| || Notes for Thomas Willett:|
Willett was raised in Holland, came to Plymouth circa 1630, age twenty.He was the first English Mayor of New York in 1644.He died August 4, 1674...
There is an extensive report on Thomas Willett in the following source:
Adam and Anne Mott: Their Ancestors and their Descendants
Author: Thomas C. Cornell
Call Number: R929.2 qM921c
The descendants of Adam Mott who was born in 1762 in New York.
Bibliographic Information: Cornell, Adam and Anne Mott: Their ancestors and their
CAPTAIN THOMAS WILLETT, THE FIRST MAYOR OF NEW YORK
A paper read before the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, in New York,
13th June, 1890, by THOMAS C. CORNELL.
With some notes of the Willitts.
When Captain Thomas Willett was made Mayor of New York in 1665, it must be remembered that
an English fleet had recently captured the city from the Dutch, and that even the name, New York,
had hardly yet replaced the name of New Amsterdam. Let us recall the situation.
A few months before this date, in the summer of 1664, the Dutch Gov. Stuyvesant still ruled with an
imperious will, in the Dutch Colony of New Netherlands, and the Burgomasters Paulus, Leendertsen
Van der Grist and Cornelis Steenwyck, with sundry subordinate officials, whose names, and the
names of whose offices have an equally unfamiliar sound to English ears, were the local magistrates of
the Dutch City of New Amsterdam.
Governor Stuyvesant, and the Burgomasters and the Dutch people had known that an English invasion
was threatened. Whether with, or without just reason, the English had always claimed that the Dutch
settlement was an invasion on English territory. It may be remembered that Sir Walter Raleigh's
expedition of 1583 had landed on New Foundland and had taken possession of that territory, in the
name of Queen Elizabeth, although a score of French and English vessels were then fishing on the
coast, and that the expedition of the following year, 1584, had landed on a more southern territory,
which he also claimed for England, and to which Queen Elizabeth gave the name of Virginia; and
Virginia, as they then understood it, extended from latitude 34 degrees to 45 north; that is from North
Carolina to Maine as we now name the territory. The English made permanent settlement in Virginia in
1607. The Puritans, who founded Plymouth in 1620, in the compact made in the Mayflower,
proposed to settle in the "Northern part of Virginia." If Plymouth was in the "Northern part of
Virginia," it could be claimed that New Amsterdam and the New Netherlands were invasions on
Virginia, and hence arose frequent dissensions between the Dutch and English Colonists. At length,
early in 1664, King Charles II, determined to settle these controversies on the--
"good old plan
That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep, who can."
The King made a royal grant of the whole Dutch Colony to his brother, the Duke of York. The Duke
immediately borrowed of the King four frigates, carrying together 94 guns, and 450 men, and sent
Col. Richard Nicolls to take possession of the new territory.
This little history is not recalled to support the English claim, but to show the situation of the question
when Thomas Willett was made Mayor. In July, 1664, Captain Willet learned in Boston, that a fleet
was expected from Portsmouth, to compel the surrender of New Amsterdam, and he immediately
sent the news to his friend, Gov. Stuyvesant. There was subsequently a little doubt about the object of
this expedition, but early in August the fleet had reached Boston, and before the end of August it was
in the harbor of New Amsterdam demanding the surrender of the Dutch city and of the whole Dutch
colony. The fleet was greatly stronger than the city. Against the four English frigates with 94 guns, and
450 men and ample ammunition, the fort of New Amsterdam could only oppose a hundred soldiers
and 25 guns, and hardly amunition for one day's firing. After considerable negotiation, on the 8th of
September, 1664, without a shot on either side, Governor Stuyvesant wisely yielded to superior force,
and surrendered the City and the Colony to the English. All private rights were respected. The
Burgomasters and other officials were to hold their offices, and continue to discharge their duties until
their year should be out, and for some months the English Governor ruled over a Dutch city and over
Dutch officials. Governor Stuyvesant had always been too arbitrary in his rule to be popular even
among his own countrymen. Governor Nicolls showed that he could conciliate as well as rule, and the
people accepted the change without discontent. But the new English Governor found the situation a
little unsatisfactory to himself. He said that Burgomasters, and Schouts and Schepens were not known
nor customary in any of his Majesty's dominions. And so when June came around, in 1665, Governor
Nicolls had determined to give the city, which had now become New York, a new charter, with a
Mayor and a Board of Aldermen, after the custom of England. Who then should the first Mayor be?
In view of all that I have been able to learn, Governor Nicolls could hardly have named a man more
acceptable, both to the English and to the Dutch, than Captain Thomas Willett, whom he did name.
Who then was Captain Thomas Willett?
The first Mayor of the City of New York, whoever he may have been, must be a legitimate subject of
inquiry before the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society.
It ought to be explained here, however, that these inquiries have not been so much prompted by the
desire to know more of the first Mayor of New York, as by a desire, which often prompts
genealogical and biographical researches, to know something more of our own ancestors. Such inquiries have been one of the recreations of my brief leisure for many years past.
Captain Thomas Willett was one of my mother's great-grandfathers, and the little now to be related of
him, has been picked up in the pursuit of family history. This explanation is made as an excuse or
justification for the personal character, and reference to my own family which the narrative may
One of the first problems one meets in the beginnings of this search after the Willett ancestry, is to
discriminate between different families of the same, or of very similar names.
Three different English families, having the somewhat similar names of Willett or Willetts, or Willitts, all
of them sometimes spelled in various ways, were more or less prominent in New Netherlands or New
York, before or soon after the close of the Dutch dynasty. I find myself related to all three of these
families, and it must be confessed that at first it was not easy to discriminate between them; and
considering the carelessness in spelling names which prevailed in the early days, it is possible that they all had a common origin in England. .......
The first of the Willett family in America, in order of time, appears to have been Captain Thomas
Willett, of Plymouth, and afterwards first Mayor of New York. He arrived in the Puritan Colony of
Plymouth in 1632, in the ship Lion, with other immigrants from Leyden. He has been supposed to
have been a son of the Rev. Andrew Willett, D.D., Prebendary of Ely Cathedral, and was not himself
active in the Puritan cause, but he seems to have been always on the best terms with the Puritans. He
had made considerable stay in Leyden and had made friends among the Puritans there, and had
acquired the Dutch language.
Among his friends at Leyden, was the family of John Brown, an English gentleman of wealth and
leisure who was in sympathy with the Puritans.
When Thomas Willett arrived in Plymouth, about 1632, he was nearly 22 years old, and sought to
establish himself in business. He made a venture on an attempt to found a trading house on the
Penobscot--where furs abounded--and long after this date he appears to have retained business
relations with the coast of what we now call Maine.
In 1649, and in 1656 we find him leasing the trade of the Kennebeck for terms of years at œ35 per
annum, payable in "money, moose, or beaver." In those days "beaver" was as good as any money.
But trade on the Kennebeck did not prove sufficient to keep him there in 1633, and he returned to
Plymouth and there established himself as a successful merchant, and an honored citizen.
About the time of Willett's return from the Penobscot, his Leyden friend, John Brown, with his family,
followed him to America, and settled near Plymouth, and the old intimacy with his family was revived
and Thomas Willett married there, on the 6th of July, 1636, Mary Brown, eldest daughter of his Leyden
friends, John and Dorothy Brown(*). She was five years older than her husband, but she bore him
thirteen children. All the traditions agree that she was "an excellent and virtuous woman." Two years
after her marriage it is recorded that she received a legacy of "40 shillings for a ring, out of affection
for her," from her father's friend, William Paddie. This ring is noted here because a younger William
Paddie, long had business and family relations with Thomas Willett, and will be referred to again.
Thomas Willett's business house in Plymouth prospered, and he built up a profitable carrying trade
through the Sound, as well as across the ocean, and became rich. He early obtained the confidence of
his neighbors. In 1637 he was on a committee to consider, and take necessary action to protect the
trade of beaver, "now likely to go to decay;" and he was charged with responsible duties in the military
defense of the Colony. These were the days of continued danger from the Indians. The bloody
struggle with the Indians known as King Philip's war, did not break out until after Thomas Willett's
death. The early settlers were always in fear of Indian attacks, and the militia was always in training for
defence. The Pilgrims of the Mayflower, as is well known, engaged the celebrated "Miles Standish,
the Puritan Captain," to train their militia, and in later years, Thomas Willett succeeded to the office of
Miles Standish, in command of the Plymouth militia. This office gave Thomas Willett the title of
Captain. He was also a member of the Plymouth Council of War, and he had charge of a portion of
the public store of powder and of shot. Captain Thomas Willett was a Magistrate in Plymouth, and
was "Assistant" to the Governor from 1651 until he was sent for by Colonel Nicolls, in 1664, to
advise with him in administration of affairs in New York. The office of Assistant, correspondent
somewhat with that of State Senator in our days.
