Thomas Wiswall

Last updated
Thomas Wiswall
Baptised30 September 1601
Died6 December 1683
Resting place East Parish Burying Ground, Newton, Massachusetts
Monuments First Settlers Monument
ResidenceCambridge Village, Massachusetts
Citizenship Kingdom of England
Known forearly settler of Cambridge Village, Massachusetts, founder of Cambridge Village Church
Children10, see text

Thomas Wiswall (1601–1683) was an early settler of British America, a prominent early citizen of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and a key figure in the founding of Cambridge Village, now known as the city of Newton, Massachusetts.

British America former British territories in North America

British America included the British Empire's colonial territories in America from 1607 to 1783. These colonies were formally known as British America and the British West Indies before the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and formed the United States of America. After that, the term British North America described the remainder of Great Britain's continental American possessions. That term was used informally in 1783 by the end of the American Revolution, but it was uncommon before the Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839), called the Durham Report.

Massachusetts Bay Colony English possession in North America between 1628 and 1684

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was an English settlement on the east coast of America in the 17th century around the Massachusetts Bay, the northernmost of the several colonies later reorganized as the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The lands of the settlement were located in southern New England, with initial settlements situated on two natural harbors and surrounding land about 15.4 miles (24.8 km) apart—the areas around Salem and Boston.

Newton, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

Newton is a suburban city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. It is approximately 7 miles (11 km) west of downtown Boston and is bordered by Boston's Brighton and West Roxbury neighborhoods to the east and south, respectively, and by the suburb of Brookline to the east, the suburbs of Watertown and Waltham to the north, and Weston, Wellesley and Needham to the west. Rather than having a single city center, Newton resembles a patchwork of thirteen villages. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the population of Newton was 85,146, making it the eleventh largest city in the state.


Early life

Wiswall was baptised in Warrington, Lancashire, England on 30 September 1601. He married Elizabeth Berbage in 1632, and had ten children: [1]

Warrington Place in England

Warrington is a large town and unitary authority area in Cheshire, England, on the banks of the River Mersey. It is 20 miles (32 km) east of Liverpool, and 20 miles (32 km) west of Manchester. The population in 2017 was estimated at 209,700, more than double that of 1968 when it became a New Town. Warrington is the largest town in the county of Cheshire.

Lancashire County of England

Lancashire is a ceremonial county in North West England. The administrative centre is Preston. The county has a population of 1,449,300 and an area of 1,189 square miles (3,080 km2). People from Lancashire are known as Lancastrians.

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.

Dorchester, Boston Neighborhood of Boston in Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States

Dorchester is a Boston neighborhood comprising more than 6 square miles (16 km2) in the City of Boston, Massachusetts, United States. Originally, Dorchester was a separate town, founded by Puritans who emigrated in 1630 from Dorchester, Dorset, England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This dissolved municipality, Boston's largest neighborhood by far, is often divided by city planners in order to create two planning areas roughly equivalent in size and population to other Boston neighborhoods.

Suffolk County, Massachusetts County in Massachusetts

Suffolk County is a county in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in the United States. As of 2018, the population was 807,252 making it the fourth-most populous county in Massachusetts. The traditional county seat is Boston, the state capital and the largest city in Massachusetts. The county government was abolished in late 1999, and so Suffolk County today functions only as an administrative subdivision of state government and a set of communities grouped together for some statistical purposes. Suffolk County constitutes the core of the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the greater Boston-Worcester-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT Combined Statistical Area.

Reverend Ichabod Wiswall (1637–1700) was the third pastor of the church in Duxbury, Plymouth Colony, British America. Though he is thought to have given the first known funeral sermon in British America at the burial of Capt. Jonathan Alden in 1697, American funeral sermons predate this event by several decades.

Wiswall arrived in New England on August 16, 1635 (leaving behind him brothers Adam, Abiel and Jonathan), and settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts with his twin brother John, who had arrived in 1633. He was a grantee of land in 1637, subscriber to the school fund in 1641, and served as a selectman in Dorchester from 1644–1652. [1] [2] [3]

New England Region in the northeastern United States

New England is a region composed of six states in the northeastern United States: Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It is bordered by the state of New York to the west and by the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick to the northeast and Quebec to the north. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east and southeast, and Long Island Sound is to the southwest. Boston is New England's largest city, as well as the capital of Massachusetts. Greater Boston is the largest metropolitan area, with nearly a third of New England's population; this area includes Worcester, Massachusetts, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Providence, Rhode Island.

Board of selectmen

The board of selectmen or select board is commonly the executive arm of the government of New England towns in the United States. The board typically consists of three or five members, with or without staggered terms. Three is the most common number, historically. In some places, a first selectman is appointed to head the board, often by election.

