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Thomas Townsend


Thomas Townsend, eldest son of "Rhode Island John" Townsend (of Thomas, John) and his first wife, Rebecca Almy, was born on 16 October 1693[1] in Portsmouth, Rhode Island[2] to John and Rebecca (Almy) Townsend ...

... his family was essentially colocated between Portsmouth Rhode, Island and Oyster Bay...

Thomas' only known wife was named Sarah. They must have married...

The family were apparently of Oyster Bay until about 1743, when they removed to the southern end of "the Oblong," in the southeastern corner of old Dutchess (now Putnam) County, New York, where they seem to have remained for the rest of their lives. Thomas died sometime between June 1763 and February 1764, leaving no surving will or estate record.

Of his children, researchers have derived the following list, some members of which are more convincing than others:

  • Sylvanus Townsend,[3] b. abt. 1724;[3] m. Abigail Bugbee/Buckbee;[4]
  • Thomas Townsend, b. abt. 1730; m. Rachel Sunderland;[4]
  • Christopher Townsend,[3] b. abt. 1739; m. _____;[4]; d. 1808
  • John Townsend,[3] b. abt. 1743; m. Jemima Travis[5]
  • Sarah Townsend[4]
  • Rebecca Townsend[4]
  • William Townsend[4]
  • Mary Townsend[4]

"Of these sisters, one was a Mrs. Tompkins, the other a Mrs. Appleby."[4]

This may be an incomplete list of children. There are many Southern Precinct families of this generation for whom we have incomplete lists of children, especially daughters, and unknown maiden names. There are two primary reasons for such limited records. First, most of the people living in what eventually became Southeast, New York were tenants until the 1780s when they were able to purchase lands confiscated from their landlords (primarily Roger and Mary (Philipse) Morris, but also a few lots of Henry Clinton in the Oblong), and most in the Oblong continued to rent from the Oblong proprietors even after this time, since most Oblong lots were not attainted. Tenants were less likely to write wills or record deeds. Second, we happen to have very few records from most of the churches in the area in this period.

Below we review a few relatives of our Thomas Townsend who shared his name in order to disambuate them, review the records, discuss the identify of his wife Sarah, and of his children in greater depth.


Before we move on to the records of the proband, a few other Thomas Townsends should be mentioned. Aside from these, we know of know Thomas Townsend who should have any chance of becoming confused with ours in either Queens County or Dutchess County.

  • Thomas (John, John): Born about 1678-80. Townsend Memorial gives that "of Thomas [of (John, John)] we only know that he was born at Lusum, in 1680, and that his uncle Thomas gave him land in 1685. He no doubt died young..., "[6] but in fact, he did not die young. He was living in Hempstead, married Sarah Pearsall, and removed to Westchester, then Pennsylvania, and died in 1732. He was apparently still in Hempstead in February 1729.[7][8]
  • Thomas (James, John): Mentioned by his brother James as one of the sons of the father, James, in a probate record of 1698. Aside from mention of this record, Townsend Memorial is essentially silent on this Thomas,,[9] but records show that died before 3 September 1698.[10]
  • Thomas (George, Richard, George, John): Thomas was born in 1763, married Sarah Downing,[11] and he and his brother John sold land in Patterson, New York, in the 1790s, sometimes styling themselves as "of Oyster Bay". Deeds in 1790s in Dutchess County from Thomas and Sarah Townsend are theirs, and are certainly not of the proband nor his son.


