Simon Sackett the colonist
|Father||Thomas Sackett the younger (c 1557-1615)|
|Mother||Martha Strowde (c 1560-1631/32)|
Undoubtedly the most significant migration in the history of the Sackett family was that of Simon Sackett who, with his wife Isabel and their infant son Simon, emigrated from St Peter in Thanet, Kent, England, to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in America.
Despite a short life—he had probably not reached forty when he died in 1635—Simon Sackett the colonist enjoys a pivotal position in the history of the Sacketts, becoming the progenitor of the major part of the American branch of the family.
At the time of writing (2019), some 18,000 descendants of Simon's have been identified.
Simon Sackett, of St Peter in Thanet, Kent, and Newtown (later Cambridge), Massachusetts Bay Colony, son of Thomas Sackett the younger and Martha Strowde, was baptized at St Peter in ThanetG on 23 November 1595.1 He died in NewtownG between 5 and 10 Oct 1635.2 He married first at St Peter in ThanetG on 2 November 1618, Elizabeth Boyman.3,4 She died after only seven years' marriage and was buried at St John in ThanetG on 27 February 1625/26.5 He married second at St John in ThanetG on 6 August 1627, Isabel Pearce.6,7 After Simon's death, Isabel married after June 1636 and before 1639, probably in Hartford, ConnecticutG, William Bloomfield.8 Isabel died after 1 April 1682 (date of will made at Newtown, Long Island, New York.)9
Simon would have been one of the unnamed sons each left £10 in their father's will made at Birchington, KentG, on 23 June 1615.
Simon and Isabel's emigration
Simon and Isabel emigrated from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony at about the time of the Winthrop fleet of 1630. Their names have not been found on passenger lists reconstructed by researchers of the early immigrants to New England. However, there is good evidence that they had settled in Newtown probably in 1631 and certainly by 1632.
Charles Weygant, in The Sacketts of America stated that they made the journey on the Lyon, leaving Bristol, England, on 1 December 1630 and arriving at Nantasket Roads, off Boston, on 5 February 1631, after an unusually severe voyage. He further stated that among the heads of families on the Lyon were Roger Williams, Simon Sackett, John Sackett (who would be Simon's brother), John Throkmorton, and Nicholas Bailey.
Weygant does not explain his conclusion that Simon came on this ship. It is a reasonable hypothesis, but supporting evidence has not been found. The Lyon's arrival date (February 1631) is a good match with the first record (1631 or 1632) of Simon in New England. And the presence of Williams and Throkmorton on this voyage is confirmed by Winthrop's Journal, Winthrop also recording the names of Perkins and Ong (but not Bailey or Sackett), "and others, with their wives and children, about twenty passengers".
Other ships on which Simon may have travelled are possible. A fleet of six ships, carrying a group of some 350 settlers led by the Puritan minster Francis Higginson sailed from Gravesend in April and May 1629 for Salem. Numbers of the passengers on these ships settled in Boston, Charlestown, and other Bay Colony places as well as in Salem.
Gravesend, in the Thames estuary on the north coast of Kent, and only 60 miles from Thanet, commends itself as a starting point for Simon's voyage, and is perhaps more likely than the Lyon's departure port of Bristol in the west of England.
The possibility of Simon's migrating in Spring 1629 rather than in Winter 1630–31 would also fit better with the fact of his brother John's making his will in April 1628.
It is possible, too, that Simon went with the main Winthrop fleet of eleven ships. The first five of these sailed from Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, in April and May 1630, arriving at Salem in June and July, but, perhaps of more interest, are ships setting out from Gravesend or London. The Thomas and William sailed from Gravesend in May, and the Handmaid from London in August.
John Winthrop's wife and children made the voyage the following year, 1631, sailing from London in August on the Lyon and arriving at Nantasket on 2 November. Charles Banks, in The Planters of the Commonwealth, identified a number of residents of Newtown who he thought probably came in this ship. These residents first appear in Newtown records on 7 January 1632/33. Simon could have been a passenger on this ship, although it is clear from the town records that Simon was in Newtown at an earlier date than these other residents, and probably by July 1631. The conclusion by the Cambridge Historical Commission that Simon Sackett and others had settled there by 26 July 1631 is discussed below.
Simon in Newtown
Simon and Isabel were among the first settlers of Newtown, arriving in 1631 or 1632, and remaining there until Simon's death just a few years later in 1635.
Newtown had been identified by Governor Winthrop and the "Assistants" of the company as a suitable site for a fortified town and he and Deputy Governor Dudley and Secretary Bradstreet as well as other senior men had committed to build houses there in the Spring of 1631 and to settle there before the following winter. (Winthrop did indeed have a house erected there but later took it down and re-erected it at Boston.)
At the front of The Towne Book of Newtowne (later The Records of the Town of Cambridge (formerly Newtowne), Massachusetts, 1630–1703), Simon's name appears in an undated list, but either 1631 or 1632, of the first eight settlers of Newtown: "The Towne, Newtowne, Inhabitants then, Tho = Dudly Esqr, mr Symon Bradstreet, mr Edmond Lockwood, mr Daniell Patrike, John Poole, William Spencer, John Kirman, Symon Sackett."10
The Cambridge Historical Commission have placed a historical notice in Winthrop Square stating that these men had completed and occupied houses in Newtown by 26 July 1631. This precise date would appear to refer to an order made at a meeting of the Court of Assistants held in Boston on that day that "eu'y first Friday in eu'y moneth there shalbe a gen'all traineing of the remaindr of them who inhabitt att Charlton, Misticke, & the new towne, att a convenient place aboute the Indian wigwams, the traininge to begin att one of the clocke in the afternoone."
It would seem unlikely that an order for a general training would have been made for a smaller number of men than the eight named in the undated list. It is therefore likely that the list refers to those resident by July 1631. The Towne Book was started in 1632 and there is missing data from the first two pages. The words "Inhabitants then" introducing the list clearly relate to an earlier date, now missing or illegible in the original. (The transcription "Inhabitants then" appears in the transcription made by the Cambridge City Council in 1901. Lucius Paige's transcription in his 1877 History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630–1877 reads "Inhabitants there".)
The settlement grew rapidly with the arrival of the Braintree company in the summer of 1632, and it was decided to secure with fencing a substantial area of common land. By a decision of a town meeting on 7 January 1632/33, these "common pales", of a length of some 580 rods, were divided among the then 42 landholders. Simon was allotted 6 rods (equal to 33 yards). On 5 August 1633, he was granted half an acre for a cowyard in Cambridge.11 On 20 August 1635, he was granted a one-acre share of land at Fresh Pond meadow.12
Subsequent land records relate to Simon's widow Isabel. An inventory of land taken on 10 October 1635 (within days of Simon's death) and recorded in The Register Book of the Lands and Houses in the "New Towne" listed several lots in the name of Sackett: a house in the town at Long Street with about half a rood (i.e. one-eighth of an acre), half an acre at Cowyard Row, five and a half acres at Small Lott Hill, one acre and a rood at Long Marsh, and five acres in the Great Marsh.13
Administration of Simon's estate was granted by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Company to his widow Isabel on 3 November 1635.14,15
"Widdow Sackett" was listed in the Cambridge Town Records on 8 February 1635/36 as a householder. She owned one of the 76 houses in the town.
Isabel's removal to Hartford and remarriage
After Simon's death, Isabel removed with her young sons Simon and John to Hartford, Connecticut, travelling in the Spring of 1636 with the hundred-strong Hooker congregation, including William Bloomfield who had immigrated from England and settled at Cambridge in 1634. Isabel's sons Simon and John, about six and four respectively, accompanied her, and William's three-year-old daughter Sarah Bloomfield also made the journey. Isabel and William Bloomfield were married sometime after 8 February 1635/36 when Isabel was listed as a widow and householder in Cambridge and before about 1639 when William and Isabel's first son Daniel was born, presumably in Hartford. William and Isabel had two more sons, both born in Hartford, John in 1645 and Samuel in 1647.
William Bloomfield died at Newtown, Long Island, in 1667 or 1668. Isabel survived him. She made her will in Newtown, Long Island, on 1 April 1682, leaving her share of the "housings and lands" left to her by her husband William to their son Daniel Bloomfield.
Isabel's son Simon Sackett married his stepsister Sarah Bloomfield in Springfield, Massachusetts, in about 1652.
Simon's reasons for emigrating
Early migrants from England to the New World had various motivations for seeking a new life in a virtually unknown country and for undertaking the hazardous journey. Many fled religious persecution, but others removed in hopes of a better, more prosperous future. England had entered on a half-century of chronic trade depression. Propagandists for the Massachusetts Bay Company, which had been founded in 1629, were active in the recruitment of settlers. And there was the promise of boundless fertile lands. Some were escapees from threatening plague or famine. Survival in the new land would depend crucially upon the application of essential practical skills; thus, many were farmers or were engaged in allied trades. Well-placed migrants took with them their servants and these, too, were to become founding fathers of America.
Simon's reasons for embarking on his American adventure are not known. Nor do we know his occupation. Given the documentation of the time, it would seem likely that, had Simon emigrated for reasons of religious conviction, there would remain recorded evidence of the fact. But it is dangerous to speculate as to his reasons; it is to be hoped that further information will come to light. It is worth, however, considering Simon's family circumstances at the time.
Simon Sackett was born, probably in November 1595 (he was baptized on 23 November 1595), in the small rural parish of St Peter in the Isle of Thanet on the north-east coast of Kent. He was the sixth of nine children, and third of five sons, born to Thomas and Martha Sackett. Simon's father, Thomas, who had died when Simon was 20, was a yeoman farmer in Birchington, a parish some five miles west of St Peter. Thomas had evidently established a farm at Birchington some time after the birth of his youngest child, Elizabeth, in 1604.
The description of Thomas, in his will made in 1615, as a "yeoman" implies that he owned at least some of his land. However, the term does not necessarily imply significant wealth and it is clear from his will that his house and land at St Peter's were mortgaged and that his house and land at Birchington were rented. His will directed that the St Peter's property be sold to pay his debts and legacies. Thomas had inherited lands and a tenement at St Peter's from his father, also Thomas. Thomas the elder, although possessed of property, described himself in his will as a "labourer"; again, that will does not suggest significant wealth.
Simon was about 35 years old when he made his fateful decision to emigrate. Two of his brothers had died, older brother Thomas some eleven years earlier, and younger brother William about fifteen years earlier. Although there is no direct confirmatory evidence, it is possible that they were victims of plague or other epidemic which occurred frequently in Birchington in the early part of the 17th century16. His eldest brother John, later identified by his will as John Sackett the fisherman, survived. There is no evidence that John or Simon were possessed of lands.
Simon had been married twice; first in 1618 to Elizabeth Boyman, and following her death in 1625/26, second to Isabel Pearce in 1627. Elizabeth had borne him three daughters, Christianna in 1620, Elizabeth in 1623, and Martha in 1625. Of these, only Christianna is known to have survived to adulthood, marrying Thomas Tanner in 1641. No death or burial records for Elizabeth or Martha have been found but it is reasonable to assume that they died in infancy or childhood, perhaps the victims of plague. In any event, when he emigrated, Simon left at least one young, motherless, daughter behind, presumably in the care of one of his brothers or sisters.
The will of Simon's brother John, made in 1628, reveals that Simon owed his brother a sum of money. It would be stretching the evidence to conclude that this would have been a loan to help finance Simon's voyage (emigration may not even have been under consideration at this early date), but it does indicate that Simon was not a man of means. As a second son, probably without land, his prospects in Thanet may have seemed limited. In the absence of evidence of a religious motive, it is probable that Simon was attracted by the promise of a more prosperous future in New England. Or, he may have been motivated by both religious and economic factors.
Simon and Isabel's voyage
Although Weygant gives specific details of the dates and method of Simon's journey to Boston, Massachusetts, on the Lyon from Bristol on England's west coast, it has not yet proved possible to verify from primary sources that he was a passenger on that particular voyage.17,18 Weygant's version is probable but it is known to be inaccurate in the important particular of Simon's origin, Weygant stating this to be the Isle of Ely, Cambridgeshire, instead of the Isle of Thanet, Kent. Other writers have proposed various dates for Simon's migration (Riker, "about the year 1628 or '29"; Savage and Anderson, 1632). The earlier dates would seem less likely as there were relatively few settlers before the sailing of the Winthrop fleet of eleven ships in 1630. If Simon was indeed on this Lyon voyage then he would certainly have met John Winthrop as the latter boarded the ship on 8 February 1631 as it rode at anchor off Long Island.19
Weygant records Simon as being engaged, with others, in building dwellings in Newtown, Mass., in 1631. Confirmation of this date would be of help in determining Simon's date of migration. Although it is likely that Simon was there in 1631, it has not been possible to confirm this. The first record of Simon found in Newtown (Cambridge) is in the undated list (almost certainly of 1632) in the Cambridge Town Records.
The Cambridge Historical Commission have placed a plaque in Winthrop Park stating that Dudley, Bradstreet, Lockwood, Poole, Patrick, Spencer, Kirman, and Sackett had completed and occupied houses in Newtown by 26 July 1631. However, study of the Commission's source (Lucius Paige's History of Cambridge) suggests that this rather stretches the evidence. It would perhaps be more accurate to say that Dudley and Bradstreet had built houses in Newtown by 1631 and it is likely that the others had also done so.20
The family tradition
Weygant relates the family tradition as told to him by his father-in-law, Samuel Bailey Sackett, that Simon with his brother, John, travelled on the Lyon in company with Roger Williams. The existence of this brother has since been challenged (by Anderson) and our further researches have revealed that Weygant's primary evidence in support of the family tradition, that John Sackett, Simon's alleged brother, filed an inventory of his own son's estate (in 1684), was mistaken. With the removal of Simon's brother, John, the question is opened of the relationship between Simon and John of New Haven (claimed by Weygant to have been the son of Simon's brother)—and, indeed, the migration of this John Sackett.
DNA test results
An early objective of the Sackett DNA project was to see if there was a genetic link between the lines of Simon Sackett the colonist and John Sackett of New Haven. Given the family tradition, it was fully expected that a match would be found. However, test results for a significant number of present-day descendants in each line suggest that Simon and John were not related.
Children of Simon Sackett the colonist and Elizabeth Boyman
Children of Simon Sackett the colonist and Isabel Pearce
|See also||The Sacketts of America, 1 |
Thurmon King's Database, 1
The Great Migration Begins, Simon Sackett21
Simon's brother John Sackett
|Appears in||The Sackett Book Project|
|Charts||Tree 7. Simon Sackett the colonist descendant chart|
Notable Sacketts timeline
Thanet DNA chart 1
Notes & Citations
- Baptisms Register, St Peter the Apostle, Thanet, Kent (Society of Genealogists), "23 November 1595 Symon s. Thomas Sackett."
- "The American Genealogist", digital image, American Ancestors, 1988, 63:179, (the range of death dates being established from inventories of lands held by neighbours abutting his and his widow's lands as recorded in The Register Book of the Lands and Houses in the "New Towne").
- Marriages Register, St Peter the Apostle, Thanet, Kent (Tyler transcripts, Society of Genealogists), "2 November 1618 Simon Sackett & Elizabeth Boyman."
- "Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700", database, American Ancestors, "Simon1 [Sackett] (–1635) & Isabel ___, (–1635+) m/2 William Bloomfield; by 1630; Cambridge. "
- Burials Register, St John the Baptist, Margate, Kent (Parish Registers 1570-1650 (U3/140/1/1) (Debrett's); Tyler transcripts; IGI), "27 February 1625/26 Elizabetha uxor Simonis Sacket."
- Marriages Register, St John the Baptist, Margate, Kent (Parish Registers 1570-1650 (U3/140/1/1) (Debrett's); Tyler transcripts; IGI), "6 August 1627 Matrimonius est solemnizatum inter Simone Sacket et Isabella Pearce."
- "Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700", database, American Ancestors, "Simon1 (-1635) & Isabel ___, (-1635+) m/2 William Bloofield; by 1630; Cambridge. "
- "Torrey’s New England Marriages Prior to 1700", database, American Ancestors, "BLOOMFIELD, William & 2/wf Isabel (___) [SACKETT], w Simon; aft 8 Feb 1636, bef 1645; Hartford/New London ."
- Town Minutes of Newtown 1653-1734: Transcriptions of Early Town Records of New York, Historical Records Survey, New York (1941).
- Cambridge City Clerk, publisher, Town Records of the Town of Cambridge (formerly Newtowne), Cambridge City Council, Cambridge, Massachusetts (1901), 2, Earliest settlers, undated list, but probably 1632, the first dated entry being 24 Dec 1632 on p4, "The Towne, Newtowne, Inhabitants then, Tho = Dudly Esqr, mr Symon Bradstreet, mr Edmond Lockwood, mr Daniell Patrike, John Poole, William Spencer, John Kirman, Symon Sackett."
- Cambridge City Clerk, publisher, Town Records of the Town of Cambridge (formerly Newtowne), Cambridge City Council, Cambridge, Massachusetts (1901), 4–5, "The 7th of January 1632[/33] ... Comon Pales divided as Follo—[Totals of 42 names, 581 Rodd/Rod (1 rod = 5½ yards), including:] Symon Saket 6 Rod." "The 5th August 1633, Lotts Granted for Cowyardes. [Totals of 28 names, 12½ acres & 23 roods (1 rood = ¼ acre), including:] Symo Sakt ½ akr."
- Cambridge City Clerk, publisher, Town Records of the Town of Cambridge (formerly Newtowne), Cambridge City Council, Cambridge, Massachusetts (1901), 12–13, "Division of Fresh Pond Meadow. Att A General Meeting of the whole Towne the 20th August 1635. Itt was ordered that William Spencer and Georg Steele should measuer all the meaddow ground undivided belonging to the Newtowne: and when it is measuered and divided to every man his proporcion they are to: measuer every mans severally and Cause stakes to bee sett at each end and to have three pence the Acker for the same and whosoever shall not pay for measueringe wthin one yeare then the ground to returne to them for measueringe. Further it is ordered that the same shalbee divided acordinge to every mans severall proporcion hereunder written untill it bee all dispossed off viz [Totals of 71 names, 118½ acres, including:] Sy. Saket 1 [Ackr]."
- The Register Book of the Lands and Houses in the "New Towne" and the Town of Cambridge with the Records of the Proprietors of the Common Lands, being the Records generally called The Proprietors' Records, J Wilson & Son, Cambridge, Massachusetts (1896), 33.
- Nathaniel B Shurtleff, Editor, Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, 1628–1686, Boston (1853–1854), 155, "Att the Court, Novembr 3, 1635. There is adm'strac'on graunted to Isabell Sackett of the goods & chattells of her husband, lately deceased."
- Lucius Paige, History of Cambridge, Massachusetts 1630-1870, Houghlin & Co, Boston (1877), 651.
- R K I Quested, The Isle of Thanet Farming Community. An agrarian history of easternmost Kent: outlines from early times to 1993, Wye College Press (distributor), Ashford, Kent (1996), pp47-8.
- The names of some passengers on this voyage of the Lyon were recorded by John Winthrop in his Journal: "Febr: 5 [1630/31] The shippe Lyon with mr Wm: Peirce master, arived at Nataskat, she brought mr williams (a godly m
an) with his wife, mr Throgmorton, [blank] Perkins, [blank] Onge & others with their wiues & Children, about 20: passingers, & about 200: tun. of goodes: she sett sayle from Bristow december 1: she had a verye tempestuous passage, yet through Godes mercye all her people came safe, except waye his sonne, who fell from the spritsayle yarde in a tempest & could not be recovered thoughe he kept in sight neere 1/4 of an howre: her goodes allso came all in good condition." [Richard S Dunn, James Savage, and Laetitia Yeandle, editors, The Journal of John Winthrop 1630–1649 (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1996), 44–45.]
- An article on Roger Williams in The Genealogists' Post (May 1964) states: "Among the passengers [on the Lyon] was the Reverend Roger Williams and his wife Mary; John Throckmorton with his wife Rebecca and children, John and Patience; John Perkins with his wife Judith and children John, Elizabeth, Mary, Thomas and Jacon; Edmond Onge and his wife Frances and children Simon and Jonah; and William Parke."
- Dunn, Savage, and Yeandle, editors, The Journal of John Winthrop, 45–46, "8: [Feb 1630/31] The Governor went aboard the Lyon rydinge by longe Ilande." "9: [Feb] The Lyon came to an Anchor before Boston, where she rode verye well notwithstandinge the great drifte of Ice." "10: [Feb] The frost brake vp, & after that, thoughe we had many snowes & sharpe frostes yet they continued not, neither were the waters frozen vp as before: (it hathe been observed ever since this baye was planted by Englishmen viz. 7: yeares) that at this daye the froste hathe broke vp everye yeare. The poorer sorte of people (who laye in tentes &c:) were muche afflicted with the Sckirvye, & many dyed, especially at Boston & Charles towne, but when this shippe came, & brought store of Iuice of Lemons, manye recovered speedylye. It hathe beene alwayes observed heere, that suche as fell into discontente & lingered after their former Conditions in Englande, fell into the skirvye, & dyed."
- A plaque placed in Winthrop Park in Harvard Square by the Cambridge Historical Commission in 1980 states, "By July 26, 1631, eight houses were completed and occupied by Dudley, Bradstreet, Lockwood, Poole, "Capt." Patrick, Spencer, Kirman, and Sackett." Enquiries made by Lester L Sackett in 2004 reveal that the Commission's source for the 1631 date was Lucius Paige's History of Cambridge (Riverside Press, 1877). However, study of Paige's work suggests that the Commission's conclusion, that these eight men were established in Cambridge by July 1631, rather stretches the evidence. Indeed, Paige was careful to state that he had no "certain proof". Referring to the Town Records, Paige stated, "But this Book of Records was not commenced until 1632, several months after Dudley and Bradstreet performed their promise 'to build houses at the New Town.' Whether more than the before mentioned eight persons, and indeed whether all these resided in the New Town before the end of 1631, I have not found any certain proof. The number of inhabitants in that year was doubtless small, yet there were enough able-bodied men to be specially included in an order of the court passed July 26, 1631, requiring a general training of soldiers in all the plantations." There would seem, therefore, to be satisfactory evidence that Dudley and Bradstreet had built houses in Newtown in 1631. While it is likely that others had also done so, there is no direct evidence of this.
- Robert Anderson, The Great Migration Begins - Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, vol. III, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston (1995).
|Sackett line||Grandson of Thomas Sackett the elder|
|Last Edited||24 May 2019|