Howes #5148

Thomas Howes (1601-1665)

Born in England.  Arrived in Massachusetts in 1637 and settled eventually in Yarmouth, Massachusetts and

Mary Burr (1603-1695)

Born in England.  Arrived in Massachusetts in 1637 and settled eventually in Yarmouth, Massachusetts.

Howes #5148

A good source for information on Thomas Howes and his family is Thomas Howes of Yarmouth, Mass., and some of his descendants, together with the Rev. John Mayo, allied to him by marriage by James W. Hawes (Yarmouthport, Massachusetts: C. W. Swift, No. 13, Library of Cape Cod History & Genealogy)  1917.  This volume corrected some errors containted in an earlier Howes genealogy by J. C. Howes[1], which gives a long history of the family in Morningthorpe, Norfolk, England, but this has since been proven inaccurate[2].

Thomas Howes was born in Jan 1600/01 in Norfolk, England.  He married Mary Burr in England.   Thomas, Mary and their family of three sons – Joseph (1630), Thomas (1634), and Jeremiah (1637), landed at Salem, Massachusetts from England about 1637.  There is evidence that they resided at Lynn, Massachusetts at some point before coming to Cape Cod to permanently settle.  Later, at Yarmouth, they lived in the Nobscusset area of Yarmouth, Plymouth colony (in the vicinity of Beach Street and New Boston Road in present day Dennis).  Thomas died 26 Sep 1665 in Dennis, Massachusetts.

Mary Burr was born about 1615 in England.  After Thomas died, she married Gov. Thomas Prence between 26 Feb 26 1665/6 and 1 Aug 1668 as his fourth wife.  Thomas and Mary’s son, Jeremiah, married Prence’s daughter Sarah, so the families were closely connected.  Mary died 9 Dec 1695 in Yarmouth and is buried at Howes Burial Ground, Dennis, Barnstable, Massachusetts.


The children of Thomas Howes and Mary Burr are listed as follows:

  1. Joseph Howes, see below
  2. (Capt.) Thomas, born 1636 in England.  In 1656, at Yarmouth, Massachusetts, he married Sarah Bangs (daughter of Edward Bangs).  He died at Yarmouth on 20 Nov 1676.  Thomas led several expiditions as a Captain in King Philip’s War just before his death, but there is no evidence he died as a result of the war.
  3. Jeremiah, born 1637 (possibly at sea on journey to America.  In 1656 at Eastham, Massacusetts, he married Sarah Prence.  He died at Yarmouth on 9 Sep 1708.
  4. Hannah, born about 1641 and died 11 Feb 1710/11, both at Yarmouth.
  5. Elizabeth, born about 1643 at Yarmouth.  On 28 Apr 1665 at Sandwich, Massachusetts, she married Daniel Butler.  In 1689, she died at Sandwich.
  6. Benjamin, born about Nov 1654 at Yarmouth.
  7. Towns of Barnstable County, Massachusetts

    Towns of Barnstable County, Massachusetts

The Founding and Early History of Yarmouth, Massachusetts:

Thomas Howes became a freeman in Yarmouth on 18 Dec 1638.  The permanent and authorized settlement of the town of Yarmouth commenced early in 1639.  (A year before, Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins was granted a leave of Plymouth Colony  to erect a house at Mattacheese, and cut hay to winter his cattle, provided it not to withdraw him from the town of Plymouth.).  The grantees of the court were, Anthony Thacher, John Crow and Thomas Howes, each of whom had taken the oath of allegiance the December and January preceding and had surveyed the lands, preparatory to occupation.  They, with John Coite, to be inquired of, Mr. Madrick Matthews, Philip Tabor, William Palmer, Samuel Rider, Wm. Lumpkin and Thomas Hatch, were proposed, 7 Jan 1639, to take up their freedom at Yarmouth.  The same page records the following persons there excepted against: Old Worden, (dead,) Burnell, Wright, Wat Deville.”  In March following, Mr. Nicholas Simpkins, Hugh Tilley, Giles Hopkins and Joshua Barnes are mentioned in the court records as of Yarmouth.

