Home ~ Contact us

Thomas Duston and Elizabeth Wheeler

HUSBAND:
Thomas DUSTON. (Dustin).
Born (in 1606)(about 1606-S1) in England; possibly the son of Thomas DUSTON [F15024]. In a deposition, made 28 April 1661, Thomas Duston gave his age as about 55 years. (S1).

He came to America with the Trelawney Expedition in 1633 and a brief summary of events leading up to this expedition may be of interest here.
In the year 1620 King James 1 of England granted a charter to the Northern Company, so called, consisting of the Earls of Arundel and Warwick, other noblemen including Sir Ferdinando Gorges and certain private gentlemen who were called The council established at Plymouth in the County of Devon for the planting and governing of New England in America. Full details of this patent and its history may be found in the publications of the Maine Historical Society.
Under this patent, on Dec. 1, 1631, the rights "to fowle and fishe" on a grant of land including Cape Elizabeth and Richmond Island were granted being signed by the Earl of Warwick, Edward Gorges and Sir Ferdinando Gorges. On Jan. 18, 1632, Robert Trelawney and Moses Goodyear executed to John Winter and Thomas Pomeroy a power of attorney to operate the fisheries and trading post from Cape Elizabeth to the Spurwink River. In the spring of that year, Winter set out for America, arriving on July 21, 1632, when he took possession of Richmond Island from Richard Vines, whom he found living there.
Richmond Island had already figured in the early history of the province. As early as 1624 it was a trading post for George Richmond, hence its name. In 1628 he relinquished it to Walter Bagnall, known as "Great Walt." Thomas Morton of "Merrymount" fame was a friend and boon companion of Bagnall and spent some time with him on Richmond Island after his rather hurried departure form the vicinity of Boston. Shortly after Morton left the Island, Bagnall, an unscrupulous trader, was killed on October 3, 1631, by the Indians whom he had cheated and Richard Vines settled there and was dispossessed by Winter as above mentioned.
John Winter employed John Badiver and Thomas and Andrew Alger, who were living on House Island in Casco Bay to look after Richmond Island and to protect the interests of his employers while he returned to England for a more completely outfitted expedition.
In 1633 he again set out for America, arriving at Richmond's Island on March 2. This time he remained for about two years. With him on this expedition was Thomas Duston as is shown by the following extract from a letter sent by Winter to Trelawney on the ship Hunter, which sailed for England on July 3, 1634. This letter, dated "Richmond Island, the 18th of June, 1634", gives a very complete account of his doings during the previous year and lists the amounts due each member of the party, one of the items being as follows:
Thomas Dustin is to haue a share and L4 in money, which doth amount unto L15.9s.6d., and he is to allow out of yt for provisions bought of me heare in the country 10s. 8d. so there remeaneth due unto him……….L14. 18s. 10d.
At the end of this list is added the following note: This is all our company that do work with us heare upon our fishinge, except your servant, Henry,____. (S1).

Just how long Thomas Duston remained a fisherman in Winter's employ is uncertain, but as his name is not on the list of those employed by Winter in 1639, he evidently left before this date.
In fact, by 1639 only one of those employed by Winter in 1634 remained with him, for although John Winter was a capable manager of the Richmond Island trading post, particularly where his own interests were concerned, he was none the less a hard man to work for and few of his men signed on for a second term of service after the original contract expired. On July 8, 1639, Stephen Sargent, writing for Winter, complained that "some of the men are deserting the Colony."
Winter himself wrote to Trelawney on July 10, 1639, two days later, a letter containing the sentence: "Our men as their tymes comes out do go away, and so will all here after except I will give them double hire ____" etc.
We do not know whether Thomas returned to England between 1634 and 1640, or exactly where he was living, but in 1640 he joined the community at Northam (now Dover, N.H.), made up largely of men who like Thomas Duston had completed their terms of service and were striving to gain a living and become independent. This consisted of a certain number of responsible citizens of good character and numerous others of a lawless type. (S1).

He signed the Dover Combination in 1640. (S1).

Those responsible citizens, in order to curb the wilder element in the community, on Oct. 22, 1640, drew up and signed a document known to us as the Dover Combination. Only a copy of this exists today, made for Governor Cranfield in 1683. It expresses the willingness of the signers to submit to his Royal ma ties Lawes together with all such Orders as shal be concluded by a Major part of the Freemen of our Society, in case they bee not repugnant to the Lawes of England and administred in the behalfe of his Majesty. To this document the signature of Tho: Dunstar is the thirty-fourth in order of forty-two names. Authorities agree that in this copy at least seven of the surnames are misspelled, including that of Thomas.
There was strong opposition to this "Combination", Captain John Underhill, a strong opponent of the measure, even went from door to door securing "by flattering and threatening" some signatures to a note submitting to the government of Massachusetts. This led to violent action by both parties and finally to a decree banishing Underhill from the settlement. (S1).

In March, 1641, the leading inhabitants of "Northam" sent a letter to the Governor of Massachusetts explaining Underhill's conduct and stating their objections to coming under the government of Massachusetts. This letter is known as the "Protest" and Thomas Durston's signature is fifth in the list of twenty-five signers. It is worthy of note here that he first signed his name Duston, afterwards interpolating the r, evidently wishing his name signed correctly to a document of such importance. The result of this "Protest" was that after certain conditions had been fulfilled, the citizens of "Northam" finally placed themselves under the protection of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and remained there for nearly fifty years. (S1).

He was before Court in New Hampshire for debt on 5 May 1643. (S1).

From this time on we find Thomas mentioned in numerous documents and we are able to trade his movements with some degree of confidence. He was before the court in New Hampshire for debt on May 5, 1643. March 24 and June 30 in the case of "John Heard, plt., Thomas Douston and Thomas Jones, defendants in an action of trespas for cutting his grasse and carrying away of his haye." The case was put to arbitration and the result is not given. (S1).

He married Elizabeth WHEELER before 1648. Some time prior to 1648 he met and married Elizabeth, daughter of John Wheeler, and according to Pope's "Pioneers of Massachusetts" was a proprietor in Charleston, Mass., adjoining Ralph Hall in 1648. If this be true, it is none the less certain that he and his wife returned to the Piscataqua before 1650 and settled in Kittery, Me., where, in 1650, they were presented to the General Court by the "Grand Jurie," "for neckleckting the ordinances of God upon the sabath day" (non-attendance at church) and were fined 10 shillings, the fine for future offences to be 40s. As there were no future offences, we may assume that they were thereafter regular in their attendance. (S1).

He is mentioned in Kittery in 1650 and was constable there in 1652. (S1).

On Nov. 16, 1652, Thomas was one of the signers of the "Submission" of the citizens of Kittery to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and his signature is 12th on the list. A facsimile of this document from the Massachusetts Archives accompanies this report and may also be found on page 143 of Stackpole's "Old Kittery and her Families." Here his name is plainly written Durston.
Four days later on November 20, "Thomas Dunston and Robert Mendham were Chosen and sworne Constables for the Towne of Kittery." They held this position for several years and are mentioned as holding this position in 1655. (S1).

A lot of twenty acres on the west was granted, 19 June 1654, to Thomas Duston. It was 28 by 120 rods and reached from Crooked Lane to Spruce Creek. (S1).

On June 9, 1654, he received a grant of twenty acres on the west of John White's lot in Kittery, ---- 28 X 120 rods, reaching from Crooked Lane to Spruce Creek. Here he built a house and lived with his family till the winter of 1659-60. At this time (1654), he was in the employ of George Walton of Great Island in the Piscataqua River.(S1).

In 1657 he was again a member of the Grand Jury at York, Maine. (S1).

He had rented his place on Crooked Lane to Richard Downe in 1659-60 and was then living in Portsmouth. (S1).

In 1660 the house on Crooked Lane was destroyed by fire and he was forced to mortgage the property to John Cutt in order to obtain necessities for his family. The property was at this time rented to Richard Downe. The mortgage deed is dated March 2, 1659-60 and is signed Thomas Duston, his wife making her mark. The deed is witnessed by his wife's brother, David Wheeler and John Cutt, Junior.(S1).

Thomas died between April, 1661, and July 1, 1662, on the latter date his wife being made administratrix of her husband's estate by Court at York. (S1).

He died before 1 July 1662, probably in Portsmouth, Maine. Elizabeth Duston, his widow,gave a deed of the place to John Cutt, 19 March 1662-1663. There seems to have been some litigation about it years later, and the heirs of Duston recovered the place. In 1678 Lucy Wills, aged about 46, and Sarah Lidden, aged about 38, testified that Thomas Duston's house was formerly burned and he had to mortgage his land to John Cutt. (S1).

It is evident from the foregoing that he was a man who loved his family, who did his duty to God and country, and who, starting from the role of an humble fisherman rose to a position of some standing in the communities where he resided, ---a man whose courage and vision led him to seek a competence far from the land of his birth, -- in short, one of the true pioneers of America. (S1).

WIFE:
Elizabeth WHEELER.
Born (about 1620 or 1625-S1)(about 1626), probably in England; daughter of John WHEELER and Ann YEOMAN of Hampton, New Hampshire; Salisbury and Newbury Massachusetts. (S1).

She married Thomas DUSTON.

In 1678 Lucy Wills, aged about 46, and Sarah Lidden, aged about 38, testified that after Duston's death, his widow married a Mr. Button. She married Matthias Button of Haverhill, 9 June 1663. She was his (third-S1)(fourth-S1) wife. Matthias Button died on 13 August 1672 at Haverhill, Massachusetts. (S1).

The death of Thomas left his widow faced with the necessity of providing for her three children, and on March 19, 1662-63, she deeded to John Cutt all the interest of herself and children in her late husband's property both turffe and Twigge upon the Land for the sum of fourty pounds Sterlg. (S1).

