Thomas Scudder, b. 1587, Ancestor of the American Scudder (T) Line,
Left England Amid Turmoil, Contention and a Little Bit of Mystery 
by Margery Boyden, Scudder Association Foundation Historian,

© Scudder Association Foundation, all rights reserved.


A Wintry Massachusetts Scene[1]

A Wintry Massachusetts Scene

The first document to prove that Thomas1 Scudder (T) of Horton Kirby, Kent, England was in America is dated 25 December 1637 and is found on the Salem, Massachusetts Town Records under Land Grants, B.[2] Records in England show that Thomas1 Scudder (T), the middle son of HenryA Scudder, yeoman, of Horton Kirby was in England until at least March of 1637,[3] after which he departed under somewhat clouded circumstances. Thomas1 (T) left his homeland, his property and his siblings in a time of political and religious oppression in England [The Three Sons of Henry Scudder, Yeoman of Horton Kirby, Kent: A Season of Political Upheaval].


From the Darent Valley Path

Thomas1 Scudder (T)’s forefathers had lived at Horton Kirby and environs for five generations. Located in the picturesque Darent Valley of Kent, Horton Kirby was one of the “villages noted for precocious religiosity” during the 1630s because it had a Puritan minister, making it potentially more susceptible to “religious and political conflict.”[5] However, turmoil was not limited to Thomas1 (T)’s small town or section of Kent. It was countrywide. According to David Hackett Fischer in Albion’s Seed, 80,000 English citizens “fled” from England during the years 1629–1641, about 20,000 in each of four groups removing to New England, Ireland, Netherlands and the Rhineland, or to the West Indies. These were the years described as “the eleven years of tyranny” when Charles I dissolved Parliament and tried to govern England by what amounted to a de facto dictatorship.

Charles I (1600–49), In Three Views, by Anthony Van Dyck

Charles I (1600–49), In Three Views, by Anthony Van Dyck[6]

Meanwhile his Archbishop William Laud was busy persecuting and prosecuting Puritan members of the Church of England. This was not only religious discrimination but also denied them other civil liberties, it being the state church. Seeking relief from the oppressive circumstances in England at that time and concerned about his children’s future, Thomas1 Scudder (T) and his wife Elizabeth ___?  left for New England with the Puritan migration[7] as did their five children. See Thomas Scudder Did Not Marry Elizabeth Lowers.

Relationship Diagram of the Progenitors of the 3 American Scudder Family Lines

Thomas1 (T) was the middle son of a prosperous yeoman whose will had given Thomas1 (T) several properties in and around Horton Kirby. [400-year-old Will of Henry Skudder, Yeoman]. These had provided Thomas1 (T) with a steady stream of income from renters. In America, Thomas1 (T) would be starting over at about age 50 as he planted new roots at Salem, Massachusetts, a village that was only a decade old. As he started anew, instead of homes and property in Kent that had been in the family for decades, he received two ¼ acres plots of ground at Salem. Three years later he received another acre. For the next twenty years of his life, his property acquisitions would be modest, totaling less than twenty acres in all, but his riches are a posterity of many thousands whose propensity for service includes pioneers, Patriots, pastors, public servants, doctors, educators, businessmen, artists, authors, social reformers and foreign missionaries, etc. They have brought honor to the name of Thomas1 Scudder (T).

Inexplicably, a few early printed sources gave Thomas the wrong birthplace, never offering a historically based source for the inaccurate location. Others who did not do their homework to verify copied the error. The old error is still found on the Internet although the correct location has been known since the 1920s with the discovery of the will of Rev. Henry Scudder.[8] The Scudder Association repeatedly published this correction. Jane Fletcher Fiske also published the correction in The American Genealogist, v. 72(1997). Thomas1 (T)’s place of birth and parentage is proven because of the will of his father and of his more famous brother.

Henry Scudder, 1674 Engraving by William Sherwin

Henry Scudder, 1674 Engraving by William Sherwin[9]

As David B. Scudder, Scudder Searches editor wrote in 1989:

Thomas is a brother of the Reverend Henry Scudder, rector of St. Andrews, parish of Collingbourne Ducis in Wiltshire County, and the only English Scudder of sufficient prominence to be listed in the British Dictionary of National Biography. It is to the Reverend Henry’s 1651 will that we today are indebted for our understanding of the family relationships among the [three Scudder immigrant ancestors]. Henry explains them in his will as follows: ‘Item, I give to my Brother Thomas Scudder and to all his Sonnes and his daughter Elizabeth now in New England twenty shillings a yeare. Item, I give to my Cousin Bridgett Giles and to my Cousins John Scudder and Elizabeth Lothrop now in New England twenty shillings a yeare.’ The Reverend Henry’s extensive landholdings in Horton Kirby (according to his will) affirm his Darent Valley roots.[10]

Note: For a transcription of Rev. Henry’s will see [Will of Rev. Henry Scudder of Collingbourne Ducis 1651].

His use of the word “cousin” confused family historians for decades until the discovery of the rest of the essential evidence surfaced as described again in this issue of the Journal in three articles, [If You Are an American Scudder] and [John Scudder of Barnstable] and [The Trail of Clues to John Scudder].

Goodman Scudder, as Thomas1 (T) was referred to on the records of Salem, was a respected citizen at Salem in good standing, as confirmed by this title. He was not called Mr., which was then used to denote a higher rank. He seems to have been content to call little attention to himself in America. The entries that refer to him in Salem records primarily pertain to his land records. As printed in Scudder Searches v. I, no. II,[11] (with their footnotes added), these include:

1637, 25 Dec: Goodm Skudder received 2 quarter acres land in Salem.[12]

1640, 30 Jan: Apportioning of ½ acre of the town: 2 portions to Goodman Scudder.[13]

1642, 23 Nov: Granted to old Goodman Scudder [among others]: one 10-acre lott, nere

Bro. King’s.[14]

1649, 30 May: The seven men of Salem granted to Thomas Scudder, Sr, 6 acres of

medow (north side of the Essex River).[15]

Note: This third grant shows Thomas1 (T) in proximity to “Brother King,” (William1 King), whose daughter Mary2 King married Thomas1 (T)’s son John2 Scudder in 1642. The total acreage by these records appears to be 17 ½ acres.

The town records show Thomas1 Scudder (T), on the 21st day of the sixth month, 1648, “making request to the towne to exchange a plott of grounde nere his now dwelling howse, it is granted, and Captaine Traske & Thomas Spooner are appoynted to lay it out.”[16]

Map of Salem Village, 1692

Map of Salem Village, 1692[17]

Leaving England did not free Thomas (T) of encountering contention. As it turned out at Salem, Thomas1 (T)’s new environment had its own share of turmoil in which his name does not appear.

Thomas (T) left no personal statement regarding his reasons for immigration but having a desire to accumulate great financial wealth does not appear to be one of them. In 1989, the editors of Scudder Searches in “Thomas Scudder (T) of Salem” posed this question:

Why did Thomas, then past age 40, uproot his established home and leave his familiar surroundings and means of livelihood? …[W]as the family driven by worsening economic conditions or other problems at home? There is some tentative and highly ambiguous evidence that Thomas may have departed Kent after 26 March 1637 to avoid possible loss of a suit for heavy damages against him, going first to Colingbourne Ducis [sic],[18] and then to America. [There is no record he went to Collinbourne Ducis.]

The evidence is contained in the report of a damage suit in Chancery Court in 1640 (several years after Thomas’ departure) involving a Sir Henry Neese [sic] and his wife, petitioners, against a Mr. Chase, clergyman, and his father and brothers.[19]

The Tower on the left is all that remains of the original Stone Castle at Stone, Kent[20]

The Tower on the left is all that remains of the original Stone Castle at Stone, Kent

Mr. Chase was the minister at Stone parish so his behavior as described in the suit is a bit puzzling. Did it have to do with the bigger conflict between Puritans and Anglicans astir in the land? Or was it avarice or a clash of personalities? The Scudder Searches article continues:

Sir Henry asserted that while he and his wife were temporarily in London, Mr. Chase et al seized Sir Henry’s dwelling in Stone, Kent, called Stone Castle (about four miles north of Horton Kirby), for a fortnight, consuming or embezzling his possessions, and denying him access or possession.

During this period, Sir Henry leased a second house, in Horton Kirby, apparently owned by a Thomas Scudder, in which to live. Sir Henry further maintained that the Chases, in ‘pursuit of their malice against him,’ secretly conspired with a Henry Scudder, clerke, and the said Thomas Scudder of Horton Kirby, to deny Sir Henry access to the second house as well, in order to carry out their threat ‘to drive him out of that county.’[21]

There were, however, some problems with Scudder Searches’ description of the case. Since no historical sources could be found to reveal that anyone by the name of Sir Henry Neese ever existed in that area (or elsewhere, for that matter), digging deeper was in order. It was found that Stone Castle, less than 6 miles from Horton Kirby, had been in the Carew family for years and the last male family heir to it was a Sir Henry Carew, the eligible heirs of his brother William Carew having died. Sir Henry Carew never married and had no children of his own so savored his uncle role. Upon closer examination of the published transcription of the suit, it turns out that it was brought not by Sir Henry Carew but instead by the disgruntled husband of Carew’s niece-in-law Dorcas who had remarried after the death of her husband, William Carew III.[22] Did the references to Sir Henry’ niece in the text create the misnomer “Sir Henry ‘Neese?’” used in the Scudder Searches article? Upon review, it was actually Mr. Garnons, Sir Henry Carew’s nephew-in-law by marriage, that was the petitioner in his own behalf and who in 1636/7 accused the Chases by stating:

[Richard Chase], his father, and brothers, sought, by secreate messages, and indirect meanes, to plant dissencion betweixt the peticioner and his wife, and one Sr Henry Carewe, a very auncient knight, hir uncle, of whome they had both very much deserved many yeeres together, and were assured of a very large Requiteall, had not the said Chases soe abused them, and, at length, soe deluded him, that they tooke the peticioner’s house over his head…[23] [Italics added.]

Stone Castle Tower

Stone Castle Tower

These words reveal one important underlying cause of Mr. Garnons’ complaint; he felt that receiving his wife’s anticipated inheritance was in jeopardy. It is perhaps implied that Garnons and wife Dorcas had been allowed to continue to live at Stone Castle after their marriage that had taken place about three years previously—but had they worn out their welcome? Upon Dorcas’ first husband’s death, the Castle had devised to Sir Henry Carew who took up residence. The accusations by Mr. Garnons against Mr. Chase and his cronies were very serious but the other side of the suit was not found in print. While the Garnons were on their fortnight holiday in London, might the Chases have been enjoying the hospitality of Sir Henry Carew while “embezzling and consuming Garnons’ possessions” or helping Carew rid his castle home of the Garnons? An article by Joan A. Carew Richardson suggests that Mr. Garnons was not well thought of by the Carew family, thus casting doubt on the validity of some of Garnons’ claims. Apparently Garnons felt a need to rent another dwelling place and this they did from Thomas1 Scudder (T). The suit was commenced in 1636/7, even before the death of Sir Henry Carew in 1639 and Sir Henry did not join in petitioning with Garnons. Ms. Richardson states:

Sir Henry Carew never married but seemed to take great pleasure from the companionship of his nephews, nieces and great-nephews. There was, however, one discordant note in the family—William Garnons, an Attorney of the Court of Common Pleas who, in 1634, had married Dorcas the childless widow of William Carew III of Stone Castle.[24] (Italics added.)

Was Thomas1 (T) caught in the crosshairs of pressure brought to bear to “drive [Garnons] out of the country?” Scudder Searches editors concluded their treatment of the confusing issues wisely:

…Without further research, it would be impossible to clearly determine to what extent the Henry Scudder, clerke,[25] and the Thomas Scudder were at risk of suffering substantial monetary or other penalties in the affair….Therefore, whether or not the events described in the case actually played a role in Thomas of Salem’s removal to the New World remains conjectural.[26]


Was Henry Scudder clerke the parish clerke at Stone or Horton Kirby? Surely he was a relative, one of several Henrys in the area. What caused Thomas1 (T) to want to bar access to his renter? There is a record that confirms that this chancery case does, in fact, refer to our Thomas1 (T).

Affidavit that Thomas Scudder, apparently of Horton Kirby, co. Kent, was generally reported to have gone to New England 1638. (Chanc. Aff. Reg. 11, Easter Term 1638, No. 82).[27]

Suffice it to say, there is definitely more to this account than documented in digitized sources available and it appears Thomas1 (T), landlord of Horton Kirby, was caught in the crossfire of a bigger controversy aflame at Stone. There is more to this story but it must await a future day.

While Thomas1 Scudder (T)’s immigration to America may have been due to a case in chancery court, there was likely more at stake for he lived in turbulent times. It is significant that Thomas1 (T) gave up his properties that he had inherited from his deceased father, HenryA Scudder, yeoman of Horton Kirby, Kent that had provided him with a comfortable living from rental income. Rev. Henry1 Scudder later devised some of these properties to the reverend’s posterity in 1651 suggesting these properties were still in the family in spite of the lawsuit. No record has been found so far to explain how Thomas1 (T)’s portion changed hands. If his brother Rev. Henry1 purchased them, that would have provided means for Thomas1 (T)’s immigration.

The will of Thomas1 Scudder (T) shows his estate was modest but respectable. It is the source that names Thomas1 (T)’s children and shows that William was deceased by 1657. With the other references to his children in Salem and Long Island records we can complete the composition of Thomas1 (T)’s family.[28]

Family of Thomas1 Scudder (T) and Elizabeth ?

Two documents follow with the contents of Thomas1 (T)’s will:

Facsimile of the will of Thomas Scudder (T) of Salem, w. d. 30 September 1657; w. p. 29 June 1658.

Transcription of the Will of Thomas Scudder (T) of Salem as it appears in “Thomas Scudder Vol I,” in Ed Soper, the Soper MSS in the Scudder Association Archives, 2 pages.

1. Facsimile of the will of Thomas Scudder (T) of Salem from “Thomas Scudder Vol I,” in the Soper MSS in the Scudder Association Archives:

2. Transcription of the Will of Thomas Scudder (T) of Salem as it appears in “Thomas Scudder Vol I,” in Ed Soper, the Soper MSS in the Scudder Association Archives:

According to the inventory, his estate was valued at a respectable £73, including real estate (house and orchard) valued at £20. Elizabeth died September 1666, Salem. In the inventory, her estate (after debt) was valued at £29. [The Essex Institute Historical Collections, v. I (1859): 51 and v. 2, (1860): 15.]

To be continued.
Future issues of our Scudder Family Historical & Biographical Journal will include
histories of Thomas (T)’s children and grandchildren.

Future issues of our Scudder Family Journal will include histories of Thomas1 (T)’s children.

[1] Image from James Otis, Ruth of Boston, a story of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, (New York: American Book Company, 1910), 19. New York Public Library, contributing library.

[2] Sidney Perley, History of Salem, v. 1, 1626–1637, (Salem, Ma.: 1924), 460, 464.

[3] G. Andrews Moriarty, Genealogical Gleanings in England,New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. 100 (1946): 215224, at 222. Inaccurate sources that say Thomas1 (T) arrived in America in 1632 or 1635 are in error since he is documented in England in the spring of 1637. His nephew John2 (J) arrived on the James in 1635 which date was borrowed in error by some for Thomas1 (T) or for his son John2. None of the Scudder immigrants to America came from Groton, Suffolk, England as so many erroneous, undocumented “trees” and even printed sources claim. See the many articles in Scudder Family Historical & Biographical Journal, 3 issues in 2019 and in this current issue that show their correct locations as per the historical records that are proven to belong to them.

[4] From Explore Kent, Darent Valley Path,

[5] Peter Elmer, Witchcraft, Witch-hunting, and Politics in Early Modern England, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 79.

[6] Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599–1641), “Charles I (1600–49),” (1635-Before June 1636), from Royal Collection/Public domain,

[7] David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 16.

[8] “Straight from the Horse’s Mouth,” Scudder Family Historical & Biographical Journal, volume 1, no. 1, (April 2019),

[9] “Henry Scudder, 1674 engraving by William Sherwin,”, Wikimedia Commons and in the public domain in the United States.

