Born in England. Arrived in Boston, Massachusetts by 1638 and later settled in the Dutch colony of New Amersterdam (Long Island, New York) and
Born in England. Arrived in Boston, Massachusetts by 1638 and later settled in the Dutch colony of New Amersterdam (Long Island, New York).
William Thorne was a Puritan, with Anabaptist leanings. He seems to have been a man of strong political and religious convictions, which led him to be at odds with the status quo from the outset. These are the “facts” as we know them from the English and colonial records:
- He was born not later than 1617, undoubtedly in England.
- William married Susannah Booth before 1636, either in Massachusetts or England.
- Between 1635-1638: He arrived in Boston. It is reported by some that he arrived with a Peter Thorne on the Elizabeth in 1635 or on the Confidence (24 Apr 1638), which is a possibility, although he does not appear on the passenger list of that or any other known ship. Many of these early English arrivals traveled under false names, as they were fleeing England as fugitives or refugees. Other ships were limited to a set number of passengers per family. In cases of the latter they would travel with friends or family under their family names. Most likely for these reasons, the details of his arrival will never be known.
- 2 May 1638: William Thorne was made a Freeman of Massachusetts Bay Colony at Lynn, Mass. This indicates that at this point, he was a Puritan in good standing with the Church of Boston; it further offers proof that he was of legal age, a man of some means and was held in good social standing.
- 29 Jun 1641: William served on a jury in Salem, county seat of Essex County, Massachusetts, five miles from Lynn.
- 7 Sep 1641: William Thorne was fined £6 2/3 for concealing, hiding and supplying the escaped son and son-in-law of Ann (Marbury) Hutchinson (Francis Hutchinson and William Collins). All opponents of the Church of Boston. Ann was from Alford, Lincolnshire, England.
- 28 Feb 1643: William Thorne was found guilty in the court held at Salem, Essex County for refusing to serve in the Military Watch. He had already left Boston at this point and is thought to have gone overland with Michael Milner to Sandwich in the Plymouth Colony. He and Milner eventually arrive in New Amsterdam, in time to become part of the Patent at Gravesend (June 1643).
- June 1643: Lady Deborah Moody left Boston for Rhode Island and eventually New Amsterdam.
- June 1643: Lady Moody received a Patent for the Village of Gravesend on Long Island. William Thorne was one of the original patentees.
- September 1643: Anne Hutchinson and most of her family were massacred in an Indian attack on their homestead near New Amsterdam (probably at a site presently located in the Bronx, New York City). Around the same time, Indians also attacked Gravesend. Moody’s followers along with William Thorne successfully beat off several successive attacks. Only the Moody group’s homes survived this incident.
- August 1645: The Governor finally ended war with Indians. Subsequently on 10 October 1645, William Thorne is granted a Patent for a village at Flushing Creek, along with sixteen other Englishmen.
- 19 Dec 1645: Dutch Governor Kieft grants final Patent for Gravesend to Moody, William Thorne, et al. He had previously confiscated the original.
- 21 March 1656: William Thorne is granted Planters Lott at Jamaica, Long Island. He was among the original seventeen but of the second group of grantees.
- 27 December 1657: William Thorne is a signatory to the “Remonstrance of Flushing” (discussed below).
- Between 27 December 1657 and 12 May 1664: William is believed to have died at this time.
William Thorne is the son of John Thorne and Jane Cavendish of Gunby, Candlesby, Lincolnshire, England, where records of this family are found. Both of his parents died by 1621, so he was presumably placed with friends or relatives in the area. Circumstantial evidence points to our William being the son of these parents. The John Thorne named above may well be the John Thorne, who left his small estate to Ann Pallgrave. Ann had come to Boston with her stepfather John Youngs. Youngs led a party to New Southold, Long Island, New York, and one of his colonists was Ensign John Booth. Southold is in Suffolk County, adjacent to Lincolnshire (England).
Before 1636, William Thorne married Susannah Booth, either in Massachusetts or England. Susannah was born probably in Lincolnshire, England about 1617 and died in 1675 in Flushing, New York, where she was buried in the Quaker Cemetery. Circumstantial evidence suggests a close connection between these families in England, although Susannah’s exact parentage is unknown. There was an Ensign John Booth who came with Rev. John Youngs to New Southold on Long Island. He resided on Shelter Island. Youngs was a militant puritan with strong anti-Quaker feelings. In more than one instance Booth sided with the Quakers against Youngs. Given this bent towards religious tolerance and given the fact the Rev. Youngs’ group was from Southold in Suffolk County, England (next to Lincolnshire), we have some circumstantial evidence tying the Booths and Thornes to the same general area. There was a very large and very ancient Booth family in Great Grimsby, an old seaport and military site at the mouth of the river Humber, Lincolnshire. Travelling inland from Grimsby, not far from the Humber River, lies the town of Thorne. Thorne is located in South Yorkshire and is less than 35 miles from Grimsby and is less than 60 miles from where Gunby was formerly situated.
After William’s death, Susannah married her second husband, William Hallett. This marriage ended in divorce in 1674 (very unusual at the time) partly arising out of a charge of spousal abuse.
The children of William Thorne and Susannah Booth with approximate dates are listed as follows:
- William (1639-1699)
- John Thorne (about 1640-1709)
- Joseph (1642-1727)
- Susannah (1645-1667)
- Samuel (1648-1732)
Expulsion from Massachusetts and Escape to Long Island
In 1641, William Thorne was drawn into a controversy with the Puritan leaders of the community. A son of Anne Hutchinson, Francis, and a son-in law, William Collins, were brought before the Court to face charges of heresy. Collins, an educated man, was found guilty of propagating a theology of his mother-in-law’s radical religious beliefs. Her son had the audacity to call the Church of Boston a whore and other expletives (this was after his mother was banished from there). Both men were fined and sentenced to immediate banishment on pain of death. The Puritans believed it was vital to the salvation of the Church that heretics be thrust from their bosom with all haste, lest they taint the views of the faithful. Everyone in the colony knew the penalty for challenging the Puritan authority but despite this, William Thorne extended aide and assistance to Francis and Collins. Preparing to escape the sentence of banishment, the two men were given sanctuary in his home as he provided them with shelter and supplies. William was brought before the court, and on 7 Sep 1641he was fined £6 2/3 for concealing, hiding, and supplying the fugitives. Through this selfless act of loyalty to friends and belief in religious tolerance, William endangered his standing in the community to defy the laws of the land. Two years later in February 1643, he was also found guilty in a court held at Salem for refusing to serve in the Military Watch. But by then he had already left Lynn and gone with Michael Milner to Sandwich in Plymouth County. Fearing persecution, they made a hasty retreat from Lynn in the fall of 1642 after the incident with the Hutchinsons. These court verdicts would prevent William from ever returning to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, sealing his fate to life in another place, and he eventually ended up in the Dutch colony on Long Island (New York) in the company of Lady Deborah Moody.
William had evidently been influenced by the arrival of a Lady Deborah Moody at Lynn, Massachusetts in 1640. She became impressed with the views of Roger Williams and his utterances upon the invalidity of infant baptism. A strong-willed and determined woman she made no secret of her non-conformist views. Just as Roger Williams was forced to leave the Bay Colony, Lady Moody was first admonished and finally excommunicated for her views that infant baptism might not be an ordinance of divine origin. Although personally respected by many of her neighbors she removed to the Dutch against the advice of her friends, accompanied by her son and a small group of friends. To these emigrants there was considerable attraction in the idea of helping found at settlement under Dutch auspices and near to Fort Amsterdam, an essentially English settlement, where fellow countrymen could congregate and settle in the congenial atmosphere of a common language, customs and heritage. The Dutch were interested in stimulating new settlements and in developing trade, so that Lady Moody was able to obtain a patent from Governor Kieft without great difficulty.
Gravesend, Long Island, New York has the distinction of being the only settlement where the original patentees were headed by a woman, and one who enjoyed the respect and confidence of both Governors Kieft and Stuyvesant to an unusual degree. William Thorne was among the first settlers at Gravesend in June 1643, several months after the emigration from Lynn. The timing was unfortunate in its coincidence with the increased intensity of the Indian conflicts. Repeated raids necessitated the settlers fleeing to Flatlands and it is probable that Lady Moody and her adherents, including William Thorne, returned to Gravesend only after 30 Aug 1645 when Governor Kieft and the Indian sachems negotiated a treaty of peace which brought at least a temporary respite to hostilities. Later that same year (19 December) the Governor and Council of New Netherlands granted a formal patent to Gravesend to Lady Moody and her associates. Only fragmentary portions of the first Town Minutes of Gravesend are in existence. Among them are records showing allocation of planters’ lots i.e., farms of some 40 acres each. A number of the named allottees, including William Thorne, appear in the Lynn records prior to 1644. There is little doubt from this close association both at Lynn and Gravesend, that William Thorne was one of the original adherents and close followers of Deborah Moody.
The path taken by this titled Englishwoman and her group from Lynn enroute to Gravesend in the spring of 1643 lay through the sheltered passage of Long Island Sound. The original destination necessarily was New Amsterdam, there to discuss with Governor Kieft the subject of planting a colony. Confirmation of the itinerary may be contained in an entry supposedly made by John Bowne on a page now missing from his famous journal: William Thorne came from Sandwich to Flushing 1642. The difference in dates (late 1642 as against the spring of 1643) may be explained by variations between the old and new style calendar. The reference to Sandwich alludes to the community within the Plymouth Colony as a possible port of embarkation for Lady Moody’s entourage in their hasty exodus from Lynn. In their desire to escape the bounds of the Massachusetts Bay Colony the group may well have found neighboring Sandwich offered at least some opportunity to properly organize the venture. The route to New Amsterdam would probably have been through the sheltered waters of Long Island Sound, and a stop-over at Flushing, referred to in the Bowne Journal, could be reasonably explained as a natural desire of the group to consider the possibilities of its becoming a potential site for the colony. The year in which William Thorne actually settled in Flushing is not clearly established. From pertinent language in the Indian deed to Flushing (14 Apr 1684) it is probable that the actual settlement took place in the fall of 1644 or in the spring of 1645; more likely the later in view of the rigors of the winter season. Whether William Thorne actually remained in Gravesend until 1646 when he received his planter’s allotment or whether as a patentee of Flushing (10 Oct 1645) he was already living in that settlement is unknown. However he had definitely become a permanent resident of Flushing by 1648 as evidenced by his appointment on 27 April of that year as a magistrate, together with John Townsend and John Hicks.
In July 1657, the year of the Remonstrance, there are indications that William Thorne was a proprietor of Jamaica, founded the preceding year, and that he may actually have resided there, as adduced from the marriage reference to a Sussannah Thorne in the early Jamaica Town Records (10 Jul 1667). This move to Jamaica may have been induced by the waning activity of Lady Moody in Gravesend’s affairs and the natural desire to seek sanctuary from the serious Indian raids in a less exposed and vulnerable community.
Governor William Kieft, a confirmed blusterer, had been exceedingly inept in his handling of affairs with the Indians. This probably more than any other single factor led to his ultimate recall to Holland and to his being replaced by Peter Stuyvesant. As a result of Kieft’s attempts to levy a tax on the surrounding tribes and the unprovoked slaughter of the Native Americans at Corlear’s Hook, the entire area around New Amsterdam flamed with reprisals against the settlers. The Indians attacked outposts in Harlem, Staten Island and Long Island, forced the evacuation of Maspeth and for five years laid waste the fields, killed cattle, burned barns and harassed settlers. Even nearby plantation were deserted as the fear-stricken farmers sought the protection of Fort Amsterdam. The general situation is well-described in a letter of 3 Nov 1643 by a leading figure in New Amsterdam, Jochem Pietersen Kuyter. He said:
We wretched people, with our wives and little ones that survive must in our destitution find refuge together in and around the Fort at Manhattan, where we are not safe even for an hour as the Indians daily threaten to overwhelm us. Very little can be planted this autumn and mow much less in the spring; so it must come to pass that those of hunger and grief as also our wives and children, unless our God have pity on us.
Kuyter’s earlier premonition of personal disaster was borne out since he was killed in another Indian raid in 1655, at which time Stuyvesant felt obliged to issue an ordinance prohibiting settlers from exposed locations and requiring those in isolated locales to come closer to the protection of the fort.
