Welcome! I really enjoy exchanging information with people and love that this blog helps with that. I consider much of my research as a work in progress, so please let me know if you have conflicting information. Some of the surnames I'm researching:

Many old Cape families including Kelley, Eldredge/idge, Howes, Baker, Mayo, Bangs, Snow, Chase, Ryder/Rider, Freeman, Cole, Sears, Wixon, Nickerson.
Many old Plymouth County families including Washburn, Bumpus, Lucas, Cobb, Benson.
Johnson (England to MA)
Corey (Correia?) (Azores to MA)
Booth, Jones, Taylor, Heatherington (N. Ireland to Quebec)
O'Connor (Ireland to MA)
My male Mayflower ancestors (only first two have been submitted/approved by the Mayflower Society):
Francis Cooke, William Brewster, George Soule, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, Richard Warren, Peter Browne, Francis Eaton, Samuel Fuller, James Chilton, John Tilley, Stephen Hopkins, and John Howland.
Female Mayflower ancestors: Mary Norris Allerton, Eleanor Billington, Mary Brewster, Mrs. James Chilton, Sarah Eaton, and Joan Hurst Tilley.
Child Mayflower ancestors: Giles Hopkins, (possibly) Constance Hopkins, Mary Allerton, Francis Billington, Love Brewster, Mary Chilton, Samuel Eaton, and Elizabeth Tilley.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thomas Howes ca 1590, England, died Oct. 1665, Yarmouth, MA

Thomas Howes married Mary (?Burr) and they had three sons: Joseph, Thomas and Jeremiah. Family legend says that his son Jeremiah was born at sea during the passage from England.

An early Howes genealogy by JC Howes gives a long history of the family in Morningthorpe, Norfolk, England, but this has since been proven inaccurate.

Thomas, along with Anthony Thacher and John Crow, founded the town of Yarmouth. They were authorized to settle there permanently in early 1639. The area where Thomas settled later became the town of Dennis.

In 1648 Pilgrim Myles Standish was sent 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 Howes. The Sachem was compensated and Thomas later purchased more land from him.

Before settling in Yarmouth, Thomas was at Salem in 1635. In Yarmouth he served on the committee to divide planting lands in the first division, served as constable in 1644, on the council of war in 1658, was a frequent deputy to colony court, and was appointed to "reserve the oil of the country" for Yarmouth (the government claimed a portion of whale products that came ashore within the colony). He was once fined for not attending court, but the fine was remitted when he had valid excuse.

Simeon Deyo wrote he was a man of influence, great maturity of judgment and of considerable importance in the colony. He was of the substantial middling class, either a staunch yeoman or educated gentleman. He also wrote that he left his sons with large farms and holding positions of honor and trust in the infant colony. (19th century local history books make me smile with their descriptions of the early settlers--if there were any tall buildings then, they would have been able to leap them in a single bound!)

Thomas was also planning to earn a livelihood by raising food supplies for the immigrants arriving in such large numbers to the Mass. Bay Colony, but he likely found the Cape Cod soil not perfect for farming.

Thomas and Mary lived in the vicinity of New Boston Road and Beach Street in what is now Dennis. All of their sons grew to maturity and their descendants, which have been numerous, now extend into the 13th generation. At times the Howes family has accounted for the largest percentage of the population of Dennis of any family. In the special census taken in 1837, 84 of the 664 households in Dennis were of the surname Howes.

The Howes family had a large number of mariners during the Golden Age of Sail. A number of the gravestones at the Howes Burying Ground mark the empty graves of men lost at sea. In the Great Gale of October 1841, twelve of the twenty men lost from Dennis were named Howes. (Dennis Historical Society Newsletter, July 1980)

The Dennis Historical Society has the large oak chest owned by Thomas and Mary on display at the Josiah Dennis Manse. The beautiful cupboard Mary brought to her second married to Gov. Thomas Prence (as his fourth wife) was purchased by Wallace Nutting and is on display at Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut.You can read an article about the cupboard in Antiques magazine here.
The Howes Chest (photograph: Howes Family Association)

Mary was an interesting woman as she had a talent for healing people. I will write more about her at another time.

Thomas died between 6 and 18 October 1665, in his home of 25 years along New Boston Brook. He was about 75 years of age. He is believed to be buried at the Howes Burying Ground in Dennis, as this land was once part of his estate. There is a monument there in his memory, erected by his descendants.
Thomas Howes Memorial Stone, Howes Burying Ground, Dennis

The will of Thomas Howes of Yarmouth (transcribed in the Mayflower Descendant, Volume VI, 1904) was dated 26 September 1665.  It mentions his three sons Joseph, Thomas and Jeremy/Jeremiah to keep the upland and meadow which he has already given them, his wife Mary to receive his dwelling house, outhousing, land, and movable goods to keep during her life as long as she remains his widow. After Mary’s death he wanted the New Field, half of Simpkins Neck and additional meadows to go to oldest son Joseph. After Mary’s death, he wanted his second son Thomas to have the dwelling house, outhouses, orchard and additional land and meadow including the other part of Simpkins Neck. He asked his son Thomas to teach or see to teaching the trade of cooper to grandchild Samuel and to give him a mare when he reaches the age of 12 and to keep the dwelling house in good repair for Mary. He gave additional land to his youngest son Jeremiah. He named Mary executrix.

Thomas’ inventory was taken 18 Oct 1665. The full inventory, which is quite lengthy, can be seen in the Mayflower Descendant noted above. It included a large amount of household furniture and goods, including silver, as well as guns, ammunition, a sword, coopers tools, two Bibles and other books, items in the dairy, spinning wheels, a cart, a plow, three horses and a colt, many cows, bulls, oxen, pigs, poultry.
Howes-Prence Court Cupboard (source: Wadsworth Atheneum)

Mary outlived Thomas by 30 years and may have been his second wife, but nothing has been found on a first wife.

There is a Howes Family Association (Box 904, Dennis, MA 02638) for descendants of Thomas Howes. I descend from Thomas and Mary’s sons Joseph and Thomas. They kept things cozy on the Cape!

Robert Howes , Genealogy of the Howes Family in America, Howes Family Association and Dennis Historical Society, 2006

Charles Swift, History of Old Yarmouth: comprising the present towns of Yarmouth and Dennis : from the settlement to the division in 1794, with the history of both towns to these times, Yarmouthport, 1884

Simeon L. Deyo, editor, History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, HW Blake & Co., New York, 1890

Nancy Thacher Reid, Dennis, Cape Cod: From Firstcomers to Newcomers, 1639-1993, Dennis Historical Society, 1996.

James W. Hawes, Thomas 1 Howes of Yarmouth, Mass., and Some of His Descendants, Together with the Rev. John Mayo, Allied to Him by Marriage, Library of Cape Cod History and Genealogy, No. 31, CW Swift Publisher, Yarmouthport, MA, 1917


  1. I would like to know how the early account of the Howes connection to Morningthorpe Manor in England is inaccurate. I am a descendent from the Howes/Jennings marriage.

  2. I am a direct descendant of this Howes family. My great grandfathe was Thomas Prince Howes, his father was Prince Howes, his father was Jeremiah Howes. My grandmother was Martha Howes Christiancy, daughter of William Crowell Howes.

    1. Hello, Do you have Thomas Howes, son of Prince, as marrying Hannah Sears and Bethiah Sears. I haven't figured out which children were by which wife. Chris

  3. How many of us I wonder descend from both Joseph and Thomas. Would be interesting to know, wondering if you have any idea. The connection to both is when Samuel son of Joseph married Rebecca daughter of Thomas. Makes me want to dig some more and see what I can discover. I have really gotten into the family geneology and doing my mother's side too.

    1. It would be interesting to know how many descend from both Joseph and Thomas, but I have no idea. Chris

    2. I also descend from both Thomas and Joseph, and Jeremiah as well! And also John Crow and Anthony Thacher... and I still live in Dennis! Howes that? LOL

    3. Hi Kat, I'm envious you live in Dennis! Chris

    4. Hello I am a grandaughter to Thomas and Mary on the 11th branch. With 3 beautiful Howes daughters and 3 beautiful young Howes grandsons. We are collecting information to resurect the Ladies of Howes. Anyone and all interested please say hello.💜 Kimberly
      Lady Howes~

    5. Hello, I descend from both Thomas and Joseph. Kim C Howes on facebook

    6. Hello I am a granddaughter to send from Thomas and Joseph. I live where our family settled in Somerset county Maine. I look forward to meeting any and most all of you in my next travels to the cape.

    7. Thanks for your comment! Chris

  4. My 10th Great Grandfather was Samuel Howes (1613 - ?) of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England. Although my family stayed in England I have a lot of DNA matches that connect me to the early settlers of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I wonder whether Thomas Howes is the link.

    1. Hello, That is interesting that you have DNA matches for early RI and Massachusetts settlers. It would be great if you discovered Thomas Howes is the link. There was also a Samuel Howes in Massachusetts who came from Kent, born 1610, whom I also descend from. I haven't any blood relation between that Samuel and Thomas, but another Howes for you to consider! Chris

  5. Howe, Thatcher and Crow all have island named after them off of Cape Ann

    1. Thank you for sharing. I am interested in learning more and meeting family. I am 11th generation and noted on the branch with my 3 Howes daughters beside me.

  6. Hello I am related to Thomas Howe through his son Thomas. Thomas Sr. is my 8th Great Grandfather. His 5th great grand daughter Kezia Howes-Muskett left MA, and went to England where she married Samuel Muskett. I am trying to find information on why she left MA. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

  7. Is S.M. Howes a descendant of Thomas?

  8. Does anyone have any idea where Thomas Howes' sword that was mentioned in his inventory might be? Would love to see how it's held up over the years. I am a descendant of Jeremiah and his son Ebenezer.

  9. My father's name was George Howes Gribbin. Growing up we were told the middle name was from a sea Captain who brought people from England to Mass. I think he said that name was John Howes,but I have never found any info on that. My father always wanted to go to Mass & visit all the places he'd heard about while growing up.. I have pics of what was always called the "summer cottage". Late 1800's or early 1900's. It in fact was a huge Victorian home on the beach up in Mass. It was passed down through the family for many generations. I only know the last names of my dads parents. Gribbin & Royale. He was so proud of his middle name. If anyone can connect some dots,I'd love to hear from you. Christine Gribbin Mertz on fb. I also can tell you my father & my grandfather were stone masons/marble cutters. Fingers crossed 🤞

    1. I have a handful of John Howes' in my database but they are all earlier, 17th-18th century. I hope you find the connection you are looking for!


I'm now moderating comments on this blog. My apologies for any ensuing delays, but the large number of "spam" comments have made this necessary. ~Chris