Capt. Thomas Wheeler

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Thomas Wheeler

Birthplace: Cranfield, Bedfordshire, England
Death: Died in Concord, Middlesex County, Dominion of New England (Present Massachusetts)
Immediate Family:

Son of George Wheeler and Catherine Wheeler
Husband of Hannah Colburn (Harwood)
Father of Ensign Thomas Wheeler Jr.; John Wheeler and Hannah Wheeler
Brother of William Wheeler; Elizabeth Fletcher; Hannah Fletcher; Sarah Dudley; Ruth Hartwell and 3 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Capt. Thomas Wheeler

From Lois Ralph's Wheeler Family History; see also


103. THOMAS WHEELER, son of George (100) and Kath-

erine . He was born in England, and died in Concord, Mass.

before Sept. 21, 1687 when his widow Hannah was granted letters of

administration upon his estate. He married Oct. 10, 1657, Hannah

Harrod, or, as it is now spelled, Harwood. He was made tythingman

at Concord, in 1680.

Children of Thomas and Hannah included:

116. HANNAH WHEELER, born Oct. 25, 1658; died Aug. 12, 1659.

117. THOMAS WHEELER, born Jan. 1, 1659.

118. JOHN WHEELER, bom Sept. 2, 1661.

-------------------- I think Thomas is from this line of George Wheeler, baptized 1605, ( married Catherine), son of Thomas, born circa 1560/65.

Source: The American Genealogist, Vol. XII 1934-36, page 5

An article entitled "Captain Thomas Wheeler And Some Of His Descendants" by

Homer W. Brainard, A.B., of Hartford, Conn.

About the year 1600 three men named Wheeler were living in Cranfield (Bedfordshire, England), married and having families.

These were Thomas, John, and Richard, 'the younger'.

Thomas was probably the oldest of the three. "Richard the younger" implies an older Richard. We know not how they were related.

Thomas and John may have been brothers.


1. Thomas WHEELER, born about 1560-65; probably married twice.

Children baptised at Cranfield:

 1. Thomas, b. abt 1591; m. Ann HALSEY; settled in Concord and Fairfield.
 2. Timothy, b. 1601; died at Concord, Mass. 1687, aged 86.
 3. Thomas, bapt. Nov 20, 1603; perhaps died young.
 4. George, bapt. March 28, 1605; d. at Concord,  May 1687; probably

married (1) May 12, 1628, Mary Studd, (2) Catherine ______, and had William, bapt. Aug 8, 1630, died young; William, baptized July 20, 1631.

 5. Susannah, bapt. May 31, 1607; m. Jan 20, 1633, Obadiah Wheeler, son of  John Wheeler of   Cranfield.
 6. Joseph, bapt. Feb 18, 1609-10; died at Concord, Mass. after 1678; lieutenant.
 7. Abiah, bapt. Jan. 17, 1612-13.
 8. Mary, bapt. Oct. 20, 1615.
 9. Ephraim, bapt. March 16, 1618-19; m. Ann ____; freeman at concord, 1639; died at Fairfield, Conn. 1670.
10. Thomas, bapt. April 8, 1620; m. Ruth Wood.



They married 10 Oct. 1657. His death not of record, nor that of his wife who survived him. On 21 Sept. 1687 administration of his estate was granted to his widow Hannah, and his son Thomas. The inventory begins thus: “an inventory of the estate of Thomas Wheeler, son of George Wheeler late of Concord deceased.” (Suffolk Prob. Reg. Vol. X fol 115-116).

[RRW notes that Thomas's descendants in Marlboro, Worcester and Hardwick are described in a paperback on the Wheeler and Warren families compiled by Henry Warren Wheeler, Albany, 1892.] His children, as per Town Records, were:

10. I Hannah b. 25 Oct. 1658 d.12 Aug 1659

11. II Thomas 3 b. 1 Jan. 1659/60 m. Sarah Davis

12. III John 3 b. 2 Sept. 1661 m. Elizabeth Wells [Tolman separately says they moved to Marlboro – JCW] --------------------

Added by Elwin C. Nickerson about my Ancestor:   With accounts and citations below:                               Captain in King Philips War-1675-76 Captian Cornet Troop of Light Horse- Arrived in Brookfield,Massachusetts during Attack by Native Americans .  Returned to Concord ,Massachusetts and Died their  after War., From Battle wounds received in the Ambush.                                                                                                                                          Thomas Wheeler (born around 1620, England - died 1686, Concord, Massachusetts) was a colonial soldier of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and writer.[1] He emigrated from England to the North American colonies in 1642. In 1644 he was living in Fairfield, Connecticut.[2] In 1675 he took part in King Philip's War against the Wampanoag and Nipmuck tribes.

