Thomas Gardner, Richard, Richard Jr, and Miriam (Gardner) Coffin

(Coastal families/Gardner branch)

The Gardner family of Nantucket

“The Gardner family of Nantucket descended from Richard and John Gardner, sons of Thomas Gardner, planter, who came from England to Salem, Massachusetts in 1626. The two brothers were originally in the fishing business, but also began accumulating property. Their descendents became captains of whaling ships, land owners and merchants. Anna Gardner (1816-1901), descended from John, had a distinguished career as a schoolmistress and reformer. She taught in Nantucket elementary schools and, after the Civil War, in the schools of the New England Freedman’s Bureau in the south.. She was also active in the causes of temperance and women’s suffrage. In 1841, she called the Anti-Slavery Convention in Nantucket.
Anna Gardner also wrote two books of poems. William Edward Gardner (1872-1965), Episcopal minister, historian and author, is particularly remembered in Nantucket for his biographies of Walter Folger, Jr., John Gardner, the Starbuck family, and the Coffin family. He also wrote memorials of Dr. Roy H. Gilpatrick, George Fawcett, Charles H. Selden, Frederick C. Sanford, Peter Folger and Moses Joy as well as “Rambles in the Historic Nantucket District.”

1.  Thomas Gardner and Margaret Frier & Damaris Sibley Shattuck
Both of Thomas’ wives are mentioned here because Thomas’ son Richard, by Margaret, married, Sarah, daughter of Damaris by her first husband and my line descends from their union.

Thomas GARDNER (ca. 1592 – 1674)  was born 1591 in Dorsetshire, England, and died October 29, 1674, buried in
Gardner burying ground, Salem MA.{1}

Thomas Gardner was born in 1592 to Thomas and Elizabeth Gardner. According to records, his home was Dorsetshire, England. His father may have been a descendant of Owen Tudor whose grand-daughter married a Gardner (ca. 1450s, England). His mother was the sister of Minister John White who was instrumental in the Dorchester Company.

a)  By his first wife Margaret Frier (c 1589 – 1659) he had nine children; six sons (Thomas, George, John, Samuel, Joseph, and ♥ Richard) and three daughters (Sarah, Seeth, and Miriam) of whom two interest us Richard and John.  Margaret died.
b)  He married for his second wife Damaris Sibley Shattuck (1597 – 28 Sep 1674), a widow.  His son, Richard, married Damaris’ daughter ♥ Sarah, by her first husband.

Thomas, wife Margaret and three sons, born in England,  landed at Cape Ann, in 1624 in the ship Charity  to form a the Cape Ann Colony at what is now known as Gloucester; around 1639 he removed to Salem, Mass.
[Image at right: Pioneer Village living attraction, Salem, MA].

•  Thomas was named an Overseer in the 1624 party that left Weymouth on its way to Cape Ann.
•  Thomas was known as a ‘planter’.
•  In 1636 he was a member of the First Church.
•  Was elected a deputy to the General Court 26 Sept 1637
•  In 1637 he was appointed to survey all ffences west of the meeting house.
•  He was also engaged by the projectors of Cape Ann settlement to oversee the fisheries.
•  Was an Overseer of the “old planters” party of the Dorchester Company
•  Is considered to have been the Governor (superintendent) of Massachusetts (for a short time), due to his being in authority in the first settlement that became the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
•  He was an innkeeper in Salem and was apparently literate as he signed his name to several petitions and inventories.

Thomas Gardner’s signature at right {2}

At the Cape Ann Colony: Mr. John Tylley was overseer of the fishing and ‘Mr. Thomas Gardner’ was overseer of the planting. After the fishing season had closed, the majority of the men sailed homeward and left Mr. Gardner with thirteen companions to pass the winter and put in a crop in the spring as they had done in the season then closing. But the men did not work well, and the land was unfit for cultivation by any methods known to Englishmen of the day; so at the following summer the Company felt dissatisfied…the Adventurers discharged Mr. Gardner and invited Mr. Conant to take the vacant position.
At the end of a second year the Company was so discouraged that they abandoned the Cape Ann project altogether.

Where Mr. Gardner was for a number of years records do not show; but he appeared at Salem (Naumkeag) which Mr. Conant and some others of the Cape Ann company had founded, when the first records of the town’s proceedings now extant were made. It is certain that he was at this time, 1635, honored as one of the leading citizens; had large grants of land; was a deputy to the General Court in 1637, and in every way received universal respect. The town chose him an officer; the Court made him a ‘freeman’ May 17, 1637; and other honors came to him.

In May 1639, Thomas received the grant of ‘a banke of upland nere the strongwatter brook to his marsh paying 5s per acre.’ In 1677 the statement was made in court that this property ‘was always called Mr. Gardner’s Hill for this thirty years.’ In March 1672 Thomas had leased a house and about thirty acres to John Pudney for sever years. Rent for the house was to be paid in cider, cord wood, butter and cheese, pork, and corn. After Gardiner’s death, Pudney was sued by the executors for falling behind in his rent, but produced an account showing he had paid £19 in produce.

Thomas was buried on Gardner Hill near present day Boston Street and Grove, in Salem, MA. {4} One hundred and fifty graves, including Thomas Gardner, were moved maybe a few dozen yards in the new, Harmony Grove Cemetery when Grove Street was expanded in the 1840s.

The will of “Thomas Gardner of Salem” was written 7 December 1668 and proved 29 March 1675 by
witnesses Robert Pease and Samuel Goldthwaite [EQC 6:31].
“Weighing the uncertainty of man’s life, I do therefore in the time of my health, make this my last will” giving to “my wife Damaris” all the estate she brought with her “according to our agreement” and £8 a year paid by my six sons provided she give up her dower in my housing and lands; to “my daughter Sara Balch” £15; to “my daughter Seeth Grafton” £15; to “my daughter Mirian [sic] Hills two daughters, Miriam Hill, & Susanna Hill,” to each of them £5 at age eight~een or marriage; to “my sons George and John Gardner” salt meadow valued at £20; to “my sons Samuel and Joseph Gardner” the other part of my salt meadow; residue divided in seven equal parts, two parts to my son Thomas, he paying “his mother in law forty six shillings by the year,” the other sons to receive one part each and pay their mother-in-law twenty-three shillings a year; sons George and Samuel
Gardner executors; “my loving friends Mr. Joseph Grafton and Deacon Horne” overseers.

The inventory of the estate of “Mr. Thomas Gardner, taken 4:11m:1674” by Hilliard Veren, Sr. and John Pickering totalled £274 16s., including real estate valued at £201: “an old dwelling house with about 10 acres of land adjoining with the orchard, fences &c.,” £31; ten acres of ground in the Northfield, £27; about 100 acres of upland and meadow, £100; about 20 acres of land lying in the woods, £3; and about 2 3/4 acres of salt marsh lying above the mill,” £40. The inventory also included “2 old barrels of guns” valued at 5s.

Following Thomas Gardner’s probate, at the November 1677 term of Essex court his sons George (“now of Hartford, Connecticut”) and Samuel sued John Pudney of Salem, husbandman, over a farm let to Pudney by lease dated 1 March 1672[/3] and described as Gardner’s now dwelling house in Salem, with all his land in Northfield, about 20 acres, also his 10 acres of meadow …for seven years from Apr. 15, 1672 at £11 per year, and two barrels of cider, said Gardner furnishing the cask, of which £4 were to be paid in wood at 8s. per cord, 40s. in butter and cheese, with one firkin of butter, 40s. in pork, and the remainder in corn. Said Pudney was not to remove any muck, and Gardner reserved the right to take the meadow near Needham’s if he so desired.{5}

Witness: Robert Pease, Samuell Golthrite. Proved Mar. 29, 1675 by the witnesses before Edward Ting, Esq. and Maj. Hathoren, Esq. and Hilliard Veren, clerk of the court at Salem. Copy, Essex County Probate Records, vol. 301, page 62.

The will of Thomas Gardner was dated 7 December 1668 and proved 29 March 1675. He gives wife Damaris all that she brought with her according to their agreement plus eight pounds for which she was to relinquish her dower rights. Daughters Sara Balch and Seeth Graafton received fifteen pounds. Daughter Miriam Hill’s two daughters, Miriam Hill and Susanna Hill, each received five pounds. Sons George and John received the salt meadow on the west side of Capt. George Corwin’s meadow; Samuel and Joseph received the meadow on the east side of Corwin. His housing and lands were to be divided equally among his six sons: Thomas, George, Richard, John, Samuel, and Joseph. George and Samuel were appointed executors. The inventory totalled £274-16-0, including £30 for the homestead and £167 of other land
(Essex County Probate, #10,667, 62:301; Essex Probate Records )

1. Thomas Gardner Planter and Some of His Descendants, compiled and arranged by Frank A Gardner, MD, 1731, Essex Institute, Salem, Mass., this source mentions the death date as given in the Town Records .
2. The signature’s Internet source:  <>
The signature’s original source = <>
3. Source <>
4.  Burial and other information: <>

2.  Richard Gardner and Sarah Shattuck

* Richard GARDNER was born in ABT 1626 in England; died on 23 Jan 1688 in Nantucket, MA; buried in Maxey Pond Burying Ground, Nantucket, MA.
Richard GARDNER married Sarah SHATTUCK in 1652 (they were step brother and step sister, not blood relatives). They had the following children: ♥ Richard GARDNER  Jr. (b. 23 Oct 1653), and nine others.

Richard Gardner came to America with his brother Captain John Gardner in 1640.

Richard’s wife Sarah was a Quaker who had considerable trouble with the Salem authorities on account of her belief.
Richard Gardner and his wife therefore decided to leave Salem and moved to Nantucket in 1666/1667, for more congenial surroundings. In 1666 the following resolution was passed at a meeting of the inhabitants of Nantucket:
A grant was made to Richard Gardner halfe accommodacons according to the grants made to Seamen and Tradesmen upon condition that hee exercise himselfe as a sea man & that hee come to inhabitt here with his ffamily before the end of May 1688 and after that his entrance here not to depart the Island in Point of dwelling for the space of three years upon forfeiture of the grant aforsaid.
Richard moved to Nantucket as a seaman and became a landowner.{D3}  His house was around Wesco, now called Lily Pond, so irregular in form as to be called the ‘Crooked Record’. The house was built on the west end of Sunset Hill (just west of the Coffin house) in 1665, where now is the residence of Eben W. Francis. {D1}
John and his wife, Priscilla Grafton, soon followed.
Source: <http mcronin111gardner.htm>

A feud broke out amongst the early settlers of Nantucket. On one side the Coffin’s and their friends, on the other the Gardner brothers (John and Richard) and their friends. The feud is thought to have developed from the divergent temperaments of Tristram and Capt. John Gardner. Tristram was a natural leader, but had tendencies to be irritable and despotic. Capt. John Gardner was a man of physical courage, rugged honesty and democratic in his dealings, traits that gained him public confidence. {D3}

An event that occurred during the feud which was prompted by the Coffin faction: Peter Folger a friend and marriage relation of the Gardner’s was arrested for contempt of court and ordered held until his bond was met. Richard Gardner’s, wife Sarah, and Peter Folger’s son, Eleazur (whom was married to Richard’s daughter, Sarah), all expressed themselves with indignation at Peter’s arrest. They were consequently ordered to answer for their statements in court, but did not appear. The court stated,”…Sarah, the wife of Mr. Richard Gardner, being legally convicted of speaking very opprobriously and uttering many slanderous words concerning the imprisonment of Peter Folger..the court thinks it fit…she shall be reproved and admonished to have care for the future of evil words to defaming His Majesty’s Court”. “Mr. Richard Gardner being legally convicted of non-appearance at Court, according to summons, the Court perceiving that it was occasioned by his mistake, do acquit him.”  Eleazur and another friend, Tobias Coleman were fined 25 shilling and 20 shillings, respectively.{D3}

Peter and Sarah Folger’s daughter, Abiah, married Josiah Franklin and became the parents of Benjamin Franklin.

The estrangement between the Coffin and the Gardner families ended soon after Tristram’s death in 1681. Tristram’s eldest grandson Jethro and Jethro’s brother, Edward, married, Mary and Anna Gardner. After 1681, James, another grandson of Tristram, married Love Gardner and later married, Ruth Gardner. Six other children of Richard Gardner married grandchildren of Tristram Coffin among these, Tristram’s grandson, Samuel Coffin, married Richard Gardner’s daughter, Miriam and became our direct ancestors.{D4)

* The Coffins are described in old Nantucket records as ‘noisy, fractious and loud’ while the Folgers are ‘knowing but lazy’ and ‘the silent Gardners are called plodding.’

Richard Gardner was Chief Magistrate in 1673 and held other town offices.
The early families on Nantucket gained a livelihood primarily by farming and fishing.

