Thomas Cushman Sr.

Thomas CUSHMAN Sr. (1608 – 1691) was Alex’s 10th Grandfather; one of 2,048 in this generation of the Shaw line.

Thomas Cushman Sr. – Coat of Arms

Thomas Cushman Sr. was baptized at St. Andrew Parish, Canterbury, Kent, England, on 8 Feb 1607/08,Canterbury, Kent, England.  His parents were Robert CUSHMAN and Sarah REDER.

Thomas was baptized in St. Andrew’s Church, Canterbury, demolished in 1763

He came to Plymouth in 1621 at the age of thirteen on the ship Fortune with father Robert Cushman, a prominent member of the Pilgrims’ congregation in Leiden.  When his father died of the plague in London in 1625,  he was raised in the family of Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford.    He married Mary ALLERTON in 1636 in Plymouth, Mass. He succeeded William BREWSTER as Ruling Elder upon Brewster’s death in 1644 and served until his death in 1691.  Thomas died 10 Dec 1691 in Plymouth, Mass.

Cushman’s grave on Burial Hill

Cushman monument Burial Hill

This is a granite column, twenty-five feet high, and it is by far the most conspicuous monument on the hill. It reads:

Fellow exile with the Pilgrims in Holland,
Afterwards their chief agent in England,
Arrived here IX November, MDCXXI,
With Thomas Cushman his son:
Preached IX-. December,
His memorable sermon on “the Danger of self-love
And the sweetness of true friendship:”
Returned to England XIII December,
To vindicate tho enterprise of Christian emigration;
And there remained in the service of the Colony Till MDCXXV,
When, having prepared to make Plymouth His permanent home.

West side: —
He died, lamented by the forefathers
as “their ancient friend, – who was
as their right hand with their friends
the adventurers, and for divers years
had done and agitated all their business
with them to their great advantage.”

“And you, my loving friends, the adventurers
to this plantation, as your care has been first
to settle religion here before either profit
or popularity, so, I play you, go on. —
I rejoice — that you thus honor God
with your riches, and I trust you shall be repaid
again double and treble in this world, yea,
and the memory of this action shall never die.”

South side: —
Son of Robert, died X December, MDCXCI,
Aged neatly LXXXIV years.
For more than XLII years he was
Ruling Elder oú the First Church in Plymouth,
By whom a tablet was placed to mark his grave on this spot,
Now consecrated anew by a more enduring memorial.

widow of Elder Cushman, and daughter of Isaac Allerton,
Died XXVIII November, MDCXCIX, aged about XC years,
The last survivor of the first comers in the Mayflower.

East side:
Erected by
The descendants of
Robert Cushman
In memory of their Pilgrim Ancestors,

Thomas Cushman – Burial Stone – Inscription: “Here lyeth buried ye body of that precious servant of God, Mr. Thomas Cushman, who after he had served his generation according to the will of God, and particularly the church of Plymouth for many years in the office of a Ruling Elder, fell asleep in Jesus, Decmr. Ye 10. 1691 & ye 84 year of his age.”

Mary Allerton was born in Jun 1616 in Leyden, Holland.  Her parents were Isaac ALLERTON and Mary NORRIS.  When Mary died on  28 Nov 1699 in Plymouth, Mass, she was the last survivor of the Mayflower. (Wikipedia)  She arrived at Plymouth on the Mayflower when she was about four years old and lived there her entire life; she died aged 83.

Mary Allerton, Pilgrim Maiden Statue, Plymouth

Thomas and Mary had a surprisingly prosperous family; seven of their eight children survived to adulthood, got married, and provided at least 50 grandchildren. Thomas and Mary both lived to very old age, having never moved from Plymouth. Thomas died in December 1691, reaching nearly 85 years in age. Mary, who gave birth to and raised eight children, lived to the age of 83.  She was buried on Burial Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts.[3

Children of Thomas and Mary:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Thomas CUSHMAN Jr. 16 Sep 1637 Plymouth, Mass Ruth Howland
17 Nov 1664
(Daughter of  John HOWLAND  John is also our ancestors through Ruth’s sister Desire)

