Biography of Thomas Sawyer

Tradition says that three brothers emigrated to America from Lincolnshire, England, sailing in a ship commanded by Captain Parker, and that their names were William, Edmund and Thomas Sawyer. They arrived in 1636, although Savage does not find William and Thomas until 1643. The fact that the Rowley records show that a tract of land was set off to Thomas Sawyer and another to Edward Sawyer in 1643, one of the boundaries of each lot being upon the ocean side, shows that the three brothers were William, Edward and Thomas, and that they came early in 1643 or just previous. Edmund came over seven years earlier and whether he was a brother of the others cannot be ascertained, but all agree that Thomas Sawyer was in Lancaster a few years after living at Rowley, and his descendants multiplied by the thousands.

Thomas Sawyer was born in England in 1616 and died in 1706. The line of descent is through: (II) Thomas, Jr.; (III) William; (IV) Deacon Josiah; (V) Josiah, Jr.; (VI) Rufus; (VII) Addison; and (VIII) Eugene N. Sawyer. The biography of the first two ancestors follow.

Thomas Sawyer was among the first emigrants to Lancaster. Richard Linton, Lawrence Waters and Thomas Bell had gifts of land in what was afterwards Lancaster as an inducement to settle there, Thomas Sawyer coming later. He was one of the nine persons in 1653 who organized the town, and gave it the name of Lancaster. He was a blacksmith and tiller of the soil, and one of the most conspicuous of the citizens. His farm was in the present grounds of the Seventh Day Adventists, between North Lancaster and Clinton. His house was just behind the house now or lately owned by John A. Rice of Lancaster. There is a stone to mark his grave in the old graveyard at Lancaster. This house was in the most central part of the Indian raid. He seems to have escaped with all his numerous family, with the exception of his son Ephraim, who was killed at or near the house of his grandfather, John Prescott. Thomas Sawyer’s garrison proved a safe defense against the French and Indians. There was among their numbers a high French officer who it is said was mortally wounded while in the fight which much exasperated them. Lancaster remained desolate for some three years, and where the family of Sawyer resided during that time is not evident, but it is certain that they soon reappeared and helped rebuild the town, and he took a prominent part in its growth and prosperity during the next thirty years. It is now believed that John Sawyer of Lancashire, England, was the father of these three brothers who came to America.

Thomas Sawyer took the oath of allegiance in 1647, and was on the list of proprietors in Lancaster in 1648. He was one of the first six settlers and one of the prudential managers of the town in 1647. He was admitted a freeman in 1654. He was a blacksmith by trade, and his house was on the east side of what is now Main Street, South Lancaster, next south of the home of his father-in-law, John Prescott. He was one of the leading men of the town all his life. He had command of one of the garrisons at the time of King Philip’s War. There were only five full-fledged freemen in the town of Lancaster in 1654-Edward Breck, Richard Smith, William Kereley, John Whitcomb and Thomas Sawyer. He died September 12, 1720, aged about ninety years. His will was dated March 6, 1705-06, and proved April 12, 1720. He bequeathed to wife Mary, sons Thomas, Joshua, James, Caleb and Nathaniel, and daughter Mary Wilder. The latter testified that she had her father and mother during eight or nine months while her brother Thomas was in captivity. Her name and that of her mother was generally spelled Marie. Thomas Sawyer married Mary, daughter of John Prescott, a blacksmith, who came from Sowerby in the parish of Halifax, England, West Riding of Yorkshire, where he married Mary Blatts, a Yorkshire girl. He was born in Lancashire, and came to Lancaster, Massachusetts, in 164546, for the purpose of building up the town. He took the oath of allegiance in 1652. His family escaped the massacre and returned to the town in 1682. Children: Thomas, of further mention; Ephraim, killed by Indians at Prescott garrison; Mary; Elizabeth; Joshua; James; Caleb; John; Elizabeth; Deborah; Nathaniel.



Lockwood, John H. (John Hoyt); Bagg, Ernest Newton; Carson, Walter S. (Walter Scott); Riley, Herbert E. (Herbert Elihu); Boltwood, Edward; Clark, Will L. (Will Leach); Western Massachusetts A History 1636-1925; New York and Chicago: Lewis historical publishing company, inc., 1926

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