Thomas Wilder, of Lancaster

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Thomas Wilder, "the immigrant"

Birthdate: (49)
Birthplace: England
Death: October 23, 1667 (45-53)
Lancaster, Worcester, Massachusetts
Place of Burial: Lancaster, Worcester, MA, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of unknown father of Thomas Wilder; Thomas Wilder; unknown mother of Thomas Wilder and Martha (Wilder)
Husband of Anna Eames and Anna 'Hannah' Wilder
Father of John Wilder; Mary Allen; Capt. Thomas Wilder; John Wilder; Elizabeth Wilder and 2 others

Managed by: Cindy Lou Frensko
Last Updated:

About Thomas Wilder, of Lancaster

Place of birth has also been erroneously reported to be Shiplake, Oxfordshire, England.

Date of baptism has been erroneously reported to be October 23, 1667.

We have no record of the time when Thomas Wilder first settled in Charlestown, or of his business relations. He was there, a citizen in 1640, and remained until 1659. We do not know that he held any public office. That he was a substantial, capable man, respected in the community, an active member of the church, a thorough Puritan, jealous of the rights of the brotherhood, and willing to resist the encroachments of the ministry, as he estimated them, there are indications in the old records.

In 1652 a settlement was made on the Nashawena River, about forty miles westerly from Charlestown, by purchasing from the Indians a tract of land, eight miles by ten, which in 1653 was confirmed by the General Court, which the legislative power of the colony was then called. After sending a committee to inquire respecting the character of the settlers and the suitableness of the land for a settlement, and receiving a favorable report, the purchase was confirmed and they were incorporated as a town. There were then but nine families, but they were soon increased to thirty. A church was gathered and a minister employed.

It was on the first day of July, 1654, that Thomas Wilder arrived with his family, and took up his abode with them. His farm, of five hundred acres, was situated near to, and easterly from the center of the present town of Lancaster, as indicated by the "Burial Ground " given to the town by his son Thomas, and in which the father's remains were the first deposited.

In 1660, Thomas Wilder was elected one of the selectmen, an office which, it is said, he held until his death, in 1667. He left his estate, by will, to his widow, Anna, and his three sons, Thomas (8), John (9), and Nathanael, and his daughters, Mary(7), and Elizabeth (10).

Thomas(8), then twenty-three years of age, and his mother, were his executors. So far as we know, no mention is made of the marriage of his daughters; the three sons were all married before the Indian war, in 1675.


Thomas Wilder was Christened at his death on October 23, 1667. His will was probated at Lancaster, Worcester, Massachusetts. Thomas Wilder is buried at Lancaster, Massachusetts.


Note: Arrived in America sometime after 1634 but before 1638. He was received into the church at Charlestown 1640. He was not made a freeman until 1651. The Thomas Wilder family were early settlers of Lancaster, arriving in July of 1654. The five hundred acre farm was near the east edge of town. The old burying ground being given from it by son Thomas.

(came to America on ship"Increase" 4/12/1635)

1 COPYRIGHT Copyright 2009 © All Rights Reserved: by D. F. Hansen & M. F. Hansen. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system without written permission from Donald F. Hansen or Michael F. Hansen. 3 May 2009 DNA SOLVES A WILDER ANCESTRAL ENIGMA By Donald F. Hansen and Michael F. Hansen

Between the years 1638-1640 five persons by the surname of Wilder settled in the Colony of Massachusetts. Histories compiled by their Wilder descendants claim these five to be all of one family. Some of that claim is based on fact and some on an unsettled question of tradition. Using DNA techniques that question has been addressed and finally settled as described herein.

In 1878, the Rev. Moses Hale Wilder, a Congregational Minister from Brooklyn, N.Y., published “The Book of the Wilders”.1 His stated purpose was to make a contribution to the history of the English Wilders who first immigrated to Massachusetts Bay in 1638. He began his chronicle in the year 1497 with an ancestor who lived in Sulham, Berkshire 1. 1 Rev. Moses H. Wilder, Book Of The Wilders, New York, Edward O. Jenkins, 20 North William St., 18782 County, England. From there, he traced the family’s American lineage down through the year 1875.

The Reverend devoted 20 years of his ministerial life to this Wilder family history on a part-time basis. Afterward, when he retired at age 75 in reasonable health, but with no income, he devoted his full time to the effort. In retirement, he visited all the Wilders of New York and Brooklyn plus many libraries. He studied genealogies and local histories while concurrently engaging in an extensive correspondence to compile material for his book. Subsequently, he personally paid to have 500 copies printed. They were sold at a price of $3.15 a copy in order to recover the costs of publication and mailing, He labored alone in the mid-1800’s when the modern information technologies that we routinely use did not exist. Unfortunately, the sources that were available to him to construct the English history of the Wilders and of the early immigrants to America were not always accurate. At times, he had to make assumptions and/or rely on family traditions when complete documentation was lacking. Regardless, the history that the Reverend produced was remarkable, and a valuable achievement for his era. The Reverend’s narrative of the early English Wilders began with Nicholas Wylder who was believed to be a military chieftain in the Earl of Richmond’s Army. This Army fought victoriously at the 1485 battle of Bosworth. In 1497, as a token of his favor, the Earl (now King Henry VII) gave Nicholas a landed estate in Sulham, Berkshire County and a grant of a Coat of Arms. The Reverend then details several generations of Nicholas Wylder’s descendents eventually arriving in the late 1500’s at a Thomas Wilder who was born in Sulham, Berkshire, England. This Thomas married a Martha, heiress to property in Shiplake, Oxfordshire. He subsequently became known as Thomas of Shiplake. This marriage produced five offspring whose names were John, Thomas, Elizabeth, Edward and Mary. After Thomas of Shiplake’s death in 1634, Martha is thought to have sold the Shiplake property to her eldest son John. After disposing of her effects, Martha and her youngest daughter sailed to America on the ship Confidence from Southampton, England in 1638. Tradition maintains that her other two sons, Thomas and Edward, and her daughter Elizabeth had previously departed for either the Massachusetts Bay Colony or Plymouth Colony sometime before or in 1638. However, no records exist that reveal the name of the ship that transported them, their date of departure, or their destination. The Rev. Wilder believed that the family’s exodus was of a religious nature that placed them in the persecuted class of citizens in England at the time. Martha and Mary landed at and settled in the town of Hingham, Massachusetts. They are known to have reunited there with Martha’s other daughter Elizabeth and one of her sons, Edward. Hingham town records show that grants of land were made to Martha Wilder and her son Edward. 3 Martha remained a widow and died in 1652. Elizabeth married a Thomas Ensign in Hingham. Mary’s whereabouts and biography remained unknown to the Reverend Wilder. (Later sources determined that she married a Joseph Underwood, had children, and settled in Watertown, Massachusetts.) Edward resided in Hingham until his death on October 18, 1690. He married Elizabeth Eames, daughter of Anthony Eames, in 1651. They had four sons and seven daughters: John, Ephraim, Isaac, Jabez, Elizabeth, Abia, Mehitabel, Anna, Abigail, Hannah and Mary. Martha’s other son Thomas Wilder never appeared in any Hingham town records or histories. However, a Thomas Wilder settled by about 1638 in Charlestown, where he was received into the church on March 30, 1640 and made a freeman in 1641. He married an Anna or Hannah —, and had four sons and two daughters: Thomas, John, Ebenezer, Nathaniel, Mary and Elizabeth.2 In 1659, Thomas and his family moved forty miles inland to Nashawena, now Lancaster, Massachusetts, where he died in 1667. Rev. Wilder’s book has three Sections: first, a brief tracing of the Wilder history in England; next, short biographical sketches of the more prominent American Wilder descendants; and lastly, a genealogical table tracing the descendants of Thomas of Charlestown and Edward of Hingham up to the Reverend’s generation in 1875. These two men were both given the title of “the immigrant” to differentiate them from those of the same names who came before and after. The Reverend declares in the first Section of his book that “It is on all hands conceded that they were all of one family, though it is not known when or how they came over”. This statement reflects the tradition (as no concrete proof existed) that the widow Martha and the four younger Wilder individuals were undoubtedly of one family even though the arrival dates and original destinations of Thomas, Edward and Elizabeth in the New Colony is unknown. Conversely, buried in the Reverend’s own history of the Wilders, a contradictory letter may be found. It was written by a great-grandson of Edward Wilder of Hingham. This letter asserts that: “My grandfather Jabez’s sons were Jabez, Edward, and Theophilus Wilder, and from the above spring all the Wilders that ever lived in this town, or any part of the State, except from what originated from a family of Wilders which was settled at Lancaster some years after, and we do not know of any relations between us and them; and they are numerous as well as ourselves.” The content of the great-grandson’s letter directly contradicts the tradition endorsed by the Reverend that Thomas Wilder of Charlestown was the son of Martha and a brother to Edward, Elizabeth and Mary Wilder of Hingham. The resolution of these mutually 2 Mary Lovering Holman, Ancestry of Colonel John Harrington Stevens and his wife Frances Helen Miller (Concord, N.H., 1948-52), 1:43-44. 4 exclusive beliefs is the purpose of this Paper: to determine if these people were “all of one family”. There can be little argument that Edward, Elizabeth and Mary were children of Martha Wilder. They established themselves as a family in Hingham and were recognized by the townspeople as such. Thomas “the immigrant” is never mentioned with these other Wilders in any records of Hingham or elsewhere. Instead, he only appears in the records of Charlestown and Lancaster, Massachusetts. In the 1930’s, Dr. Edwin Milton Wilder took up genealogy after a severe illness. He devoted the next twenty-five years of his life to revising and enhancing Rev. Wilder’s genealogy of the Massachusetts Wilders. He was a physician from Sacramento, California and a grandson of the older brother of Reverend Moses H. Wilder. Through a nationwide canvas for Wilder descendants, Dr Wilder greatly expanded the Genealogical section of the original book by adding entries up to his generation. In the process, he corrected many errors in the Reverend’s book. Dr. Wilder also decided to use a different organizational strategy by combining the biographical and genealogical table sections of the Reverend’s book. He felt that this approach would make the invaluable biographical material more accessible to readers and researchers. In 1963, under the leadership of Harold K. Wilder of Richmond, Virginia, an organization entitled “The Wilder Family Foundation” first published this revised version of “The Book of the Wilders”.3 Dr. Wilder reached similar conclusions to those of the Reverend regarding the Martha Wilder family. He indicated that these determinations were based on additional research in English archives and elsewhere. They were that: 1. Our Massachusetts line descended from Nicholas of Nunhide, Berkshire, England; and, 2. Martha, the Immigrant, was the widow of Thomas of Shiplake and that John, Thomas, Edward, Elizabeth and Mary were their children. However, Dr Wilder does insert the caveat that “the data on this early period is still incomplete and inadequate”. Regarding the relationship of Thomas of Charlestown to the Wilder family in Hingham, the Doctor adds the following; “Personally we believe that Thomas and Edward were brothers, both because of the evidence from the English records and from Massachusetts traditions persistent from those early years but also because individuals from the Thomas and Edward line, supposedly separated by over 300 years from blood relationship 3 The Book Of The Wilders (Revised), Revision compiledby Edwin M. Wilder, M.D. Sacramento, CA, First printing 1963 - 1969, The Wilder Family Foundation, Harold K. Wilder, Richmond, VA, Second Printing 1975 - 76 5 frequently show resemblances and similarities of face, skull formation, character and conduct.” Dr. Edwin Wilder’s revised “Book of the Wilders” took the form of loose leaf pages mailed out in batches from 1963 to 1969. When the distribution was completed, Harold Wilder turned the material over to Justin Emer Wilder of Angola, Indiana. Justin arranged for a small second printing in 1975-1976. In 1998, Justin published a third Revision to “The Book of the Wilders”.[3]4 It was a large, attractive and durable hard-bound volume of 1,585 pages. It includes an Introduction, a Picture Section, the Thomas Line, the Edward Line, a Supplement of Unattached Branches and a complete new Index. Justin’s Revision was not intended to be an extension of Dr Wilder’s genealogy. He did not add information on families subsequently born since Dr. Wilder competed his work. However, through correspondence with many Wilder descendants and others, he extended the text pages by a third with new or retyped changes. He made corrections, found prior omissions, and made adjustments when new data was more reliable than old. In this third edition, Justin made no changes to the genealogical conclusions reached by the Reverend Moses Wilder or Dr. Edwin Wilder, nor did he offer any inferences of his own. Yet, he did include “A Brief History of the Wilder Family in England” compiled by Mrs. Iris Elizabeth Moon (nee Wilder) of Sulham House, Pangbourne, Berkshire, England. The part of her narrative pertaining to Thomas and Martha Wilder of Shiplake and their children corresponds closely to the previous versions described in this Paper. In line with the traditions of Reverend Moses Wilder, Dr Edwin Wilder, and Harold K. Wilder, Justin Wilder charged only enough to cover his costs of printing and mailing. The authors of this paper (Don and Mike Hansen) are the 8th and 9th great grandsons respectively of Thomas Wilder the Immigrant. Shortly after starting their genealogical research, they became acquainted with the Thomas-Edward Wilder brotherhood controversy described in the first Section of this paper. No conclusive proof had yet been offered to resolve the mystery. Instead, intuitive deductions and traditions had been used to support the case for and against brotherhood. They determined that Genetic Genealogy could be used as a possible solution to the Thomas-Edward brotherhood question. A consultant, Mr. Charles Kerchner, of, was engaged as technological guide. Mr. Kerchner advised that three descendants each of both Thomas and Edward be located as test participants. The principal selection criterion for each group was that they should be very distant cousins. Ideally, they would also be descendants of three different sons of Thomas and of Edward so as to triangulate their deduced ancestral haplotypes (DAH). 4 The Book Of The Wilders, Third Printing 1998, by Justin Wilder, Goshen, IN 6 The first Thomas descendant was easy to find. He is the senior author’s first cousin, Frederick John Wilder, of El Dorado Hills, CA. Frederick is descended from Thomas Jr., son of Thomas, the immigrant. The second member of the Thomas group is Raymond Duane Wilder of Clovis, CA. He is descended from Thomas’ son Nathaniel. The third participant of the Thomas group is Justin Emer Wilder of Angola, IN, a descendant of Thomas’ son John and the editor and publisher of the Third Edition of Edwin Wilder’s “The Book of the Wilders” mentioned previously. The lineages of the three Thomas descendants are shown in Figure 1. The first participant of the group descended from Edward Wilder (the immigrant) is James Wilder of Kirkwood, MO. His line descends from son John. (Jim Wilder was instrumental in helping to find other participants in both the Thomas and Edward groups, and has been an avid supporter of this Project). The second participant is Calvin Robert Wilder, of Downington, PA who is descended from Edward’s son Jabez. No descendant could be found from either of Edward’s two other sons, Ephraim and Isaac. However, we were fortunate that another descendant of Edward’s son John volunteered to participate. He is Jason Andrew Wilder, a human geneticist residing in Flagstaff, Arizona. The lineages of these three Edward descendants are shown in Figure 2. Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) was selected as the company to perform the Y-chromosome DNA (hereafter Y-DNA) testing. We opted to test the maximum 67 markers of each participant. The Y-DNA test results were received over the past two years as volunteer candidates were found and then tested. Y-DNA tests are based on the genetic properties unique to males. The Y-chromosome is passed from father to son and in that process the genes and genetic markers are usually transferred virtually unchanged over many generations. Rare changes in the genetic markers do occur and it is these mutations that can be used to determine common ancestry among males. If two men share a recent common ancestor, in a genealogical time frame, there will be few if any genetic mutations and their Y-chromosomes will be virtually identical, but very different from markers of unrelated lines. The Y-DNA test results for the six project participants are shown in Table 1. An individual’s haplotype is expressed as a series of numbers each representing the allele at a specific marker. In this table markers are denoted in two ways once by its Family Tree (FTDNA) marker # and again by its DYS #. The latter is a number designating a given marker on the Y-chromosome (e.g. 393, 390, - - -). DYS is an acronym for DNA Ychromosome Segment. The term allele refers to the number of repeats in the genetic code at a given marker. Table 1 shows 67 alleles (numbers) for each of the six participants. The table is arranged with the haplotypes of the three descendants of Thomas Wilder (the immigrant) in the upper tier and the three descendants of Edward Wilder (the immigrant) in the lower tier. The second use of the information in Table 1 was to verify the presumed relationship between the three individuals in the Thomas Wilder group and also between the three 7 individuals in the Edward Wilder group. The closeness of relationship between two males is determined by their genetic distance (GD) separation. GD is the number of mutation steps to get from one haplotype to another haplotype. The Thomas Wilder group indicates a GD=2 between Frederick and Raymond (single mutations at markers 34 and 44), another GD=2 between Frederick and Justin (a two step jump mutation at marker 34), and a third GD=2 between Raymond and Justin (again, single mutations at markers 34 and 44). The same analysis of the Edward Wilder group finds that the haplotypes of James and Jason are a perfect match (GD=0). This result is expected as both descend from John Wilder, son of Edward (the immigrant). Both James’ and Jason’s haplotypes differ from Calvin’s haplotype by a GD=3 (single mutations at markers 13, 27 and 30). Our physical interpretation of the genetic distance is based on definitions supplied by FTDNA for 37 marker haplotypes. (Definitions based on 67 marker haplotypes are not yet available). A perfect match of haplotypes, i.e. a GD=0, means that two persons are very tightly related and share a common ancestor, and that “the common ancestor is predicted, 50% of the time, to have lived in 5 generations or less and with a 90% probability within 16 generations”. For a mismatch of only two points (GD=2), i.e. a 35/37 match, and a sharing of the same surname by the two persons, FTDNA states that they are related. Similarly for a mismatch of three points, GD=3, and a sharing of the same surname two persons are also related. But for a GD=6 or greater FTDNA considers two persons are too far off to be considered related in a time frame of genealogical relevance for most families. Given the known pedigrees of the six Wilder project participants listed in Figures 1 and 2, and applying the above genetic distance interpretations to them, we can with certainty conclude that: Thomas Wilder the Immigrant is the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of Frederick, Raymond and Justin Wilder. The MRCA of James, Jason and Calvin Wilder is conclusively Edward Wilder the Immigrant. The third use of the test data was to ascertain the Deduced Ancestral Haplotype (DAH) of the three descendants of Thomas and the three descendants of Edward as shown in Table 1. This and other highly technical tasks and analyses were performed by our project advisor, Charles Kerchner. Briefly stated the DAH for the three Thomas Wilder descendants, as designated in Table 1, was arrived at using the “triangulation method”.5 This method, codified by Mr. Kerchner several years ago, can be used when there are three or more independent direct line male ancestors on different branches arising from the common male ancestor. 5 C. F. Kerchner, Triangulation Method for Deducing the Ancestral Haplotype in Y-DNA Surname Projects,, 2004 8 In the case of the Edward Wilder test participants the triangulation method could not be used because the James and Edward lineages are not entirely independent lines from Edward. However, instead of using simple modal analysis Kerchner chose to improve upon the DAH by using the known lineage trees of the three participants, and his knowledge of marker mutation characteristics, to “call” certain markers using information other than just the modal allele observed in the test participant haplotypes. The calling process is highlighted in the table. The Deduced Ancestral Haplotypes for the two immigrants Thomas and Edward Wilder can now be used to settle the long-standing question of whether or not the two were brothers. The determination of the genetic distance, GD, of the two haplotypes was again performed by our project advisor employing two different calculation models. Using the “Infinite Alleles Mutation Model” he arrived at a value of GD=17. Using the “Stepwise Allele Model” he arrived at a value of GD=21. In arriving at these values Kerchner had to consider the subtleties involved in the multipart marker DYS389 I & II and the multicopy markers DYS464 a, b, c and d. The results of these calculations may be viewed in Table 1. If someone wished to challenge the way the genetic distance was counted herein it would only change the values by 1 or at most 2, depending on how it was counted. Regardless of how the GD is counted the genetic distance between the two ancestral haplotypes is so large it would not affect the conclusion, i.e. the Thomas and Edward lines have not been related in the last 1000-2000 years or so. That Thomas Wilder (the immigrant) and Edward Wilder (the immigrant) were not of the same family comes as a disappointing conclusion to the authors, and presumably, to most descendants of what must now be considered as two separate clans of Wilders. This conclusion inspires another important question however: If, as historical records demonstrate, the Hingham Wilders came from Shiplake, then what were the origins and background of Thomas Wilder of Charlestown? The Y-DNA of the six test participants yielded a little more information of value. FTDNA has declared that all six participants fall in the R1b haplogroup of the Human YDNA Phylogenetic Tree. It is possible to ascertain the relative commonality in the R1b haplogroup of the Thomas group as compared to the Edward group. This can be done by examining the number of random matches of their haplotypes with those of members of a large pool of FTDNA test subjects, using only the first 12-markers. For that purpose only one participant from each of the Thomas and Edward groups need be compared. It was found that James had 740 exact 12-marker matches with members of the pool and that Frederick had only 2 exact 12-marker matches. James, Jason and Calvin Wilder are a one step/point near match to the Western Atlantic Modal Haplotype (WAMH), but FTDNA still considers them WAMH in personal notices to them. WAMH is the most common Y-DNA signature of Europe’s most common haplogroup, R1b. Thus the three Edward Wilder descendants, James, Jason and Calvin, 9 each with a near WAMH, have a more common variety haplotype of the R1b haplogroup and thus will have more random matches. Frederick, Raymond and Justin have a less common, rarer variety haplotype of the R1b haplogroup, and thus will have far fewer random matches as was verified. The finding that the haplotypes of the James, Jason and Calvin are quite common and that the haplotypes of Frederick, Raymond and Justin are rare only serves to bolster the conclusion that Thomas Wilder (the immigrant) and Edward Wilder (the immigrant) were not brothers.


(V) Thomas Wilder, son of Thomas Wilder (4), was born in Shiplock, England, in 1618. He settled in Charlestown, New England, where he was a proprietor as early as 1638. He was admitted a freeman June 2, 1641. He bought land in Charlestown, October 27, 1643. He was selectman in 1660 and 1667 and held other offices. He removed to Lancaster in 1659. He married Ann in 1641.

She died June 10, 1692. She was admitted to the church May 7, 1650. He died October 23, 1667. He may have been born later than the date given as he deposed June 17, 1654, that he was thirty-three years of age. His will was dated January 22, 1667-8 and proved March 4, 1667-8. He bequeathed to his wife and six children named below. The children of Thomas and Ann Wilder were: Mary, born June 30, 1642, in Charlestown; Thomas, born September 14, 1644; John, born 1646; Elizabeth, born 1648; Nathaniel, see forward; Ebenezer.


Page 202 of:











Librarian of the Worcester Society of Antiquity, and Editor of its Proceedings;

Author of "The Rawson Family Memorial," "Crane

Family," two vols., Etc.

Vol. I




Settled in Charlestown, Mass


Stirnet's "Wilder1" page does not mention this Thomas.

view all 26

Thomas Wilder, of Lancaster's Timeline

June 30, 1642
Age 24
Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts
September 14, 1644
Age 26
Charlestown, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Age 28
Age 28
Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts
Age 30
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
November 3, 1650
Age 32
Charlestown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Colonial America
Age 34
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
October 23, 1667
Age 49
Lancaster, Massachusetts