In the 1650s Wheeler was a trader; in 1657 he purchased the right to trade with the Native American tribes for twenty five pounds. Around 1661 he was one of the first people to purchase land in the Ockocangansett plantation, which later became the town of Middleborough, Massachusetts. He was made a Lieutenant on October 12, 1669 and a Captain in 1671.[3]

At the beginning of the hostilities he was assigned as military escort to Cpt. Edward Hutchinson and together with him, led his men into an ambush, carried out by the Nipmucks under Muttawmp and Matoonas, at Brookfield that has become known as Wheeler's Surprise. His horse was shot out from under him and he was seriously wounded,[4] but eventually survived the battle. His son, also named Thomas Wheeler was also wounded, in the loins and arm, but also managed to survive.[5] Thomas Wheeler (senior) eventually wrote an account of the engagement which was first published in 1676 by Samuel Green, under the title "A Thankfulle Remembrence of Gods Mercy. To several Persons at Quabaug or BROOKFIELD".[6] Wheeler's work exemplifies the Puritan conception of heroism, in which a person's piety is their virtue while the credit for the victory in battle is ascribed to God.[7]

He died in 1686 due to complications from the wounds received at the battle of Brookfield.[3] [edit] References

  1. ^ Trent, pg. 99
  2. ^ New England Historic Genealogical Society, pg. 34
  3. ^ a b Albert Gallatin Wheeler, pg. 1
  4. ^ Bonfanti, pg. 29
  5. ^ Gallatin Wheeler, pg. 12
  6. ^ Sltokin and Folsom, pg. 237
  7. ^ Sltokin and Folsom, pg. 42

Wheeler's Surprise and the ensuing Siege of Brookfield was a battle between Nipmuc Indians under Muttawmp and the English of the Massachusetts Bay Colony under the command of Capt. Thomas Wheeler and Capt. Edward Hutchinson in August of 1675, during King Philip's War. The battle consisted of an initial ambush by the Nipmuc on Wheeler's unsuspecting party, followed by the siege on Brookfield.

Here was a settlement, planted among the Indian villages, confident of its security because of its decade of peaceful and amicable coexistence with its native neighbors. If the Quaboags had bellicose intentions, the Planters at Brookfield seemed not to have been aware of them. Pynchon's Planters seemed to have placed much reliance on their previous good relationships with the local Indians in reassuring themselves they were secure from aggression. Little did they realize that Muttawmp, cosigner of the deed of purchase at Quaboag, had now achieved a position of eminence in the war cabinet of the Nipmucs. This Sachem was to be the leader of the forces responsible for the destruction of Quaboag Plantation.

Since the attack on Swansea, in Plymouth Colony on June 24, 1675, which had signaled the beginning of the war, the authorities of Massachusetts Bay Colony had been very much concerned with determining the temper of the Indian tribes within their jurisdiction. Several emissaries had been sent to meet with the Nipmucs and Quaboags. These parleys had been more or less successful, but by the end of July it had become increasingly apparent that the Quaboags were becoming more belligerent. In order to impress the restless Indians, the Government of the Colony ordered Capt. Edward Hutchinson to proceed to the Nipmuc country and demand compliance of the natives with the dictates of the Governor. Capt. Hutchinson was assigned an escort consisting of Capt. Thomas Wheeler and his mounted troop of about twenty men, Ephraim Curtis the noted scout, and three friendly Indians to serve as interpreters. And so it was, that this military party arrived at Quaboag Plantation on Sunday, August 1, 1675.

The fact of the Sabbath does not seem to have deterred the military leaders from their purpose, since they immediately dispatched Ephraim Curtis and several other men to meet with the Indians to arrange a parley.

Source: Quaboag Plantation Alias Brookefeild, by Dr. Louis B. Roy

Ephraim Curtis was an important personage in the negotiations at this time and on the subsequent events. He was the son of Henry of Sudbury, about 33 years old, a notable scout and hunter, well versed in Indian ways and intimately acquainted with many of these tribes. He was also a trader and had a house at Quinsigamond (Worcester). Curtis was employed by the Council to go into the Indian country around Quaboag and find out all he could about their present condition and designs. Three Christian Indians from Natick volunteered to go with him. The Indians around Quaboag were in an ugly temper, and it was with much trouble that he finally prevailed upon them to listen to his message. The Indians in his company had also pleaded earnestly for him. At last he gained speech with the Sachems and found that Muttawmp, the Sachem of Quaboag, was the leader. Curtis judged that there were about 200 warriors at this place.

Capt. Edward Hutchinson 1613 - 1675, was the eldest son of the founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, William Hutchinson and the dissident minister Anne Hutchinson. He came to this country from England with his uncle Edward Hutchinson in September of 1633, a year before his parents arrived. He was made a Captain of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1657. He owned a large farm in the Nipmuc country and had employed several of the Indians as workers in tilling it. He was popular with the Indians, experienced in military matters, trusted by the colony, and had several times been sent to treat with different tribes. On July 28th he marched with Capt. Wheeler from Cambridge to the Nipmuc Country. He arrived on August 1st and dispatched Ephraim Curtis and several other men to meet with the Indians to arrange a parley. On August 2nd he was wounded at the ambush. Hutchinson died in Marlborough on August 19, 1675, due to complications from the wounds received at the ambush in New Braintree and was buried there the next day.

Capt. Thomas Wheeler 1620 - 1686, was a colonial soldier of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and a writer. He emigrated from England to the North American colonies in 1642. In the 1650's Wheeler was a trader. In 1657, he purchased the right to trade with the Native American tribes for twenty five pounds. Around 1661, he was one of the first people to purchase land in the Ockocangansett plantation, which later became the town of Middleboro, MA. He was made a Lieutenant on October 12, 1669 and a Captain in 1671. At the Ambush his horse was shot out from under him and he was seriously wounded. His son, Thomas Wheeler, Jr., was also wounded but managed to go back to the site and save his father. Capt. Wheeler died in 1686 in Concord, due to complications from the wounds received at the ambush in New Braintree.

There is little doubt that in the retreat the surviving members of the company were saved by the sagacity and fidelity of the two Indian guides, Sampson and Joseph Robin, sons of "Old Robin" Petuhanit, a faithful Christian Indian. These two led them around by a way they knew that was unknown to any of the English, for all of the Brookfield men had been killed. Capt. Wheeler was fully aware of the good service of these guides, and yet here gives them no credit for this, nor for their urgent warning against entering the swamp. George Memecho from Natick was the third Indian guide with Capts. Wheeler and Hutchinson at Brookfield. He was captured at the ambush and kept prisoner for some time, but he escaped and gave information on the condition of affairs among the hostile Indians.

Capt. Wheeler, finding himself by reason of his wounds unable to conduct the defense of the Garrison, appointed to that office Lt. Simon Davis of Concord, James Richardson and John Fiske of Chelmsford. Simon Davis encouraged the soldiers within the house to fire upon the Indians and to those who adventured out, to put out the fire which began to rage and kindle upon the side of the house.

Of those who were engaged in this affair, the following received credit for military service under Capt. Thomas Wheeler:

Two Indians Guides: Sampson and Joseph Robin

Troopers: Benjamin Graves of Concord, Lt. Simon Davis of Concord, John Buttrick of Concord, Simeon Hayward/Howard and George Hayward/Howard of Concord, John Hartwell of Concord, John Kitteridge of Billerica, George Farley of Billerica, James Paddison/Patterson of Billerica, John Bates, John Fiske of Chelmsford, and James Richardson of Chelmsford

Killed: Zechariah Phillips of Boston, Timothy Farlow of Billerica, and Edward Coleburn of Chelmsford, Samuel Smedley of Concord, Sydach Hopgood/Hapgood of Sudbury, killed at the ambuscade; Henry Young of Concord, killed at the garrison. From Brookfield: Sergeant Ayers, Sergeant Prichard, and Corporal Coy.

Wounded: Captain Thomas Wheeler and Thomas Wheeler, Jr., his son, of Concord, Corporal John French of Billerica, John Waldoe of Chelmsford and Captain Hutchinson, who died of his wounds.

Source: Soldiers in King Philip’s War, George Madison Bodge, p. 119-122.

The Dictionary of American-Indian Place and Proper Names in New England, by Robert Alexander Douglas Lithgow, p.339). Petuhanit, "Old Robin" a Nipmuck - "a good man." (Gookin).

Sampson and Joseph Robin were brothers, sons of "Old Robin" Petuhansit, a faithful Christian Indian, who had been Ruler at Hassanamisco. They were friendly with the settlers. In 1674, Sampson was a teacher at Wabaquasset, Joseph was a teacher at Chaubunagungamaug. They had been under Mr. Eliot's instruction and were intimately acquainted with the Indian country and tribes. The entire force under Capt. Wheeler would have been destroyed but for the fidelity and skill of Joseph and Sampson in conducting the retreat and avoiding the ambush set by the enemy. Although this was known and vouched for by the officers, the popular feeling was so bitter, that these two were threatened and insulted by the soldiers, so in utter discouragement they turned to Hassanamesit for shelter and protection. Sampson was slain in a fight by some friendly Indian scouts at Wachusett. Joseph, having been captured in Plymouth Colony, was sold into slavery at Jamaica by some Boston merchants. He was brought back again by Mr. Eliot though never released. (Gookin's History of the Praying Indians)

George Memecho, a Christian Indian of Natick, and a man of some education, good general information and tried courage, who was true to the English, and was employed in important embassies; was taken prisoner by Muttawmp's men, and confined at one of the Menameset towns on the Ware River, but found means to escape, and says Gookin, "came home afterwards and brought good intelligence". He was present when Philip came to Menameset, and was able to give authentic details as to his condition and his following.

