Thrale/Thrall history

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The hunt for William Thrall's English connection

The first US Thrall was William Thrall. He was born in 1605 - apparently in Sandridge, Hertfordshire, England. We are trying to confirm whether there is a definitive familial link between William Thrall to the English Thrale family?

Possibly a good place to start looking might be the Church of England churches at which Wareham (a nonconformist) and Meverick (a conformist) were ministers, as William Thrall may have worshipped there.

  • Reverend John Wareham was minister at Crewkerne in Somerset and at Exeter, both in Devonshire;
  • Reverend John Meverick had been Rector at Beaworthy in Devonshire.

Speculated link

William Thrale born 1607?

The closest possible match from the known pedigree for the English Thrale family is William Thrale, b. 1607. However, it seems very unlikely that this might the same William who sailed to America in 1630, as there is a record that this William married Margaret Smith in 1632 in England.

Father: William Thrall senior?

According to an unconfirmed International Genealogical Index record, William Thrall’s father was William Thrall senior, born in 1559 or 1579 at Slope Hill, Netherbury, Dorsetshire, England who died in the same place. Frustratingly, this claim cannot current be confirmed because identity and location of the researcher who found this information and the source document from which it was allegedly obtained are both currently unknown.

Jim Thrall’s research

An attempt to trace the source of this information about William Thrall’s father was made by Jim Thrall of Indiana, USA without success …

In March 2000 Jim Thrall posted
I joined the Dorset list in September of 1999 and have contributed and received help and direction from others, but still have not accomplished my objective, which is, to confirm definitively, that my ancestor came from Dorsetshire. Details of my objective and results to date, since joining the Dorset list, are as follows:
I’m trying to confirm recent LDS information that states William Thrall 1579 born in Slope Hills Netherbury, Dorsetshire and his son William Thrall born in 1605.

Prior LDS information only had reference to William Thrall 1605 and showed him coming from Sandridge Parish, Hertfordshire. This is the same information, my family and others, have carried for many years.

We understand that William Thrall 1605 sailed in the Mary and John in 1630 from Plymouth, while originating in Weymouth. The passengers were primarily from Dorsetshire and other west country areas.

My Thrall was a quarryman and stone cutter, which maybe more in keeping with Dorsetshire than Hertfordshire.
The LDS were able to supply the name of the submitter, stating Netherbury, Dorsetshire, but could not provide any address information and so I am trying to confirm the submitters findings. Any information and direction to other sources in helping me to resolve these matters would be greatly appreciated.

Search results, to date:
  1. Society of Genealogists catalog, inquiries and name searches, were of no help.
  2. Name search by Rob Wilkins gave it a good try, but no luck.
  3. Jim Polson suggested Bishop’s transcripts and I worked with local LDS Family History Center on this and other areas, with no results.
  4. Dorset County Council archivist just advised their search of Netherbury christening register and burials were to no avail, also they had checked Netherbury marriages, to no avail.
  5. Jerry Willmott provided helpful direction.
Last chance, yet to be explored, that I know of, is the Dorset marriage index, which will be checked when Mr. Andrew is available. Once again, I respectfully request any and all help that list members may be able to supply.

Joe Neilson’s research

A more recent attempt to trace the source of the information about William Thrall’s speculated father was also made by Joe Neilson with no success …

In January 2005 Joe sent the following update to…
Hi, We mused some time ago over how William Thrall earned an exact birth date, in Sandridge, Hertfordshire without having any parents identified. I think it is guesswork. I spent a little time looking at this while at the Mormon Family History Center in Salt Lake, USA. They have on film #569757:
  • the Church of England Bishop’s transcripts for Sandridge parish;
  • the records contain baptisms, marriages, and deaths.
They begin in 1575, cover only a few intermittent years up to 1595, and then jump to 1686. So there are about 90 years of missing records. They are in Latin mixed with a little old English and are very hard to read. So, William Thrall’s 1605 birth (or Baptism) did not come from those records.

I looked very closely at the 1595 entries and could find no Thrall or Thrale.

On film #413719 are baptism, marriage, and death records in Sandridge for the year 1639/40. Those records are very legible and again, no Thralls.

So, there you have it.

On one of the websites someone has claimed William Thrall’s father was William Thrall Senior, born 1579, Netherbury, Dorsetshire. The Mormons have filmed Netherbury bishop transcripts that begin in 1585, again baptism, marriages, and burials. I found no Thralls there from 1585 to 1635 so I folded-up shop.

I don’t know how all this information surfaces. Perhaps some institution has more complete records than the Mormons do. But on the face of things, if 1605 is the correct birth date, then it must have come from a headstone or a bible record or something other than a birth or baptism record.

