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Thomas Dudley and Dorothy Yorke

Thomas DUDLEY. [Ancestors].
Born in 1575-1576 (near Northampton, England-S1,S7)(Yardley-Hastings, Northampton, England-S2,S3); son of Roger Dudley and Susanna Thorne. Christened 12 October 1576 at Yardley-Hastings, Northampton, England.

There has been much debate among historians and some genealogists concerning descent of the Massachusetts Dudleys from the famous Barons Dudley of England. (Rev) Samuel Dudley, oldest son of Thomas, claimed such descent during his lifetime and apparently was not challenged. Furthermore, Thomas Dudley was accustomed to using the arms (seal) of the Barons Dudley to seal legal documents bearing his signature. In fact his will, written with his own hand, was sealed with the Dudley arms, indicating that he was descended from the Sutton-Dudleys of Dudley Castle. It was a serious offense under English law to use arms under false pretenses. (S7).

His father died when he was just a young man, (about 1585-1586), and his mother apparently died shortly thereafter.

Thomas inherited 500 pounds from his father and was raised as a page in the family of Lord Compton, Earl of Northampton. Afterwards, he became a clerk to his maternal kinsman, Judge Nichols, thus obtaining some knowledge of the law, which proved to be of great service to him in his later life. Also, while still in his minority, he was trained in Latin by a "Mrs. Purefoy", who was probably his maternal grandmother, Mary Purefoy. All in all, he gained a competent education and was able to understand any Latin author as well as most educated people of his time.(S7).

In 1596, at the age of twenty, Thomas received a Captain's commission in the army. According to Cotton Mather, "the young sparks about Northampton were none of them willing to enter into the service until a commission was given to our young Dudley to be their Captain, and thus presently there were four-score that listed under him." Thomas and his company of volunteers went to France and fought on the side of Henry IV, King of France, at the siege of Amiens in 1597.(S7).

Having leave from Queen Elizabeth to volunteer, he served under Henry IV of France says a reputable tradition. He was at the siege of Amiens, living afterwards at Northampton, but by Isaac Johnson who names him as one of the executors of his will, it is called Clipsham County, Rutland.

On the conclusion of peace in 1597, Thomas returned to England, settled at Northampton and became acquainted with Dod, Hildersham and other Puritan leaders and himself became a Puritan.(S7).

He converted to Puritanism. (S?).

He worked as chief steward of Theophilus Clinton, the Earl of Lincoln, where he developed Puritan beliefs.(S4).

He married (1) Dorothy YORKE [F7557] on 25 Apr 1603 at Hardingstone, Northampton, England.

In 1603, he married Dorothy Yorke, daughter of Edmond Yorke, yeoman, of Cotton End, Northamptonshire. She was described by Cotton Mather as "a gentlewoman both of good estate and good extraction." By her he had five children. During the period from about 1600 to 1630, Thomas was steward (manager of estates) to Theophilus, Earl of Lincoln, who had been deep in debt prior to Thomas' stewardship. After only a few years of management by Thomas, however, the Earl was out of debt and was prospering. Also, during this period, Thomas became acquainted with John Cotton, renowned minister of Boston, Lincolnshire (and later of Boston, MA). The Puritans were considered by many political leaders and by the Church of England to be a threat and were subjected to substantial persecution. During the 1620's, relations between the Church of England and the Puritans worsened. Continuing pressure led to a decision by a large group of Puritans to emigrate to New England.(S7).

In 1628 a group of Puritans, led by Dudley and John Winthrop persuaded Charles I to grant them an area of land between the Massachusetts Bay and Charles River in North America. That year the group sent John Endecott to begin a plantation in Salem.(S4).

Thomas Dudley, letter sent to England (March, 1631)

In 1628 we procured a patent from His Majesty for our planting between the Massachusetts Bay and Charles River on the south and the river of Merrimac on the north and three miles on either side of those rivers and bay. And the same year we sent Mr. John Endecott and some with him to begin a plantation and to strengthen such as he should find there, which we sent thither from Dorchester and some places adjoining; from whom the same year receiving hopeful news, the next year, 1629, we sent diverse ships over with about 300 people, and some cows, goats, and horses, many of which arrived safely.(S4).