8 April 1692
"JOHN TOWNSEND and Rebekah Almy was Joyned Together In Marriage on Rhod Is Land the twenty Eight Day of Aprill Annoq Domini 1692: [by] John Easton Govenour of Rhod Is Land"[1]
16 October 1693
"Thomas Townsend the Son of the abovesaid John Townsend [and Rebeckah was born on Rhod Is Land the Sixteenth Day of October Annoq Domini 1693"[1]
4 February 1703/4
"Rebekah Townsend the Mother of all the abovesaid Children [there are 5 in the register] Died in Oysterbay the twenty fourth Day of ye abovesaid ffebruary about half an hour within Night 1703/4"[1]
29 July 1708
"I John Townsend of oysterbay... In Consideration of fforty one pounds or ye Value thereof in boarding Schooling & Clothing of my children att Rhod Island by me Received of Samuel Haydon of Rhod Island In full payment and Satisfaction att and before ye Ensealing and Delivery hereof and for other good Causes and Considerations me the said John Townsend Especially Moving... Do Give... unto ye sd Samuel Haydon.... all that of ye Moety or one Equall half part of my Little Lott of Land lying and Joyning on ye South Side ye Country Rhoad yt Leads from Hemsteed to Cold Spring Neer ye plain Edge within ye Township of oysterbay Together with so many Acrees of Land to be taken outt of my Great lott lying on ye South side ye sd Country Road as to make ye half of ye Sd little lott up one hundred and forty Acres of Land being ye fourth Lott in Number to be taken up according to Scot and Lott outt of ye sd lott..." Signed John Townsend, wits. Anthoy Wright and Rachel (R) Wright.[12]
6 November 1709
"John Townsend ye Husband to ye above Named Rebekah Townsend and ffather of all ye above Named Children Died In Oysterbay ye Sixth Day of November Annoq Domini 1709 with ye Destemper of ye Small pox and was buried by [the side of] his wife Rebekah above sd ye 8th Day"[1]
19d 10mo 1715
Council of the Town of Portsmouth, [Rhode Island]: "... whereas an inventory was presented by Mary Townsend, widow of Capt. Thomas Townsend and Thomas Townsend, grandson of Capt. Thomas Townsend, for probate. The said Thomas Townsend refusing the administration whereupon a Letter of Administration was granted the said Mary Townsend... whereas Capt. Thomas Townsend of the Town of Portsmouth in the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation in New England was deceased the 26h day of the 9th month, 1715 and did not leave any written will or Testament..." Signed Wrn. Sandford, Clerk.
MEMORANDUM [same document] of agreement made in the presence of the Town Council of the Town of Portsmouth on the one part and Thomas Townsend resident of the town aforesaid on the other part WITNESSETH AND SAITH that whereas he the said Thomas Townsend having received the sum of five pounds current money of New England and all the wearing apparel of his grandfather Thomas Townsend of Portsmouth, deemed, it being in lieu of his part of the movable estate of the above said Thomas Townsend, do acknowledge myself therewith content and fully satisfied and do forever QUIT CLAIM any other part or parcel thereof. Witness my hand and seal the day and the year above written." Signed with a large letter T. Mark acknowledged and sealed as that of Thomas Townsend.[13]
3 November 1720
"I Thomas Townsend Junr of oyster bay... yeoman for... fourty one pounds & Ten shillings... in hand paid... by John Weeks of oysterbay... blacksmith... Have Sold... One... Parcel of Land... near ye head of Nannies hallow So Called in ye old purchase of oyster bay... this third Day of November... one Thousand Seven hundred & Twenty." Thomas (T) Townsend, his mark.[14] This is certainly the proband. It seems there may have been an older Thomas Townsend in or around town. Perhaps it was Thomas (John, John), mentioned above, who was in Hempstead, probably Jericho, on the border of Oyster Bay.
23 April 1725
with Sarah OBTR:4:327.
9 February 1729
John Weeks, Jr., Thomas Townsend and John Weeks witnessed the last will of Caleb Coles of Oyster Bay.[15]
13 January 1730
Thomas' brother John executed his last will, leaving £10 to his brother Thomas, among other legatees, and naming Jarvis Mudge as executor. The will wasn't proved until 1760. Either John was missing in the interim, or he lived thirty years without updating his will. See below.[16]
31 March 1742
Thomas Townsend of Oyster Bay, yeoman, and Sarah Townsend, his wife, to James Tillot, 64.5 acres "Lying & Joyning on the East Side of the Highway that Leads from ye Town Spott of oyster bay up ye Pine hollow To the Plains in ye old Purchas of oyster bay." Thomas made his mark, and Sarah signed. Witnesses were Joseph Whitt and Tho : Keble.[17]
February 1744/5
Thomas Townsend appears on the tax list in Dutchess County.[18]
10 June 1746
"This May Sartifie all Persons whome Soever itt may Concearn yt I Thomas Townsend Laite of Oysterbay Do Sell and Dispose and Convey Unto Henry Durland [Drummond] of Sd Oysterbay My Eare Mark which Was My fathers John Townsends Deceased which Mark Is A Hapenye the fore Side the Neare (ear) & A hapeney Under ye off Eare Which I Dispose of to the Said Henry Durland for the Consideration of four Shillings In hand paid As Witness My hand ye Day A bove Said. Witness Penn Townsend. Thomas (T) Townsend."[19]


