A Genealogy of the Barnum, Barnam and Barnham Family

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A One-Name Study for the BARNUM/BARNHAM Surname

Notes for Thomas BARNUM

Disputed Associations

Not proven a son of Sir Francis Barnham.
 Reliable sources do not show Thomas Barnum as a son of Sir Francis Barnham (1576-1646). Thomas was not an Earl. See Research Notes.

Not shown to have married Feaks/Feake, Park or Hurd. Reliable sources do not show Thomas's first wife was Hannah Hurd, nor that he was married to Mary Feaks/Feake or to Phoebe Park. See Research Notes.

This profile is part of the Barnum Name Study. Thomas Barnum was born in England. Thomas Barnum migrated from England to Bethel, Fairfield, Connecticut Colony in 1640.Thomas Barnum was a Connecticuter.

Birth & Origins
Thomas birth year, birth place, and parents are currently unknown. It has been generally assumed, with no proof, that he was born in England in about the year 1625. The earliest record of Thomas seems to be 1663, the year his son Thomas was born and the year it was claimed that Thomas Barnam of Fairfield had a grant of land. Both of these events would imply that he was born before 1642.
If he was born in 1625 that puts his age at about 37 when he married Hannah. Although not inconceivable for an age at first marriage, it is unusual and would hint at either an earlier marriage, with the potential for children, or, more likely, a birth year closer to 1640.
As far as is known, Thomas was the immigrant ancestor of the Barnum family in North America.

Marriage & Children
Most sources agree that Thomas married (1st) a wife whose given name was Hannah,[1] but whose surname is not known, having with her all the ten children who appear in his will. In both its 1904 and 1907 editions The Barnum Family suggests that there were "other children who died in infancy". Although the statement is possible, no documentary evidence has been found to support it.
The Ancient Historical Records of Norwalk, Connecticut lists the following four children of Thomas Barnum:[2]
"Thomas Barnam, the sonne of Thos. Barnam, born the 9th of July, 1663."
"John Barnam, the sonne of Thomas Barnam, borne the 24th of ffebruary, 1677."
"Hannah Barnam, the daughter of Thos. Barnam, borne the 4th of October, Anno 1680."
"Ebbinezer, the daughter of Thos. Barnam, borne the 29th of May, 1682." ("daughter" is an error as Ebenezer "the fifth son" was found on Thomas' probate records)
According to Thomas' probate records he had 10 children.[3] Why they are not all listed in the Hall source is unknown. In the probate records Ebenezer is the fourth son listed, but it labels him as "the fifth son" and then the next son that is mentioned, John, it also says he is "the ffifth son." Regardless, between the Hall list and the probate record eight children are accounted for until 1682. That leaves two daughters unaccounted for, and who were born after 1682. If Hannah died in 1683, then it is most likely that the two youngest daughters of the probate, Abigail and Sarah, were born to Thomas' second wife, Sarah.
Thomas married (2nd) Sarah (Thompson) Hurd, about 1684.[4] At the time of her marriage to Thomas, she was the widow of John Hurd, Sr., of Stratford, who died in 1681.

Thomas died on 26 Dec 1695. His estate, which amounted to 330 pounds, 4 shillings, 4 pence, was divided among "five sons and five daughters, the eldest son to have a double portion." (The value of the estate would be equal to about $57,900 in 2010). His widow Sarah returned to Stratfield, in Stratford, and died there in Jun 1718, aged 76 years. See Thomas Barnum Probate
Barnum, Thomas. Est. of Thomas, Sr., of Danbury, who d. 26 Dec. 1695. Inv. 3 Jan. 1695/6, signed by Sarah Barnum. Son Thomas to administer with Thomas Pickett of Danbury. Five sons and five daus. The widow had a prenuptial agreement.[5]

