Person:Thomas Olney (3)

  • HThomas Olneyabt 1600 - bef 1682
  • WMarie Ashton1605 - bef 1659
m. 16 Sep 1629
  1. Thomas Olneyabt 1632 -
  2. Epenetus Olney1633/4 - 1698
  3. Lydia Olney1645 - 1724
Facts and Events
Name Thomas Olney
Gender Male
Birth? abt 1600 Hertfordshire, England
Alt Birth? 6 JUN 1600
Reference Number? Q7792886?
Marriage 16 Sep 1629 St Albans, Hertfordshire, Englandto Marie Ashton
Immigration? 7 Jun 1635 Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United StatesAboard the Planter
Will? 21 Mar 1679 Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Death? bef 9 Oct 1682 Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States(inventory)

Friend of Roger Williams and founding member of colony of Rhode Island. Came to Salem, MA aboard "Planter" in 1635.[4] His origins in Hertfordshire appear on the passenger list, and his marriage is found in the registers of the Abbey at St. Albans, where his wife was also baptized. There are no Olneys recorded at St. Albans, however.

When Thomas and Marie emigrated, he was 35 and they had two sons, both born in St. Albans. They had a certificate from the minister of St. Albans to show before departing. They settled in Salem, MA where their third son, Nebadiah, was baptized in 1637. Thomas was also made a freeman that year, and received 40 acres in a land grant near the current town of Manchester, near Salem. On 27 4mo 1637, he was selected as a member of the jury to hear cases in the Essex Quarterly Courts, indicating he at least had the respect of local residents. However, his favor was apparently short-lived, as the Olneys were among those invited to leave the MA Bay Colony on March 12, 1638. His and eleven other families settled Providence, RI in 1638. [5]

Thomas Olney was a signer of the first compact (undated, but probably between 13 July 1638 and 27 July 1640) and received a homelot in Providence. He was one of the twelve persons to whom Roger Williams deeded land that he had bought of Canonicus and Miantonomi on 8 October 1638. The others were: Stukely Westcott, William Arnold, William Carpenter, (who came from England with Westcott and Arnold), John Greene, Thomas James, Robert Cole, William Harris, John Throckmorton, Francis Weston, Richard Waterman and Ezekiel Holliman. Thomas' name appears with those and others in an early (pre-1664) map of Providence land, which shows each plot as a long thin plot extending from the Mooshausick River/Pautucket Trail to the highway (Now Hope St.) Thomas' plot appears in about the middle of the pack, between Robert Cole and Thomas Angell.

Thomas was a prominent member of the early Providence community. He was a town councilman, court assistant, clerk and the town's first treasurer. He was also Commissioner of Providence in 1656 and 1662, and was named a Justice of the Peace and tax collector several times. His clear, concise hand is seen on countless deeds and other official documents and his name frequently appears with the title of respect of "Mr." He was one of the original members of the Baptist church in Providence, but in 1653/4 he and some others withdrew from the Six-Principle group under Wickenden's leadership to found a second church. Thomas became lay pastor for this small congregation until his death in 1682. [6]

Thomas' land was on North Main Street, south of the State House, and what was Arsenal Lane in 1889 ran through the land. He was originally buried there, and was probably later removed to a burial ground on Olney Street, which was later removed to make room for a church.[7]

Thomas Olney was a major player in the controversy over the boundaries between Rhode Island and her sister colonies, Connecticut and Massachusetts. He was chosen, with others, to run the northern line of the colony and labored long on these questions. On 31 May 1666, Thomas Olney, Sr. was fourth on the list of Providence men who swore allegiance to King Charles II. [8]


Be it knowne unto all people by these presents That I Thomas Olney Senior of Providence in the Colloney of Rhode Island & providence plantations in New England, being weake of Body, but yet of sound & perfect memory, Doe make, ordaine & appoynt this my last will and Testament.

Item. I doe give & bequeath unto my Son Epenetus Olney my sixty acrs of land which was to me from ye towne of Providence upon my owne Right. I doe also give unto my son Epenetus Olney a percell of low swampie land lieing on ye north side of Wanasquatucket River, begining at ye Swampe formerly Called Wallers Swampe, & so reaching Westward to a deepe place in ye said River called ye deepe hole, together with all ye peeces of Marsh, or meadow to ye said land adjoyneing. As also unto said son Epenetus Olney I doe give my fifteene acrs of land on the south side of the said Wanasquatuckett River, together with all my peeces, or percells of meadow or marsh on ye same side ofye River. The which said fifteene acres of land, is three five acre shares, one in my owne Right, one in the Right of William Field, & on in ye Right of Thomas James. Also unto my said son Epenetus Olney, I doe give & bequeath all the Right of land & Comoning which I bought of John Joanes. All which aforementioned lands & meadowes & Every aprt & percell thereof shall be to my said son Epenetus Olney his owne true proper Right & lawfull inhiritance for Ever, for him & his heirs to use, possesse, Rent out, bargaine, sell, give away or any otherwise despose as he at any time shall see cause.

