Birth: Thomas Willett was born about 1608, possibly in
Death: He died on August 3, 1674, in Swansea.
Ship: Unknown, 1630
Life in England: Thomas Willett has been identified as
the son of Thomas and Alice (_____) Willett of Norwich, Norfolk.
Life in Holland: Thomas accompanied his parents to Leiden
and lived on Jacobsgracht. He was one of six children, one of whom was
buried in 1615.
Life in New England: Thomas Willett was in New England by
1630, when he was sent to the Penobscot trading post to be a partner to
Edward Ashley.William Bradford described him as “an honest young man
that came from Leyden, with [Ashley] as his fellow (in some sort) and
not merely as his servant.Which young man being discreet, and one whom
they could trust….” Ashley was eventually removed from the post and
Willett continued for the next few years. He became a freeman of
Plymouth on January 1, 1633/4.Willet became a very prominent member of
Plymouth Colony, serving many years in important government positions.
He succeeded Captain Miles Standish as captain of Plymouth’s military
company on March 7, 1647/8. In 1664, he was part of the English force
which took New Amsterdam from the Dutch, and became the renamed New
York’s first English mayor He returned to Plymouth Colony in 1668, to
Swansea, where he died in 1674. He was a prosperous merchant, and had an
estate of about £2,800 when he died. He owned hundreds of acres of
land, numerous livestock, a large quantity of merchant’s stock, and a
library of over 100 books.
Family: Thomas Willett married (1) Mary Brown on July 6,
1636, in Plymouth and had thirteen children. She died on January 8,
1669/70. He married (2) Joanna (Boyse) Prudden on September 19, 1671, in
Milford but had no children. She married (3) Rev. John Bishop as his
Children of Thomas and Mary Willett: