Genealogy of the Barrett FamilyBy Newton Barrett, Elkhorn, Wis. 1886
Deacon Simon Barret of Woodstock, Connecticut, at his death in 1838, left "A Family Record of the Births and Deaths of Smith Barret’s Family", which he seems to have copied from an original record, on his leaving Woodstock in 1807 or 1809, and afterward extended. It begins with the birth of Moses Barret in 1685, which Moses was the father of the Woodstock branch of the family. Simon continued his record to 1830. The present record is able to add five generations to the five with which it begins – three earlier and two later – and to include Thomas Barrett, Sr., who unites the New with the Old England division of our family.
Thomas Barrett Sr.’s parents and home in England this record cannot identify. His lineage is not lost but becomes indistinguishable before 1600; the name is in Doomsday Book 1086, and is found repeatedly thenceforward among both noble and ignoble. Authorities say that Barret was found as a Saxon name in England before the Norman Conquest in 1066, and is from a Teutonic root – but if it is found at all among German nations any actual instance is unknown, while it has been common immemorially in France and Italy and is traceable to a well known root – baret – in Celtic speech. The stronger probability is that the name of Barret came from France to England at the Norman Conquest and so spread through England and Ireland, in which it has long been and still is very prevalent. It is also becoming universal in this country by the constant emigrations from both its New England and British Centers. If the parentage of Thomas Barrett Sr. of Chelmsford, Mass., is ever discovered it will doubtless be in the parish registers or probate records of England somewhere between Old Boston and Old Chelmsford or from Canterbuy to Lincoln, Norwich, perhaps.
Judge Barret, Loveland, Ohio, 1886, quotes Hasted’s History of Kent, 1790-1800 (?): “The ancestor of the Kent Barrets is recorded in the Battle Abbey roll as one those who came over with William, and was present at Hastings in 1066.” “In Harleiian Mss. are several pedigrees. His descendants spread over Britain and into Ireland.”
Note: The best genealogical works are now becoming generally accessible. For the facts as to the name of Barret in Doomsday Book – in Saxon England and in France – a high authority is “Lower’s Patronymic Brittanica.” For the nobility of the name see “Burke’s General Armory” also “County Families of England and Ireland” and a volume of “Coats of Arms” (illustrated folio) copies of all of which are in the Library of the New England Genealogical Society, Boston. For a single explicit instance, see Mumford’s “Local Names of Norfolk”, which says that “Ringsted Parva” a “hundred” or pariah in Doomsday Book was called “Barret Ringsted” from the Barrets who were lords of that place from Henry IV. To Henry VII. Or 1400 to 1500. Green’s History of England, Book III. Chap. I., says: “A separate French town was side by side with the English borough 1200 A.D. at Norwich.” I failed to find Barret in a three hour’s thumbing of Doomsday Book in Washington, 1887. Some poorhouse and penitentiary lists could be quoted for the ignoble end.
The sources from which I have added the three earliest generations on this record are the town records of Chelmsford, Mass., and particularly a letter of Judge J.H. Barrett, Loveland, Clement Co., Ohio, for Thomas Barrett, Sr., dated June, 1885.
Thomas Barrett, the father of our family in this country, was one of the settlers who came over from England under the first great “Western Fever.” England under Elizabeth had grown to have more people than it could provide for with its old ideas and modes of living, so that people and ruler chafed and harried each other in town life and Church life and State life. The nation had found a world of new western land. The first of our periodical Western Fevers broke out violently. The great London and Plymouth Land Companies got these lands of the kings James I. and Charles I. and sold them out again to sub-companies or colonies for little direct money but for political and commercial equivalents. A few speculating courtiers, capitalists and merchants who saw large money in the new land, fisheries, pelts, crops and trade, brought or sent over their capital, goods and men. Many more of the surplus commoners who were sick of being underlings and wanted lands and shops and town and church meetings of their own took the new contagion and set their faces west.