From the fact that the name “Yarmouth” was selected for the town, it has been inferred that the settlers of this town came from Yarmouth, in England.  This may have been true of some individual, but does not apply to the settlers as a body.  They did not come from any single locality, but from disparate parts of England.  Yarmouth, the principal seaport on the eastern coast of England, was the place of embarkation and debarkation between that country and Holland and was naturally associated in the minds of the Pilgrims with their experiences in the mother country, and this may explain the choice of name.

The first generations of Yarmouth settlers were farmers – the principal occupation – and their bountiful vegetable and corn crops provided the food staple upon which a growing town depended.  The newcomers also brought skills with them and developed trades to support the business of the village.  Blacksmiths, cobblers, wheelwrights, furniture makers, coopers, and other craftsmen all practiced trades that were vital to the development of Yarmouth. In addition to being a planter, Thomas Howes was a cooper and taught the trade to his grandson Samuel.  Food was plentiful at Yarmouth; these settlers didn’t go hungry, as had their brethren in the early days of the Plymouth Colony.  Cape Cod Bay and its nearby coves overflowed with lobster, mackerel and cod, sometimes referred to as “Cape Cod Turkey.”  Nantucket Sound to the south provided much the same fare.  Scallops, quahogs, clams and oysters found their way to the supper table as did geese and ducks hunted on the salt marshes.  Dense forests hosted a plentiful supply of game, and many of the town’s twenty-two glacier-carved “kettle” ponds yielded pickerel and perch.

Early relations between European settlers and the American natives were friendly.  However, hostilities erupted off-Cape in 1643 and local towns were advised to build a “place of defense” in the case of Indian attack.  Although Yarmouth built a fort on Fort Hill, next to the first meeting house in what is now the middle of the Ancient Cemetery, no records of unfriendly acts exist.

Although the first settlement of Yarmouth’s territory occurred on the north side of the Cape, settlement of the “South Seas” area soon followed.  In 1643 Yelverton Crowe, believed to be a brother to John Crow who settled on the north, obtained a large parcel of land bordering Lewis Bay.  According to legend, Crow is said to have acquired the land in a peculiar way.  An Indian sachem told Crowe he could have as much land as he could walk over in an hour in exchange for an ox-chain, a copper kettle … and a few trinkets.  Crowe must have been a fast walker, as his lands included much of what is today West Yarmouth.


Thomas Howes was a Constable in 1644 and of the Council of War in 1658.  He was frequently one of the Deputies to the Colony Court but was evidently disinclined to public service.  He was once fined for not attending Court, but the fine was remitted, he presenting a valid excuse.

In 1648 Mayflower passenger Myles Standish was sent from the Plymouth Colony to settle a land dispute in Yarmouth.  Other settlers felt the land division was unfair and that Howes, Thacher and Crow gave themselves too much land.  Thomas had taken up 100 acres of upland and 20 acres of meadow.  Around the same time, Indian Sachem Janno complained he was not paid for the land purchased by Thacher and Thomas Howes.  The Sachem was compensated, and Thomas later purchased more land from him.

The eldest son of Thomas Howes and Mary Burr is Joseph Howes.  He was born in England in about 1630, and migrated as a younger to Massachusetts with his family.  In 1653 at Yarmouth, Massachusetts, he married Elizabeth Mayo.  She was born about 1631 in England.  Her parents were Rev. John Mayo[3] (1598–1676) and Thomasine (or Tamosine, Tamsin, etc.) Brike (1605–1682), discussed under their own heading.

The children of Joseph Howes and Elizabeth Mayo are listed as follows (all born at Yarmouth, Massachusetts):

  1. Samuel, born about 1655
  2. Mary (or Mercy) Howes, born 1657 and died 17 Jan 1695 at Yarmouth.  On 16 Feb 1681 at Yarmouth, she married John HallettJohn was born 11 Dec 1650 and died 10 Jun 1726, both at Yarmouth.  John’s parents were Andrew Hallett (1607-1683) and his unknown first wife.
  3. Joseph, born 1659
  4. John, botrn about 1664
  5. Elizabeth, born about 1666
  6. Nathaniel, born about 1670
  7. Hannah, born about 1676
  8. Amos, born about 1679
  9. (Capt.) Thomas, born about 1680 and died about 1738 (Will: 29 May 1736, Proved 19 Oct 1738) in Chatham, Massachusetts.  He married Content Smith, who was born 8 Jun 1680 in Eastham, Massachusetts.  Content’s parents were Daniel Smith and Mary Young, and his paternal grandparents were Ralph Symth and Elizabeth Hobert.

