Thomas Weston (merchant adventurer)

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Thomas Weston was baptized on December 21, 1584, at Rugeley, Staffordshire England. He was the son of Ralph Weston and Anne Smith. He was admitted to the Ironmongers Company of London in 1609 [1] [2]

Staffordshire County of England

Staffordshire is a landlocked county in the West Midlands of England. It borders with Cheshire to the northwest, Derbyshire and Leicestershire to the east, Warwickshire to the southeast, West Midlands and Worcestershire to the south, and Shropshire to the west.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Worshipful Company of Ironmongers

The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers is one of the livery companies of the City of London, incorporated under a Royal Charter in 1463.



In 1615, he persuaded Edward Pickering to become his agent in Holland and together they began to import a variety of nonconformist religious tracts that were seditious. In 1619, he and his agent Philomen Powell began importing tons of alum for which they did not pay custom duties. He and some of his associate Merchant Adventurers had been brought before the Privy Council and ordered to cease unlimited trade in the Netherlands. Soon after, he left England [3] and travelled to Leiden, Holland, where his agent Pickering had married a woman belonging to a Puritan sect called Separatists, consisting of English men and women in exile due to their religious views who were hoping to gain passage to America.

Alum chemical compound

An alum is a type of chemical compound, usually a hydrated double sulfate salt of aluminium with the general formula XAl(SO
, where X is a monovalent cation such as potassium or ammonium. By itself, "alum" often refers to potassium alum, with the formula KAl(SO
. Other alums are named after the monovalent ion, such as sodium alum and ammonium alum.

Leiden City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

Leiden is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. The municipality of Leiden had a population of 123,856 in August 2017, but the city forms one densely connected agglomeration with its suburbs Oegstgeest, Leiderdorp, Voorschoten and Zoeterwoude with 206,647 inhabitants. The Netherlands Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) further includes Katwijk in the agglomeration which makes the total population of the Leiden urban agglomeration 270,879, and in the larger Leiden urban area also Teylingen, Noordwijk, and Noordwijkerhout are included with in total 348,868 inhabitants. Leiden is located on the Oude Rijn, at a distance of some 20 kilometres from The Hague to its south and some 40 km (25 mi) from Amsterdam to its north. The recreational area of the Kaag Lakes (Kagerplassen) lies just to the northeast of Leiden.

Holland Region and former province on the western coast of the Netherlands

Holland is a region and former province on the western coast of the Netherlands. The name Holland is also frequently used informally to refer to the whole of the country of the Netherlands. This usage is commonly accepted in other countries, and sometimes employed by the Dutch themselves. However, some in the Netherlands, particularly those from regions outside Holland, may find it undesirable or misrepresentative to use the term for the whole country.

Thomas Weston was the London merchant who first became involved with the Leiden Separatists who settled Plymouth colony in 1620. The colony was financed and begun under his direction, but he quit the enterprise in 1622. [4] [5] [1] [2] Among this company was Phineas Pratt, who later wrote an account of the company's experience in Wessagusset.

Phineas Pratt

Phineas Pratt, a joiner from London, was one of the first English settlers in New England and enrolled among the "First Comers" of Plymouth Colony. Pratt arrived as part of the company of Thomas Weston on the 1622 voyage of the ship Sparrow and was among the founders of the Wessagusset (Weymouth) settlement which failed in March 1623. In 1623, when it still numbered about 32 dwellings, Pratt joined the Plymouth Colony and later married Mary Priest, the daughter of Mayflower passenger Degory Priest. In 1662, he wrote an account of the early days of the Wessagusett colony as part of a petition to the General Court of Massachusetts for "First Comer" status, which he was granted.

