Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Rev. William Tompson

Male - 1666

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  • Name Rev. William Tompson 
    Gender Male 
    Death 10 Dec 1666  Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Person ID I39727  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of LD
    Last Modified 4 Jan 2024 

    Family Abigail   d. Jan 1643 
    +1. Samuel Thompson,   b. Abt 1631, England Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 18 Jun 1695 (Age ~ 64 years)
    Family ID F23337  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 4 Jan 2024 

  • Notes 
    • From "The Testament of Richard Mather and William Thompson" (citation details below):

      While Mather's life is well documented in primary sources, as well as the Life and Death and the Magnalia, almost nothing is known about William Thompson. He was first admitted "pleb.," 9 May 1618, aged twenty, at Brasenose College of Oxford University, two days before Richard Mather did likewise. He "subst." for Nowell School, 22 March 1618/9, and then matriculated at Brasenose on 28 January 1619/20, receiving his bachelor's degree, 28 February 1621/2. By 1623 he was curate of Newton Chapelry in Winwick, Lancashire, not far from Toxteth Park, officiating at a marriage there. While still curate there, he too was presented for nonconformity in the fall of 1633 "for receiving the sacrament of the Lord's Supper at Winwick church [while] sitting and leaning" and for baptizing children "in basins of pewter or wood in the chapel" and for omitting the sign of the cross." Bishop Morton, Bridgeman's predecessor, had been no less impressed with Thompson's godliness than with Mather's, and called Thompson "a great nonconformist."

      The subsequent English career of Thompson is shrouded in mystery. He was still in Winwick parish in October 1635 when his son Eleazar was baptized. Once no longer able to effect an accommodation policy with Laud, nonconformists were forced into open conflict with the Church of England. This view of Puritan persecution in the early 1630s differs from the accounts of Increase and Cotton Mather who would characterize the nonconformity of their forebear as blatant and uncompromising from the early 1620s. [...]

      There is no evidence that William Thompson and two other clergymen from the north of England arrived together in 1637, but they certainly joined forces soon after they landed and together signed the covenant of Mather's Dorchester church. Thompson was of Winwick, Lancashire; George Moxon of St. Helen's, Chester; and Samuel Newman of Midhope, Ecclesfield of the West Riding of Yorkshire. All, like Mather, were Oxford men in a sea of Cantabrigians. (Moxon's and Newman's wives signed at the same time; Thompson's did not, which may have some genealogical significance.) The clerical establishment might have been initially apprehensive that these new clergymen were afflicted with Grindletonianism or other Familist errors, but they were soon proved to be pillars of orthodoxy and were settled as first ministers in churches of their own. Thompson may have brought further queries from England with him, which Mather may have pondered when he wrote the un- published "A Plea for the Churches of Christ in New England." It was probably at this time that they collaborated on the Testament.

      Thompson did not remain long in Dorchester. On 13 September 1637 William Hooke and Thomas Bradbury, leaders of what was then known as Agamenticus and is now York, Maine, wrote to John Winthrop asking that a preacher be sent to them. Thompson may have left promptly for Maine, for he was there on 13 March 1638 when he witnessed a deed. On 25 May 1638 he wrote a most interesting letter to John Winthrop about his struggles with the Anglican forms of worship and discipline that the governors of the Agamenticus colony insisted upon: "for I came not out of England, for love of discipline, that I mighte live in churches, rightly gathered and instituted; to live out of the churches: or to live longe where their must not bee church discipline: Though I love Accomenticus dearel...yet I will not staye amongst them, without wee may have liberties to all gods ordinances...." He had probably left York by 28 January 1639 when Hooke wrote again to Winthrop complaining that "There is no posibelity here with us for the geathering of a church, except God in merey open there eyes...." He was in Braintree, his permanent parish, sometime before 24 September 1639 when he was installed as pastor. He was ordained on 19 November 1639, It was a tribute to Thompson's solid orthodoxy that he was settled over this important parish, replacing Reverend John Wheelwright, a supporter of Anne Hutchinson who had been tried in a church court for sedition the previous spring and in November had been summoned to Cambridge and banished. It is another tribute to his orthodoxy that he was considered learned enough to correct the errors of his colleague teacher at the Braintree church, Henry Flynt, whose settlement was held up until the spring of 1640 because he was judged to have been a supporter of Anne Hutchinson.

      Thompson left the area again in 1642 when a body of ministers of the Church of England connected with the Westminster Assembly of Divines invited three ministers to help in missionary work to the Anglican parishes of Nansemond and Upper Norfolk, Virginia. 30 While he was away on this trip, his wife died in January 1643 "of a cold taken" earlier that spring "while walking through the snow to public worship." She was noted by Winthrop as a "godly young woman, and a comfortable help to him," but now their "company of small children" were "scattered, but well disposed of among his godly friends." To this scene Thompson returned himself already "very melancholic" and "of a crazy body."

      With Mather, he prepared two accounts of church polity in Massachusetts Bay. The first, A modest Answer to Mr. Charles Herle, was written in 1644 for the Westminster Assembly, defending the Independent or Congregational way against Charles Herle, a prominent Presbyterian, under whom Thompson had served in England, when Herle was rector of Winwick and Thompson his curate in the chapelry of Newton. The second work, published as An Heart-melting Exhortation.. to their dear countrey-men of Lancashire in 1650, exists in a partial manuscript at the Henry E. Huntington Library in California, dated "the last of Decemb. 1645." Both treatises take for granted that their Lancastrian readers would recognize both Thompson and Mather as eminent Puritans in America.

      Gradually, Thompson dropped from public view. In 1648 he was well enough to be given a place of honor as an elder at the synod which framed the Cambridge Platform, where he proved his bravery and provided a vivid illustration for a sermon by crushing to death a snake which had slithered in to hear the divines' discourse. His record as a pastor (remembering always that Henry Flynt was his colleague) was not unimpressive. During their joint ministry, two hundred four adult members joined the church and four hundred eight infants were baptized. Yet, by 1658, he was too incapacitated mentally to serve his flock, and by 1661 his second wife was quarreling with the Braintree elders about his maintenance. In 1665, his old friend Richard Mather, ever charitable, raised seven pounds, eighteen shillings and twelve pence from the members of his Dorchester church for Thompson. Mather must have thought back to the youth of the wild young man who was addicted to "Maye poles and horse rayses & bowlinge alleyes," who then became one of the spokesmen of orthodoxy in Massachusetts Bay, and was dying under a cloud of mental illness, destitute and melancholy. [...]

      With regard to Thompson, the Testament provides information about his genealogy and upward mobility as well. We now know Thompson first married a Skellecorne, a family allied to the prominent Heskeths and Holcrofts. The marriage record has not been located but the three interconnected families were important and recorded in contemporary visitations. The Christian name of his wife is not given in the baptismal record of a son Eleazar recorded at Winwick, Lancashire, in 1635, nor did she sign the covenant of the Dorchester church when he did. It is therefore uncertain if this was the same wife who died in 1643, while Thompson was away in Virginia as noted above. Felt, who first published his Ecclesiastical History in 1855, gave her Christian name as Abigail. He cites Winthrop as his source, but Winthrop does not name her.

  • Sources 
    1. [S660] Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire by Sybil Noyes, Charles Thornton Libby, and Walter Goodwin Davis. Portland, Maine: Southworth Press, 1928-1939.