Armorial Bearings granted to Robert Lord alias Laward of London in 1510; College of Arms MS L10 folio 105b; copyright of the College of Arms, London. Used by permission.

The Lord Family

Pilgrim landing.


A scene repeated many times in the 1630s in New England.


Perhaps it would be profitable to look backward, to a "Richard Lord" that preceded Thomas Lord's emigration to America, rather than search for one of his descendants. Salisbury suggested, with some confidence, that "if we ever learn their ancestry, we shall find, probably, that Richard was the name of the father of Thomas Lord..." Now, a century later, we can confirm that suspicion with fact.

From a number of sources, not the least being the microfilmed genealogical records of English Parish registers compiled by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints [The Mormons], we can reconstruct at least a superficial genealogy of this branch of "Lord" in England.

To provide continuity from what we know, to what we don't know, let's start at the end of our search, as Thomas Lord of England, with his family, arrived in America, then working our way backwards until the story cannot be pushed further back in time.

The route to Hartford.

In the year 1636, Thomas Lord, his oldest son Richard, and the rest of his family, joined with Rev. Thomas Hooker and one hundred men, women, and children to leave Newtown [Cambridge], Massachusetts, on an epic journey to form a new settlement on the Connecticut River, later to become the City of Hartford.

The migration of 1636.

They traveled more than a hundred miles, through a hideous and trackless wilderness to Hartford. They had no guide but their compass; and made their way over mountains, through swamps, thickets and rivers, which were passable with great difficulty. They had no cover but the heavens, and no lodgings but such as nature afforded them. They drove with them one hundred and sixty head of cattle and subsisted by the way on the milk of their cows. Mrs. Hooker was borne through the wilderness on a litter. The people generally carried their packs, arms and some utensils. They were nearly a fortnight on their journey. This adventure was the more remarkable as many of this company were persons of figure, who in England had lived in honor, affluence and delicacy, and were strangers to fatigue and danger. Gov. Haynes and some others did not appear in the colony until 1637.
Trumbull's Memorial History of Hartford, 1886.

It was early in June when they reached their journey's end. Their first labor was to prepare their dugouts in the hillside and provide shelter for their cattle. They had for some time been close friends and neighbors in Newtown and were already organized as a church, had been members of townships and were familiar, therefore, with action as a body. They agreed to purchase territory jointly and afterwards parcel it out, and Mr. Samuel Stone and Mr. William Goodwin were appointed, in behalf of the proprietors, to treat for land with the tribe of Suckiage Indians, of whom at this time Sequassen was the Chief Sachem. In this they were successful...
Salisbury, 1892.

By being among the first one hundred settlers to journey to the future site of Hartford, establishing thereby the new Colony of Connecticut, the Lord family not only participated in an historic event but found themselves associated with a man of historic proportions - Rev. Thomas Hooker.

HOOKER, Thomas (1586?-1647) Hooker was a Congregationalist clergyman who, with a group of his parishioners, founded a colony in 1636 at what is now Hartford, Connecticut. He had been forced to flee England in 1630 because of his Puritan beliefs. After living in Holland, he migrated to Boston in 1633. Hooker and his friend Samuel Stone became pastor and teacher, respectively, of a church at New Towne (Cambridge) , Massachusetts. Although the church prospered, Hooker resented the autocratic rule of the Puritan magistrates. He sought permission to move elsewhere in the colony, but John Cotton persuaded the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to deny his request. Despite this, Hooker, Stone, and about 100 followers left and settled in Connecticut. An early exponent of democracy, Hooker wrote in a sermon in 1638 that "The privilege of election...belongs to the people,: and that the power of officeholders should have limits. &quote; In 1639, these ideas were embodied in the first written colonial constitution, Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, which declared Connecticut an independent commonwealth.
American Heritage, Colonial America.

The year before, in 1635, we learn from Hotten's Original Lists:

On the 29th of April 1635 were registered for transportation from the port of London to New England, in the ship "Elizabeth and Ann," of which Capt. Robert Cooper was master, Thomas Lord, aged fifty; his wife Dorothy, aged forty-six; and their children Thomas, aged sixteen; Ann, aged fourteen; William, aged twelve; John, aged ten; Robert, aged nine; Aymie; aged six; and Dorothy, aged four.
Hotten's Original Lists

They landed in Boston and joined Richard Lord at Newtown. The arrival of Thomas Lord in Newtown in 1635 was the culmination of at least two years of planning, according to Salisbury.

Thomas Lord was a man of means, position and influence, and in 1632 he sent his eldest son, Richard, then about twenty-one years of age, to America. He settled at Newtown, Mass., which afterwards became Cambridge. In 1633, Governor Haynes and the Rev. Thomas Hooker, friends of Thomas Lord, sailed for America with about two hundred passengers important to the colony, and it is thought possible that Richard Lord went in advance in order to select a place to settle.
Salisbury, 1892.

An early ship.

There is some debate over the true ages of the children of Thomas and Dorothy Lord as recorded in the register of the ship "Elizabeth and Ann." One hundred years ago no writer had yet discovered any other documentary source for these data, nor the true origins of the Lord family that stepped off the ship in Boston in 1635. It is now clear that this family embarked from London after departing their home in the tiny village of Towcester [pronounced "toe-stir"], County of Northampton, about 60 miles northwest of the city. It is instructive to see a summary of the birthdates for the Lord children suggested by various sources.

In each case, the birthdates suggested by the ages of the children given as they boarded the "Elizabeth and Ann" in London Harbor are most closely matched by the birth dates recorded from Parish registers on the Mormon's microfilmed lists. It will be noted that according to these lists, there may have been two other children born to Thomas and Dorothy Lord which did not survive, although the evidence is far from clear. In both cases - Ann, born 1611 and William, born 1618 - these children, if they existed, had names that were given again to later children. The record for a "Robert Lord" born to "Thomas" and "Dorthea" Lord in London may match [with margin of error] the Towcester birth record and may suggest a London connection for the family.

These records of births and christenings all come from the Parish Registers of Towcester. It is recorded that on February 23, 1610-11 [in modern terms, 1611] Thomas Lord [sometimes spelled "Lorde"] married Dorothy Bird [sometimes spelled "Dorithee Byrde"], daughter of Robert and Amy Bird of Towcester. The records of the St. Laurence Church of Towcester indicate that Dorothy Bird was baptized May 25, 1588, making her 22 years old at her marriage and confirming her age of 46 years given when she embarked for America. She had reached 88 years when she died in Hartford, 2 Aug. 1676.

Details on the life of Thomas Lord prior to his marriage in Towcester in 1610 alluded early researchers. Some suggested he did not even live there until 1610. While the details are still open to debate, some facts have since become very clear. He was born in about 1585, to Richard Lord and Joan Bird. [Salisbury's suspicions in 1892 were right: "If we ever learn their ancestry, we shall find, probably, that Richard was the name of the father of Thomas Lord..."]

Richard and Joan Lord had four children: "Elizabeth, born about 1583, Thomas, born about 1585, Ellen born about 1587 and Alice born about 1590 and married Richard Morris on May 20, 1611." It was assumed a few years ago that they were all born in Towcester, yet the registers for that village did not record them.

A building in Towcester that the Lord's may have frequented in the 1620s.

The Towcester registers do record, however, that Richard Lord married "Joane" [last name not given], in that village in 1582. According to these records, this same "Joan," wife of "Richard Lorde," was buried at Towcester on September 22nd, 1610. Her husband, "Richard Lorde, yeoman" died and was buried less than a month later, October 16th, 1610. Earlier that year - on May 30th, 1610 - "Richard Lorde of Towcester, co. Northampton, husbandman" wrote his last Will. He expressed a desire to be buried in the churchyard in the village, and mentioned his daughter "Elizabeth," his wife "Joane," and his son "Thomas." This proves he is the same Richard Lord who is father to Thomas Lord, later of Connecticut, who just over four months later, married Dorothy Bird, whose seal we have been examining in Hartford.

Husbandman - one that plows and cultivates land. Brit. a rural laborer.

Yeoman - one belonging to a class of English freeholders ranking below the gentry and formerly qualified by owning property worth 40 shillings a year to enjoy certain legal privileges.
- a member of the first or most respected class of common people; one of the highest class not entitled to heraldic arms.

Richard, in his Will of 1610 refers to "all my lands in Towcester," suggesting above average wealth and status. A complete reading of his Will furthers that impression. It is suggested by one source that Richard Lord of Towcester was descended from a Lord family in Yelvertoft, co. Northampton. Yelvertoft is a smaller village than Towcester and is located about 10 miles further northwest along Watling Street. This road, which forms the main street of Towcester and the thoroughfare connecting it with London, is an extremely ancient highway, dating to the Roman occupation of about 70 AD. This highway runs nearly across the breadth of England and later served as a demarcation line during the Viking era.

The "proof" of this Yelvertoft connection appears in a Will of a "William Lorde of Yelvertoft, co. Northants, husbandman" dated July 12th, 1560 and proved [after his death] September 26th, 1560. In this Will he mentions "Elizabeth Lord, daughter of my Brother Richard." Although Kenneth Lord (1946) concludes that this William Lord is the brother of Richard Lord of Towcester, it cannot be so. Elizabeth Lord, daughter of Richard of Towcester, was not even born in 1560! It was twenty some years later that Richard Lord of Towcester had a daughter "Elizabeth."

While this parallel of brothers and daughters may be mere coincidence - at least two other pairs of brothers named "Richard" and "William" Lord are recorded in England around this time - it may also point to the roots of this family line, as yet undiscovered.

But recently new evidence has come to light to suggest also a connection of this Lord family to the village of Leckhamstead, in Buckinghamshire, a very few mils to the south for Towcester. Parish records reveal that Thomas' sisters were christened there: Elizabeth in 1583 and Alice in 1586. If we assume Thomas's birth to fall between them - on 1585 - one must assume he was also christened there.

Perhaps the church in Buckingham was his mother's - Joan Lord - or perhaps Richard and Joan had not yet moved to Towcester. Yet one must note that they were both buried in Towcester only 15 years later, and in Richard's Will of 1610 he mentions only the church at Towcester, to which he leaves a sum of money.

So at best we can point to "Richard Lord, at the last of Towcester" as the originator of the line through which the seal attached to Dorothy Lord's Will descended. But in all this, we lack proof that these are his initials on the seal.


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