Thomas Burnham b. 1617

Thomas Burnham 10th great grandfather on RootsMagic tree

Thomas was maybe  a passenger on the Angel Gabriel in 1635. Thomas’s uncle Robert Andrews (mother’s brother) was Captain. The ship sailed from England directly into the strongest hurricane ever to hit Massachusetts. The Great Colonial Hurricane of August 25-26th, 1635 was a Category 3 (like Katrina 2005).  Governor Bradford wrote of a 20′ tide slamming into Boston. The Angel Gabriel was tossed and turned, passengers began throwing possessions overboard, lightning their load, hoping to make it to the (now) Pemaquid, Maine coast. All but perhaps 100 passengers made it safely to the colonies. A trunk survived- it belonged to John Cogswell and is on display at the Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site, Bangor Daily News has a story. Some genealogy books tell of the Burnham brothers losing all their possessions during the storm.

Once safely settled in America Thomas was involved in civic affairs. He was a constable and also a lawyer. His most famous case was defending teacher Abigail Betts who called Jesus a bastard and was charged with blasphemy. Thomas defended Abigail by proving England did not consider blasphemy a crime so America, England’s colony, could not consider blasphemy a crime. Thomas then had to defend himself for defending Abigail. He called for “Justice according to Law” and the separation of the church and the state. Thomas may have lost his citizenship for awhile and he could no longer appear in the courts of the time. Before his death he had deeded his land to his children. He may have written a will, it was never found, maybe his wife Ann Wright refused to share it?, his will was recreated through witness testimony. Much detail here at HathiTrust page 121 of Genealogical Records of Thomas Burnham, the emigrant.