Cheers, Joe Neilson.
In response to a follow-up enquiry, Joe Neilson provided the following helpful analysis to…
Hi David, Spent some time on your website… nice, very nice job. Congratulations. I spent the last several years working on my Danish line, thus have spent very little time on the Thrall line or other New England lines for that matter.

I am descended through William Thrall’s daughter Phillipa and John Horsforde who probably did come from Netherbury. That may be the reason someone has marked Dorset as the origin of the New England Thralls since William Thrall and John Horsforde’s father William were neighbours in Windsor, Connecticut.

The founders of the Mormon or LDS Church were from New England. Almost all Mormons, up until about 1845, came from New England so many past and present Mormons have New England roots. The Mormons took an interest in genealogy 100 years ago or so and asked their members to submit their family history. The members obliged and they still do to this day. Volumes of family history, and much of it from New England, have ended up in the International Genealogical Index (IGI) and the Ancestral File (AF), two databases maintained by the LDS FHC.

Unfortunately, the swarm of LDS members who submitted their family history into those databases were in large part unqualified for the task. The result is much of the information is not correct. And the real tragedy is, once some family history is written down, even if it is later shown to be incorrect, it is very difficult to erase because it is, by then, written down in hundreds of places. It later becomes “family tradition” or “bible record” or some such thing.

That is why, on hundreds of family group sheets, the name of William Thrall’s wife is shown as “Goode”. Goodwife was an early New England Puritan term applied to the wife of a church member who was in good standing. Often shortened to “goode”, it had nothing to do with the wife’s Christian name. Near trollops, if not previously stoned to death, were never called goode, only “decent” wives. Even so, I bet one could still get an argument from most American Thrall descendants over the name of William’s wife. Goode or Elizabeth Goode shows up over and over again as the name of his wife.

Staff members at the LDS FHC will themselves tell you to be very cautious when using data submitted by members. All of the Ancestral File is member-submitted. Most of the IGI is member-submitted. A small percentage of the IGI can be trusted The Mormons have filmed church and civil records from all over the world. The FHC is the repository for all those films. Each film is assigned a number. The FHC staff is very qualified and some staff members extract data from those films. Those extractions are put into the IGI along with member-submitted data. When a record has been extracted and entered into the IGI by a staff member, the number of the film from which the data came is included as the source for that record. That particular record can be trusted. All others, beware.

So, the IGI submittal showing Wm Thrall’s father as born about 1579 in Netherbury would be suspect right off. And, the fact the entry says ‘about’ means no real record was found by the submitter, only that he had some reason to believe Wm Thrall hailed from Netherbury. It was simply a guess. A good one perhaps, but still a guess. Perhaps something will show up if enough people keep looking.

I think there are still many records not yet examined that might shed some light on the early Thralls.

Thanks, and again, your website is well done.

Professor Frank Thistlethwaite's research

D Thrall to …
Dorset Pilgrims, by Frank Thistlethwaite describes the origin and early years of Windsor, Connecticut, USA; William Thrall appears in the index four times. The book gives the origin of William as Sandridge. I wrote to Professor Thistlethwaite to ask the source of that statement, and he replied, giving his source as C.E. Banks, Topigraphical Dictionary of 2,8885 English Emigrants to New England, 1620 - 1650. He said he had found Banks to be reliable.

I found C. E. Banks’ original manuscript in the NEHGS library; it did not give a reference for the assertion. When I later visited the Windsor Historical Library I saw Professor Thistlethwaite’s notes for Dorset Pilgrims, which he had given to the library after writing the book. In his letter, Professor Thistlethwaite said he wrote the book when he became interested in the subject while researching his American wife’s genealogy. Jane was a descendant of John Hosford and Phillipa Thrall, William’s daughter.

Professor Thistlethwaite was an expert in American history, having written The Great Experiment, a classic work in the field, in 1955. It shows in Dorset Pilgrims. I recommend it highly, even though it does refer to William as “unlettered and obscure”!

D Thrall
Tell us what you know     |     More information: William Thrall
Ancestry for Franklin Knox Thrall (1824-1905)?

1) Franklin Knox Thrall (1824-1905) was adopted into Christine Williams' family line. He changed his name to Franklin Knox Oatley and married Emeline C Phelon (1819-1873) and they lived in Hampden County. MA. 2) Eleanor Knox who married John Thrall is the sister to Christine Williams' grandfather Nathan Knox. Nathan's wife Polly Knox willed the family farm to Stephen Oatley who is the person who adopted Franklin Knox Thrall. Who were Franklin's birth parents and how do they fit into the family tree?
Tell us what you know     |     More information: Eleanor Knox
Mr Thraille and Sarah Tarver née Fox

We have received an enquiry from Alan Cristall about Sarah Tarver née Fox and a wealthy brewer called Mr Thraille.


