Thomas "The Immigrant" Tibbals

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Captain Thomas Tibbals

Also Known As: "Thomas "The Immigrant" Tibbals"
Birthdate: (88)
Birthplace: Ellesborough, Buckingham, England
Death: April 8, 1703 (84-92)
Milford, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Tibbals and Avis Tibbals
Husband of Mary Tibbals and Wife of Thomas "The Immigrant" Tibbals
Father of Mary Tibbals; Samuel Tibbals; John Tibbals; Josiah Tibbals; Thomas Tibbals, III and 2 others

Managed by: Hatte Blejer
Last Updated:

About Thomas "The Immigrant" Tibbals

Early Families of Milford, Connecticut by Susan Emma Woodruff Abbott page 751.

Parents unknown accorded to Early Families of Milford, Connecticut. His will was admitted to probate on June 1, 1703. A "Thomas Tibbalds" age 20 sailed from London on the "Truelove" in 1635. The name Thomas Tibbals appears in Wethersfield, CT and then he moved to Milford in 1639. He served in the Pequot War under Captains Mason, Stoughton, and Underhill and as an Indian expert and scout, he saw Milford and lead a group of people from Wethersfield to Milford. He was given lot #53 in Milford as a reward. His first wife, Mary (last name unknown) died on June 18, 1644 according to church records. The name of his second wife is unknown.

His children were:

  1. Mary, baptized Feb 11, 1643/44
  2. Samuel baptized April 14 1644
  3. John, baptized Nov 1645
  4. Thomas, baptized March 2, 1650/51 Married Abigail Stream. Their son Thomas married Sarah Briscoe
  5. Josiah
  6. Sarah baptized Nov 29, 1654
  7. Hannah, baptized March 13, 1656/57


This begins with Thomas Tibbals. We find various spellings of the name beginning with Tibbaldes, then Tibbald, Tibalz, Tibbels, Tibbles, etc.

Thomas Tibbals was born in England in 1615, came to America in the company of Zacharia Whitman (who was later ruling Elder of Milford) on the sailing ship "The Truelove", in 1635. This was the final sailing of the year, leaving London on September 19th of that year. Thomas Tibbals is listed as a "person of quality", probably meaning he is distinguished from an "indentured servant" or in other words he was able to pay his way. Passage from England cost twenty pounds (£20).

Thomas is believed to have landed somewhere on the coast of Massachusetts. Our first authentic records finds him in Connecticut, being a member of the troop who fought the Pequots (Indians). While thus serving his adopted country he had seen a beautiful spot with plentiful water; "potable water" as it was called. Later when a group who wanted to found a settlement composed of all church members met, he told the leaders of this spot.

From Nathan Stowe; copied from papers in possession of Kay Tibbals Davenport of 208 Roland Avenue, Jackson, Tennessee.

"Thomas Tibbals is said to have been the first English settler to have seen the Valley of Wapowang (Wepowaug is another spelling), where later the land was purchased from the Indians for a settlement. It was when the Indians, dislodged from their stronghold at Pequot, were in retreat toward the westward, that Thomas Tibbals, one of a party in pursuit, was detached from the main body to insure against any lurking body of the enemy being left to harass the rear of the English forces, and secreted in the neck of land between the Housatonic and Long Island Sound."

"Thomas Tibbals at that time noted the natural features of the locality for a desirable place for settlement having a river of considerable size on the West, and, after the settlement at Quinnipiac, a friendly settlement at the East, and a tribe of friendly natives desiring the protection of the English, who being well-armed, could insure them against attack by the more formidable and hostile tribes that had for so long been exacting tribute from them, and as a mutual protection to both the English and the natives, the hunting instincts of the natives was a guard against a surprise (attack) from the interior."

"Besides this immunity from hostile sources there was the further attraction of a goodly supply of potable water, and a well-sheltered harbour for shipping with plentiful game in the forest, and sea-food in the waters; wood was sufficiently plentiful for fuel and land for cultivation".

"It was yet to be proven the locality was also more than ordinarily healthful as was learned when among 200 or more settlers, no organic disease developed for about six (6) years, the first death being that of little Soloman East from a child's complaint. The next death being that of Mrs. Nicolas Camp in child-bed after giving birth to twins and taking a chill."

"It was probably at the suggestion of Thomas Tibbals that a committee of Hartford men was delegated to view this site, and, if his description etc., were true, and a favorable report made, the committee was empowered to negotiate a purchase."

Nathan Stowe believes this is why "Tomas" Tibbals was given the first of several tracts of land, rather than the mere physical fact of his having led the band of settlers. His first land was lot 53 on the original plot of Milford. It seems a "party of Hereford" were desirous of making "a settlement apart from Mr. Davenport's company" and the purchase resulted. (Mr. Davenport seems to have been a combination of spiritual and civic boss in Hartford and possibly in Wethersfield as well.)

"June 1638 we find these Planters gathered in the barn of Robert Newman for the purpose of coming to an agreement on the government of the Colony". (Think this refers to New Haven. The original articles there seem to have made property possession the basis for the privilege of voting.)

The meeting was not altogether harmonious as other differences came up. The majority favoured recognizing church membership as the basis of eligibility to vote on the affairs of the Colony. And it was so decided but it seems Mr. Davenport thought otherwise. A second meeting was held of those who refused to longer subscribe to the idea of "property ownership" citizenship.

Among these was Thomas Tibbals and he attended both meetings. The meetings seem to have been led by the Rev. Peter Purden. At the second meeting they decided to form a new colony. (The Newman lot was at the foot of the present Hillhouse Ave. in New Haven on which site now stands the New Haven Colony Historical Society Bldg; presented by Henry Fowler English in memory of Governor and in. State Senator, the late Edward English, his father and Caroline Fowler English, his mother a direct descendant of Wm Fowler of Milford, the founder and builder or the First Mill.)

Among these it is reported was "Sergeant Tibbals who had served in the Pequot War, under Capts. Mason, Stoughton and Underhill". Here it appears he "recommended going to the location he had observed and in August 1639 led the group to the Spot."

"In recognition the valuable service ... (words missing) ... imparted by Sergeant Tibbals, he was on two separate occasions granted land in the settlement, a beginning that has come to be the town of Milford".

Going back we learn something more about the ancestor, Thomas Tibbals, from these various sources.

  1. Thomas Tibbalds (or Tibbals) born about 1615 in England, (he is listed on the passenger roster as being 20 years old in 1635), is called Sergeant until 1665, and Captain in later life.
  2. He is listed as one of the "Persons of Quality" who "went from Gt. Britain to the American Plantations between 1600 and 1700" in an article edited by John Camden Holton in London.
  3. Thomas Tibbaldes at age 20 sailed under date of September 19, 1635 on sailing ship "The Truelove". The spelling of the name was changed after arriving in America.
  4. According to Henry Whitmore of Brooklyn, New York in the 1800's: "Your name underwent changes before it became Tibbals. The name derives from Theobald, one of the castles used by Queen Elizabeth 1st. It was shortened to Thebald then Tebald and in this country, the phonetic spelling Tebais or Tibbals -- and adopted. The `D' was probably never sounded. In English records it is sometimes spelled "Tibaiz" again a phonetic spelling."
  5. According to "English Church Times" of April 11, 1938, "Theobalds" is pronounced "Tibbals".
  6. A college professor of English says "Tibbals is probably a corruption of the French word or name, `Thebauld'. It is likely the name came into England with William the Conquer, 1066."
  7. "In the summer of 1637 Thomas Tibbals was with the Militia, pursuing the remnants of the Pequot Indians along the Connecticut Coast. He appraised the region about the mouth of the Wepaqaug River as an ideal site for a settlement. It is about 10 miles west of New Haven, Connecticut. In 1639, Thomas was one of 44 men (some records say 54 men); church members who were granted the franchise of Milford, Connecticut as `free' planters. Thomas led them to the site". (From literature used in promoting Milford.)
  8. Of the original settlers of Milford, Thomas Tibbals, Thomas Tapping, Robert Treat, John Sherman, John Fletcher, Geo. Hubbard, Richard Miles and Andrew (last name missing), were from Wethersfield, Connecticut. Milford is in the county of New Haven and many came from New Haven and Hartford.
  9. Thomas Tibbals was a planter. It was said he had an Indian sweetheart who lived in the Milford area, but we have no proof of this, although there are those who believe this legend and that he married her. Mrs. Frank Platt believes she may be a descendant of this marriage. Our records show that his first wife was "Mary" and that there were two (2) children both of whom died in infancy. They were Mary and Samuel. She (Thomas' wife) died June 18, 1644. Thomas remarried someone who in one instance is called "Sarah" but we cannot authenticate this.
 10. His "loving and honored friend" was Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut, Robert Treat. He and Daniel Buckingham were `overseers' of Thomas I's will in 1699.
 11. In 1889, a memorial bridge was built to honor the first settlers. There is a stone in it dedicated to Thomas Tibbals "for showing the First comers to the place."
     His will is in New Haven Probate Records, Vol. 2, page 308. His son, Thomas II is our ancestor. He was given;"A piece of my land lying by the meadowside for a debt that is due him to be disposed of equally between his 3 sons, namely, Thomas III, Samuel and Joseph." (Joseph is our ancestor.)
     Thomas 1st made his mark on the will but we do not know whether this is because he could not write or because of the infirmities of old age. He was 84 years of age by this time. The early experiences of these colonists were not noticeably different from those of others elsewhere in New England. The 40 or 50 odd families were of hardy English stock. They and their families walked with their cattle the nine or ten miles through the woods while a part of their household goods was taken around the coast by boat.
     Here at the new home site the leaders had met the Indian chief, Ansantawai, and traded "coats, blankets, kettles, hatchets, hoes, knives and mirrors" for the land. (Note: no guns!)
     Ansantawai had signed the deed with his mark, a crudely drawn tomahawk, and given formal possession to the purchasers by the "twig and turf' ceremonial; that is, he took a clod of dirt and stuck into it a twig from a tree. This he handed to the English leader as a token of surrender of land and all that grew there on.
     The red men reserved the privileges of hunting and fishing in the territory surrounding the village. These Indians never reneged on this treaty nor molested the villagers in any way.

From the "Saturday Evening Post" of August 30,1888 we read;

"They immediately fenced in common three tracts of land in which each man received by lot his portion of upland Westfield which was the land lying south of the town, between the turnpike and great meadows, was laid out to those who settled the West end; Eastfield which enclosed Gulf Neck (?)possessed by those who located on the river. Mill-Neck,' the tract lying between Wharf St., and Bear Neck Lane, was owned by a part or both."

"Each person was further allotted a piece of land (meadow) lying either in the great, or harbour meadows. As the population increased, and as the danger from Indians grew less, the land further from the center was gradually laid out. There were about 54 planters, as they were called, to be free planters'. They had to be church members in good fellowship which was a regulated qualification in the view of these Colonists to be admitted as such."

"Thomas Tlbbals was one of these planters and is so listed. All were married and considered as an average of four people per family. This would make upwards to 200 persons coming to Millford."

"The body of Planters moved from New Haven to Milford by land following devious Indian paths, driving their cattle and other domestic animals before them, while their household utensils and material for the common house (which was fitted at New Haven), were taken around by water, while Thomas Tibbals piloted the company through the woods to the place. He having been there before, for which services the town in 1670 made him two grants of land, in Westfield as a free gift."

So it appears by this date he owned at least 3 pieces of land.

From "Historical Sketches of the Town of Milford", by George Hare Ford in Hollister's "History of Connecticut". "Memorial Bridge, Northeast end of bridge, as it appears on the granite stone."


He probably sailed from London on the ship "True Love" in 1635. He was one of the early settlers of Wethersfield, Ct. By 1639 he had piloted a group of settlers to Milford, CT.

◦Thomas Tibbals was born in England in 1615, came to America in the company of Zacharia Whitman (who was later ruling Elder of Milford) on the sailing ship "The Truelove", in 1635 He led the first settlers to the banks of the Wepawaug in 1639, 1654 he was sergeant in the New Have Colony Troop 1665 sergeant of the Milford Train Band

view all 11

Thomas "The Immigrant" Tibbals's Timeline

Ellesborough, Buckingham, England
February 11, 1643
Age 28
Milford, New Haven County, Connecticut, United States
April 14, 1644
Age 29
November 1645
Age 30
Milford, New Haven, Connecticut, United States
November 1645
Age 30
Milford, New Haven County, CT
Age 36
Milford, New Haven, CT, USA
November 29, 1654
Age 39
Milford, Connecticut, United States
March 13, 1656
Age 41
Milford, New Haven Colony