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Thomsons were First NH Settlers in 1623



Thomson was likely born in Scotland, though some historians have claimed an English ancestry. He first pops up in Plymouth, England records in 1613, the year he married Amias Cole, the daughter of a Plymouth shipbuilder. He was roughly 23 and either an apothecary or clerk to an apothecary. Records of their children are unclear. One child may have died young. A daughter was probably left behind when they traveled to America.

Thomson was well connected with the Council of New England, the influential group responsible for handing out a confusing array of overlapping land patents in the New World, including the grant that landed the Pilgrims at New Plymouth in 1620. Thomson is described as an "agent" and an "attorney" for the Council.

John Mason and his Laconia Company received the key patents for New Hampshire. Sir Ferdinando Gorges, a governor of Plymouth, England, gained patents for what became southern Maine. Gorges had been involved in promoting the earlier expeditions in 1607 to Jamestown, Virginia and the failed effort at Popham Colony in Maine (originally Northern Virginia). Both men were important figures in the Council that granted David Thomson his own patent in November 1622, and the right to claim 6,000 acres and the island of his choice. Thomson, clearly a man of some status and education, could write letters and rub shoulders with the elite, It is probable that Thomson had traveled to the New World on a previous voyage. Contemporaries described him as a "gentleman" and as a "scholar". He may even have held some legal and governmental authority for the Council in the early days of New England.

thomson01Thomson had three business partners back in England and was obliged to them to make a go at the Pannaway plantation for five years, a commitment he did not live to complete. We know he was at home for at least two years, since a number of early travelers wrote about visiting his plantation at "Piscataway". Robert Gorges, son of the powerful Sir Ferdinando, visited briefly in the autumn of 1623 with a group of indentured servants and "gentlemen" including Samuel Maverick. Robert, who served briefly as the Council’s governor to the scattered New England settlements, quickly returned home and died the following year.

Thomas Weston, whose shallop wrecked off the New Hampshire coast en route from Monhegan to Plymouth, was kindly treated by the Thomsons when Indians stole his clothes. After stopping at the desolate Isles of Shoals, explorer Christopher Levett lodged with the Thomsons for a month during their first winter. Miles Standish, military leader for the Plymouth Colony visited in 1623 to buy food for the starving Separatists.

According to visitor Phineas Pratt, the Thomsons kept an enslaved Native American, presented to them by a local Indian leader. They reportedly had a good spring of fresh water and an abundance of wild game, birds, and more fish than they could salt and store. Levett said that he "fed very plentifully" at Pannaway, but that despite the wealth of timber, the rocky land was not fit for farming. Further up the Piscataqua River, an Indian Sagamore told Levett, there were good harbors and fertile soil.


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