Home
History Index
THE THOMAS HATCH ENIGMA

....An examination from a different perspective, of the relationship
of Thomas Hatch of Barnstable, Plymouth, Massachusetts, to
Arthur Hatch of Aller, South Molton, Devonshire, England............

Myron W. Hatch
St. George, Utah
©25 April, 1999
Contact the author at <mbhatch@juno.com>
The "Enigma" is copyrighted.
Before downloading a copy, please contact the author.  His permission is given freely.

Sources

There has been much research done and much written about Thomas Hatch of Barnstable, as evidenced by the information sources listed below. Many of the researchers of the Hatch line in America have long been confused when trying to separate and identify the Thomas Hatches who lived in New England in the 1630's.(2) These researchers, relying on information at hand or being limited by missing information, have unknowingly added to the confusion. It is possible to find several Thomases of that period living in close proximity who may or may not have been related.(2,3,9) Too, the custom of handing down family given names, resulting in the repeating of names within a family line, only further confused the matter. In my research, I have used I, II, III, IV, etc., to identify different versions of Thomas.

For years I have tried to separate them, and if possible, identify our Thomas' place of origin, his date of birth, the name of his first wife if indeed there was a first wife, and to find more information about Grace who accompanied him and his children to America. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), we Hatches feel it essential that we know as much about our ancestors as possible. As a result of my studies, I now believe that these facts have not yet been discovered, although they may be in the possession of some Hatch descendant living in America, or perhaps stored away in some library. Possibly, the truth may lie in places not yet searched. But I feel that even without this information we can eliminate many of the errors and much of the confusion.

THOMAS II, or "Thomas of Scituate" as he is known genealogically is definitely not our ancestor. His ancestry is well documented as are his descendants.(3,7) He was born in Wye, Kent, about 1596 as a son of William, and Ann Tilden also of Wye. Thomas, his wife Lydia, nee Gyles or Giles, and children came to Plymouth along with a brother, William. Both families settled in Situate, a few miles from Boston prior to 1638 when he was propounded a Freeman. This designation meant that he was a person of known virtue, he owned land, he was a member in good standing of the Church, and he had pledged his fealty to the King. A Freeman was allowed to bear arms in what was probably a militia or homeguard, and the Freeman status was likely the equivalent of today's citizenship. His descendants are clearly identified and documented. Some confusion arises from Thomas's son William, his brother William, and Thomas's father, but close attention to dates clears up the matter. Upon Thomas' death in about 1654, his wife Lydia married a John Spring. We can eliminate THOMAS II from our considerations.

THOMAS III emerges from the Hache-Hash Genealogy by Lella Gertrude Saylor.(10) Thomas Hache, a Huguenot, and a lad of 17, came to America with Captain John Smith of Pocahantas fame in 1619, on the ship "Duty" when Captain Smith made a return voyage to America after a visit to England. Thomas is said to have met a young lady on the voyage and they married, her name being given as "Miss" Osborne. Virginia records show him as living in the "Flower de Hundred" in 1623. At that time the term "hundred" was used to designate a community or group of families. But since he and his wife dropped from the records of Virginia, Saylor thought him to have migrated north and become THOMAS I. I believe this to be incorrect as Thomas Hache was likely French and no references to a French ancestry are found in any of the sources of information concerning Thomas I. So much for THOMAS III.

THOMAS IV arises from references by Lewis M. Hatch(9) and Charles Lathrop Pack(3), all probably drawing from the same sources. Thomas IV was thought to have been from the vicinity of Biddenden, in Canterbury, Kent, and Pack enumerates a myriad of Hatches and shows many wills from Kent, but none that look to account for Thomas I. If he was from Kent, no hard evidence has yet been found. Lewis states that Thomas', wife Grace, and children Jonathan and Lydia, came to America prior to 1634. Exactly when and how is not certain. He was reported to have come on the ship "Mary and John", under a Captain Squeb (Squibb?) arriving in 1630. In the book "The Search for the Passengers of the Mary and John"(8),Thomas is listed as a person "not known to have been on the voyage", but that he was listed at all must have indicated some evidence of his presence in New England after 1630 and before 7 May 1634, when he was propounded a Freeman in Dorchester. The documentation for that assumption is not available, and I think it could have been an attempt to account for his presence, absent any facts.

Actually, the passengers of that particular voyage of the Mary and John were all from Devon, Sussex, or Somerset(8); none were from Kent. Another writer(14) believed Thomas arrived on the second vessel of Governor Winthrop's Fleet on 24 July 1633. But I have searched the records of the fleet and found no trace of Thomas. However, if it were correct, Thomas would have been in Dorchester at a time that would account for his being named a Freeman in 1634. That this Thomas IV from Kent is our Thomas is possible, but without more definite information, it can only be considered speculation. If our Thomas was from Kent, possibly he could have been a relative of Thomas II, though nothing in any of the existing information indicates any such relationship, even with the two Thomases living only a few miles apart. All of the above notwithstanding, there is at least a possibility of Thomas I having originated in Kent, but I believe we can also turn from THOMAS IV

THOMAS I, traditionally identified as our Thomas, was thought to have come from Aller, South Molton, Devonshire, England(1,2,6), and an entire history has been built around him. Many LDS Hatches have maintained that Thomas was the son of Arthur Hatch and Margaret Mallet of Aller, and thence back to Jeffery de Hatch.(1,2,3) The Hatch Family History set forth that premise beginning in the late 1800's, and that assumption still persists.(6) Clearly our Thomas was in Dorchester, Falmouth, and Barnstable, with a possible second wife Grace and children Jonathan and Lydia, and certainly most of the LDS Hatches descended from him, of that there is no doubt.(1,2)

The identity of Thomas's first wife is not known, and in fact, she may not have even existed. But the stories seem to indicate that the children were not close to Grace, and after Thomas's death in 1661, they were not reported to have had contact with her, giving rise to the premise of a first wife. Neither Jonathan nor Lydia named a daughter Grace as might have been expected had Grace been their natural mother.

Although Grace (and Isaac Robinson) filed Thomas's inventory after Thomas' death, it was Jonathan and Lydia who went to Boston to prove his estate.(3) Since both Jonathan and Lydia named daughters Mary(6), and no Mary existed in Jonathan's wife's family or Lydia's husband's family,(2) it might be surmised that their natural mother was named Mary. A Doctor Edwin T. Hatch from Denver, quoted by Lewis M. Hatch(9), believed that the first wife might have been a relative of Isaac Robinson.(9) What facts he based this on are unknown, but references to Isaac do occur in Thomas', Grace's, Jonathan's, and Lydia's activities. Isaac was born in Leiden, Holland, of English parents, but investigation of his family discloses no sister nor cousin named Mary, although his two wives were so named. Jonathan and Lydia may have named their daughters Mary out of respect for Isaac's wife.

One other interesting bit of information did surface although no corroborating details have yet been found. The IGI(13) and the Parish Records of Ugborough, Devon(15) show the birth of a Thomas Hatch being born to a "Thomae and Grac" Hatch in 1631; that Parish being located in the southern part of Devon. In the records of Ugborough as in other parishes, names often appear in Latinized versions and so we might well presume Thomae is a Thomas, and Grac was Grace. Was a son Thomas born to Thomas and Grace as a child of Thomas' second marriage? Were Thomas and Grace passing through Ugborough, or perhaps living there temporarily while awaiting passage to America? Or, was Thomas actually from one of the Hatch families in that part of Devon? In the records of the Parish no record of the death of a Thomas, son of Thomas, can be found in the relevant time period, nor any further information concerning Thomas and Grace. If this was our Thomas, the baby Thomas must have died in a place other than Ugborough. perhaps before Thomas and Grace went to America, or on the voyage over, as no existing records mention a third child. Indeed, there have yet been found no factual records of a marriage of a Thomas to a Grace, of the births of Jonathan or Lydia, of Thomas' place of origin, or of his arrival in America. It is as if he and his family suddenly materialized in Dorchester in 1634. After Thomas' death in 1661, Grace married Ralph Smith and lived with him until his death in 1685. But given the existence of the Ugborough parish records, I believe we must accept the presence of Thomas and Grace in Devon in 1631.

