THOMAS LAMBE, THE IMMIGRANT
(Born abt 1596, died 28 Jan 1646), gggg gf of Abel Lamb)
Married: #1 Elizabeth, #2 Dorothy Hardbottle

Written by Harriet Jane Lamb Stradling

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded by a group of Puritans from England. The name "Puritan" was scornfully applied to them because they believed the corrupted morals and doctrines of the church of that day needed "purifying." Imprisoned and bitterly persecuted for conscience sake, and seeing no hope for religious freedom in Europe, the braver of them sailed to the New World. Some twenty-five thousand arrived in the decade before 1640.

Educated, cultured, honest, and God-fearing, they were among the best that Britain produced. England’s loss was America’s gain, for our nation’s debt to these few is far out of proportion to their number. From them came the ideals and truths upon, which were built our unmatched freedom, prosperity, and higher life. Truly, as a Puritan minister said, "God hath sifted a nation, that He might send choice grain into this wilderness."

In the summer of 1630, Governor Winthrop arrived in Boston with two thousand others to begin settlement of the Colony. Among this number were Thomas Lambe, with small sons, Thomas and John, and wife, Elizabeth, who must have had mixed feelings as they boarded the small sailing vessel to cross the ocean, for she was expecting another child very soon. Thomas is said to have been a merchant of London, and tradition says also that he was of Irish stock.

Six towns were laid out for these first settlers: Boston, Watertown, Lynn (Saugus), Newton (Cambridge), Dorchester, and Toxbury. The Lambe’s stayed temporarily at Dorchester, where baby Samuel was born and baptized. They then settled permanently at Roxbury, where they owned a lot of eighteen acres, in addition to meadow marsh lands and thirty-seven acres in Dedham lands. Thomas left to the town "forever" a cart road through his premises.

The Charter of the Colony provided for the Governor, his deputy, and eighteen assistants to be chosen from among the freemen. At first only the twelve members of the Massachusetts Bay Company itself were freemen, so they governed the other settlers. As time went on, new freemen were gradually admitted, some in each town. These comprised the General Court. Thomas Lambe filed a request on October 19, 1630, to be made a freeman and took his oath as such, becoming an official at Roxbury, on May 18, 1631. Later, as the number of freemen increased, they chose representatives from among themselves. They met in the House of Representatives, with the Assistants comprising the Council, or upper house of government.

Thomas Lambe’s signature is preserved on the following document, from Volume 112 of Massachusetts Archives, page 69:

The humble petition of some of the inhabitants of Roxbury to this honored court: Wheras it hath pleased this honored court to make a wholesome law for this country, that none should build above half mile from the meeting house. And we partly out of necessity of the situation of our town, which is narrow and enlarged but one way, and partly out of our ignorance of law, have built somewhat further than is by this law allowed, among such neighbors as were so built before this law was made. We do petition the favor of this honored court that our action might not be offensive, but that we might have allowance to continue in our habitation which we cannot possibly alter without removal from the town, there being no place nearer the meeting house to receive us, and thus entreating your favor, we leave you to the guidance of the blessed God and respectfully, your humble petitioners.

 (Signed) Jasper Gun

Robert Seaver

Abraham How

John Tatman

 

Considering the necessity of the request of these brethren we who do have the dispensing of the town affairs join with them to make humble request to this honored court.

(Signed) Thomas Lambe

Joseph Weld

John Johnson

William Perkins

John Stowe

 

The first rock quarry in New England was opened and owned by Thomas Lambe on the Island of Squandum in Boston Harbor. The stones were used extensively for cemetery purposes as well as for general building. Thomas was also one of six individuals who pledged themselves for the support of the first free schools in America, and he and his family were original members of the fifth church in New England—that one built in 1632 at Roxbury.

Those who came in the 1630 migration were shocked at the primitive conditions facing them—a great contrast to the rosy picture painted to them by some of the men instrumental in getting their Charter. Two hundred Puritans went back to England in the ships; others moved to established colonies to escape the great hardships. But the more steadfast remained true to the cause for which they had come. Winthrop sent a ship back for food, and it returned in February, in time to save the starving colony. For several years they were severely tested by more than the ordinary sufferings of frontier life. Only their great faith in God enabled these people to survive.