Abigail TITUS Fuller

16 Oct 1679 Rehoboth, Mass.
23 Aug 1726 Scituate, Mass
2. Sarah Cushman c. 1640 Plymouth John Hawkes
11 APR 1661 Lynn, Mass.
Daniel Hutchings
7 Nov 1695 in Lynn, Mass
3 Dec 1694
Lynn, Essex, Mass.
3. Martha (Mary) Cushman 1641 Plymouth, Mass. Francis Hutchinson
Lynn, Mass.
22 Oct 1690 Lynn, Essex, Mass.
4. Rev. Isaac Cushman 8 Feb 1647/48 Plymouth Rebecca Harlow
21 Oct 1732 Plymouth,
5. Elkanah Cushman 1 Jun 1651 Plympton, Mass. Elizabeth Cole
16 Feb 1676/77
Martha Cook
2 Mar 1682/83 Plymouth
4 Sep 1727 Plympton, Mass.
6. Fear Cushman 20 Jun 1653 Plymouth No Issue Bef. Oct 1690 Plympton
7. Eleazer Cushman 20 Feb 1655/56 Plymouth Elizabeth Coombs
12 Jan 1685/86 Plymouth
14 Oct 1723 Plympton
8. Lydia Cushman c. 1662 Plymouth, Plymouth William Harlow
1679 Plymouth,
11 Feb 1718/19 Plymouth

Taken by father to Leiden, Holland, shortly after baptism; age 10 sailed to Southampton, England, with stepmother on the Speedwell; sailed on Speedwell (with Mayflower), 1620, for New World, with father (stepmother?), but abandoned voyage when vessel put back 3rd time; arrived at Plymouth, MA, on the Fortune in 1621; father returned to England leaving Thomas as ward of Governor Bradford.

Thomas arrived at Plymouth, in good health, in Nov., 1621. In a few days his father returned to England, leaving his only son in the family of his particular friend. Gov. Bradford. And in a subsequent letter, he entreats the Governor

” to have a care of my son, as your own, and I shall be bound unto you.” If it is true, that, “As the twig is bent the tree’s inclined,”

then we have the very best evidence that Gov. Bradford was faithful to the trust imposed in him by his absent friend. In a letter from Gov. B. to Robert Cushman, dated June, 1625, he
says, ” Your son is in good health (blessed be God). He received the things you sent him. I hope God will make him a good man.”

Thomas settled in that part of Plymouth now Kingston.  He was appointed successor to Elder Brewster in 1649, continuing in the office until his death, Dec. 11, 1691.  More than 43 years. … He for several years was assistant to the Governor, and went to London five times in the interest of the Colony.  He spent the latter part of his life in New Haven, where he died.

Thomas Cushman Sr. – Tablet


1627 – At a public Court held on the 22d of May, it is considered by the whole company, that the cattle which were the company’s, to Avit, — the cows and the goats should be equally divided by lot to all persons of the same company.” The cattle and goats were, therefore, divided into tAvelve lots, and thirteen persons appointed to each lot. The eleventh lot fell to Gov. Bradford and those with him, among whom was Thomas Cushman, then in the 20th year of his age. ” To this lot fell an heifer of the last year, which was of the great white back cow that was brought over in the Ann, and two she goats.”

Thomas Cushman’s hammer at the Pilgrim Hall Museum

1 Jan 1633 – These following were admitted into the freedom of the society, viz: Mr. William Collins, Thomas Willett, John Cooke and Thomas Cushman.” He was then twenty-five or twenty-six years of age.

Allerton-Cushman Cup, Pilgrim Hall Museum

1 Jul 1634 – “At a generall Court holden before the Governor and Councill, Thomas Cushman plantife agaynst John Combe, Gent, defendant, being cast and adiudged to pay the sayd summe of ten pounds to the plaintife or his Assigns at or before the first of Aug. or else to deliver to him a sufficient cow cafe weaned or weanable.

1635 – Thomas Cushman first served as a Juryman.