Founding of Cambridge Village

Wiswall left Dorchester and resettled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, some time in 1654. [4] In 1654, he sublet a 400-acre (1.6 km2) tract of land there from Captain Thomas Prentice. This land had been the property of the recently deceased John Haynes, former Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and later Governor of the Colony of Connecticut, and Prentice was the lessee and not the owner. [5] Wiswall built a new homestead that year, beside the Dedham Trail (now Centre Street), on the south shore of a lake located on that tract of land. This was the first house to be built on the shore of what would be known—for 150 years—as Wiswall's Pond. [5] [6] The lake is now known as Crystal Lake, in Newton, Massachusetts.

Cambridge, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and part of the Boston metropolitan area.

John Haynes, also sometimes spelled Haines, was a colonial magistrate and one of the founders of the Connecticut Colony. He served one term as governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and was the first governor of Connecticut, ultimately serving eight separate terms.

John Jackson (the first settler in the area) [4] [7] [8] donated an acre of land to be used as a burying place and for a meeting house. [9] Wiswall built this meeting house, where today the East Parish Burying Ground (also known as the Centre Street Cemetery) and the First Settlers Monument are currently located.

East Parish Burying Ground, also known as Centre Street Burying Ground or Centre Street Cemetery, is an historic cemetery located at Centre and Cotton streets in the village of Newton Corner in the city of Newton, Massachusetts. On December 23, 1983, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been called the "most important, the most evocative and also the most fragile historic site in the city."

In 1656, Wiswall and John Jackson signed a petition for release from supporting the church at Cambridge. [2] [10] This was the beginning of a movement for the area to become a separate and distinct entity from Cambridge. After a struggle that lasted for 32 years, these efforts were ultimately successful. In 1688, the area became formally known as Cambridge Village. [5] [11] Cambridge Village was renamed Newtown in 1691, and finally Newton in 1766. [12]

Wiswall started the Cambridge Village Church, and was installed first ruling elder and assistant pastor on 20 July 1664. [2] He also served as Fence Viewer and surveyor of roads for the area. [13]

Death and burial

Wiswall died in Cambridge Village on 6 December 1683. He is buried in the East Parish Burying Ground in Newton. [14] His second wife, Isabella Farmer (a widow from Ansley, Warwickshire, England), survived him and died in Billerica, Massachusetts, in May 1686. [3]

Notable descendants

See also

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  1. 1 2 David Clapp (1883). The ancient proprietors of Jones's Hill, Dorchester. Boston, Massachusetts: David Clapp & Son. p. 48. Retrieved 2010-03-06.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 William Richard Cutter; William Frederick Adams (1910). Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts, Volume IV. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. p. 2358. Retrieved 2010-03-07.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Cuyler Reynolds (1911). Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. pp. 1802–03. Retrieved 2010-03-27.
  4. 1 2 Samuel Francis Smith (1880). History of Newton, Massachusetts. Boston, Massachusetts: The American Logotype Company. p. 40. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Newton Centre Improvement Association (1911). A Comprehensive Historical Sketch of Crystal Lake in Newton Centre, Massachusetts (PDF). Boston, Massachusetts: Stetson Press. p. 6. Retrieved 2010-03-06.
  6. "Plan of the town of Newton in 1700". Historic Maps of Newton. Newton, Massachusetts: City of Newton Geographic Information System. Archived from the original on 2012-05-14. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
  7. 1 2 Old East Parish Burying Ground, 1st Settlers Monument
  8. Smith, p.85
  9. Burial Treasure: Newton’s first cemetery offers insight into the city’s history
  10. Smith, p. 60
  11. The Jacksons and their homestead in Newton, Massachusetts Archived 2011-05-18 at the Wayback Machine , page 6
  12. Ritter, Priscilla R.; Thelma Fleishman (1982). Newton, Massachusetts 1679-1779: A Biographical Directory. New England Historic Genealogical Society. ISBN   978-0-88082-001-1.
  13. Wiswall, Bert (24 October 2009). "The Desecration of our Founding Fathers". The New Media Retrieved 2010-03-06.
  14. Old East Parish Burying Ground, Newton, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.
  15. Town of Duxbury, Massachusetts: Standish Burial Grounds
  16. William Richard Cutter; William Frederick Adams (1910). Genealogical and Personal Memoirs relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts, Volume IVF. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. pp. 2359–60. Retrieved 2010-03-07.
  17. 1 2 Clarence Augustus Wiswall (1925). A Wiswall line: ten generations in descent from Elder Thomas Wiswall, of Dorchester, 1635, to James Boit Wiswall, Wakefield, Massachusetts, 1925. University of Wisconsin - Madison: the author.
  18. 1 2 Frank Warren Coburn (1912). The battle of April 19, 1775. Lexington, Massachusetts: the author. p. 158. Retrieved 2010-03-07.
  19. 1 2 Richard Frothingham (1903). History of the siege of Boston. Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown & Company. p. 81.