had probably traded with Clark before at his house and knew that he had goods such as powder, shot and arms that they needed.

Excavations were carried out at the site in 1941, 1949, 1968, 1987 and 1995 but the 1940s excavations were the most revealing in terms of data recovered Dozens of features were uncovered spanning the entire Native to present day use of the knoll on which the site lies and thousands of artifacts were recovered. Unfortunately, while excellent notes, plans, profiles and photographs were taken, the true layout of the site has not been understood or appreciated until now. James Deetz identified the house as being of a longhouse form popular in certain parts of England, but what neither he, nor anyone else identified was the fact that the longhouse that he saw was a result of at least two successive building episodes at the site

The initial house built was a post-in-ground structure approximately 20 square and is evidenced by large corner and smaller intermediate posts. The expanded structure was 14 meters long and 6 meters wide with a 3 meter square cellar in the western half and a 2.5 meter wide hearth in the eastern half. A second post-in-ground structure has been identified to the east of the main house, paralleling it. This structure is at least 7 meters wide and continues beyond the area that has been excavated. A 3 meter wide hearth is located on the western end of this structure. A third structure possibly associated with the seventeenth century occupation is located 7 meters to the north of the first and is identified as being of post-in-ground construction. This building, which may have been a barn or other outbuilding is at least four meters wide and appears to extend to the north out of the area excavated.

The hypothesis that his house was attacked because it was used as a trading house is supported by the Plymouth Court records. In 1676 a certain Native woman had identified the warriors that had attacked the house and the court recorded that:

Keweenam . . . hee went to him (Tatoson) and certifyed him that hee had lately bin att the house of William Clarke, att the Eelriver, and that his house was slightly fortifyed, and that it was well furnished with nessesaries, and that his way would be to repaire thither now, and that on the Lords day, the folkes of the house being but three, the most of them would be gon to meeting, and they, being there, might descerne it; and incase they left a man att home or soe, they might soon dispatch him, and then they would mett with noe opposition. . . the said Tatoson went towards Plymouth, and on the morrow following, in the morning about 9 or ten of the clocke, hee with his companie did this cruwill villanie. . . . Keweenam . . .hee did not fully owne the said accusation, onely hee owned that hee was att William Clarkes house a little before the facte comitted, and in the company of Tatoson the day before . . . and had given him information of the weakness of the house, both with respect to fortification and men”(PCR 1676:205).

Before the house was attacked, the Natives who were to eventually attack it knew that it was not well fortified, that it contained a good store of material they needed, that there were not many people living there, and that on the Sabbath, there, theoretically should not be anyone there except perhaps a male guard whom they could quickly kill. The attack on Clarks house was not a random act of violence by a marauding band of Indians, as has been often claimed, it was, in fact, a well thought out attack that was done on Sunday with the expectation that their would be no one there to resist them that they would have to kill. It is truly amazing that this Keweenam had been to Clarks house the day before it was attacked. Obviously Clark knew the southeastern Massachusetts Natives, and was probably trading with them before and during the war.

Increase Mather, living in Boston and receiving his information at least second-hand, reported that “eleven persons were murdered that day” by 11 Natives, yet the Plymouth Colony records, the official records of this singular attack on Plymouth state that only one person, Sarah Clark, was killed ” Att the same time three other Indians appeered before the councell, whose names were Woodcocke, and Quannapawhan, and one called John Num; the two former were accused by an indian squa, that they were present and actors in that bloody murder of Mistris Sarah Clarke . . .” (PCR 1676:205). When all accusations were made final, 11 Natives men in all were accused and found guilty of the attack on the Clark house.

Why is there a discrepancy between what Increase Mather reported and what was reported by the Court? What was the real number of persons killed? I believe that it was only one or possibly two and not 11 and that Mather either intentionally or accidentally inflated the figure. But why would Mather do this, was it accidental or was there a more insidious reason behind it? In Increase Mathers mind, the attack on William Clark’s house was not a random act of violence, it was punishment from God on persons who were not strictly following the tenets of Puritanism, it was a sign for all to see, that this is what happens when the faith is neglected for the pleasures of the world.

Increase Mather did not hide his reasons for writing his history of King Philips War, on the contrary, he was very open about what the war meant to him, it was a sign sent by God to punish New Englanders for their fall from grace. Misunderstanding and misinterpretations of events that occurred during the war were reported throughout Mathers work. Richard Slotkin and James Folsom in their work, So Dreadful a Judgment, report that such misunderstandings were essential to the concept of history that Mather employed and advocated (Slotkin and James 1978:67).

Increase Mather felt that the actual persons fighting the war were inconsequential to the fact that God had caused the war to occur. To this end he sought messages from God in the battles and occurrences of the war and “. . . providential deaths and rescues, incidents in which peculiar ironies and coincidences are prominent, become central to the narrative.”  The result of this focus on any event, no matter how trivial, that shows how God had punished the Puritans for their fall from grace, had the intent of reinforcing Mathers main intention of writing the narrative which was “. . . to restore a religious world view, a God-centered consciousness of historical process, and a sense of mans powerlessness and absolute dependence on the will of an angry God.” (Slotkin and Folsom 1978:67).

With the preconceived notion that all actions of the war took place as a result of the Puritans sins and worldliness, how would Mather have reacted when he heard of the attack at William Clarks house? It has to be assumed that Mather would have known more about William Clark and Sarah Wolcott than he recorded in his writings. He must have known that Clark was a merchant and he did know that Sarah’s family had come to Massachusetts Bay for religious reasons. From informant intelligence or a reading of the Plymouth court records, he would have known that the Natives who attacked Clarks house on the Sabbath were probably on friendly or at least trading terms with him. For Mather the situation could have been summed up as follows: The house of William Clark, one, if not the, most prosperous merchant in Plymouth who had trading connections with Boston, was attacked on the Sabbath and a number of people who had not gone to the Sabbath meeting, including Sarah Wolcott (Clark), daughter of pious parents who had come to the New World on matters of religion, were killed by warring Natives. He may have also heard that the number of people involved was 11, but had not or did not care to make the distinction that the 11 persons involved were not 11 English who were killed but 11 Natives who attacked. I believe that the number of persons killed was inconsequential to Mather, the most important aspect of the attack, that aspect which reinforced his belief in a God sent war due to the colonists having strayed from Him, was that the persons killed were not at Sabbath meeting and that the most important one killed was Sarah Wolcott (Clark) the second generation of a pious religious family.

2. James Clark 

James’ wife Abigail Lothrop was born 2 Nov 1639 Barnstable Mass.  She was Barnabas’ sister and her parents were Rev. John LATHROP  and Anna HAMMOND.  Abigail died xx.

James brought suit  in 1668 for defamation against Sarah Barlow and Mary Bartlett for reporting’that they saw him kisse his mayd on the Lord’s day.’ They were fined ten shillings each. ”

“In 1671, he was one of the chosen to assess damages for injury done to the Indians by the horses and hogs of the English.”

3. John Clark

 John’s 1640 date of birth is based on his  31 October 1671 deposition that he was aged about thirty [TAG 47:4, citing SJCCase #1179]); m. by 1668 Sarah _____ (eldest child b. Boston 11 November 1668 [ BVR 107]; see further discussion on this John in TAG 43:19-26, 47:7, 49:143).

John’s first wife Sarah Smith was born about 1642 in Marshfield, Mass.  She was baptized in the First Church, New Haven, 14 Dec 1645 when about three years old. Her parents were our ancestors Rev. Nehemiah SMITH and Sarah Ann BOURNE.  Sarah died 25 JUL 1674 New Haven, CT.

John’s second wife Mary Walker was born 1641 in Fairfield, Fairfield, CT. Her parents were Robert Walker and Sarah [__?__]. Mary died 18 March 1711 in Stratfield, Fairfield, CT.

Child of John and Sarah.

i. Sarah Clark b. 4 Oct 1671 in New Haven, New Haven, CT; d. 17 Jun 1718 in New Haven, New Haven, CT; m. John Wilmot (1667 – 1731)

Children of John and Sarah:

ii. Daniel Clark b. 28 Jun 1677 in New Haven, New Haven, CT; d. 1743; m. Hannah Beecher (1679 – 1751)

4. Susanna CLARK (See Barnabas LATHROP‘s page)

5. Nathaniel Clark

Daniel’s first wife Alice Halleton 1664

Daniel’s second wife Dorothy Lettice was born in 1648 in Yorkshire England.  Her parents were Thomas Lettice and Anne Savoy.  She first married Edward Gray.  Dorothy died 30 Apr 1726 – Plymouth, Plymouth, Mass.

Nathaniel married Dorothy between July 1684 (when she entered an account of the estate of her deceased husband Edward Gray  and 4 June 1686 (when she sued Nathaniel Clark for divorce .  Dorothy (Lettice) Gray was the daughter of Thomas Lettice and widow of Edward Gray.

Nathaniel was an attorney-at-law, or as near to one as the conditions and exigencies of the times either permitted or required. He married Dorothy, the widow of Edward Gray, an enterprising and thrifty merchant, and daughter of Thomas Lettice, a respectable innkeeper, but had no children, and left no descendants. Soon after his election to the office of Secretary of Plymouth, Sir Edmund Andros arrived in the country commissioned by James II as Governor of New England. Under his administration the colonial government was superseded, and the office of secretary vacated. Andros declared all public lands vested in the crown, and ordered that all private titles should be quieted by his confirmation alone. The governments of the other colonies were also suspended, and the confederated union was dissolved. With popular dissatisfaction almost universal, Mr. Clark fastened himself to the royal Governor, and became one of his most subservient instruments and tools.

Nathaniel’s house was on the main street, the same that was afterwards occupied by Judge Thomas.

Andros made him a grant of Clark’s Island  which the people refused to confirm so he was never able to secure that property.   The island was named for his grandfather the “Mayflower’s” mate, John CLARK, who, in command of the shallop of the “Mayflower,” safely landed his boat’s company there on the 8th of November, 1620, and spent there the following Sabbath.  The State archives contain the following record:

“By hit Excellency.—Whereas, Mr. Nathaniel Clark, of Plymouth, hath by his petition desired that a certain small Island, called Clark’s Island, lying near New Plymouth, being vacant and unappropriated, may be granted to him for the better settlement and improvement thereof, of which notice hath been given already to tho said town, but no due return made nor any persons appeared thereon. These are, therefore, to require you forthwith to give public notice in the said town that if any person or persons have any claim or title to the said Island they appear before me, in Council, on tho 1st Wednesday in February next, and thon and there show forth such their claim and title accordingly, of which you are not to fail and to make due return. Dated at Boston 21 day of Dec., 1687. Andros. “To Mr. Samiel Sprague, High Sheriff of the County of Plymouth.

“By His Excellencies command.

“Tho above written was publicly read to the whole of the Town of Plymouth, aforesaid, at their Town-meeting the 23 day of January, 1687/88
“pr Sam’L Sprague, Sheriff.”

A later record contains the following:

“By virtue of a warrant from his Excellency, Sir Edmund Andros, Knight, Captain-General, and Governor-in-Chief of his Majesty’s territory and dominion of New England, bearing date Boston, the 23d of February, 1687, I have surveyed and laid out for Mr. Nathaniel Clark a certain small Island, being known by the name of Clark’s Island, and is situated and lying in New Plymouth Bay, bearing from the meeting-house in Plymouth north by northeast about three miles, and is bounded round with water and flats, and contains eighty-six acres and a quarter and three rods. Performed this 3rd day of March, 1687/8. Phillip Wells, Surveyor.”

But the town did not yield up the island to the usurper without resistance. A town-meeting was called and a committee chosen to take steps towards reclaiming the island, and to collect subscriptions to defray the expenses of the undertaking. The committee, together with Elder Faunce, the town clerk, and Ichabod Wiswell, were arrested for levying and aiding in levying taxes upon his Majesty’s subjects and bound over to the Supreme Court at Boston. The annoyances and vexations to which they were subjected only increased the spirit of resistance and strengthened the determination of the town to maintain its rights.

Before the matter was settled, however, news was received (on the 18th of April, 1689) of the landing of the Prince of Orange in England, and on the 29th William and Mary were proclaimed in Boston. Andros was arrested and sent to England, and Clark, as his most pliant coadjutor, was arrested also, and sent as his companion. At a town-meeting of the inhabitants the following declaration was made:

“Whereas, we have not only just grounds to suspect, but are well assured that Nathaniel Clark hath been a real enemy to the peace and prosperity of the people, and hath, by lying and false information to the late Governor, caused much trouble and damage to this place, endeavored to deprive us of our lands, and exposed us to the unjust severity of persons ill affected to us whereby a considerable part of our estates is unrighteously extorted from us, to the great prejudice of our families and the loss of many necessary comforts, and he persisting from time to time in his own malicious forging of complaints against one or another of us, whereby we are in continual hazard of many further great inconveniences and mischief, we do therefore seize upon his person, resolving to secure him for the hands of justice to deal with him according to his desert.”

On his arrival in England Clark was discharged and sent back, and on his return to Plymouth and his practice he built a house on the northeast corner of what is now the garden of Albert C. Chandler, where he lived until 1717, the year of his death. Clark’s Island was restored to the town, but soon after it was voted to sell the island, Saquish, the Gurnet, and Colchester Swamp to defray the expenses of its attempted recovery. In 1690 it was sold to Samuel Lucas, Elkanah Watson, and [our ancestor] Deacon George MORTON, and after a few years passed wholly into the hands of the Watson family, by whose various branches it is still owned.

Nathaniel was educated in the law office of Secretary Morton and was known as Counselor Clarke.   He was appointed Secretary of the Dominion of New England by Sir Edmund Andros after the death of Nathaniel Morton in 1685.

The Dominion of New England in America (1686–89) was an administrative union of English colonies in the New England region of North America. It initially consisted of the territories of the Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island colonies, but was expanded to include New York and East and West Jersey in 1688.  The dominion was ultimately a failure because the area it encompassed was too large for a single governor to manage, and because its governor, Sir Edmund Andros, was highly unpopular, engaging in actions that offended significant stripes of the New England population.

On the arrival of Andros as Governor of New England, Nathaniel became one of the royal governor’s most willing and offensive tools.” During the Boston Revolt of 1689, Andros was arrested and sent to England. The dominion then effectively collapsed, as local authorities in each colony seized dominion representatives and reasserted their earlier power. In Plymouth dominion councilor Nathaniel Clark was arrested on April 22, and previous governor Thomas Hinckley was reinstated.   After his release by the King, Clarke returned to Plymouth, a favorite with the court of England and continued there in the practice of the law until his death.

The 1689 Boston revolt was a popular uprising on 18 April 1689 by Bostonians against the rule of the unpopular governor of the Dominion of New England, Sir Edmund Andros. A well-organized “mob” of provincial militia and citizens formed in the city, arresting dominion officials and adherents of the Church of England, who were suspected of being sympathetic to the dominion leaders. Leaders of the former Massachusetts Bay Colony then reclaimed control of Massachusetts, and leaders of other colonies forming the dominion also retook control of their governments.

Andros had been commission governor of New England in 1686, with instructions to harmonise colonial laws with those of England, and to ensure an organised common defence of the frontier with New France. His rule was extremely unpopular: he vacated land titles, promoted the hated Church of England in the Puritan colonies, restricted town meetings, and enforced the Navigation Acts, to the detriment of colonial trade.

After Andros’ arrival, the council began a long process of harmonizing laws across the dominion to conform more closely to English laws. This work was so time-consuming that Andros in March 1687 issued a proclamation stating that pre-existing laws would remain in effect until they were revised. Since Massachusetts had no pre-existing tax laws, a scheme of taxation was developed that would apply to the entire dominion. Developed by a committee of landowners, the first proposal derived its revenues from import duties, principally alcohol. After much debate, a different proposal was abruptly proposed and adopted, essentially reviving previous Massachusetts tax law.  These laws had been unpopular with farmers who felt the taxes on livestock were too high.  In order to bring in immediate revenue, Andros also received approval to increase the import duties on alcohol.

The first attempts to enforce the revenue laws were met by stiff resistance from a number of Massachusetts communities. Several towns refused to choose commissioners to assess the town population and estates, and officials from a number of them were consequently arrested and brought to Boston. Some were fined and released, while others were imprisoned until they promised to perform their duties. The leaders of Ipswich, who had been most vocal in their opposition to the law, were tried and convicted of misdemeanor offenses.

Plymouth’s relatively poor landowners were hard hit because of the high rates on livestock. Somewhat ironically, the Andros taxes were lower in Massachusetts than those of its previous administration, and of the ones that followed; however, its colonists grumbled more about those imposed by Andros.

One consequence of the tax protest was that Andros sought to restrict town meetings, since these were where that protest had begun. He therefore introduced a law that limited meetings to a single annual meeting, solely for the purpose of electing officials, and explicitly banning meetings at other times for any reason. This loss of local power was widely hated. Many protests were made that the town meeting and tax laws were violations of the Magna Carta, which guaranteed taxation by representatives of the people.  It’s ironic that those who made this complaint had, during the colonial charter, excluded large numbers of voters through the requirement of church membership, and then taxed them.

Massachusetts authorities sent agents to London in 1688 to protest his actions to King James II.

Bostonians seized Governor Andros during their brief revolt

The pro-Catholic James, however, was deposed in the 1688 Glorious Revolution, which brought the Protestant William and Mary to the throne. When word of this event reached Boston, Andros’ opponents conspired to bring about his downfall. Andros and others were imprisoned until February 1690, when they were returned to England for trial. The charges against Andros and other dominion leaders were dismissed, but William and Mary did not renew the idea of the dominion.

The dissolution of the dominion presented legal problems for both Massachusetts and Plymouth. Plymouth never had a royal charter, and that of Massachusetts had been legally vacated. As a result, the restored governments lacked legal foundations for their existence, an issue the political opponents of the leadership made it a point to raise. This was particularly problematic in Massachusetts, whose long frontier with New France, its defenders recalled in the aftermath of the revolt, was exposed to French and Indian raids with the outbreak in 1689 of King William’s War. The cost of colonial defense resulted in a heavy tax burden, and the war also made it difficult to rebuild the colony’s trade.

Agents for both colonies worked in England to rectify the charter issues, with Increase Mather petitioning the Lords of Trade for a restoration of the old Massachusetts charter. When King William was informed that this would result in a return of the hard-line Puritan government, he acted to prevent that from happening. Instead, the Lords of Trade decided to solve the issue by combining the two provinces. The resulting Province of Massachusetts Bay, whose charter was issued in 1691 and began operating in 1692 under governor Sir William Phips, combined the territories of those two provinces, along with the islands south of Cape Cod (Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and the Elizabeth Islands).

Nathaniel Clark - Headstone

When he married Dorothy Lettice Gray (widow of Edward Gray, a rich merchant) they became owners of the whole main square of  the town of Plymouth, including the upper and lower lots, which were already the property of Nathanial Clarke.  However, their relationship was a rocky one. After much scandal, Dorothy left him, suing for divorce on the grounds of impotency on 4 Jun 1686. Afterwards, says James Thatcher, she returned to live with him. He died without any children on 31 Jan 1717 at age 74.

Nathaniel and his wife Dorothy were owners of the whole main square of the town of Plymouth

From “The Thomas Clarke Family…” by Radasch p.10:

“The divorce was not granted and a settlement was arranged. However, the record of her death in Plympton, 30 May 1728, age above 80, calls her the ‘divorced wife’ of Nathaniel Clark, Esq, and the second wife of Edward Gray of Plymouth.

From “Plymouth Church Records: Vol I, Part V p. 258”:

“July 25: The same day, inasmuch as there had bin a great fame, as if Mris Dorothy Clarke, (formerly Grey) a sister of the Church, had bin guilty of some breach of the Rule in the management of the differences, betwixt her and her now Husband, Nathaniel Clarke, the Elders having spoken with her & found her willing to attend the Rule, she then presenting us with a confession of her failing in words & then in writing, the Elders [t]hen brought the matter publickly before the Church, & read her confession, which she publickly owned to be hers, with which the church declared themselves to be well satisfyed: The Elder then speaking a few serious words to Nath: Clarke as a child of the church, he brake forth into a wicked passion & spake vile words, intimating , as if the church would cleare the guilty & condemne the inno\ent, abusing also Pauls words to the mariners, as if it were better & nearer to salvation to be out of such a church then in it etc which carriage & words of hiswere highly offensive, & soe declared by the Pastour to be, but at the present it was thought meete not further proceed upon.”

Offences of Dorothy Clark, 1689:

“July, 3: the church met after Lecture at the Pastors house, & after Prayer, the Elder propounded, that there were offences committed by Mris Dorothy Clarke, in full communion with us as also by Nathaniel Clarke & William Clarke, children of the church, which should be looked after; the church sent Deacon Faunce & Bro. Ephraim Morton Junior to call on Mris Clarke to come before us; before she came, the Pastor read a letter from Deborah Fish (whom the church [h]ad sent letters of Admonition unto the last yeare for her fornication) wherein she manifested her Repentance for her sin etc.
Mris Clarke being come, the Elder declared her offences, 1: In particular her violent carriage to a child of the Pastors, full evidences of which was presented to the church: 2:her Joyning with & encouraging her husband to get Clarks Island from the towne & at last setting her hand to the sale of it: she was called to speake, & a Narrative of her carriage to the child, & in divers words & carriages showed an evill frame of spirit; the issue was, many bretheren exprest their dissatisfaction at her, & the Elder summed up her offence, in these things, viz that she was in a passion, when [s]he pulled the lad out of the tree with her hand, & then threw him over the fence; that she ought first to have told the mother of her childs fault in getting up the tree & not have toucht him herselfe; that there was violence appeared in her carriage to the child; these things she ought to confesse her evill in, to which was added by some of the Church, too much appearence of untruths in the words in that she said “she tooke the lad gently downe from the tree & he came downe upon his feete”, whereas the evidence did positively assert, the child fell flat upon the ground by her pulling him by the leg: another was that she told Mr. Arnold that Mris Cotton had by putting a key into Josiah’s mouth caused his bleeding, whereas she used noe such meanes; Mris Clarke also in her speech before the church did say, she had heard Mris Cotton did put a key into the childs mouth, by a credible person, but would not, though much urged by divers bretheren to it, mention her Author, but presently said she must study who it was & would speake with them first to see if they woule owne it, which gave vehement ground of suspition she therein spake untruly; for these things & her offensive carriage about the Island, it was solemnly declared to her, that the church was offended with her & she should prepare by Repentance to give them satisfaction, & was then ordered to withdraw: the church then sent Bro: Jos: Dunhan & Bro: Ele. Churchel to call Nathaniel Clarke to come to them, the bretheren returned with this answer from him namely, “that he would not come, he had nothing to say to us, nor would have any thing to doe with us”: upon which the Pastor declaring to the church sundry of his scandalous wicked words & practises, & that now he had practically disowned his relation to the church, the church then unanimously agreed in choosing Bro: Harlow and Bro: Bonum to goe to Nath: Clarke & tell him, that the church did require him in the Name of Christ to attend them in the publick assembly by the next Sabbath in the afternoone, his answer to them was “he should not come, for he could not speake, because he was under bonds”. this meeting was with much peace & comfortable unity in the whole church & was concluded with Prayer.” –Plymouth Church Records, Vol I pp265-266.

“May 25 (1690): After the blessing the Elders stayed the church, & called forth sister Dorothy Clarke to give publick satisfaction to the church for which she was left under Admonition, she then manifested her Repentence, in confession of sin, selfe-Judging, desiring Pardon of God, his church, the Pastor & his wife; the Bretheren generally exprest their acceptance & pardon of her; & that being alleadged, that she acted irregularly in offering last sacrament day to speake to the church, the Elders knowing nothing of it before, this also she confest her fault in, & the church formgave her & were dismissed with prayer by the Elder.” — Plymouth Church Records, Vol. I p. 269.

6. Andrew Clark

Andrew’s wife Mehitable Scottow was born in 1648. Her parents were Thomas Scotto and Joan Sandford. Mehitable died 24 Apr 1712 – Brewster, Barnstable, Mass.

Andrew’s 1644 date of birth is base on his  31 October 1671 deposition that he was aged about twenty-five [TAG 47:4, citing SJC Case #1179]);  His 1671 marriage date to Mehitable Scottow is based on the birth of his eldest child on  10 July 1672 in Boston [BVR122]; son Scotto Clark b. 1680 [ MF 3:37]).

In a deed of gift, dated 18 June 1673, Thomas Clark gave to his son Andrew a house and ground in Boston “that I received from the estate of John Nichols by virtue of a Judgement granted me March 5th 1672…”

Andrew lived in Scotto’s Lane where his father bought him a house, and he carried on the shoe business. He was an assistant counsellor, and several times representative to the General Court. Finally he removed to Harwich, of which town he and his father were among the original proprietors in 1694. He died there in 1706.

The family of Scotto, or Scottow as it is sometimes written, was of some note in the early history of Boston. They came from Norwich, Norfolk County, England, and were cabinet-makers by trade. The family consisited of the widow Thomasine Scotto, and her two sons- Thomas, born 1612; and Joshua, born 1615. She was admitted to the First Church in 1634, her sons in 1639. Thomas Scotto had a house and garden in School Street, which he sold in 1645 for 55 pounds. It joined the Burying Place on the East, and seems to have included the same property which his gr-gr- grandson Samuel Clarke owned and occupied 133 years after, which estate remained in the family till about 1825, when it was sold to the city by Dr. Samuel Clarke, and now forms part of the City Hall Square.


History of the town of Plymouth: with a sketch of the origin and growth of … By William Thomas Davis

Genealogy of the Descendants of Thomas Clark of Plymouth, 1623by Arthur and Katharine Warner Radasch, 1972.pq

Handbook of Old Burial Hill, Plymouth, Massachusetts, Its History, Its Famous Dead and Its Qvaint Epitaphs by Frank H. Perkins

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22 Responses to Thomas Clark

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  8. Tim Clark says:

    What is your source for including an additional unnumbered child of this Thomas Clarke, also named Thomas Clarke (born ca 1632)? My research gives me some confidence that I am a direct descendant of another Thomas Clark who first appeared in Scituate (then part of Plymouth Colony) in 1674. There was apparently a supposition among his Scituate neighbors Thomas Clark was related to this elder Thomas Clarke who was so prominent in Plymouth affairs, but I’ve found no evidence to support that supposition. Perhaps the unnumbered son was the father of my ancestor, the Thomas Clark who lived in Scituate in 1674 (and based on other records was about 23 years old at the time)?

  9. markeminer says: (This URL will expire)
    LEONARD, Rebecca
    b. 26 MAR 1661 Springfield, Hampden, Mass.
    Father: LEONARD, John
    Mother: HEATH, Sarah
    Spouse: CLARK, Thomas
    b. ABT 1632
    Father: CLARK, Thomas
    Mother: RING, Susanna
    Marriage: 1 DEC 1681 Springfield, Hampden, Mass.
    Spouse: MILLER, Thomas
    b. 11 APR 1653 West Springfield, Mass.
    d. 5 MAR 1689/90 Springfield, Hampden, Mass.
    Father: MILLER, Thomas
    Mother: MARSHFIELD, Sarah
    Marriage: 30 DEC 1691 Springfield, Hampshire, Mass
    Spouse:BILLINGS, Samuel
    BILLINGS, Samuel
    BILLINGS, Sarah
    BILLINGS, Joseph
    BILLINGS, Zechariah
    BILLINGS, Benjamin

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  12. Kay (Offutt) Schmidt says:

    Thomas’ son John died Mar 1719 at Lyme, CT; not Rochester (that was a different John according to TAG 47:7). The surname of John’s wife, Sarah, is unknown, but might be WALES because John bought a house in Boston from that family for 120 pounds.

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  19. The John Clark who married 1st. Sarah Smith and 2nd. Mary Walker was geographically in New Haven, Connecticut, not where your Thomas Clarke & Susanna Ring were. The John Clark who married those noted above was the son of John Clark who died in New Haven in 1719 and was born about 1637. See Descendants of John Clark of New Haven, Connecticut and Ancient New Haven books. These families in New Haven continuously remarried and the lines continue to Middletown, CT, then Otis/Sandisfield, MA descendants. I think more research is needed before connecting Thomas Clark with John Clark & Sarah Smith and John Clark & Mary Walker of New Haven, CT. My fathers YDNA test to this John Clark matches other YDNA & Haplogroup R-P312 descendants who are also geographically related to New Haven/Milford, CT and Hertfordshire/Essex England.

  20. Christine Clark says:

    Corrections needed to your post:

    3. John Clark (you are looking for John Clark of Plymouth, MA (not Rochester, MA nor New Haven, CT)

    John’s 1640 (most sources say 1645) date of birth is based on his 31 October 1671 deposition that he was aged about thirty [TAG 47:4, citing SJCCase #1179]); m. by 1668 Sarah _____ (eldest child b. Boston 11 November 1668 [ BVR 107]; see further discussion on this John in TAG 43:19-26, 47:7, 49:143).

    (The information on your site forward is John Clark of New Haven not Plymouth:) John’s first wife Sarah Smith was born about 1642 in probably New Haven. She was baptized in the First Church, New Haven, 14 Dec 1645 when about three years old. Her parents were our ancestors Rev. Nehemiah SMITH (her parents are George Smith and Sarah Unknown Smith Jackson). Sarah died 25 JUL 1674 New Haven, CT. She is often confused with Nehemiah, but if you look at the will of Nehemiah and his children, he only mentions children Elizabeth, Mary, Mehitable and Nehemiah, Jr. all of Norwich, New London, not New Haven.

    John’s second wife Mary Walker Brown (divorced wife of John Brown of New Haven) was born 1641 in (New Haven, CT). Her parents were Robert (no, her father was John Walker) and (Grace)Sarah [__?__]. Mary died 18 March 1711 in probably New Haven.

    Child of John and Sarah of New Haven (not Plymouth)

    i. Sarah Clark b. 4 Oct 1671 in New Haven, New Haven, CT; d. 17 Jun 1718 in New Haven, New Haven, CT; m. John Wilmot (1667 – 1731) True.

    Children of John and Sarah (of New Haven, not Plymouth):

    ii. Daniel Clark b. 28 Jun 1677 in New Haven, New Haven, CT; d. 1743; m. Hannah Beecher (1679 – 1751). True. He was the executor of his father’s estate. The inventory and probate records are in the New Haven Probate records. His father died in West Haven 22 Mar 1719.

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