Tree Branches/Thachers

Part Two: Honoring my English Heritage  

(Maternal Lines)

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Of course, there are always so many more than just one or two lines of ancestry to trace. In fact, for any one person there are hundreds of thousands of genealogical lines!! That is what makes it so much fun.

Another of my ancestral lines is particularly fascinating. While there are no Kings, Queens and Earls in this branch, it begins with a fantastic adventure story, full of drama, peril, and the courage to triumph over tragedy. I will dedicate the next few pages to this ancestral line from England, the Thacher family.

Somerset Coat of Arms

  The story begins in the small English hamlet of Queen Camel in Somerset, still a charming rural parish today.


Thatched roof houses in Queen Camel 

  The year was 1635 and Antony Thacher was contemplating a voyage that would take him far from his peaceful English village, across the perilous ocean, to New England. He was a separatist, a staunch believer in the reformed church. Both his father and brother (both named Peter) were ministers at the local St. Barnabas' Church in Queen Camel at a time when Protestants were still persecuted for their departure from the Catholic-leaning Church of England faith.

St. Barnabas' Church

  Antony was the proud father of five children. Sadly, his wife had died giving birth to the last baby. As was customary in those days for men with children to raise, Antony soon remarried to a woman, much younger than himself, named Elizabeth Jones. It was Elizabeth who would embark with him on an adventure that would challenge their will to survive, and lead them to their destiny.

  Antony and Elizabeth set sail on the "James" (so named for King James I, former King of England) from Southampton, England on 6th April, 1635 with all but the youngest of Antony's children, bound for New England and the promise of a new life, free from religious persecution. They arrived in Newbury (Massachusetts) in June, but did not stay in this locale for long.

  Antony's cousin Mr. Avery, who had come to New England with him, was offered a position as pastor of a parish in the town of Marblehead, some distance to the south of Newbury. As travel overland was impossible due to lack of usable roadways, the two men prepared their families for another ocean voyage that would take them from the harbor at Ipswich, south along the coast and around Cape Ann to their final destination and a permanent new home.

Ipswich (N) around Cape Anne to Marblehead (S)

(They wrecked off the coast of Rockport)

  They set sail on 11 August 1635 aboard the "Watch and Wait", a three masted vessel called a bark. All went well for the first few days. On the evening of  14 August, a tremendous gale suddenly blew up and the fragile ship was tossed mercilessly by the pounding sea. Eventually the ship began to break up, and Antony helplessly watched in horror, as his children, his cousin's family, captain, and crew all perished, he being powerless to help them in the heaving ocean waves.

  Only Antony and Elizabeth survived that shipwreck. They were washed ashore on a small rocky island off the coast of Rockport, Massachusetts, known to this day as Thacher Island. They remained marooned on this empty shore for several days before being rescued by a passing fishing boat.

  Safe once more, but shattered and shaken by his experience, Antony composed a letter to his brother Peter back in England, describing the calamity that had befallen him and his family. It is our great fortune that this letter survives, and provides for us a stark and vivid description of the agonies of that stormy August night.

  The following page is the text of Antony's letter to Peter Thacher.

Three masted bark

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Thacher Family Line:

The Reverend Peter Thacher (1545)

born at Queen Camel,
Somerset, England


Antony Thacher (1588)-

died at Yarmouth, MA
Elizabeth Jones>>>>>

Col. John Thacher (1639)-born      

Marblehead, MA                      
Lydia Gorham >>>>>

Judah Thacher (1693)                 

Sarah Crosby>>>>>

Joseph Thacher (1726)                    

Abigail Howes>>>>>

Ebenezer Thacher (1754)             

Tamsen Taylor>>>>>

Lothrop T. Thacher (1790)        
Thankful Nickerson>>>>>

George E. Thacher (1825) 
Paulina Baxter>>>>>

Charles L. Thacher (1856)     

Alice Sears Hall>>>>>

Freeman G. Thacher (1892)   

Hattie Mae Hersey>>>>>

Nancy Thacher (1930)            

Richardson R>>>>>

Katharine R (1961)                

Katharine, Lady Heddington


Symbols Used:

   =  born in England

= born in Colonial America

= born in United States of America

 Wonderful Books About the Mayflower Settlers
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Thacher Family Crest

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