The research on the possible ship carrying Thomas Chaffe to America is interesting and prompts me to mention a book that I found. Perhaps this additional information may be useful to the discussion. I spent some time researching the history of Hingham, MA. During a visit to the extensive genealogical archives in the Denver, CO Public Library, I found a small book, “History of the town of Hingham, Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts” by Solomon Lincoln, Jr., that was published in 1827 in Hingham. I was not sure that the book had ever even been opened! Perhaps this book is old news to some of you, but I have never seen it quoted anywhere in genealogical message boards. Parts of the book are on the internet at a site that can be found by Googling on “Early Settlers of Hingham, Massachusetts”.
The author (p. 40) notes that the town’s first “great book of records” was lost, but the “small book of records” and the private papers of Daniel Cushing, Esq. survived. Both records are quoted in the book. Has anyone seen the originals of these two records?
This book lists by year (1635 to 1639) the persons who settled or received grants in Hingham. The names listed for 1637 (p. 45) include: Thomas Barnes, Josiah Cobbit, Thomas Chaffe, Thomas Clapp, William Carlslye (or Carsly), Thomas Dimock, Vinton Dreuce, Thomas Hett, Thomas Joshlin, Aaron Ludkin, John Morrick, Thomas Nichols, Thomas Paynter, Edmund Pitts, Joseph Phippeny, Thomas Shave, Ralph Smith, Thomas Turner, John Tower, Joseph Underwood, William Ludkin, and Jonathan Bozworth. Probably one or more of the men on this list came to America with our Thomas.
To own land in Massachusetts in the 1630s, I think that one had to be a freeman, having paid off one’s debts for the cost of passage to America. So if Thomas Chaffe was a freeman in 1637, it suggests that he arrived earlier (I’ve seen 1635 mentioned but maybe we don’t want to revisit that date) and then worked off his debt over the next year or two. Alternatively, to both emigrate and obtain land in 1737, he must have had sufficient wealth to pay for his passage. Possible, but less likely.
Has anyone researched the other names on this 1637 list? Surely at least one of these guys came over with Thomas and has a documented history giving his point of departure and the ship he was on. This type of parallel research may the last best hope of finding more documented information on Thomas.
It is hard for me to believe that there is nothing significant that is new on Thomas Chaffe since about 1905. I’ll bet there are some documents stashed in someone’s attic in New England or elsewhere that would shed light on Thomas’s early years.
I look forward to some scholarly discussion on this man.
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