11 October 1754
"October ye 11 : day 1754 South precinct of Dutchess County, A high Way Laid out Beginning at ye Bridg Near Edward Halls Mill on ye : Oblong from thence by John Ryder door to a Stake in said Ryders Meadow from thence between James Anderson Land and said Ryders Land as far as is Convenant for a high Way to be made from thence as near to Rattle Snake hill as is Convenant for a high Way to be made from thence to the highway that Leads across Joes Hill so called Two Rods Wide Throughout. One more beginning at the high Way that Leads to Roberts paddricks on the Top of the hill in John Jones Possession from thence by Marked Trees to Jacob Finch Bridg from thence by James Quimby And from thence to Thomas Frost 4 Rods Wide. One more Beginning on ye West Side of Quimbe farm at ye highway from thence between John Frost And James Quimbe farms And from thence to Thomas Townsend And from thence to the Bridg by Jeremiah Baleys 4 Rods Wide. One more Beginning near Nehemiah Woods at ye : high Way from thence to Nathaniel Byingtons Bridg four Rods Wide.
 One more Beginning at Thomas Higins from Thence a Crost ye : hills to Daley Brook so called 4 Rods Wide by marked Trees. One more Beginning at Anthony Batterson House from thence along ye : Collony Line to ye : highway that leads to Danbury. 2 Rods Wide.
 One more Beginning at yet foor of the hill near ye: peach pond from thence by Marked Trees and Bushes and Stakes and Stones to West Chester Line four Rods wide Throughout. One more Begining at ye : Top of hill in to ye : Old highway Again 4 Rodes Wide. Laid out by us

Thomas Davenport
James Dickinson
Commissioners of the High Ways[21]
20 October 1760
"To the Secretary of New York or his deputy in Queens County... whereas my brother John Townsend of Oyster Bay deceased did constitute Jervis Mudge sole executor of his last will and testament which said Jarvis Mudge did die long before my said brother and I being the only surviving legatee it is said the right of administration is mine therefore considering my age and infirmity I hereby renounce the administration of the same and desire that administration may be granted to one with the next right of which number it is said that my nephew Townsend Dickenson is one and am free that ministration should be granted him. Signed at Oyster Bay, October 20, 1760 in the presence of Thomas Pearsall. Administration was granted to Townsend Dickenson by Cadwalladar Colden, Esq., President of His Majesty's Council, Commander in Chief of the Province of New York and the territories dependent therein in America."[22]
June 1763
Thomas Townsend appears on the Dutchess County tax roll for the last time.[18]