Under these hazardous conditions to which outlying Gravesend was particularly vulnerable, William Thorne‘s removal to Jamaica is understandable.
The Remonstrance of Flushing
When William Thorne‘s name next appears on the Flushing records twelve years after his first visit, it is as a signer of the Remonstrance in which signing he is joined by his son William (Jr.).
The Governor of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant, had formally banned the practice of all religions outside of the Dutch Reformed Church, the established church of the Netherlands, in the colony. In 1656 William Wickenden, a Baptist minister from Rhode Island, was arrested by Dutch colonial authorities, jailed, fined, and exiled for baptizing Christians in Flushing. Then, in 1657 Stuyvesant ordered the public torture of Robert Hodgson, a 23-year-old Quaker convert who had become an influential preacher. Stuyvesant then made an ordinance, punishable by fine and imprisonment, against anyone found guilty of harboring Quakers. Many other similar incidents took place prior to the Remonstrance. These actions led to a protest from the citizens of Flushing, Queens, which came to be known as the Flushing Remonstrance, considered by some a precursor to the United States Constitution’s provision on freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights. The Flushing Remonstrance was signed on 27 Dec 1657, by a group of English citizens who were affronted by persecution of Quakers and the religious policies of Stuyvesant. Many, if not most of the signers were non-Quakers. The Remonstrance ends with:
Therefore if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences, for we are bounde by the law of God and man to doe good unto all men and evil to noe man. And this is according to the patent and charter of our Towne, given unto us in the name of the States General, which we are not willing to infringe, and violate, but shall houlde to our patent and shall remaine, your humble subjects, the inhabitants of Vlishing.
Four who signed were arrested by order of Stuyvesant. Two immediately recanted, but the writer of the remonstrance, Edward Hart, and sheriff of Flushing, Tobias Feake, remained firm in their convictions. Both men were remanded to prison where they survived in isolation on rations of bread and water for over a month. After friends and family petitioned Stuyvesant on behalf of the elderly Hart, the clerk was released on penalty of banishment. Feake held out for a few more weeks, but eventually recanted and was pardoned after being fined and banned from holding public office. The town government of Flushing was removed and Dutch replacements were appointed by Stuyvesant. Subsequently, John Bowne of the colony allowed Quakers to meet in his house. He was arrested in 1662 and brought before Stuyvesant. Unrepentant, Bowne was sentenced to banishment to Holland, though he was of English descent and spoke no Dutch. After several months in the foreign land, Bowne petitioned the directors of the Dutch West India Company. After a month of deliberation, the Dutch West India Company agreed to support Bowne, and advised Stuyvesant by a letter (1663) that he was to end religious persecution in the colony. One year later, in 1664, the colony fell to British control.
The Remonstrance is considered a precursor to the United States Constitution’s provision on freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights. According to Kenneth T. Jackson, the Flushing Remonstrance was remarkable for four reasons: 1) it articulated a fundamental right that is as basic to American freedom as any other, 2) the authors backed up their words with actions by sending it to an official not known for tolerance, 3) they stood up for others and were articulating a principle that was of little discernible benefit to themselves, and 4) the language of the remonstrance is as beautiful as the sentiments they express.
A great many of the descendants of William Thorne were active Quakers (although certainly not all) and many moved to New Jersey or a bit north into Dutchess County, New York then north and west. Others stayed in the New York City area.
I am descended from William Thorne and Susannah Booth through their son John Thorne, born about 1640 in Lynn, Massachusetts and died 23 Jul 1709 in Flushing, New York. On 9 May 1664, he married Mary Pearsall, born 10 Mar 1649 and died 10 Mar 1689, both in Flushing, New York. Mary Pearsall is the daughter of Nicholas Pearsall, who is discussed under the heading of Thomas Pearsall (1586-1667).
There is no clear evidence that John Thorne and Mary Pearsall officially joined the Religious Society of Friends, but they are likely to have lived much of their life attending meetings and generally living the life of ordinary Quakers, as many of their neighbors and children were Friends.
