Waite #5604

Thomas Waite (1601-1665)

Born in England.  Arrived in Massachusetts in the mid-1630s and settled in Rhode Island in 1638 and

Eleanor Paine (1605-1676)

Born in England.  Arrived in Rhode Island before 1640.

Waite #5604

There is much confusion around the English (or Welsh) origins of Thomas Waite, whose surname has been spelled variously as Waite, Wayte or Wait.  I present here a sample of several of the theories that can be found in various genealogical sources.

  • Thomas Waite may have been the son of Richard Wait (born about 1582 in Alford, Lincolnshire, England) and Margaret Carter (also born about 1582 in Alford, Lincolnshire, England), who were married in 1603. They had twelve children, one of whom was named Thomas.
  • Thomas Waite may have belonged to the Wait family of Wethersfield, Essex, England.
  • Thomas Waite may have been the son of Samuel Wait and  Mary Ward.
  • Thomas Waite may have been the son of William Waite and Rosanna Wardwell.
  • Thomas Waite may or may not have been brother of Richard and Gamaliel Wait of Boston, Massachusetts, and there may or may not be truth to a family tradition that these three brothers were farmers or herdsmen in Wales, and that as they were driving their herd of cattle to market were beset by a press gang which tried to force them to serve aboard a British warship.  As the story is told, the three brothers fought their way free, and they were able to escape, whereupon they sold their cattle and used to money to come to America.

The obvious inference from all this conflicting information is that so far no one has determined for sure who the parents of Thomas really were and what were the specific circumstances of his removal to New England in the 1630s.  His birth date is consistently given as 1601, but his place of birth remains a mystery.  It is clear that the date of his migration to Boston, Massachusetts was some time in the mid-1630s. It is also probable that Boston, and not Plymouth was his arrival point.

Thomas did not stay in the Massachusetts Bay Colony for long, for in 1638, he turns up in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.  This was the same year in which Anne Hutchinson[1], who was propagating ideas of religious tolerance to her followers in Boston, was told, in no uncertain terms, to remove herself from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  She removed from Boston to join Roger Williams[2] in Rhode Island.  Williams had established a settlement in Portsmouth in 1634, after he was tried by the General Court in Boston and convicted of sedition and heresy, the Court declaring that he was spreading diverse, new, and dangerous opinions.  He was ordered to be banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony[3], and in the spring of 1636 Williams and a number of his followers from Salem began a settlement which was named “Providence”[4], because they felt that God’s Providence had brought him there.  He said that his settlement was to be a haven for those distressed of conscience, and it soon attracted quite a collection of dissenters and otherwise-minded individuals.

Thomas Waite may have been one of these otherwise-minded individuals who was chaffing under the religious strictures of the Puritan authorities in Boston at the time, and he appears to have been a member of a group that relocated to Rhode Island from Boston to join Roger Williams in 1638.  Upon his arrival, he applied for a lot on which to build (the land being held in common), and at the first meeting of the council thereafter the record of its proceeding reads: July 1, 1639, Granted to Thomas Wait a house lot next Mr. Wick’s.

Thomas Waite married Eleanor Paine about 1640 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island.  She was born about 1605 in England.  The date of her immigration to New England is not known with certainty, but it was prior to 1640.  Nothing is known with certainty regarding Eleanor’s parents, although they are identified in some sources and Samuel Paine (about 1580-1640) and Rossana Wardwell (about 1570-1614), both of whom apparently were born in England and died there.

On 16 Mar 1641, he was made Freeman at Newport, Rhode Island, a privilege then only granted to church members.
 On 6 May 1649 he was witness to the will of Anthony Paine.  In 1655 he is again described as a Freeman.  He was Constable in 1658 and 1663.
 In April 1661 he purchased of William Earle[5] ½ share of the Acushnet and Coxet lands in what is now Dartmouth,
Massachusetts.  He was also a large owner of lands at Narragansett and Misquamicut (Westerley, Rhode Island).

Thomas died 13 Sep 1665, and Eleanor married Ralph Cowland shortly after this date.  Eleanor died 21 Jan 1674 (all occurring in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island).  On 4 Dec 1669 the estate of Thomas Waite was divided by the Portsmouth Town Council among his wife,
 Eleanor, and their children[6].