We find record of Captain Thomas Willett, specially in his trade with New Amsterdam and the English towns. He acquired in a remarkable degree the confidence of the Dutch, and also of the Indians, as well as of the English. When Governor Stuyvesant first arrived in New Amsterdam, in 1647, to
succeed Governor Kieft, a spirit of intercolonial courtesy induced Governor Bradford, of Plymouth, to
write to Stuyvesant, under date of April 3d, 1647, congratulating him on his safe arrival, and in the
letter he commended to the Dutch Governor, Thomas Willett and William Paddie as men whom he
could trust. Stuyvesant accepted the recommendation, finding it in accord with the sentiment of New
Amsterdam; and soon after appointed Captain Willett to represent the Dutch in a boundary
commission between New Netherlands and Hartford.
(*)In recognition of the social position of John Brown, on the tombstone of his daughter Mary, who died in 1669, the inscription calls her the daughter of the Worshipful John Brown, Esquire.
[There is a great deal more which I am unable to include in these notes, due to lack of available space: J. Olsson]
Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-33
Combined Matches: 1
ORIGIN: Leiden, Holland
FIRST RESIDENCE: Penobscot
REMOVES: Plymouth, Rehoboth, New York 1665, Swansea 1668
OCCUPATION: Merchant, magistrate and soldier.
FREEMAN: Admitted freeman of Plymouth 1 January 1633/4 [PCR 1:4, 21]. In the list of 7 March 1636/7 [PCR 1:52]. In the Plymouth section of the Plymouth Colony lists of 1639 and 1658 (first in list, as "Capt. Thomas Willett") [PCR 8:174, 197]. In the Swansea section of the Plymouth Colony list of 29 May 1670 [PCR 5:279].
EDUCATION: On 19 February 1660/1 "Capt. Willet" was one of five men "chosen by the town to transcribe the land records out of the town book [Early Rehoboth 4:13, citing Rehoboth TR 1:136]. His inventory include more than a hundred books, on theology, history, law, navigation and other subjects.
OFFICES: Plymouth Assistant, 1651-1664 [MA Civil List 38-39].
Plymouth selectman, 18 February 1649[/50] [PTR 1:30]. Committee to distribute the poor's cattle, 16 July
1638, 7 July 1642, 22 July 1644 [PTR 1:4, 8, 18]. Rater, 17 December 1640, 26 November 1641 [PTR 1:6,
8]. Surveyor, 17 May 1649 [PTR 1:28]. Supplier of coats to pay Indians for killing wolves, 4 November
1650 [PTR 1:31]. Agent to rent land at Punckateesett to Captain Cooke, 26 September 1657 [PTR 1:35].
In Plymouth section of 1643 Plymouth Colony list of men able to bear arms [PCR 8:188]. He succeeded
Capt. Miles Standish as captain of the military company at Plymouth on 7 March 1647/8 [PCR 2:121].
Mayor of New York, 1665, 1667 [Berthold Fernow, ed., The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to
1674 Anno Domini (New York 1897; rpt., Baltimore 1976) 5:250-52].
ESTATE: On 4 February 1638/9 Plymouth Court granted to "John Done and Thomas Willett one hundred acres apiece of upland and meadow" at Jones River [PCR 1:112]. On 1 June 1640 he was granted ten acres of meadow at Jones River [PCR 1:154]. On 3 August 1640 "Thomas Willett is granted six acres of upland for his houselot at the little swamp on the north side Mr. Done's field towards Fresh Lake" [PCR 1:159]. On 2 November 1640 he received twelve acres in the North Meadow by Jones River [PCR 1:166].
He surrendered his right in Clark's Island granted by the town of Plymouth back to the town of Plymouth
18 February 1649[/50] [PTR 1:29].
On 3 February 1648 Edmond Freeman Sr. of Sandwich sold to "Mr. Thomas Willit and Mr. William
Paddy" of Plymouth, merchants, "an house and land at Joanese's River sometimes appertaining unto Mr.
Isaack Allerton" [PCR 12:133]. On 22 March 1663[/4] Thomas Willett received lot 32 in Punkateesett Neck
and shared it with "Mr. Paddy" [PTR 1:69].
