Thomas Arnold was born circa 1599 in Hollesley, Suffolk, England to William Arnold (c1575-) and died 24 March 1674 Woonsocket, Providence County, Rhode Island of unspecified causes. He married Margurt Arnold (c1600-) 1624 in England. He married Phoebe Parkhurst (1612-1688) 20 December 1640 in Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.


English Birth

Genealogies of RI Families (from RI Periodicals) indexed by Carol Lee Ford lists Thomas' father as William Arnold of Hollesley, Suffolk, England, husbandman. It is noted here that "there have been various attempts to fix the parentage of Thomas Arnold and some controversy on the subject but the final and conclusive work on that subject seems to have been published by that able genealogist, G. Andrews Moriarty, Jr., in The American Genealogist, v. 20, p. 120.

Prior to leaving England he had resided some time at Melcome Horsey and subsequently at Cheselbourne in Dorsetshire, England where he seated himself on an estate previously owned by his father.

  • Born in Hollesley, Co. Suffolk, England, probably (NEHGR Vol. 69 (1915) p. 69; TAG Vol. 20 (1944) pp. 121-2). Died, 24 Mar 1674/5, in Providence, Providence Co., RI (Arnold Genealogy p. 11).
  • 1616, November 22- Named in his father William's will, when Thomas was under age.

1635 Immigration to America


He was a passenger on the English ship Plain Joan, which sailed from London in May, 1635, bound for Virginia. The ship arrived safely in May 1635. Notes for Thomas (age 30?) indicated he would sail afterwards to Plymouth. "from Cheselborne, Dorsetshire or Kelshale, Suffolk, bound for Providence, RI. Ref: Austin 246. 36 pg 31 & 156."

Thomas Arnold is supposed (Savage's Genealogy Dictionary) to have come at age 30 to Virginia from London, England in the ship "Plain Joan" in May, 1635, (landing at Plymouth and then settling in at Watertown by July 1635 [Genealogy of the Descendants of Thomas Angell, p. 12].

Watertown Founders Monument

Watertown Founders Monument

He is listed on Watertown Founders Monument, commemorating the first settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts. The town was first known as Saltonstall Plantation, one of the earliest of the Massachusetts Bay Colony settlements. Founded in early 1630 by a group of settlers led by Richard Saltonstall and George Phillips, it was officially incorporated that same year. The alternate spelling "Waterton" is seen in some early documents.

  • Admitted Freeman: 13 May 1640, in Watertown, Middlesex Co., MA (NEHGR Vol. 33 (1879) p. 435). Reference: 11X.

He had 30 acres laid out for him on 7/25/1635 in Watertown, MA. On 5/13/1640 he was admitted as freeman. In 1648 in Watertown, George Parkhurst executed a deed to him.

It appears he was something of a nonconformist. In 10/1651, he was fined 20 shillings for "offense against the law of baptism." In 1654 he was fined 5 pounds for neglecting public worship for 20 days. In 1655, he was fined again for not attending public worship for 40 days.

He afterwards removed to Providence in 1654 , living near the North school house. It may be that he was at Watertown as late as April, 1657, but he was in Providence by October 1661 when he sold land in Watertown to John Whitney (1624-1692). The following October, he and his wife sold their house, barn and 16 acres of land in Watertown to John Wincoll.

1651 Rhode Island move

1651- The History and Genealogy of Stukely Westcott by Roscoe L. Whitman states that Thomas Arnold moved to Smithfield (the section of old Providence, RI which was set off as Smithfield RI in 1731 and as Lincoln, RI in 1871). Other sources state he moved to Providence, RI ten years later in 1661.

On 5/18/1658, he was made a freeman of Rhode Island. In February, 1665 he was granted lot 83 in Providence in a division of lands. He was deputy for Providence in the RI General Assembly in 10/1666 again in years 1667, 1670-2. In 1672, he served on the Town Council.

His will recorded in Boston shows he owned nearly 10,000 acres of land at the time of his death.

Marriage and Family

1st Marriage: Margurt

He married first Margurt Arnold (c1600-) about 1624 in England. All children born in England.

  1. Thomas, b. May 3, 1625, d. young j
  2. Nicholas, bapt. Jan. 15, 1627, d. young;
  3. Susannah, m. at Boston, April 7, 1654, John Farnum.

2nd Marriage: Phoebe Parkhurst

In 1640 he married Phoebe Parkhurst. All children born in Watertown, Massachusetts

  1. Ichabod m born at Watertown, March 1, 1640-1;
  2. Richard, b. at W. March 22, 1642-3;
  3. Thomas
  4. Sarah Arnold, b. Abt 1644, Watertown, Hampden Co., MA, USA , d. Yes, date unknown
  5. Elizabeth, b. 1645, m. Samuel Comstock, and died 1745;
  6. John, b. at W. Feb. 1$, 1647-8, d. at Providence Jan. 5, 1722;
  7. Eleazer, b. at W. June 17, 1651, d. at Providence Aug. 29, 1722.


Offspring of Thomas Arnold and Margurt Arnold (c1600-)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Thomas Arnold (1625-)
Nicholas Arnold (1627-)
Susannah Arnold (1629-1717)

Offspring of Thomas Arnold and Phoebe Parkhurst (1612-1688)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Ichabod Arnold (1640-)
Richard Arnold (1642-1710) 22 March 1642 Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts 22 April 1710 Providence County, Rhode Island Mary Angell (1645-1687)
Sarah Whipple (1642-1712)
Thomas Arnold (1644-1721)
Sarah Arnold (1645-)
Elizabeth Arnold (1649-1747)
John Arnold (1648-1723)
Eleazer Arnold (1651-1722)


Research Notes : Father of Thomas

Several sources state that William Arnold is the father of Thomas. But there is great confusion if it is William Arnold (c1675-) of Hollsley in Suffolk. Or is William Arnold (1587-1676), one of the original 13 settlers of Rhode Island to where Thomas moved to.

Thomas Arnold was the son of William Arnold, one of the original thirteen proprietors of Providence. His son (Captain) Richard (1642-1710) was father to, among others, Thomas (d. 1727) and John (1670-1756). Captain Richard Arnold was one of the first settlers of Woonsocket, building a saw mill there probably in the 1660s. His son John, also a miller, was a Quaker; he participated in organizing the Society of Friends in northern Rhode Island, and built the first frame house in Woonsocket in 1711. John's son William (1695-1766), whose papers make up a good deal of this collection, served as justice of the peace and constable to the town of Smithfield. He apparently also kept a tavern or at least retailed liquors in a store; there are several liquor licenses granted to him among his papers.

Famous Descendants

The distinguishing marks of Thomas Arnold's life are less certain; however, the collection contains papers of several of his male descendants: his son Job (b. 1707), grandson Oliver (b. 1752), great-grandson Preserved (1788-1828), and great-great-grandson Preserved Whipple Arnold (1828-1919). Oliver married Elethan Harris in 1778; their children, in addition to Preserved, were Isaac (b. 1779), Sabra (b. 1786), and Martin (1783-1847). Preserved married Betsy Bowen Whipple; in addition to Preserved Whipple, their children were Cornelia and Louisa. Preserved Whipple Arnold married Annie Harris.



Footnotes (including sources)