1637 – There was granted ” to Thomas Cushman the remaynder of the marsh before the house he liveth in wch Mrs. Fuller doth not vse and the little pcell at the wading place on the otherside Joanes River.” It is supposed that he removed to Jones  River (now Kingston) about this time, “which was not long after he was married, and that there he lived and died.

1645 – He purchased ” Prence’s farm ” at Jones River (now “Rocky Nook,” in Kingston,) by exchanging land at Sowams for it, for £75. It was first owned by his father-in-law, Isaac Allerton.

The exact locality of his house is now pointed out, and a spring of water near it has for many years received the cognomen of” the Elder’s Spring,” from Elder Thomas Cushman, whose house stood near it. It is located in that part of Kingston now called “Rocky Nook,” about fifty rods northerly from the present traveled highway, on the border of the marsh. A description and the boundaries of the land as given in the early Colony Records, show, beyond a doubt, that the tradition respecting that spring and the location of the Elder’s House, must be correct.

6 Apr 1649 – Cushman succeeded William Brewster as Ruling Elder of the Plymouth  Church the position having been vacant since 1644 (Ply. Ch. Recs. 1:165).

29 Mar 1653 – Ousamequin (Massasoit) and his oldest son Wamsitto convey by deed a tract of land in Rehoboth to Thomas Prence, Thomas Cushman and others, for which they pay the sum of thirty-five pounds sterling.

3 Jun 1657 – Gov William Bradford’s will proved.  Elder Cushman, having been raised and educated in the family of Gov. Bradford, was ever his intimate and confidential friend. He was, therefore, the principal witness to his Will. The Governor’s estate was also inventoried by Thomas Cushman.

30 Jun  1669 – Mr. John Cotton, Jr., son of the famous Rev. John Cotton, Pastor of the first Church in Boston, was ordained as Pastor of the first Church in Plymouth. ” Elder Thomas Cushman gave the charge and the aged Mr. John Howland (whose daughter had married his son, Thomas Cushman, Jr.) was appointed by the Church to join in imposition of hands.”

” The Ruling Elder (Cushman) with the new Pastor, made it their first special work to pass through the whole town, from family to family to enquire into the state of souls.”

He had differences with the pastor, John Cotton, as the latter noted in church records in 1683, writing that the elders met with the pastor and decided to put their differences to some other churches for advice, and the Elder (Cushman) moved that the magistrates be invited to meet with and advise them. In succeeding months there are additional intimations of differences in which “the Elder showed discontent” (Ply. Ch. Recs. 1:251, 253-54).

The signatures of Elder Cushman and of his minister. Rev. Mr. Cotton, written in the year 1682.

He became ill in his old age and languished for some eleven weeks before he died on 10 or 11 December 1691, another man whose life was virtually coterminal with that of Plymouth Colony (Ply. Ch. Recs. 1:165-66; George E. Bowman,

“Elder Thomas Cushman’s Will and Inventory, and the Records of His Death,” MD 4:37 ). In his will dated 22 October 1690, sworn 16 March 1691/92, he named his wife Mary, sons Thomas, Isaac, Elkanah, and Eleazer; daughters Sarah Hawks and Lydia Harlow; and the three children of his daughter Mary Hutchinson. He also had a daughter Fear who predeceased him without issue.

Elder Thomas Cushman’s Will

Cofy of Probate Records for the County of Plymouth—Book 1, Commencing with page 120.

” To all People to whom these presents shall come, etc. —
Know ye that I Thomas Cushman, Sen’r, of the town of Pliraouth
in New England, being through God’s mercy and goodness unto
me at this present in some measure of good health of body and of sound understanding and strength of memory, yet considering my frailty and uncertainty of my abiding in this vale of tears, do make this to be my last Will and Testament. And by these presents I do make this to be my last will and testament to remain firm and invincible forever as followeth : Imprimis— I give and bequeath my soul to God that gave it, and my body to ye dust and to be decently buried in hopes of ye grace of God through Jesus Christ to enter into a joyful resurrection. And for my outward estate I dispose of as followeth, viz :

I will and bequeath unto my dear and loving wife Mary Cushman all my house and housing, together Avith all my uplands and meadow lands I am now possessed of in the township of New Plimouth, to be for her use and support during ye time of her natural life, excepting such parcels as I do in this my will give to my children.