As agent for the merchant adventurers' investment in the Mayflower voyage, Thomas Weston played an instrumental part in the incident of the More children of Shropshire, who had been taken from their mother's home in 1616 in a dispute centreing on her supposed adultery. The children had been held incommunicado in Shropshire for four years and then taken to Weston and held at his home in Aldgate, London, for some weeks until the Mayflower was to sail. [6] They were then given over to the custody of three senior Pilgrim officials for the voyage to the New World. Three of the four children died the first bitter winter in Plymouth. Only Richard More survived. [5]

<i>Mayflower</i> Famous ship of the 17th century

The Mayflower was an English ship that transported the first English Puritans, known today as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth, England to the New World in 1620. There were 102 passengers, and the crew is estimated to have been about 30, but the exact number is unknown. The ship has become a cultural icon in the history of the United States. The Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact prior to leaving the ship and establishing Plymouth Colony, a document which established a rudimentary form of democracy with each member contributing to the welfare of the community. There was a second ship named Mayflower which made the London to Plymouth, Massachusetts voyage several times.

Marriage and children

Thomas Weston married Elizabeth Weaver by October 17, 1623. She was a daughter of Christopher Weaver and Anne Green. He had one child, Elizabeth Weston, born about 1630. She married Roger Conant before January 22, 1661/2, and had two children. He died in June 1672. [1] [2] Child of Thomas and Elizabeth Weston:

Later years

In early 1622, he began the colony of Wessagusset (Weymouth) which failed by March 1623. [7] He left New England for Virginia, and by 1640, Maryland. Weston's activities in regard to the Plymouth colony are detailed in William Bradford's history - "So, Mr. Weston had come hither again, and afterward shaped his course for Virginia, and so for the present I shall leave him." [1] [2]

Thomas Weston often figures in William Bradford's "History" and Robert Cushman's letters. He was an Adventurer (or Merchant Adventurer), promoter and capitalist, and being a citizen and ironmonger of London. One derogatory comment recorded about him from records of the time was that: He was eager to reap quick profits from the New World, and not very scrupulous about the means. [4] [1] [2]

On March 1, 1622, Weston was to deliver a cannon to the Council of New England but sold it instead to a Turkish pirate and pocketed the money. Weston was declared an outlaw from the Crown. On May 31, 1622, the Council for New England ordered the forfeiture of Weston's ships and did so immediately. [8]

According to C.M. Andrews in the book Colonial Period, these remarks were recorded about Weston: "Weston, after squeezing all he could out of the Pilgrims, became a planter and burgess in Virginia, where he made trading and fishing voyages to the Maine coast. After being arrested more than once for breaking the Colony's laws, he went to Maryland, acquired new property, and returned to England.

His death and burial

He died in London of the plague between May 5, 1647 and November 29, 1648. He was presumably still alive when William Barwick of Bristol deposed that Weston had come to London in June 1645 on the ship Trewlove, and also before November 23, 1647 when Christopher Weaver allowed a generous bequest to his daughter, the widow Elizabeth Weston, for "her better advancement in marriage." William Bradford recorded: "He died afterwards at Bristol, in the time of the wars, of the sickness in that place." The exact burial location of Thomas Weston and his wife Elizabeth is unknown. [1] [2] [9]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 A genealogical profile of Thomas Weston, (a collaboration of Plimoth Plantation and New England Historic Genealogical Society accessed 2013)
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 NEHGS American Ancestors Pilgrim Valley Family Sketch of Thomas Weston
  3. David Lindsay, Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims (New York: St. Martins Press,), p. 27
  4. 1 2 Robert E. Cushman and Franklin P. Cole. Robert Cushman of Kent (1577-1625) : Chief Agent of the Plymouth Pilgrims (1617-1625) (pub General Society of Mayflower Descendants 2005- 2nd Ed) edited by Judith Swan, p. 110
  5. 1 2 David Lindsay, Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims (St. Martins Press, New York, 2002) pp. 27-28
  6. Charles Edward Banks, The English Ancestry and Homes of the Pilgrim Fathers (New York: Grafton Press, 1929), p. 72
  7. "A General History of New England" Page 72, 1898
  8. David Lindsay, Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger amongst the Pilgrims (New York: St. Martins Press, 2002), pp. 28 54-55
  9. Grave of Thomas Weston