I doe also give unto my son Epenetus Olney one of my Cowes, & my Smiths vice, & my Bible.

Item. I Doe give & bequeath unto my son in law John Whipple to posesse dureing his Naturall life, my Right in the house lott, or home share of land whereon he now dwelleth, the which formerly belonged to John Clawson; The which said two acres, & five acrs of land shall after the decease of my said son in law John whipple, Revert and belong unto John whipple the son of my said son in law & my Daughter Mary; But in Case my said Cousin John Whipple doe dye before he come to ye age of twenty one years, or without Issue, Then shall ye said land belong to ye Eldest sirviveing Daughter borne of ye body of my aforsaid Daughter Mary formerly the wife of my said son in loaw John whipple.

Item. I Doe Give, & bequeath unto my son Thomas Olney my dwelling house, with all other my out houseing what Ever, together with my house lot or home share of land where on it standeth with all the appurtenances thereunto belonging, together with all my other lands of what sort so Ever, both upland, meadowes, & marshes, or lands of any other sort not befor desposed of unto my son Epenetus Olney, & unto my son in law John Whipple; I say, all sorts of landes & meadow, salt, or fresh lieing upont he aforsaid Wanasquatuckett River, or upon Moshausuck River, or leiing & being in any other place within ye libertyes of the Towne of Providence aforsaid. As also all landes, Rights, claimes, Intrests, Titles or Heriditaments in any other parts, or palce to me belonging together with all the aformentioned landes, & houseing & meadowes & Every part, & percell thereof to beunto my aforsaid son Thomas Olney To have & to hold both hinselfe, his Heirs, Exsecutors, Administrators & Assignes as his, or Either of theire true, proper & lawfull Right and Inhiritance for Ever. And that it shall be lawfull for my said son Thomas Olney to posesse, improove, sett to lease, bargaine, Sell, Give away, or otherwise despose of, from time to time, or at any time all the said lands, houseing & meadowes & Every part & percell thereof as he shall see Cause.

I doe also Give unto my son Thomas Olney all my Bookes & writeings of what sort so Ever, saveing only one bible before desposed of unto my son Epenetus.

Item. I doe Give & bequeath unto my son in law Joseph Williams all my part in the yoake of oxen which is now betweene us. Item. All my Cattell which are not before desposed of, together with all my mooveable goods after ye Cost of my buriall is discharged, shall Equally be devided into three parts. One part whereof I doe give unto my son Thomas Olney. Another part thereof I doe giveunto my so Epenetus Olney. And the other part I doe give unto my daughter Liddea Williams. And I Doe hereby make, Ordaine & appoynt my son thoams Olney to be my true & lawfull Exsecutor who shall have all my debts, & see to pay all my debts, And to see my Body Descently Buried, And to Execute & performe this my will according to ye true meaneing & intent thereof. And I doe desire, & appoynt my loveing friends & neighbours Thomas Harris senior, & Joseph Juinkes Senior the overseers of this my last Will. And that I doe hereby, all & any former will, or wills at any time by me made the same make Null and Voyd & this only to stand in force. In wittnesse of the premises I doe hereunto sett my hand & seale the twenty one day of March in the yeare one Thousand Six hundred Seventy nine.

Thomas Olney, senior.

Thomas Field and Nathaniel Waterman appeared before the Council 17 October 1682 and proved the will.

(Copied from

Text References

  1.   Representative Men and Old Families of Rhode Island. (Chicago [Illinois] : J.H. Beers, 1908).
  2.   Olney, James H. A Genealogy of the Descendants of Thomas Olney: an original proprietor of Providence, R.I., who came from England in 1635. (Providence: J. H. Olney, 1889).
  3.   Savage, James. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England: Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692, on the Basis of Farmer's Register. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co, 1860-1862), 3:313.