Hall's History of Norwalk says: "Thomas Barnam, of Fairfield, had a grant before 1663."By 1663, "Thomas Barnam, of Fairfield, had a grant."[6] The same history gives the assessment of his estate in lands in that town in 1671 as £40 00 0[7] and againfor "The Estates of Commage of the Inhabitants of Norwalk, Presented and Accepted by the towne, January the 3d, 1687: Thos. Barnum £40 00 0."[8] (40 pounds in 1687 is the equivalent of about $9,580 in 2010 dollars). Thomas purchased land in Fairfield, Connecticut on 28 Feb 1673, and received a grant of land in Norwalk five years later. The grant reads: "Granted by the plantation unto Thos: Barnam a certaine swampe lyinge neere the west side of Stonie brooke and not far of Soabatucke hill, the sayed swampe containinge five acres more or lesse and lyeth bounded of west north and south with the common land. Aprill the 30th, 1678." That same year, he sold his land in Fairfield to Alexander Bryan and removed to Norwalk. There is also a mention of Thomas in a Fairfield book of records as follows: "28 Feb. 1673 Thomas Barnam has by purchase of John Crump one parcel of land at Maximus, being in quantity by estimation three quarters of an acre more or less." The next record is in Norwalk, dated 30 Apr 1678, and another at the same time says that the plantation granted to Thomas Barnam was "three acres lying by the land said Thomas purchased of John Rayment."
At a town meeting in Norwalk, 8 Nov 1681, he was appointed to "oversee and keep good Decorum amongst the youth in times of exercise on the Sabbath and other Publique meetings; and the town doe impower him if he see any disorderly, for the keep of a small stick to correct such with; onely he is desired to doe it with clemency; and if any are incoridgable in such disorder, he is to present them either to their parents or masters; and if they doe not reclaime them, then to present such to authority."[9] Cutter, in Connecticut Families, notes that Thomas Barnam was one of the first eight settlers of the town of Danbury, Connecticut, in 1684. The History of Stratford and The History of Connecticut make the same statement. The others are listed as Thomas Taylor, Francis Bushnell, John Hoyt, James Benedict, Samuel Benedict, James Beebe, and Judah Gregory. Those eight individuals purchased from the local Indians a large tract of land which now includes the towns of Danbury, Bethel, New Fairfield, Redding, Ridgefield, and a portion of Derby, and established there the settlement of Danbury. Thomas located his homestead in a portion of the new settlement which in 1855 became a part of the town of Bethel and is known today as the Old Homestead at Grassy Plain. The town patent bears the date of May 20, 1702.
In 1687 Thomas Barnum received lot 48 as part of "[t]he number of Lotts and the order as they were drawn, of that Division of Land over Norwalk River, below the path leading to the Meadow field."[10]
He was charged by his fellow settlers with the formulation of the articles of the agreement establishing the form of civil government which they were to have in their new town. From that, and other references found in contemporary records of the locality, it appears that Thomas Barnham/Barnam/Barnum was a man of more than ordinary intelligence among the immigrants of his time, and was very active in both church and town affairs.

Research Notes
See also Thomas Barnum College of Arms research, 2014
See also Thomas Barnum Probate

Surname and variants. Due to the difference in the spelling of his surname in England versus that used in British America, compounded by the inconsistency of English spelling during the 17th century, Thomas has appeared in historical records as Thomas Barnham, Thomas Barnam and Thomas Barnum. The spelling Barnham continues to be preferred in England and the rest of the British Isles, while Barnum is generally used in most other countries.

Not proven the son of Sir Francis. Over the years several sources have suggested that Thomas was a son of Sir Francis Barnham (1576-1646) by way of Francis' son Martin.[11] Although no source citation has ever been found to support that suggestion, which originally appeared in The Barnum Family, 1517-1904, it has erroneously been widely accepted and copied. Additionally, The Barnum Family (both editions) states without documentation that Thomas Barnam/Barnum was the 15th child of Sir Francis Barnham and his wife Lady Elizabeth Lennard (or Leonard), Baroness Dacre. Since that supposition had never been proved, in March of 2014 the Thomas Barnum College of Arms research, 2014 was commissioned and performed by the College of Arms in London, England. That study found no evidence that Thomas was a child of Sir Francis and Elizabeth.
The suggestion that Thomas Barnam/Barnum was baptized at Hollingbourne in 1625 is not supported by the available documentation. The dates taken from The First Puritan Settlers of Connecticut suggest that Thomas Barnum was probably born after 1630; Sir Francis Barnham’s wife died in 1631. There is no mention of a son named Thomas in Sir Francis’ will of 1642. If Thomas Barnum were to have been born in 1625 he would have been only 17 at the time of that will and almost certainly still living with his parents.

Immigration In The Barnum Family, 1517-1904 it is stated that Thomas left England in 1640 (when he would have been 15 if born in 1625) to come to the American Colonies, where he first settled in what is now Bethel, Fairfield County, Connecticut. Tradition suggests, somewhat differently, that Thomas Barnum first came to New York and afterward to Norwalk. Whatever may have been Thomas' connection to the English line of Barnham, he is definitely the immigrant ancestor of the Barnum family and the progenitor of all Barnum lines of descent so far documented in the Americas.