In his will, dated 26 April 1671 and proved 25 November 1674, "Thomas Willett of Swansey ... being
going on in the sixty-fourth year of my age," having named "my loving sons James, Hezekiah, Andrew and Samuell" as joint executors and having appointed as overseers "my wellbeloved son-in-law Mr. John Saffin and my loving friend Mr. Robert Holmes and my dear brother-in-law Mr. James Browne and my dear son-in-law Mr. Samuell Hooker and the Reverend Mr. John Myles," bequeathed to "my four sons my said executors, namely James Willett, Hezekiah Willett, Andrew Willett and Samuell Willett all my now dwelling house, warehouse, outhouses, barns and all other edifices, gardens, orchards and pasture fields whatsoever, thereunto belonging ... to be equally divided amongst them" (land described in detail, with an attempt at entail); to "my said four sons ... all my study or library of books" to be divided equally; to "my said four sons ... all my estate of commonage, either in the township of Rehoboth or Swansey except what I shall give unto my grandson Samuell Hooker"; to "my grandson Samauell Hooker ... eighty acres of upland ..., together with fifty pounds estate of commonage" in Rehoboth; to "my grandchildren hereafter mentioned all my lands ... in the Narragansett Country"; to "my grandson Thomas Saffin a double portion of all my said lands in the Narragansett Country"; to "my son Hooker's six sons aleady born and to all and every such son, as shall be born to him by his wife my daughter Mary ... and to my son Saffin's four sons not already mentioned ... and to all and every such son as shall be born to him by his wife my daughter Martha ... and to all such sons as shall be borne by my daughter Ester," a share in the Narragansett Country; to "my eldest son James Willett fifty pounds ... in land remote from my dwelling house"; to "my dear daughter Ester Willett fifty pounds ... in land remote from my said dwelling house"; to "my said four sons James, Hezekiah, Andrew and Samuell" all other lands not disposed of; to "my three sons Hezekiah, Andrew and Samuell fifty pounds apiece in money, towards their maintenance in schools and other ways and means for attainment of learning"; to "my grandson Samuell Hooker" £25; to "my granddaughter Sarah Elliott" £50; to "my old servant John Padducke" £10; to my overseers forty shillings apiece; to the church of Plymouth ten pounds and to the church of Swansea ten pounds and to the church at Rehoboth five pounds; to "the Reverend Mr. John Myles ten pounds"; residue equally to "my said four sons ... James Willett, Hezekiah Willett, Andrew Willett and Samuell Willett ... and also to my three beloved daughters namely Mary Hooker, Martha Saffin and Ester Willett" [MD 26:80-84, citing PCPR 3:1:114-16]
The inventory of the estate of "Capt. Thomas Willett," taken 21 August 1674, totalled £2798 14s. 7d., including £1289 in real estate: "the dwelling house, outhouses, warehouse and barn and all other edifices, gardens or orchards and all the land given by Mr. John Browne Senior whereon the before specified houses now stand and two 80 acre lots thereunto adjoining whereof by estimation there is 100 and 50 acres improved, 20 acres of meadow at Broad Cove and 20 acres at Cooper's Meadow, and twenty acres at Papasquash," £720; "ten acres at Poquanamsquot and ten acres at Kekamuett and 5 acres at Musquashcocke," £255; "450 acres of upland in several allotments," £225; "35 acres of upland at Torrey's Creek," £10; "80 acres of upland at Cooper's Meadow," £25; "300 pound commonage in Rehoboth," £15;"400 acres of upland and 40 acres of fresh meadow on the north side of the town of Rehoboth," £10; "1 whole share of upland and meadow on the north side of Rehoboth," £15; and "1 lot at Wachamauquatt containing 48 acres," £14; to which was appended the "land at Narragansett not appraised, as also land at Pocasset one whole share not appraised" [MD 33:35-39, citing PCPR 3:1:117-28].
BIRTH: About 1610 (possibly son of Thomas and Alice (_____) Willett of Norwich and Leiden [NEHGR 61:157-60]).
DEATH: Swansea 3 August 1674 [SwVR 408] (according to Burgess, his gravestone says he died at Swansea on "August 4, 1674, in the 64th year of his age" [NEHGR 61:159]).
MARRIAGE: (1) Plymouth 6 July 1636 Mary Brown [PVR 652], daughter of John Brown. She died 8
January 1669[/70] [NEHGR 2:376].