Item, — I give unto my son Thomas Cushman two twenty acre lots lying upon ye southerly side of Mr. Joseph Bradford’s land, as also ye enlargeraents of ye head of these lots ; and also twenty acres of upland, more or less, lying upon ye easterly side of Jones River by the bridge, with a skirt of meadow lying by said river ; and also one third of my meadow at Winnatuxet, and also a parcel of salt marsh meadow from our spring unto a cross westerly of a salt hole and so down to ye river, which said parcel of meadow is to be his after our decease. All ye above said parcels of upland and meadow I do by these presents give and bequeath unto my son Thomas Cushman, to him and his heirs forever.

Item, — I give unto my son Isaac Cushman one twenty acre
lot, with ye addition of ye hcad lying on the northerly side of Samuel Flanders land in ye Township of Plimouth, and also the one half of my land lying at Nemasket Pond in ye Township of Middleborough as also ye one half of my right in the sixteen shilling purchase, so called, in Township above sa’d, and also one third part of my meadow at Winnatuxet in Plimouth, all which parcels of upland and meadow last above expressed, I do by these presents give and bequeath unto my son Isaac Cushman, and to him and his heirs for ever, together with all the privileges thereunto belonging.

Item, — I do give unto my son Elkanah Cushman one twenty acre lot with the addition of the head lying on the northerly side of ye land I now improve, but in case my son Thomas’s new dwelling house be upon part of this lot, my will is my son Thomas enjoy ye land his house now standeth on without molestation. As also I give to my son Elkanah Cushman the one half of my land lying at Nemasket Pond, as also ye one half of the sixteen shilling purchase above expressed, as also one third of my meadow at

Winnatuxet. All the above said parcels of lands and meadows
last above expressed, with all the privileges thereunto belonging I do by these presents give unto my son Elkanah Cushman, and to his heirs forever.

Item, — I do give unto my son Eleazer Cushman the rest of
my lands both upland and meadow lands not above deposed of in Plimouth and Duxborough, as also my new dwelling house and out housing, which house and lands I do by these presents give and bequeath unto my son Eleazer Cushman, to him and his heirs forever to enjoy after I and my wife are deceased.

And my will is that my four sons Thomas, Isaac, Elkanah and  Eleazer shall each of them allow twenty to their sisters, that is to say Sarah Hauks and Lidiah Harlow. As also my will is that if any of my sons se cause to make sale of their land I have given them in Plimouth, that they do let their hrothers that do reside in Plimouth have the said lands as they shall be valued by five different men as also my will is, and I do by these presents give and bequeath unto my three grand children in Line the children of my daughter Mary Hutchinson deceased, to each of them twenty shillings to be paid unto them out of my estate soon after my decease.  And I do constitute and appoint my dear and loving wife Mary Cushman to be the sole executrix of this my last Will and Testament, my debts, legacies and funeral charges being first paid my will is that whatever other estate is found of mine in goods, chattels or debts either in Plimouth or elsewhere shall bo for ye support of my wife during her natural life ; and my will is that what remains of my estate at my wife’s decease the one half I do give to my son Eleazur Cushman and the other half unto my two daughters, to Sarah Hauks and Lidiah Harlow to be equally divided between them. And my will is, and I do by these presents appoint my two sons Thomas Cushman and Isaac Cushman and Thomas Faunce to be ye supervisors of this my last will and testament, much confiding in their love and faithfulness to be helpful to my s’d executrix in the acting and disposing of particulars according to the tenore thereof, thus hoping that this my last will and testament will be performed and kept, revoking all other wills, written or verball. I have in witness thereof set to my hand and seal on the 22d of October, 1690.

