Caswell Family Genealogy Forum
Here is the actual orginal documented research from George Sanborn.
Until I read this, I was convinced that George had found something which had
convinced him that Thomas Caswell actually came from Somersetshire. As you
read George's article, you will realise - it ain't so!
The Somerset Caswells line is a SMALL tribe, and I (having been tracing
English Caswells for 20 years) do NOT think these Caswells sired Thomas.
I suggest that EVERYONE who has Thomas Caswell originating from SOMERSET or
anywhere else in the UK for that matter, remove that data from their file.
This is NOT proven and I believe this supposition by everyone is actually
hampering our research.
There are numerous Thomas Caswells originating in Wiltshire, where the
caswell name is traceable to the 11 century. Somerset & Taunton is VERY
CLOSE to Wiltshire. Our US Thomas could easily have come from Wiltshire, or
even further north.
THE MAYFLOWER DESCENDANT Vol. 35 No. 2 July 1985
THOMAS CASWELL OF TAUNTON AND HIS DESCENDANTS
by George Freeman Sanborn, Jr.
Many people with New England ancestry descend from Thomas Caswell, an early
settler of Taunton, Massachusetts. Relatively little research has ever been
done on the Caswell family, and certainly nothing of an exhaustive,
comprehensive nature has been done in an attempt to compile an accurate
record of all Thomas Caswell's descendants. He left a very
large posterity, many of whom intermarried with descendants of, Mayflower
passengers. This article will trace his known descendants in the male line
for five generations and will list the children of the sixth generation. In
some cases the writer as additional information about later generations of
some lines.of descendants, in particular, his own. The materials gathered
in preparing this article willf after completion, be deposited at the New
England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston.
While some writers have suggested that Thomas Caswell was a native of Wales
(or that the name Caswell, at least, is Welsh), and some would like to claim
that he had a distinguished background in London, still others allude to a
family tradition that he came from Somersetsbire in England. The last
appears to be tbe most plausible origin; the name Caswell is uncommon in
Wales and neighboring Mormouthshire but is common in Somersetshire. A large
number of families from Somersetshire did settle in Taunton, and, in fact,
it may be pointed out that the principal community in Somersetshire is
called Taunton, for which our colonial town was obviously named. The
tantalizing baptism of one Thomas Caswell, son of Thomas Caswell, in the
parish of North Curry, co. Somerset, on 20 October 1618, would nicely match
the supposed age of our Old Colony settler (Genealogical Society of Utah,
International Genealogical Index,, June 1981). Marriages occur on record in
the parish of North Curry in1579 and 1581 for a Thomas Caswell, showing that
men of that name were not strangers to the parish (W. P. W. Phillimore and
Douglas LL. Hayward, eds., Somerset Parish Registers. Marriages., Vol.
II, [London, 1899]). Numerous other Caswell events appear in the nearby
parish of St. Mary Magdalene in the City of Taunton. Further research needs
to be carried out in Somersetshire for the origin of our Thomas Caswe
1.Thomas Caswell first appears in New England in Taunton in the Colony of
New Plymouth where the name "Thom Cassell" is found on a list of those males
aged 16 to 60 able to bear arms August 1643, just four years after the
incorporation of the town (Nathaniel B.Shurtleff, ed., Records of the Colony
of New Plymouth in New England. Miscellaneous Records, 1633-1689,
[Boston, 18571, VIII:195, hereafter Shurtleff). 'vile apparently came to
the New World as an unmarried man and married, probably in Taunton, ca.
1648, MARY 2
The identity of his wife is unknown, and requires some discussion. His son,
Peter , in a testamentary deed dated and acknowledged 4 Au 1727 and recorded
10 August 1727, ten states, inter alia, that be gives to his daugh Sarah
Caswell, "all those movables I have now in my bands that was Given me by my
aunt Bryant..." (Bristol County Registry of Deeds, 17:438). This seemingly
straightforward reference to a relationship has led many to the conclusion
that the wife of Thomasi Caswell was probably a: Bryant, though proof was
lacking. Also, 'Elizabeth Briant" witnessed the. codicil to the will of
Thomasi Caswell, 15 March 1696/7, Shortly before his death (Bristol County
Registry of Probate, 1:97, q.v.). She may have been the "aunt Bryant"
referred to in Peter's deed. The supporters of this theory of the identity
of Thomas 1 Caswell's wife point out that there was a Stephen Bryant early
in Plymouth and that the oldest son of Thomas Caswell was named Stephen.
However, there is not the slightest shred of evidence that Stephen Bryant of
Plymouth ever had anything to do with either Thomas Caswell of Taunton or
the Bryant family resident there