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Thomas Davenport Sr (abt. 1616 - 1685) Expanded Biography

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Dorchester, Suffolk, Massachusetts Bay Colonymap
Surname/tag: Davenport
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Thomas Davenport Sr (abt.1616-1685

Origins and Boston Davenports

Thomas' last name indicates that some of his early ancestors lived in the town of Davenport in Cheshire, England. The town is now in Greater Manchester. In the Domesday Book of 1986 it was listed as Deneport, having 3 small holders, 2 other people and 1 rider, owned by Gilbert de Venables. This village was given to Orme Davenport around 1100 in a charter. Orme is the earliest known Davenport. His son Richard married into the Venables family and had a son named Thomas. This is when it seems this old Saxon family joined the Norman nobility. It seems the name Thomas pops up quite frequently in the family. And the family is well attested in records throughout the centuries. Unfortunately, they don't show the connections to the Davenport families that immigrated to Boston in the 1600's.

There were 5 different families of Davenports in the Boston area in the 1600's. We don't know how any of them was related, but there are suggestions that most of them are. For instance, there are rumors all 5 used the same coat of arms as their seal.

Thomas Davenport of Dorchester: Listed here.

Rev. John Davenport came from Coventry, Warwickshire, born around 1597. He was the grandson of Edward Davenport of Coventry. He had a dispute with his church and came to Salem, MA in 1637. He married Elizabeth Wooley. Thomas would have had some dealings with him. On June 2 1668 a letter was sent from the old church in Boston to the church in Dorchester to send their elders to a meeting to advise in a matter of division. There was dissention about a Mr. (John) Davenport being voted in as an officer of the church. It was agreed that Mr. Davenport and other dissenting people form their own church, but on Oct 6 1668 it was announced that he was ordained in the old church in Boston.[1]

Captain Richard Davenport came from Weymouth, Dorset, born around 1606. He came to New England in 1628 and moved to Boston in 1642. He married Elizabeth Hathorne. Richard commanded the fort at Castle Island in Boston Harbor. Richard had some dealings with Dorchester. In 1636 he led one of the companies for the entire area that fought off the Pequot Indians. Richard was killed by lightning in 1665. He named a daughter Truecross since he had torn a cross out of a banner during the 1636 conflict, considering it papist. Truecross married & settled in Dorchester.[2]

Humphrey Davenport was born in Devonshire around 1640. He went to Barbados, then to Boston. He died in New Jersey in 1680. He married Rachel Holmes. Humphrey apparently lived in Dorchester for a short time, so he would have met Thomas too.

Francis Davenport was a mariner from Plimpton Mary, Devon. He married Anne Snelling around 1675, but had other wives and mistresses. He was also in trouble in England and the Indies for lying, cheating, slandering, etc.

Lots of possibilities have been given as Thomas' parents. Some people list John Davenport and Alice Wooley of Coventry, Warwickshire. The Biographical Review says that Bennett F. Davenport was, and that he had settled in Boston in the early days to practice medicine - however he was apparently a descendant born 1845. Others list William Davenport and Dorothy Warren of Poynton, Cheshire; still others list Thomas Davenport and Mary Forth. His wife Mary's maiden name has been given as Forth and Pitman. We have no proof for any of these. A DNA project somewhere around 2006 showed that Thomas was related to Rev. John and that both go back to Orme, the first known Davenport ancestor. A Richard Davenport migrating to Virginia also connected. Humphrey didn't connect. Actual connections haven't been found yet.[3]

Thomas Davenport of Dorchester

In 1657 the baptism and marriage book of 1st Church in Dorchester was destroyed by fire. Only a few records written elsewhere were saved. It's very likely that the exact date of Thomas' and Mary's marriage and Mary's last name went up in smoke with this book.

Thomas Davenport is listed as making "profession of faith and Repentance and taking hould of the Covent (Covenant) before the Congregacon" in Dorchester on Sept 20 1640.[4] Several of his children followed suit: Sarah (May 7 1677, admitted to full Communion), Charles (May 29 1677 owning ye Covenant; Aug 1 1683 admitted to full Communion), Ann (May 29 1677 owning ye Covenant), Ebenezer (April 14 1685 owning ye Covenant), Hanah (Anna? Dec 25 1676, admitted to full Communion)

Thomas Davenport was admitted a freeman on May 18 1642.[5] This means he was a member of the church in good standing. A significant portion of the congregation had left to found Windsor, Connecticut in 1636; Thomas was one of those people who came shortly afterwards and made up for that loss.

