--Early Colonial Days--

(1) The First Millett Generation in America:

Thomas Millett (1604-1675) and Mary Greenoway (1605-1682)


John: Born in England. Died in infancy.

Thomas: Born in England, 1633. Lived to the age of 75, had 4 children.

John: Born May 8, 1635. Lived to the age of 43. Had 7 children.

Jonathan: Born May 27, 1638. Died in infancy.

Mary: Born June 26, 1639. Died at Gloucester, MA. January 23, 1695 at the age of 55. Had 9 children. She married Thomas Riggs of Gloucester. He lived to the age of 90, “was highly educated” and was the Gloucester town clerk for 51 years (1665-1716).

Mehetable: Born June 1, 1641. Lived to the age of 57. Had 10 children.

Bethia: Born June 1, 1643. Lived to the age of 56. Had 1 child.

Nathaniel: Born 1647. Lived to the age of 72. Had 11 children.

Bold and red signifies the direct line to Clinton Babbit Millett (1879-1946).

Where Did Thomas Millett Come From in England?

Some say Chertsey (Surrey County) on the Thames River eighteen miles southwest of London; others say Newbury (Berkshire County) on the Kennett River fifty miles west of London?

In 1870, the Reverend Daniel Caldwell Millett, wrote that Thomas Millett came from Chertsey, England and this claim was repeated by writers in 1919, 1936 and 1959.

Writing in The American Genealogist, in April 2000, Paul Reed and Leslie Mahler write: that claim " … is false. The New England immigrant (Thomas Millett) hailed from Newbury, having temporarily settled in a London suburb before leaving for America."

The suburb he apparently settled in was Southwark across the River Thames from London (over the London Bridge). According to Reed and Mahler, "Southwark … was a populous locality that attracted people from throughout England, many of whom remained there only briefly."

Image on the right (from Wikipedia) is a drawing by Claes Van Visscher showing London Bridge crossing the Thames from Southwark to London in 1616. In the foreground is St. Saviors Cathedral in Southwark.

It is interesting that Thomas's conformity (church membership) was from St. Saviors in Southwark. Either he was in Southwark long enough to become a member of St. Saviors (during this time membership was not an easy thing to get or transfer) or maybe St. Saviors was assisting people with the papers they needed to depart England.

(PERSONAL NOTE from Gregg): In 1997 Ann and I, on a trip to England, walked the streets of Southwark, visiting the Clink Prison Museum and The Globe Theater. The Dungeon is a tourist attraction of horror - and it did give us a very scary feeling for the times when Thomas and Mary were awaiting their departure to the New World. This area, in the foreground of the picture above, was "the red light district of its day with taverns and amusements ranging from Bull and Bear baiting to theatre." The clink was used for heretics, debtors, criminals and was the first prison in which women were regulary confined. During our walk I stopped in local taverns and asked if there were any Milletts around! No one knew of any.

Reed and Mahler carefully document their claim that Thomas Millett was not the son of Henry Millett of Chertsey, and build a well-documented case that he was the son of John Millett of Newbury. They trace this Millett line three generations back in Newbury to the reign of Henry VIII (1509-1547), at which time they say it is believable that the Millett family moved to Newbury to join this prosperous town, which was becoming world famous for it's manufacture of cloth.

Since Reed and Mahler have published their research in the American Genealogist, John Cardinal has published the Descendents of John Millett (1513-1564) of Newbury on the Internet. His tree goes from John (1 - Newbury), to William (2 - Newbury) to John (3 - Newbury) to Thomas (4 - Newbury/Dorchester) to Nathaniel (5 - Dorchester) and then follows Nathaniel's son Thomas for eight more generations to many branches of the Millett Family that lead to Nova Scotia (the Clinton Babbit line follows Nathaniel's son Nathan). To see the four generations of the Millett's in Newbury click HERE. To see John Cardinal's thirteen generations of Millett's from Newbury click HERE.

From Bonnie Riggs, genealogist, 3/6/02:I ran across a description not too long ago of what the voyage from England to New England was like for the Puritans, taken from contemporaneous accounts.  The stench from unbathed bodies and the animals, the vomit from so much chronic sea-sickness. One can only imagine what this stench must have been like for Mary Millett, five months pregnant & and with a 2-year old in tow. The men bemoaning their decision to subject their families to such fear, uncertainty, & physical rigors; the women castigating the husbands; the petty rivalries & gossip.  And sustaining them throughout the voyage, their great faith. For the Thomas Millett story is, above all, a Puritan tale of the Great Migration.  His position as a Teaching Elder, his signing of the petition to allow no more Anabaptists in the Colony, his early Freeman status, the fact that the Dorchester town records were kept in his home until it burned, the absence of fines and admonishments all indicate to me that he was quite orthodox in his beliefs and behavior.

 Dorchester, a frontier town pleasantly seated and of large extent into the mainland, well watered with two small rivers, her body and wings filled somewhat thick with houses to the number of two hundred or more, beautified with fair orchards and gardens, having also plenty of corn land and store of cattle: counted the greatest town heretofore in New England but now gives way to Boston. It hath a harbor to the north for ships."

Thomas joined the Dorchester Church about 1636, was made Freeman about 1637, and was a grantee of land the same year.

1636 -- "Old Dorchester" Keep a watch -- a murder and trouble with the Pequots.

1637 -- Needed more pasture land

1638 -- tobacco restriction

1639 -- mount guns on Rock Hill (Savin Hill) and ordinance against lace, etc.!

p. 65 -- wherethe Indians lived -- Neponset.

Religion in early Dorchester: XXX

Bonnie Riggs: Today I read some of Roger Williams writings from 1642 (he was expelled from Massachusetts in 1636 for advocating that all land be bought rather than confiscated from the Indians, among other heretical ideas.)  Talk about a man WAY before his time.  I knew that he founded Rhode Island as a haven for religious freedom and tolerance, but I didn't realize how eloquently he argued for the separation of church and state.  Those in power today would do well to read his thoughts.  He also argued that there is no such thing as a "holy war".  In a holy war, both sides profess to be doing the will of God against evil, but the true will of God is peace.  There is never reason for a spiritual war to be fought with material weapons, even a war against evil.  Spiritual wars are to be fought with spiritual weapons like love, tolerance, example and prayer.  The only legitimate reason for a secular war is to free those who are being oppressed. 

p. 57 -- landowners on Rockhill

p. 68 -- 1657, fire in Thomas house -- records burned

The Big Woods: XXX

After 20 years in Dorchester, Thomas and Mary moved to Gloucester (30 miles northeast of Boston where he was a teaching elder of the First Church. In 1665 he conveyed to his son, Thomas, lands lying in Gloucester near the old meeting house plain.

Early Gloucester: XXX

Page 259 -- The first planters of Massachusetts have been reproached for not attending sooner to one of the professed designs of their Plantation, the conversion of the Indians to Christianity. The reproach is unmerited. They attended to it as soon as it was possible. For a while they had to struggle with disease and famine and the manifold hardships attendant upon a new settlement. They had also to set up a Church and a State in the wilderness. Then came the troubles of the Antinomian controversy, and immediately upon that, broke out the Pequot war. During all this period they had no fit opportunity to engage in this great work, and no suitable instruments to prosecute it. As soon as these were raised up by Providence, they entered upon the work, learned the Indian languages, and preached to the natives. In 1616 the General Court of Massachusetts passed an Act to encourage the carrying of the Gospel to the Indians, and it was recommended to the elders to consider how it might best be done. In the same year,

John gave property to his daughter Ursula Greenoway because she had been an obedient, loving, dutiful, and faithful daughter and servant unto her aged father & mother. This seems interesting because it indicates how important family support was in these challenging times. It also shows that women became landowners early in America.

 At some point Thomas and Mary moved to Brookfield (50 miles west of Boston). In Brookfield they had a home and land on Town Neck It seems possible that Thomas perished when Brookfield was destroyed during King Philip's War and may have been killed by the Indians. The year was 1675; he was 71 years old. Mary somehow got back to the family in Dorchester where she died September 27, 1682 at the age of 77.

Brookfield – the Colonial frontier: XXX

From Rebecca Chickering: I haven't seen any direct reference as to why Thomas moved to Brookfield. I do know that many settlers liked the open farmland that was available there. The land is very rich and fertile. Most of the houses sat on top of Foster hill, which back then, it was written that you could see for a few miles. You could see wildlife, deer, turkey etc out in the fields at quite a distance.  

In order to get their petition, they needed to have a certain number of families living there. They also needed to have a preacher on site as well. They offered their preacher a house, land etc. in return for church work.

In May of 1646, John and son-in-law Thomas signed a Dorchester petition that no more Anabaptists be permitted to join the Colony.By 1650 John had "said dwelling house, outhouse, barn, garden & orchards, containing five acres more or less ... and also three acres of meadow ... in the meadow called the Calves Pasture ... also three acres of meadow near the Old Harbor ... land scituated in the Pine Neck in Dorchester."

Reverend John Cotton put it more bluntly when he said, "Never did God ordain democracy for the government of the church or the people."

Very good information on the settling of Connecticut and the Dorchester Relationship

Very good information on the Indians and the Pequot Massacre (1637)

Some of the decendents of Thomas Millett

King Philips War: XXX

Go to The Second Millett Generation

Nathaniel Millett (1647-1719) and Ann Lester (1650-1718)

Return to Millett Family in America