Since Thomas was the religious leader of Plymouth Colony and married Mary Allerton, daughter of Mayflower passenger Isaac, much information is available about him. This is a short summary of some of the information I have found.
Thomas was baptized at St. Andrew Parish, Canterbury, Kent, England, on 8 Feb 1607/8, the son of Robert Cushman and Sarah Reder.
|St. Andrew's Church, Canterbury, demolished in 1763 source: machadoink.com|
Shortly after Thomas’s birth, the family went to Leiden, Holland, to live with the other Separatists who had fled England. Robert and Sarah had two other children that died in 1616 and are buried in Leiden. Sarah also died at Leiden in 1616, and in June 1617 Robert remarried to Mary Shingelton, whose maiden name is not proven but I have seen it as Clarke.
Robert was a well-educated man, spending a good deal of his time in London negotiating on behalf of the Leiden congregation and later on behalf of the settlers in Plymouth. He was a grocer in Canterbury and a woolcomber in Leiden. I will write more about Robert at another time.
Robert and Thomas planned on making the voyage across the Atlantic in 1620, but when the Speedwell was found unseaworthy, they were one of the families that stayed behind.
Robert and Thomas traveled to Plymouth on the Fortune in 1621, when Thomas was 14 years old. There is no evidence that his step-mother was on board. He was left in the care of Governor Bradford’s family, and his father returned to London. Robert Cushman died in England in 1625, likely from the plague, before he was able to return to Plymouth.
Thomas overcame the difficulties of living in a new country without his parents, becoming an important and successful man in the colony. He succeeded William Brewster as Ruling Elder of the colony on 6 April 1649, continuing in this office as the religious leader until his death 43 years later.
Thomas also served as Governor's assistant for several years and went to London five times to serve the interests of the Colony.
|Thomas Cushman's hammer at the Pilgrim Hall Museum|
Thomas was named in the 1627 division of cattle and in 1643 received 30 acres of land because of his status as a Fortune passenger.
Thomas married Mary Allerton at Plymouth circa 1636. She was born about 1616 in Leiden. They had eight children: Thomas, Mary, Sarah, Isaac, Elkanah, Fear, Eleazer, and Lydia.
|Allerton-Cushman Cup, Pilgrim Hall Museum|
He died 11 December 1691 at Plymouth is buried at Burial Hill. He languished for some eleven weeks before his death.
His will, dated 22 October 1690, named his wife Mary, sons Thomas, Isaac, Elkanah, and Eleazer; daughters Sarah Hawks and Lydia Harlow and the three children of his daughter Mary Hutchinson. He also had a daughter Fear who predeceased him without issue. Thomas was a large landholder and left land to all of his sons. He wrote a codicil to the will on 1 April 1691, which mentions land that wasn’t included in his original will and a few other bequests, including his collection of books and his best Bible.
An inventory of his estate was taken 17 December 1691 and included books valued at four pounds, clothing, pewter, brass and iron kitchen items, cotton, linen and sheep’s wool, Indian and English corn, swine, cattle, saddle, loom, linen wheel and cart tackle.
Mary Allerton Cushman died 28 November 1699 at Plymouth, the last survivor of those that came on the Mayflower.
|Pilgrim Maiden Statue, Brewster Gardens, Plymouth, dedicated to Mary Allerton Cushman|
The monument to the family at Burial Hill is a granite column, 25 feet high, and it is by far the most conspicuous monument on the hill. There is a bronze tablet on each of its four sides.
|Cushman Monument, Burial Hill, Plymouth|
Fellow exile with the Pilgrims in Holland,
Afterwards their chief agent in England,
Arrived here IX November, MDCXXI,
With Thomas Cushman his son:
Preached IX-. December,
His memorable sermon on "the Danger of self-love
And the sweetness of true friendship:"
Returned to England XIII December,
To vindicate tho enterprise of Christian emigration;
And there remained in the service of the Colony Till MDCXXV,
When, having prepared to make Plymouth His permanent home.
He died, lamented by the forefathers
as "their ancient friend”- who was
as their right hand with their friends
the adventurers, and for divers years
had done and agitated all their business
with them to their great advantage."
"And you, my loving friends, the adventurers
to this plantation, as your care has been first
to settle religion here before either profit
or popularity, so, I pray you, go on. --
I rejoice -- that you thus honor God
with your riches, and I trust you shall be repaid
again double and treble in this world, yea,
and the memory of this action shall never die." DEDICATION OF THE SERMON.
Son of Robert, died December, MDCXCI,
Aged neatly LXXXIV years.
For more than XLII years he was
Ruling Elder of the First Church in Plymouth,
By whom a tablet was placed to mark his grave on this spot,
Now consecrated anew by a more enduring memorial.
widow of Elder Cushman, and daughter of Isaac Allerton,
Died XXVII November, MDCXCIX, aged about XC years,
The last survivor of the first comers in the Mayflower.
The descendants of
In memory of their Pilgrim Ancestors,
XVI September, MDCCCLVIII.
|Close-up of Thomas and Mary Cushman side of the monument|
The stone originally erected over the grave of Elder Thomas Cushman was removed in 1858 to make room for this memorial and now stands a little distance from its first position. It is of purple Welsh slate, and is in a remarkable state of preservation. The inscription is as follows:
Here lyeth buried ye body of that precious servant of God, Mr. THOMAS CUSHMAN, who after he had served his generation according to the will of God, and particularly the church of Plymouth for many years in the office of a ruling elder fell asleep in Jesus Decmr. ye 10, 1691 & ye 84. Year of his age.
|Thomas Cushman stone, Burial Hill, Plymouth|
Thomas Cushman is my ancestor through my grandfather Arthur Washburn Davis. My line from him is below.
Thomas Cushman 1607/08 - 1691
+Mary Allerton 1616 - 1699
2 Thomas Cushman 1637 - 1726
+Ruth Howland 1646 - 1672
3 Robert Cushman 1664 - 1757
+Persis Lewis 1670/71 - 1743/44
4 Ruth Cushman 1700 -
+Luke Perkins 1695 -
5 Ignatious Perkins 1720 -
+Keziah Davis 1724/25 -
6 Ruth Perkins 1752 - 1799
+Jesse Pierce 1747 - 1834
7 David Pierce 1773 - 1820
+Desire Nye 1771 - 1858
8 Lucy Nye Pierce 1809 - 1896
+Rowland Sturtevant Bumpus 1804 - 1853
9 Mary Briggs Bumpus 1840 - 1916
+Seth Washburn 1828 - 1921
10 Charles Francis Washburn 1857 - 1941
+Hattie Maria Benson 1861 - 1914
11 Carrie Clyfton Washburn 1896 - 1974
+George Brewster Smith 1895 - 1913
12 Arthur Elmer Washburn Davis 1913 - 1976
+Mildred Louise Booth 1917 - 1999
13 my parents
Sources not noted above:
Theodore Burbank, A Guide to Plymouth's Historic Old Burial Hill, 2006
Robert S. Wakefield and Margaret Harris Stover, Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, Isaac Allerton, Volume 17, published by GSMD, 1998
Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, 3:1715-8, 1995
Eugene Stratton, Plymouth Colony, Its History and People, 1986