Thomas Sawyer, of Lancaster

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Thomas Sawyer, Sr.

Birthdate: (90)
Birthplace: Lincolnshire, England
Death: September 12, 1706 (90)
Lancaster, Worcester, Massachusetts, British America
Place of Burial: Lancaster, Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Sawyer; John Sawyer; Agnes (Sharpe) Sawyer and Margery Jackson, (Puritan)
Husband of Mary Prescott, (Puritan) and Mary Sawyer (Prescott)
Father of Martha Sawyer; Thomas Sawyer; Ephraim Sawyer; Mary 'Marie' Wilder; Elizabeth Sawyer and 9 others
Brother of William Sawyer, of Newbury; Edward Sawyer, of Rowley and Edmund Sawyer, of Ipswich

Occupation: blacksmith
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Thomas Sawyer, of Lancaster

THOMAS (1) SAWYER, of Rowley and Lancaster, Massachusetts USA, was born in England about 1616. His father's name is said to have been JOHN. Thomas was one of "three brothers" (Thomas, Edward, and William) who came to Massachusetts after 1640. Thomas and Edward were at Rowley in 1643; in 1647 Thomas went to Lancaster. This is the oldest town in Worcester County; it was incorporated in 1653, but from 1676 to 1681 it was abondoned as unsafe, owing to Indian incursions during King Phiilip's War.

THOMAS SAWYER was one of the first six settlers, and one of the Prudential Managers and Dividers of Land. In 1648 he married MARY(2) PRESCOTT, daughter of JOHN(1) PRESCOTT, the head man of the settlement; she was baptized at Sowerby, England, February twenty-fourth, 1630/1.

THOMAS SAWYER lived next south of his father-in-law, at Lancaster, on ground "recently [1884] occupied by the Seventh Day Advent Society, and now the residence of his descendant, Sally (Sawyer) Chase." He took part in King Philip's War, a garrison ("Sawyer's") being established on his land. In King Philip's attack, Frebruary tenth, 1675/6, his son Ephraim was killed, either at "Sawyer's" or at "Prescott's," in Clinton. All the Sawyers west of Middlesex County seem to have been descendants of THOMAS(1).

In the Lancaster Cemetery is his grave stone, inscribed as follows: THOMAS SAWYER Dec'd September 12 1706

[above copied from the book: A Munsey-Hopkins Genealogy, Author: D.O.S. Lowell, published Boston 1920. Call Number R929.2 M97]

During King Phillip's war the Sawyer house was one of the town garrisons and in the fierce attack of February 10, 1675/6 it escaped destruction, but Ephraim Sawyer, aged twenty-six, was killed at his grandfather Prescott's garrison house. Though the town had to be abandoned for about three years, the Sawyer's were one of the first families to return,

Thomas will, dated March 6 1705/6, appointed his wife, Mary sole executrix. He named in it his eldest son Thomas, "other fouer sons" Joshua, James, Caleb and Nathaniel, and daughter Mary Wilder, widow of Lt. Nathaniel Wilder, who had been killed by Indians the 31st of July 1704.


Thomas Sawyer probably emigrated from Lancashire, England before 16 36, but by 1642, his name makes an appearance at Rowley, Massachusetts a long with his brother Edward and possibly William. Rowley records show t hat he was awarded land next to Edward Sawyer in the second land divisi on of 1645. Sometime after 1642, Thomas met Marie or Mary Prescott who w as living at nearby Watertown and by 1647/8 they were married, possibly a t Rowley but most likely at Lancaster. Her father, John Prescott had t aken his family into the wilderness in 1645 and started what became a n ew settlement, first called Prescott but changed to Lancaster. Thomas f ollowed his father-in-law to Lancaster and was most likely one of the f irst six permanent residents there by 1648. It was here his father-in- law taught him the skill of being a blacksmith.

By a General Court appointment in May 1653, Thomas became one of si x persons chosen to be a Prudential Manager of Lancaster-thus having th e power to admit freemen, govern the town and allot land.

When the Indian war with King Philip was eminent, Lancaster hastily f ortified six homes into garrisons, which included his and his father-in -law's. On February 10, 1675/6, 400 Indians under Monoco descended on L ancaster, their first targeted town. Their destruction of the town was c omplete. Several occupants of the garrisons were killed; including his s on Ephraim aged 26 in the Prescott garrison. In all, total casualties f or the town probably exceeded 50 and 24 were taken captive. Many survi vors took refuge in the Stevens and Sawyer garrisons. This attack, Lan caster's second devastation of the town, led to its abandonment.

A tablet at the corner of Main and Prescott Streets today marks the s ite of the Thomas Sawyer garrison. The marker reads:

Site Of Thomas Sawyer's Garrison House - Between The Massacre Of Fe bruary 10, 1675-6 - And The Abandonment Of The Town - The Inhabitants T ook Refuge - In The Stevens And Sawyer Garrisons.

After the King Philip War, Thomas and his father-in-law, John Presc ott, returned to Lancaster. In October 1679, they obtained permission f rom the Middlesex County Court to rebuild the town after hearing a peti tion from some of the past residents.

Mr. Sawyer was witness to another war at Lancaster. In 1689 the Ki ng Williams War was started, setting Indians again against the English s ettlers for the next eight years. In September 1697, Lancaster was att acked and twenty inhabitants, with their minister were killed. John Sa wyer was a witness to many events at Lancaster before his death at age n inty. Lancaster is now called Clinton.

Thomas drew up a will on March 6, 1705/6. His estate was not inven toried until April 1, 1720 and proven April 12, 1720, fourteen years af ter his death. He was buried in the old Lancaster graveyard, marked by a h eadstone.

My 8th Great Grandfather, Thomas sailed to the new world from his home in Lincolnshire, England in 1636 with his 2 brothers, Wm. and Edward. He first settled in Ipswich, and Rowley. In 1646 he moved west to what is now Lancaster, MA, with 5 other families, thereby becoming the first settlers in that area. In 1648 he married Mary Prescott, daughter of John Prescott and Mary Platt. Thomas contributed much to the settlement and development of Lancaster. he served as Prudential manager, Selectman, and Freeman. not only a blacksmith, he was a builder as well, and with his father-in-law, John Prescott, erected many saw mills and grist mills. like most settlers, he was also a part-time soldier, and the Sawyer home was one of five garrison houses where town in habitants took refuge during Indian raids. Son Ephraim died during the so-called Great Massacre of Feb. 10, 1676, when King Phillip, (an Indian chief given that name by the Engliash, in order to flatter him) and some 1500 warriors atttacked the town. Thomas Sawyer lived most of his lief in a house on a low-lying lot beside the Nashua River, bordering the Narrow Lane in South lancaster near the Atherton Bridge. i being one of perhaps many hundreds of his descendants.

Thank you to Eleanor G. Sawyer for the biograpical info taken from her book, "SAWYER FAMILIES II, EDWARD, WILLIAM, THOMAS 1636-2005" Penobscot Press. 2005

Thomas Sawyer, our immigrant ancestor, was one of the nine persons in 1653 who organized the town of Lancaster. He was a blacksmith and farmer, and was one of the prominent citizens. His farm was on the present ground of the Seventh Day Adventists, between North Lancaster and Clinton. His house was in the most central part of the Indian raid, but he seems to have escaped with all his family, except his son Ephraim who was killed at or near the house of his grandfather, John PRESCOTT. Thomas SAWYER's garrison was a safe defence against the French and Indians, and there was said to be with the garrison a high French officer who was mortally wounded in the fight. Lancaster was deserted for three years, when the SAWYER family helped to build up the town again, and was prominent in its affairs for the next 30 years. Thomas SAWYER took the oath of allegiance in 1647, and was on the list of proprietors in Lancaster in 1648. He was admitted a freeman in 1654, when there were only five men who were freemen. He died September 12, 1706, aged about 90 years. His will was dated March 6, 1705-06, proved April 12, 1720. He mentioned wife Mary, sons Thomas, Joshua, James, Caleb and Nathaniel, and daughter Mary WILDER, whose name was usually spelled Marie.

Thomas SAWYER married Marie, daughter of John PRESCOTT, a blacksmith from Sowerby in the parish of Halifax, England, West Riding of Yorkshire, where he married Mary BLATTS, of Yorkshire. He was born in Lancashire, England, and came to Lancaster, Massachusetts, in 1645-46, for the purpose of building up the town, and he took the oath of allegiance in 1652. His family escaped the massacre and returned to the town in 1682. Children: Thomas, born July 2, 1649, mentioned below; Ephraim, January 16, 1650-51, died February 10, 1676, killed by Indians at Prescott garrison; Mary, November 4, 1652-53, married, 1673, Nathaniel WILDER; Elizabeth, January, 1654, died young; Joshua, March 13, 1655, died July 14, 1738, married, January 2, 1677-78, Sarah POTTER; James, January 22, 1657, married (first) February 4, 1677, Mary MARBLE, and (second) Mary PRESCOTT, of Pomfret, Connecticut; Caleb, February 20, 1659; John, April, 1661, married, January 16, 1686, Mary BULL, of Worcester; Elizabeth, baptized January 5, 1663-64, married James HOSMER, of Marlborough; Deborah, 1666, died young; Nathaniel, October 24, 1670, married (first) Mary _____ and (second) 1695, Elizabeth ____.

Tradition says that three brothers came to America from Lincolnshire, England, in a ship commanded by Captain PARKER. Their names were William, Edmund and Thomas Sawyer, and they arrived in 1636, although Savage finds no records of William and Thomas until 1643. In the ROWLEY records, Edmund is given as Edward, who received land in 1643, with Thomas SAWYER, one of the boundaries of each lot being next the ocean. This seems to prove that the brothers, William, Thomas and Edward, came over just before 1643, and that Edmund came over several years earlier.

Thomas Sawyer immigrated to Massachusetts from England in 1643.
Came with his brothers Edmund and William to America in 1635-36 Passengers with Capt Parker.

Oct 15, 1705

Thomas set up his blacksmith shop and garrison not far from his father-in-law, John Prescott. He and his sons Thomas Jr. and Elias were abducted by Indians. Thomas Jr. escaped but Thomas Sr. and Elias were carried to Montreal. Thomas was tortured along the way but he negotiated for the release of Elias with the French governor Vaudreuid. He promised to build a saw mill. Thomas was tied to a stake and they were lighting it a friar appeared and was able to convince the Indians that they would go to hell. They believed him and released Thomas. It took a year to build the mill. Elias stayed another year to teach them how to use it. The first sawmill in Canada. They returned to Lancaster.

Thomas was a yeoman/blacksmith by trade in England. To escape religious persecution in England, he along with two brothers (Edward & William) sailed from England to America in 1636 on a ship commanded by a Captain Parker. Records show that a piece of land bordering on the ocean was awarded to Thomas in 1643. He took the oath of allegiance in 1647. He was one of the first six original settlers in Lancaster, Massachusetts. In 1654 he was admitted a "freeman". He was one of the leading men in the town for the rest of his life, and he was a prominent member of the Church and through the years held many official offices. (wab)

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Thomas Sawyer, of Lancaster's Timeline

March 24, 1616
August 1616
Lincolnshire, England
March 24, 1630
Age 13
Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom
March 24, 1630
Age 13
of, Lancaster, Worcester, Mass
March 24, 1630
Age 13
March 24, 1630
Age 13
Age 13
Lincolnshire, , England
Age 19
Age 22
Age 30
One of 1st settlers of Lancaster, MA