It was necessary to carry guns for protection from Indians, even on the way to church, where they met to hear the same famous ministers who had once preached to them in some of England’s loveliest churches. Now they shivered in barn-like "meeting houses" as they gave attention to the words of the great scholars who were their leaders. The fine clothing they loved—silk hose, crocked hats, and gaily colored silk, satin, and velvet dresses, cloaks, and breeches must have seemed out of place in the tangles of the forest.

Men of the gentry class—former justices of English counties, members of Parliament, merchants, artisans, and shopkeepers—now labored with their hands to wrest a bare living from this harsh land. Wolves killed precious calves. Women and children, and sometimes men were lost in the woods and were frozen to death. Some drowned in storms at sea while fishing.

Women who had been sheltered in beautiful ancestral homes now did their own washing and other work in chilly log huts. They cooked over rude fireplaces whose stick and mud chimneys sometimes caught on fire. Many homes burned in the dead of winter. A pitiful number of the new babies died, and many of the mothers "but took New England on the way to heaven." Elizabeth Lambe was one of these. After bearing another son and a daughter, she, like Rachel of old, died at the birth of her son Benjamin

This event was recorded by the famous pastor of Roxbury, John Eliot. He had been educated at Cambridge in England, officiated for a year in the first church of Boston, and translated the Bible into the Indian language; it being the first Bible printed in America. He was known as "The Apostle to the Indians," having converted 3,500 of them. He also was the author of several books. Of the Lambe family he wrote:

A record of such as adjoined themselves unto the fellowship of the Church at Roxborough, as also of such children as they had when they joined and such as were borne unto them under Holy Covenant of this church, who were most properly the seed of the church. Mr. William Pyncheon, Mr. Thomas Welde, William Dennison.

Thomas Lambe came into this land in the year 1630. He brought a wife and two children, Thomas and John; Samuel his 3rd son was born about 8th month of the same year, 1630, and baptized in the church at Dorchester. Abial, his 4th son, was borne about the 6th month, 1633, in Roxbury; Decline, his first daughter was borne about the 8th month, 1637; Benjamin, his 6th child, was borne about the 8th month 1639, of which child his wife died, and the child lived but a few hours. He afterward married Dorothy Harbitle, a godly maid, and a sister of the church. Caleb, his first borne by her, and his 7th child was borne about the middle of 2nd month, 1641.

Dorthy is also referred to as a "Maide servant," and her name was variously spelled Harbeetle and Harbottle. Probably the latter is correct, as one of her grandsons was named Harbottle Lamb. After Caleb, she had another son, Joshua, who was a shipwright when he became a man. One daughter, Mary, grew to maturity and married a "physitian," Dr. Bailey.

In 1646 tragedy struck, the records stating: "Month 1, Day 28: Bro. Lamb died of a calenture (high fever) by a great cold." His remains lie in the family lot, which is now at the corner of Washington and Eustis Streets, Boston.

Roxbury records of 1633 or 1634 list Thomas as owning thirty-seven acres of land and twelve pounds, seven shillings. He died without making a will, and the Suffolk County Probate Records appraised his estate at that time as being valued at one hundred twelve pounds, eight shillings, eight pence. He was referred to as a yeoman, meaning the owner of a small, landed estate.

Thus, Dorothy was left a widow, with five of Elizabeth’s children as well as three of her own to support. Not only that, but she was expecting another baby. Before we feel too strongly that it was a pity that she had this problem to face in her bereavement, let us stop to consider that this child was our ancestor. He was baptized by Apostle John Eliot, who writes:

"1646, month 6, day 2, Abiel Lambe, the son of Thomas Lambe, who was not long before deceased and left his children to the Lord, yet, He might be their father."

Three years later, 1649, Elizabeth’s son, Abial, died at the age of sixteen. In 1651, "In answer to the petition of Dorithie Lamb, Elder Isakke Heath and John Johnson, who have sold a certain parcel of land containing three quarters of an acre pt. Meadow and pt. Upland unto William Parkes, William Cheney, Thomas Baker & Mary Woody, this court doth ratify and confirm said sale according to their desires exprest in their petition."

Some time after this, she remarried. The records state:

Thomas Hawley & Dorothy, his wife, together with Thomas Lambe & John Lambe, sons of Thomas Lambe, deceased, preferring a petition for the confirmation of a deed of sale of fifteen acres of land sold to William Parks of Roxbury, have their petition granted as is desired and the sale of sd land is confirmed.

This was in 1652, and in December of that year, Elizabeth’s son, Thomas Jr., died in young manhood; the other children, so far as is known, growing up to take their part in building up the communities in which they lived.