The validity of this transaction was evidently in some way open to question as there was litigation concerning it for many years starting in 1677, some five years after the death of Matthias Button, her second husband, for in that year both the original mortgage deed and the final sale by the widow of Thomas were both recorded and copied. In 1678 there was a deposition made on June 25, recorded in Portsmouth Deeds, Vol. 3,p. 137, by Luce Wills and Sarah Lidden, the former aged about forty-six years and the latter thirty-eight years. This deposition set forth the following facts: that they had learned from "ye Relist of Thomas Duston, by name Elizabeth" that after Thomas Duston's house was burned, "her husband and she were forced to take up Twenty pounds for their necessitie in bedding & goods of Mr. John Cutt sen'r of piscattaq", for which they mortgaged their house and land "now in ye possession of John Amerideth" and after her husband's death she was "Inforced to comply" with Cutt to pay ten pounds to Nathaniel ffryer owed by her husband and that "being by Necessity constreinied for herselfe & children did make a sale of "the before mentioned house and land to Cutt. Also that her second husband "by name Button at his decease bequeathed to her selfe one hundred acres of land, where of Thirty acres she gave to her son Thomas Durston for quietness sake that he might not trouble the sd Amerideth afterward aboute ye house & Land above menc'oned w ch she said that ye said Cutt honestly paid her for & that concerning ye above said Land she Knew how things were better than anybody & therefore gave him the abovsaid Thirty acres of Land……" (S1).

She died on 16 July 1690 in (Kittery, York, Maine-S1)(Haverhill, Massachusetts-S1).

The following are the proofs of the parentage of his wire, Elizabeth. After his death, she married Matthias Button of Haverhill as has previously been stated. There was no other Elizabeth Button in the Colony. The will of John Wheeler of Newbury, dated march 28, 668, after bequest to sons David, Edward , Adam, Thomas and William and daughter Mercy bequeaths as follows " and to my daughter Elizabeth Button I give four pounds." Then follow other bequest to daughter Anna Chase, daughter-in-law Susanna Wheeler, son George's children, son Roger Wheeler's children "and to my daughter Elizabeth's children forty shillings apiece, to Thomas forty shillings to be payd to him when he shalbe of the age of one & twenty & to Mary forty shillings & to Elizabeth forty shillings when they shalbe Eighteen years of age".
Finally, the following proofs are set forth that the children of Elizabeth Button were surnamed Duston:
First, Thomas (2) Duston.
From Old Norfolk County Records, p.231 of Vol. 60 of the Essex Institute Historical Collections: Thomas Duston of Haverhill acknowledges the sale of fifty acres of land to Sam (11) Gild, jun., of Haverhill, deceased and gave deed therefore, which deed doth not appeare. Sd land Peter Green of Haverhill sold to Nath (11) Merrill of Nubery for said Merrill's security from said Duston in point of claiming any of the said land. Therefore the said Tho: Duston stands bound in five hundred pounds, that neither his heirs, etc., or his mother, Elizabeth Butten or heirs shall molest said Merrill. March 15, 1677-78, Wit. Aquilla (his mark) Chase, Robert fford. Ack, by Thomas Duston June 1, 1678, before Jo. Woodbridge, commissioner.
Second, Elizabeth (2) Duston.
Elizabeth m. 1st, John Kingsberry, who d. Jan 23, 1670, Haverhill, Mass. She m. 2d, Dec. 11, 1672, Haverhill, Mass., Peter Green.
From Old Norfolk County Records, p. 103 of Vol. 58 of the Essex Institute Historical Collections:
Elizabeth Butten of Haverhill, for ten pounds conveys to her son-in-law Peter Green twenty acres upland in Haverhill, near hawks meadow, bounded by land of sd Peter Green, by Aquila Chase, by a pine tree and by land of Thomas Duston. Dec. 7, 1673, Wit. Henry Kinsbery and Joseph Kinsbery. Ack. by Elizabeth (her 6 mark) Butten Feb. 2, 1674 before Nath (11) Saltonstall, commissioner. Nothing definite has yet been learned concerning Mary. (S1).

On June 8, 1703, administration was granted to Thomas Duston of Haverhill on the estate of his father, Thomas Durston of Kittery and finally on Dec. 14, 1733, according to the Kittery Records, there was laid out to Timothy Dustin, John Watts and others, heir of Thomas Duston, "twenty acres granted to Thomas Duston 19 June 1654." (S1).

CHILDREN of Thomas DUSTON and Elizabeth WHEELER:
  1. Elizabeth Dustin. Born about 1645 in Kittery, York, Maine. She married (1) John Kingsberry about 1667. John died on 23 January 1670 at Haverhill, Massachusetts. She married (2) Peter Green on 11 December 1672 agt Haverhill Massachusetts. . (S1).
  2. Thomas DUSTON. Born about 1650 in Kittery, York, Maine. (S1). He married Hannah EMERSON on 3 December 1677. (S1). He died in 1698.


SOURCES: