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Biography

Thomas Wilder Jr. was born 1618 in Berkshire, England to Thomas Wilder (1585-1634) and Martha Higgs (1694-1652) and died 23 October 1667 Lancaster, Worcester County, Massachusetts of unspecified causes. He married Anna Unknown Wilder (1614-1684) April 1640 in Charlestown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

Thomas Wilder born 1618, married Anna Eames, born 1619, married Apr 1640---record found at Ancestry.com According to the book, "Book of the Wilders: A Contribution to the History of the Wilders from 1497 ..." which can be found online (see page 10), by Moses Hale Wilder, "Thomas was ... received into the Church... in March, 1640. He was married in 1640 to Anna _____,. His daughter Mary was born in 1642, Thomas born in 1644, John in 1646, Elizabeth in 1648, and Nathanael in 1650 [probably should be 1655]...[I don't necessarily agree with the estimate for Elizabeth's birth, and Ebenezer was left out entirely.] In 1659, he removed with his family to Lancaster, and was a leader in the town until his death in 1667...His farm, of five hundred acres, was situated near to ...the present town of Lancaster." This book also suggests that Thomas Wilder was related to the Wilder family of Hingham (Martha and her children Edward, Elizabeth, and Mary). [I believe the author here is assuming that Thomas married in 1640 Anne, but I have never found record of it. The oldest child that we know of, Mary, was definitely born in 1642, so the marriage was before this date, but to my knowledge we know neither the exact date nor the place].

It is likely that Thomas moved to Lancaster in 1659 because that was the year that the town repealed the order limiting the settlers to 35. After this the population rapidly increased.


Research Notes

  1. He was likely born in England. Charlestown was laid out in 1629 by engineer Thomas Graves, one of its early settlers. If Thomas was accepted an early member of the church there in 1640 and married about the same time, I think it likely he was born in England, and not Charlestown. He was likely born in 1621 (he deposed June 17, 1654, that he was thirty-three years of age) and Charlestown had not yet been populated. It is possible he was born in another town in Massachusetts or nearby, but I think it less likely.
  2. His wife's name was Anne, Ann, or Anna. Some researchers, following a now-defunct lead that Thomas was related to the Wilders of Hingham, put forward that his wife's maiden name was Eames. Now that the connection between Thomas and the Wilders of Hingham has been disproven, I think we also need to throw out "Eames" as Anna's maiden name. I have also seen many internet sources who fashion her first name "Hannah" instead of "Anna," but I don't know the source of this, and I don't think it is right. In her children's birth records, her name is spelled either "Ann" or "Anne," and on Mary's christening record it is spelled "Anna." In probate documents related to her husband it is spelled "Ann."
  3. He may have married his wife Ann in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1640. I have seen his marriage date given as April 1640, but I have not seen a source for this. The oldest child that we know of was born in Charlestown in 1642, so they may have been married in Charlestown about 1640 or 1641.
  4. They had 6 children we know of, perhaps all while living in Charlestown and before they moved to Lancaster. Some of them have birth records listed in Charlestown vital records - namely Mary, Thomas, and Nathaniel. The others are listed in his will and/or in Lancaster early records. There is some discussion of his children in the book, "The Early Records of Lancaster, Massachusetts. 1643-1725," which can be found online here: https://archive.org/details/earlyrecordslan00masgoog. See especially page 298. A copy of his signature can be seen on page 25.
  5. Lancaster was first settled as "Nashaway" (after the local Nashaway Indian tribe) in 1643. It was officially incorporated and renamed "Lancaster on the Nashua" in 1653. Thomas moved there with his family in 1659 and was one of the very early settlers, and at one point the last name "Wilder" outnumbered every other last name in the city. When he wrote his own name in early records he appears to spell his last name "Wyellder."
  6. He died in 1667 while living in Lancaster, and was buried there. His will was dated 1666. He was only 46 years old when he died. The stone erected in his honor, that was erected many, many years later, has information on it that is suspect (i.e., it is doubtful he ever lived in Hingham). His death record can be found in the above-referenced early records of Lancaster - see page 320.
  7. The Town of Lancaster had many troubles with the local Indians, and it is likely that his widow and children saw some difficult times. Lancaster was the site of a smaller Indian attack in 1675 when 8 people were killed, and a much larger attack in February, 1676, when upwards of 55 people were slain or captured. The city was abandoned, burned to the ground, and uninhabited for about 3 years. It was resettled about 1680, and when that happened it appears that some of the Wilder children and perhaps Ann were among the resettlers. According to the early records of the town (see page 298 again), Thomas and John settled in Bridecake Plain, now known as the Old Common; Nathaniel retained the old homestead and opened an inn.
  8. Thomas left behind a will dated 1666 and he died in 1667. Lancaster, which is now part of Worcester County, was originally part of Middlesex County. Worcester County was not created until 1731. So Thomas has probate documents in Middlesex County records. At the FHL, film number 521,761, page 82 and 83, a copy of the inventory made of his estate can be found, as well as a copy of his will. Ann and son Thomas were made joint executors of the estate. Thomas was to be given a double portion, but children John, Nathaniel, Elizabeth, and Ebenezer are also mentioned, in that order. Daughter Mary is also mentioned, but separately, as she had already received of her portion of the estate.

Thomas is listed in the book, "History of the Town of Lancaster, Massachusetts: From the First Settlement ..." which can be found online (see under Sources) On page 64 he is listed among the "Fathers" of the town. It says on page 64 that besides daughters, Thomas had four sons - Thomas, John, Nathaniel, and Ebenezer. Page 664 discusses the Old Common Burying Ground, and the relatively more modern stone erected there in memory of Thomas. The author doesn't think that Thomas was actually buried there, but rather the (even older) "first burying yard", but thinks the stone was erected near where his son was buried. There are many Wilders buried in the Old Common Burying Ground.





Children



Offspring of Thomas Wilder Jr. and Anna Unknown Wilder (1614-1684)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Mary Wilder (1642-)
Thomas Wilder (1644-1716)
John Wilder (1646-1718) 1646 Charlestown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts 1718 Lancaster, Worcester County, Massachusetts Hannah Atherton (1657-1737)
Elizabeth Wilder (1648-1721)
Nathaniel Wilder (1655-1704) 3 November 1655 Charlestown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts 31 July 1704 Lancaster, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Mary Sawyer (1652-1740)
Ebenezer Wilder (1659-)










Siblings

Residences

Vital Records

Lancaster Gravestone

Twilder1618g.jpg

See Also



Footnotes (including sources)

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