John Thorne and his father-in-law Nicholas Pearsall were among the inhabitants of Flushing who were offered the status of freemen of Connecticut if they would have it on 12 May 1664. This was the year of the British occupation of New Amsterdam, and the offer of the General Assembly of Connecticut was part of a futile attempt to annex Long Island. Connecticut was, of course, an English Colony, while Long Island was part of the Dutch New Netherlands. The island of Long Island, however, did not become English at that time. On 12 Aug 1667, following serious disorders in Flushing, John Thorne, Joseph Thorne (his brother), in company with Nicholas Pearsall and eleven others from Flushing presented themselves to the Governor and gave their names to be ready to serve His Majesty under his honorable command on all occasions.
The Valuation of Estates at Flushing 1675 shows John Thorn with: 00 negeres, 006 Landes, 10 madoes, 01 horses marcs, 02 oxen and boles, 08 Cowes, 02 to yere oldes, 02 yerlinges, 03 swine, 06 shepe (DHNY:2:459). The Flushing Estimations, 29th Septr. 1683 show John Thorne with: 50 Upland acres, 10 Meadow acres, 2 Oxen, 7 Cowes, 2 2 yere olds, 2 1 yere olds, 10 Sheep, £00-09-10 (Ibid: 516). At this date the tax in the amount of nine shillings ten pence does not appear excessive. The confirmation of the original Dutch patent to Flushing by Governor Dongan on 24 Mar 1685, names the present freeholders and Inhabitants of the Towne of Flushing, including Joseph Thorne, John Thorne and Samuel Thorne (G. Henry Mandeville, Flushing, Past and Present, 1860, p. 13-23). The Flushing Census of 1698 also includes three brothers, William Thorne (eldest son of the immigrant William Thorne) being recorded at Hempstead, and for John Thorne shows: John Thorne Senr & 5 Mary his wife Hannah & Sarah Wm Negros Alex wo: 3 (DNHY:1:662). The 5 before Mary’s name indicates the number of persons in the family, and the 3 in the last line the number of slaves. On 22 Jun 1670, John Thorne of Flushing conveyed
…unto Anthony Field of ye aforesaid place… Fifty acers more or less situated by Mattagarison by within ye bounds of Flush aforesaid… it being fifty acre lott yt was granted to Wm Benfield… and bounded upon ye west by land of John Lawrence, easterly with the bay & fronting southerly to ye highway & running in lenth northerly near to ye meadows of ye aforsd Jon Thorne… (Queens Co. Deeds: A.85).
Matthew Garrison’s Bay, is now known as Little Neck Bay; the west shore, which is in Flushing, is called Bayside, and extends northerly to Willet’s Point, where William Thorne is said to have settled. On 19 Mar 1684, John Thorne also conveyed to Anthony Field all ye mead lyne to ye Southward of A Certaine tree markt upon ye south side AF and on ye north side JT, apparently the land between Thorne’s meadows and Fields’ previous purchase (Ibid.). Both deeds bear John Thorne‘s signature, but his wife’s name is missing. The will of John Thorn of Flushing, executed 5 Jan 1697, and proved 21 Jun 1709, leaves the use of all lands and goods to wife Mary during her lifetime, with the provision that if she remarries she shall have instead £100, and remembers children as named below. Son William Thorne is appointed my hole and Sole Executor, and my brother Joseph Thorne and John Tullman are made trustees and overseers, thus still further identifying the Long Island Thornes as members of one family (WNYHS:2:26 cf. NY Co. Wills 7:416). Presumably all the children were born in Flushing, and in the order named in the will, which in the case of the last three is the same as that of the census of 1698. The first four had married and left home before the census was taken. Sons John and Joseph, and daughter Hannah, were later of record as members of the Society of Friends, and son William and daughters Mary, Elizabeth, and Sarah seem all to have been communicants of the Church of England. If John Thorne had any religious affiliation, all evidence of it has apparently been lost.
The children of John Thorne and Mary Pearsall as listed as follows, along with approximate dates: John (1665- ), Joseph, ( – ) Mary (1669-1714), Elizabeth Thorne (see below), Hannah (1678-1756), Sarah (1680- ) and William (1682- ).
