The Ancestry of Hattie E. J. Bruce - the Flagg Family


THOMAS FLAGG [#318], maybe bap. Hardingham, Norfolk, Eng. May 6, 1621, d. Watertown, MA 6 Feb 1697-8,[8/10] m. MARY ____, b. Eng. abt. 1619, d. 1703.

Thomas Flagg sailed for America in 1637 and settled in Watertown. According to Charles A. Flagg of the Library of Congress, "The tradition of Thomas is that he loved a girl in station below his own. Their union was opposed by his family, so the two decided to emigrate, and did so, coming in two vessels which sailed in company, and marrying soon after their arrival. We do not know the maiden name of the wife Mary, nor the date of marriage".[1/18] English emmigration records state, "A Register of persons about to pass into foraigne parts. A.D. 1637. 13 Charles I. These people went to New England with William Andrews of Ipswich, Mr. of the John and Dorothy of Ipswich, and with William Andrews, his son, Mr. of the Rose, of Yarmouth. April 11, 1637. The examination of Richard Caruear, of Strathby, in the County of Norfolk, husbandman, aged 60 years, and Grace, his wife, aged 40 years, with two children, Elizabeth aged 18 years, and Susanna aged 18 years, being twynnes. Mor. 3 servants, Isaace Hart aged 22 years, and Thomas Flege aged 21 years, and one Marable Underwood, a mayd servant aged 20 years; goes all for New England, to inhabitt and remaine.".[1/19]

It is open to speculation whether this Marable Underwood was the Mary whom Thomas married shortly after his arrival in New England. Mary may not have been in the company of Carver's family. She may not have even come on one of these two vessels. Of course all of this speculation rests on the assumption that the tradition of the family's disapproval of the marriage is, in fact, truth. In Bond's History of Watertown it is stated that Mary Flagg was born in 1619, which would make her two years younger than Marable Underwood.[1/20] Note that Thomas' will was witnessed by Thomas Underwood, who may have been a relation.

It is probable that Thomas was not a servant in the usual meaning of the word because soon after his arrival he was a land owner and later served as a Selectman. This was a post of real honor in the early days, and the social distinctions were closely observed. It is most probable that the relationship of servant was for the duration of the voyage only as he may have been too young to travel on his own.[1/1819]

In 1633 William Laud became archbishop of Canterbury and soon started vigorous measures to enforce conformity upon all the puritans. His most energetic assistant was Matthew Wren who became bishop of Norwich in 1635 and whose active persecutions of the Puritans caused a large emigration of them from Norfolk and Suffolk to New England during the next two years. At the same time there was great economic depression in England, and a large number of young men also joined in this emigration, not on account of religious motives, but rather with the object of bettering their material condition and prospects. Since Thomas didn't formally become a church member until June 22, 1690, he either belonged to this last group or, if you prefer, he left the country for love.[6/4378]

Thomas Flagg was very active in town affairs. He was chosen in 1651 to view fences and to prosecute the order about swine;[2/1:28] 1661 chosen surveyor;[2/1:74] constable in 1663[2/1:76] and 1686;[2/2:24] selectman in 1671,[2/1:102] 1675,[2/1:121] 1676,[2/1:125] 1678,[2/1:132] 1679,[2/1:144] 1682,[2/2:10] 1686,[2/2:22] 1687,[2/2:28] 1688;[2/2:33] town appraiser in 1674;[2/1:118] and commissioner in 1669[2/1:96] and 1688.[2/2:35]

In the first inventory of grants and possessions in Watertown, taken in 1639, Thomas Flagg is shown as having a homestall of six acres bounded south with the highway, north by Joseph Bemis, east by Robert Harrington, and west by Edward How. He also had twenty acres of upland being a great Divident in the first division, lot 16.[5/1:38] He held the same lands in the third inventory, taken about 1646.[5/1:124]

Thomas Flagg's will was dated 5 Mar 1697, proved 16 Feb 1697-8, and was witnessed by John Mixer, Thomas Underwood, and Shuball Child. In it are mentioned his wife Mary, sons Thomas, Michael, Allen, Benjamin, and Eleazer, deceased son Gershom, daughters Mary Bigelow, Rebecca Cook, and Elizabeth Bigelow, and grandson John Flagg.[4/9:285] The inventory of the estate was taken by Abraham Browne, Zacheriah Cutter, and Edward Harrington and recorded 16 Feb 1697-8. It amounted to 75.10.0. Stated in this document was Thomas' death date of 6 Feb 1697-8.[4/9:288]

