Joseph Thornton and Lucretia Calkins

In preparing this site, I have relied heavily on a history written by Zella Nesbitt and collected by Mom and Dad,

The first of our provable Thornton ancestors is Joseph Thornton. It appears that shortly before 1800 Joseph arrived in Pickering, Ontario, Canada. Pickering is a small town to the North and East of Toronto.

The coat-of-arms associated with the name Thornton includes a Hawthorn tree. Thus the name probably originated from an area where many hawthorns grew or where hawthorns were used as fences or even defensive walls. The name appears in England as well as Ireland.We don't know for a certainty where our Thornton ancestors originated.


Hawthorn tree and flowers (picture from Wikipedia)

This might be a good spot to talk about our supposed connection to Matthew Thornton. Matthew was the last man permitted to sign the Declaration of Independence. There is a family legend that we are somehow related to Matthew.

I haven't been able to find any proof of this kinship. It's possible that Matthew was a cousin of the Rhode Island Thorntons, but Matthew immigrated from Ireland with his father and two brothers. The Rhode Island Thorntons are found as far back as the 1620's, 100 years before Matthew's family arrived in America from Ireland.

We have been to the town of Thornton, New Hampshire as well as Thornton Ferry (Merrimack), NH where Matthew is buried. It's interesting that in the center of the small cemetery is a large monument to Matthew. This monument was erected, as I recall, by the Daughters of the Revolution. Matthew's actual headstone lies along the edge of the cemetery.

The monument is flowery and speaks of Matthew's accomplishments as a lawyer, judge and legislator besides being a signer of the Declaration. But his headstone speaks eloquently about his integrity. It says simply "an honest man".

I can't prove that we are related to Matthew, but I'd like to think that we are.

The first ancestral link to the name Thornton, that we can be certain of, occurs on July 16,1804. Joseph Thornton petitioned to lease some land in Pickering. He was apparently successful. In a later petition dated March 18, 1815, we find the following:

"The petition of Joseph Thornton of Township of Pickering,'yoeman, humbly sheweth:
That your petitioner was born in the late province of Rhode Is1and in the United States of America; 43 years of age, --has resided in this province about 18 years and has taken the oath of allegiance, and that he has a family of a wife and five children. That he is desirous of obtaining a lease of the reserved lot No. 28 in the 5th concession of Pickering and offers John Majors of Pickering as a surety for the due payment of rent etc."
(Petition was granted 20 May 1818.)

We can see from the above that Joseph emigrated to Canda from Rhode Island about 1797 and that he was born about 1773. By 1815 he was married and he and his wife had five children.

Joseph married a divorcee, Lucretia Calkins Sly about 1800. Lucretia's first husband was a Joshua or Solomon Sly. She and Sly were married in upstate New York. Their first child, Solomon, was born in 1794 in Jefferson, Oneida County, NY. They had three children, the youngest being a daughter born in 1799.

Somewhere I have read that Sly mistreated Lucretia. Joseph was part of a body of men from their church - probably the "Christian Church" in Brougham - that let him know that his conduct was unacceptable. That was just about the time the Sly daughter was born in 1799. About a year later Joseph and Lucretia were married.

Joseph served in 1805 as the local sherriff. He apparently also served in 1812 and 1813 in the British military (local militia?), in Captain Rideout's company. We don't know if he served in the revolutionary army during the revolutionary war or indeed what his loyalties were. There were many on both sides of the revolution who moved to Canada in the early 1800s to take advantage of the land that was being offered there. An oath of allegiance was necessary to get the land.

Joseph and Lucretia had 7 children, all sons. Joseph was born about 1802; Ira in 1804; our ancestor Oliver September 6, 1806; Daniel in January, 1808; James, probably in 1814; Ephraim in 1816 and William in 1818.

Joseph died in 1827. According to the Nesbitt history, there is a small cemetery on the south side of the fifth concession, just west of Brock Road. Here's a map of the area:

Brougham was the major center in the early 1800s. There Joseph and Lucretia would have done whatever shopping they found necessary. We don't have any pictures of Joseph or Lucretia, nor did they leave us with any sort of history.

This tale is continued with Oliver's story. I'll tell Lucretia's story in another segment. She is our ancestral link to the pilgrim, William Brewster.

Joseph Thornton and Lucretia Calkins Oliver and Mary - part 1 Oliver and Mary - part 2 Oliver and Mary - part 3
Oliver's own history Oliver's history by Hattie M. Snow Oliver Thornton by Zella Nesbitt
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