Thomas Walling

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ChartsAncestors of William Jerome Pierce
Thomas Walling, son of Ralph Wallen and Joyce (…), was born at Plymouth Colony, about 1627.1 He died at Providence, Providence Co., Rhode Island, 19 July 1674.2,3,4

Thomas married (1) Mary Abbott, daughter of Daniel Abbott and Mary (…), at Providence, before July 1651;1,5,6,7 he married (2), as her 2nd husband, Margaret White, whose ancestry is unknown (or not traced here), at Providence, 19 June 1669.8,5,1,7

Thomas Walling left a juicy record of misbehavior in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Given the nature of the complaints against him, these accounts probably apply to the same man, and lend credence to the probability he is a son of Ralph and Joyce Wallen.
"The fourth of Aprell, 1650. Tho[mas] Wallen, Richard Carle, Gorg Way, Katheren Warner, and Mary Mills were apprehended at Barnstable, in the jurisdiction of New Plym[outh]; and on the eighth day of Aprell, aforsaid, they being examined before William Bradford, gent, Goue[rno]r, Will[i]am Collyar, and Will[i]am Thomas, gent, Assistants, confessed th[a]t they, the said Thom[mas] Wallen, Richard Carle, & Gorge Way did healpe away Katheren Warnr & Mary Mills, who were run away from theire husbands; and for th[a]t purpose th[a]t Richard Carle aforsaid did steale his fathers boat, which they came away in; it was therefore ordered by the Gouer & Assistants aboue mensioned, that the aforesaid Gorg Way, Katheren warner, & May Mills should bee sent from constable to constable to the place from whence they came, w[hic]h is a place called Winter Harbor, near Richmans Iland to the eastward; and th[a]t Tho[mos] Wallen & Richard Carle aforesaid bee comitted to ward; all which accordingly was forthwith p[er]formed.

The next document is the well-known letter from Roger Williams to the town fathers of Providence, dated 22 February 1650/1. It does not name Thomas Walling, but Williams knew of his past:
I understand th[a]t one of the Orphanes of or dead freind Dan: Abbot, is likely (as she herselfe told me) to be disposed of in mariage[.] Tis true that she is now come to some yeares: But who knowes not, what neede the poore maid hath of yor fatherly Care, Councell & Direction: I would not disparage the young man (for I heare he hath bene Laborious) yet with your leaue I must say I durst not, you will not give yor daughters in mariage to such those liues have bene in such course without some good Assurance & Certificate of / his/ not being engaged to other women or otherwayes criminous, as allso of his Resolution to forsake his former course, least (this Jnquireie being neglected) The Maid & orselues repent when Miserie hath befallen her, & a just Reprove & charges befall orselues: of wch we haue no neede[.]9

On 28 July 1651, as husband of Mary Abbot, he was awarded one half of the estate of Daniel Abbot, deceased, father of the bride. For the next ten years, Thomas behaved himself and played an active role in town affairs, becoming a freeman, serving in several offices, including Town Sergeant, Constable, juryman, surveyor, and a member of the town council.

However, in 1662, this civic activity ends abruptly. In November, Mary, her husband "being now departed the town," asked the town to take responsibility for a boy who had been living with them, "shee the said Mary not being able any Longer to take care of him." Thomas was apparently not far off, for in Dec. 1662 he sold much of his property. In April 1663 the town had to act:
"For as much as Thomas Walling Formerly inhabetant of the Towne of providence, having departed this Towne & left his wife, and a child in the Towne. The Towne being doubful of the returne of the said Thomas Walling to talke Care of his said wife, and child for theire Releife, It is therefore ordered by this presant Assembly that the Town shall seaze and secure into their hands all the Estate of the Said Thomas Walling which is now left in this Towne, or within the limittes or libertyes of this Town, wheither it be Landes, goodes, howseing, or Cattell: and that the said Estate seized in, is secured for the releife of the wife and child of The said Thomas Walling[.]"

Mary asked to sell some property in June 1663, but Thomas had returned by October when he purchased sixty acres next to some he had held previously. He remained in town for the next few years, but the reason for his absence is explained in a court record for October 1664:
Thomas Walwin of providence being Indicted by the grand Jury for Committing Fornication with Ann Smith late of Providence and having presented himselfe before the Court and upon the hearing his sayd Indictment Read the sayd Walwine Confesseth himselfe guiltye and Referes himselfe to the bence[.] [T]he sentance of the Court is That his punishment is to pay forye shillings or to be whipt. The sayd walwin Doth Choose to pay Fortye shllings."

