This is a theory I have cobbled together on the ancestry of Thomas Bliss of Hartford. I would be interested in your feedback.
My theory is that Thomas Bliss of Hartford was the son of William Bliss of Brookthorpe/Brockthorpe, Gloucestershire. William was likely related to the Painswick Blisses.
William Bliss had a brother, Richard Bliss, who was mentioned as such in William’s will.
Due to the lack of complete parish registers for Brookthorpe/Brockthorpe, we can only cobble together a theory. The church records begin in 1569 and end in 1578, but they are not in good shape. Then, they start up again in 1617, jump to 1620, past the dates we need.
The first Bliss record in Brookthorpe/Brockthorpe, Gloucestershire is William Bliss, who was a witness to the will of Robert Wood of Brookthorpe, Gloucestershire, on February 28, 1581. Proved 07 February 1582/3, Prerogative Court of Canterbury. PROB 11/65/85.
The next record for William Bliss is five shillings in the subsidy tax of 1584 in Brookthorpe/Brockthorpe, Gloucestershire. Was this William the father, grandfather, or uncle of Thomas Bliss?
From his last will and testament, we know that William Bliss was married to Margaret (last name unknown) and had three children. They resided in Brookthorpe/Brockthorpe, Gloucestershire (according to William’s will), but also were associated with Harescombe, Gloucestershire, where he held a lease on some property. If William was the man who witnessed the will of the prominent Robert Wood in 1582, he might have been born about 1555 or so. Margaret was born maybe about 1565.
There were two records of Blisses in nearby Harescombe and Haresfield:
Harescombe: Edward, son of John Blysse, baptized 29 Sept. 1575
Harsfield: John Blisse bapt. 22 Aug 1582
William Bliss and His Wife, Margaret
Children of William and Margaret Bliss, listed in his last will and testament:
i. Thomas, born about 1589. Married (1) Margaret Snowe; (2) Margaret Hulings, daughter of John and Margaret Hulings. They immigrated first to Massachusetts and then to Connecticut. Is the eldest son.
ii. Richard. Named as second son in his father’s will. Possibly the Richard Bliss who resided at St. John the Baptist, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England, who married there in January 1620, Elinor Rutter. Children baptized at St John the Baptist: (1) Richard, Oct 1621; (2) Thomas, Feb 1624; (3) Mary, 10 Jun 1628; (4) William, 25 Nov 1632. Elinor, “wife of Richard Blysse,” was buried May 16, 1640; this implies he was still alive. Richard might have married a second time, to Alice, and had a son, John baptized 22 May 1642, at St. John the Baptist. No further records of Richard Bliss have been located by me.
iii. Margaret. Mentioned in her father’s will. Could possibly be the eldest child, due to the fact that she proved her father’s will.
Death of William Bliss
William Bliss wrote his last will and testament 25 April 1602.
He mentioned his wife, Margaret; brother Richard Blysse; son, Thomas; second son, Richard; daughter, Margaret; cousin, Thomas Roberts.
Thomas and Richard are under the age of 21. Daughter Margaret is unmarried.
