m. 3 Apr 1622
Facts and Events
Thomas Hooker (July 5, 1586 – July 7, 1647) was a prominent Puritan colonial leader, who founded the Colony of Connecticut after dissenting with Puritan leaders in Massachusetts. He was known as an outstanding speaker and a leader of universal Christian suffrage.
Called today “the Father of Connecticut,” Thomas Hooker was a towering figure in the early development of colonial New England. He was one of the great preachers of his time, an erudite writer on Christian subjects, the first minister of Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the first settlers and founders of both the city of Hartford and the state of Connecticut, and cited by many as the inspiration for the "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut," cited by some as the world's first written democratic constitution that established a representative government.
Most likely coming out of the county of Leicestershire, in the East Midlands region, the Hooker family was prominent at least as far back as the reign of Henry VIII. There is known to have been a great Hooker family in Devon (colloquially called Devonshire, in the middle of the southwestern peninsula), well-known throughout Southern England. The Devon branch produced the great theologian and clergyman, the Rev. Richard Hooker who, with Sir Walter Raleigh, was one of the two most influential sons of Exeter, the county town of Devon. Family genealogist Edward Hooker linked the Rev. Thomas to the Rev. Richard and the Devon branch. Other Hooker genealogists, however, have traced the Rev. Thomas back to Leicestershire where, in fact, he is said to have been born. Positive evidence linking Thomas to Leicestershire is lacking since the Marefield parish records from before 1610 perished. Any link to the Rev. Richard is likewise lacking since the Rev. Thomas’s personal papers were disposed of and his house destroyed after his death. There remains no evidence giving positive information as to which region Hooker came from, so the issue remains unsettled.
BIOGRAPHY: The Dictionary of American Biography states that it is possible that he attended a school at Market Bosworth, about 25 miles from Marfield, established by Sir Wolstan Dixie with two fellowships at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, one of which was later held by Rev. Thomas Hooker.
He entered Queen's College, Cambridge, and passed to Emmanuel College from which he received the degree of A.B. in 1608 and that of A.M. in 1611. From 1609-1618 he was Dixie fellow at Emmanuel. About 1620, he became rector of Esher, Surrey, the living being one which did not require the approbation of a bishop. His puritan leanings became more developed at this time and he fell much under the influence of the Rev. John Rogers of Dedham. Efforts were made to settle him at Colchester but for some reason, were unsuccessful, and about 1625 he became lecturer at St. Mary's Chelmsford. There, his preaching attracted public attention and the malevolent eye of Archbishop Laud.
In 1629, Archbishop Laud resolved to silence him for non-conformist teachings, though he was not a Seperatist. Hooker hoped he would not be brought before the High Commission and that he could leave the diocese peaceably. He was forced to retire from Chelmsford and went to Little Baddow, not far away, where he opened a school with the celebrated John Eliot as his assistant. In 1630, the spiritual court sitting at Chelmsford bound Hooker in the sum of 50 pounds to appear before the High Commission, and a Puritan farmer went surety for him. Several of Hooker's friends raised the amount necessary to indemnify the good farmer, and Hooker abandoned his bond and fled to Holland about June 1631. (Mark Cole Spangler Homepage)