Not shown as English Earl nor married to Feaks/Feake, Park or Hurd. Postings are occasionally seen suggesting that Thomas Barnum was an English earl, or that he was married to Mary Feaks/Feake or to Phoebe Park. None of those statements are supported by valid, verifiable source citations and they conflict with the weight of documentary evidence developed during more than three centuries of research into the genealogy of Thomas and his family. He was named simply Thomas Barnum, definitely not Thomas Earl Barnum or Thomas (Earl) Barnum, both of which are widely-quoted errors.
A Thomas Barneham is named in the will of William Feake, dated 7 May 1595, as the husband of William's daughter Mary Feake, born about 1565. This was obviously not Thomas Barnum (1625-1695) the immigrant ancestor.Hannah Hurd is sometimes shown as the first wife of Thomas but the use of that surname is not supported by reliable documentation and it has generally been discounted. Torrey listed Thomas' marriage to "Hannah [?Hurd]"[12] implying that the name Hurd was not verified. The surname Hurd sometimes cited for Hannah is likely due to a confusion with the married surname of his second wife. Although a person named Hannah Hurd did exist, she was born in Boston and was married to John Cowell and having children by him during the time that Thomas Barnum's children were born to Hannah Unknown.
Only the year of his birth is shown; no more-specific date has been found.
The will of Thomas Barnum reads as follows:
"To the Honorable Cort of Probate to be holden att Fairfield. Thes maye signifie unto yore honnours that we whose names are under written, namely James Beebe and Josiah Starr beeing appoynted by the Honble County Cort held at ffairefeld March ye 10 - 1695/6 to mack at distribushon of the estete of Thomas Barnam Decesed: Wee according to the best of our skills and judgment did in ye said month of March on the afforesaid 1695/6 mack ye following distrebushion of the said estete:
"To ye eldest son Thomas Barnam hee offering to tack ye with a single sheere and at halfe provided hee might have his choyce of from perticulers which accordingly we set out to him thirty pounds vallue of ye homsted and twenty one pounds vallue of ye moveables which in all made 51-0-0.
"To ye second son ffrances barnam by name Wee set out the rest of the homested being vallued at 65 pounds and a comondall of land purchesed for him by his father before his deth vallued at ffive pounds: and 7-11-6 of ye moveables hee giveing [illegible] to paye to his younger sisterswhen ye come of ye age of twentyone or at maridg what hee had received more then his proportion which proportion was 34 pounds ye whole that hee receved was 99-11-1.
"To ye third son Richard barnam by name we set out a [illegible]-lot of upland vallued at five pounds A second divition of meadow vallued att seven pounds and moveables to the vallue of 22 pounds so that hee had in all to the vallue of 34-0-0.
To ye fifth [should be fourth] son Ebenezer barnam by name we set forth it Mill Lot so called vallued at 4 pounds a third divition of meddows vallued at five pounds a little loot vallued at tow pounds the one half of ye land at Shellter Rock vallued at nine pounds the Townehill Lot vallued at six pounds; The halfe of the Cotfeld [illegible] vallued at five pounds ye six acre divition of land three pounds 10 shillings- so that the whole of what hee receved was 34-10-0
"Too John barnam the ffifth son wee set out the firt division of meddow vallued at three pounds 10 shillings ye forth divition of meddow vallued at 3 pounds 10 shillings ye swamp lot vallued att five pounds: then one half of ye land at Shellter rock valld at nine pounds the land on Shellter rock hill valld at six pounds the halfe of the Cotfeeld valld att 5 pounds ye half of the baran plain lot and the half of the six acre divition vallued at three pounds and ten shillings-so that the whole of what hee received was 34-10-0.
"To Sarah picket the wife of Thomas picket the eldest daughter wee set out In moveables of many particulers in all to the vallue of 34-0-0.
"To ye second daughter Esther Abbit the wife of John Abbit we set forth in moveables in many particulers and many due ye estete in all to the vallue of 34-0-0.
To ye third daughter Hannah barnam wee set out moveables in many particulers and depts due to the estete in all to the vallue of 34-0-0.
"To ye forth daughter Wee set out Ruth barnam by name-in moveables in many particulers and depts due to the estete in all to the value of 34-0-0.
"To ye fifth daughter Abigall barnam by name wee set out in movabels and depts due to ye estete in all to the value of 34-0-0.
//Signed// James Beebe Joseph Starr Distributers
"Know all men by these presents that I Sarah Barnum of Stratford in the county of fairfield and Coloney of Connecticut have received of the heirs of my late husband Thomas Barnum of Danbury deceased in full of all accounts due to me by virute of a contract made between my husband Barnum and my self before marriage therefore I doe soe order remit release acquit exonerate & discharge the administrators Heirs and assignes of the above sd Thomas Barnum deceased from all further demands whatsoever upon [illegible] of any money due to me my Heirs of assigns by virtue of any contract before mentioned in witness wherof I have herewith set my hand in Stratford this fifteenth day of March Anno Domini 1702 (date difficult to read) Witnesses Ambros Tompson senior and John Tompson her mark Sarah Barnam."
Probate: 1696 #359 FHL Film #1018731.

Excerpted from Jacobus, Donald L. History and Genealogy of the Families of Old Fairfield. Fairfield, Conn: E.D. Burr Chapter, D.A.R, 1930. Print: Barnum, Thomas. He settled in Fairfield, and before 1768 sold his land there to Alexander Bryan; rem. to Norwalk, and was a founder of Danbury. Est. of Thomas, Sr., of Danbury, who d. 26 Dec. 1695. Inv. 3 Jan. 1695/6, signed by Sarah Barnum. Son Thomas to administer with Thomas Pickett of Danbury. Five sons and five daus. The widow had a prenuptial agreement. Married (2) Sarah (Thompson), widow of John Hurd, Sr. She returned to Stratford and d. there 24 Jan. 1717/18. Children [by first wife], four recorded at Norwalk: +Thomas, b. 9 July 1663. (?) Sarah, m. (1) Thomas Pickett; m. (2) Samuel Hayes. +Richard. +Francis. John, b. 24 Feb. 1677 [1677/8]. Hannah, b. 4 Oct. 1680. Ebenezer, b. 29 May 1682. Three other daus.

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