... I William Blysse of the parish of Brockthrop within the county in the city of Gloucester being of perfect mind and very good remembrance laude and praise be unto almighty god do make and ordain this my present testament and last will in manner and form following, That is to say, first and principally, I bequeath my soul to almighty god my savior and redeemer through whom and by the morte? ... and my body to be buried in Christian sepulture and buried in such place as to myne executrix shall be thought most mete? and convenient. Also, I do bequeath unto the poor of the parish of Brockthropp five shillings eight pence. Item I do bequeath to Margaret my wife the whole use, possession and term of years of one lease and tenement with a house thereupon situate lying and being within the parish of Harscombe within the county of the city aforesaid with all the lands, leasowes? pastures and feeding whatsoever with the appurtenances to the same belonging or in any wise appertaining which I bought of my brother Richard Blysse with term of years yet to come and unexpired, if she so long live and do keep herself a widow sole chaste and unmarried. And if the said Margaret shall happen to decease or marry at any time hereafter during the said term of years as in the indenture of the lease mentioned Then my will and mind is that Thomas my son shall immediately enter within one year then next following the decease or marriage of Margaret my wife quietly and peaceably have, hold and enjoy the said premises with all and singular their appurtenances during the said term. And if it shall happen the said Thomas to decease before he enter into the said premises then my will and very mind that Richard my second son is to have and enjoy the use of the said lease with all and singular their appurtenances during the said term of years then to come and unexpired. And if it fortune that both my said sons depart out of this mortal life before they shall enter into or upon the said lease with the appurtenances Then my will and mind is that Margaret my daughter shall in like manner and form enter in upon the said lease with their appurtenances in manner and form as aforesaid provided always with this condition to be ? to my said legacy that if the said Margaret my wife shall at any time hereafter intend or go about to give grant bargain sell assign or set over do any act or act thing or thing without the assent or consent and agreement of my overseers whereby the estate and term of years of the said indenture of lease to her given should be ? hindrance or made frustrate or void that then this estate and interest in and of the said lease and all other the premises with the appurtenances shall cease to ? intent and ? in the law my said bequest thereof above to her made and bequeathed of and in the same any wise notwithstanding. And also my will and mind further is that if either of my said sons according to the former gift having the use and possession of the foresaid lease shall by lawful marriage have issue male that then it shall to him to give and dispose the said lease at his own will and pleasure. Item I give to Margaret my daughter twenty pounds in money to be paid and delivered her at the day of her marriage if she shall be ruled by her friend namely my cousin Thomas Roberts who is in the mean time to employ her portion for her ? use. Also I give and bequeath to Margaret my daughter one bed one pair of sheets a pair of blankets a coverlet a bolster six pieces of pewter a brass pot a kettle two ewes and two lambs. Item my will is that if my said daughter shall decease before her marriage or marry without the consent aforesaid, that then her said legacy and portion of said goods and cattle shall be and remain to the use of my said two sons Thomas and Richard equally to be divided and pted between them or him then living. Item I do give and bequeath all the residue of my goods and cattels unbequeathed aswell moveable or unmoveable to Margaret my wife and my said two sons Thomas and Richard equally to be divided and parted into equal portions between them. And if it shall happen either of my said sons to decease before he comes to the age of twenty and one years, That then my will and mind is that all his part and portion of goods and cattel shall remain wholly to the other then living if both my said sons to decease before their full age, Then my will is that both their part and portions of goods and cattels shall remain to Margaret my daughter. Also I do make and ordain Margaret my wife Executrix of this my last will and testament praying and desiring to see this my present last will and testament to be duly and honestly performed executed to this my will and true meaning therein. Also I do make and ordain my cousin Thomas Roberts Richard Henrys and Richard Gill the younger of this my present last will. In witness hereof have I put to my hand and seal in the presents of the persons undernamed the day and year first above written.
Test Richard Lawes? Sigm William T Bliss
The will and inventory were presented to the consistory court of the Bishop of Gloucester on July 5, 1603, by Thomas Roberts and Margaret Bliss, William’s daughter, one daughter of the decedent (una filiaria).
Did this imply that Margaret Bliss the wife was dead?
As eldest son, why didn’t Thomas Bliss present the inventory and will? Was he not old enough, or was he unable to attend the filing in person?
There are no further records in Brookthorpe/Brockthorpe of the Blisses. The parish registers are missing for many years.
Thomas Bliss of Hartford
We next find Thomas Bliss in Harescombe, Gloucestershire, which is about 1.5 miles from Brookthorpe/Brockthorpe. Recall that William Bliss (theorized father of Thomas), held a lease at Harescombe, which could explain his presence there. It appears from the Return of Men and Armour for Gloucestershire in 1608 that Thomas Bliss became an apprentice to a smith in Harescombe. Thus, this Thomas Bliss was at least age 16 in 1608, which means he was born before 1592.
My misgiving is that this Thomas Bliss was an apprentice to a smith, whereas Thomas Bliss of Hartford was probably a weaver. The inventory of his estate in 1650 included a loom.
Thomas Blisse apprentice to George Downe smith. 1. ca.
The figure (1.) sheweth the age of that man to bee about Twenty.
The L’res (ca.) sheweth the man to bee of a lower stature fitt to serve with a Calyver.
Another record of interest could possibly be of John Hulings, who was to become the father-in-law of Thomas Bliss. John Hulings, age about 40 to 50, was listed for the city of Gloucester. This matches with his estimated date of birth of about 1564.
John Hulings Caryer. 2. m. (someone who transported goods), the East Ward of the City of Gloucester.
The City of Gloucester (The East Ward)
John Hulings carrier. A40. middle stature.
Thomas Bliss and His First Wife, Margaret Snowe
My theory is that Thomas Bliss moved to the city of Gloucester, about six miles from Harescombe. His brother, Richard, also lived there. Did Thomas leave Harescombe because the lease was up?
Gloucester was rather a large place and we find there were 11 churches there: All Saints, Holy Trinity, St. Aldate, St. Catherine, St. John the Baptist (later St. John Northgate), St. Mary de Crypt, St. Mary de Grace, St. Mary de Lode, St. Michael, St. Nicholas, St. Owen.
Thomas Bliss married Margaret Snowe at St. John the Baptist, Gloucester, on the 24 April 1616.
"Thomas Blisse and Margaret Snowe were Maried the xiiijth day of Aprill 1616" Reference Number: P154/9 IN 1/1
Children of Thomas and Margaret Snowe Bliss:
i. (possibly) Toby Blisse (no parents given, so he could also be an adult), who was buried 27 Oct 1617, Gloucester, St Nicholas.
ii. Thomas, baptized 23 January 1617/18, St. John the Baptist, Gloucester. Immigrated to New England with his father and stepmother. He married Elizabeth Birchard 30 Oct 1644, at Lyme, New London, CT; died 15 Apr 1688, Norwich, New London Co, CT.
"Thomas Blisse the sonne of Thomas Blisse was Baptized the xxiijth day of Januarie 1617" Reference Number: P154/9 IN 1/1.
iii. Sarah, baptized April 23, 1620, St. Nicholas, Gloucester
"Sarah the daughter of Thomas Blisse was baptized Apr: 23:" (Listed under year 1620)
Reference Number: P154/15 IN 1/1
iv. (possibly) Ann, born about 1621 (no baptism record found); married April 29, 1642, Robert Chapman, at Saybrook, CT; died 20 Nov 1685, Saybrook, CT. (I do not know if this Ann is a daughter of Thomas Bliss of Hartford; the marriage record says "Blithe", not Bliss.)
Margaret Snowe Bliss, wife of Thomas, was buried at St. Nicholas, Gloucester Reference Number: P154/15 IN 1/1
"Margret the wife of Thomas Blisse was buryed June the 4th" (listed under year 1621)
Thomas Bliss and His Wife, Margaret Hulins
Thomas Bliss married Margaret Hulins, daughter of John and Margaret Hulins, on 18 October 1621, at St. Nicholas church, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England.
St. Nicholas, Gloucester, under the year 1621:
"Thomas Blisse and Margret Hulings weere married October the 18th"
Reference Number: P154/15 IN 1/1
Children of Thomas and Margaret Hulins Bliss:
i. Nathaniel, baptized 28 December 1622, Rodborough, Gloucestershire; immigrated to New England with his parents. He married Catherine Chapin, daughter of Samuel and Cecily Penny Chapin.
"Nathaniell the sonne of Thomas Bliss was baptized the eight and twentieth daye of December"
Reference Number: GDR/V1/198
I am not sure if the two Bliss records at St. Mary de Crypt in Gloucester city are those of Thomas Bliss of Hartford. He did have a son, Samuel, who died 23 March 1720, Springfield, aged "96" [prob, 86]. This would mean that he was born in 1634 or 1635, not in 1637/38, as the baptism record shows. He married there, 10 Nov. 1665, Mary Leonard.
“William, son of Thomas Blysse,” baptized 25 April 1628, St. Mary de Crypt, Gloucester
"Samuel sonne of Thomas Blisse Bap: febr. 4", St. Mary de Crypt, Gloucester under the year 1637[/38] Reference Number: GDR/V1/111
There was a William Blys in the City of Gloucester contemporary with Thomas and Richard Bliss.
Willm. Blys Father's Name: Willm. Blys
Christening: 24 Mar 1613, Saint Mary de Crypt, Gloucester, Gloucester, England
Name: Hamnet Blisse Father's Name: Willm. Blisse
Christening: 30 May 1617, Saint Mary de Crypt, Gloucester, Gloucester, England
Death Date: 28 Jan 1622
Death of Margaret Bliss, widow of William Bliss of Brookthorpe/Brockthorpe
I theorize that Margaret Bliss, widow of William and father of Thomas, was the widow Blisse buried at St. Nicholas, city of Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England, on 6 April 1626.
“April the sixth Widdow Blisse was buried.”