A Genealogy of the Thomas Cobb Families of Boston, Mass.:
Descendants of Thomas Cobb from Banbury, England.
This work-in-progress project includes and continues the data from the book by
Philip L. Cobb in 1923,
A History of the Cobb Family, Part IV, Boston Family
Author Philip L. Cobb was a descendant of the Cobb families into Boston, as seen in this genealogy.
He also had previously written a history of the Barnstable (Mass.) family lines from Henry Cobb,
the English immigrant and founder of another Cobb line. That line is found elsewhere on this site.
He did not record the separate Taunton line, but nor did he mix up families from these different lines.
Philip L. Cobb in "Thomas Cobb of Boston and his Descendants" gives an introduction to his English background:
"Thomas Cobb was one of the pioneers of the Cobb family in America.
It does not appear that he was related to any of the several other original immigrants who settled in New England
and Virginia." [this was his conclusion as then known in 1923]
[pg. 5:] "His former home was the town of Banbury, in Oxfordshire, England. Its most marked characteristic
during the 17th century was devotion to the puritan cause in politics and religion, so much so that it became
a common butt of ridicule for all the royalist wits. Growing up in this atmosphere, Thomas Cobb was saturated
with the puritan spirit and became one of the protesters among the protestants. His adherence to non-conformist
worship doubtless was a most important factor leading to his emigration to America. While he was married in an
English church and some of his children were baptized in the church, this may have been a matter of legal
requirement rather than a religious choice.
"In his youth he doubtless received some schooling, for we find he could sign his name in a free, bold hand,
in a time when many men were content simply to make their marks. His boyhood was during the stirring times of
the Civil War. The battle of Edgehill, the first in the war, was fought when he was a youth, within a
half-dozen miles of his home, and later, the town of Banbury was captured and held successively by the
parliamentary and royalist armies.
"In 1642, when Banbury was captured and occupied by the royalists, the King put forth a declaration of pardon
to all in Oxfordshire who had taken up arms against him, except Lord Saye, Nathaniel Fiennes, Sir William Cobb
of Adderbury and John Doyley, Esq. Adderbury is a small town about four miles from Banbury and was the home of
an aristocratic family making claim in the "Visitations of Oxfordshire" to a long line of ancestors of gentle
birth. At the head of this family was Sir William Cobb whom King Charles refused to forgive. We do not find
definitely the relationship between this man and Thomas Cobb of Banbury, but it is evident that they were both
of the puritan party and subject to displeasure of the royalist government and may have been kinsman. Thomas
Cobb was married four years before the Restoration and continued to live in Banbury throughout the reign of
Charles the Second. Soon after the death of the king, which occurred February 6, 1685, we find the Cobb
family on its way to" [pg. 6:] "America. Doubtless a strong reason for their emigration was the severity
of the laws against non-conformists.
"Thomas Cobb and his fellow travelers relate, in the petition made after they reached Boston harbor, that
"the ocasion of our coming hither - was in affect no other than that of the bird flying into the Sennetor's
Bosom for sheltor when it was furiously chased by a fowle of prey." This flowery language means without
doubt that they emigrated to avoid being thrown into prison by the authorities on account of their religious
and political beliefs and practices.
"During the summer of the year 1685 both Argyle and Monmouth had invaded England with rebel troops and the
country seethed with excitement, culminating in the "Bloody Assizes" and the execution of the two leaders
and many of their followers.
"Our emigrants sailed about the first of June, and it was none too soon, for a few weeks later it would have
been impossible to get away. On August 28th, Samuel Sewell of Boston heard "news of Argyle's being taken and
of Monmouth's being in Arms in England, with Rumors of a great Engagement and 30 or 40,000 slain, ...
many are clapt up in London, so that the Hall's full."
We will give at this point some extracts from the parish registers.
Chipping Norton Parish Register
Thomas Cobb & Dorothy Hobby, both of Banbury, 24 July 1656. (married)
Jan: 13, 1658-9
Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Cobb was born.
Aug.: 27, 1660
Dorothy, daughter of Thomas Cobb was born
Aug: 10, 1662
John, son of Thomas Cobb was baptized
May 19, 1664
Henery, son of Thomas Cobb was baptized.
August 11, 1666
Richard Cobb, son of Thomas Cobb was baptized.
August 30, 1659
Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Cobb was buried.
October 5, 1669
Sarah Cobb, daughter of Thomas Cobb, buryed.
It will be noted that the first two Banbury entries, made during the Commonwealth, give the dates when the
children [pg. 7] were born, while the next three, made after the Restoration, are dates of baptism.
About the first of June, 1685, Thomas Cobb, his wife Dorothy and son Richard embarked, quite probably at
London, on a ship that was commanded by Captain William Condey and sailed for America. The daughters
Elizabeth and Sarah had died some years before and we have no knowledge as to what became of the other
children. If they were then living they were of adult age. During the voyage four cases of smallpox
developed on the ship, so that the vessel was quarantined when it reached Boston harbor on the 31st of
July. The time of crossing the ocean was a little over eight weeks. On reaching port the passengers were
not allowed to land in the town, but were placed on Lovell's Island in the harbor, where they suffered
much from lack of proper protection and care. They were confined there for thirteen days, with poor supply
of water, with no house to shelter them and no beds to lie upon. After much delay, in response to their
petition, they were permitted to land in Boston on the 13th of August. Captain Condey died on the 25th
of the month (whether of small-pox or not, we do not know) and was buried in the Granary Burying Ground.
The petition to the governor reads as follows:
For The Honourable Sir Simon Bradstreet Esq. present.
