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The name has undergone many changes in spelling, -- Berners, Barners, Barner, Bernes, but more frequently BARNES.[2]

The Barnes family in England is believed to have been founded by Sir Hugo de Bernes, whose name is inscribed on the "Roll of Battle Abbey", having come over with William the Conqueror. The lands which were assigned to him are now in the possession of the Berners, of Wolverton Park, Ipswich. The motto on the coat-of-arms indicates its great antiquity, crest and motto having been added to the arms proper, by later generations. [3]

Early traces of the barnes race are found in southeast England, indicative of Dano-Norman origin, probably coming to England when England was under Norman kings, 1000-1154.[4] Records of the parishes in Surrey, show for five hundred years before the nineteenth century, Barnes families had lived in that locality. In the great immigration of English settlers to this country before 1650, it is estimated ten or twelve ancestors of Barnes families came from Surrey, Middlesex, and Norfolk Counties. One authority expresses the opinion all of these had, the same origin at some period in the mother country.[5]

Three of these pioneers coming to New England prior to 1638, bore the name of Thomas, are known as Thomas Barnes of Hartford, Thomas Barnes of Hingham, and Thomas BARNES of New Haven. It is the latter of the three we care concerned with.

I. Thomas BARNES

Thomas BARNES was born in England about 1623, and came while young to this country, 1639.[6] He shared in the land distribution at New Haven, Connecticut, in 1643[7], and in 1644 signed the Colony Constitution there.[8] With his brother Daniel, he settled on the plains south of Muddy River. From the colonial records of New Haven we glean the following fragmentary items about him.

In the assignment of seats in the meeting house, in 1646-7, Thomas and his "Goodwife" Barnes shared. Center Church was New Haven's only church at that time, and the placement and order observed in assigning seats was a matter of grave importance. The most prominent individuals in the community occupied the front seats, and the rest according to the degree of importance. A writer[9] gives the list of names, with the number of the seats assigned, adding the observation: "In this connection ... it is shown that all of the early ancestors of Mr. Barnes were prominent in those days none being further back than the ninth seat in the church." Thomas Barnes was given the seventh seat on the men's side, while his wife occupied the sixth one on the women's side.

Thomas married about 1646, Mary. Some historians record her as Elizabeth[10], but the records of the church in New Haven show the baptisms of several of his children, with the statement they were "brought by Mary Barnes, wife of Thomas Barnes."[11] The writer of Coe-Ward Memorial names a first and second wife, state the second wife, Elizabeth, died in 1690, which, if true, would indicate a third marriage by our immigrant, since in his will, witnesses 6 October 1692, he mentions "my loving wife."[12] According to another, Elizabeth did not die until 1694.[13]

About 1660 Thomas Barnes removed from New Haven to North Haven, and later made another move, to Middletown, where he died 10 June 1693, his will being admitted to probate 7 September of that year.


Thomas BARNES, born in New Haven, 26 August 1653, removed when a child with is father to North Haven, where he lived throughout his life. He married first at New Haven, Mr. John Moss performing the ceremony, 26 June 1675, to Mary HUBBARD.[14] Some writers assert she died the following spring, and he re-married about 1677.[15], Abigail, daughter of John and Mercy FROST. Since the New Haven records carry clear entries of the marriage of John Frost and Mercy Paine on 9 June 1664[16] and of the births of their children succeeding, including that of Abigail on 8 October 1670, it is beyond reason she became the wife of Thomas Barnes in 1677 (at the age of seven), and bore children from 1679 to 1711, a period of thirty-two years, as must be inferred from the statements mentioned.

The more probable assumption is the entry: "Mary, wife unto Thomas Barnes died April 1676," found on the old records[17] refers to Mary, the first wife of Thomas Barnes, Sr., as claimed by the writer of Coe-Ward Memorial and others. Mary Hubbard Barnes doubtless lived for some years, and became the mother of a number of the thirteen children accredited to Thomas Barnes, Jr.

Thomas Barnes died in North Haven in 1712, aged fifty-nine.[18] His widow Abigail remarried Samuel TUTTLE, born 9 January 1659/60. She died about 1746.


Rebecca BARNES, born 12 March 1691/2, married 25 January 1716, Samuel TOWNER.

For continuation of the Towner family line please follow this link.


  1. The Ancestry & Posterity of Joseph Smith and Emma Hale by Audentia Smith Anderson (1926)
  2. Directory of Ancestral Heads of New England Families, Holmes, xiii
  3. New England Genealogies, Cutter, 2:511
  4. Barnes Genealogy, G.N. Barnes, 3
  5. Virginia Genealogies, Hayden
  6. Connecticut Genealogy 3:1497
  7. Coe-Ward Memorial, 78; New Haven Colony Records, 1643
  8. History of East Haven, Hughes, 24
  9. Connecticut Genealogy 3:1497
  10. Connecticut Genealogy 3:1497; Barnes Family Year Book 1:5
  11. New England Historical and Genealogical Register 9:357
  12. Early Connecticut Probate Records, Manwaring. 1:401
  13. Ancestry of Arthur Orison Dillon, 1927, 11
  14. New Haven Vital Records, printed, 1:41
  15. Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America, Lineage Book 15:48
  16. New Haven Vital Records, printed, 1:20
  17. East Haven Register, Dodd, 162; New Haven Vital Records, 1:45
  18. East Haven Register, Dodd, 164