In October 1666, he was indicted, tried and found guilty of the charge "that he did Asault beate and Wound Robert Colwell" of Providence. He posted a £20 bond for "peace and good behavior," but failed to appear at the next session and forfeited the bond. In May 1667, the colonial court:
"Voated, wee having perused the petition of the Towne Coucill of the towne of Providence setting forth their grievances in poynt of the charge that is like to fail upon the towne by reason fothe wife and children of Thomas Walwin, who are left destitute by the sayd Thomas Walwin, who is supposed to be run away with Robert Colwell's wife, of the sayd towne. Now forasmuch as there is a bond of twenty pounds of the sayd Thomas Walwins, that is forfeited... the sayd bond... is hereby tranceferred over vnto the Towne Councill of the Towne of Providence... for the releivinge of the wife and chldren of the sayd Thomas Walwin." Robert had had enough and the court granted his petition for divorce on 2 July 1667.

As happened after the Ann Smith affair, Thomas was again punished for the Margaret Colwell affair in May 1668. The court was not as lenient as in the past: George Way (a name from his first noted escapade in Massachusetts) and his brother-in-law, Daniel Abbot presented him to the court where he was indicted for fornication and remanded "to the serjts. Custody till cald for," then, "The sayd Walwine being in Court Calld appeeres and ownes Guilty. . . . The court doe sentance him[,] this beinge the second offence[,] to be forth with whipt with fifteene stripes in Newport, and a weeke after, the licke punishment in the Towne of providence and to pay Court Fees."

From then on, Thomas seems to have behaved himself or perhaps he met his match in Margaret. His first wife Mary died in 1669, and in May, Thomas was on a list of freemen, and on 19 June, he and Margaret were married. He appears in several land records in the early 1670's before his death in 1674, but there are no further records of any infractions.1

Thomas left a will dated 19 July 1674, and proved on or before 22 November 1675 when wife Margaret was appointed, per the will, Executrix. The will also named:
sons Thomas, John, William, James, Cornelius, & Gershom;
daughter Abigail.

The will, letter of administration, and inventory were all entered into the town records 1 June 1680.4

Family 1

Mary Abbott b. say 1631, d. 1669
  • Thomas Walling+5 b. abt. 1652, d. bef. 15 Nov 1724
  • Gershom Walling5 b. say 1654, d. 1727
  • James Walling5 b. say 1656, d. 4 Apr 1753
  • Abigail Walling5 b. say 1658, d. 1677

Family 2

Margaret White b. say 1641, d. aft. 1717
  • William B Walling5 b. 20 May 1670
  • John Walling5 b. 20 May 1670, d. 11 Nov 1694
  • Cornelius Walling5 b. 25 Oct 1672
This person was last edited on2 Jan 2021


  1. [S299] William B. Saxbe Jr., "Thomas2 Walling and His Way With Women: Seventeenth-Century Misconduct as an Aid to Identification," The American Genealogist 73 (April 1998): 91-100, further cited as Saxbe, "Thomas Walling and His Way With Women."
  2. [S602] James N. Arnold, Vital Record of Rhode Island. 1636-1850: First Series: Births, Marriages and Deaths. A Family Register for the People, 21 vols. (Providence, Rhode Island: Narragansett Historical Publishing, 1891-1912), 2:1:277, town record 1:409, further cited as Arnold, Vital Record of Rhode Island.
  3. [S913] John Osborne Austin, The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island: Comprising Three Generations of Settlers Who Came Before 1690 (With Many Families Carried to the Fourth Generation). Albany, New York: Joel Munsell's Sons, 1887, 214. CD-ROM reprint, Compendium of New England Pioneers: A Collection of 14 Classic Genealogical Dictionaries of Early New England Settlers (Columbia, Maryland: Archive CD Books USA, 2006), further cited as Rhode Island Dictionary.
  4. [S1230] Horatio Rogers, George Moulton Carpenter and Edward Field, The Early Records of the Town of Providence (21 vols., Providence, Rhode Island: Snow & Farnham, 1892-1915), 6:13-19, further cited as Rogers, Carpenter, and Field, Early Records of Providence.
  5. [S913] Austin, Rhode Island Dictionary, 214-215.
  6. [S2281] Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I–III, 3 vols. (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995), 1:1-3 (Daniel Abbott), further cited as Anderson, GMB.
  7. [S1872] Clarence Almon Torrey, New England Marriages Prior to 1700, 3 vols. (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011), 1589, further cited as Torrey, New England Marriages (2011).
  8. [S602] Arnold, Vital Record of Rhode Island, 2:1:43, 191.
  9. [S2039] Glenn W. La Fantasie, editor, The Correspondence of Roger Williams (two vols., Providence, Rhode Island: Rhode Island Historical Society, 1988), 1:329, further cited as La Fantasie, Correspondence of Roger Williams.