Thomas Caswell was an early resident of Taunton as in 1643 he was on a roster of the First Military Company of Taunton. This was a list of "all the males able to beare armes from XVI years to 60 yeares". He was most probably born in England, but it is not now known when he came to this country. He was probably not one of the original settlers of Taunton because he does not appear on the list of the 46 original purchasers or the list of 35 subsequent purchasers.
It is not known where in England Thomas came from but the Caswell name is common in the county of Somerset, and a large number of Somersetshire families settled in Taunton. In the parish of North Curry, Somerset on October 20, 1618, Thomas Caswell, son of Thomas Caswell, was baptised. This Thomas would be of the right age to be the Thomas of Taunton, but proof of a connection is lacking. Thomas probably married in Taunton about 1648 to Mary ____. Mary's maiden name is unknown, but her son Peter, in a testamentary deed, made mention of his "aunt Bryant".[2/17:438] This aunt could be Mary's sister, but unfortunately her maiden name can not be established either.[5/35:111]
In 1651 Thomas and eleven other townsmen made up a panel of inquest into the drowning death of ten year old William England, servant to Joseph Wildbore, who accidentally fell out of a canoe on the Great River (now Taunton River). Thomas signed his name, "Tho: Caswell", to the verdict.[6/2:1756] The people of Taunton chose Thomas as hayward on March 11, 1655, apparently the only elected position he ever held. In 1657 "Tho: Casswell" took the Oath of Fidelity in Taunton.[5/36:79] In 1662 he served on the "Grand Enquest" for the Colony of New Plymouth.[6/4:14] In 1667 he was again called upon to serve with eleven others on a panel of inquest into the accidental drowning of Timothy Poole, to which he signed his name "Thomas Caswell"[6/4:171]
Thomas settled on the land that had belonged to John Kingsley, an original proprietor who had moved to Rehoboth, MA. On December 28, 1659 he was granted 42 acres of land in Taunton, and there were nine in his family at the time. He and his wife and six children account for eight. The ninth may have been a servant, a child whose birth and death were not recorded, or some other relative. On the sixth of June 1668 Thomas was one of those to purchase shares in the Taunton North Purchase,[4/3:118] which was later set of as Norton, parts of Mansfield and Easton. Several years later he was also involved in the South Purchase, a four square mile tract bought from King Phillip and which now lies within the town of Berkley. Thomas was listed as a head of household in 1675, a year in which King Phillip was apparently having second thoughts about his earlier land sale to the English.
Thomas Caswell's name appears on a rate list dated October 16, 1683 to defray the expenses of plastering the meeting house, his comparitively large assessment being one shilling eleven pence. He was also assessed eighteen shillings as his proportion of the sum to be paid to purchase Mr. Danforth's land, according to an undated Taunton list.[5/35:113]
Also in 1683 the name of Thomas Caswell was included on a military document, and although this was probably Thomas Jr., an abstract is included here in order to give a flavor of the times. The Taunton Military Company was split at this time into four squadrons. The members of each squadron were to bring their fire arms to Sunday meeting once a month, each squadron taking a different sabbath. The court ordered that every soldier was to bring his arms when it was his turn with six charges of powder and shot and to be fined if he failed to do so. A steeper fine was to be imposed if he refused. Also, any member who stayed away from meeting because they would not bring their arms were to be summoned to court. Apparently the arms were necessary to protect the congregation against Indian attack.