The children of John Hallett and Mary (or Mercy) Howes are listed as follows (all born at Yarmouth): (1) Thankful, married Joseph Bassett 3 Dec 1719 (his 2nd wife) and died 12 Aug 1736; (2) Andrew, born 1684; (3) John, born 1688; (4) Joseph; (5) Samuel; (6) Seth; (7) Hannah, married her 2nd cousin Ebenezer Hallett (son of Jonathan) on 27 June 1728 and died 20 Apr 1729 at the birth of her first child; (8) Mary, died unmarried on 22 Apr 1751; (9) Mercy Hallett (10) Hope, born 1705, married Joseph Griffith of Harwich on 24 Jul 1729 and died 5 Jul 1784.

The lineage of Mary (or Mercy) Howes and John Hallet is continued under the heading of Andrew Hallet (1607-1683).

[1] Howes, J.C.  Genealogy of the Howes Family in America: Descendants of Thomas Howes, Yarmouth, Massachusetts, 1637-1892 (Higginson Book Company) 1892.

[2] The following information is taken from Thomas Howes of Yarmouth… by James W. Hawes (citied above), p. 31-32:  “Note as to Howes. The “Genealogy of the Howes Family” (1892), by Joshua C. Howes, gives the name of the wife of Thomas1 Howes as Mary Burr,(b) but no proof of her surname can be found. Mr. Howes says that the emigrant came from the County of Norfolk, England, but here again there is no proof that the emigrant had any connection with the Norfolk family or was entitled to the coat of arms given in the book. Burke’s General Armory, 513, gives the arms of Howes or Howse (Morningthorpe,Co. Norfolk), without indication of date, from which those in this book of J. C. Howes are taken, but Burke gives two different sets of arms without indication of place or date, and also gives the arms of Joan Howes, heiress of the family in the time of Henry VIII, Co, Essex. He also gives different sets of arms for various families named Hughes, Hugh, Hewes and for others having similar names. At the time of the emigration of Thomas1 Howes the name was not uncommon in various parts of England.

The author also says (p. 7) that “they [Thomas1 and his wife] were in Salem, Mass., two years before, or in 1637, where they first landed. They brought with them three sons, Joseph, Thomas and Jeremiah, the last born on the passage over, or soon after arrival.” There is no evidence that they had lived in Salem. There is evidence that they had lived in Lynn. The date and place of their arrival in America nowhere appear. They may have landed in Boston or Salem and in view of the litigation he was engaged in in 1638, no doubt as early as 1637. Jeremiah was born about 1637, but whether in England, on the passage over or in America is not known. There is no proof of the age of Thomas1 Howes at his death. This genealogy by J. C. Howes contains many errors and is imperfect. He appears not to have consulted the Barnstable Probate Records, only a few miles away from him. I have not relied on him except in a few instances where other authority was lacking.”

[3] John Mayo (died 1676) was the first minister of Old North Church in Boston also known as Second Church or Paul Revere’s Church. Increase and Cotton Mather took over this church upon his retirement.  This is the Old North Church that was in North Square (across the street from what became Paul Revere’s house) until the church was dismantled and used by the British for firewood during the occupation of Boston during the Revolutionary War. John Mayo of Northamptonshire, a commoner’s son, was one of 504 students who matriculated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford University in 1615. He came to New England in 1638. In order to travel, the harassed clergy had to disguise themselves and use assumed names. His wife was named Tamsen but we don’t know where or when they were married. John Mayo was in Barnstable by 1639, where he was ordained a minister on April 15, 1640. Governor William Bradford, Thomas Prence, and Captain Myles Standish were in attendance when Mr. John Mayo of Barnstable was admitted as a Freeman by the court of Plymouth on March 3rd in the 13th year of his Majesty’s Reign, 1640. In 1646 he moved to the newly settled town of Nausett (Eastham), where he served as the minister until 1654. While in Boston, he served as an overseer of Harvard College and the Boston Latin School. At his death, Rev Mayo was living with  his daughter Elizabeth and Thomas in Yarmouth having left Boston in 1673.



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