Birth: 17 APR 1614  Cranfield, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England

1st Marriage:  29 MAY 1635  to Elizabeth Salisbury  Church of Saints Peter and Paul  Cranfield, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England

Birth of Daughter: 10 SEP 1637
Name:  Elizabeth Lawton

Immigration:  1638
Note:  From England to Rhode Island.  
Details: Conditions in England were restrictive. King James in 1604 announced that he would make the Puritans conform or harry them out of the land. The still more arbitrary policy of his son, Charles I, between 1625 and his beheading in 1649, gave new dimensions to that exodus and resulted in the speedy planting of a high-spirited and powerful New England. For eleven years, 1628-1639, no Parliament sat in England.

Puritan influence was strong in Bedfordshire. The King by writ, without a parliament in 1635, assessed the county 3,000 pounds for ship-money, but in 1638 some 280 pounds were still due from 660 persons. In February 1639, the county was ordered to furnish 20 men for the campaign against Scotland. So dissatisfaction with conditions of church and state was probably a factor in Thomas Lawton’s decision to leave England for the new world.

For Thomas Lawton, America was the land of opportunity. His choosing to settle in Rhode Island indicates that he believed in religious and political toleration, and that he was not a Puritan. He was a planter and a yeoman, cultivating his own land according to Rhode Island records.

By grant and purchase, Thomas Lawton acquired extensive lands both in Portsmouth and on the mainland. He had land near the top of Quaker Hill and a tract of perhaps 40 or 50 acres near the present Town Hall, extending from East Main Road to the shore. His Hunting Swamp Farm was on the west side of East Main Road about midway between Union Street and the town line; and his Long Swamp Farm was east of East Main Road, and on the west side of Wapping Road between Sandy Point Road and Braman Lane, these aggregating about 160 acres. His holdings outside of Portsmouth included 600 acres in Warwick, lands across the Sakonnet River on Puncatest Neck, a house and lot in Martha’s Vineyard, land in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and in Shrewsbury Township, New Jersey. In 1660 he received a deed to lands in Narragansett from Cadganaguant, Chief Sachem, who had “formerly received several kindnesses” from him.

Note:  from Matthews’ American Armoury and Blue Book
Lawton Thomas Lawton of Portsmouth, Rhode Island , 1638 , from Cheshire, England .
– Arms – Argent, on a fesse, between three cross-crosslets fitchée sable, a cinquefoil of the first pierced of the second.
– Crest – A demi-wolf salient reguardant argent, vulned in the back gules, and licking the wound.

Birth of Son:  1639
Name:  Daniel Lawton
Place:  Portsmouth, Newport Co, Rhode Island

Note:  30 APR 1639
Details:  Thomas and Elizabeth were in Portsmouth soon after the first settlers. Shortly after their arrival, there was a schism in the community, with people loyal to the Hutchinsons remaining in Portsmouth and those loyal to William Coddington leaving to found Newport. Thomas was one of the 29 original signatories to the Portsmouth Compact, which was the governing compact for those who remained in Portsmouth. (Thomas signed his mark, while brother George was able to sign his name.)  The compact read: ‘We whose names are underwritten, do acknowledge ourselves the legal subjects of His Majesty King Charles, and in his name do hereby bind ourselves into a civil body politic, unto his laws according to matters of justice.’

Birth of Daughter: 1645
Name: Ann Lawton

Birth of Daughter: 16 SEP 1647
Name:  Sarah Lawton

Birth of Son:  11 DEC 1650
Name:  Isaac Lawton

Land Rec:  04 AUG 1653
Note:  Sold William Wodell 60 acres.

Land Rec:  21 JAN 1654
Note:  Thomas bought of Henry Knowles, 9 acres, dwelling house, fruit trees, etc. for a valuable consideration.

Commissioner to the General Court:  1655, 1656, 1658 and 1661.
Place:  Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Freeman:  1655
Place:  Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Land Rec:  16 APR 1657
Note:  Thomas sold to Thomas Stafford a house, & etc. in Warwick.

Land Rec:  30 JUL 1660
Note:  Thomas received a deed of lands in Narragansett from Cadganaguant, Chief Sachem, who had ‘formerly received several kindnesses’ from him.

2nd Marriage:  09 AUG 1663  to Grace Parsons in Portsmouth, Newport Co, Rhode Island

Deputy:  1666

Land Rec:  03 APR 1670
Note:  Gave a deed of two shares of land in or near Shrewsbury Township, New Jersey to Giles Slocum .

Will:  06 JUN 1674
Note:  Proved Sep 29, 1681. Executor son Daniel. Overseers, William Wodell and George Sisson. ‘I do hereby declare that although Grace have not behaved herself towards me as a wife ought to do towards an husband, yet for the manifestation of my care of her, I do hereby give, bequeath unto her all the goods that are yet remaining in my custody of those that were hers when I married her and also one good feather bed and boulster; also 12 pounds per annum for life in lieu of all right she has. To son Daniel farm now in his possession called ‘Long Swamp Farm’ and confirmation of another farm called ‘Hunting Swamp Farm’, at expiration of William Wodell’s lease of it. To son Isaac a farm at Puncatege and all rights at Martha’s Vineyard. To daughter Elizabeth Sherman, wife of Peleg, a quarter of a share in Dartmouth, and a piece of land in Portsmouth. To daughter Elizabeth, also all that my now dwelling house with land bout it, and a pasture called ‘Fifty Acres’. To daughter Ann Slocum, 5s with what she has already received. To daughter Sarah Sisson, 50 pounds. To overseers, 5 pounds apiece. To daughters Elizabeth Sherman and Sarah Sisson the rest of real and personal.

Probate:  14 JUN 1676
Note:  Thomas’s wife Grace, having presented her many grievances to the town often, and to the Assembly several times for due and sufficient maintenance, she being much neglected in her husband’s absence, it was therefore ordered by the Assembly that 6s per week shall be paid by his agent Daniel Lawton, and an inventory of movable goods in her custody to be taken, which inventory Daniel Lawton shall have. Grace to have the privilege of chamber she is now possessed of, and use of necessary movables, and the rights of her or any of her children now or in future to any estate are not cut off.

Probate:  20 APR 1677
Note:  Thomas made an agreement with his stepson John Bailey, whereby Grace, the present wife of Thomas Lawton, should receive 10 pounds per year from John Bailey, and Elizabeth Sherman, daughter of Thomas Lawton, should have 3 pounds per hear (40s being in money and the other 20s in good sheep’s wool at 12d per pound.) In consideration of these payments, John Bailey was to have a lease of dwelling house, land and orchard ‘for term of time my wife Grace Lawton liveth without changing her name by marriage.’ The term of tenancy not to expire till one year after death or marriage of Grace, the mother of said John Bailey, and for that year the latter was to pay 13 pounds. On the same date he sold John Bailey for full satisfaction, all his household goods except a bedstead, chairs, etc.

Death: 29 SEP 1681  Portsmouth, Newport Co, Rhode Island

Click here to see parents:  George Lawton and Isabell Smith

Elizabeth Salisbury     


Birth:  ABT 1616  Cranfield, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England

Religion:  10 SEP 1637
Note:  Elizabeth was added to the Cranfield (England) Parish register. She was with her parents when they came to America circa 1638.

Death:  18 NOV 1654  Portsmouth, Newport Co, Rhode Island

parents are thought to be John Salisbury and Margaret Crowley

Note about Elizabeth’s parentage: Elizabeth’s parents are often listed as Margaret Crowley and John Salisbury. Elizabeth Salisbury was married in 1635 in Cranfield Parish. Of course, that would suggest that she was likely born in Cranfield or a neighboring parish, so researchers have searched Cranfield and the nearby parishes for a birth record for Elizabeth. No birth record has ever been found. In fact, there are NO records for any Salisburys in Cranfield and the neighboring parishes other than Elizabeth’s marriage record in Cranfield AND a marriage record in Salford Parish (adjoining Cranfield) for a Margaret Crowley and John Salisbury dated 1611. It was this marriage record that caused descendants to think that Margaret Crowley and John Salisbury were likely parents for Elizabeth Salisbury, but no further evidence has ever been discovered to link them as a family. So… that parentage should only be taken as a hint, and never listed as fact.

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