Thomas Freeman was born in September 1653 at Eastham, Barnstable Co., Mass. He was the son of Major John and Mercy (Prence) Freeman. I wrote about his parents here. On 31 December 1673, Thomas married Rebecca Sparrow at Eastham. Rebecca (often spelled Rebecka) was born 30 October 1655, the daughter of Jonathan and Rebecca (Bangs) Sparrow. I wrote about her parents here. Their marriage united two prominent families. Later Thomas’ brother William married Rebecca’s sister Lydia Sparrow. Thomas is my 10th great-grandfather on my grandmother Milly (Booth) Rollins’ side of the family.
Thomas and Rebecca moved to an area of Harwich that became Brewster. They had ten children (first nine recorded Eastham and Harwich Vital Records; Rebecca recorded just Harwich VR):
Mercy born 30 October 1674, married Paul Sears
Thomas born 11 October 1676, married Bathsheba Mayo and Mary Smith
Jonathan born 12 November 1678, married Mercy Bradford
Edmund born 11 October 1680, m. Phebe Watson
Joseph born 11 February 1681/82, m. Lydia Thacher and Mary Watson
Joshua born 7 March 1684/85, died before1716
Hannah born 27 September 1687, died in 1707
Prence born 3 January 1689/90, m. Mary Doane
Hatsuld (also Hatsell) born 27 March 1691, m. Abigail Hallett
Rebecca born 26 April 1694, m. Joseph Vickery and John Wing
Thomas must have been thrilled to have so many sons. I often think of what life must have been like for 17th century women raising such large families, especially with them born roughly two years apart. It is also amazing that eight of their ten children survived childhood to marry and have children of their own. Rebecca was 19 when her first child was born. At just shy of 25 years old, she had four children under the age of six. She was 39 when her 10th and last child, Rebecca, was born in 1694. She would have then had nine to ten children ranging in age from newborn to 19 years of age. I descend through their son Thomas and his wife Mary Smith, whom I wrote about here.
Thomas was one of the eight individuals who first gathered as the First Church Harwich and was named a church Deacon on 28 November 1700. He also served as Town Clerk, Treasurer and Selectman.
Deeds survive and were published in the Mayflower Descendant for land transactions between Thomas Freeman Sr. and two Native Americans, for land he purchased at Harwich. First is from John Sipson, 14 acres at a place called Keequanset, dated 1 June 1711 or 1712. The second is from John Quason, whose late Jonathan father was an Indian Sachem financially indebted to Thomas’ father Major John Freeman, 6 acres at South Sea near Bacon’s Tarkils and Short Cove, dated 13 August 1711.
Rebecca lived to an astonishing age of 84 years, dying on 7 February 1739/40 in Harwich (now Brewster), Mass. Thomas had died some years earlier, on 9 February 1715/16. They are buried together at the Old Burial Ground behind the First Parish Church in Brewster.
Thomas' stone is inscribed: Here Lyes ye Body of Deacon Thomas Freeman of Harwich decd Febry ye 9 1716 in ye 63 year of his age.” The stone is slate in very good condition for its age. It has a winged skull and hourglass engravings.
Their sons Thomas and Jonathan and daughter Hannah are buried nearby. There is also a small stone that reads “Rachel” with the rest unreadable.
Thomas’ will was dated 4 February 1715/16. He was of Harwich and bequests were made to: son Thomas who received land where he already dwelled on the south side of Harwich and land near Short Cove towards Chatham, land at Tom’s Island and Strong Island, meadowland and land in Eastham called Smith’s Purchase; son Joseph received land on the Common Road that leads from Harwich to Chatham, upland and meadow near his uncle John Freeman’s land; son Prince received land where his house now stands and land at the Great Lots at James Cole’s Field, land eastward of Samuel Hopkins’ house and a few more lots; son Hatsell upland and meadow Hatsell already fenced off, land adjoining father's homestead lot allowing mother Rebecca to cut wood there, land at Sheep Pond; son Edmond choice of one entire lot that hasn’t been disposed of to his brothers. After decease of their mother, his four sons to equally divide land at Sachamuses Neck and other land in Harwich. Daughters Mercy and Rebecka each to receive 30 pounds at his dear wife’s decease or before if it can be spared. Thomas signed his will with his mark.
His probate was proven on 20 April 1716 and administration was given to his widow Rebecca Freeman. It mentions wife Rebecca, sons Thomas, Edmond, Joseph, Prince/Hatsuld and daughter Mercy. Eldest son Thomas was named co-executor but he died the next year. Inventory was taken by John Freeman and John Sparrow and sworn to by widow Rebecca Freeman 20 April 1716. It includes cattle, horses, swine, sheep, farm tackling, grain, meat, beds/bedding, linen, tables and chairs, pots/kettles/other ironware, pewter and other small things, silver money and paper bills of credit worth 12 pounds, some plate of unknown value, some odd trifling things.
Rebecca Freeman’s will was dated 13 June 1729 and proved 18 March 1740. Named sons Edmund and Hatsuld, son-in-law Paul Sears, daughters Mercy Sears and Rebecca Wing. Her inventory was dated 29 September 1741 and shows that son-in-law Paul Sears had died and Edmund Freeman was the surviving executor.
Resources Not Listed Above:
Frederick Freeman, Freeman Genealogy in three parts, viz: I. Memorial of Edmund Freeman of Sandwich and his desc., II Memorial of Samuel Freeman of Watertown and his Desc., III Notes, Historical and Genealogical of Families of the Name of Freeman, distinct from Parts I and II, or whose connection is not clearly ascertained,” 1875.
Simeon Deyo, Editor, History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, 1890
Frederick Freeman, Freeman Genealogy
Charles Mayo, Mortuary Record from the Gravestones in the Old Burial Ground in Brewster, Mass., 1898