Thomas Gardner (planter)
|Resting place||Harmony Grove Cemetery|
|Occupation||Overseer (Cape Ann settlement), Salem: Deputy to General Court, Land owner, Constable, Selectman/Juryman|
|Children||Thomas, George, John, Sarah, Samuel, Joseph, Richard, Miriam, Seeth|
Thomas Gardner (c. 1592 – 1674) was an Overseer of the "old planters" party of the Dorchester Company who landed in 1624 at Cape Ann to form a colony at what is now known as Gloucester. Gardner is considered by some as the first Governor of Massachusetts, due to his being in authority in the first settlement that became the Massachusetts Bay Colony (which later subsumed the Plymouth Colony). John Tylly was the Overseer of the fishery (Tylly was killed in 1636 in the Pequot War).
This area had been visited by the Plymouth group who had obtained a Patent and had fished in the area known as Gloucester. These visitors, from the south, had built structures for salting and temporary housing. The Gardner-led group, who were to settle the area via another Patent, succeeded in maintaining themselves after their landing. However, eventual disagreement between the Plymouth folks and the 'West Country' folks, due to Patent conflicts, came about. Conant, having first been at Plymouth, was instrumental in working out a compromise, part of which was moving the Dorchester group away. As well, the colony that had been planned for Cape Ann was doing well, having brought over adequate provisions and having had the proper skills, yet it was commercially unsuccessful due to rocky, infertile soil and poor fishing. In 1626, the Dorchester Company granted permission for Roger Conant, who had arrived in 1625 from Plymouth (via Nantasket) to assess the situation and to become the new Overseer, to move the colony.
The first Great House in New England was built on Cape Ann by the planters. This house was dismantled on the orders of John Endecott, in 1628, and moved to Salem to serve as his "Governor's" house. When Higginson arrived in Salem, he wrote that "we found a faire house newly built for the Governor" which was remarkable for being two stories high.
Some of the Old Planters moved with Conant to the mouth of the Naumkeag (now, North) river (they first landed near the foot of present-day Skerry Street). Other members opted to return to England or to go south to Virginia. For a few years, the area was multicultural with peaceful relations with Native Americans who had been regular visitors to the area for generations. In the early years, "thatch-roofed cottages" of the planters huddled along the bank of the river.
The new colony at Naumkeag proved to be successful and was named Salem in 1629 and, in Conant's words, laid the "foundation" for the Commonwealth. Those following Gardner and Conant as leader were John Endicott and John Winthrop, respectively, as new planters.
Thomas and Roger continued to be considered old planters who seemed to get little in the way of recognition from the religious leaders, such as Francis Higginson. By the time of Winthrop, the influx into the area accelerated resulting in Mass Bay outgrowing, and annexing, Plymouth.
Gardner, and his sons, played several roles in the early development work. For instance, they did a lot of the early survey work laying out the area. As well, Thomas served on the court and oversaw highway work.
Thomas Gardner was born in 1592 to Thomas and Elizabeth Gardner. His mother was the sister of Minister John White who was instrumental in the founding and funding of the Dorchester Company that grew into the colony of Massachusetts Bay. Thomas was chosen "through family-ties" to head up the 1623 Cape Ann Colony which was a "fishing station and saltworks" whose goal was to ship seafood back to England.
He had two wives, Margaret (c 1589 – 1659) and Demaris Sibley Shattuck (1597- 28 Sep 1674). With Margaret, he had six sons (Thomas, George, John, Samuel, Joseph, and Richard) and three daughters (Sarah, Seeth, and Miriam). In 1623, Gardner landed at Cape Ann with Margaret and the three sons who had been born in England. A fourth son was born in 1624.
Gardner died on 29 October 1674 and is buried in Salem.
The legacy of Thomas Gardner, from seven children, is wide, and varied, as one would expect for the many generations. Some (small sampling) of Thomas' descendants are as follows, grouped by category and in chronological order by birth.
His descendants have supported America in all of its armed conflicts from its beginnings, built America through arts/sciences, and are examples of the brain, and backbone (necessary, despite pretensions otherwise from certain perspectives), of the country. Many of Thomas' descendants, or their husbands, graduated from Harvard including its early Divinity School. In short, the phenomenal breadth of involvement with the arts, sciences, and trades covers the gamut.
