NASH, Thomas - I30094

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Thomas NASH

Nash Coat of Arms
"The name NASH is supposed to be a corruption of atten-ash, at the Ash. Naisby, a place near Bristol, England. In Gaelic, naisq, meaning made fast bound, protected; probably an old fortress or watchtower."[1] On 26 July 1637, there landed in Boston a company composed largely of merchants of London, and other men of wealth, -whose standing at home allowed them to come to the New World under more favorable auspices than many who had hitherto arrived. They came in the ship Hector and one other whose name is not known. They were followers of the Reverend John Davenport, the Puritan preacher of Coleman Street, London, who came with a large number of associates, to the New England shores for freedom of conscience and worship.[2] The leaders of this group were men of good practical understanding. The needs of the infant colony they were about to establish had been largely anticipated, and the men composing the company were well versed in the trades and arts most likely to be used in pioneer life.

I. Among the number of pioneers in the Colony above mentioned, was Thomas NASH, a Puritan who had been at Leyden, Holland, and who wrote from there in 1625 (1628, says Schneck, History of Fairfield 1: 396), to his brethren in Plymouth, "Informing them of the death of John Robinson, pastor of the church which included in its membership the planters of Plymouth as well as the brethren still sojourning in Leyden."[3] Thomas Nash had returned to London from Leyden, and came later to America with Davenport.

Thomas Nash was a gunsmith by trade, and knew also the details of blacksmithing, which made him "doubly useful to a people wbose situation required both arms and implements of husbandry to be kept in repair."[4] In March, 1638 the whole company sailed from Boston, arriving two weeks later at Quinnipiac, now New Haven, Connecticut, which place had been selected for the purpose of the new Colony by a committee chosen and sent out from Boston. Quinnipiac was then owned by a small tribe of Indians, with whose chief, Momauguin, an agreement was made the following November for the purchase of lands. The summer and winter of 1638 were fully occupied by laying out these lands to the settlers, and building houses for shelter and comfort.

On 4 June 1639 the little company of Colonists met "in Mr. Newman's barn," and there drew up the famous "Fundamental Agreement" of the New Haven Colony, its consideration and adoption following a season of most solemn religious exercises. This Agreement sought to crystallize the ideas of the settlers concerning the civil and religious conduct of the Colony, and was signed at the time by sixty-three individuals, forty-eight others signing soon afterwards. Touching one phase of this document, the following comments are of interest:

The alleged early "Resolve" of the New Haven colonists "to adopt the Law of God until they should have time to make a better," has caused much merriment and some sneering. In the decision of a perplexing case, the General Court at New Haven, 2 March 1641, laid this down as a principle:

- According to the Fundamental Agreement made and published by the full and general consent when the Plantation began and government Settled,-viz., that judicial Law of God, given by Moses, and expounded in others parts of Scripture, so far as it is a Ledg and a fence to the Morall Law and neither ceremonial nor typical nor had any reference to Canaan, hath an everlasting equity in itt, and should be the rule of these proceedings." [5]

Is there anything to sneer at in this? On the contrary, was it not a glorious fundamental principle? It had been well for other states if they had built upon so wise a foundation! --Nash Family, Nash, 14. The name of Thomas Nash is the third one of the later subscribers. Four days before the meeting in Mr. Newman's barn, another company, located at Guilford, not far away, had drawn up their "Compact," upon which document the name of Thomas Nash appears.[6] It seems that a company coming from the Counties of Kent, Surrey, and Essex, England, under the leadership of their pastor, the Reverend Mr. Whitfield, had, together with some of the first-comers to New Haven, formed the beginning of a plantation at Guilford. Barber says: "The planters of Guilford had not one blacksmith among them," and that it was "with great cost that the town obtained one to live among them." Schneck, in History of Fairfield (1: 396) infers that Thomas Nash was invited to join the Guilford party, but that his services being required by the New Haven planters, and the latter location being considered more central and important for the establishment of his much needed shop, be was prevented from joining permanently the group at Guilford, and was finally released by them, and signed the New Haven Agreement.

Atwater, in History of New Haven Colony (124), takes the position that Thomas Nash had come with Mr. Whitfield's party from England, and had, on shipboard, signed an agreement that they would remain together, but that later, "being not only a smith but a gunsmith, it was for the common welfare, as well as his own, that be should join the largest and most central plantation." This explains, perhaps, why his name appears on the "constitutional agreements" of both these Colonies, which started so nearly together.

Be that as it may, we find Thomas Nash, wife Margery and five children, residents of New Haven near its beginning, the home-lot assigned to them being "on the west side of State Street, about a third of the distance 'from Chapel to Elm Streets, as shown by an old map of New Haven settlers."[7] Another describes it: "The north line of the Thomas Nash land must have run about where the Courthouse now is; west, where Orange Temple now stands, near its northwesterly corner."[8] According to traditions which seem uniform throughout the various branches of his descendants, Thomas Nash was from Lancaster, England.[9] He was well advanced in years when he came to this country, and is often referred to as "Brother Nash" on the early New Haven town records.

On 1 September 1640 be took the oath of fidelity, and was deputy to the General Court in New Haven, same year.[10] In 1646, by action of the town council, he was "spared from Trayning." In 1651 he was given charge of all the town muskets of the settlement. He married, in England, Margery, daughter of Nicholas and Mary (Hodgetts) BAKER, of Hertfordshire. Schneck says she died within two years after his death[11], but from the fact that Thomas Nash does not mention her in his will, dated 1 August 1657, it is inferred she died before that time. She was living at the time of the allotment of seats in the meeting-house, 11 February 1655. Savage says her death occurred on 11 February 1656. Thomas died 12 May 1658.[12]. His will mentions his "daughter Sarah, wife to Robert Talmadg"[13] and all his other children.

"Descendants of Thomas Nash can lay no claim to ancestry renowned in the thought which usually constitutes glory of the human race. Their ancestors have not been eminent for deeds of blood, or schemes of policy, or for the acquisition of immense wealth. But if honest and generally successful industry, if life-enduring and life-regulating and generally unquestioned piety be a virtue to be commended, then, in the history of their forefathers, there is just cause for gratitude if not for pride. In this respect, most of the seventh generation may look back on an unbroken line of respectable, industrious, pious, and generally thriving men.... Too, a generally prolific race."--Reverend Sylvester Nash, Rector of Saint John's Church, Essex, Connecticut.[14]

CHILDREN, born in England, order of birth not known:

  1. Margery, married in New Haven, Roger Alling, treasurer of the New Haven Colony in 1661, deacon of church 1664-1672. "He was the son of James Alling, of Kempstead, Bedford, England."[15] "When his father died in 1657, he returned to his paternal homestead in England to receive his patrimony and that of his sister, Joanna, wife of Abraham Doolittle." He died 27 September 1674.[16]
  2. John; captain and major. Lived in New Haven. His will, probated 30 June 1687, mentions four daughters and legacies left them by their grandfather Tapp. His estate was, valued at over 1660.[17]
  3. Sarah; married Robert TALMAGE.
  4. Joseph; was sergeant; of Hartford in 1658. Married (1) Mary ???? who died in New Haven, 1654. He married (2) before 15 June 1665, Margaret, widow of Arthur Smith, of Hartford.[18]
  5. Timothy, born 1626, in Leyden, Holland. He married about 1657, Rebecca, daughter of Reverend Samuel Stone. They removed to Hartford, 1661, and to Hadley in 1663. He was a lieutenant. He died 13 March 1699, and his widow in 1709.[19]

Sarah Nash

II. Sarah NASH, born in England, married, probably about 1648, Robert TALMAGE, of New Haven. She was living in 1683 when her brother, Major John Nash, made his will and left her a legacy.

For continuation of this family line please see the TALMAGE biography.
  SOURCE:  The Ancestry & Posterity of Joseph Smith and Emma Hale by Audentia Smith Anderson (1926)


  1. (Directory Ancestral Heads New England Families, Holmes, clxxi.)
  2. (Fifty Puritan Ancestors, Elizabeth Todd -Nash, 3.)
  3. (History of New Haven Colony, Atwater, 124.)
  4. (Nash Family, Reverend Sylvester Nash, 14.)
  5. (Colonial Records 1: 32.)
  6. (Ibid. 15.)
  7. (Fifty Pdritan Ancestors, Nash, 3.)
  8. (Nash Family, Nash, 18.)
  9. (Ibid. 16.)
  10. (General Register Society Colonial Wars, 1907-1911, 375.)
  11. (History of Fairfield 1: 396)
  12. (New Haven Vital Records, Historical Society Collections 1: 4.)
  13. (Nash Family, 17)
  14. (Nash Family, Nash, 7.)
  15. (Boston Transcript, 27 June 1928.)
  16. (Mack Genealogy, Martin, 2: 1320.)
  17. (Early Probate Records of New Haven, Book 1, Part 1.)
  18. (Memorial History of Hartford County 1.: 275.)
  19. (Ibid. 1: 263, 275.)