Richard Gardner appears to have been a man of considerable education and was many times Chief Magistrate and Assistant.{D3}

Richard Gardner, Tristram Coffin, Edward Starbuck and presumably their wives and others are buried at the old Maxey Pond Burying Ground. A 6+ foot high “Early Settlers Monument”  stands at the site with the inscription: “Erected AD 1881 By A Descendant of the First Settlers of Nantucket in Memory of Those Whose Remains Are Buried on this Hallowed Spot Where stood the First Church Gathered Here 1711 Since Removed to where it Now Stands as the vestry of the First Congregational Society…” The monument is inscribed with the names of ten settlers, including those mentioned above. The settlement and church /burial ground at Maxey Pond/Capum Harbor was, in the early days of the settlement, called “Sherburne”. Sherburne was located about two miles west of the present town of Nantucket.

1. Nantucket Historical Association, Vol. 2, Bulletin No 1, Nantucket Lands and Land Owners by Henry B. Worth.
2. Richard Gardner’s birth year was taken from a 6+ foot tall grave yard monument at Maxey Pond Burying Ground, Nantucket, MA.
3. Nantucket Lands and Land Owners, Vol. 2., Bulletin No.1., by Henry Barnard Worth, Published by the Nantucket Historical Assn., 1901.
4. Coffin Family by Louis Coffin, 1962, Nantucket Historical Society, Nantucket, MA., p. 81.
5.  Nantucket Lands and Land Owners Vol. 2, Bulletin No.1., by Henry Barnard Worth, Published by the Nantucket Historical Assn., 1901.

 * Sarah SHATTUCK was born in ABT 1631 in Salem, Essex, MA; died in 1724 in Nantucket, MA; buried in Nantucket, MA. She was the daughter of Samuel Shattuck and Damaris.

Sarah is listed as being 92 years old at the time of her death.


3. Richard Gardner , Jr.and Mary Austin

 * Richard GARDNER Jr
Richard Gardner, Jr. was born August 23, 1653 at Salem, MA. and died March 8, 1728 at Nantucket, MA.

Richard Gardner Jr. married Mary Austin on 17 May 1674 in Nantucket, MA, they had the following nine children: Peter, Richard, Patience, Joseph, Solomon, Benjamin, ♥ Miriam, Lydia and William Gardner.

Sea Captain

Richard Gardner II or III house (ca. 1724 Initial Construction) at 32 West Chester St., Nantucket, Massachusetts (Image from repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA)
Image published Aug 1936.

Died March 8, 1728 in Nantucket,MA

Born in 1655 Dover, Strafford, England and died July 1, 1721 at Nantucket, MA.

Richard Gardner Jr. daughter Miriam Gardner married Samuel “King Sam” Coffin, thereby merging the Gardner branch with the Coffin branch. See following:

 4.  Samuel Coffin and Miriam Gardner

* Samuel “King Sam” COFFIN was born on 12 Dec 1680 in Nantucket, MA; died on 22 Feb 1764 in Nantucket, MA.{D1}
(See also the post: My family in history/Coastal families/[Tristram, John] Coffin)

Samuel Coffin married ♥ Miriam GARDNER in 1705 in Nantucket, MA. They had the following children: Parnel, Sarah, Libni, John (b. 1708), Deborah (b. 1708), David (b. 1718),  ♥ William Coffin (b. 4 Nov 1720), Miriam (b. 1723), Mary (b. 1724), and Priscilla (b. 1730).

Samuel was referred to as “King Sam”. (See also: My Family in History/Coastal families/Coffin branch). According to one source, Samuel was “known as ‘King Sam’ because he as short and feisty, and was compared to a crowing Bantam rooster trying to be king of the yard.
As previously noted: The Coffins are described in old Nantucket records as ‘noisy, fractious and loud’ while the Folgers are ‘knowing but lazy’ and ‘the silent Gardners are called plodding.’

He was the 6th of 11 children in his family.

In 1706, Samuel Coffin, and his wife Miriam (Gardner) joined the Society of Friends.

The Friends (Quaker) records give 1763 as the date of his death.

1. Coffin Family by Louis Coffin, 1962, Nantucket Historical Society, Nantucket, MA., p. 266.

* Miriam GARDNER
Was born July 14, 1685 at Nantucket, MA and died November 17, 1750 at Nantucket, MA.
Miriam was the mother of 10 children.
(To follow this line, see My Family in History/Coastal families/William Coffin & Priscilla Paddock)

Leave a comment

Filed under My family in history, __3. Coastal families

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s