Saturday, September 17, 2016

Thomas Spencer –The Progenitor of the Spencers of Maine

Although the name Spencer appears to be Anglo-Saxon, it is actually taken from the “Low” Latin and morphed into the French Despensier. The English converted it to become a proper name - Spencer or Spenser, which means ‘one who weighs out’. In old England, the Buttery or cellar was called a spense and the officer controlling it was called the spenser. Historically, in the Latinized form, the name is found as far back as the year 1085 with entry in the Doomsday book.

Spencer arrives in the Colonies

17th century Barque

Thomas Spencer, born in England in 1596, came to the Colonies in 1630 on the barque Warwick to work for Captain John Mason. Mason, who was responsible for settling the Piscataqua, Strawberry Banke, and Newichawannock plantations contracted his workers in England, sending them to the Colonies for a number of years. 

Once they arrived in New England, they were housed at Mason Hall until the settlements were ready to live in. At the end of their contract they were free to go back to England. Many workers brought their families and planned on staying after the work was finished. Thomas and his wife Patience Chadbourne came to the plantation with the intend to stay. Patience was the daughter of William Chadbourne. She and Thomas were married before 1629. Together they had 3 sons, William, Humphrey, Moses, 4 daughters, Susanna, Elizabeth, Mary and Margaret. Their first child William, was born by 1631. 

Spencer establishes his home

Thomas' original land 

When Mason's died in 1635, the group disbanded. While some looked for better homes elsewhere, Thomas Spencer stayed where he originally settled. His home was in South Berwick at the convergence of the Great Falls and Salmon Falls rivers. Thomas was industrious and motivated to work for himself. He was a planter, lumberman and tavern keeper.

Humphrey Chadbourne had built a large English manor house but when he was ready to leave for England, he gave it to Thomas and Patience. He also gave his son Humphrey and Thomas each half ownership in his sawmill. Thomas became successful in the lumber business.


Thomas was an impartial tavern keeper. He entertained all on equal terms. As a result he lost the right to vote when he was found guilty of entertaining Quakers. There is probable evidence to believe that Thomas and Patience were Quakers. They were presented in court for neglecting to attend public Sunday meetings for a period three month. This first offense was in 1663 but in 1675 they were in court again. He, along with Richard Nason and Anthony Emery were found guilty of entertaining Quakers, fined 5 pounds each and disfranchised.

Typical scene from a tavern  

When Thomas died in December, 1681 Patience may have continued to operate the tavern. Patience died 1683. They were predeceased by their daughter, Mary. In 1664, daughter Mary and her husband, Thomas Etherington, died at sea on their way to Boston. It is probable they were traveling on business as her husband had an estate in Boston. Their deaths left two young daughters, Mary and Patience. Her brother William assumed guardianship for Mary. Patience's guardianship is unknown. 

Thomas' Will

History shows that Thomas was a religious, honest and generous man. He provided well for his family and was fair to all.
In the 1679 will of Thomas Spencer, he provides for his dwelling house and all its gardens, etc to go to his eldest son, William. By six weeks after his death, William is to pay £10 each to his sisters, Susannah and Elizabeth. Thomas also gave his wife, Patience all other property to dispose of at her discretion. 

An amendment was written to acknowledge the deaths of his daughter Mary and her husband, Thomas Etherington as well as their daughter Mary Wincoll. Thomas gave their portions of his estate to Mary Wincoll’s son, his great grandson, John Wincoll, Jr.
Tradition says that Thomas and Patience are buried in now unmarked graves in the Old Fields Cemetery which was originally part of his property in South Berwick.

Sources: The Maine Spencers, WD Spencer, 1898
Chadbourne Association.
Old Kittery and her families, Stackpole, 1903
Images: Google
Map: Old Kittery and her families, Stackpole, 1903

My Lineage from Thomas Spencer (10th greatgrandfather)
Line #1 - Mary
Mary m Thomas Etherington
Patience Etherington m William Hearl
Mary Hearl m Gabriel Hamilton
Hannah Hamilton m Jeremiah Paul
Mary Paul m William Remick
Elizabeth Remick m Peter Dixon
Abraham Dixon m Statira Spinney
Sarah Dixon m John Frank Trafton
Emma Trafton m George Philip Emery
Forrest Bartlett Emery m Ruth Whitman

Line #2 - MargaretMargaret m Daniel Goodwin 
Daniel Goodwin m Amy Thompson
Nathaniel Goodwin m Mary Tibbetts
Solomon Goodwin m Abigail Hooper
John Goodwin m Mary Plaisted
Hannah Goodwin m Daniel C. Emery
Rufus Emery m Julia Ann Fernald
George Philip Emery m Emma Trafton
Forrest Bartlett Emery m Ruth Whitman

Line #3 Elizabeth
Elizabeth m Thomas Chick
Richard Chick m. Martha Lord
Elizabeth Chick m Noah Emery
Daniel Emery x Elizabeth Beetle*
Daniel Emery m Elizabeth Brackett Crosby
Daniel C. Emery m Hannah Goodwin
Rufus Emery m Julia Ann Fernald
George Philip Emery m Emma Trafton
Forrest Bartlett Emery m Ruth Whitman
* Parents of 2nd Daniel were not married 

Forrest and Ruth Whitman Emery are my grandparents

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