1593 - 1667


Gerald Van Sise Raynor

      A large percentage of current RAYNORs in America are descendants of Thurston RAYNOR, who arrived with his family at Massachusetts Bay colony in 1634 from Ipswich, England. 

      Thurston was apparently the fifth son of Edward RAYNER, and a grandson of Robert REYNERE, our first identified ancestor.

      There does not seem to have been an established "home base" in England for those early RAYNORs. Robert REYNERE lived at Wickham Market, northeast of Ipswich.  Edward RAYNER's home was at Elmsett, to the west, and Robert's other children were all dispersed, even to London.

      Imention this because Thurston seems to have come into money, or had backers, when he sailed for America in 1634.  Not only could he afford to be without daily work and income, but he was able to purchase passage for his entire family and bring along an orphaned nephew, Edward, as well.  Cost of supplies for the voyage to America and early days in the new country must have been considerable. 

Ipswich: Christchurch Mansion, 16th Century.
Ipswich - An ancient town in England, founded in the sixth century, Ipswich became a prosperous inland port because of its location on the estuary of the Orwell.  It was one of the first towns to be granted a charter and in the Middle Ages became a trading center.  It was from Ipswich, in the early 17th century, that Thurston Raynor and his family immigrated to the New World. 

      Thurston and his family initially lived in Watertown, MA, and in 1636, he was able to join in organizing a new town, Wethersfield, Connecticut, and become a major Proprietor there.  This would indicate he must have been a young man of some education and with a good reputation.  He quickly became one of the leaders of the group in Wethersfield. 

      The idea of backers is not unusual.  After all, the original Pilgrims' voyage and settlement was supported by several backers in England who became quite upset when requisite repayments were not adequate.  However, we have no hint that Thurston was not "on his own".

      It does seem, though, that Thurston was here to "make his fortune"and not to just settle in at one spot.  He journeyed from Wethersfield, where he was the second largest landowner, to help settle Stamford, CT. in 1641, and then, three years later, to colonize Hempstead, NY along with several of the same group.  In each case, he was a major Proprietor and official.

      After three years in Hempstead, Thurston RAYNOR was on the move again, this time to participate in the settlement of Southampton, Long Island, NY.  In Hempstead, he had been Proprietor #3, and there was, a "Rainer Neck", mentioned in transactions in later years.  Here, again, he seems to have cashed in his holdings and left for greener pastures.

      Somewhere along the line in New England, Thurston's first wife died, and he married a second time, probably by 1638, to Martha WOOD, daughter of Edmund and Martha (LUM, or LOME) WOOD. The WOODs had been at each stop since Thurston's arrival in America and were major landowners at each place, including Southampton. They were also involved in the settlement of Huntington, L.I. 

      As for his political life in Wethersfield, Thurston was a delegate to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, then one of eight men selected from Wethersfield, Windsor and Hartford, CT. to adopt Articles of Confederation.  This was the first representative assembly not proposed, or controlled, by the Church.

      He participated in three allotments of land and was the second largest landowner.  He later sold 330 acres to Richard TREAT, and then 200 acres and house to Samuel BELDEN. 

      In his short time at Stamford, Thurston was appointed to build the town's mill and was appointed Constable, charged with keeping the peace and settling all disputes.  He then became Magistrate, with Senatorial power, and was a delegate to the New Haven General Court.

      Little is known about Thurston's Hempstead sojourn, because few records exist.  It appears he was a major player in obtaining the grant from the Dutch, then from the English.  On the Coombs list of early Proprietors, Edward is listed as #3.  However, since Edward was not of age at that time, had no financial background, and worked as a herdsman for the town, it was apparent that Thurston was the actual Proprietor. Edward is listed again as #65. Thurston either gave Edward his "extra"share which all original Proprietors received or else Edward earned it on his own as a Town employee.

      Quite a few of the "first Proprietors" sold out and moved on to Jamaica, Flushing, Newtown, Huntington, etc. as they were developed.  Some retained holdings in more than one settlement.

      When Thurston moved to Southampton, he was over fifty years old. Apparently, he decided it was time to "settle down".  He participated in the land division at Old Town, Southampton, Sebonac, and then in 1655, in the New Fields, or Ketchaponack, which included much of the Westhampton and Westhampton Beach area.

      Thurston was a Town leader, delegate to the New Haven Legislature, Town Magistrate (1654-1664); and delegate to the General Court at New Haven. He lived on Main Street in Southampton Village. 

      In 1667, Thurston and his older son, Joseph, were members of the 1st Squad, with rights to cut up whales which drifted ashore.  Whaling was a major business in those days.  Thurston's grandson, Isaac, in 1687, with a crew of six Indians out of Sag Harbor, in one voyage brought back 48 barrels of oil.  Fourteen crews left Southampton that year, securing 2,148 barrels.

      Thurston died in 1667 and his will, proved 6 November 1667, divided his property between his son, Joseph, then over 40 years of age, and his youngest child, Jonathan, only 16 years old.  Joseph got most of the Southampton holdings and Jonathan, the Westhampton area.  It is probable Thurston was buried in the Old South Burying Ground in Southampton.

      All of Thurston's descendants carrying the RAYNOR name came down through his two sons, Joseph and Jonathan.  They and their several sisters all married into " first families", so all of their descendants can trace their lines back to more than one of the original Southampton pioneers.  The oldest son, Thurston (2) RAYNOR, on the original passenger list, does not appear on any records and presumably, died young.

      Thurston RAYNOR lived a long and fruitful life.  He was respected and honored by his comrades wherever he lived.  They trusted him to act with honor at their assemblies and to judge them fairly in their courts of law. Those of us who are descended from him should be proud to list his name on our genealogies.

G.V.S.R. JULY 1996