Mary's will was dated 30 Dec 1702. She left her whole estate to be equally divided among her three daughters Mary Bigelow, Elizabeth Bigelow, and Rebecca Cook. She also mentioned her son Benjamin Flagg and made her "Son Samll. Biglo" to be her executor. The will was witnessed by Nathaniel Wilder, Ephraim Wilder, and John Warren.[3/10:629] "Watertown May 25:1703. an account of moveable Estate Left in ye house of Benjamin fflegg by Mary fflegg late of watertown, and Relict of Tho: fflegg" was taken by Jonathan Sanders and Caleb Church. It was sworn to by Benjamin Flagg and his wife Experience and amounted to 16.16.10.[3/10:685] The estate was divided and paid in equal shares to Stephen Cooks, Samuel Bigelow, and Joshua Bigelow.[3/10:687]

In [6] it is stated that Thomas Flagg of Watertown was the Thomas Flagg baptised in Hardingham, Norfolk on 6 May 1621. This would make the age in the emigration record incorrect, but, in the work, that is explained away by the strict laws of the time protecting masters from the absconding of indentured servants. The emigration inspectors might be suspicious about minors trying to leave the country unaccompanied by relatives or not in the custody of masters who could show their legal articles of apprenticeship. Thus Thomas may have been able to avoid possible detention if he was a large or mature looking sixteen year old bluffing his way past the inspectors. Thomas does not appear to have been from the area that Richard Carver lived in as there were no Flagg marriages in the Ormesby and Yarmouth area from 1590 to 1650. The main evidence for connecting Thomas Flagg of Hardingham with Thomas of Watertown is the similarity of names in the two families, which evidence does sound overwhelming. A few examples of Thomas of Watertown's children are Bartholomew, possibly named for Thomas' brother; Michael, a not very common name at the time, maybe named for another of Thomas' brothers; and Allen, the name of Thomas' father.[6/4389] Note that the only other Bartholomew Flagg in Norfolk county is another possibilty for Thomas' father. The trouble with connecting with Thomas of Hardingham is that Thomas of Watertown was a land owner by 1639, and it seems unlikely he could have held property under the age of 21. On the other hand Massachusetts men were required to participate in military training between the ages of 16 and 60. On April 5, 1681 Thomas Flagg petitioned to be relieved from training, which fits in well with a baptism in May of 1621.[6/439]

For the possible ancestry of Thomas Flagg, refer to the chapter on overseas ancestors.

REF: [1] Flagg Family Records - Norman G. Flagg, 1907
     [2] Watertown Records, 1894
     [3] Middlesex County Probate (First Series Docket 7783)
     [4] Middlesex County Probate (First Series Docket 7789)
     [5] Watertown Records, 1894 (Lands, Grants and Possessions)
     [6] Genealogical Notes on the Founding of New England - Ernest
         Flagg, 1926
     [7] Records of Births Marriages and Deaths, First Book - Watertown
         Records, Vol. 1, 1894
     [8] Births, Marriages, and Deaths, Second Book - Watertown Records,
         Vol. 2, 1900
     [9] The History of Watertown - Henry Bond, 1860


1. Gershom, b. Watertown 16 Apr 1641,[7/8] d. Lamprey River,
   NH 6 Jul 1690 probably on expedition to Port Royal, m.
   15 Apr 1668 Hannah Leppingwell, b. Woburn, MA 6 Jan 1647-8
   chil.:[9/220] 1) Gershom, b. 10 Mar 1668-9, m. Hannah ____,
   d. 4 Jan 1740-1[9/763]; 2) Eleazer (colonel and magistrate
   of Woburn), b. 1 Aug 1670, d. 12 Jul 1726, m. 17 Jan 1694-5
   Esther Green, d. 18 Sep 1744; 3) John, b. 25 May 1673, m.
   Abiel ___; 4) Hannah,[9/763] b. 12 Mar 1674-5, m. 9 Jan 1695
   Henry Green; 5) Thomas, b. 22 Jun, d. 23 Jun 1677; 6) Ebenezer,
   b. 21 Dec 1678, d. 10 Jul 1746, m. 25 Dec 1700 Elizabeth
   Carter, res. Woburn; 7) Abigail, b. 8 Jan 1680-1, m? 12 Dec
   1700[9/763] David Cutler; 8) Mary, b. 2 Feb 1682-3; 9) Thomas,
   b. 19 Apr 1785, res.? Boston[9/763]; 10) Benoni, b. and d.
   19 Aug 1687
2. John, b. Watertown 14 Jun 1643,[7/10] d. Watertown 6 Feb
   1696-7,[8/9] m. Watertown 30 Mar 1670[7/33] Mary Gale
   chil.: 1) Mary, m. Ebenezer Pratt of Sherburne; 2) Sarah
   b. 5 Jun, d. 2 Dec 1675; 3) John, b. 6 Nov 1677, d. bef.
   12 Feb 1755, m(1) Anna ____, m(2) 13 May 1712 Sarah
   Hagar (dau. of William Hagar and Sarah Benjamin)
3. Bartholomew, b. Watertown 23 Feb 1644[7/11] nothing
   further known

4. Thomas, b. Watertown 28 Apr 1645,[7/12] m. Watertown 18 Feb
   1667-8[7/30] Rebecca Dix (dau. of Edward Dix & Jane), b.
   Watertown 18 Feb 1641-2[7/9]
   chil.[9/220]: 1) Mary, b. 1 Dec[7/31] or 10 Dec[9/220] 1668,
   m. 30 Dec 1686 Richard Child (son of Richard Child and
   Mehitabel Dimmick), b. 30 Mar 1663,[9/153] d. 11 Nov[8/14]
   or 4 Nov[9/153] 1691; 2) Hannah, b. 24 Apr 1671; 3) Rebecca,
   b. 31 Jan 1673-4; 4) Jemima, d. unm. 5 May 1747 age 66; 5)
   Hepzibah, m. 10 Apr 1701 Joseph Whitney (son of Joseph
   Whitney and Martha Beach), b. 15 Aug 1675; 6) Thomas, d. 1719,
   m. 11 Sep 1711 Rebecca Sanger (dau. of John Sanger and
   Rebecca Parks), b. 7 Mar 1688-9[9/422]
5. William?, b. abt. 1648, d. Lancaster, MA 22 Aug 1675
6. Michael, b. Watertown 23 Mar 1651-2,[7/16] d. Watertown 16 Oct
   1711,[8/44] m(1) Watertown 3 Jun 1674[7/38] Mary Bigelow
   (dau. of John Bigelow and Mary Warren), b. Watertown
   18 Mar 1648,[7/14] d. 3 Sep 1704, m(2) Watertown 27
   Dec 1704[8/20] Mary Earle (maybe dau. of George Laurence and
   Elizabeth Crispe and widow of John Erle
7. Eleazer, b. Watertown 14 May 1653,[7/17] d. 21 May 1722,
   m. 10 Oct 1676 Deborah Barnes
8. Elizabeth, b. Watertown 22 Mar 1656-7,[7/19] d. Watertown
   9 Aug 1729,[8/98] m. Watertown 20 Oct 1676[7/41] Joshua Bigelow
   (son of John Bigelow and Mary Warren), b. Watertown 5 Nov 1655[7/18]
9. Mary, b. Watertown 14 Jan 1657-8,[7/20] d. Watertown
   7 Sep 1720,[8/66] m. Watertown 3 Jun 1674[7/38] Samuel Bigelow
   (son of John Bigelow and Mary Warren), b. Watertown 28 Oct
   1653,[7/17] d. aft. 1720 (1731?[8/93])
10. Rebecca, b. Watertown 5 Sep 1660,[7/22] d. Newton, MA 20 Jun
   1721, m. Watertown 19 Nov 1679[7/46] Stephen Cook, b. England
   1647, d. 1738
11. Benjamin, b. Watertown 25 Jun 1662,[7/24] d. 3 May 1741,
   m. Watertown 26 Sep 1690[7/62] Experience Child (dau. of
   Richard Child and Mehitable Dimmick), b. Watertown 26 Feb
12. Allen, b. Watertown 16 May 1665,[7/26] d. Watertown Oct
   1711,[8/46] m. Watertown 12 Mar 1684-5[7/55] Sarah Ball
   (dau. of John Ball and Sarah Bullard), b. Watertown
   11 Jul 1666[7/28]

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