Signed, sealed and declared to be his last will and testament
in presence of us witnesses.
Thomas Faunce. And a [ls.]
James Warner and Thomas Faunce, the witnesses

An addition to ye last Will of Thomas Cushman, jSen^r, tvhich
is as followeth:
Whereas in my last Will, which was in sixteen hundred an ninety that I then left out a certain piece of land undisposed of which was one hundred acres of land lying in the Township of Plimouth upon a brook commonly called Colchester Brook/ on both sides of ye said brook, which I reserved to sell for my support, or my wife’s after my decease. My Will is therefore that my son Thomas Cushman and my son Isaac Cushman shall have the above hundred acres of land to be divided equally between them to them and their heirs and assigns forever, provided that they equally shall pay or cause to be paid ten pounds in current silver money to me above said Thomas Cushman, Sen’r, or my wife after my decease, or after decease to be paid equally to my two daughters, Sarah Hauks and Lidia Harlow. Also I the above said Thomas Cushman do will and bequeath to my four sons, Thomas Cushman and Isaac Cushman and Elkanah Cushman and Eleazer Cushman, all my books, equally to be divided among them, only two small books to my daughter, Lidia Harlow, and my best bible to my loving wife Mary Cushman, likewise also I do give and bequeath unto my son Elkanah Cushman one acre of meadow which was granted unto me, lying at Doties meadows.

This addition is to the last will of me Elder Thomas Cushman of
Plimouth being now in perfect understanding, April 1, 1691.
Signed, sealed and declared in presence of us witnesses.
Jonathan Shaw, Sen.,
Persis Shaw, Her P mark


1. Thomas CUSHMAN Jr.. (See his page)

2. Sarah Cushman

Sarah’s first husband John Hawkes was born  13 Aug 1633 Charlestown, Mass. His parents were Adam Hawkes and Ann [__?__]. John died 5 Aug 1694 Lynn, Essex, Mass.  He first married 3 Jun 1658 Lynn, Essex, Mass. to Rebecca Maverick b. 7 Aug 1639 Lynn, Essex, Mass.  His name is sometimes erroneously written Hooks.

Within twenty days of 14 Nov 1675, the couple experienced a severe affliction in the loss, by death, of all their daughters, excepting the infant Mary.

Sarah’s second husband Daniel Hutchings was born

3. Martha (Mary) Cushman

Martha’s husband Francis Hutchinson was born 1630 Alford, Lincolnshire, England Francis died 12 Nov 1702 Reading, Mass.

4. Rev. Isaac Cushman

Isaac’s wife Rebecca Harlow was born 12 JUN 1655 Plymouth, Plymouth, Mass. Her parents were William Harlow and Rebecca Bartlett. Rebecca died 3 Sep 1727 Plympton, Plymouth, Mass.

Isaac was a member of the chh. at Plymouth, and obtained a better education than most men of that day. In 1685 he was one of the Selectmen of Plymouth, and in June 1690 he and John Bradford were tbe Deputies from Plymouth to the General Court of tbe Plymouth Colony, and in Aug. the same year another General Court was held and the same Deputies were re-elected.

In June 1691, John Bradford and Isaac Cushman were again elected Deputies to the General Court, from Plymouth, and it was the last one previous to tbe union of tbe Plymouth and Massachusetts Colonies, which took place in 1692. The first General Court of the new Province was held 8 June, 1692His venerable father, Elder Thomas Cushman, having died in 1691, the chh. at Plymouth was without a ” Ruling Elder,” then an office of great importance and responsibility. We may reasonably suppose that the early attention and thoughts of the chh. were directed to the consideration of a successor ; but we find no evidence of any chh. action till 1694. We copy from the first volume of the Plymouth chh. Records, p. 22

” 1694, March 7, was a chh. meeting which the Sabbath before the chh. had notice and were then desired to prepare their thoughts to nominate some brethren to serve in the office of Elders and Deacons. The chh. spoke man by man, and all but two or three of the brethren nominated Deacon Faunce and Bro. Isaac Cushman for Elders.”

He was the first minister of the Church of Plympton (37 years in his ministry).

He was called to the pastorate of the Church in Middleboro, and of the new church established in Plympton… He was more liberal in religious matters than his contemporaries, and secured the adoption of new articles of faith, which have remained to the present day, with little change as the creed of the Congrational Church.”