In 1629, Thomas Dudley was one of the signers of the agreement to form the Massachusetts Bay Company. On Oct. 20, 1629, in the city of London, he was chosen one of the five officers to come to America with the Royal Charter. (S7).

The Massachusetts Bay Company was essentially similar to any other trading company of the time, except that its members had managed to obtain possession of the company charter, or patent, and thus could take it with them to the New World. With possession of the patent that established their rights and privileges, they could control their own government and elect their own magistrates. The group elected John Winthrop governor and Thomas Dudley deputy governor in October 1629.(S7).

It is difficult to understand Thomas Dudley's decision to leave England for the unknown shores of North America. In England he had friends, position and prosperity. But he decided to leave all this behind. Apparently, the pressures of persecution were so great that he was virtually forced to leave England or give up his religious convictions.(S7).

The main party of 700 people left Southampton in April 1630. The party included Dudley, John Winthrop, William Pynchon, Simon Bradstreet and Anne Bradstreet. Before they left John Cotton gave a sermon where he emphasized the parallel between the Puritans and the God's chosen people, claiming it was God's will that they should inhabit all the world. During the 1630s over 20,000 people emigrated to Massachusetts.(S4).

In a letter sent to supporters in England, Thomas Dudley wrote about the Puritans arrival in Massachusetts in the summer of 1630:

In April 1630 we set sail from old England with four good ships. And in May following, eight more followed, two having gone before in February and March, and two more following in June and August, besides another set out by a private merchant. These seventeen ships arrived all safe in New England, for the increase of the plantation here, this year 1630.

Our four ships, which set out in April, arrived here in June and July, where we found the colony in a sad and unexpected condition, above eighty of them being dead the winter before, and many of those alive, weak and sick. All the corn and bread among them all hardly sufficient to feed them a fortnight, insomuch that the remaining of 180 servants we had the two years before sent over, coming to us for victuals to sustain them, we found ourselves wholly unable to feed them.

But bearing these things as we might, we began to consult of the place of our sitting down, for Salem, where we landed, pleased us not. And so to that purpose some were sent to the Bay to search up the rivers for a convenient place; who, upon their return, reported to have found a good place upon Mystic; but some other of us seconding these to approve or dislike of their judgment, we found a place we liked better, three leagues up Charles River.

It was decided, for our present shelter to plant dispersedly, some at Charlestown which stands on the north side of the mouth of Charles River; some on the south side, which we named Boston, some of us upon Mystic, which we named Medford; some of us westward on Charles River, four miles from Charlestown, which place we named Watertown; others of us, two miles from Boston, in a place we named Rocksbury; others upon the river of Saugus, between Salem and Charlestown; and the western men, four miles south from Boston, at a place we named Dorchester.(S4).

He came over in 1630, probably in the Arbella, as Deputy Governor and lived at Newton or Cambridge at first. (S?).

In 1630, Thomas and his wife and children sailed to New England with the Winthrop Fleet, a group of eleven vessels carrying 700 passengers. The Dudley family was on the flagship, the Arbella. The Fleet left England in the Spring and arrived in Salem in June. Not approving of Salem as the capital, John Winthrop ordered the fleet south along the coast to Charlestown, ultimately settling at Newtown. Before leaving England, Winthrop had been elected governor and Thomas Dudley deputy-governor. Many of those who came with Winthrop separated and founded Roxbury, Lynn, Medford, Cambridge and Watertown. According to Thomas Dudley, about 200 of the emigrants died the first year in New England.(S7).

John Winthrop was the first governor of Massachusetts Colony. He chose Boston as the capital and the seat of the General Court and the legislature. Dudley was appointed his deputy.(S4).

