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Rankin Family History Project

History of the Thorpe Family in America
Nine Generations beginning in 1637 with William, the Immigrant

In 1633, the Rev. John Davenport fled from London to Amsterdam, having been accused by the crown of Puritanism. Davenport and Theophilus Eaton had received a grant of territory and a charter as the "Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay in New England". From Amsterdam they began their preparation for move to the New World. The group included members of the congregation of St. Stephens Church in London, and non-members from the neighborhood. They chartered the Hector, a 250 ton vessel which had already made the trip to Massachusetts Bay. The passengers of the Hector sold all their belongings in preparation for the sailing, but then the ship was impressed for service to the crown. The owners petitioned for release in January 1637, and the ship was finally released in May. According to the records of John Winthrop of Massachusetts Bay, the Hector arrived in Boston on 26 June 1637. Among those on the passenger list was William Thorp of London.

In August, Theophilus Eaton, Rev. John Davenport and many other members of the colony decided not to remain in Massachusetts but to leave and settle a new colony west of the Connecticut River. On 30 March 1638 the group left Massachusetts for a place known as Quinipiack, and on 18 April 1638, one day after their arrival, Mr. Davenport conducted the first religious services for the congregation gathering under a large oak.

On 24 November 1638, Eaton, Davenport, and other colonists purchased land from the Momauguin, the leader of the local native tribe, in exchange for protection from other tribes and an assortment of European gadgets, including hatchets, hoes, knives and scissors. On 11 Dec 1638, they purchased another large tract of land from Momauguin's son, Montowwese. This tract included what would become the towns of New Haven and North Haven, Connecticut. On 04 June 1639, the free planters of Quinipiack met in a barn and formed a constitution. The town of New Haven was named in 1640, and soon after the land was divided for home lots. A map of the town of New Haven in 1641, shows "Will Thorp" occupying one of the town lots.

William Thorp married twice and had at least 4 children: Nathaniel, Elizabeth, John, and Samuel. The name of his first wife, the mother of the children, is unknown. He must have met and married her shortly after arriving in Boston. She was probably the daughter of one of the other colonists who first traveled from Boston to Quinipiack.

The sons of William Thorp appear quite frequently in the Town Records of New Haven. Most records are pretty routine. On 07 August 1866 William's son, John Thorp, was sentenced to be severly whipped because of an indiscretion.

When William Thorp died in 1679, his second wife, Margaret, whom he married in 1662, fell on hard times. At a meeting of the towne fathers on 29 November 1686, Widow Thorp appeared before them.

"The Townsmen acquainted the Towne that the widow Thorp was fallen into poverty and needed helpe, and that they had allredy disbursed somthing for her releefe in her need. And the Towne did recommend it to the Townsmen to take care of her and looke into that buysines to see what Estate shee hath and doe the best they can for the benefitt of her and the towne."
Source:  New Haven Town Records 1684-1769

The history of New Haven, Connecticut includes five generations of Thorps. Besides William Thorp, our other ancestors living in New Haven in 1641 are Thomas Yale, Richard Miles, John Cooper, Nathaniel Turner, William Tuttle and Timothy Ford. In 1799, Joel Thorpe and wife Sarah Dayton moved to Ohio, marking the beginning of the westward movement of this branch of the Thorp family.

Documents


Thorpe Family History Pages


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