In 2004 Alan identified that in the mid-1700s, a woman called Sarah Fox was married to a wealthy brewer named Thraile, who, for the benefit of his health took his wife to live in France and died shortly afterwards, leaving her a wealthy young widow. He has not identified who Mr Thraile was and which brewery he owned.

He wrote …
I am afraid I know little of the elusive wealthy brewer named Thraile other than that which I have already told you. I will, however, give you the big picture. The first reference that I am aware of is contained in a letter written in 1880 by Henry Cristall to his nephew, Joseph Tarver, who had asked Henry for information about his grandfather, John Tarver. The following is an extract from the letter:
I fear that I cannot help you in your endeavours to find particulars of the late John Tarver your Grandsire.  Of course you are aware that you Grandmother was a Miss Sarah Fox and she married one Mr Thrale a wealthy brewer who unfortunately was of poor constitution and soon after their marriage went to the Continent for the benefit of change, but he very soon died and left his pretty young widow all his property.
Very shortly after his death, she became acquainted with Mr J Tarver who gave out that he was travelling for amusement. He made up to the pretty English widow and ultimately married her and they lived in good style. She had three children by him - William Tarver, Adelaide Tarver and John Charles Tarver, your Father.

When the property was nearly all spent the Revolution broke out. Your Grandfather cut away, leaving his wife and Children in Paris. The eldest son was sent over to London and my father took charge of him and got him appointed as Midshipman on board a Man of War. Very shortly after that your Grandmother and the two Children were with all other English put into the Bastille and did not know their fate.

There was one Mr Fesser who took great interest in her misfortune, being forsaken by her husband and without means. He obtained their release from prison and managed to send her and her daughter Adelaide to England and he adopted your Father John Charles and educated him and ultimately got him appointed as Secretary to a French Admiral.

There is more to this fascinating story, including the fact that John Charles eventually came to England and became French Tutor at Eton and a personal tutor to the Prince of Wales, but I am afraid there is no further mention of Mr Thrale (or Thraile). An interesting coincidence is that several of the Cristall family worked at the Anchor Brewery. George More McLeod, who married Ellen Cristall (1813-1888) was at one time the brewery manager. Harry Cristall (1835-1914) travelled to Russia on behalf of the brewery and eventually became Head Collector. Charles Henry Cristall (1849-1926) was described in 1877 as a Brewer’s Guager, and in 1898 as a Brewer’s Collector. Edward Cristall, Harry’s son (1870-1966) was a clerk at the brewery. There may have been more.

Just one more snippet. Harry Cristall was a founder member of a Freemason’s Lodge in Upper Norwood in 1877. The name of the Lodge? 'Anchor Lodge'!


In April 2005, received an email from Peter Gundry which gives more background but doesn’t solve the problem.
I am not related but started researching MORE & McLEOD as Annie Augusta ROSKRUGE (the great-aunt of my cousin Dorothy Gundry in Cornwall) married Bentley MORE, Gentleman, at St Keverne, Cornwall on 29 Apr 1890. The “Gentleman” (living on independent mean) bit fascinated me and I found his brother, and McLeod cousins of the same generation, all to be in the same non-predicament with fathers having been brewers (one exception was a Bentley McLeod, Brewer age 24, in 1871 Census but I have yet to find parents for him as 1861 census transcriptions are very poor). My research is still in its early stages and much of the data I have collected has not yet been plugged into my database but a search for a possible brewery the More’s & McLeod’s may have been involved in took me to your web page.

I have not been able to locate George More McLeod, who married Ellen Cristall, in any census unless he was younger brother of Bentley McLeod who married Ellen’s sister Louisa Jane Cristall. Bentley’s brother George did not have “More” as second name when he was Christened 5 Mar 1814. In total I found 12 children in IGI indexes for Bentley McLeod & Mary Hawks with the first nine having been born Gateshead between 1795 & 1809 and the next three Christened Kirklevington, Yorkshire between 1813 & 1815 - there may well have been one or two born elsewhere in the gap period.

I would appreciate it if you would please provide me with any information you have on the children of George McLeod and Ellen Cristall. I am also emailing my brother in Edinburgh to see if he can find out whether there may also have been brewing interests in the marriage of two daughters of Robert Schaw & Mary Auld - one Mary Jamieson Schaw married Thomas Hawks McLeod and another, Helen married John McLeod More, a nephew of Thomas Hawks McLeod.

 Mystery Photos

Beatrice Alice Cox

Who is Beatrice and what is her relationship to Henry Thrale Cox?