THOMAS GILBERT was born in Yardley parish, Worcester County, England, about eight miles NW of Birmingham, England. He married ELIZABETH BENNETT in Yardley, and the records of the baptisms of all of their children (except Sarah) are there between 1612 and 1629.
THOMAS lived first in Mt. Wollastin (Braintree, MA), then Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield, Hartford, CT, where he died on Sep. 5, 1659.
ELIZABETH BENNETT was born in England and died in Hartford, CT, in January, 1654/55. Some sources state that she was the fifth person to be convicted of witchcraft in Connecticut, and was probably hanged. More recent studies shed doubt on that theory, and instead suspect that woman (known as Lydia) to be the second wife of Thomas, Jr.
The earliest mention of THOMAS GILBERT in any New England record is found in Boston Town Records (vol. 2, page 49 of the printed records). This is a record of grants of land to 32 men at Mt. Wollaston, formerly in the town of Braintree, but now within the limits of Quincy, Massachusetts. The record in part is as follows:
|The same 24th day of twelfth month February 1639/40 [note: at that time, March was still the first month of the year]... and at the same meeting there was granted to Thomas Place of Mount Wollystone for five heads 20 acres there upon the covenant of 3s per acre.... The like to THOMAS GILBERT of the same for 7 heads 28 acres there upon the same covenant of 3 shillings per acre.|
The site of the mill is marked at "Fort Square" (Granite and Pleasant Streets) in Quincy, Massachusetts and was probably directly north of Gilbert's land. There is a small "Gilbert Street" nearby. See the blueprint of land grants at Old Braintree, 164045, drawn in 1940 by Waldo C. Sprague of the Quincy Historical Society.
A petition of 14 of the men of Braintree, dated May, 1646, was addressed to the General Court "for the prswading or forcing Thomas Gilbert either to forbeare feeding yt iland or upland with certaine medowes of their environs, or else to lett it on reasonable termes to the petitioners." The Court determined that an order of Court made in 1643 applied to this case. [See Records of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, vol. 2, p. 49 and vol. 3, p. 67.]
Around 1651 three of THOMAS's sons, Jonathan, John and Josiah, moved from Braintree to Wethersfield (now Glastonbury), Connecticut, and leased a farm from Lt. John Hollister of Nayaug. At an unknown time THOMAS [Sr.] (and presumably his wife) also moved to Wethersfield and assumed the operation of the farm. Thomas was clearly in Wethersfield by August 17, 1658. On that date a petition signed by him and others in support of Lt. Hollister was presented to the Governor and Magistrates of the Connecticut Colony.
Governor John Winthrop, Jr., who for many years was governor of Connecticut, son of the Governor John Winthrop who was founder of Massachusetts, practiced medicine as well as politics. His medical journal has been preserved. In it is an entry indicating that Winthrop attended or prescribed for THOMAS GILBERT in his illness in 1659 and giving his age as 77 years (while his age reckoned from the Yardley baptismal records would be 70).
The inventory of the estate of THOMAS GILBERT, accepted by the court on October 4, 1659, is on file at the State Library, Hartford. There is a copy of it, made in 1663, in volume two of the records of the Particular Court and Probate, page 127, probate side. The other documents concerning this estate are also copied in this volume, the original papers having perished.
The estate of THOMAS [Sr.] consists of 78 entries with a total value of £189.7s.6d. It included: 16 cattle, 5 oxen, 3 horses, 11 pigs, bees; amounts of wheat, corn, oats, hemp, cheese; and a large assortment of tools and farm implements. Household effects were a bed, three pillows, bedding, a chest with "waring clothes wolen and lin'g"; a "forme" [table?], two stools, one chair, wooden ware, tubs, spoons, and trenchers [flat boards that served as plates], earthenware, tinware, pewterware, brassware. It also included a bible; it is possible that THOMAS or his wife could read. Charges against the estate include:
|Payd of this to Mr. Hollister for rent due him
from the estate for 59 
|To charges of funeralls for him and wife||9:17:06|
|To what payd Rich Treat for a debt due||5:06:10|
|To a debt payd JONATHAN GILBERT||29:03:10|
|To severall other debts due from ye estate pd||54:19:05|
|To payd Obadiah & others for worke about the
preserving of things & Thrashing, etc.
|To what payd John Bernard: Dicks & Hayward||2:05:00|
|To Josiah Gilbert as a Legacy||7:00:00|
|To Obadiah Gilbert as a Legacy||7:00:00|
|To what R Hollister is to have left on the farme||20:00:00|
|Leaving a residue of||19:08:07|
All seven of THOMAS's adult children are mentioned in the probate of his estate. It would be interesting to know why only Josiah and Obadiah were left legacies of £7.
|all children born in Yardley, Worcestershire, England|
wife Mary James
wife Lydia _______
wife Catherine Chapin
husband Joel Jenkins
wife Mary White
wife MARY WELLS
wife Amy Lord
wife Elizabeth Belcher
wife Mary Harris
wife Elizabeth Burr