In the 1691 Inspection Return, taken at the time of King William's War, "Thomas Caswell, sen" is shown as having been supplied with a gun, a cartouch box, powder, and bullets, while the following year his gun was pressed for Nathan Presbiter and valued at œ1. In 1693 Thomas served on a jury ordered by the town to lay out a road to William Hack's, the report of which he signed on May 27, 1693.[5/35:1134]
As for Thomas Caswell's land holdings, on November 27, 1649, at a town meeting, he was granted his second division, on the other side of Two Mile River opposite Thomas Coggins' land extending to the head of the great lots there. The wording of this grant seems to imply an earlier grant, possibly in the first division, but no record of this has been found. On December 28, 1659 he was granted forty-two acres for "9 Heads" (mentioned above), on which he paid a tax of 11 shillings and three pence. On January 3, 1660 it was said that Thomas Caswell's home lot shall extend in length as far as Shadrach Wildbore's land. The Proprietors' records list the lands in possession of Thomas Caswell Sr. on Jan. 8, 1665 as follows: his home lot, 6 acres, lying between Samuel Wilbore to the east and the widow Paul on the southwest; the addition to his home lot, being on the other side of the Great River, between Samuel Wilbore on the southwest and Mrris Farwell on the east; 4 acres of meadow on the other side of the Great River lying between two brooks, Walter Dean's meadow lying to the west of this tract on the other side of one of the brooks; one pond, called the "Stage Pond", being three acres lying between the Iron Works and the Four Mill Pond (called Titicut Pond); his "division", being 11 acres at the east end of the above meadow, bounded by James Bell's land on the east end and the Great River on the northwest, and extending to the Common on the south; and his "second division" of land, being 42 acres lying on the southeast side of his meadow, with "Plymouth path" on the west and the lands of widow Dean on the southeast, and extending to a little plain being a "common".[5/35:114]
Later, on March 22, 1669, Thomas was granted three acres of swamp on the Three Mile River "at a place where the beavers did dam up the water". On October 24, 1682 he was further granted thirty acres on John Kingsley's right and on December 23, 1684 he was granted two acres at a place called Pool's Brook, the western bound of which was the path that came from the Iron Works.[5/35:1145]
Thomas' will was dated September 28, 1691 with a codicil dated March 15, 1696-7 and was probated September 14, 1697. In it he mentioned his wife Mary and his six sons and daughters.[1/1:196] The inventory of the estate was taken March 30, 1697 and ammounted to 306.09.06.[1/1:197] On March 12, 1721-2 his son Thomas and daughters Mary Thrasher, Sarah Hoskins, Hannah Ramsdel, Elizabeth Leonard, Abigail Jones, and Esther Smith sold their rights in Thomas' estate to their brother Samuel.[2/14:316]
REF:  Bristol County Probate
 Bristol County Deeds
 Taunton Vital Records
 Plymouth Colony Deeds
 The Mayflower Descendant, 1985-1988
 Plymouth Colony Records, 1855
Children (all born in Taunton, MA):
1. Stephen, b. 15 Feb 1648-9, d. between 5 Jan 1711-2 and 25 Sep
1714, m. Taunton 24 Dec 1672 Hannah Thrasher (dau. of Christopher
Thrasher), d. aft. 1714
Chil.:[5/36:4] 1) Stephen, b. Taunton 11 Dec 1673, d. aft.
19 May 1746, m. by 14 Apr 1730 Sarah ____; 2) Deborah, b. abt.
1765, m. 14 Nov 1716 Edmund Tilson (son of Ephraim Tilson and
Elizabeth Hoskins), res. Plympton, MA; 3) Joseph, b. Taunton
18 May 1678, d. Berkley, MA 5 Aug 1775, m. abt. 1708 Love ____,
d. Berkley, MA 20 Apr 1768; 4) Timothy, d. 1760-1767, m. abt.
1702 Sarah ____, res. Berkley, MA; 5) Peter, d. aft. 1 Jun
1757, m. Elizabeth Barney (dau. of John Barney and Mary
Throop), b. Bristol, MA 4 Oct 1691, res. Tauconnuk, now Mt.
Washington, MA and Nobleton, now Hillsdale, NY; 6) Ruth, unm.
25 Sep 1714; 7) Hannah, unm. 25 Sep 1714; 8) Lydia, unm.
25 Sep 1714
2. Thomas, b. 22 Feb 1650-1, d. Middleboro between 27 Aug 1725
and 7 Feb 1725-6, m. abt. 1674 Mary Jones, d. aft. 5 Sep 1728
Chil.:[5/36:9-10] 1) Benjamin, b. 16 Nov 1675, m. Taunton
17 Mar 1706-7 Mary (Hall) Briggs (dau. of Samuel Hall and
Elizabeth White, widow of Samuel Briggs), b. Taunton 3 Oct
1672, d. bef. 11 Dec 1725, res. Norton, MA; 2) Thomas, b.
Taunton 2 Jan 1677-8, d. bef. 27 Aug 1725; 3) Mary, b. Taunton
16 Mar 1679-80, m. Taunton 28 Sep 1699 Thomas Stephens
(son of Richard Stephens and Mary Lincoln), b. Taunton 3 Feb
1674-5, res. Norton, MA; 4) James, b. Taunton 17 May 1681,
d. aft. 27 Aug 1725; 5) John, b. Taunton 27 Jan 1683-4, res.
Colleton County, SC; 6) Daniel, b. abt. 1692, d. Middleboro,
MA 20 Apr 1788, m. abt. 1712 Mary ____, b. Apr 1695, d.
Middleboro 20 Sep 1771; 7) Job, d. Newport, RI 5 Nov 1774,
m. abt. 1722 Lydia Peckham (dau. of Phillip Peckham and
Jane Blackwell), b. Newport 19 Mar 1705-6, d. Newport 1760;
8) Timothy, m. Scituate, MA 15 Apr 1723 Deborah Bowker (dau.
of James Bowker and Mary), b. Scituate 13 Aug 1693; 9) Jared,
d. aft. 27 Aug 1725, res. Newport, RI; 10) Hannah, d. aft.
10 Jul 1730, m.(int.) Norton, MA 5 Aug 1721 John Newland (son
of Anthony Newland and Esther Austin), b. Taunton 12 Sep 1686,
res. Norton; 11) Abigail, d. aft. 27 Aug 1725, m. ____ Allen;
12) Deborah, d. Easton, MA Aug 1726, m. Norton, MA 9 Jun 1726
John Austin (son of Jonah Austin and Thomasine Lincoln); 13)
Joseph, m. Dartmouth, MA 16 Mar 1731 Mary Kirby (dau. of John
Kirby and Rebecca Mosher), b. Dartmouth 16 Dec 1707, res.
Dartmouth; 14) Abiah, unm. 27 Aug 1725; 15) Margaret, unm.
27 Aug 1725
3. Peter, b. 31 Oct 1652, d. between 1727 and 1737, m. bef.
7 Apr 1681 Hannah ____, d. aft. 9 Apr 1716
Chil.[5/36:128]: 1) Edward, b. Taunton 7 Apr 1681, d. aft.
28 Nov 1748, prob. never married, res. Taunton; 2) Sarah,
unm. 4 Aug 1727; 3) Hannah, unm. 4 Aug 1727
4. Mary, b. 31 Aug 1654, d. aft. 10 Jul 1722, m. 15 Aug 1676
Israel Thrasher (son of Christopher Thrasher), b. Taunton
14 Sep 1648, d. aft. 12 Mar 1721-2
5. John, b. 31 Jul 1656, d. Norton, MA 1713-1714, m. Taunton
26 Nov 1689 Elizabeth Hall (dau. Samuel Hall and Elizabeth White),
b. Taunton 28 Oct 1670, d. Norton 4 Nov 1739
Chil.[5/36:132-3]: 1) John, b. Taunton 17 Jul 1690; 2) Elizabeth,
b. Taunton 16 Nov 1691, d. aft. 5 Mar 1754, m. Norton (int.)
27 Aug 1711 Samuel Bailey (son of John Bailey and Sarah White),
b. Scituate, MA Aug 1690, d. Norton by 5 Mar 1754; 3) Samuel,
b. Taunton 6 Oct 1695; 4) Josiah, b. Taunton 1 Jun 1696, d. btw.
2 Mar 1721-2 and 11 Oct 1723, res. Norton, MA; 5) Jedidiah,
b. Taunton 7 Nov 1700; 6) Bethiah, b. Taunton 14 Jun 1705, d.
prob. Norton bef. 6 Jul 1738, m. Norton 12 Jan 1726-7 Henry
Witherell (son of John Witherell and Susannah Newland), b.
Taunton North Purchase (now Norton) 26 Jan 1703-4, d. Norton
6. Sarah, b. 31 Nov 1658, d. aft. 26 Mar 1730, m. 3 Jul
1677 William Hoskins, b. 30 Nov 1647, d. Taunton 1730
7. William, b. 15 Sep 1660, d. aft. 14 Mar 1727-8, m. bef.
1686 Mercy Lincoln, b. Taunton 3 Apr 1670, d. aft. 6 Jun
Chil.[5/37:14-18]: possibly 1) Catherine, b. abt. 1687, d.
Hingham, MA 2 Apr 1761, m. Hingham 15 Feb 1703-4 Thomas
Jones (son of Joseph Jones adn Patience Little), b. Hingham
15 Aug 1679, d. Hingham 19 Mar 1723-4; probably 2) Joanna,
b. abt. 1689, d. aft. 7 Apr 1746, m. Hingham, MA 12 Jun 1707
Benjamin Tuells (son of Richard Tuells and Martha), b. Boston
13 Nov 1678, d. Dighton, MA prob. 5 Oct 1745; 3) William;
probably 4) Jotham; 5) Lydia, b. abt. 1696, d. Lisbon, CT 25
May 1790, m(1) Norwich, CT 8 Oct 1713 John Read (son of Josiah
Read and Grace Holloway), b. Norwich 15 Aug 1679, d. Norwich
16 Apr 1768, m(2) Norwich 23 Nov 1769 Capt. Isaac Mathews;
6) Seth, b. abt. 1698; 7) Mercy, d. aft. 25 Dec 1764, m.