American patriots (and military)
- Capt John Gardner (c 1620, son) – Chief Magistrate (1680–82 & 1684), Nantucket, Massachusetts
- Capt Joseph Gardner (c 1620s, son) – King Philip's War casualty (his widow married Simon Bradstreet). Joseph was killed in the Great Swamp Fight on December 19, 1675. He was Captain of a Salem company. His widow, Ann (Downing) Gardner, is noted for an agreement (early Pre-nup) that she got Governor Simon Bradstreet, Jr, to sign before they got married.
- John Gardner (c 1680s, great-grandson through George) – Captain – Salem Company, French-Indian War 
- Jonathan Gardner (c 1720s, 2nd great-grandson through Samuel) – Commander of a privateer, French-Indian War, Commander of Minutemen, American Revolution —Described by William Bentley thusly: A most useful Citizen, of amiable temper, inflexible integrity, and a sober friend to all useful, social & religious institutions.
- Benjamin Balch (c 1730s, through daughter, Sarah) – first Chaplain, Continental Navy 
- Nathaniel Gorham (c 1730s, through son, Richard) – Signer of US Constitution 
- Samuel Gardner (c 1730s, through son, George) – in-law of one of the consignees (Richard Clarke) of the tea thrown in Boston Harbor 
- Ebenezer Gardner (c 1740s, through son, Thomas) – American Revolutionary patriot (Col. Benjamin Foster's Regiment), builder of the Gardner House, Machias, Maine 
- Gideon Gardner (c 1750s, through son, Richard) – Whaler from Nantucket, U.S. Representative, Gardner Island namesake
- William Balch (c 1770s, through daughter, Sarah) – first Chaplain, U.S.Navy. His father was first chaplain of the Continental Navy; his grandfather had been a chaplain in the Royal Navy.
- Joseph Gardner Swift (c 1780s, through son, Richard) – the first graduate of the United States Military Academy 
- Samuel Knapp Gardner (c 1780s, through son, Samuel) – Mariner, captured in War of 1812, held in Dartmoor (HM Prison)  His 3rd great-grandfather, Edward Woodman, was a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts.
- Rebecca Gardner (c 1780s, through son, Samuel) – wife of Captain John Allen who died, in 1814, POW, Dartmoor (HM Prison) 
- Lucretia Coffin Mott (c 1790s, through son, Richard) – early abolitionist, feminist, and co-founder of Swarthmore College 
- Emily Lee (c 1800s, through son, Richard) – wife of U.S. Civil War General Daniel Tyler 
- Elizabeth Cabot Blanchard (c 1800s, through son, George) – wife of Robert Charles Winthrop 
- Edwin M. Stanton (c 1810s, through son, Richard) – Secretary of War, American Civil War
- William Crowninshield Endicott (c 1820s, through son, Samuel) – Secretary of War in the Administration of President Grover Cleveland 
- Ebenezer Gardner Goldthwaite (c 1820s, through son, Samuel) – son of Rebecca Gardner, served Andrew's Sharpshooters, 22nd Regt, Massachusetts Volunteers 
- Charles Jackson Paine (c 1830s, through son, Thomas) – Union General, American Civil War.
- Charles Francis Adams II (c 1830s, through son, Richard) – Union General, President of Union Pacific Railroad
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr (c 1840s, through son, Thomas) – American Jurist (with his father, members of the Dudley-Winthrop family)
- Stephen Minot Weld, Jr. (c 1840s, through daughter, Sarah) – General, American Civil War hero 
- Arent S. Crowninshield (c 1840s, through son, Samuel) – admiral of the United States Navy, Civil War 
- Adolphus Greely (c 1840s, through daughter, Sarah) – American Polar explorer, recipient of the Medal of Honor 
- George William Coffin (c 1840s, through son, Richard) – Commander of 'Alert', Greely Relief Expedition 
- Francis Cabot Lowell (c 1850s, through son, George) – longtime United States federal judge 
- Henry Cabot Lodge (c 1850s, through son, George) – American Senator
- Charles G. Dawes (c 1860s, through daughter, Sarah) – 30th Vice President of the United States
- Augustus Peabody Gardner (c 1860s, through son, George) – Distinguished Service Medal (United States), Spanish American War 
- Chase A. Clark (c 1880s, through son, John) – Governor of Idaho.
- John Henry Balch (c 1890s, through daughter, Sarah) – United States Navy, World War I, Medal of Honor, Lieutenant, World War II 
- Pierpont Morgan Hamilton (c 1890s, through son, Samuel) – Medal of Honor winner
- Endicott Peabody (c 1920s, through son, George) – the 62nd Governor of Massachusetts from January 3, 1963 to January 7, 1965 
- John Forbes Kerry (c 1940s, through son, George) – Vietnam War, United States Senator, presidential candidate in 2004 election 
- Others – Edith Roosevelt (c 1860s), Samuel James Ervin (c 1890s) 
- Jonathan Gardner (c 1690s, through son, Samuel) – his Great Pastures became Salem Woods 
- John Lowell Gardner I (c 1800s, through son, George) – grandnephew of Col Timothy Pickering, East Indies trader, ship fleet owner (Barque, Brig, Clipper, Steamship) 
- Rowland Hussey Macy (c 1820s, through son, Richard) – founder of Macy's 
- James A. Folger (c 1830s, through son, Richard) – founder of Folger's 
- Henry Clay Folger (c 1850s, through son, Richard) – head of Standard Oil of New York 
- George Swinnerton Parker (c 1860s, through daughter, Sarah) – founder, Parker Brothers
- William Coffin Coleman (c 1870s, through son, John) – founder of Coleman Company
- Juliet Pierpont Morgan (c 1870s, through son, John) – daughter of J. P. Morgan
- Harold M. Stratton (c 1870s, through son, Richard) – founder of Briggs & Stratton
- Alfred Winslow Jones (c 1900s, through son, Samuel) – created first hedge fund
- Sarah Gardner (c 1630s, daughter) – wife of Benjamin Balch (son of John Balch, old planter)) 
- Mary Gardner (c 1660s, through son, Richard) – wife of Jethro Coffin 
- Timothy Folger (c 1700s through son, Richard) – studied the Gulf Stream with his cousin, Benjamin Franklin 
- Abel Gardner (c 1700s, through son, Samuel) – his grandparents (Israel and Elizabeth (Ha(w)thorne) Porter) led the effort to save the life of Rebecca Nurse. Elizabeth's grandfather, Major William Hathorne, had come on the Arbella with John Winthrop.
- John Gardner (c 1770s, through sons, Samuel and George) – builder of the Gardner-Pingree House
- Nathaniel Bowditch (c 1770s, through son, Thomas) – autodidactic mathematician 
- Mayhew Folger (c 1770s, through son, Richard) – rediscovered Pitcairn Islands in 1808
- Lydia Jackson (c 1800s, through son, George) – wife of Ralph Waldo Emerson 
- Nathaniel Ha(w)thorne (c 1800s, through sons, Thomas and George) – American author, descendant of John Hathorne.
- Ezra Cornell (c 1800s, through son, Richard) – founder of Cornell university 
- Charles Sanders Peirce (c 1830s, through daughter, Seeth) – philosopher and mathematician 
- John Lowell Gardner II (c 1830s, through son, George) – John's wife founded Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum 
- Phillips Brooks (c 1830s, through son, Richard) – author of a well-known carol.
- Francis Ellingwood Abbot (c 1830s, through ...) – American philosopher 
- Frederic Ward Putnam (c 1830, through ...) – American naturalist 
- Lilla Cabot Perry (c 1840s, through son, George) – American artist 
- Endicott Peabody (educator) (c 1850s, through son, George) – headmaster for Franklin D. Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt at Groton School 
- Anna Parker Lowell (c 1850s, through son, George) – wife of Abbott Lawrence Lowell 
- Elliott P. Joslin (c 1860s, through son, Samuel) – founder of Joslin Diabetes Center
- William Sydney Porter (c 1860s, through son, Richard) – author 
- Robert Frost (c 1870s, through son, George) – four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry
- Charles Austin Beard (c 1870s, through son, Richard) – historian, co-founder of The New School 
- Julian Lowell Coolidge (c 1870s, through son, George) – chairman of the Harvard University Mathematics Department 
- Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor (c 1870s, through daughter, Sarah) – first editor of the National Geographic Magazine 
- Erle Stanley Gardner (c 1880s, through son, Richard) – author, creator of Perry Mason
- Frank A. Gardner MD (c 1880s, through his son, Samuel) – Physician and Historian. Member of Essex Institute, Old Planters Society, Old Salem Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. Among his great-grandparents were Nathan & Mary (Ayer) Parker (6th) and John & Elizabeth (Stratton) Thorndike (7th).
- Edmund Wilson (c 1890s, through son, George)-- man of letters 
- C. W. Grafton (c 1900s, through daughter, Seeth) – Attorney, Author.
- Esther Williams (c 1920s, through son, Richard) – American swimmer and movie star
- Others – Charles Austin Beard (c 1870s), Ezra Pound (c 1880s), Rita Hayworth (c 1910s), George Plimpton (c 1920s), Richard Chamberlain (c 1930s) 
Thomas was buried on Gardner Hill near present day Boston Street and Grove, in Salem. Others buried in the same location included Seeth, his daughter, and Abel, his grandson. Abel's wife, Sarah Porter Gardner, whose mother was the sister of John Hathorne, was buried with her husband.
One hundred and fifty graves were moved from this area to Harmony Grove Cemetery when Grove Street was expanded in the 1840s.
Degrees of separation
Through his second wife, Damaris, Thomas' influence could be expanded through the shrinking world argument. Among his stepchildren's descendants, one can find Thomas Stearns Eliot, John Marshall Harlan, and Sandra Day O'Connor.
Other Gardner families
There were several Gardner families concurrent with Thomas, the planter. Richard Gardiner was passenger on the Mayflower. In 1635, Lion Gardiner arrived in Boston. One of his legacies is Gardiners Island in New York. George Gardiner (settler) was an early settler of Rhode Island.
Thomas Gardner (Roxbury) (c. – 1638) arrived in 1635 and settled in Roxbury. He left a young son, named Thomas, and had the following descendants:
- Mary Gardner (c 1640s) – sister of Abigail, grandmother of John Adams
- Abigail Gardner (c 1650s) – wife of John Wise (clergyman), early Patriot, an inspiration for the Declaration of Independence, son of Joseph and Mary (Thompson) Wise. Mary was daughter of Alice Freeman Thompson Parke.
- Col Thomas Gardner (c 1720s) – hero of Bunker Hill, after whom Gardner, MA is named.
Many views have been expressed about the political aspects of the "Old Planters (Massachusetts)" and their experience. That is, Conant is credited with founding Salem and was then followed by Endicott and Winthrop. Also, cited motivations were largely more related to independence (religious, economic,...) for the folks that moved to the new world than not.
Some sources describe that, though succeeding in Cape Ann provided a struggle, Thomas Gardner, and his crew, were successful in maintaining themselves and their families. Conant, essentially, was sent because the old planters were not seen to be successful in London as expected. That is, the capitalists were calling for their profits.
Of course, Conant could not overcome the elements either. So, moving to Naumkeag was a good choice. And, Gardner may have been instrumental in that in many ways. For example, the old planters laid out the framework which supported the later influx of many emigrants from Europe, and elsewhere.
Now, many lessons from that time apply to current situations, and financial messes, and the hope is that future research acknowledges people, like Gardner and his party. Actually, that they were the backbone of the country that ensued, and that they contributed more than did any subsequent puppet of London, is one lesson.
Consider that events of a hundred years later, supported by offspring of Gardner and the old planters and many others, demonstrated the problems with London's views. Gardner and party were just ahead of their time.
Not only was Gardner's party more tolerant and independent, they were of the type that contributes directly in ways that are incalculable (the bone and sinew of the country, noted one historian). Except, seeing how modern views have allowed infrastructural decay (by out-housing our backbone, for example), there may be many other lessons that we can learn from the old planters, and in places other than Massachusetts, to boot.
History and its lessons
Different historical sketches about this period of time show just how difficult are the issues related to retrospective views, especially when the principal players are not available for vetting via interview. As we have seen with history, those with the written record are often considered the prime purveyors of the facts of the situation. In this case, we have the records of John Endicott, John Winthrop, and others.