Elizabeth Thorne was born 1673 in Flushing, New York and died 1710 in New Rochelle, Westchester County, New York. In about 1692 in New York, she married Anthony Badgley (1660-1715), and their lineage continues under his heading. Elizabeth was Anthony’s second wife.
 An earlier theory that Sarah Denton was the wife of William Thorne was discounted through the work of Eaton and Dickinson. For details, refer to Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton, William Thorne of Flushing, Long Island, and His Wife Susannah (New York Genealogical and Biographical Society) 1922 and Thorn Dickinson, Early History of the Thorne Family of Long Island (New York Genealogical and Biographical Society) 1962.
 Peter Thorne is believed by some to have been a close relative of William, but there is notangible proof to substantiate this position.
 The cases involved John Kettle, a young apprentice of a man called Lovett, was sentenced to be severely whipped for stealing a second cup of milk from his Master on the Sabbath. He also heard the case of Goody Sherman’s stolen pig which involved much oath taking and a complicated comparison of the swine birthmarks. There were also some cases of owners neglecting to maintain fences and a defamation case between George Story and Peter Pettford of Marblehead. The fact that William sat on the jury at the Salem Court indicates he was a Puritan in good standing and respected in the colony. Some documents refer to him as Goodman Thorne, a title reserved for respectable yeoman, and his status vouched for in the church. He obviously observed the tenets of Puritanism and had not up until this point demonstrated any religious objections or Anabaptist tendencies.
 My 10th g-grandmother, discussed under her own heading.
 This display of sympathy toward non-conformists and antipathy toward existing authorities presaged an early departure from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This finds expression in a entry of the Quarterly Court (Salem) dated 28 Feb 1643 referring to Divers of Lynn Gone to Long Island and some not warned. Included in the group were the names Goodman Thorne and Michael Miller. A further entry stated that Michaell Millner of Lynn, cited for idle and unprofitable spending his time had gone to Long Island. That William Thorne was just an ordinary person of no social pretensions is adduced by the appellation Goodman as distinguished from that of Mr. The expression not warned apparently refers to the fact that certain of the non-conformists, sensing the imminence of interrogation by the local magistrates, took this opportunity for their hasty departure prior to being served with a summons to appear.
 In Gunby, Candlesby, Lincolnshire, England there was a family named “Thorne”. This family was resident here for at least four generations (which is as far as the records permit). They were there at the same time as the Marbury’s were in nearby Alford, but it is not known if the families were acquainted in England prior to their arrival in Massachusetts.
 Lady Deborah Moody was the daughter of Walter Dunch and the widow of Sir Henry Moody of Wiltshire, England, a baronet created by King James in 1622. Her father, Walter Dunch, a member of the English Parliament, who represented a city called Dunwich that has since eroded into the sea. It is presumed the name is contraction of that now defunct city. Her mother was Debora Pilkington (of the Kingsmill family).
 This document was also signed by his son, William (Jr.) and my 9th g-grandfather, Nicholas Pearsall, discussed under the heading of Thomas Pearsall (1586-1667). William’s second son, John (my 8th g-grandfather) married Mary Pearsall, the daughter of Nicholas. The document was used over one hundred years later as the basis in drafting the current Bill of Rights, which guarantees (among other things) religious freedom without fear of persecution.
 Some genealogies report that he came from Dorsetshire, however, there is no evidence to support that. There was another William Thorne, who for a short time, became embroiled in a legal matter in New York. In a statement to the court, this William Thorne declared that he was from Dorset in old England. This William has been proven to be another Thorne. The info regarding our William Thorne and Dorset must stem from this instance.
 My 10th g-grandmother, discussed under her own heading.
 My 10th g-grandfather, discussed under his own heading.
 This document was also signed by my 9th g-grandfather, Nicholas Pearsall, discussed under the heading of Thomas Pearsall (1586-1667). William’s second son, John (my 8th g-grandfather) married Mary Peasall, the daughter of Nicholas.
 Jackson, Kenneth T. (December 27, 2007). “A Colony With a Conscience”, The New York Times.
 The youngest brother, Samuel Thorne, was, perhaps, not yet of age.