Once allreadey have we taken the Boldness to write a few lines directed unto your worships, together with
the rest of the commissioners, wheare in a few words we signified unto you the ocasion of our coming hither,
which was in affect no other than that of the bird flying into the Sennetor's Bosom for sheltor, when it
was furiously chassed by a fowle of prey, the story is famious & therefore we suppose it known unto you and
so we shall Leave it into your consideration and aplication.
We allso signified unto you the inconvenience of the place of our confinement viz. that their is no house
upon the place, that their is no fresh water, together with many other inconveniences, to many for us in
writing for trouble you with.Not hearing nothing from you we adventured a second time to caste a few lines
into your hands that you might come to have a right understanding of our condition, for we understand that
you have many false informations for instance that many amonge us have not had the small pox and that some
of us are sicke of them now and that one hath been buried [pg. 8] upon the sea, and all which things and many
others of the like nature are very untrue, for as to the first we have all had the distemper in old england
many years since but only four persons had them on board and have been well six weeks and upwards neither
have any been taken away by death since we came on shore,. Therefore we humbly entreat your worships serious
consideration of our condition in order to our admittance into your townes that we may be in a capacity to
provide for ourselves and families. We have the same argument to make use of which God himself made an
argument to press his own people with to be kind to strangers. Remember that some of you and your predessessors
were strangers in this land. We shall trouble you no more at present but subscribe ourselves your worships
most humble servants in all Christian obedience to be Commanded.
In answer to the petition or motion, the town magistrates ordered that the petitioners have their liberty on
the morrow to come on shoar & provide for themselves. August 12 1685 Attest Edward Rawson Sec. By order.
Three days after he landed we find Thomas Cobb joining the First Baptist Church of Boston, as shown by the
"Cobb, Thomas adm. Aug. 16, 1685."
The authorities required that every new-comer should furnish security that he should not become a charge upon
Our immigrant found a bondsman in Thomas Skinner, a baker, also a member of the First Baptist Church.
"Sept. 4, 1685. Thomas Skinner became surety to the town for Thomas Cobb, blacksmith, and his family."
In the tax lists of 1687 we first find the names of Thomas and Richard Cobb and gather a little information
about them. It is apparent that they lived together in a house in the eighth precinct or ward in the south
end of town of Boston near the house of Samuel Sewall. Richard is listed for one head, 1s-8d, being this year
twenty-one years of age, but is not taxed for a house or other property. This is what we should now call a
poll-tax. Thomas is taxed for one head, 1s-8d, and in addition 4d for his house and other property, making a
total of 2s. .... In the "Boston Valuation" of 1688, which is a "List of the male Persons in the Town of Boston
from Sixteen yeares old and upwards" we find in the 8th ward "Tho Cobb" and "Rich Cobb", each listed for "one
head", which indicates that Thomas Cobb did not have any other son living in his house with him 16 years old
or older. From this the conclusion is that the other sons did not come to America. The lists throw no light
upon women in the family. "A List of inhabitants in Boston 1695" gives these names:
[pg. 10] This expresses the relative age of the two men and probable relationship of father and son.
Thomas Cobb established himself in his trade as a smith in the south end of Boston, probably on what is now
called Washington Street. While living there he had some difficulty with his apprentice whom he accused of
stealing his property. [pg. 11] The Court of Trials at Newport rendered a verdict in favor of Thomas Cobb,
which was appealed by the defendant to the General Assembly of the colony. ....
In all the records there appears but one more item relating to the wife of Thomas Cobb. This is the Boston
Death Record and reads as follows:
"1705-6. Apr. 18. Mrs. Cob buried. (Old sextons' bills.)"
Probably soon after the death of his wife, Thomas Cobb moved from Boston to Hingham, Mass., where his son
Richard was then living. ....
Thomas Cobb was then nearing the end of his life; the last reference to him is in Hingham records:
"Thomas Cobb, Sen. dyed, the 4th day of January, 1707-8."
It is probable that he was buried in the beautiful cemetery adjoining the "Old Ship" meeting house, but no
stone marks his grave.
The Virginia and Barnstable, Mass. families, themselves, being separate lines from the Taunton, Mass. branch
and from the Boston branch, were once thought connected. DNA proivides an answer they are not from the same
Cobb ancestor. This Boston-based Cobb family line is a separate one from those other lines until proven
otherwise (where research might give a common ancestral link to include the Barnstable line with the Boston
line, if it existed). This Boston-based line does have later intermingling of some of its descendants with
persons from either the Barnstable or Taunton family lines, as found within this genealogy. Do note those
individuals will not show much ancestral connections to the lines in the Taunton and Barnstable families.
The Barnstable and the Boston lines are not my ancestral line. This Boston line is just one of the three
genealogies of the English immigration of Cobb families into America at Massachusetts. Please note that it
is not complete; there are yet many unlinked persons and families and later emigrations into Mass. (not within
this genealogy) who have been found in Mass. who may be related in some way, or unrelated, to this or the
other two lines, as known presently. I am not responsible for any persons, links or future additions made to
this genealogy which I, myself, have not placed on this Massachusetts, USA line of a Cobb family on this website.
Though my source list pages can’t be included, vital records, genealogies, gravestone records and some resources
have been used to continue this "History" originally printed over 90 years ago.
Reminder: Errors may be possible so additions and/or documented corrections as well as comments are welcome.
Versions of the other Massachusetts lines (Barnstable and Taunton) are presented in other sections of "Cobb
File Manager: Paul Cobb