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View Tree for Thomas Roberts, Governer of Dover ColonyThomas Roberts, Governer of Dover Colony (b. 1600, d. 1671)

Picture of Thomas Roberts, Governer of Dover Colony
Tombstone of Thomas Roberts

Thomas Roberts, Governer of Dover Colony (son of Thomas Roberts and Frances James) was born 1600 in Wooleston/Gloucester/Worchester, England, and died 1671. He married Rebecca Hilton on 1627 in Dover, New Hampshire, daughter of Mark Roger Hilton.

 Includes NotesNotes for Thomas Roberts, Governer of Dover Colony:
Governor of the Dover Colony

Note 1:
Thomas Roberts, presumed to have been the son of John Roberts of Woolaston, England, was born around 1600. Thomas came to the New World by 1623, settling near what is now Dover, New Hampshire, and he was married in 1627 to Rebecca Hilton, who may have been the sister of fellow settler Edward Hilton.

In 1639-40 Thomas was elected “President of the Court,” an office of agency for the Bristol Co., the proprietors of Dover. At the March 1640 elections, Thomas was chosen Governor or President of the County in place of Gov. John Underhill. He held that office until Dover (then Northam) came under Massachusetts in 1642. Later he held various minor town offices; he was a regular member of the church for many years, but was inclined to be liberal in his views, so when the Quaker missionaries came to Dover he favored giving them a fair hearing and opposed having the women whipped, as they were by order of the court.

Thomas Roberts died in 1671 and was buried in the oldest cemetery in Dover, which is adjacent
to the Roberts homestead on the high bank of the Fore River at what was known as Dover Neck.
Thomas and Rebecca had four daughters and two sons.

Sources: "Colonial Era History of Dover, NH" by John Scales, p. 302;
and Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, Noyes, p.589.

Note 2:
David Thomson and Edward and William Hilton came to Little Harbor on the ship “Providence” of Plymouth in the spring of 1623. It was Thomson’s second trip to the New World. He was in business with three partners from Bristol, England. At first, they settled at Little Harbor (Rye) but the settlement proved a failure.

Thomson eventually moved to Boston while the the Hiltons settled in Dover.

William Hilton brought his wife and son, William b. 1615 over to Plymouth in 1623 and moved up to Dover in 1624.
Alice, b. 1617; came over in 1635 as a passenger on the ship “Ann and Elizabeth,” age 18
John, b. about 1624 or may have been an infant who traveled with his mother from England
Magdaline, b. 1630
Manwaring, b. 1636

Edward Hilton was a few years younger than his brother, William. Both he and his brothers were “fish mongers” in London. His first wife’s name is not known. She was the mother of his children:
Edward, b. 1626,
William b. 1628
Samuel b. 1630
Sobriety b. Jan. 1632-33
Susanna, b. 1634
Charles, b. 1636 probably died young.
Edward moved to what is now Exeter in about 1640.
Other passengers: Thomas Roberts, an apprentice to Edward Hilton in the fish business. Rumored that he married a Hilton in 1627. Elected Governor or President of the County in 1640 until 1642 when Dover came under MA rule. Later he held various minor town offices. Regular member of the church but inclined to be liberal in his views, so when the Quaker missionaries came to Dover he favored giving them a fair hearing and opposed having the women whipped, as they were by order of the court.
Children: John b. 1929, Thomas b. 1633, Hester, Anna, Elizabeth, Sarah
Captain John Mason founded Portsmouth by sending over Capt. Walter Neal in command of a party, in the ship Warwick in 1630.. That settlement was called “Strawberry Bank.”

Settlement of Dover Point or Hilton Point, 1623

Employments of the first settlers: Edward Hilton’s party landed at Pomeroy’s Cove in the spring of 1623 and commenced building their houses where now stands Hilton House and the village of Dover Point.
The first work was to build houses of logs in which to live and clear land enough on which to “set up their stages” for curing fish, and then engage in fishing which was then the great money-making occupation.
The Isle of Shoals was already an active fishing station for English fishermen having first been visited by Capt. John Smith in 1614 who reported back about the availability of fish. A report of the Shoals in 1623 states there were six fishing vessels; each carried fifty men, as he informs us was the custom, and he says the shores were inconveniently crowded with fishing stages, and the islands were a place of busy activity, surpassed only by Plymouth.
Insert material from written page 41
Initially the fishermen may have gone to the Shoals but at times they had plenty of good fishing withoug going to Ipswich Bay and the ocean beyond the Isle of Shoals. The fish abounded in these rivers until the settlers placed dams at the lower falls, and built saw mills, which destroyed the natural mode of living, so in time the fish ceased to come up the rivers.
The soil about their houses on the Point was excellent for raising garden crops and corn, which the Indians soon taught them ho to plant and use.
Also harvested oysters, clams (fed their hogs on them). Lobsters, wild ducks, and wild fowl of all kinds were abundant in Little Bay and Great Bay, so that they never lacked for food.
The Indians never troubled the settlers. In fact, a thriving trading business was set up on Hilton’s Point, for the beaver skins and other Indian products of the forests. That branch of business may have been as profitable as fishing.
Trouble at Plymouth settlement with Indians

During 1625 a fleet of not less than fifty vessels was trading along the New England coast, but not many of them took the trouble to go out of their way, up the Pascataqua River to Hilton Point; the settlers there, however, kept on fishing and trading with the Indians, in peace and quietness, prosperous and happy.

Note 3:

The Dover Combination

The “Combination of the People of Dover to Establish a Form of Government” was entered into in 1640. The original was in existence upon the Town Records about 1665, when it was quoted by Hubbard, but it could not be found when Dr. Belknap wrote his History. A copy made by Governor Cranfield in 1682 has since been found in the Public Record Office in London; of which the following is a transcript:

Whereas sundry Mischeifes and inconveniences have befaln us, and more and greater may in regard of want of Civill Government, his Gratious Matie haveing hitherto setled no Order for us to our Knowledge:

Wee whose names are underwritten being Inhabitants upon the River Piscataquack have voluntarily agreed to combine our Selves into a Body Politique that wee may the more comfortably enjoy the benefit of his Maties Lawes. And do hereby actually ingage our Selves to Submit to his Royal Maties Lawes together with all such Orders as shalbee concluded by a Major part of the Freemen of our Society , in case they bee not repugnant to the Lawes of England and administred in the behalfe of his Majesty.

And this wee have Mutually promised and concluded to do and so to continue till his Excellent Matie shall give other Order concerning us.

In Witness wee have hereto Set our hands the two & twentieth day of October in the Sixteenth yeare of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord Charles by the grace of God King of Great Brittain France & Ireland Defender of the Faith &c Annoq Domi: 1640.

John Follett Samuel Haines Robert Nanney
John Underhill William Jones Peter Garland
Philip Swaddow William Jones Richard Pinckhame
Steven Teddar Bartholmew Hunt John Upgroufe
William Bowden Thomas Canning John Wastill
John Phillips John Heard Tho: Dunstar
John Hall Fran: Champernoon Abel Camond
Hansed Knowles Henry Beck Edward Colcord
Robert Huggins Henry Lahorn Thom. Larkin
Edward Starr Richard Waldern James Nute
William Waldern Anthony Emery William Storer
Richard Laham William Furber William Pomfret
Tho: Layton John Crosse Tho: Roberts
George Webb Bartholmew Smith James Rawlins

This is a True Copy compared with ye Originall by me

Edw Cranfield


New England N. Hampshire

The Combination for Government by ye people at Pascataq.


recd abt 13 Febr. 82-3

Some of the names were no doubt copied inaccurately for Governor Cranfield. Phillip Swaddow is Swadden on the protest of 1641. Abel Camond is conjectured to be the Camock named Abel. Steven Teddar is doubtless the Stephen Kidder of Berwick in 1632, if Belknap gives the name right. Thomas Canning was, later Cannie, but Canning was doubtless the original form. Thomas Dunstar is sometimes given as Durstin. Edward Starr was doubtless the Edward Starbuck of that period. The name sometimes given as Robert Varney is clearly Robert Nanney, but may have become Varney.

This combination was entered into from the fact that John Underhill had become a strong advocate for the union of the plantation with Massachusetts, as related by Belknap, while pretending to be hostile to that government from which he had been banished. This duplicity produced the utmost confusion in the colony. Underhill attempted to “rend this combination,” and contrary to his oath and fidelity went from house to house, and for his own ends by flattering and threatening, got some hands to a note of their willingness to submit themselves to the government of Massachusetts. This led to the violent proceedings of both parties as related by Belknap, and to the decree banishing Underhill from the colony.

From Notable Events in the History of Dover, N. H. by George Wadleigh, c. 1913.

This historical essay is provided free to all readers as an educational service. It may not be reproduced on any website, list, bulletin board, or in print without the permission of the Dover Public Library. Links to the Dover Public Library homepage or a specific article's URL are permissible.

Note 4:
NOTE: Pioneers of Maine and New Hampshire, page 175: ROBERTS, ROBARTS, Thomas, Mr. Dover, signed the combination in 1640; had lawsuit in 1641; proprietor in 1642; juror 1646; taxed Oct. 19, 1648. "Thomas Roberts, Newe England," is in list of fishmongers in Tax Roll of London, 1641.

His will dated 27 Sept. 1673, probated 30 June 1674, beq to children John, Thomas, Hester, (now wife of John Martyn "of New Jarze") Anne (wife of James Philbrooke), Elizabeth, (wife of Benjamin Heard of Cochechock), son-in-law Richard Rich, husband of daughter Sarah.

From Directory of the Ancestral Heads of New England Families 1620-1700, by Holmes: THOMAS, settled Dover, NH, 1623.

More About Thomas Roberts, Governer of Dover Colony:
Burial: Unknown, Dover, New Hampshire.

More About Thomas Roberts, Governer of Dover Colony and Rebecca Hilton:
Marriage: 1627, Dover, New Hampshire.

Children of Thomas Roberts, Governer of Dover Colony and Rebecca Hilton are:
  1. +Thomas Roberts, Jr., b. 1633, Dover, New Hampshire, d. 1703, Dover, New Hampshire.
  2. +Hester Roberts, b. 1626, Dover, New Hampshire, d. December 12, 1687, Piscataway, Middlesex Co., New Jersey.
  3. Jane Roberts, b. 1627, Strafford, New Hampshire, d. 1648, Dover, New Hampshire.
  4. +John Roberts, b. 1629, d. Bet. January 21, 1692/93 - 1695, Dover, New Hampshire.
  5. Anna Roberts, b. 1639, d. date unknown.
  6. Sarah Roberts, b. 1643, Dover, New Hampshire, d. date unknown.
  7. Elizabeth Roberts, b. 1641, d. 1701.
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