Source for the 3 scouts: History of North Brookfield, Massachusetts by Josiah H. Temple, p. 89

Relief came in the form of an aged cavalry officer, Simon Willard, who was to march that day from Lancaster to Groton. Upon receipt of the distress message from Brookfield, he promptly turned his force of 46 soldiers and 5 Indians under Capt. James Parker of Groton, towards Brookfield.

Simon Willard

Of all the names that stand upon the pages of New England history, none are more honored than that of Major Simon Willard. He was born in Horsmonden, Kent, England, baptized April 7, 1605 and died at the age of 71 in Charlestown on April 24, 1676. He was the son of Richard and Margery. Between the years 1630 and 1669, he married 3 times and raised 17 children. One of his children was the Puritan divine, Reverend Samuel Willard, a Colonial clergyman who was the minister at Boston's Third Church and acting president of Harvard College. Another of Simon Willard's descendants was the celebrated U. S. clock maker Simon Willard.

Simon Willard arrived in Boston in May, 1634, and settled soon after at Cambridge. He was an enterprising merchant and dealt extensively in furs with the various Indian tribes. He helped settle the town of Concord. In 1637, he was commissioned as the Lieutenant-Commandant of the first military company in Concord. It is said upon respectable authority that he had held the rank of Captain before leaving England and was referred to as Captain Simon Willard, a Kentish Soldier. At the first election in December 1636, he was chosen the Town of Concord's representative to the General Court. In 1641, he was appointed superintendent of the company formed in the colony for promoting trade in furs with the Indians and thereafter held many other positions of trust, either by the election of freeman or the appointment of the Court. In 1653 he was chosen Sergeant-Major, the highest military officer of Middlesex County. In October, 1654, Major Willard was appointed commander-in-chief of the military expedition against Ninigret, Sachem of the Niantics. For many years he was a celebrated surveyor and in 1652 was appointed on the commission sent to establish the northern bounds of Massachusetts at the head of the Merrimac River. When the Town of Lancaster was settled in 1658, the selectmen of Lancaster wrote him an invitation to come and settle among them, offering a generous share in their lands as inducement. This invitation he accepted, sold his large estate in Concord, and removed to Lancaster in 1659. In 1671, he acquired a large farm in Groton and moved to Groton.

At the opening of "Philip's War," Major Willard, as chief military officer of Middlesex County, was in a station of great responsibility and was very active in the organization of the colonial forces. His first actual participation in that war was in the defense of Brookfield. We must admire this grand old man of seventy, mounting to the saddle at the call of the Court, and riding forth at the head of a frontier force for the protection of their towns. On August 4, 1675, he met with Capt. Parker and his company of forty-six men and after receiving the message of the distressed garrison in Brookfield promptly hastened to their relief, which he accomplished.

James Parker 1617 - 1700, was Captain of the military company in Groton during King Philip's War. He was one of the original proprietors of Groton where he held many town positions through the years. On August 4, 1675, Major Willard marched from Lancaster and met up with Capt. Parker's Company of 46 men to look after some Indians to the west of Lancaster and Groton. Having five friendly Indians along as scouts, they received the message of the distressed garrison at Brookfield, promptly they hastened to their relief....(Bodge 120). Bodge provides a list of men credited with service between 7 August 1675 and January 1676, which he believes is the list of Parker's company who marched with Major Willard to the relief of Brookfield on August 4th. He states, "I judge that Capt. Parker, with some sixteen or more of these men, returned to Groton before August 16th, as on that date Capt. Mosely had sent twelve men to Groton to help secure the Town against the threat of Indians.

Source: (Soldiers in King Philip’s War, George Madison Bodge, 119-122).

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Capt. Thomas Wheeler's Timeline

August 14, 1633
Cranfield, Bedfordshire, England
August 14, 1633
Cranfield, Bedford, England
August 14, 1633
Cranfield, Bedford, England
August 14, 1633
Cranfield, Bedford, England
August 14, 1633
Cranfield, Bedford, England
August 14, 1633
Cranfield, Bedfordshire, England
Cranfield, Bedfordshire, England
October 10, 1657
Age 24
Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)
October 25, 1658
Age 25
January 1, 1659
Age 26
Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts