Thomas Gardner was born 1592 to Thomas Gardner (1565 - 1635) and Elizabeth White (1564 - 1648) and died 29 October 1674 of unspecified causes.


His father may have been a descendant of Owen Tudor whose grand-daughter married a Gardner (ca 1450s, England). His mother was the sister of John White who was instrumental in the Dorchester Company. Thomas was named an Overseer in the 1624 party that left Weymouth on its way to Cape Ann.


Thomas was an Overseer of the "old planters" party of the Dorchester Company who landed, in 1624 at Cape Ann, to form a colony at what is now known as Gloucester. Gardner is considered by some as the 1st Governor of Massachusetts, due to his being in authority in the first settlement that became the Massachusetts Bay Colony (which later subsumed the Plymouth). [1]

This area had been visited by the Plymouth group who had obtained a Patent and had fished in the area known as Gloucester. These visitors, from the south, had built structures for salting and temporary housing. The Gardner-led group, who were to settle the area via another Patent, succeeded in maintaining themselves after their landing. However, eventual disagreement between the Plymouth folks and the 'West Country' folks, due to Patent conflicts, came about. Conant, having first been at Plymouth, was instrumental in working out a compromise, part of which was moving the Dorchester group away. As well, the colony that had been planned for Cape Ann was doing well, having brought over adequate provisions and having had the proper skills, yet it was commercially unsuccessful due to rocky, infertile soil and poor fishing. In 1626, the Dorchester Company granted permission for Roger Conant (Salem), who had arrived in 1625 from Plymouth (via Nantasket) to assess the situation and to become the new Overseer, to move the colony.

Some of the Old Planters moved with Conant to the mouth of the Naumkeag river while many members opted to return to England or to go south.

The new colony at Naumkeag was successful and was named Salem in 1629 and, in Conant's words, laid the "foundation" for the Commonwealth. Those following Gardner and Conant as leader were John Endicott and John Winthrop, respectively, as new planters.

Thomas and Roger continued to be considered old planters who seemed to get little in the way of recognition from the religious leaders, such as Francis Higginson. By the time of Winthrop, the influx into the area accelerated resulting in Mass Bay outgrowing, and annexing, Plymouth.

Gardner, and his sons, played several roles in the early development work. For instance, they did a lot of the early survey work laying out the area. As well, Thomas served on the court and oversaw highway work.

He had two wives, Margaret (c 1589 - 1659) and Demaris Sibley Shattuck (1597- 28 Sep 1674). With Margaret, he had six sons (Thomas, George, John, Samuel, Joseph, and Richard) and three daughters (Sarah, Seeth, and Miriam). In the spring of 1624, Gardner landed at Cape Ann with Margaret and the three sons who had been born in England. A fourth son was born in 1624. [2]


The legacy of Thomas Gardner, from seven children, is wide, and varied, as one would expect for the many generations. Some (small sampling) of Thomas' descendants are as follows, grouped by category and in chronological order by birth.

His descendants have supported America in all of its armed conflicts, built America through arts/sciences, and are examples of the brain, and backbone (necessary, despite pretensions otherwise from certain perspectives), of the country. [3] Many of Thomas' descendants, or their husbands, graduated from Harvard including its early Divinity School. In short, the phenomenal breadth of involvement with the arts, sciences, and trades covers the gamut.

American Patriots (and Military)



Degrees of separation

Through his second wife, Damaris, Thomas' influence could be expanded through the shrinking world argument. Among his step-children's descendants, one can find Thomas Stearns Eliot, John Marshall Harlan, and Sandra Day O'Connor. [6][7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Gardner, Frank A MD [1907] Thomas Gardner Planter and Some of his Descendants Essex Institute, Salem, MA (via Google Books)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gardner, Frank A MD [1933] Gardner memorial : a biographical and genealogical record of the descendants of Thomas Gardner, planter, Cape Ann, 1624, SalemISBN 0740425900, 9780740425905
  3. ^ Bowers, Andy. [2004]. What's a Boston Brahmin?. (via
  4. ^ a b 'Descendants of John Balch'. First Reunion. (via - F.A. Gardner in attendance
  5. ^ a b c Paine, SC (1912) Paine Ancestry via Google Books
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Family sites (examples): Worcesters, Owings Stone, Shattuck, October House Farm
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Personal memoirs (examples): New England, Winthrop Society, Perley's History,, ...
  8. ^ Dunn, Anthony T. 'The Gardners of Massachusetts: An American Legacy' (via
  9. ^ Schley, Winfield S Commander, US Navy [1887] 1884 Greely Relief Expedition Washington Printing Office (via American Libraries)
  11. ^ New England Historical Genealogical Society. 'Bush and Kerry related'. (via
  12. ^ 'A Short History of Salem Woods'. (via Friends of Salem Woods)
  13. ^ Young, A. [1846]. Chronicles of the first planters of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, from 1623-1636. (via Google Books)
  14. ^ George Gardner Family Papers 1659-1900. (The Massachusetts Historical Society)
  15. ^ Gardner Family Papers 1772-1915. (The Massachusetts Historical Society)

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