Just before Thomas' daughter Abigail's baptism record in May 1655, there is a note that says in June there was a sickness that struck down almost everyone - the author had never seen so few people in church, nor heard so much coughing. This would have been terrifying for Thomas and Mary, having 6 children under 12.

In 1660, Charles II became king of England, ending Puritan rule. The people of Dorchester would of course have sided with Cromwell's government, and they were afraid of losing privileges and rights under this new regime. On Oct 19 1664 they wrote a letter to the new Deputy Governor and others announcing their fidelity to the government and requesting that they keep their current freedoms. Thomas Davenport Senior and Junior were among the men that signed this document.

Thomas Davenport was made a constable in 1670.

There's a list dated to 1676 of people in Dorchester who needed to be catechized (learning about theology). Essentially this seems to be a list of single people in the church, going down to age 7. The "young maids of Dorchester" list is begun with Sarah Davenport, age 31, and Anna Davenport, age 24. They must have been the oldest unmarried "girls" in town who weren't considered spinsters yet. Abigail had died by this time; Mary was married.

On May 3 1681 a disagreement about the exchange of some land Robert Stiles had promised to exchange to brother Thomas Davenport but instead exchanged it to someone else. It wasn't settled between them, so they took it to the church council. The elders visited together about it, and on May 10 they announced that a bond of 30 pounds was to be paid, and Stiles kept the land. Being called "brother" in this transaction showed that Thomas, while not an elder of the church, still held a place of high esteem.[6]

Thomas' will was made on July 24 1683. Inventory of his belongings totalled 332 pounds 16 shillings 8 pence. His son Charles was executor.

It's believed that Thomas built the old mansion that was still standing on the north side of Green Street in the late 1880's.[7] It's also believed that he lived in a house on the corner of Bowdoin Street and Union Avenue. He bought the house in 1653 from William Pigrom and grounds around in 1665 from William Blake. His son John inherited his house from him.



  1. Records of the First Church at Dorchester, in New England, 1636-1734 by First Church (Dorchester, Boston, Mass.) as found at [1]
  2. History of the town of Dorchester, Massachusetts by Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society (Dorchester, Boston, Mass.); Clapp, Ebenezer, 1809-1881 as found at [2]
  3. Janet's Thread as found at [3] and Davenport DNA Project as found at [4]
  4. Records of the First Church at Dorchester, in New England, 1636-1734 by First Church (Dorchester, Boston, Mass.) as found at [5]
  5. Ebenezer Clapp, Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society, History of the town of Dorchester, Massachusetts, published 1859. Page 117
  6. Records of the First Church at Dorchester, in New England, 1636-1734 by First Church (Dorchester, Boston, Mass.) as found at [6]
  7. History of the town of Dorchester, Massachusetts by Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society (Dorchester, Boston, Mass.); Clapp, Ebenezer, 1809-1881 as found at [7]
  • Records of the First Church at Dorchester, in New England, 1636-1734 by First Church (Dorchester, Boston, Mass.) as found at [8] & [9] & [10]
  • History of the town of Dorchester, Massachusetts by Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society (Dorchester, Boston, Mass.); Clapp, Ebenezer, 1809-1881 as found at [11]
  • The New England historical and genealogical register by Waters, Henry F. (Henry Fitz-Gilbert), 1833-1913; New England Historic Genealogical Society Publication date 1851 as found at [12]
  • Davenport Ancestry in America and Descendants of John Pope Davenport and Edward Wilcox Davenport, compiled by Mrs. Dorothy D. Hall, Art City Publishing Company 1962 as found at [13]
  • DNA Project report on Davenports: Janet's Thread as found at [14]
  • Ancestors: A history and genealogy of the Davenport family, in England and America, from A. D. 1086 to 1850 .. by Davenport, A. B. (Amzi Benedict), b. 1817 as found at [15]

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Comments: 2

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I'll experiment with it again in the next few days. The times I've attempted to do it, it's taken between 10 and 20 minutes per citation, which is one reason why I didn't continue it.
posted on Thomas Davenport Sr (abt. 1616 - 1685) (merged) by Bertram Sluys
Would it be possible for you to add the sources for the relevant facts inline with the fact they support? They are very helpful for subsequent researchers looking for further details. Here is information on inline sources:,
posted on Thomas Davenport Sr (abt. 1616 - 1685) (merged) by S (Hill) Willson