In addition, there are the recordings of those who reported to London (list these) during this period. It may be that the "old planters" were given essentially untrue descriptions due to the behavior of some and to the opinions of the Puritanical viewpoint. One of their more insightful, and talented, descendants, Nathaniel Hawthorne, provided, 200 years later, an allegorical sketch in his short work, "The Maypole of Merry Mount" in regard to this theme.
As a case in point, there are different views about the roles of Gardner and Conant. Here, there has been some rectification, as Frank A Gardner, MD wrote, in the early 20th century, books for both families using extensive material gathered in the Essex Institute.
- Gardner, Frank A., MD  Thomas Gardner Planter and Some of his Descendants, Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts (via Google Books)
- Perley, S  'History of Salem', Vol 1, pg 68 (via virginia.edu)
- Arrington, Benj F (Editor)  The Municipal History of Essex County (Tercentenary Edition), Vol 1
- A Brief Post-Pilgrim History of Cape Ann (via cape-ann.com)
- Chapter III: The Planting of New England. The Beginnings of New England. (via Humanities Web)
- Goff, John. (2009) Salem's Witch House: A Touchstone to Antiquity The History Press (via google.com)
- Felt, J.B. (1827) Annals of Salem W.&S. B. Ives
- Higginson, Thomas (1891). Life of Francis Higginson, First Minister in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. New York: Dodd, Mead, & Co. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
- Gardner, Frank A MD  Gardner memorial : a biographical and genealogical record of the descendants of Thomas Gardner, planter, Cape Ann, 1624, Salem ISBN 0-7404-2590-0, ISBN 978-0-7404-2590-5 (also, via ancestry.com)
- Bowers, Andy. . What's a Boston Brahmin?. (via slate.com)
- (1905) The Diary of William Bentley, D.D. The Essex Institute (via google.com)
- 'Descendants of John Balch'. First Reunion. (via archive.org) – F.A. Gardner in attendance
- Family sites (examples): Worcesters, Owings Stone, Shattuck, October House Farm
- Personal memoirs (examples): New England, Winthrop Society, Perley's History, ancestry.com, ...
- Dunn, Anthony T. 'The Gardners of Massachusetts: An American Legacy' (via Micmacfarm.com)
- William Balch (via balchipedia.wikidot.com)
- Paine, SC (1912) Paine Ancestry via Google Books
- Schley, Winfield S Commander, US Navy  1884 Greely Relief Expedition Washington Printing Office (via American Libraries)
- 'ENGLAND'S PRESENT TO AMERICA.; THE STEAM-SHIP ALERT FOR THE GREELY SEARCH EXPEDITION', 4/23/1884, New York Times.(via NYT Archives)
- New England Historical Genealogical Society. 'Bush and Kerry related'. (via notablekin.org
- 'A Short History of Salem Woods'. (via Friends of Salem Woods)
- Young, A. . Chronicles of the first planters of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, from 1623–1636. (via Google Books)
- George Gardner Family Papers 1659–1900. (The Massachusetts Historical Society)
- Gardner Family Papers 1772–1915. (The Massachusetts Historical Society)
- Higginson, T.W. (1900) The alliance between pilgrim and puritan in Massachusetts Salem, MA (via google.com)
- Roberts, G.B.  Notable Kin: Nantucket Soup NEHGS (via americanancestors.org)
- Gardiner, AB (1896) "NOTES, QUERIES AND REPLIES" American historical register ..." Philadelphia (via google.com)
- Coolidge, C. (1926) The Inspiration of the Declaration of Independence (via calvin-coolidge.org)
- Roberts, GB #68 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: Notable Descendants of Mrs. Alice Freeman Thompson Parke, RD (via NEHGS website)
- White, J. (1630) The Planters' Plea via Winthrop Society
- Elson, Henry W.  'History of the United States' The McMillan Company (via usahistory.info)
- Thomas Gardner Society
- Thomas Gardner, planter Google search with timeline
- Gardner family Google search with timeline
- Higginson, TW . The Alliance between Pilgrim and Puritan in Massachusetts. Old Planters Society address. (Officers pg 19, Member list pg 21)
- Goff, J . Looking at Salem's beginnings: The White and Gardner family contributions.
- Salem Preservation, Inc Newsletter. Reporting historic preservation developments in the greater Salem area.
- The Beginnings of New England (Bibliographical Note)