The following is the inscription on the monument erected in his memory:

DEC’d OCT’br Ye 21st
1 7 3 2 IN Ye
AGE & IN YE 37th

Isaac Cushman Headstone — Hillcrest Cemetery Plympton, Plymouth, Mass. Plot: R1-P8-S1

5. Elkanah Cushman

Elkanah’s first wife Elizabeth Cole was the daughter of  James Cole, Jr.  Elizabeth died  4 Jan 1681/82.

Elkanah’s second wife Martha Cook was born  16 Mar 1658/59 Plymouth, Mass. Her parents were Jacob Cook and Damaris Hopkins. Martha died 17 Sep 1722. Plympton, Plymouth, Mass.

He had 8 children, Three by his first and 5 by his second. He was Deacon of the chh. at Plympton (of which his brother Isaac was Pastor) about nine years. In 1723 he was the Representative in the General Court from Plympton, and held the office of Ensign inthe military company in that town, — in those days, an office of considerable distinction. The Plympton Chh. Records say,

“At a chh. meeting in Plympton, December ye 26. 1718, Ensign Elcanah Cushman” (and two others) “were chosen Deacons.”

Elkanah Cushman Headstone — Hillcrest Cemetery Plympton, Plymouth, Mass. Plot: R1 P8 S11

7. Eleazer Cushman

Eleazer’s  wife Elizabeth Coombs was born 30 Nov 1662 Boston, Mass. Her parents were John Coombs and Elizabeth Royal. Elizabeth died in Plympton, Plymouth, Mass.

Eleazer was a church member, and was received during the ministry of his brother, Rev. Isaac Cushman. From `Isaac Allerton of the Mayflower`: Eleazer Cushman held offices in Plymouth as late as 17 March 1710/11, so most of his children were born there. In 1722 (no date) Eleazer Cushman deeded land to son Moses Cushman. On 14 Oct 1723 Eleazer Cushman Sr. of Plympton deeded his homestead in Plympton to son Eleazer Cushman reserving the right to live there during his life as well as his wife as long as she remained his widow. A November 1733 petition mentions Eleazer Cushman. His land was to remain in the old precinct (Plympton). No Plymouth Co. PR for Eleazer Cushman.He had possibly an 8th child, a daughter, Mary.

Children of Eleazer and Elizabeth:
i. Lydia Cushman Waterman (1687 – 1771)
ii. James Cushman (1690 – 1778)
  iii. John Cushman (1695 – 1722)

8. Lydia Cushman

Lydia’s husband William Harlow was born 2 Jun 1657 Plymouth, Plymouth, Mass. His parents were William Harlow and Rebecca Bartlett. William died 28 Jan 1711/12 Plymouth, Plymouth, Mass.


A Historical and biographical genealogy of the Cushmans: the descendants of Robert Cushman, the Puritan, from the year 1617 to 1855 (1855) by Cushman, Henry Wyles, 1805-1863

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15 Responses to Thomas Cushman Sr.

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  12. Marty Donais says:

    How can , Elkanahs ,and, Eleazar…..both….have Elizabeth Cole, daughter of James Cole jr.
    Who died on the 4 Jan 1681 , be their first wife’s?
    If one died, to free Elizabeth to marry brother…….how ……could dead brother go on to marry ,for his second wife, surely must be unhappy with this arrangement. 🙂

    • markeminer says:

      Hi Marty,

      It looks like Elkanahs was Elizabeth Cole’s husband, not Eleazar. I have made the updated and added a bit more about Eleazar.

      Thanks for the catch,


  13. Robert Cushman says:

    Robert Cushman was buried in the churchyard of St Geoges, Benenden, Kent on 6 May 1625. He did not die of the plague in London. See: Michael R. Paulick and Robert C. Cushman, “The 1625 Death of Pilgrim Robert Cushman in Benenden, Kent”, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol 172, Winter 2018, 25-29. Glad to provide a .pdf of this article. Write me at

    • Wanda says:

      It would seem that the cause of death of Robert Cushman is definetly in question, as I have read from several sources that Mr. R. Cushman did die as a result of the plague. Please send me the information that you have and hopefully it can be settled once and for all in my records. Our records begin with Robert’s father, Thomas and goes for 18 generations 19 generations!

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