The children of Thomas Waite and Eleanor Paine were as follows:

  1. Samuel, born 1640 in Newport, Rhode island and died 1677 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island.  He married Hannah Whitman.
  2. Joseph, born 1643 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island and died 25 Aug 1665 (drowned) in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island.  He married Sarah [unknown].
  3. Benjamin, born about 1645 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. He removed to Hadley, Massachusetts and married Martha Leonard.  He was slain at the taking of Deerfield on 29 Feb 1704[7].  Buried in Deerfield Cemetery, Deerfield, Massachusetts.
  4. Jeremiah, born 4 Dec 1645 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island and died 19 May 1677 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island.  He married Martha Brownell on 16 Sep 1665 and died before 10 May 1677 (when his widow Martha purchased land in Portsmouth, Rhode Island from Daniel Wilcox and wife Elizabeth).  After Jeremiah’s death, Martha married Charles Dyer, the son of Mary Dyer[8], a Quaker martyr who was hanged on Boston Common on 1 Jun 1660.  Martha was born 1 May 1643 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island and died 15 Feb 1744 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island.  She is the daughter of Thomas Brownell and Anne Bourne.
  5. Reuben, born 1647 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island and died 7 Oct 1707 in Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts.  He married (1st) Tabitha Lounders and (2nd) Mary Tripp.
  6. Thomas Waite, born 4 Dec 1648 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island and died after 16 Jun 1733 in Tiverton, Newport, Rhode Island.  He married Sarah Cook.
  7. Mary, born 1649 in Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts and died about 1713.  She married Joseph Anthony.

The children of Thomas Waite (Jr.) and Sarah Cook are as follows:

  1. Mary Waite, born 1680 in Tiverton, Rhode Island and died in 1769.   She married John Earle.
  2. Thomas, born 21 Dec 1681 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island and died before 7 Feb 1757 in Tiverton, Newport, Rhode Island.  He married Elizabeth [unknown].
  3. Benjamin, born 1683 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island and died 4 Aug 1734 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island.  He married Mary [unknown].

The lineage of Mary Waite and John Earle is continued under the heading of Ralph Earle (1606-1678).

[1] Anne Hutchinson, my 10th g-grandmother, is discussed at length under her own heading.

[2] My 10th g-grandfather those his son, Joseph, and our 11th g-grandfather through his daughter, Mary.

[3] This order was not repealed until 1936 when Bill 488 was passed by the Massachusetts House.

[4] He would later name his third child, the first born in his new settlement, “Providence” as well.

[5] My 9th g-grandfather, discussed under the heading of Ralph Earle.

[6] Son Joseph had died 
previously and so was not named. Sons Thomas and Jeremiah were under 21 years of age at the time.

Monument to the victims of the Deerfield (Massachusetts) massacre of 29 Feb 1704

Monument to the victims of the Deerfield (Massachusetts) massacre of 29 Feb 1704

[7] Joseph Ingersoll, a son of my 9th g-grandfather, John (of Westfield) Ingersoll (1626-1684), discussed under his own heading, was killed in the same attack. Deerfield was the northwesternmost outpost of New England settlement for several decades during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It occupies a fertile portion of the Connecticut River Valley and was vulnerable to attack because of its position near the Berkshire Mountains. For these reasons it became the site of several Anglo-French and Indian skirmishes during its early history, as well as intertribal warfare. The most famous incident occurred On 29 Feb 1704, during Queen Anne’s War, when joint French and Indian forces attacked the town in what has become known as the 1704 Raid on Deerfield. They struck at dawn, razing Deerfield and killing 56 colonists, including 22 men, 9 women, and 25 children. They took as captives 109 survivors, including women and children, and “carried” them away on a months-long trek to Quebec. Many died along the way or were killed when they could not keep up. Most of the Deerfield captives eventually returned to New England. Other captives remained by choice in French and Native communities.

[8] Mary (Barett) Dyer is both my 9th and 10th g-grandmother (depending on whether the lineage is traced through her granddaughter, Ann or her grandson, Edward, from both of whom we are descended). Her story is discussed at length under her own heading and her descendants are covered under her own heading and under the heading of Joseph Clarke, whose lineage merges with hers.



  • George T Giordese

    Good information. I am descendant of Thomas thru his son Benjamin who was one of my great grandfathers.
    I lived in RI but never knew my ancestry at the time. I now live near Dearfield Mass.where Benjamin was killed
    in the 1704 attack. This is a fun and interesting.

  • Vicky Theroux

    Nice information. Do you have any pictures of the Waite family ancestral homes in the Rhode Island area? My grandmother was a Wait, descended from Thomas Waite and Elenor Paine. I live very close to Newport and would like to visit some of these places 🙂

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