  • Burke, Martha J., ed. "The Townsend Newsletter." The Townsend Society of America, Inc. Girardville, Pennsylvania and Oyster Bay, New York. ("Townsend Newsletter")
  • W.A. Townsend. A Memorial of John, Henry, and Richard Townsend, and Their Descendants. New York: W.A. Townsend, 1865. (Townsend Memorial)
  • Oyster Bay, New York. Town Records, consulted as Cox, John, Jr., compiler, Oyster Bay Town Records New York: T.A. Wright, 1929-31. (OBTR)
  • Pelletreau, William S. "Abstracts of Unrecorded Wills Prior to 1790 on File in the Surrogate's Office, City of New York." Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the Year 1902, Vol. 35. New York: Printed for the Society, 1903. ("Abstracts of Unrecorded Wills Prior to 1790")
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 OBTR:2:616-17.
  2. "Townsend Newsletter," Fall 1980, p. 1. The newsletter says he wsa born in Portsmouth on 16 October 1693, but the record it cites does not give any indication of where the children were born. We must refer to records of his father to determine whether it is true that he was born in Portsmouth.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Several years ago our member #T-5, C. Blake Townsend, sent us a letter written by the Reverend Thomas R Townsend, dated 3 August, 1860, Ira, Cayuga County, New York. This letter outlined the ancestry and descent of the Reverend Thomas R. Townsend. 'In about the year 1740, Sylvanus Townsend, then about 16 years of age, emigrated probably from Long Island into the Town of North Salem, Westchester County, New York. Sylvanus had at least two brothers, possibly more, viz: Christopher and John and their father's Christian name was Thomas.' "Townsend Newsletter," Fall 1980, p. 2.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 "Townsend Newsletter," Fall 1980, p. 4, citing C. Blake Townsend. "A relative of Mr. Townsend, Mrs. Doreen Hanna of Skowhegan, Maine put together Bible records, letters, and documents once collected by the Townsend Family Association of Lysander, N.Y. many years ago." The outline printed as per Mrs. Hanna assigns Bethia Rider as wife of this Christopher Townsend. She was, in fact, the wife of his son Christopher.
  5. Descendants of John Townsend or whatever it's called
  6. Townsend Memorial, p. 93.
  7. Abstract of the will of Samuel Pine, ex. 22d 12mo 1728/9, naming Thomas Townsend of Hempstead and Samuel Underhill of Oyster Bay as two of the executors. "Abstracts of Unrecorded Wills Prior to 1790," p. 126.
  8. Further evidence on Thomas (John, John) presented in "Townsend Newsletter," 1977.2.
  9. Townsend Memorial, p. 136.
  10. "Townsend Newletter," Spring 1984, p. 2. "Thomas may in fact have died in the same "great sickness" as his father, as an Indian deed of 3 Sept. 1698 is directed to James, Job, Redduck, Daniel, Joseph and Joshua "the sons of James Townsend deceased;" conspicuously omitting his name," citing OBTR:2:54. The article goes on with a few more pieces of evidence, but the point is clear, that this other Thomas was not alive during our proband's adult life.
  11. Townsend Memorial, p. 174.
  12. John Townsend to Samuel Hayden, 29 July 1708. OBTR:3:303-4.
  13. Barnard, Edward T., contrib. "The Townsend Newsletter," Fall 1980, p. 1, citing Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Town Council. "Council and probate records v. 2.-5 1697-1763," FamilySearch Film # 946796, viewable at a Family History Center.
  14. Thomas Townsend Junr to John Weeks, 3 November 1720. OBTR:4:11.
  15. "Abstracts of Unrecorded Wills Prior to 1790," p. 152.
  16. Last will and testament, ex. 13 January 1730, pr. 20 October 1760, letters 30 October 1760. New York County Wills, 22:242-4. "New York Probate Records, 1629-1971," images, FamilySearch (28 May 2014), New York > Wills and administrations 1758-1764 vol 21-24 > images 173-4 of 911; county courthouses, New York.
  17. Thomas and Sarah Townsend to James Tillot, ex. 30 March 1742, rec. 6 April 1742. OBTR:5:198-200.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Thomas Townsend appears on the Dutchess Co., N.Y. tax lists, Feb. 1744/5, June 1763." "Townsend Newsletter," Spring 1986, p. 2, presumably citing "Tax list, 1717-1779, supervisors records, 1771-1794." Dutchess Co., New York. Neither of these tax lists have yet been found on the public internet, but both should be in FHS Film # 925907 (accessible online only from a Family History Center computer). Here we assume that the February 1764 and onward tax lists are extant and that he's affirmatively absent from them, thus that he died not long after June 1763. Years 1753-57 are available in Dutchess County, New York. Board of Supervisors. "Supervisors Book E."; also archived on archive.org. Specifically,
    • Feb 1753, Southern District: the bottom of page 47 (PDF image 55) is covered in Townsends, incl. one Thomas Townsend. There are three adult Daniel Townsends in this district and three adult Robert Townsends. Pressing forward, and omitting all now but Thomas, we see:
    • June 1753, p. 102: Thomas Townsend;
    • Feb 1754, p. 116: Thomas Townsend and Thomas Townsend, Jr.;
    • June 1754, p. 174: Thomas Townsend and Thomas Townsend, Jr.;
    • Feb 1755-Feb 1757, pp. 279, 297, 352, 417, 531: Thomas Townsend
  19. Thomas Townsend to Henry Drummond, entered 10 June 1746. Oyster Bay Town Records, Vol 5. New York: T.A. Wright, 1931, 5:685; Townsend Newsletter, Spring 1986, p. 2.
  20. Thomas Townsend to Daniel Underhill of Oyster Bay, 19 December 1749. Oyster Bay (N.Y.), George William Cocks, and John Cox. Oyster Bay Town Records, Vol 6. New York: T.A. Wright, 1931, 6:18-19; Townsend Newsletter, Spring 1986, p. 2. Thomas is identified in the deed as "Thomas Townsend Son of John Townsend Deceased Called Road Island John Now of Oblong butt formerly of oysterbay In Queens County."
  21. Blake, William J. The History of Putnam County, N.Y., ... New York: Baker & Scribner, 1849, p. 91.
  22. The Townsend Newsletter,, Fall 1980, pp. 1-2, citing "the will of John Townsend, son of John, ... found in the New York Surrogate Records in the Queens College Collection by the editor."

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