(2) Milford 19 September 1671 Joanna (Boyse) Prudden, widow of Rev. Peter Prudden [TAG 19:139-40].
(Savage says her gravestone of 1699 calls her his only wife and finds the error peculiar, but Burgess reads the stone to say 1669 and attributes it more correctly to the first wife.)
CHILDREN (see COMMENTS below):
iMARY, b. 10 November 1637; m. Plymouth 22 September 1658 Samuel Hooker [PCR
8:21; PVR 662], son of THOMAS HOOKER; m. (2) Farmington 10 August 1703 Rev. Thomas
Buckingham [Farm VR Barbour 24, citing Farmington LR 1:4].
iiMARTHA, b. 6 August 1639; m. Plymouth 2 December 1658 John Saffin [PCR 8:22;
iiiJOHN, b. 21 August 1641; m. in 1663 Abigail Collins, daughter of Edward Collins
[NEHGR 89:151; MHSP 2:7:150; Goodwin Anc 1:393].
ivSARAH, b. 4 May 1643; m. by 1662 John Eliot, son of JOHN ELIOT.
vREBECCA, b. 2 December 1644; d. Plymouth 2 April 1652 [PCR 8:14; PVR 660]. (The
death record does not give her age.)
viTHOMAS, b. 1 October 1646; no further record.
viiHESTER, b. Plymouth 6 July 1648 [MD 15:27; PCR 8:4, 291]; m. 24 January 1671/2
Rev. Josiah Flint of Dorchester [Sibley 2:153 (the marriage is said to have taken place in
Swansea, but the event does not appear in the published vital records of that town or of
viiiJAMES, b. Plymouth 24 November 1649 [PCR 8:8; PVR 657]; m. (1) Rehoboth 17
April 1673 Elizabeth Hunt [PCR 8:52], daughter of Peter Hunt; m (2) Swansea 2 August 1677
Grace Frinck [SwVR 23].
ixHEZEKIAH, b. Plymouth 20 July 1651 [PCR 8:12; PVR 659]; d. 26 July 1651 [PCR
xHEZEKIAH, b. Plymouth "16 November or thereabouts" 1653 [PCR 8:15]; m. Swansea 7
January 1675[/6] Anna Brown, daughter of John Brown [SwVR 23; PCR 8:61].
xiDAVID, b. 1 November 1654; no further record.
xiiANDREW, b. 5 October 1655; m. 6 March 1693/4 Susannah Holbrook [BrVR 721;
NEHGR 59:145 (defective entry)].
xiiiSAMUEL, b. 27 October 1658; said to have married and had a large family at Flushing,
Long Island, but there is much confusion with the descendants of another Thomas Willet who
did settle in Flushing [NYGBR 10:181; Austin 430].
ASSOCIATIONS: William Paddy remembered Willett's wife with a small bequest and was frequently closely paired with Willett in town duties and land grants. Willett was an executor of Paddy's estate [RCA 3:185].
COMMENTS: On 30 July 1631 Thomas Willett was one of those who deposed about the activities of EDWARD ASHLEY at Penobscot [MHSP 45:496-97]. Willett managed the Plymouth fur trading interests in Maine at various later dates.
In his journal kept in the summer of 1635 when he came to New England in the James, Richard Mather mentioned stopping at Richmond Island and one Mr. Willett, of New Plymouth, and other three men with him, having been turned out of all their havings at Penobscot [by the French] about a fortnight before, and coming along with us in our ship from Richmond's Island, with his boat and goods in it made fast at the stern of our ship, lost his boat [in the terrible storm] with all that was therein, the violence of the waves breaking the boat in pieces, and sinking the bottom of it into the bottom of the sea [Young's First Planters 475].
Bradford's version was that This year they sustained another great loss from the French. Monsier de Aulnay coming into the harbor of Penobscote, and having before got some of the chief that belonged to the house aboard his vessel, by subtly coming upon them in their shallop, he got them to pilot him in, and after getting the rest into his power, he took possession of the house in the name of the king of France; and partly by threatening, & otherwise, made Mr. Willett (their agent there) to approve of the sale of the goods there unto him, of which he set the price himself, in effect, and made an inventory thereof (yet leaving out sundry things), but made no payment for them, but told them in convenient time he would do it if they came for it. For the house & fortification, &c. he would not allow, nor account anything, saying that they which build on another man's ground do forfit the same. So thus turning them out of all, (with a great deal of compliment and many fine words), he let them have their shallop and some victuals to bring them home. Coming home and relating all the passages, they here were much troubled at it, & having had this house robbed by the French once before, and lost then above £500 (as is before remembered), and now to lose house & all, did much move them [Bradford 275-76].
Despite these troubles, Thomas Willet had a facility for dealing with the Dutch and he proceeded from unfavorable dealings with the French to very positive dealings with the Dutch. In a letter dated 22 May 1637 Edward Winslow wrote to John Winthrop that "Thomas Willet is come in from the Dutch..." [WP 3:419]. On 4 April 1650 Thomas Broughton of Watertown, merchant, gave Capt. Thomas Willett of Plymouth power to request the sum of £47 3s. 6d. from "Mijn Heere Peter Stuijvesant, Governor of the New Netherlands"[Aspinwall 277].
Capt. William Davis and Capt. Thomas Willet were joint executors to the estate of Mr. William Paddy, and were sued by Capt. Thomas Clarke at the General Court 21 October 1666 and 31 May 1670, with a neutral result [MBCR 4:2:447, 455].
On 5 March 1667/8 Plymouth Court did "allow and approve that the township granted unto Captain Willet and others, his neighbors, at Wannamoisett and places adjacent, shall henceforth be called and known by the name of Swansey" [PCR 4:175-76].
On 11 November 1673 Thomas Willet petitioned the Court of Assistants for permission to detain the goods of some Dutchman in New England, as security against his goods which had been detained by the Dutch when they retook New York [RCA 3:257].
Full dates of birth for all thirteen of the children of Thomas Willet have been published in various
secondary sources [NEHGR 2:376; Austin 426-30], but contemporary records for only four [vii-x] havebeen found. If the remaining nine birthdates are correct, they presumably derive from a private record that has vanished from sight.
BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE: The items offerred above depict only a few of the many aspects of the life of Thomas Willet. In 1907 George Canning Burgess published an excellent summary of the career of Thomas Willet [NEHGR 61:157-164]. Willet deserves attention from a modern biographer.
On 9 May 1654 "Capt. Myles Standish" sold to Capt. Thomas Willett of Plymouth his purchaser's right at
Sowamsett, Mattapoisett and places adjacent; "Mrs. Barberye Standish wife of the said Capt. Standish"consented to his deed [MD 6:246-47, citing PCLR 2:1:111].
Bosworth Genealogy Vol II
Author: Mary Bosworth Clarke
Call Number: R929.2 B74 v.2
CAPT. THOMAS WILLETT
This name is the second on the list of purchasers of Sowams. He was of English birth, a merchant by occupation, and became acquainted with the Pilgrims at Leyden while traveling on business. He came to Plymouth in 1629 a youth of nineteen. Such was his business ability that the Colony sent him, in 1630, to superintend their trading houses in Maine, where he remained six years, returning to Plymouth in 1636 to marry Mary Brown, daughter of John Brown, then one of the assistants in the government.
In 1647 Mr. Willett was elected to succeed Myles Standish as Captain at Plymouth. He was an
Assistant by annual election, from 1651 to 1665. In 1664 he was called to aid Col. Nichols in the
surrender of New York to the English by the Dutch, as Capt. Willett was not only an able diplomat, but a thorough master of the Dutch language and customs. So popular was he with both the English and Dutch of Manhattan that he was chosen first Mayor of New York in 1665 and was re-elected in 1666. Capt. Willett removed to Wannamoisett about 1662 where he, with his family, resided until his death in 1674, near the residence of his father-in-law, Hon. John Brown. His landed estates were very large in Plymouth, Taunton, Rehoboth, Wannamoisett, Sowams, Attleboro, the Narragansett Country and other places. He was well acquainted with the Indians and was a leader in negotiations with their chiefs and was probably the leading factor in the purchase of Sowams. He took great interest in the religious affairs of the Colony and was a co-founder with Rev. John Myles, of the town of Swansea and of the first Baptist church in Massachusetts, not far from his own home. His ancient house at Wannamoisett, (now Riverside, R. I.), was a landmark of great historic interest until its destruction by fire in 1892. The ancient chimney built of small Dutch bricks, stood as a monument to Capt. Willett until it was rebuilt in a new house on the same spot by Col. H. Anthony Dyer, about 1900.
Capt. Thomas Willett and Mary Brown were married July 6, 1636, and thirteen children were born to them.