The Hatches of Aller did go back to Jeffery de Hatch, that connection being well documented.(1,3,4,5) and it is to this family that our Thomas has long been linked. Arthur's great-great-grandfather William was said to have purchased Aller about 1530(5), which then became the ancestral home of that branch of the family. However, William Drake(5) writes that Aller came to the Hatch family with the marriage of Jeffery's second son Gilbert to Alicia, or Clais, the daughter of William de Aure or Aller in about 1262.(1) Alicia/Clais was also identified as Clara, daughter of William Northaller. This version is likely to be the correct one as pedigrees show Hatches in Aller several generations prior to William. Arthur was born in about 1577, married Margaret Mallet about 1596, and had several children. The eldest, Thomas, was born in 1598, possibly on 1 May, and was baptized at the Barnstaple Parish 14 October, 1599.(16) Why he was baptized there is not known as Barnstaple is a fair distance from South Molton, but the Parish records are quite clear as to his identity.

Thomas, as the eldest son was the heir to Arthur's lands and fortune under the Law of Primogenitor. When the first son is born, his role is determined by law and tradition, and his preparation for that responsibility begins in his childhood. His father Arthur, assumed that same role at the age of seven upon the death of his father Thomas, even though his mother was still living. In all probability an older relative acted as Aller's steward until Arthur attained adulthood. Upon Arthur's death on 7 June 1625, Thomas probated his father's will and ascended to his rightful place as head of the family and Lord of the Manor Aller.(5) Margaret, Thomas' mother, died in 1645. (1625 is the same year that Jonathan, Thomas of Barnstable's son, was born.) In the Parish records of South Molton(11), Arthur Esq. was named as a Churchwarden in 1609, apparently a lifetime office; in 1633 Thomas Esq. was so named, and in 1683 John Hatch Esq., probably the son of Thomas' brother John, was named to that office. As a Warden, usually a prominent man of means, one was involved in the financial and administrative matters of the parish. To imagine that Thomas of Aller would abandon the life of a landed gentleman and his place and responsibilities as head of the Hatches of Aller to take up life in the rough, crude, American colonies simply cannot be believed. In fact documentation exists showing Thomas' presence in South Molton in 1641. That year all members of the Church of England were required to swear allegiance to the "true reformed Protestant Religion expressed in the Doctrine of the Church of England." Those who so swore were listed in the "Devon Protestation Return 1641", and Thomas Esquire is listed on page 448 of Volume II (17).

Accounts of Thomas I describe him as a man of integrity, but not prominent, and certainly not wealthy. Some historians, examining Thomas's inventory at the time of his death in 1661, believed him to have been a cabinetmaker, and one thought him to have been a tailor. The value of his estate was set at about 16 pounds, not including his home and lands.(2,3,5) If Thomas of Aller had come to America, it is certain he would have arrived as a man of means, probably with an entourage of servants, and he would have lived an entirely different life than did Thomas I. Too, Thomas I, having been propounded a Freeman in Dorchester in May 1634, surely had to have been there earlier to merit the title. Thomas of Aller was serving as a Warden of the South Molton Parish in England in 1633, at the same time that Thomas I would have had to have been living in Dorchester establishing himself to qualify for the title of Freeman.

At this point let me weave a scenario from the information I have gathered about the Hatches of Aller. I am drawing from several of the sources listed below, but primarily the Boyd's Marriage Index and the Parish Records of the Births, Marriages, and Deaths of South Molton. Of course this story is colored by my interpretation of the data, but I am drawing on original records.

Arthur Hatch of Aller married Margaret Mallet in about 1596 and they had twelve children, eight of whom lived to adulthood. In 1625 Thomas, upon Arthur's untimely death at the hands of a murderer in London, succeeded his father and became the head of the family and Steward of the Lands of Aller. As Thomas' brothers and sisters grew and began looking for mates, they left Aller to find others of their status. South Molton was a rather small Parish, the records showing there to be only thirty to forty baptisms and ten to fifteen marriages a year, and apparently there were no others in the parish who were suitable. John, the second son, married Ellen Pearse from Plymouth in 1620 and was living in Oxford by 1625; the third son Hugh, married Cecily Rice of Shirwell in 1625. Cecily Hatch married a John Ashford in 1638, and Francisca married Charles Wellington of Marwood in about 1635. The others also moved away to marry and start their lives elsewhere.

Thomas did not marry, thus, he produced no heir. Upon Thomas's death on 1 June 1680, his brother John's eldest son John, returned to Aller and became the family head, John senior having died in 1674. John Esq. was named a Church Warden in 1683. Thereafter the line of succession for the Hatches of Aller was through John Esq., the son of John, the second son of Arthur. The Hatches maintained possession of Aller until 1750, when another Thomas Hatch, also unmarried, died without an heir, and his sister sold the lands and manor of Aller to Earl Fortescue from the nearby parish of Filleigh. The Fortescue Estate still owns Aller to this day.

Thomas of Aller lived in England, he died in England, and he was buried in England.

In the research for this study I have read numerous wills. They have one thing in common: upon the father's death the eldest son assumes his responsibilities as the head of the family. In wealthy or landed families, younger sons left home to seek their fortune elsewhere, or if the family had other properties, younger sons would have managed them. Some went in the Army or Navy, some became clergymen or attorneys, perhaps even scholars. If the eldest son produced no male heirs, the office of head of the family went to the second son or his descendants, to a brother or his descendants, or in some cases back to a brother of the father, or a descendant of that brother. Being the head of family was a serious responsibility and belonged to a male.

If and when we ever discover Thomas I's background, I feel sure we will find him to have been a second son or younger, in a family of modest means, from somewhere in Devon. I believe he took whatever settlement he received upon his father's death, together with what money he had accumulated, and struck out for America where he could build for himself and his family a new and better life. If Thomas was a younger son, it might be that he did not bear his father's name, as that name is often given to the heir. Could his father have been named Jonathan, and Thomas so named his son to honor his father? Or was Jonathan the given name of his mother's father? The name Jonathan is not nearly as prevalent as Thomas and so might offer a clue.

However, I believe there are other clues to his origin. A story, credited to a grandson of Jonathan, tells of a contest between Thomas and another, the winner to get Grace, referred to as a Welch girl. Devon is south of Wales, across the Bristol Channel, and a likely location for a Welch family to relocate. Or, Thomas could have visited Wales and there found a wife.

Also, the record at Ughbourgh must be taken into account. In no other place has any record of a Thomas and Grace yet appeared. These two clues strongly speak to a Devonshire origin for Thomas I. Kent, the other suggested location, is far from Devon and Ughbourgh, and any proximity to Wales. There were many Hatches living in various parts of Devon and I believe Thomas to have been from one of those families. But, why are there no records of Thomas, his birth, marriage, or of the births of his children? At that time in England, even though most people left the Catholic Church and followed the Church of England, it was by no means universal. Many formed independent churches, remained Catholic, or joined the Methodist, or Presbyterian churches. Few of those records have survived, and those that do cover later time periods.

Let me here weave another scenario which could explain the mystery. Thomas Hatch was born about 1600, though the exact year is not known. He married, and his first child Jonathan, was born about 1626 indicating Thomas could have been born as late as 1605. Since Thomas' family were non-conformists, or of those refusing membership in the Church of England, his birth, marriage, and the births of his children were not entered into Parish records. Neither was the death of his wife. After the birth of Lydia in about 1628, Thomas' wife died. A year or two later, Thomas married Grace, whose last name could have been Lewis, and in 1631 they had a son Thomas whose birth was registered in the Ughborough Parish records, Grace being a member of the Church of England. The son Thomas died before they emigrated to America after leaving Ughborough, or on the voyage over. In America, Thomas, Grace, and the two children lived as history records them.

In light of all the above, Thomas of Barnstable could not possibly have been Thomas of Aller, the son of Arthur, and sadly, we do not descend from that family in any way. The proud coat of arms we have all cherished is likely not ours except in the most general way, and our true heritage is not yet known. But we can take pride in Thomas' having been motivated to make such a drastic move, whatever the reason and from wherever he originated as most of the Hatches in the LDS Church, and many of the American Hatches are the beneficiaries of that courageous decision.

Without question, some LDS Hatch family members will take issue with my conclusions and the above scenario, and I must say that I myself am not too pleased. I have been well satisfied with the connection of our Thomas of Barnstable to Arthur of Aller as it has long been recorded in our family and in church records. To deny that traditional relationship now is certainly not comfortable, but the facts as I have found them are not to be ignored, and I feel I must make them known. It is to be hoped that the search will continue and perhaps records will be found to finally identify our Thomas of Barnstable.

Unfortunately, it is easier to disprove Thomas I's connection to Arthur, than to identify his true ancestry. He certainly was not Thomas II. But what of Thomas III, or Thomas IV? Did he actually come from somewhere in Devon, or, from Kent? Did he, a Huguenot come to Virginia with Captain John Smith and later re- establish himself in New England? Was Thomas some relative of Thomas of Aller but not sharing the wealth or status of the Aller Hatches? Or did he originate elsewhere in Devon as that record in Ughborough suggests?

Truly, our Thomas Hatch is an enigma.

Myron W. Hatch
325 S 200 E
St George, Utah 84770
Email <mbhatch@juno.com>

Myron W. Hatch>Elden>Perry Orin>Orin Perry>Orin>Ira Stearns>Ira>Jeremiah>Meltiah>Benjamin>Jonathan>Thomas

Sources:

(1) Family Group Sheet Records submitted by Mrs. Edith Hatch Elkins
(2) Various Thomas Hatch histories by several writers
(3) Book "Thomas Hatch of Barnstable" By Charles Lathrop Pack (LDS film 1036366)
(4) Book "Devonshire Notes and Notices" By William Richard Drake (LDS film 1419452)
(5) Excerpt from book "Devonshire Families" Author unknown
(6) Book "Genealogy and History of The Hatch Family" Compiled by The Hatch Genealogical Society (LDS film 1035692)
(7) Book "Immigrant Ancestors" By Frederick Adams Virkus (LDS Library Book No. 973.W2VA)
(8) Book "The Search for the Passengers of the Mary and John" by Burton F. Spears
(LDS fiche 6010918)
(9) Treatise by Lewis M. Hatch included in "History of Edith Hatch Elkins" (LDS film 1597843)
(10) Treatise by Lella Gertrude Saylors "Hache-Hash Genealogy and Allied Lines" (LDS film 0896971)
(11) Records of the Parish of South Molton, Devonshire, England (LDS films 0917529, 933372, and 0917530)
(12) Boyd's Index of marriages in Devonshire (LDS fiche 6054174 and 6026870)
(13) LDS International Genealogical Index
(14) Writer of the Hatch, Palmer, and Rowley family history included in the "History of Edith Hatch Elkins" (LDS film 1597843)
(15) Parish Records of Ugborough, Devonshire, England LDS films 0917549 and 0917550)
(16) Parish Records of Barnstaple, Devonshire, England (LDS film 0962417)
(17) Devon Protestation Return 1641, Vol II, page 448.(LDS Library Book No 942.35 N2h)

Top of page