Norwich, CT 12 Nov 1723 Daniel Longbottom (son of Daniel
Longbottom and Elizabeth Lamb), b. Norwich 19 Mar 1694-5, d.
Norwich 9 Sep 1753; 8) Mary, d. aft. 12 May 1740, m(1)
Norwich 30 Apr 1724 William Read (son of William Read and
Anna Stark), d. Norwich 13 Aug 1727, m(2) Preston, CT 1 Jul
1729 Isaac Cady (son of Nicholas Cady and Patience Redland),
b. abt. 1706, d. prob. Preston btw. 7 Feb and 17 Mar 1729-30,
m(3) btw. 1 Feb 1731-2 and 5 Apr 1740 ____ Burnham; 9)
Elkanah; possibly 10) Elizabeth, d. aft. 31 Oct 1765, m.
John Williams (son of Emmanuel Williams and Abigail Makepeace),
d. btw. 6 Mar 1775 and 5 Sep 1780; possibly 11) Charity, d.
aft. 21 Sep 1742, m. Middleborough, MA 1 Apr 1731 Electious
Reynolds (son of Electious Reynolds and Mary Pease), b.
Middleborough 21 Feb 1706-7
8. Hannah, b. 14 Jul 1661, d. aft. 12 Mar 1721-2, m. Daniel
Ramsdel, b. Plymouth, MA 14 Sep 1649, d. bef. 1722
9. Samuel, b. 26 Jan 1662-3, d. between 1728 and 1741, m. bef.
1691 Ruth Bobbitt, b. Taunton 7 Aug 1671, d. aft. 20 March
Chil.[5/37:21-22]: 1) Samuel, b. abt. 1692, d. aft. 10 Feb
1770, prob. d. Taunton Oct 1771, prob. unm.; possibly 2)
Stephen; 3) Henry; 4) Ebenezer; 5) Nathaniel; 6) Damaris,
b. abt. 1703, d. Taunton 25 Mar 1773, m. abt. 1723 Samuel
Wilbore (son of Samuel Wilbore and Sarah Phillips), b.
Taunton 26 Mar 1695, d. Taunton 21 Mar 1772; 7) Mehitable,
d. aft. 26 Apr 1737, m. Henry Richmond (son of Joseph Richmond
and Mary ANdrews), b. abt. 1690, d. Taunton aft. 24 Jul 1751;
8) Ruth; 9) Ann; 10) Joanna, b. abt. 1712, living in Mansfield,
CT 15 Mar 1792, m. Norwich, CT 5 Feb 1745-6 Jacob Jones (son
of Abraham Jones and Naomi Foster?), b. Taunton abt. 1702, d.
Mansfield, CT bef. 17 Jun 1791; 11) Rebecca
10. Elizabeth, b. 10 Jan 1664-5, d. aft. 12 Mar 1721-2, m.
Taunton 1 Jun 1685 Uriah Leonard, b. Taunton 10 Jul 1662,
d. aft. 12 Mar 1721-2
11. Abigail, b. 27 Oct 1666, d. aft. 10 Jul 1722, m. Taunton
6 Apr 1696 Joseph Jones, b. Taunton 5 Jul 1664, d. between
1722 and 1729
12. Esther, b. 1 Jun 1669, d. aft. 10 Jul 1722, m(1)
Samuel Smith, b. Taunton
15 Oct 1666, d. Taunton 1718,
m(2) ____ Fisher
The signature on land deeds show that Thomas' wife's name was Mary. That her maiden name was Lincoln does not seem to be documented except on a Family Pedigree Chart of unknown origin.
Family tradition says that Thomas Caswell came from Somersetshire, England, in 1640. In the parish of north Curry in Somersetshire, there is a record that one Thomas Caswell was baptized there on 20 October 1618, son of Thomas Caswell. If this is our Thomas, it would make him about 22 years old when he emigrated, not an unreasonable assumption.
In Taunton, in August of 1643, his name first appears as "Thom Caswell" on a list of "males 16 to 60 able to bear arms." Although not among the original proprietors of Taunton, he was an early settler there and did become a proprietor and as such took part in the South and North Purchases.
In 1657, "Tho: Casswell" took the oath of fidelity in Taunton. He served on several panels and committees which gives an indication of his good standing in the community. Starting with very little, Thomas acquired through grants and purchases several tracts of land totaling several hundred acres. His will and inventory show his land holdings to be sufficient to set up his sons and sons-in-las on farms of their own. His will was signed 28 September 1691 and was probated 14 September 1697.
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