The company officers drew up and published their offers of land, gathered their emigrants, hired their ships, loaded and sent them over. The landing on James River, Virginia, was 1607, at Plymouth Rock, 1620. A crew made wiser and stronger by their reports came to Salem and Boston in 1629 and 1630 and cabined at the mouth of the Charles River on both sides. Shipload followed shipload. The company set off land in bulk, so many miles square to so many settlers organized into a township. The town meeting laid out the land in “home lots” of 40 acres, more or less, allotted one to each man and held the rest for newcomers on the same terms. The company made such grants to single patentees sometimes, and by some means the settlers became often owners of much land additional to their gratuitous home lots. But every man, mechanic and farmer could have his home lot and so be a freeman. Indentured workmen so became freemen.
By 1635 eight towns had been settled about the Bay, Charlestown, Boston, Cambridge, Watertown, Lynn, Roxbury, Dorchester and Medford, and Concord, 20 miles north in the wilderness and Braintree, 10 miles south, had been organized in this day, and every town had also its church and minister. At least there were 7 churches. The nonconforming clergy and the Conventicle laity made the Fever a means of bringing nonconformity to New England and rendezvoused at Boston. Cotton was there. Elliott was at Roxbury in 1632. In 1635 3000 persons had entered the colony, of which 300 were lords of land and also members of churches and by these two qualifications were “freeman”, i.e. voters. They met at Cambridge once annually, en masse, and with the company officers for a senate formed the little congress of the colony, chartering and endowing with land new towns and regulating the older ones. To this little colony and at this time came our Thomas. By 1640 New Haven and Connecticut River and Narragansett Bay and New Hampshire and Maine were opened. 21,000 immigrants had come in and brought an average of $40 per capita, $1,000,000. Not many Royalists, not many “churchmen” and yet secular as well as Puritan Yankees in both thinking and living.
The Concord Barretts
The Concord Barrets have a legend one form of which is that about 1640 three brothers came over, of whom one died childless. The second settled in Concord, chartered 1633.
(1) That Humphrey Barrett had two sons only, Thomas and Humphrey Jr. Another version is that Humphrey Sr. had four sons (perhaps more) in Thomas, Humphrey, John and James, and that he died in Concord at the age of seventy, in 1662.
(2) That Humphrey settled in Concord and had sons John and Thomas and made his will Jan. 1, 1662, is matter of record.
(3) That Thomas Barrett Jr. was in Braintree as early as 1644, that he made his will Jan. 1, 1662, the same date as that of Humphrey, that he removed to and died in Chelmsford near Humphrey, and also had sons John and Thomas, are facts of record, making the inference most natural that Thomas and Humphrey were brothers and named their sons John and Thomas after their common forefather
Strangely, it is on record that a third John and Thomas Barrett of like age, but whose father is not known, were settled in Marlborough, next west of Concord, which confirms the legend of the three brothers. Judge Barrett, of Loveland, Ohio adopts this theory, that the father of the brothers was John. He has found the old wills in Cambridge.
The Concord genealogy was written as it claims in 1794. It settles the second of the three brothers in Boston. A Boston stock, beginning probably with Samuel, was formed at that date. But how the Concord compiler could have been ignorant of the Chelmsford family is unaccountable.
Thomas Barrett Sr.’s earlier life is outlined by the fact that his son Thomas was married in 1654. John was born before Thomas Jr. Their birth would more probably be before their parents came from England than after. If not, the parents were here 1630-1635. Humphrey is said to have come around 1640. The birth of Thomas Sr. must be dated not later than 1605, and could hardly be as early as the legend puts Humphrey, 1592. The place of his birth had hardly a clue, but (1) Ths. B. Sr. in Braintree, 1644, had a friend Ed. Spalding; their families were intimate (Smith Barett married a Spalding.) (2) John Elliott had in his Roxbury Church Margaret Spalding, widow, both Margaret Barrett, came from Norwich, England, 1633, to Roxbury. A Norwich Barrett might be father of Thomas. W. Appleton, of Boston, 1881, in N.E. Gen. Reg. believes Concord Barretts came from Kent.