    THOMAS, Salem, shoemaker, of Hertford, Eng. came in the Planter to Boston, 1635, from London, aged 35; with w. Mary, 30; s. Thomas, 3; and Epenetus, 1; was freem. 17 May 1637, had Nebadiah, bapt. Aug. foll. wh. d. young; soon aft. went to Providence, and join. 1638, with Roger Williams in purch. of Providence, and in found. the first bapt. ch. on our contin. There he prob. had Stephen, Mary, James, and Lydia; took the o. of alleg. May 1666, and d. 1682. Of his ds. Mary m. 4 Dec. 1663, John Whipple; and Lydia m. 17 Dec. 1669, Joseph Williams. Hutch. I. 421, prints the act of excommunica. of him and others for their fall from the ch. as verified by Hugh Peter; and Felt, Ann. II. 576, rec. the excision of both him and his w. tho. the name of neither appears among his ch. memb. A s. of his, prob. Stephen, but may have been Nebadiah, d. early in 1659-60, as a let. of Williams to J. Winthrop in 3 Mass. Hist. Coll. X. 28, tells. He was made Treasr. in 1638, the only officer wh. is nam. on the rec. and in 1649 an Assist.

  4. Representative Men and Old Families of Rhode Island
  5. Olney, James H. A Genealogy of the Descendants of Thomas Olney
  6. Olney, supra
  7. Id.
  8. Behling, Susanne, “Sam’s Genealogy,”, Last viewed 8/19/2001. References on Thomas Olney: The Ancestry of Emily Jane Angell 1844-1910, Dean Crawford Smith, NEHGS, Boston, MA, 1992, pp. 190 & 437 - 448; The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island, John Osborne Austin, Genealogical Pub. Co., Baltimore, MD, 1969, (previously pub. 1887), pp. 352 - 354; TAG - The American Genealogist, Vol. 20, No. 4, “Additions & Corrections to Austin's Genealogical Dictionary of RI,” G. Andrews Moriarty, Demorest, GA, April 1944, p. 228.

The Planter (1635)
Part of the Great Migration. This was the Planter's second voyage to New England under Nicholas Trerise.
Sailed: April 1635 from London, England under Mr. Nicol. Trarice (Nicholas Trerise)
Arrived: 7 Jun 1635 at Boston, Massachusetts.

Passengers: Francis Bushnell family - Nicholas Davis (servants James Hayward, Judith Phippen) - William Fellows - George & Jane Giddings (servant Thomas Carter, Michael Williamson)- Richard Haffield family - Job Hawkins - Francis Newcomb family - Thomas Olney family - Francis Peabody - Thomas Savage - Thomas Stansley - John Tuttle family (servant Nathan Haford) - Richard Tuttell family & mother Isabel - Willm. Tuttell family - Wm Wilcockson family - (among others)
Resources: Primary Sources: Passenger list from Totten Founders of New England, NEHGR 14:302

Founders of Providence, Rhode Island
Roger Williams was exiled from Massachusetts Bay in June 1636 for his religious beliefs. He settled the area now known as Providence with a few others, and two years in 1638 purchased it from the Narragansett. He then deeded 12/13 of it to twelve other religious dissenters known as the "Original Proprietors." There also exists in City Hall in Providence a manuscript that purports to show the lands of the first settlers, as originally allotted. It is undated, but appears to have been created before about 1650.
First Comers with Williams: William Arnold, John Smith, William Harris, Francis Wickes, and possibly Joshua Verin and Thomas Angell
Original Proprietors: Stukely Westcott, William Arnold, William Carpenter, John Greene, Thomas James, Robert Cole, William Harris, Thomas Olney, John Throckmorton, Francis Weston, Richard Waterman and Ezekiel Holliman.
Other early landowners (from south to north): Robert Williams - Christopher Unthank - William Hawkins - Robert West - Hugh Bewitt - John Lippitt - Matthew Weston - Edward Hart - Thomas Hopkins - Widow Sayer - Widow Tiler - Nicholas Power - William Wickenden - William Man - William Burrow - Adam Goodwin - Thomas Harris - Joshua Winsor - John Field - William Field - Richard Scott - George Rickard - John Warner - Chad Brown - Daniel Abbott - William Reynods - John Sweet - Alice Daniels - Widow Reeve - Benedict Arnold - John Greene Jr. - Edward Manton - Thomas Painter - Matthew Waller - Gregory Dexter
Resources: History of the State of Rhode Island - Lands and Houses of the First Settlers of Providence

Current Location: Newport County, Rhode Island   Parent Towns: Boston   Daughter Towns: Newport