Dudley and John Winthrop did not always agree about the way the colony should be ruled. Whereas Winthrop was tolerant and liberal, Dudley favoured the expulsion of any person he considered to be a heretic. It was Dudley who managed to get Anne Hutchinson and her followers removed from the colony. A crisis meeting was held in 1635 and these conflicts were resolved. Two years later Winthrop published a new policy on heresy.(S4).

A somewhat violent disagreement between Dudley and Winthrop, the first of many owing to Dudley's touchy and over-bearing temper, occurred when Winthrop abandoned the chosen settlement and moved to Boston. Dudley subsequently moved to Ipswich but after a short time, in order to be nearer the seat of government, settled at Roxbury. He built on the west side of Smelt Brook, just across the watering place, at the foot of the hill where the road that runs up to the First Church joins the Town Street.(S7).

Journal of the Massachusetts Bat Colony ( Written in 1635):
Mr. Vane and Mr. Peter, finding some distraction in the commonwealth arising from some differences in judgment, and with some alienation of affection among the magistrates and some other persons of quality, and that hereby factions began to grow among the people, some adhering more to the old governor, Mr. Winthrop, and others to the late governor, Mr. Dudley - the former carrying matters with more lenity, and the other with more severity - they procured a meeting, at Boston, of the governor, deputy, Mr. Cotton, Mr. Hooker, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Winthrop, Mr. Dudley, and themselves.

Mr. Winthrop spoke, professing solemnly that he knew not of any breach between his brother Dudley and himself, since they were reconciled long since. Then Mr. Dudley spoke to this effect: that for his part he came thither a mere patient, not with any intent to charge his brother Winthrop with anything; for though there had been formerly some differences and breaches between them, yet they had been healed, and for his part, he was not willing to renew them again.(S4).

Thomas Dudley and Simon Bradstreet (both future governors) founded Cambridge in 1631. Thomas, however, lived for many years in Roxbury (now part of Boston). In 1636, he was one of twelve men appointed by the General Court to consider the matter of a college at Newtown (Cambridge) and was one to report favorably on the project. In 1650, as governor, Thomas signed the original charter of the new college, named Harvard College.(S7).

Thomas moved to Ipswich and had a mill at Watertown.

In 1634 he was selected to serve as Governor. (S4). He was thus the second Governor of Massachusetts.

When Thomas Dudley was governor he expelled Thomas Morton from the colony:
In the end of December we sent away Thomas Morton, a proud, insolent man who has lived here for many years and had been an attorney in the west countries while he lived in England. Multitude of complaints we received against him for injuries we received against him for injuries done by him both to the English and Indians, and among others, for shooting hail-shot at a troop of Indians for not bringing a canoe unto him to cross a river. He hurt one and shot through the garments of another. For the satisfaction of the Indians wherein, and that it might appear to them and to the English that we meant to do justice impartially, we caused his hands to be bound behind him and set his feet in the bilboes, and burned his house to the ground - all in the sight of the Indians - and kept him prisoner till we sent him to England.(S4).

He then moved to Roxbury and was an Assistant in 1635 and some years later.

Thomas was a strict Puritan and clashed several times with other leaders of the colony. He was known to be very inflexible in his views. Cotton Mather wrote that if Thomas Dudley had been alive at the time of the witchcraft trouble, New England would never have been disgraced by the bloodshed of innocent persons. He was one of the principal founders of the First Church at Boston and in the church now standing at Berkley and Marlborough streets is a tablet with the following inscription:

Although Thomas Dudley was 54 years of age when he landed in New England, he still had a long public career ahead of him. Throughout the rest of his life, he was almost constantly in public office. He was four times elected governor and thirteen times made deputy-governor. When not occupying either of these offices, he was usually to be found in the House as an Assistant. When the Standing Council with the idea of forming a body of members for life, Dudley was one of the three first chosen. When the New England Federation was formed in 1643, Dudley was one of the two commissioners chosen by Massachusetts to confer with those of the other colonies. There is hardly an event in the life of the colony during his own in which he did not act a part.(S7).

He served as Deputy Governor 13 years altogether.

In March, 1637, John Wheelwright, the brother-in-law of Anne Hutchinson, was convicted of sedition and contempt because his religious views departed from orthodox Puritanism. In May, 1637, John Winthrop explained why dissenters would not be accepted by the colony.

(1) If we here be a corporation established by free consent, if the place of our cohabitation be our own, then no man has right to come into us, etc., without our consent.

(2) If no man has right to our lands, our government privileges, etc., but by our consent, then it is reason we should take notice of before we confer any such upon them.

(3) If we are bound to keep off whatsoever appears to tend to our ruin or damage, then we may lawfully refuse to receive such whose dispositions suit not with ours and whose society we know will be hurtful to us, and therefore it is lawful to take knowledge of all men before we receive them.(S4).

Thomas was selected as Governor for the second time in 1640.(S4).

Thomas was evidently as strong in body as he was unyielding in temper and unbreakable in will. Dorothy Dudley died in 1643 and Thomas remarried to Catherine Dighton. By her he had three children, the most noted being Joseph Dudley (1647) the future royal governor of Massachusetts, who was born when the old man was 70 years of age.(S7).

His wife Dorothy died 27 December 1643 at age 61.

He married (2) Katherine DEIGHTON on (4-S1)(14-S1,S3,S6,S8) April 1644 at Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts.

He was selected as Governor for the third time in 1645.(S4).

He was selected as Governor for the fourth time in 1650.(S4).

In 1650 he signed the charter for Harvard, and served as one of Harvard College's first overseers.

Dudley was an able man with marked executive and business ability. His integrity was unimpeachable. His eye, though somewhat religiously jaundiced, was single to the public interest as he saw it. He was something of a scholar and wrote poetry, read in his day, but unreadable in ours. In him, New England Puritanism took on some of its harshest and least pleasant aspects. He often won approval, but never affection. He was positive, dogmatic, austere, prejudiced, unlovable. He dominated by sheer strength of will as a leader in his community. Like many of the others, he was no friend to popular government and a strong believer in autocracy. Opposed to the clergy in one respect, he believed that the state should control even the church and enforce conformity as the superior, and not the handmaid, of the ecclesiastical organization. (S7).

Thomas was a thrifty man, who became one of the largest landowners in Roxbury, He was a "trading, money-getting man" and was said to be somewhat hard and "prone to usury." When he died, his property was valued at 1,560 and included bandoleers, corselets, some Latin books, some on law, some that indicate a taste for literature, and many on the doctrines of religion.(S7).

He died on 31 July 1653 at age 76, at Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts.

There was a great funeral, with the most distinguished citizens as pall bearers. the clergy were present in large numbers. Military units were present with muffled drums and reversed arms. He was buried at Roxbury, near his home, where his tomb may be seen on the highest point of land. His epitaph was written by Rev. Ezekiel Rogers and reads as follows:

In books a Prodigal they say;
A table talker rich in sense;
And witty without wits pretense;
An able champion in debate;
Whose words lacked number but not weight;
Both Catholic and Christian too;
A soldier timely, tried and true;
Condemned to share the common doom;
Reposes here in Dudley's tomb. (S7).

He was buried 6 August (31 July-S8) 1653 in the Eliot Burying Ground at Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts.

WIFE (1):
Dorothy YORKE. [Ancestors].
Born (in 1582-S1)(about 1582-S8)(25 April 1582-S2) at (Hardingsone, Northamptonshire, England-S1)(Cotton End, Northamptonshire, England-S2)(in England-S8); daughter of Edmund YORKE and Katheryn.

She married Thomas DUDLEY on 25 April 1603 at Hardinstone, Northamptonshire, England.

She died on 27 December 1643 at Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts.

CHILDREN of Thomas DUDLEY and Dorothy YORKE:
  1. Dorothy DUDLEY.(S2). Born at Common, Ashley, England. Died 27 February 1642/43. [Is she confused with her mother, or did they both die in childbirth?]
  2. Thomas DUDLEY.(S2,S3,S5). Born in (1602-S6)(1605-S?) at Common, Ashley, England. He died after April 1630 in England. He received his degree from Emanuel College Cambridge in 1626. In 1630 he came to the colonies in 1636, if at all. He may have died in 1637 because his father never mentioned him after that.
  3. Samuel DUDLEY. (S1,S2,S3). [Ancestors]. Born (30 NOV 1608-S1,S2)(after 1610-S3) in Northampton, England. He came over with his family and was Lieutenant in 1631. Married (1) Mary Byley. He married (2) Mary Winthrop in 1632 or 1633. She was the daughter of Gov. Winthrop. He married (3) Elizabeth Smith in 1651. He had 18 children. He died 10 February (1682/83-S1)(1683-1684-S2,S3) in Exeter, Rockingham County, New Hampshire.
  4. Anne DUDLEY. (S1,S2,S3,S5). Born 20 MAR 1611-1612 in Northampton, England. She married Simon BRADSTREET in 1628 at Sempringham, Lincolnshire, England. (He was b: March 18, 1602/03 Harbling, Lincs, England d: March 27, 1697 Salem, Massachusetts. He later became Governor.). They had eight children. She was a lady of great literary powers, the first woman poet of New England. She died 16 SEP 1672 in Andover, Massachusetts.
  5. Patience (Patricia) DUDLEY.(S1,S2,S3). Born 4 FEB 1615-1616 at Northampton, England. She married Major General Daniel Dennison on 18 OCT 1632 at Cambridge, Massachusetts. They had two children. She died 8 FEB 1689-1690 at Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts.
  6. Sarah DUDLEY.(S1,S2,S3,S6). Born (christened-S3) 23 JUL 1620 at Oakley, Northamptonshire, England. Christened in 1620 at Sempringham, Lincolnshire, England. She married (1) Major Benjamin Keayne before 9 JUN 1639. She married (2) Thomas Pacy on 26 APR 1652. She died 3 NOV 1659 at Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts.
  7. Mercy DUDLEY.(S1,S2,S3). Born 27 SEP 1621 at Oakley, Northampton, England. She married Reverend John WOODBRIDGE about 1639 at Stanton, England [This location is probably incorrect as he was said to be of Massachusetts.] They had eight children. She died 1 JUL 1691 at Newbury, Essex County, Massachusetts.

WIFE (2):
Christened at Gloucester 16 JAN 1614/5 (in St. Nicholas, GLS, England-S8); daughter of Dr. John Deighton, Gent. of St. Nicholas, Gloucester, by Jane Basset; widow. She married (1) Samuel Hackburne. She married (2) Thomas DUDLEY [F7556] on 14 APR 1643. Thomas died 31 Jul 1653 at Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Katherine married (3) Rev. John Allin of Dedham on 8 NOV 1653. They had children." She died 20 (29-S8) AUG 1671 in Massachusetts.

CHILDREN of Thomas DUDLEY [F7556] and Katherine DEIGHTON:
  1. Deborah DUDLEY.(S1,S3,S5). Born 27 FEB 1644/45 at Roxbury, Massachusetts. She married Jonathan WADE about 1666 at Medford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. She died on 1 NOV 1683 in Massachusetts.
  2. Joseph DUDLEY.(S1,S3). Born 23 Sep (1645-S3)(1647-S1,S5) at Roxbury, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard College 1665. Governor of Massachusetts from 1702 to 1715. He married Rebecca TYNG in 1668. They had thirteen children. He died 2 APR 1720 at Roxbury, Massachusetts.
  3. Paul DUDLEY.(S1,S6). Born in 1650 at Roxbury, Massachusetts. Christened 8 SEP 1650. He married Mary LEVERETT about 1676. They had three sons. He died 1 DEC 1681 at Boston, Massachusetts.