[10] David B. Scudder, ed., “Scudder Family in America: the Beginnings, Scudder Searches, Scudder Association, volume 1, no. 2, (Summer 1989): 4. FN says, see Complete Will of the Rev. Henry Scudder: PCC 195 Boiner.

For a discussion of Bridget ____? Verry Giles see, “The Verry Connection,” in Jane Fletcher Fiske, “A New England Immigrant Kinship Network,” The American Genealogist, volume 72, no. 2, (July/October): 298–300.

[11] David B. Scudder, ed., “Thomas (T) of Salem, Scudder Searches, Scudder Association, volume 1, no. 2, (Summer 1989): 7.

[12] Perley, v. 1, 460, 464. This record implies that there were 2 family members, which has raised the question if Thomas (T)’s children immigrated with him or came later. Emigration records for Thomas1 (T) and his wife and five children have not survived so this is one mystery that is unlikely to be resolved. There are a few Salem records for some of his children prior to his will.

[13] The Essex Institute Historical Collections, vol. IX, (1869) (Essex Co, MA), 159.

[14] The Essex Institute Historical Collections, vol. V, (1863), 172.

[15] The Essex Institute Historical Collections, vol. V, (1863), 224.

[16] Perley, 155.

[17] Map of Salem Village, 1692, adapted from Map by W. P. Upham, 1866,” “Specimen illustration from A History of the United States and its People, (Ohio: Burrows Bros., ca. 1904), Public domain.

[18] This statement is considered speculative as no documentary source is cited and none has been found since to confirm it.

[19] David B. Scudder, ed., “Thomas (T) of Salem, Scudder Searches, Scudder Association, volume 1, no. 2, (Summer 1989): 6.

[20] Stone Castle, Dartford, Stone, Greenhithe DA9 9XL, UK, from Google Maps.

[21] “Thomas (T) of Salem,” 6.

[22] Marriage “22 January 1633, William Garnons, Gent., of S* Giles, Cripplegate, Bachelor, 33 & Dorcas Carew, widow of William Carew, Esq.; at S 1 Botolph’s Aldersgate, or S* Faith’s,” in Joseph Lemuel Chester, Allegations for marriage licences issued by the Bishop of London, v. 26, (London: Mitchell and Hughes, Printers, 1887), 215.

[23] Lambert B. Larking, Proceedings: Principally in the County of Kent, in Connection with the Parliaments Called in 1640, and especially with the Committee of Religion, (Printed for the Camden Society, 1862), 207. Bottom of this page has a footnote that states: “Stone Castle then belonged to Sir Henry Carew, Knight.”

[24] Joan A. Carew Richardson, “Carew of Stone Castle,” North West Kent Family History, volume 3, no. 5 (March 1984): 149–150.

[25] It is unlikely that this reference to Henry Scudder, clerke of the parish, refers to Thomas’s brother, Rev. Henry Scudder, as by this time Rev. Henry1 Scudder had been serving in Oxfordshire and Wiltshire as a clergyman for more than thirty years. As shown in other articles, there were plenty of others named Henry Scudder in Horton Kirby and environs. Some were near cousins and some more distant but the clerke has not yet been identified.

[26] “Thomas (T) of Salem,” 6.

[27] Moriarty, 215–224, at 222.

[28] Note to longtime Scudder Association members in case you wonder why William2 is now child #1 and John2 is #2 and so on: For years the Scudder Association members knew their lineage by their (T), (J) or (E) numbers based on a system that numbered them in each generation by their ancestors’ birth order in each family. In the beginning Thomas1 (T)’s son William2 was child number 5 and John2 was 1. However, in the 1990s, with the intense review of sources, the order was revised in Thomas1’s family and in others, making it necessary to learn the new, revised numbering system. After enough nuclear families were found to need changing of children’s birth order, the late Chris Scudder recommended using more standard approaches of identification.


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© Scudder Association Foundation, All rights reserved



  1. Peter Thoms

    Very interesting. The first Scudder to immigrate to BC “the New World “ was who and when. I had thought it was Thomas

  2. Winnie Henry

    Very interesting . I wondered if the Hospital in Ceylon was still in operation. Also Is there a record of civil war participation. If so, did we have some of the family on both sides. Are there records of their service?

  3. Brian Scudder

    This is my line of the Scudder’s in the USA.


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